Whenever Mother's Day draws near, I must admit I go into overdrive reminiscing about my late mother and thinking of ways to pay homage to her and all that she ever taught me, through my writing. I have my fill of so many memories that I try to slip into those stories. Whether it's a fiction story about a family matriarch, a nostalgic essay about my mother's life, or a children's picture book story where she is the adoring Grandma doling out love, wisdom and peppermints, she is there, her voice, her advice, her mannerisms, the way she dressed, the wigs she loved wearing, the songs she hummed, the television shows she watched, the delicious meals she prepared, the prayers she prayed, and so much more.
Perfect, of course she wasn't. What mother is. She was flawed, not as self-confident at times as she should have been, and she had her share of sorrows from childhood, but she was generous and kind, what the world and her family always needed a heavy dose of. And although at times our relationship was complex, mainly during my teen years and when I became a newly minted woman thinking I knew it all, we got through that and she became my confident, my bestie, a mother who loved and supported me unconditionally, as she did my sister, and all of her loved ones especially her grandchildren.
As writers we all have unique mother stories and it is so important to tell them. The sweet ones, the bittersweet ones, the joyous ones, the sorrowful ones, and the unfortunate ones. The ones with mothers who were distant or cruel or who wounded us emotionally because they couldn't relinquish their own inner pain. It is important to tell those stories about mothers who birthed us, mothers who adopted us or we adopted them in our heart, even mother-in-laws who treated us like beloved daughters, or those we could never win over no matter how hard we tried.
Writing about the mothers in our lives, being daring enough to not only speak about those memories or parts of our relationship that are/were good but also those that are/were painful or chaotic, are stories other women and mothers and even sons and husbands and other men need to read. These are stories that not only help us process our feelings about our mothers and heal so we can be at peace with the state of our relationship or lack of it, but are stories that can help our readers do the same, and perhaps write down their own mother stories in a journal, book, or in a blog post.
Our mothers impact our lives in innumerable ways. Writing about them, the beautiful parts and the not so beautiful parts is not easy to do but it is worth doing. Their stories are multifaceted, bursting with history about the era they grew up in. They showcase their perseverance, ingenuity, vulnerability, and other intriguing aspects of their life and why they charted the life path they did.
So I hope you write them down. Write from a little girl's perspective about the mother you viewed as your full moon. Write about the mother who put other's needs before her own sometimes to a default. Write about the mother who struggled emotionally when you left her nest to fly on your own. Write about the rites of passage your mother passed on to you from her mother. Write about the the conversations you had with your mother when you talked woman to woman about love and life in which you saw her in a different light. And if you didn't know what the abiding love of a mother felt like either as a child or as an adult, create the mother you longed to have in one of your protagonists. That is the gift and freedom we as writers have, a latitude that allows us to use our imagination to create the literary world and characters we want and yes, sometimes need.
Happy Mother's Day to you and to all of the mothers who are/were a part of our life story.
Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer whose work has been published in several magazines, anthologies, and online. This is one of her treasured photos of her late mother Evelyn in one of her favorite wigs.