Floyd swore at his mom and Blair swiveled to watch the parent child drama.
Emily shook her finger at him. “Don’t you take the tone with me! Blair and I won’t be putting up with your machismo.”
“Stop it, Floyd. Charlotte was one of my closest friends.”
Alec broke in, “They can go with me.”
Floyd lowered his eyebrows at Alec. “I don’t think we’ve met.”
“Come on, Blair, Alec, we’re wasting time.” Emily turned and marched toward the grove of Aspens. Blair breathed into the scarf she had tucked into her jacket. The escaping breath formed a small cloud in the cold morning air. She watched Alec introduce himself to Floyd and then followed Emily’s resolute march.
Behind her, she heard Floyd ask wearily, “Do you have a mother?”
Alec laughed. “Doesn’t everyone?”
“Some more than others,” Floyd said.
From The Rhyme’s Library
Last week I took an outline for my new novel to my critique group. Melanie (who I have to point out is also a motherless daughter) asked, even before I began, “Is there a mom?”
Which is a fair question. I’ve written eight novels and published three and guess what? No moms.
My mom died when I was fifteen and she was sick by the time I was 11. Living with my mom wasn’t a happy experience because I have very few memories of her being healthy or happy.
As a mom of six children, I know it’s hard to being a mom. Even when you are healthy and happy, being a mom can be challenging. I can’t imagine being a mom when your body is full of cancer and chemo is racing through your blood and your hair is falling out and your breasts have been replaced by grafted skin that is routinely scorched by radiation…well, maybe I can imagine it, because I witnessed it. Twice. First my mom and then only five years later, my stepmother who was diagnosed with breast cancer six weeks before my wedding.
So, even though I am a mom and I mostly love being a mom, my protagonists, up until soon, haven’t had moms. Because I’m not sure I know how to write a healthy mom daughter relationship…even though I adore my daughters and I like to think we have healthy relationships.
When I was about thirty I remember thinking that all of my friends had strange relationships with their moms. Even though their moms would make them cry, say hateful things about their husbands and criticize how they raised their kids, kept their house, what they did or did not eat and how they practiced their faith, occasionally my friends would say things like, I just really need my mom, or I wish my mom would come and stay. And I would think…huh. Like I said, it wasn’t until I was about thirty when I realized that my friends weren’t weird—I was weird. Not having a mom put me in a small, wounded category. I am a motherless daughter. It’s all I know.
In a few weeks I’ll begin a new novel and this time my protagonist will have a mom., because writing can do things like that for you. It can take you to places you have never been before. I won’t write about being a teenage girl living alone with grieving parents. That’s not a story anyone would want to read and certainly a story I don’t want to tell. No one wants to read about vomit, fainting spells, and hysteria. And I certainly don’t want to relive it. Why would I? But what I can do is bundle all those emotions, dig deep to where they can be universally applied and share them so that they will resonate with someone who needs to know that there is an upside to pain. And when someone asks, “Do you have a mother?” I can answer, “Doesn’t everyone?” while all the time knowing, “Some of us more than others.”