Delicious descriptions: Danielle Wood on mothering
In my post on Danielle Wood’s Mothers Grimm I focused on how mothers feel about being mothers, but the book is also about the need to BE mothered. So, I thought I’d share a couple of short excerpts from the book about this aspect. It will also give you a better sense of Wood’s wry but resigned tone, which is part of what made the book for me.
June Wishart was – to Liv – a kind of first position, the default against which mothers of all other sorts were defined. If Liv sometimes looked hungrily at the mothers with long, messy curls and jeans – the ones who kissed and hugged their grown daughters and made easy, stupid jokes with them, borrowed their earrings and shoes – it was only with an understanding of how far they deviated from June Wishart with her ash blonde hair that rolled under, quite naturally, at her jaw, who always wore skirts and never went out with our pantyhose, whose public manner towards her daughters was just one or two notches more intimate than the cheerful, well-brought-up formality with which she treated everyone else. (“Sleep”)
Liv, you might remember from my review, is the teen mother.
The other excerpt I’ve chosen comes from the last story. Stella’s mother died soon after she moved west. She, and her nurse friend Reggie with whom she’d moved, both marry within a year. Reggie makes the better marriage on pretty much all measures, but for Stella there’s really only one that counts:
Of all the things Reggie had and I didn’t, it was her mother-in-law I might almost have been jealous about. Mrs Kingsmith … managed her own angora stud and I had it from Reggie that she also did clever things with buying and selling shares. She treated all us young ones as if we were somehow her business, and I thought her warm and wise. It seemed all wrong to me that the daughter-in-law she’d been given to love was Reggie, who had a mother of her own still, while I had only Mrs Palfrey, who wanted nothing I had to give. When Colin and I told his mother that we were expecting Mark, she nodded resignedly and went back to worrying in the gloom behind her curtains. (“Nag”)
I might almost …! Love it. Anyhow, this made me feel very sad. It reminded me that you don’t stop mothering just because your children have grown up. How lucky I am that my mother knows and my late mother-in-law knew that.