All posts filed under: Kindred

Counterbalance: An Essay on Not Mothering

A question never has one answer. The simplest answer is to say I chose. The complicated answer is to say, I wanted to keep choosing. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked why I don’t have children. By strangers, by friends, by family members, by co-workers, by anyone and everyone. It’s been years since I’ve stopped correcting people when they wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. At this point, due to the grey in my hair, strangers ask after my grandchildren. It takes entirely too long to answer the questions that follow. If I answer with the truth and say it’s what I chose, this unleashes a series of plaintive why’s that never ends. It’s as if they don’t understand this was a choice it was possible to make. I’ve learned it’s best to look very sad and serious and say, “No children, no grandchildren.” And yes, I don’t have as many casual conversations with strangers as I used to. I don’t know how old my maternal grandmother was when she died. …

Embracing mother loneliness, and defying the culture of sharing our mothering experience

In this age in which we are encouraged to connect in real time, at least superficially through curated images and updates, it seems helpful for mothers to find community through social media. We post our problems in selective groups, seek the hivemind when we’ve encountered one of those people, say, that have mistaken us for our child’s nanny, or asked an inappropriate question about our child’s ethnic background or skin color. I admit it: it feels good for the immediate feedback, the idea of support, the justified outrage and appropriately worded posts of solidarity from our network. Immediate feedback to: Why won’t he sleep in his bed? Does your daughter do this? Can you believe what someone did to my child? It feels good to post a picture of one of my daughters, or son, a family picture, and to feel like we are seen. But there is no cure for mother loneliness, the singular kind of loneliness that comes with the all-enveloping preoccupation with raising small humans, from the day you bring the infant …

By hand, by ambition, and by letting go: creativity from my parents helped me learn to become a mother

As a child, it was a common sight to see my mother hunched over a long bolt of white silk, taffeta, or tulle that bundled in her lap and onto the floor, while in the glow of the television which played General Hospital or a telenovela, she hand-sewed beads, trim or some sort of notion onto an elaborate dress. This effort was done with intensity, despite her complete engrossment in the story she watched, and while she shouted to the characters with warnings, imitated peculiar voices with uncanny accuracy, or let out a curse or death-wish to a villain who kept killing off her favorite characters. I was named after one of those characters on General Hospital who died an untimely death, Dr. Lesley Webber, a character who finds a long-lost adopted daughter and died in a car wreck in 1984 (only later to reemerge from a long catatonic state in 1996). My mother had never received any formal training in pattern making, couture technique, or how to sew and alter ball gowns, wedding dresses or customized clothing. What …