A Mother's Hope
History has much to say about motherhood. So does fiction.
In the stories we read there are uncountable perspectives, ideas, situations, outcomes, failures, and successes influenced, created by, or attributed to mothers. From the literary classics to the latest novels, many plots center on a mother’s critical role in the foundation, development, and future prospects of her children and her community.
An example of this is Amy Tan’s ‘The Joy Luck Club,’ a masterful literary work about the power, the sacrifices, the pain, the bliss and, most importantly, the enduring hope of mothers.
The life of a mother is multifaceted, and is often a challenging undertaking. She is at once life-giver, nurturer, disciplinarian, sweetness, guiding hand, naysayer, protector, and immoveable force.
She is the one who both ties the home strings and later cuts them to free her children of the past, in order for them to form an independent future. She is the one who has to keep pace with the shifting lines of right and wrong as society grows, evolves and, sometimes, turns on a dime.
Not an easy task.
She is the sounding board, the carefully balanced mix of cheerleader and critic. She is the challenge, the testing ground—and often the target—when her teenagers take their first steps into adulthood.
She is the one with all the answers because, for so long, she is the one who asked all the questions.
She is a memory bank, a fierce warrior, an advocate for peace who knows evolution doesn’t always deal out a fair hand.
Her arms are the first home her children ever know. Her voice is the echo that winds its way through their thoughts. Her approval is the bonus no amount of money can equal.
To honor a mother is to carry her hope forward. Into relationships. Into homes. Careers. Into the hearts and minds of the generations that follow.
For Mother’s Day, I wish for all mothers what I wish for my own mom: radiant happiness, profound good health, and the best of surprises to find you each and every day of your life.
And, in honor of Mother’s Day, several friends from the self/indie-published literary community are sharing insights, experiences, and novel excerpts about mothers.
Author Melissa Foster
There are certain people who shape our lives, parents, friends, teachers, siblings, and others. Each has the power to shape us in a negative or positive way. I'm not sure many people understand the depth of their words, or the impact of how a single comment can change someone's life. My book, Megan's Way, was written because of something that happened years ago with my mother, and tortured me for years. I could have lost her, and the decision she had made, and kept secret from me, festered and tore at me every waking moment for many years, until finally I came full circle, and understood why her decision would have been the right one for her, and probably for me.
Every Mother's Day I take a trip back through Megan's Way to revisit the hurt, and rebuild the strength, that I gained from that event. Megan's Way is the story of one mother's journey through illness, her daughter's will to survive, and a circle of friends shrouded in secrets.
Megan and Holly ran, weaving their way through the crowds of the carnival and hollering to hear over the thick cheer that permeated the festive evening. Two teenage boys looked them up and down as they passed. Megan yanked Holly by her arm and pulled her into a long shadow cast by the colorful lights that illuminated a rickety roller coaster. They huddled together, giggling. A moment later, the roller coaster whooshed by, sending them scampering through the mass of carnival-goers, engulfed in uncontrollable shrieks of laughter.
A small red tent with a psychedelic sign that read “Psychic Readings! See Your Future! $3!” caught Megan’s attention. She dragged Holly to the entrance, and they peered into the smoky gloom as they parted the curtain of stringed glass beads, which clinked and jingled as they were pushed to the side.
Holly pulled at Megan’s sleeve, “Let’s get out of here.”
Megan distractedly shrugged off Holly’s hand. She was mesmerized by the rush of the unknown, spellbound by the eccentric woman sitting within the darkened tent. A chill ran up Megan’s spine. The woman looked into her eyes and beckoned her forward. Megan reached behind her and grasped Holly’s hand, pulling her into the tent against her will. She reached into her pocket and, barely able to take her eyes from the old woman’s, fumbled to count her money and then shoved six crumpled dollar bills into a glass jar that sat on a pedestal by the entrance.
The cacophony of the rides and the crowds seemed to fall away as a hushed stillness closed in around them, save for the crackle of the flickering flames dancing on their wicks. The girls’ hands trembled. They were equally scared and excited by the mystical old woman shrouded in veils. Several bracelets clanked and dangled from her thick wrist as she motioned for them to sit around the small round table. They startled when the old woman grabbed their hands with her rough, plump fingers, then she slowly and dramatically closed her eyes.
