For those that don’t know, tomorrow is Mother’s day in the U.S. I’m lucky enough to be in Arizona with my mom this year.
I was also awesomely ahead of the game and bought a great card in March.
And then I went and left that card on my desk at home. Where it has been sitting since March.
So this is my Mother’s day card, to my mom. Because, true to form, the card is missing.
Thank you for everything mom. For being a great example of strength and resilience. Thank you for celebrating my victories and holding me responsible for my missteps. Thank you for showing me what a mother should be.
Thank you for being a wonderful grandmother to my girls. For spoiling and overindulging the two of them, for making them feel like superstars.
My mother was my anchor growing up; I had an absent father with HIGH expectations that he did nothing to foster. He expected and yelled if we didn’t meet his standards. My mom was the backbone of our family; she was the one that got us to practices and games, who took pride in our accomplishments and softened our disappointments. She let us know when we disappointed her, which only helped us know what was right and wrong.
I hope I’m doing the same with my girls.
I had some rough times in my 20’s, when I was trying to find myself. Yes, throughout those rough times, there was a lot of fun. But I made quite a few mistakes, as well. I made it through, though, and I’m a better person for it.
My mom was there the whole time, watching me from afar (and up-close). During those years I was mostly living away from her, in different towns. She was going through some tough times herself, after divorce, raising my teen-aged brother alone, working hard through some hard years.
She came through those hard times, and is now happily married and living the retired life in Arizona.
I’m so happy to have gotten to a point in my life where my mom is my friend. That point where we can sit and talk about nearly anything. That point where I can appreciate everything she went through raising me and my brother, and how hard it had to have been to let us go, to let us make mistakes and not swoop in and clean up after us.
To let us sink or swim, and be there when we landed, to cheer or to chide.
I love my daughters with all my heart, and I hope I’m teaching them the same lessons: that their victories as well as their mistakes are theirs. I will be there to cheer, or to hug, but they have to own their choices and live by them. Of course, that looks different year-to-year. The amount of choices you give a child at 5 is much different than the choices at 13, or 18, or 25. And it also varies from child to child.
In other words, the choices I let my daughters make at the age of five are much different than they are today, at 11 and (almost) 13. And the choices I give my (almost) 13 year-old are different than the ones I give, and have given, my younger daughter, who has Down syndrome.
And the reason I can do this, is because my mother did the same. She didn’t smother, but she also didn’t leave us to our own devices. I felt a balance of freedom and responsibility growing up, and I’m basing my mothering style on achieving that balance with my daughters.
So this is my Mother’s day card to my mom. Thank you for raising me to be the woman I am (I hope I make you proud), and thank you for setting a great example.
And to you, other readers, make sure you tell your mother, or your mother figure, Happy Mother’s Day. Take her to brunch, buy her flowers, send her a bottle of wine. Call her. Tell her thank you for all she’s done.
Okay, onto a wonderful mother/daughter book: The History of Great Things by Elizabeth Crane.
This, of course, is one of those life moments on which an entire future hinges, and you simultaneously know it and don’t. It burrows down into you, this recognition, locks in there the way a butterfly screw opens up behind a wall, and you are sure that this is the thing that will truly give you to yourself.
—Betsy about Lois in Elizabeth Crane’s The History of Great Things
Lois is born in depression-era Iowa, and is raised to be a good daughter, to marry and have babies. Somewhere along the way, she realizes that she can sing. And then she is noticed, by chance, while attempting to live as the perfect professor’s wife.
And, in an era where women were just starting to understand there could be more to life than marriage, motherhood, and a clean house, Lois’s need to sing opera and to gain fame and acclaim is born.
Just as she becomes a mother, Lois yearns for nothing but freedom. And she tries to have both, after divorce, later realizing that either her career or her daughter will suffer.
Betsy, her daughter, is raised in the shadow of her larger-than-life mother in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Her story is a story of trying to find herself through self-esteem and addiction issues.
Lois and Betsy take turns telling each other’s history, with real and imagined moments that fit into the overall story. This is a story of mothers and daughters and how they have viewed each other through the years, warts and all.
The History of Great Things is fascinating. Written in alternating voices, Lois and Betsy take turns telling each others stories in the other’s voice. In other words, Betsy tells a story of Lois’s younger years as Lois, and Lois tells a story of Betsy’s college days as Betsy.
Many of these stories are made up by the other, but tell a deeper truth.
And, within the stories, there is a dialogue between Lois and Betsy, shedding light on how close the story is to truth, or how far off the mark the story actually is.
All this sounds a little odd, and a little experimental, and it is both of these things. But mostly its a wonderful story of a mother and a daughter, honestly and truly exposing how they viewed each other and themselves.
I felt for both of these women, even while I can be disappointed in their choices. Lois is a women who wants a career in a time just before mothers and wives and women had careers. If she had been born just a few years later, or born not in a small Iowa town but in a more progressive area of the country, her road would have been more straight forward.
And, if Betsy had been a stronger personality, or had been raised by her father instead of a distant, slightly jealous mother, her life would have been different. But she makes
Beautiful and forthright, heartbreaking and heartwarming, real and raw. I cried and smiled. I loved it.
Just experimental enough to be original, but readable enough for all types of readers.
Elizabeth Crane uses some great devices, giving readers a glimpse into some wonderfully flawed women.
I give The History of Great Things 4.5 stars. I LOVED IT!!!!