book review :: motherless mothers

I first checked this out from the Foster City Library. I got about halfway through it before we headed south and I had to turn in all of my books.

Then I saw it at the Newport Beach Library, so checked it out. I hate to admit it, but I didn't pick it up the day before yesterday, although I have had it for almost six weeks. It is due tomorrow, so I forced myself to finish it, and I am glad I did.

It did bring up some things, and it also made me think about a lot of things. One of things that hit me, although I knew it on some level is that I was raised by a motherless mother. My Mom was married a few days after she turned 17, had me when she was 18 1/2, lost her mother when she was 19 and then had my sister six months later.

For whatever reason this whole idea of being raised as by a motherless mother hit me more in the second half of the book. Although I truly believe that my sister was more greatly impact by this than I was. I believe because she was in the womb at the moment of my mother's loss it shook her very core. The book didn't have any examples of this though.

The book is based on a survey that was given to two groups of women: motherless mothers and non-motherless mothers. It asked about everything from when they had their first child to whether the considered themselves fun to overprotective. The results were interesting and in the back of the book. Hope Edelman also conducted interviews with some of the women and shared some of the stories throughout the book. She also shares her own story.

One thing that I didn't realize was how in western culture at least, the maternal grandmother usually has a greater influence on the family. Typically this is because women tend to stay closer to their familial home. In my case my paternal grandmother was a key player (see above), but what is also interesting is that because my Dad is an only child how intermeshed the whole family became (at least for a time). Things might have been a lot different had my Mom not lost her Mom when she did.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who fits into this category, and either had children or is considering parenthood. Although the book focuses on women who lost a mother to death (about 75% lost their mothers by the age of 18), there are those who fit this category who lost a mother if she left the family or even if she was mentally ill or addicted to alcohol or other drugs – essentially if you grew up without a strong mother figure or lost your mother before you had/have children.

Like my Mom, I fit the definition sort of. I was 31 years old when my Mom died (she was only 49). When I was eight my Mom ran off and left us with our father for the summer. And she was an alcoholic who was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder (late in her life, although looking back it was something that was always there).

Even though I am not a mother, I could relate to the panic that sometimes it seems motherless daughters feel when someone leaves the house. It is so easy for us to go to the worst case scenario. I thought it was just me. And it was starting to drive me crazy because how does one confess something so crazy. So although motherhood might be filled with ghosts and triggers and all kinds of extra fun, it is good to know it won't all in my head and that I will be in good company.

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