The Bad Mother
Relationships. They’re hard. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Husbands and wives. Fathers and sons. . One of the themes in my YA Unbidden is the relationship between my protagonist, Allie Emerson, and her young, single mother, Faye. It’s true; Faye isn’t exactly “Mother of the Year.” Still, I was unprepared for the reaction of some reviewers. After reading Moonstone, one reviewer hated Faye so much she wanted to “smash her in the face.” Another resorted to a string of fake profanities like *#*$**! felt compelled to address her remarks directly to Faye by shouting, “GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND GET A JOB!”
Okay, people, let’s all take a deep breath and think about it. Why did my portrayal of Faye hit so many hot buttons? The obvious answer: Bad mother, Faye, tapped into their own experiences, dredging up bitter mother-daughter memories. If this is the case, I completely understand and sympathize. However, there may be another explanation. Smother mothers. Women who live their lives through their children at the expense of their own identity. I believe there is a distinct possibility that some of the horrified reactions to Faye’s character may be code for, “Look at me! I devote every moment of my life to my children. I am the poster child for good mothering. Faye should be more like me.” Of course, there’s also a distinct possibility that I’m wrong!
Like most writers of fiction, my books are based on the real world. When I worked as a counselor in an alternative school, I encountered many “Fayes” and “Allies,” mothers and daughters whose relationships were totally upside down. In other words, the kid was the adult, the adult the kid. I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. One might think the teen forced into early adulthood would be hateful toward such an immature parent. Quite the opposite is true. These kids love their mothers. And Allie, despite having moments of extreme anger and frustration, cares deeply for her mother. As I write each book in the series, I make an effort to deepen the relationship between Faye and Allie even though it remains dysfunctional. It’s called keeping it real. Time (and reviews) will tell me if I succeed.
I’d love read your comments and opinions on good and bad mothers, as well as answer your questions. If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of any of my books. Many thanks to Pat for allowing me to express my thoughts.
I've been in love with the written word since the age of four when I sat on my mother's lap, scanning the newspaper for the simple words she'd taught me. One of my first memories is of visiting the public library and returning with an armload of books. Even now, you can find me standing over the stove, stirring spaghetti sauce with one hand, an open book in the other.
Early on, I began to create my own stories. Elaborate fantasies with a full cast of characters played out in my mind. I made people fall in love, killed off a few and continued to tweak plots vowing, some day, I would write a book. Some day.
Well... some day is here. I now write full time, and, with the support of my husband and an eighty-five pound black Labrador Retriever sleeping on my feet, I'm working on my fourth book. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I've enjoyed writing them!
My reviews of Marilee's books here:
Moonspun - Soon (book to be release this July)