Posts Tagged ‘ writing about motherhood ’

Author Randy Susan Meyers Reveals How She Writes About the Dark Side of Motherhood

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Fiction alert: I hear a new book called The Comfort of Lies is a great beach read. Told in alternating points of view, the novel reveals the darkest and most private thoughts of three very different women who are all connected to a 5-year-old girl: Tia, the birth mother; Caroline, the adopted mother; and Juliette, the wife of the birth father. The year their lives collide, the women must confront their choices while discovering sobering truths about their relationships and most importantly, themselves. Author Randy Susan Meyers explores the complications of love and collateral damage of infidelity, as well as universal themes of motherhood, identity, trust and forgiveness.

Below, Randy tells us how she writes about motherhood–the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.

“Between perfect mothers and flawed (real) moms lay murky truth: We always love our children; we don’t always love being mothers. We’re M&M’s, our shells of goodness covering malleable centers of insecurity, always seeking evidence we’re not alone.

Great books of being raised by evil parents abound; rarer are authentic stories of imperfect mothers, written without cover of apologies for the character’s negative thoughts like, She’s drunk! She’s crazy! I understand this all too well. Writer-mothers also fear judgment, and who’s less revered than bad moms? But oh, how soothing to learn one’s not alone in ambivalence. We need reminding that feelings don’t equal actions, and that angry inside thoughts (even while murmuring soothing words to a screeching infant, calming a toddler in midst of a tantrum, biting back screams while coping with surly fourteen-year-olds) don’t define us.

A million things engender inside thoughts: Our checkbook’s empty. We hate building Lego castles. Maybe we’re divorced and distracted by fantasies of sparkly sex with a new beau—or simply too exhausted from a day of working at home or outside to make a single pan of brownies for that class party.

Novels capturing these moments from the mother’s point of view saved me when my children were small. Books like I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson and Jump At The Sun by Kim McLarin. Brave writers led me through the thicket of motherhood ambivalence. Even now, with grown children, I feel the push-pull of parenthood and work. Mothering isn’t just a 24- hour job, it lasts a lifetime, and there’s always more you can give, no matter how old your children. Toni Morrison said it in Beloved: “Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”

I had my first daughter at 21; I don’t remember what it’s like to be an adult without children. How could I not write about mothering? Memories of revelatory books still bring comfort, but writing the core of raising children may be the toughest write of all. We’re not forgiven transgressions of motherhood. Saying everyday truths aloud—stretch marks, boredom—is difficult, but the harder truths sometimes feels impossible. How to reveal that the health, happiness, and success of our children make or break us every day and forever? Done right, motherhood begs the question, do you mind stepping aside for a lifetime? This is the truth I want to tell.”

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