Even though I’m not a big Mother’s Day enthusiast (my mother was of the Hallmark Holiday persuasion), the Day does make me think about my own rocky relationship with my mother, which evolved later in life. Now that I wrote BEGUILED, I also consider the extent to which Miriam and Ma reflected our relationship.
Young adults usually don’t see their parents as people in their own right. They’re still caught up in the adolescent need to differentiate. Mothers promote that by continuing to act like moms, reminding their adult children to dress warm(ly) in winter, get rest, and do the things that will bring them (moms) a feeling of pride.
I just read a hilarious article about 90-year old “helicopter moms,” one of whom called the Board of Education to tell them not to work her daughter so hard. The daughter was a principal of the local high school.
Miriam’s mom was not a helicopter mom. But, she was critical, judgmental, and Miriam spent her youth defending herself against Ma’s derogatory comments. And Miriam never knew whether Ma would be her ally, her advocate, but especially wondering if Ma really loved her (since she was a girl, not the sought after son). This is a central dyad in the story, one that gets resolved in the end, but reminds us that it only occurs when we (adult daughters) can learn to see our moms as people who suffered and raged and loved and disappointed… as real people with a history. If we never see our moms as people with a history, then they forever are frozen as stick figures who cannot change.
I hope that readers will come to see Ma as a sympathetic character, one with a history and the capacity to love, even her daughter.