My Mother, My Self

Hi, I’m Laura and I’m a bookaholic. This was to be the first sentence of  this past week’s post. I wrote it up, took pictures, and checked for grammatical errors. It was ready. My language arts teacher-self would be pleased. But I am not. For some reason I haven’t released it.

I don’t realize what an issue this is, until, with a self-imposed deadline looming, I go to a quarterly Sunday afternoon neighborhood art walk. Teresa has opened her house to visit and several members of our writing group set up displays of their art work. My brother is playing guitar at another house. The clue to my anxiety starts at the guitar-music house when Kathryn shows me a picture she has taken of my brother and me. I immediately hate it

“Why?” she asks.

“It reminds me of my mother. It’s goofy looking. And I’m looking more and more like her.”

“Oh that’s just your personality showing. It’s what we like about you.”

“That goofiness and silliness is what I didn’t like about my mother. She embarrassed me.”

“All teenagers are embarrassed by their mothers.”

“Yeah, but I never outgrew it.”

And here’s the karma, or whatever. I do have the quirks of my mother and her goofy personality. Here, on Sunday, I realize it’s about time to embrace it.

I think she embarrassed my dad too. He, the Midwestern stoic, had his own quirkiness. But she was the one on the hospital’s psych ward during my senior year of high school. And the family stoically didn’t talk about it.

Was it her response to being a mother of three teen-aged children, the beginnings of menopause, a practicing alcoholic husband, or trying to be a Southern lady when her parents were Yankees, like her husband, but from Pennsylvania?

I don’t know. But it seems to have stuck with me. Don’t be silly or goofy. Don’t call attention to yourself. You’ll end up like your mother.

And then there’s picture. The one in my face, of my face. And now it will be on Facebook. That evening it is, and friends comment on the “great picture.” Argh.

So, this is what I need to write about. Natalie says go for the jugular. That’s where the energy is. Ok, and this is where I am. All this national commentary of mental health issues. I think of my mother’s mental health issues. And suicide. I think of my son’s suicide. What does this say about me?

Ah. Mary Oliver says, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Embrace it, girl.

But the post about books, written like a language arts teacher. Maybe it will  show up in September when I work at the college book bazaar, where there will be tens of thousands of used books contributed by the public and spread out across the gym for unbelievably low prices. I know where my energy will be then. In a room full of quirky bookaholics and their obsession.

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Author: Laura Flett

teacher/student, writer/reader, friend

3 thoughts on “My Mother, My Self”

  1. Love the photo, Laura… yes, really. More than a snapshot, it captures a decisive moment in the world of the Family Flett. It’s significant on a number of levels, this little slice of life. Photographers deal with continually vanishing things–“and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

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  2. I love ❤️ you just the way you are!!!! We are all parts of others with our own special blend. Mental illness is all around (and in) us. I think talking about it is the only thing that’s going to help.

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  3. There is nothing wrong with having a bit of personality showing, it’s not like having your slip hanging out. (Remember when that was a thing? I was always doubling my petticoat over at the waist to pull it up.) Mental illness in a family is sad and scary, especially for a sensitive adolescent. Natalie would be proud–you went for it in this post.

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