Posts Tagged ‘mothers’

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Road Trip Stories in the South

April 8, 2019

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Last week, I had a most excellent adventure. First, I met my oldest and closest friends in New Orleans and then road-tripped with my 88-year-old mom through the South. Both pieces were extraordinary.

My friends never disappoint. Sure, we’ve grown older; our legs more tired and our wrinkles much deeper. We’ve raised kids and dogs and worked and suffered. We’ve become strong, independent women who know a thing or two, and yet, have plenty to learn. We’re a complicated crew. Because of my gals, I’ve learned that relationships take effort. I’ve also learned, the best ones are worth the investment.

As lives change, friendships shift; but once together, my friends and I remember. We remember big hair, Bon Jovi, shoulder pads, banana bike seats, pool parties, and Schaeffer Light. Now, we roll eyes, remembering the jocks and the burn-outs, the teachers and the coaches. We remember laughing. We remember predators. We remember love. Mostly, we remember our stories. Together; eating and drinking and dancing like fools, we make more moments to remember. Stories.

After my friends, dispersed, Mom arrived. Because her grandma was a suffragist and taught her to demand social justice, Mom taught me the same. We headed for Montgomery where much of our nation’s horrific history is recorded. We sat with ghosts. We studied at the Legacy Center, listening to stories of incarceration, injustice, lynching, and death. As white women raised in America, like it or not, we’ve benefited from slavery’s dark legacy and the Jim Crow laws that followed. After many museums, we sat with ourselves; sorry and ashamed. Mom and I had long talks about racism, social injustice, and the history that got us here. We committed ourselves to listen better. Act more. And to speak about what we learned; sharing both the stories that were told and the stories that disappeared.

By the end of my adventure, I realized, not for the first time, how quickly life moves; how tragic and joyful it can be. In the time we are given, relationships and stories transform life, making it either better or worse.

Stories.

For me, I hope to create a life where I live a good story, I write a good story, and I listen to all the stories I can.

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mother daughter workshops

March 13, 2014

I teach a number of workshops with my writing partner and middle grade author extraordinaire, Lindsay Eland. Our favorite is the mother daughter class.

For two hours, Lindsay and I lead middle school girls and their moms through an adventure of writing and artistic expression. It’s a blast.

First, we introduce ourselves by creating opening pages in a journal. Then partners swap journals with each other and make a page for the other person. Moms generally paste pictures, phrases, and words like “beautiful, strong, and spirited” on their daughter’s pages. The girls post their own descriptions, often offering insight to their mom’s lives. In our last class, one girl cut out a picture of a yawning lion and said, “My mom is strong like a lion, but she yawns a lot.” I can relate.

The class continues with lots of laughter, animated conversation and personal convictions, ending far too soon. At the end, we ask the girls to share books that they’d like their moms to read and vice-versa. It’s an empowering exercise: one that I think more parents should try.

If you have kids, ask them what they think you ought to read. It might surprise you. I guarantee they’ll be excited that you asked and elated if you actually read them.

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The Help

January 14, 2010

We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought. –The Help by Kathryn Stockett

In honor of Martin Luther King, my blog takes a different approach this entry.

Someone told me The Help was a book about Southern Black maids, and the women they served during the early 1960’s. It is. But it’s so much more.

Kathryn Stockett wrote a fictional book about Jackson, Mississippi during desegregation. She wrote about mothers and daughters. Race. Culture. And identity. She wrote a story about the poor and the rich. About suffering and triumph.

She writes of women.

There are so many things I could say about The Help, but I’ll say only one. Read it.