Saturday, May 15, 2010

A tribute to mothers

Mother’s day has just passed. It is a time when people recognize mothers for the incomparable and thankless job that they do each day. Mothers influence every person’s life, whether for better or for worst, in novels just as in real life. So today, I’ll take a few minutes to reflect on mothers in my stories and real life.

In my novel, “A marriage of Convenience” the lead character’s mother, Leyoca, is very dominant and influential in her life. Leyoca was a teenage mother and high school dropout who went on to accomplish great things in and out of corporate America. And though she now lives thousands of miles away from her daughter, she tries to micromanage every aspect of her life. Yes it is a constant sore point between them, especially when every one of Tamara’s love interest is met with skepticism and criticism. Yet Tamara recognizes her mother’s sacrifice and acknowledges that all Leyoca’s actions is done out of love.

Mrs. Bryan, the hero’s mother in my novella, “From SKB with Love,” (Holiday Brides) is quite different from Leyoca. This lady is laid back and accepting with a big heart. She is not rich or well accomplished, but she is welcoming. The biggest thing about Mrs. Bryan is the open home she runs, and the way she accepts even strangers as her children. Even before the heroine, Venetta, gets involved with her son, she began referring to her as her “daughter-in-law”. What sums up her character best is when she explained that she has more daughters-in-law than she has sons.

Both mothers in the stories are influential in their kids’ decisions to pursue relationships with their love interests.

Mrs. Bryan is modeled off of my mother. This spring, we celebrated her 80th birthday. My mother was an orphan, who spent most of her childhood bouncing from relative to relative. Several years ago, Mother communicated to me her aspiration in life. It was simple: she wanted to be the Matriarch of large family. And indeed she is. With 8 children and twice as many grandchildren, and a smattering of great grand children, she is indeed the grand dame of a large family. During the ceremony we had the opportunity to reminisce with fondness about her storytelling ability, her cunning bits of advice and the way she inspired and still continues to inspire us.
What was most remarkable about that night is a letter from a friend of mine that really opened my eyes to the impact she had, not only on her children’s lives, but their friends and even acquaintances. He, like many others, was always at our home while we were growing up. In his tribute to Mother, he said, “You have been a source of inspiration to many of the young men who you nurtured when they came into the church.” At that moment I looked around the room and realized, just about everybody, whether they were friends, relatives or acquaintances, called her “Mother”. It was not just a moniker. It was her station in life. Mother, mothered everyone, young and not so young, constantly encouraging them to be all that they can be.

We were poor growing up. Yet Mother had a generous heart. I remember there was a new young shoemaker whom she commissioned to make shoes for her grandbaby. The shoes came out looking like Vienna sausages. Still she commissioned him to make shoes for me. They looked like pancakes and I did not want to wear them. I couldn’t understand why she kept going to him when others were making much better shoes for the same price. Now as an adult I understand her philosophy. She was giving him a hand up, not a hand out and in the process building his confidence. She predicted that as soon as he got good at his craft she would no longer be able to afford him, and she was right, yet she still helped him to get there. That is Mother.

I remember the time I told her that I wanted to be an author. She told me about a man who wrote books and walked around peddling them and how poor he was. She didn’t discourage me from writing; she just subtly steered me to do something a little more dependable. Now as a published author as I witness firsthand the fickleness of the publishing industry, I’m thankful that I chose to focus on building a career before delving into writing as a source of income. Though writing is my passion, the reality is, for the majority of writers it’s not lucrative enough nor is the remuneration dependable enough for a full time exclusive career.

As a teenager, my Mother constantly berated me for reading romance novels which she referred to as “dirty books.” Yet, when I finally revealed to my family that I was a romance novelist, my mother was the biggest cheerleader.
So to all mother’s who make sacrifices for your kids, who do all the thankless jobs and nurture a whole generation, please accept my belated Mother's day wish for you. Since I can't send you real flowers, here is a virtual bouquet for you. I dedicate this blog post to my dear mother.


Phyllis Bourne said...

Happy Belated Mother's Day to both you and your amazing mom.

I don't have kids, but stand in awe of the sacrifices my mom made for us growing up.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Thanks, Phyllis.