When I was a little girl, the highlight of summer vacation and Christmas break was being packed up and taken to my grandmother’s house for a week or two. I always had great fun: I’d climb trees and walk around “the block,” which was just through the alley and back. I’d root through the pantry and ponder the mystery cans of mincemeat. I learned to sew and crochet. We made jelly and canned peaches. Once, I even repainted an old table I found in the garage.
Being the youngest of all the grandchildren, I was in the precious space of being coddled and spoiled. When most of my cousins were in their younger years, my grandmother was still working as a seamstress at the Haggar Pant Factory, so I, alone, got to just hang out at her house.
She let me do things my mother never would, like baking from scratch. It’s been forty years, but I can still recall standing in her kitchen, running powdered sugar through a sifter to make frosting for a cake as if it were yesterday.
She was one of twelve (or was it fifteen?) children and on the wall in her living room was a family portrait. I was fascinated by the contrast of my eighty year old beloved wrinkled and grey haired grandmother in that photo: a child. She would point herself out and tell me “I was crying in that photo because my sister Lilly hadn’t outgrown her shoes yet and my mother tied big satin ribbons at my ankles since I couldn’t go barefoot in the picture.”
Almost sixty years later, with only two surviving siblings, and she still felt the pain and shame of not having shoes.
I couldn’t imagine not being able to afford shoes as I’d always been well-fed and well-clothed, but it opened my eyes to life in other times. It also came as a bit of a shock to realize that the woman in front of me – before she was my grandmother and before she was my mother’s mother – was once a young girl with dreams and hopes and stories of her own.
The relationship with my grandmother was one of unconditional love.
The relationship with my mother was not.
And you know what? I’m pretty sure that my mother felt the same way: her “Little Grandma” provided unconditional love whereas her mother, worn down by the stress of the Great Depression, did not.
No matter who you are, you can’t help but be influenced by your relationship with your mother. There are those lucky girls who look upon their mother as a trusted confidante and best friend. There are those heartbroken women who can’t speak to their mothers without the conversation going south. We revere our mothers. We love our mothers. We hate our mothers.
Often we forget that before they became our mother, like my grandmother, they had a life before us with stories of their own. What were the lives of our mothers and grandmothers like before we existed? What were their dreams? What secrets did they keep?
How did the legacy of our relationship with all of the mothers in our lives – our own mother, our grandmothers, our aunts, our mothers-in-law, and substitute mothers – influence our own approach to mothering?
Some of us could write a love letter and heap gratitude upon the mother figures in our lives. Some of us spend our entire adulthood seeking to heal the wounds our mothers left behind.
Yet, no matter who you are, behind you stands a legacy of generation upon generation of mothers and mother figures.
When we envisioned what Modern Creative Life would bring to the table, part of that vision was to occasionally leave the digital world and go old school: paper. We’ll be publishing a paperback “Best Of” collection each December. We will also be creating at least two stand-alone collections in book form per year.
Our first Original Collection will be published in the Spring of 2017 and the topic will be “Mothers.”
(Yes, it will have a snazzier name than that come publication time.) This will be published in paperback and Kindle. We want to explore every aspect of this complex role in our society and our own lives.
What are the stories of our Mothers and Mother Figures? What are the ways WE mother – our children, our pets, our partners, our friends, and even strangers? What are the secrets and legacies?
We have an opportunity to explore more than a single side of this complex role – the good, the funny, the bad, the loving. We have the opportunity to go across time and dig into our heritage, too. To share those forgotten stories of the women who lived before us. Those mothers of our great-grandmothers and beyond.
And in contrast to those stories that bring a smile to our face and have us looking back with nostalgia, we must not rule out the dysfunctional ways our mothers have affected us (sometimes called “The Mother Wound“).
Here’s what we are looking for:
- Creative Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction Stories, and Essays
- Minimum Length: 800 words. Maximum Length: 5,000 words
- Submissions should be submitted via attachment in WORD or in the body of email in a 12-point black font (no PDFs)
- Writers may submit up to five pieces for consideration
- The collection will include up to three pieces per author with full bio in the back of the book
- Submit via our submission form or via email to: ModernCreativeLife(at)Gmail.com
- Deadline for submission: March 15, 2017
Whether or not we have brought human children into this world, whether or not our mothers are part of our daily lives, the reality is that each of us has a mother, and that means each of us has a story to share.
We invite you to share yours.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Create a Life You Love: Straightforward Wisdom for Creating the Life of Your Dreams. She resides in Dayton, Ohio where she practices the art of living with the Man of Her Dreams.