Comments on my article on The Huffington Post yesterday featured many protests to my suggestion that, if we really think single motherhood is bad for women and children, then maybe we, as a caring society, should think about how we can help. Essentially (paraphrasing here):
“Why should I give up my hard earned money to someone else?”
Meanwhile, comments on my tribute to my mother on Salon, which also ran yesterday, seemed to indicate a belief that mothers should sacrifice themselves for the greater good of their children and families, in the heartbreaking and difficult cases where those two are at odds. I did not leave my children, and I am so grateful to have found an unorthodox way to balance my needs and my children’s needs so that both are met. So sad, though, and so ironic when placed next to the comments on the other article, to read that quite a few people think:
“My mother left us and found her happiness, but she should have stayed because one person’s happiness is less important that the happiness of several (her children and family).”
One or several? Me or them? Is it just mothers who we require to be selfless, when the rest of us clearly don’t want to be?
The choices, and the solutions, cannot be so black and white. We are human, after all. Love and compassion are part of what we are. There has to be a way to empower us to help ourselves and enable us to support and serve others so that no one is ruined, abandoned, or lost.
On Salon today, an essay about my mother. Here’s a sneak peak:
My mother was always there. She was a 1950s housewife, living in the ’60s and ’70s. Whatever my siblings and I needed, she gave: hand-sewn prom dresses; homemade Christmas ornaments; she pulled up a stool and offered step-by-step advice (through the locked bathroom door I refused to open for, oh, an hour) about how to insert my first tampon. When I confessed to her, as a child, that I had stolen candy bars from a local store, she helped me believe life could go on and be righted, and it was that safety, that lying together in my bed, that ensured I would never steal anything again. When I was 15, and broke my arm falling off a runaway horse, careening straight downhill behind my house in the rain, I didn’t cry — it didn’t even hurt — until I laid eyes on my mother.
Read the whole piece here.
I’ve done close to one hundred interviews, between research for my three books, Why She Left Us, Hiroshima in the Morning and my next novel just completed, Shadow Child. Now, I get a taste of my own medicine! I had a wonderful, spirited conversation with Sarah Hampson, a writer for the Globe and Mail, which went through so many topics in only one hour. According to her recounting of it, I said my children “don’t annoy me”!
Ha! Well, I probably said it because they don’t. I love them. And they both crushed me in Scrabble Slam last night.
From the article:
On Mother’s Day, her boys will be with her. They will cook pancakes or waffles together. If it’s nice out, they’ll go for a walk through the botanical gardens. “I’m a better mother because I’m not concerned with ‘shoulds’,” she says. “Now that I’m divorced and I have them for specific amounts of time, I can give them my full attention when I have them.”
The full article is here.
Parenting.com asked me to write about the reaction to my motherhood. You can read the whole essay here. Here is a sample:
“What is a woman’s place? Why are we so eager to judge mothers, and ourselves, based on a belief that self-sacrifice equals love? Why is the well-being of children paramount, while the well-being of the mother is not important at all?”
From my article today on Salon:
“The question I am always asked is, “How could you leave your children?” How could you be the mother who walks away? As if my children were embedded inside me, even years after birth, and had to be surgically removed? As if I abandoned them on a desert island, amid flaming airplane debris and got into the lifeboat alone?”
Read the whole essay here.