This year, we’ve seen an outpouring of terrific books about mothering, but two of our most recent favorites are Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond and Who Do You Think You Are?, a memoir by Alyse Meyers.
Both books take on the complex and rich mother daughter relationship, in all its dimensionality. Both books address that relationship with honesty, emotion, and, when fitting, humor. If you are the mother of a daughter, you’ll appreciate the range of voices in the first collection in particular, with authors like Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Maynard and Literary Mama’s own Ericka Lutz and Rachel Sarah weighing in on their journeys of self-discovery as daughters, granddaughters, and mothers to their own daugthers. The beauty of this collection is that very circular nature of connection–how we as mothers hope to do “better” than our own mothers with our daughters, and how being mothers to those same daughters reflects back for us our relationship to our own mothers.
Alyse Meyer’s memoir portrays an equally complicated, and often fraught, relationship with her own mother, a woman who struggled as a single mother in the fifties to raise her two daughters after her husband’s early death. Meyer’s path takes her away from her mother at an early age–she leaves the house at eighteen to live on her own in New York City, succeeding in business and finding love and motherhood herself. Even as she climbs the corporate ladder, Meyers still looks for the approval she yearns to have from her mother, approval that is not, ultimately, in the offing. After her mother’s death, Meyers finds a box full of love letters from her father to her mother, and, in reading of their affair, also discovers a grace and peace that allows her to see herself in her mother, and her mother in her.