Becoming a mother has by far been my most life-changing event. (And on many days, that word would become “life-challenging.”) I can’t say that I’m an expert…but I AM a mother, so I guess I can be a self-proclaimed expert, at least. One with a lot of stories, at best.
And stories are what fill the pages of “Listen To Your Mother,” an anthology that’s been edited by Ann Imig, the founder and director of the live reading event of the same name. Started in 2010, this “movement” has brought together anyone who has ever had a mother, been a mother, or just felt like a mother. And, by doing so, it has successfully altered our definition of motherhood.
The essays are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes brutal…because motherhood, as all mothers know, can be all of those things. The stories so succinctly show us that we are not alone—mothering is tough—mothers are tough. The rewards are great, and sometimes there are no rewards.
There are stories about mothers who were present and those who were not, single mothers and homes with two mothers, and homes where the dads were the mother figures. (Whoever said women have cornered the market on “mothering?”)
All of these stories have a collective voice, and that voice speaks of care and love and concern and frustration and humility. The essays give us a porthole’s view into the traditional, and the unconventional: an only child grows up with two lesbian moms and a male gay couple contemplates what it would be like if one of their sisters donated an egg so they could become fathers. The stories of moms who do not fall into the cookie cutter shape that we envision most moms to reside in are the ones that affected me the most, like Angie Miller’s mom story: “My mother lives down by the river. When you drive that way, you might see her clothes in black plastic garbage bags rammed under a park bench, or you might see her sitting, wrapped in a blanket, sipping a donated coffee from the local gas station.”
Motherhood can send you soaring and then knock you down; it’s a sucker punch to the gut. We know—we’ve all been there. And that’s the point. It’s nice to know there are others with whom you can commiserate and celebrate.
This book would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift, and for those in the Boston area, an extra special addition to the gift basket would be tickets to see Listen to Your Mother live. Ronna Benjamin, BA50’s Managing Editor, will be reading at the event that takes place on May 9th in Copley Square. Grab your mom, sister, aunt, friend…or dad, and take them to hear Ronna and some other truly amazing women share their stories.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but as always, my review is my own. Please leave a comment below and you might win a free copy of the book for yourself.