Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day Thoughts

"I can't remember it all!"
"Don't worry, you'll remember it. You practiced."

"I can't sleep."
"Just close your eyes."
"I still can't sleep. I'll never sleep."
"You'll go to sleep. Everybody goes to sleep eventually."

The whole time you are thinking to yourself: What do I know? When did I get to be such a confident person? So much of motherhood is just making stuff up.

It's interesting that mother-child and specifically mother-daughter relationships are so often portrayed negatively in YA fiction. The "typical" YA mother is absent or indifferent, and others are downright evil. Bad or absent mothers make for a good story, of course, and there's some psychological truth to the motif, since most teens want nothing to do with their parents. But for this post I thought I'd search my library for a good mother-daughter relationship and this led me to Lois Duncan's 1977 classic Summer of Fear.

I won't recap the plot, but Summer of Fear involves Rachel and her Ozark cousin Julia. Cousin Julia -- who is not cousin Julia at all, but a witch -- intends to usurp Rachel's place in the family and to that end kills Rachel's dog and a family friend. Her last intended victim is Rachel's mother, who is supposed to drive off the road at a certain spot in the mountains between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. But Rachel's mother isn't at that spot, at the time, because she's made an detour to buy Rachel a new dog:

"This has been such a difficult summer for you, honey," Mother said. "I thought it might help to have your own dog again. Not that he will ever replace Trickle -- you don't replace a person -- but he can make his own place in your life. All of us in the family have been so worried about you. We hate to see you so unhappy."
And there in her eyes was the answer, the thing Sarah [Julia] had not reckoned on, had not been prepared to handle, had not known how to combat.
It was love.

So in honor of Rachel and her mother, and all mothers, and all children, Happy Mother's Day.

1 comment:

Mary Aalgaard said...

Oh, that is a sweet post. I haven't read that Lois Duncan novel. I like her work, though. It is so true, in parenting, we spend most of the day just "punting" and making stuff up.