Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Complexity of Motherhood

I was approached by someone from last week about writing a blog post about motherly wisdom, be it from "real-life moms and/or those literary role models, or 'book moms,' who continue to guide us through our lifetime." That sounded like a pretty large task because although I am a mom, I don't have a lot of wisdom to be bestowed upon you, and the literary mothers I admire are usually seen as being fairly terrible people. However, they showed me the complexity of motherhood and how dark it may seem.

When I say that a mother's love is dark, it is only because it is so hard to describe some of the hard decisions that we must make as anything but that. It is not easy, and there are many lengths that we would go to ferociously in the care and defense of our children.

The first literary mother that came to my mind when I think about moms in books is Sara Fitzgerald from My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. She is such an easy person to hate and blame for much of what she's done to and for her family. If you haven't read the book, what has basically happened is that Sara's oldest daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with cancer, and no one in their family is a match for her in order to donate marrow, blood, or whatever else it was. (I haven't read the book in years, and the specifics really don't matter that much.) In order to save Kate's life, Sara and her husband had another child who was a genetic match for Kate.

It seems easy to blame Sara for bringing another child into the world for the sake of the desperately ill one. However, as a mother, what else can you do if you know it will save your child's life? On the other hand, this other child will be no less yours, yet you will use her well body to sustain another person. When you're a mother, it's not as easy to say that she shouldn't have done that and allow her child to potentially die while waiting on a donor match. I read this book while I was pregnant with my own daughter (big mistake - no one warned me), and I knew that I would do anything to keep my own child alive. My heart breaks for the fictitious mother every time I think about her because I know there are many real women who face similar dilemmas. How far would you go to keep your child alive if you could?

The other literary mother that has affected me greatly is one who is not the biological mother of her child. (We all know there are many types of mothers, yes?) Mina Ma is the caregiver of Eva, a young girl who is the echo (clone) of another girl halfway across the world and is being trained to step into her other's life should she ever die, in Sangu Mandanna's debut novel The Lost Girl. The book revolves around the ideas of death, loss, and holding on to that which we love as hard as we can. Mina Ma shows her fierce love of Eva to the reader early on in the novel.

"You exist by the Weavers' grace. Only as long as you are what they expect of you. Do you not understand how fragile that is? But if you replace your other, you might be safe. You might make your familiars happy, and then they will always keep you. So if only for my sake, child, hope that happens."

"I won't wish for her to die!"

"Then I will wish it," she replies ruthlessly, "because I don't know or love

- The Lost Girl, pg 19.

I like to think that there is no mother anywhere who would wish death upon anyone's child, but it is a dark thing to hope for if it will save the life of her own. Mina Ma does, and I'm sure that she shares this hope with many.

I wish I had more wisdom to give you so you would not think that we mothers are psychopaths, but I suppose in a way, we are*. We all love our children very much, and though there may be a dark side to that, it only goes to show the depth. I hope that you remember this as you spend Mother's Day with your mother or other female role models this weekend.

*I don't recommend you telling your mom that she's crazy.

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You are going to put words in my box?! *squeezes you* Now I shall stalk YOUR blog!