Thirty-five female writers share their essays and letters—hilarious, heart wrenching, and everything in between—in this wise and poignant collection about mother-daughter relationships.
Thirty-three female writers share their essays and letters—hilarious, heart wrenching, and everything in between—in this wise and poignant collection about mother-daughter relationships.
Whether they’re from the US, Caribbean, India, or the UK, all of the contributors to A Letter for My Mother share one thing in common: thoughts that have been left unsaid to their mothers and mother figures—until now. In this moving book, thirty-three women reveal the stories, reflections, confessions, and revelations they’ve kept to themselves for years and have finally put into words. Written through tears and pain, as well as joy and laughter, each offering presents the mother-daughter bond in a different light.
Heartfelt and deeply meaningful, A Letter for My Mother will inspire you to admire and cherish that special relationship that shapes every woman.
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A Letter for My Mother
A Letter to My Once Mother-in-Law
The doctors say that it won’t be long now. Your son just called and told me. I have to say that I didn’t expect to be sucked down the long tunnel of dread, and I certainly didn’t expect the tears. I haven’t spoken to you in a month or so. That’s mainly my fault. Since I split with your son, I don’t call as much. I think it may have been a little uncomfortable for you, too, because you don’t call me either, not like at first.
As young women, we are often told what type of relationship to expect with a mother-in-law, and unfortunately, we often believe it. That’s where we started, in that place that every mother-in-law-daughter-in-law dyad is supposed to begin, midway between disdain and respect and halfway to fear.
Over time, we both figured that each was going to stick around awhile, so we had to get past the paper cuts and passive-aggressive behaviors that we inflicted on each other regularly. You would always be his mother and I would always be the mother of his children. No matter what we did or wished, our families would be linked forever. We learned that no matter what our differences were, there were some ways that we were alike, whether we liked it or not, and that there were some lessons that each of us had for one another.
We lived together for a brief time, and you told me things I knew you hadn’t told anyone else, not even your own daughters, and you saw right through my designer-clad tough façade enough to call me out when I was hurting and break it down for me when I let injustice pass. Some of the things you said were not encased in pretty words to soften the blow, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t the truth. I had to learn that you had been where I was just starting to go. Time had taught you how to carry a burden with dignity, a lesson you were trying to pass on to me whether I wanted it or not.
I bitched, but you taught me a lot of things, and for this, I want to thank you. Some of the lessons were small. Although I acted like I was appalled, I know that you can use lipstick as blush in a bind. People used to do it all the time and just because new stuff hit the market, it doesn’t make that untrue or even bad. Thank you. And it’s true that it’s cheaper to take my lazy ass to the post office to mail packages rather than go to the local shipping store. Thank you. Tuesday Morning does sell the BEST high-thread-count sheets at the cheapest prices. I will have sweet dreams many nights because of you. Thank you. I admit that Crisco works on baby eczema. You told me years before I read it in a fancy parenting magazine. Thank you.
Thank you for being the kind of grandmother that you were for my children. I had to learn to let you live in the space where you were comfortable. Thank you for baking a trillion dozen cookies with the girls even though I objected. I said that my kids couldn’t have sugar and your lips said okay, but you were already firing up the oven. I know now that those early cookie lessons were also lessons in togetherness as well as lessons in math. Your love of the cookie-calculus will be carried on in your granddaughter, and I will make sure that she doesn’t forget the real sugar (not Splenda) and knows what salted butter does to a cookie recipe.
You told me stories of your youth, and I acted embarrassed, but those were things I needed to know. You pushed me to be a better mother to my kids, to think outside convention and to demand respect from myself and from the men in my life, your son included. You reminded me that degrees don’t make you smarter, just more educated, and that sometimes, plain old wisdom and not a textbook will get me to where I need to be.
I thought that when I broke up with your son, I was breaking up with you, too, but you didn’t believe that. You didn’t lose my number and didn’t even change how you acted towards me and reminded me that my children were still your grandchildren and I was still your daughter, whether I wanted to be or not. Mothering doesn’t always come from the person who is biologically your mother, and not everyone’s mothering is the same, but that doesn’t make it bad or not valuable. You urged me to keep my kids first and after you grilled me about what I wanted, you let me know that you were even woman enough to welcome whomever I let into my life next, into yours, too. If they made me happy, you would allow it.
