Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mothers who think

Mothers who think:Tales of real-life parenthood
ed. Camille Peri and Kate Moses
pages: 279

Why haven't I heard of this book sooner? Granted I wasn't a mother in 1999 when this book came out, but I was a mother-in-training, since that's the year my younger twin sisters were born. I didn't really know what to think when I first picked up this book. I heard some good but vague reviews on it already. I'm glad I picked it up.

Out of thirty-seven essays, less than five felt flat to me. These really are tales of real-life parenthood told with passion and fierce honesty. This book is a dream for any mother who want to hear about more than just changing diapers and being that good wife to their husband. This is a book about it all. The topics range from worrying if your black child is becoming too "white" (Young, Black, and too White,) to being angry with your child (Mother Anger: Theory and Pratice,) to being a mother without daughters.

I laughed, cried, shook my head, and at times gave a silent prayer of thanks for finally knowing that someone else knew what I was going through as a single mom. One essay that made me do all of the above is "One Drip at a Time" by Susan Straight. Her essay is straight forward and simple, truly telling of being a single mother with no dad as backup and having to be all and do all. Here's an excerpt:
"This is what always gets done, because it means a lot to me: The kids wear clean, unwrinkled clothes, and their hair is always clean and styled. We eat really good breakfasts and dinners, and we are never out of Swiss chocolate, English Breakfast tea, or Vermont maple syrup. The sink is never full of dishes, and all trash is taken out of the van when children exit.

This is what doesn't get done, because I can't do it: If they lose a button or need a strap sewn back on, they'd better pray they grow slowly, because it could be months before I get to sit down and mend or sew. We are sometimes out of juice boxes or bread, and they have to take water bottles and peanut-butter-smeared crackers in thier lunches. The oustide of the van is so dirty we could grow corn in the soil collected on the windshield wipers and potatoes on teh roof.

The kids always go to the doctor, for checkups and shots and immediately, incessantly, it seems, when they are ill. They take their medicine when they should.

But I haven't been to the doctor since I had Rosette, who just turned three. Before that, I had seen my primary-care physician once in five years, for severe bronchitis. She had no idea who I was. Usually I drink herb tea, light a sain't candle and pray that I won't get sick, and go to bed...
So my clothes are hand-me-downs. My glasses are nearly three years old, and the baby girl has bumped them so many times that they hand askew. One eyebrow shows and one doesn't. Okay, it's not that bad. But my hairstyle-long hair in a bun and bangs I cut myself when I can't see anymore-has worked for three years now. That's when I made my last annual salon trip. Two hours sitting in a chair? With no kids? And it costs money? Please.
This is my life exactly. I thought I was the only one. If you are a woman and a mother, you will find stories in here for you. It doesn't matter if you were black, white, or Hispanic, poor, middle-class, and higher up the food chain, married, or not. Being a mother is something that can bring most women together.

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