MaMoMeMo
May is motherhood memoir month

Motherhood

Death & Mother’s Day Cards

I am looking at the rack of lovely Mother’s Day cards when I realize I don’t need to buy a Mother’s Day card this year. My mother is dead, or as I like to think, has flown away. The Mother’s Day card was always a quandary for me anyway, filled with so much glowing praise that just didn’t apply. It always took me awhile to find the right card. Some years I just modified an all occasion card or, in my artsy phases, made my own card. It was always a rather conflicted occasion, so why now am I close to tears standing in front of the Mother’s Day card display? I never thought I’d miss her, but I was wrong. And yet I don’t miss so many things about her, but there seems no way to be in touch with my actual feelings, processing them instead of numbing them,…

Permission to Struggle

It’s okay to struggle. painting by L.Lyn Greenstone Give yourself permission to struggle, Char, the Pilates instructor says. She also says things like, it’s okay to wobble. I never see her wobble, and none of the HIIT Pilates moves we do seem a struggle for her strong body, but I trust she knows what she’s talking about. As I take in her words, something settles within, allowing me to focus and be okay with weakness. So I take this bit of wisdom home, mull it over as I write this memoir. I’m struggling with organization, structure, and cohesiveness–all things I shouldn’t worry about right now. But I want to name all 31 chapters, know more about where I’m going, what the stops along the way will look like, and how I’m going to get there. It turns out writing isn’t like that for me. It is always a surprise journey.…

Write a Memoir in May

I’m writing a memoir during the 31 days of May- since May is (Motherhood) Memoir Month–I deemed it that–now I have to do it. On Day 1 I decide my memoir will have 31 chapters, a chapter a day. The writing will be lean, maybe just the skeleton of the story. It sounds do-able, yet ambitious. Both impossible and possible. Impossible goals scare me. I hear my mind saying, No, no, no, don’t try that- you’ll fail, And then you’ll feel like a failure. Stay in the cave (as Brooke Castillo, The Life Coach School says; I recently spent a year being coached…). This is the primitive part of my brain talking. But I want to live from my pre-fontal cortex, lean into a higher calling. So here is my new thinking on this: If I know I will most likely fail, why not do it anyway? Trying and failing…

Untangling the Mess

First drafts are messy. We’ve all heard that, but I always think no draft can be as messy as mine. Given enough time, I will restart and restate parts of the story, losing track of what I already wrote. I’ll rethink it until the story swirls around and leaves my head spinning. Finally I have to print it and cross out areas, bracket and draw arrows to new places, cut and paste, with scissors and tape, old school. Actually, I start with my journal, so lots of scratching there too. I wonder how it will ever come together. But if I stay with it, like the bucking horses my mother used to put me on, it finally calms down and becomes something cohesive and wonderful- a great ride, a story readers can inhabit. I live for that. Believe in it. Believing keeps me going. Writing is an act of faith.…

The Barbed Wire Within

When I sit down to write about my recently dead mother I am overcome by a sense of dread. I want to write this memoir, I tell myself; it is an important story that needs to be told. the hard edges of writing difficult stories tear like barbed wire on the inside marika-vinkmann Her death was untimely in many ways, a wrongful death I might have prevented, had I not been somewhat ambivalent at the time, eager to go back home and spend Thanksgiving with my real family. In my absence, my older brother, who our mother trusted to take care of her, and who she had signed over everything to, put on Lorzepam, a heavy anxiety med, and morphine. He moved to a group home where she was given occasional sucks of water from a dirty sponge. When she lived more than the two days our brother got nervous,…

Where You Begin, Again

Forget the flowers- write about fears, and all else your heart runs from. May is (Motherhood) Memoir Month- You don’t have to be a mother to have a motherhood story- It’s where YOU begin, or began, or begin again. I am always and forever beginning again, a firm believer in new beginnings, but also in finishing what I’ve begun. I’m not as good at that. I’m better at starting over. Right now I’m working on finishing a memoir about my mother- what it means to be a daughter of a manic mind, and how her recent death has changed our relationship. It’s a complicated, conflicted relationship, and writing about it helps me understand it better, helps me understand me better. Meanwhile, the writing feels messy. However, I’ve found some tools to help bring order to the chaos. As I write toward my goal of bringing completion to this work during…

Ode to an Other Mother

Sons #2 & 3 just left to return home to Portland and Seattle. #3 was wearing a Timbers T-shirt. My hub commented that it was a pre-Alaska Airlines influenced logo (he works for AA now). Chase gave me this shirt the last time we were together, he said. And he told the story again that we love to hear, but are sad for too, for Chase is no longer with us. A few years ago Chase called Scott and said he’d be in Portland where Scott was living, interning with OPB, and could they catch a Timbers game together? I don’t have the money for that, said Scott, the starving student/intern. My treat, said Chase. And I’ve got nothing to wear. I’ve got that too. And Chase brought him the T-shirt. It was on loan. Never returned. Worn with a deep sense of nostalgia now. But it is the mother…

Growing Pains

Mothering is difficult. And then it gets better. Here’s poetic evidence for Mother’s Day: Yesterday I wrote about Daughter #2, the poet. At the Central Oregon Writer’s Guild this last year she read her award winning poem, and then she read this: Growing Pains Thank you for teaching me to fold things I am still not good at it when it comes to cloth but when it comes to feelings I can sort by color, texture, pattern, And put them to bed in the right drawers Sorted and named and placed All because of you And for dusting the blinds in my room I know you hated it (and so did I) but now I am so good at letting in the light growing towards its warmth even when I’m not sure how clean I am myself I am lighter because of you And for letting me ruin your horsehair…

Of Winning with Daughters

You might remember that daughter #2 won the Central Oregon Writers Guild poetry award last year at 17( http://www.lorilyngreenstone.com/marking-milestones/). She won it again at 18, and I won an award for non-fiction by wrapping a story around one of her poems. It started as a letter to her (see http://www.motivation.com/posts/48/the-power-of-the-journa There is a lot of power in reciting someone’s own words back to them sometimes, in the right spirit. Here is the story:                             Such Unkind Things The way your dark mascara dripped and blurred under your eyes when you peeked out from behind your pink blankie made me think of a Pierrot doll, and I asked if you were okay. Your whispered response turned into a sobbing storm, so I encircled you with outstretched arms, and I thought, how much are you willing to put up with? I see…

Whose Pants Are Those?

My friend thinks I wear the ‘pants’ in my family, but she says it’s okay since the man-of-the-family is not angry. But I see her trying to get at a bigger question, or underlying issue: Who’s in charge? So much comes down to that, the underpants. So I’m thinking about these pants and how they fit– what kind of ‘pants’ are they anyway? Are they Spanx, an undergarment so elastic they suck you svelte, but then slap you silly when peeled off? Or are they more like sweats– loose and accommodating, good for a Saturday stroll or Sunday lounging? Or are they work pants– chino style, somewhat serious, yet unassuming, in traditional khaki-tan so they don’t show spills? Personally, my style is more of a pedal pusher– you can dress them up or down, great in the garden or the classroom, very versatile. I like mine with some stretch to accommodate shape-shifting–…

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