Her hands tightened around theirs. The woman gasped a deep breath, and her body rose up and back, as if she were being pushed against the back of her chair. She held her breath, then let it out in a rush of air. Her hands fell open, releasing theirs. Her shoulders slumped forward, and her head followed.
Holly snapped her head in Megan’s direction and mouthed, “What the hell?”
The woman opened her heavily-painted eyes, which grew wide and laden with concern, and stared into Megan’s eyes. Megan felt riveted to her chair. The woman reached across the table and touched her hand, sending a jolt of energy up Megan’s arm. Megan pulled her hand away, frightened. The woman whispered to her, “Ah, High Priestess, my teen querent. She will need you, and you will know.”
Megan’s legs trembled, her heart pounded in her chest. Her breaths came in short, clipped bursts. She and Holly turned wide, scared eyes toward each other. The woman moved her vision to the space between Megan and Holly. “Three of Swords pierce a heart. Against the background of a storm, it bleeds.” She closed her eyes again, and whispered, “I see death.” Her eyes slowly opened and she squinted, as if she were watching a scene unfold of a different time and place, her eyes darting without focus. Then seeming to recite, she intoned, “Blood or poison will come: Transformation—passage—truth.”
The girls reached for each other’s shaking hands. Holly’s eyes welled with tears, her head visibly shook. Megan remained focused on each word the old woman said, unable to turn away.
The psychic turned those same concerned eyes to Holly. They glazed over with a look the girls could not read. Fear? Hatred? Understanding? She pointed a long, painted fingernail at Holly and hissed, “Judgment asks for the resurrection to summon the past, forgive it, and let it go.” She lowered her hand and said, “One will be released,” then quietly, under her breath, “and returned after death.”
After a moment of panicked silence, the girls stood, sending their chairs flying askew. Then they fled, running fast and hard into the chaos of the carnival, caught in a frenzy of fear and hysterical laughter.
The psychic screamed into the night behind them. Her words trailed in their wake and echoed in Megan’s ears for days, “With this spell, I empower thee. I empower thee!”
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Author R. S. Guthrie
One year ago I wrote a blog about the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. Just yesterday my son asked me if I held any regrets in my heart, anything that I was sorry I had not done or said.
It seems so cliché, but the truth is I regret taking her for granted. I always thought she would be here, always waiting just behind her apartment door with some fresh cookies and a half-finished crossword.
I never thought about the day when I wouldn’t be able to email her for a favorite recipe or call to see if she had picked up my son from school because it was raining. I never thought there would be things I could not share with her.
This summer I will be four years cancer-free, but when I worry about a relapse, one of the things that scare me about that possibility is that she wouldn’t be here to talk to. I also know that she will never again sit at the foot of my bed and tell me everything will be okay.
So many times I was dropping by to pick up my son, or to bring something to her, or to get something from her, and I hurried along, so worried about the next place I had to be (or even just wanting to get home to unwind, decompress from the long work day). But as is so often the case, I didn’t think about the time when I wouldn’t be able to see her—the time when I wouldn’t have the luxury of her laugh or the gift of her comforting presence.
I try to tell my son how proud she would have been to see him becoming the young man he is, and how I am sure she still watches over him. I want him to understand how precious life is and how quickly it is gone, but how can I convince him?
I myself was never convinced.
Indeed it seems I am still not convinced. I trudge along as if there will be a never-ending parade of tomorrows. I procrastinate; I put off until tomorrow what I could easily do today—or worse, I wait to say the things that might never get to be said.
So to her I say:
I miss you so much, Mom. The weather is turning warm and the days are so much longer and I know you would love it. I have so many things in my heart that I wish I could share with you. Sometimes I feel frozen in time because I can’t admit you aren’t here anymore. I envy those who still have both their parents. I think about the fact that you are in a place so far beyond the sadness of this world that I should be happy for you, but I can’t help being so very, very brokenhearted just the same. When you were here I don’t know if made you feel special, but you were. You were my mother in so many ways that I couldn’t begin to write them here. You never let me down. Not ever. There were times I know you felt you had so little to give me, but that was only in a material sense. Within your soul you had every good thing in the world, and I always knew it.