I’m not sure when you’ll go. The doctors don’t know everything. Theirs is not the master plan. You were always strong-willed and definitely lived your life your way. You told me that many times, so I suppose you will go when you get good and ready. Good for you. The joke’s on them, isn’t it? You made me a promise a few years ago that you would let me know where you landed, and I know you will stick to that. I always have appreciated your stick-to-itive-ness, and I know this time won’t be any different. I will welcome your message, and won’t be afraid. Your presence in life challenged me to be a better me, so I can’t imagine that your presence in death will be any different.
Thank you, Charlenne, for being a part of my village of women. I didn’t expect to love you. I know now that the people who love you don’t always have to make you comfortable. Sometimes, it is their job to make you examine yourself and your truths and shake things up, helping you to divine your path. You helped me to divine mine. I’m honored to have shared almost twenty years of your life.
Nina Foxx is an award-winning filmmaker, playwright and novelist. She writes as both Nina Foxx and Cynnamon Foster and has authored eight novels, contributed to several anthologies and co-authored a text on writing. Nina and her younger brother were raised by a single father in New York City.
Table of Contents
Introduction Nina Foxx 1
A Letter to My Once Mother-in-Law Nina Foxx 7
Missing Mom Carmen Green 11
Mamaji Elisheba Haaq-Stevens 15
Marian of Memphis Pamela Walker-Williams 23
Family Matters Most Berta Platas 27
Taming The Beast Shia Shabazz Smith 37
There is a Time Gabrielle Cox 45
Gloria Gillian Hubbard 51
Just Enough Axlene L. Walker 57
Mother Envy Pamela Samuels Young 63
You'll Never Be Doris Day Jelen Hunter 69
Dear Mable Lori Bryant-Woolridge 75
A Saint in Everyday Clothes Joanne C. Hillhouse 85
I've Been Meaning to Tell You Lynda Sandoval 97
A Mother Sent by Providence Pat G'Orge Walker 105
The Collector Sheila J. Williams 111
Playing Favorites Sofia Quintero 119
Once I Had a Mother Deepa Agarwal 125
Get Your Own Dungeon! And Other Francesisms That Used to Work My Last Nerve Tracy Price-Thompson 131
Mama Carol Taylor 143
Battling Love Dominique Jackson 151
What I Thank You For Pat Tucker 161
Naomi to Your Ruth Victoria Christopher Murray 169
The Epitome of a Woman ReShonda Tate Billingsley 173
Thank You Letter Trisha R. Thomas 179
Disappointing You Denise Nguyen 183
Let it Start with the Mothers Heather Rae 189
Reflections of You Donna Hill 193
No Mama Drama Danita Carter 197
My Mother's Daughter Valerie Wilson Wesley 203
My First Heroine Tananarive Due 209
Couldn't Have Asked for More Zane 213
A Golden Heart Charmaine R. Parker 219
Beyond the Corner of My Eye Nina Foxx 225
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Our words are the most powerful things we govern. Sometimes they are written. “A Letter for My Mother” is a collection of letters written by thirty-three female authors. These letters, sometimes prefaced by an essay are thoughts to and about elder women who impacted their lives and defined that life long bond- the mother-daughter relationship. I remember the first letter that captured me. ‘Missing Mom’ is on page eleven and the words swirled around me, embraced me, and danced in my mind pages later. It was not the only one to do so. There were many that made me slowly savor each word. There is a letter or three that every reader can probably relate to. Most of the letters are raw and truthful. They will make you laugh and some will make you cry. These authors allowed a bit of their spirits to leak out as ink upon those 231 pages. There were many authors who were very open and for that I am grateful. I had no idea that the read would be so educational and therapeutic. This anthology is an important work. It teaches us there is one major emotion that shapes every single one of us. Whether you lacked it or had it in abundance, love or the lack thereof has molded us and has either helped or hampered our ability to give it to others. Thank you, Nina Foxx, for such a brilliant piece. I know readers will love this. Reviewed by: Trenika