Monday, October 20, 2008

Maternal Echo

Have I become my mother?

I suppose that every middle-aged woman feels this at some moment in her life. I find myself saying things to my kids like, "Isn't this a beautiful Saturday morning? What would you like to do, clean the garage or vacuum?" I also have sticky notes on my dashboard with reminders to pick up the carpool and remember choir practice – a far better option than my mother, who used curly adding machine paper and straight pins.

But the true sign that I have morphed into my mother lies on my bedside table: books, piles of books. And what a bizarre collection it is: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy, by Andro Linklater, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Kansas Curiosities by Pam Grant, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Some of my earliest memories as a kid were walking into my parents’ bedroom and seeing all sorts of books and magazines. While both of my parents are voracious readers, it is my mother who I best remember stretched out reading a magazine or romance novel. Her ultimate escape from seven children was to the bathroom where she would lock herself in, draw a bubble bath and read.

Fast forward forty-seven years and her daughter is repeating history. There are books on my bedside table and magazines in our bathrooms. So what, you ask, is my favorite place to escape? Yes, you guessed it -- to the bathtub, where kids nor phones can find me and I can enjoy my paperback in peace.

And my mother? She now is 80 and a member of two book clubs. Her reading list is long and impressive. She has provided lots of encouragement and advice to help me get off and flying.

Reading is our guilt-free refuge. Yes, it eats up some of our precious time, but it’s the best sanity saver there is. And remember…your kids are taking notes.

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