Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mothers and Daughters, An Eternal Struggle?

My mother did not live long enough for us to become friends. I suspect that subconsciously, I consider this the one tragedy of my life. It certainly must be working on me because I think about it more and more as I age. I think about how remarkable she was, so ahead of her time, yet circumscribed to some degree by the times in which she lived.

After listening to an interview with Diane Keaton on NPR I knew that her memoir Then Again would speak to me. Not your average celebrity tell all with the requisite nasty secrets unveiled, Ms. Keaton has instead risen above the fray and written an homage to her family and, in particular, to her mother.

Since Keaton and I are contemporaries, our mothers faced similar situations as parents, stay at home moms, raising their kids in the '50's. Bright, educated and stifled, they budgeted wisely, sent the hubby off to work, and spent quality time with the children. But under the surface they were chomping at the bit to be freed up to explore their own talents.

Diane's mother took up photography, collage, and journaling, the results of which are shared in abundance throughout this book. My mother went back to teaching the moment we three kids were in school. The classroom was always her natural habitat.

Keaton's memoir is bittersweet as she recounts her decision at the age of fifty to open herself to the commitment of parenting, adopting her little girl Dexter, just as her mother begins the slow, agonizing slide into dementia and finally Alzheimer's disease. That's not to say that this is a depressing book by any means. In fact, it's a lovely examination of a family that grows closer with age and distance, and four siblings who owe their wonderfully disparate successes to the woman they called Mom.


Kelly Robinson said...

I'm looking forward to this one, and imagine I'll have to lend it to my Mom when I'm done!

Sallyb said...

Better yet, you could read it together!