I will never get over losing you.
The backseat is quiet.
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Author Deborah Batterman
'Tell my mother she looked cute in something, at any age, and she would bristle. No woman should ever be called cute, she insisted. Girls are cute. Boys are cute. Little dogs are cute. (She hated cats.)' — From Because my name is mother, Deborah Batterman
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Author Terra Harmony
This excerpt is from 'Water, Book One of the Akasha Series', when the main character, Kaitlyn, is being held captive and tortured by the antagonist, Shawn. Kaitlyn finds the strength to endure and persist by recalling memories of her mother, and uses certain skills her mother taught her to concoct an escape plan:
In the Akasha Series, both of Kaitlyn's parents passed just after she had turned 18. The family's ability to manipulate the natural elements of water, air, fire, and earth, was yet to be revealed. However, Kaitlyn was able to tap into the strength of her mother to survive some of the worst moments life had to offer."Is it happy hour already?"
Shawn didn't laugh. Without glancing up, he said, "I am souring your luck." He put the lime in a bowl and added salt and ashes. He placed the bowl in front of me, stood, and gave orders to have me moved back into the bed. As they lifted me off the table, I managed to kick over the bowl of lime and ashes.
I can make my own luck, I thought. Mother taught me how.
I have no doubt that both intrinsic and learned qualities from my mother and the other strong women in my life have helped me through my most trying times. This mother's day, as we give thanks to our mothers, don't forget to celebrate our shared mother – the Earth. She, too, shares her gifts with us every day of the year!
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Author Ashley Barron
Excerpt from 'The Birthday'
“Why did you take the toys away?”
For a second, I think the dog—already convinced she’s human—has finally mastered English. I look back down at my feet and see that my daughter has joined her brother on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor.
I don’t answer the question. I’m wondering if I should make them get up and relocate to the family room carpet. But I don’t. They look so adorable, so relaxed, like sunbathers on the first day of summer.
With time moving so fast I’m determined to hold on to all the sweetness I can find in a day.
“Don’t you love her anymore?” My son’s chin rests against the dog. His voice is muffled by her thick coat.
I wonder why he’s so focused on the question of love, today. He’s fast approaching that age when boys discover girls, and the first blush of hormones turns into trading notes in class, sitting together at lunch, and calling each other on the phone.
I’m dreading it.
I don’t want him to outgrow childhood, to outgrow the reach of my mommy role as Most Important Person.
“Of course, I love her,” I say. “That’s precisely why I cleaned her toys. She can have them back tomorrow.”
The kids cuddle up closer to our dog, tangling themselves into a heap of limbs, pajamas and fluffy fur. And they begin to sing. It’s a song I thought they had long-ago forgotten. A child’s song, soft and happy.
I stand completely still, afraid my slightest movement will end the magic.
I hear the garage door rising. As my husband walks through the side door, I hold a finger in front of my lips. He nods, and flashes me a smile. I want to relive this moment later, much later in life when we sit our old bones down in rocking chairs and hold wiggling grandchildren on our knees.
Our children finish the last few lines of the song before calling out, in unison, “Hi Dad!”
His reply is drowned out by the chimes of the doorbell. The kids and dog are up in a flash in a mad-scrabble race to the front door. Their favorite babysitter has arrived. I know all of them are thrilled by the prospect of no parents for the evening.
My son will get to watch that absurd reality show, thinking I’ll never be the wiser. My daughter, who greatly aspires to be sixteen, will spend the evening being dazzled by stories about high school. And the babysitter, about to get royally paid for spending the evening texting half the teens in our zip code, will be adored by all present.
As I listen to the hurried chatter of excited voices, my eyes remain on the now-empty spot on the kitchen floor. Is this what it will feel like when they’ve gone off into the world? Will I still hear their laughter echoing in this house?
“I love you.”
My husband’s words are soft in the quiet room. I know the exact look on his face when he speaks with that tone—the tone he’s been using lately when he talks about us having another child, one more child, before no more are possible.
I love this man. I love seeing his sleepy eyes in the morning. I love holding his body against mine in the night. I love hearing him tell the same stories over and over again.
And I love his children.
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