That’s what you would’ve been, if you’d just paid attention to your mother. You wouldn’t have caught your death of cold or poked someone’s eye out. You’d never even bother looking for money trees. Accidents would be free of dirty undies, and you’d have nice things.
But nooooo, you didn’t heed Mom’s advice until you had children of your own. And in “Listen to Your Mother,” a collection of essays edited by Ann Imig (c.2015, Putnam, $25.95, 246 pages), you’ll see what else you missed.
For much of your life, your mother’s told you what to do. As it turns out, she IS the boss of you and sometimes her advice is right. Other times, says Mary Jo Pehl, her words scare you enough that “she should have a flashlight under her face.”
And yet — you’ve probably noticed that Mom is strong as steel. Maybe she “leads you to water and stays till you drink,” as does Tasneem Grace Tewogbola’s mother. And even if, like Lea Grover, you’ve forgotten things, you still know Mom’s “a supernatural entity made of love… and constant presence.”
If you’re the moming one, then you understand how Jenny Fiore needs outings “in order to keep my child happy enough, occupied enough not to break me.” You can “finally let go of all your crazy hopes and dreams and just live vicariously through your children,” says Wendi Aarons. Like Jennifer Ball, you know that traditions mean everything. Like Stacey Connor, you can do what’s right for your child and hope the condemnation isn’t too harsh. And you can remember, as does Natalie Cheung Hall, “I am a good mom because I have a good mom.”
Mothers, as anyone who’s had one knows, come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are single, while some families have two moms. In many cases — like that of Alexandra Rosas — Grandma takes the role and “all the ugliness of my world disappears,” or an Auntie does the mothering. Some moms eagerly anticipate their babies’ birth, others fear for their child’s future before it’s even born, and all mothers find it hard to let go.
And sometimes, Mom is actually a Dad…
So, all things considered, you were a pretty good kid — although there were times when, well, let’s just say that “Listen to Your Mother” could help make amends.
Because of long Wisconsin winters spent with two small children, blogger-editor Ann Imig created a stage show “to make room for the voices of other mothers and men and women…” and from which her book is titled.
Some of these fifty-some essays will make you laugh, of course. Others will resonate in your own life. A few will make you wonder if the author somehow knew your mother. Many stories will touch your heart — and at least one will break it in pieces.
If you’re a mother or a mom-to-be, you’ll find comfort and kindred spirits inside this addictive, easy-to-read book. If you’re looking for something to give your own Mom, I’d say wrapping up “Listen to Your Mother” is safe.
The Bookworm is Terrischlichenmeyer. Email her at email@example.com.