One of the book discussion classes I run is called the Mom Salon, where we read and discuss books having to do with various aspects of mothering (which means, gentlemen, watch out, because you know we’re talking about you!).
This week’s Mom Salon selection was Mothers Who Think, a collection of essays from the Salon.com column of the same name. The column was started in 1997 in response to the editors’ feeling that: “the complicated range of dramas and emotions that really defines motherhood” wasn’t being probed, and they say these writings are “an antidote to the saccharine, oversimplified literature of motherhood.”
I think it’s true that there’s still something of a conception out there that motherhood is supposed to be all bliss and reward, and that we’re not supposed to admit to the times when we feel cranky or angry or we’d like a brief vacation from the job. The book analyzes this from many different directions in a smart, thoughtful way.
There’s Anne Lamott, whose writing I love, talking about how we could never get away with talking to adults the way we address our children. She writes: “Can you imagine hissing at your partner, ‘You get off the phone now! No, not in five minutes…’? Or saying to a friend, ‘You get over here this second!’. . .
There’s a beautiful essay by local (Philadelphia) author Beth Kephart about her son falling in love with soccer at age 8. One of my favorite essays is by Erin Aubry about her parents’ New Orleans heritage and how it played a big part in her upbringing in LA, especially through her mother’s cooking. The book is filled with good writing and funny and powerful stories about mothers good and bad, successful and suffering.
I really like what one reader wrote to the editors: “Thanks for reminding me that I’m a woman who is also a mother, not a mother who is also a woman.” I forget this sometimes, and it’s nice to be reminded!
p.s. Moms, if you want me to start a Mom Salon for your friends, just send me a FB message!