The Sunday Salon – Motherhood

Mother’s Day.  How appropriate – motherhood has been consuming my thoughts of late, even more than usual.  During the past week, concerns about my son have been brewing in my mind, along with questions about my own role as a mother and daughter.  And while none have been completely resolved, I am beginning to wrap my mind around them and carry on.  So my week away from writing ends here, on Mother’s Day, tucked into a corner table at Bigby’s Coffee Shop with my laptop, my book, and a tall house blend.  Welcome to The Sunday Salon.

As I look back on my reading over the past week (actually, over the past year and more) I’m amazed at how often mothering figures into themes and plots.  At this moment, A Family Daughter (Maile Meloy) sits beside me on the table, while The Optimist’s Daughter (Eudora Welty) lies open on my reading chair at home.   Just last week I finished Hungry Hill, a memoir by Carole O’Malley Gaunt, who writes about the way her mother’s death has shaped her life, and the lives of her seven brothers.  Before that, Run, Ann Patchett’s tale of two boys and two mothers.   Earlier in the year, there was Men and Angels (Mary Gordon), The God of Animals (Aryn Kyle), Hearts and Minds (Rosy Thornton), and of course The Good Mother (Sue Miller).  Motherhood figures in all these novels, in some larger than others, but there nevertheless.

So my reading history begs the question -are we drawn to the books we need to read?  Have I been shunning my favorite mysteries and biographies in favor of novels about motherhood and family relationships?  Is my subconscious mind attracting me toward books that might reveal some insight I need to hear?

I know that books have often played themselves out in my life in odd and unexplainable ways.  When I was a teenager, one of my favorite books was Madeleine L’Engle’s Camilla.  Part of the plot involves the title character, a young girl, who discovers her father is having an affair.  Although I barely understood the meaning of the word, the implications fascinated me, as did the ramifications on Camilla.  I even used this premise as the basis for a short story of my own, a story that won a Scholastic Writing Award.  

Little did I know that 25 years later I would be living Camilla’s story. 

A while back, I wrote a post about a book which cut so close to the quick of my own concerns that I set it aside unfinished.  Some of the events in that book are being manifested in my life right now, and so it seems my prescience was warranted to some degree once again.

Mothers and books.

Powerful influences, aren’t they?

So tell me, has your life ever imitated a book?  And do you ever find yourself drawn to books that you “need” to read?




9 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – Motherhood

  1. Happy Mothers’ Day (Mothers’ Day here in the UK is in March, it sounds far better idea to have it when it’s a little more likely to be sunny!).

    I’m reading some books about families at the moment, two Sophie King’s but as they deal principally with children older than mine and they all seem really badly behaved it’s a bit depressing!

    I am currently feeling drawn to books featuring characters with Aspergers for some family reasons, I haven’t read them yet, part of me has been avoiding it but I think I will soon.

  2. I’m glad you’re back. I was worried about you. I know that since my mother died, not quite two years ago, I’ve found it difficult to read about mother/daughter relationships and indeed anything where there is a family in which people treat each other cruelly. And yet Mom, Dad and I were the closest family that three people could be; friends as well as relations. That must be even harder when things have not turned out so well. Take care and remember we’re here if we can help.

  3. Great post! Yes, I think I am drawn to the books I need to read. Sometimes, too, I have the sense that I’m reading a book at the wrong time, that if I’d read it in my twenties (or whatever) it would have been perfect, but not now.

    I hope things work out for you…

  4. Yes I definitely think I’m drawn to certain books that I need to read to help me sort through things going on in my personal life. I was reading a review copy of a book and I came close to returning it because at the time it was hitting on things I didn’t want to think about. I finally pushed myself to finish it so I could be done with it.

  5. Happy Mother’s Day! I can’t say I’ve ever found my life mirroring a book, but I probably wouldn’t pick up a book with, say, a father with anger management issues, just because it would hit too close to home. That being said, several times I’ve had ‘themes’ of books definitely apply to my life, and they’ve helped me realise truths, or make decisions, or things like that. And I appreciate that. But usually when things are difficult in my life, I withdraw into stories that take me far, far away.

  6. So glad to see you back and Happy Mother’s Day! I must print this post out so I can chase up some of the books you mention. I’ve always found that my research projects take me to the heart of something that’s troubling me, without me really being aware of it. Only once the analysis is done do I see more clearly into what was on my mind. Most important of all, I do hope the reading is helping. I’ve often found a beautifully expressed sentence with a message that meant a lot to me has been of great comfort in the past. Books help us to love the truth, no matter how hard it is, and it’s the only way to get through the tough parts of life.

    Take good care of yourself.

  7. I tend to “fall in” to books that help me, rather than seeking them out and reading them for that purpose. I have a lucky habit of finding books which tell me what’s wrong… Even if I didn’t realize anything was wrong in the first place! Sometimes I think my books know more about me than my friends do…

  8. Welcome back, Becca. You were missed.

    I haven’t exactly found my life mirroring a book, but now and then similarities pop out or a book resonates in an unexpectedly personal way. I’ve never hesitated to seek out books that may help me deal with or understand some situation I’m dealing with, but I find it almost more powerful when I just happen upon it. Someone mentioned something that seemed right or I’d just see the cover and blurb and say, “this is what I need now.” I’ve had books I’ve bought or received as gifts that I’ve longed to read — sort of — yet put them on the bottom of the stack to find something else… for what reason, I don’t always know when I begin.

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