All of these reasons are, however, minuscule compared to a heavier issue. What kind of mother does the child of my mother become? What kind of mother does an adult survivor of child abuse become? Can you believe people have told me to my face that they worry I will beat my kids into depression? All this because I said I wouldn’t think twice before slapping a kid’s wrist over a tantrum. I didn’t even mention that growing up throwing a tantrum (yeah, right, like I would be alive if I’d ever had one) meant a beating (telephone cords, belts, sandals, pick your poison) and the possibility of early death.
This is probably why I’m interested in stories about families. Like Rebecca Walker, I’m kind of obsessed with them. When my friends all started getting pregnant, I started reading books about motherhood for purely selfish reasons. Rebecca Walker (whose father is Jewish and relationship with her famous author mom Alice Walker is tumultuous) got pregnant, wrote a book about it and then went out and edited a whole collection of stories about all different kinds of family, “One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry, Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love.” Some of us are obviously more ambitious than others.
Now, Jewish author Ayelet Waldman (wife of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon) has gone and put a whole new spin on things by writing a book called, “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace.” I think that if my sister can get me a Mother’s Day card (for kidnapping her, raising her and you know, saving her life), then I can buy myself a Mother’s Day present. (By the way, do you think this means she forgives me for all the time I was a bad mother?) Anyway, I know just what to get myself.
Check out Ayelet Waldman reading the first chapter of “Bad Mother.”