Happy Mother's Day
To all mothers, grandmothers and daughters
I've written many mother characters in my novels-- Mama June in Sweetgrass, Lovie in Beach House, Toy in Swimming Lessons, Mamaw in The Summer Girls--each of them with their own strengths and weaknesses and yet all of them similar in their devotion to their families and their burning desire to keep their families close. Especially in these modern times of families living far apart, it is a challenge for mothers everywhere to maintain tight family bonds. From the moment of birth, our children are poised for leaving. Our glory as mothers is to help our children grow and mature, from holding their chubby hands as they take their first steps, to letting go and waving as they walk their own paths.
For all the mother characters I've created, I've never written about what I love most as a mother myself...and as "Mambo" to my grandbabies. I'm sure I'll never be able to fully tap that vein of emotion, but here's a stream of consciousness.
When my own children were young, especially as I also had a birthday in May which made it a double-whammy gift month and tough on their pocketbooks, I'd made a rule that the children not buy me a present. I asked instead that the gift be hand-made. Really, what better gift, right? So I've received (and still have!) countless primitive dawings and paintings of me and the family. These include the stick figures with oversized eyes, hair sticking out of the round head and feet with "heels" on them. These drawings may not have been as professional as a Mary Whyte portrait, but I love them! I have received flowers for my garden, special gifts and poems made at school, hand prints in a mold, (love these) and lots of coupons for things they promised to do for me.
As my three children grew older, they broke the rule and bought gifts or chipped in together to get "something big." Yet until they moved out, the one thing that never changed was breakfast in bed. I'd lie in bed on Mother's Day waiting to hear the noise of them finally awakening and rumbling in the kitchen. (Sometimes, when they were teens, I had to sneak out to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee or I'd have died waiting till they awoke!) They'd come in with breakfast on a tray, the newspaper, and their gifts, then flop on my mattress and we'd spend the next hour opening presents, laughing, talking, and just being together. Good times.
Now the children are gone and it's just Markus and me at home. Dear man that he is, he still rises early and serves me breakfast. Today it was my favorite--lox, cream cheese and bagels. He'll make dinner, too. My mama passed so I sent a prayer to her, and I had a phone call with Nana and each of my children and a SKYPE visit with my grandchildren. Though not the same as a face to face visit, it's been lovely.
And this year, I once again received hand drawn pictures from my eldest grandson, Jack, five years old. One was a drawing of the family (it had marvelous stick figures with big eyes, huge smiles and big hands and feet) and one of flowers growing in my garden. Being a grandmother is deja-vu! I feel so blessed.
As a writer, I don't ever write about a member of my family or even someone I know. Characters are spawned in my imagination and they have a job to do in the novel. Yet, no writer lives in a vacuum. I glean insights from all my experiences and relationships and they inspire my writing. Thus, I give you Mama June, Lovie, Toy, Mamaw and all the mothers in books I haven written and will write in the future. As I nod my head to honor each of you-- mothers, grandmothers, and daughters--and sons!
Happy Mother's Day!