You carry a baby in the womb for nine months and then, when they're grown up, they call you collect, when they remember. She has her own life. And that's okay. I've learned to be patient. "Teach only love for that is what you are." The ups and downs; I live with it. And I've got a lot ahead of me and a lot to be proud of. I know: she is the reason I was born.
--Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here
Back in the spring, after my mind had settled into its All Things Kitchens All the Time groove, with room for nothing else, LomaGirl left this request in comments:
I'm looking for mothering narratives- novels, essays, short stories, memoirs. Can you think of any books that you would classify as this? I would really appreciate some help!
And I immediately thought of the ending to the Mona Simpson; Lorrie Moore's "People Like That Are the Only People Here"; memoirs by Shirley Jackson and Louise Erdrich and Anne Lamott; Sue Miller's The Good Mother (although I never thought she was); Jill in Robert Boswell's Crooked Hearts, trying to keep the family together after the eldest son literally destroys their house; the mother of the autistic boy in Anna Mitgutsch's Jakob; Pearl Tull in Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant; the two moms in Richmal Crompton's Family Roundabout; the mom in Joanna Cannan's Princes in the Land; and then, my mind went blank.
Doris Lessing's The Sweetest Dream
A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book
Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows
Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons, Searching for Caleb, etc.
Jackie Lyden's Daughter of the Queen of Sheba
I think I would classify most of my reading in the They fuck you up, your mum and dad vein, or else the good mothers of literature outside Demeter have failed to leave a mark on me.
Anyone else have some suggestions for LomaGirl? Jackie compiled her own list of the Best Books About Motherhood a couple weeks back and received some suggestions as well (I was particularly chagrined to realize I'd forgotten about Roxanna Robinson's Cost), but I feel we've only touched on the surface of the mothering narratives out there.