Monday, August 27, 2007

Mother Monday Part 6: MU-DEAREST

We spent this past weekend in Chicago at the National Book Club Conference, presented by Black Issues Book Review. Not only did we get to hang out with readers from around the country, we also got to spend time with fellow authors—Kimberla Lawson Roby, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Mary Morrison, Terrie Williams, Eisa Nefertari Ulen and Tina McElroy Ansa. You all think we author types hang together all the time, but most of us live in different cities and see each other only at book events—and that’s usually in passing because our schedules are always different. This weekend we had some quality socializing time which was definitely a bonus! (We’ll post new pictures and more about the weekend on Thursday’s blog.)

All of the authors talked about their new books—either just out or coming in the next few months. Tina McElroy Ansa, (Baby of the Family, Ugly Ways, The Hand I Fan With, You Know Better) our morning keynote speaker, had special news—she has founded her own publishing company, DownSouth Press. And her first featured book drops in October—Taking After Mudear—a sequel to the bestselling Ugly Ways. If you are familiar with the Lovejoy sisters and their mother, the late Ester Lovejoy, the self titled Mudear (say it right—MUH-dear—not to be confused with Tyler Perry’s Madea—ma-DEA) you are aware that taking after her is the one thing in this life the sisters swore they would never do. (Whether you’re new to the saga or waiting to hear more, check out the first two chapters online at http://www.tinamcelroyansa.com/.)

Thinking about Mudear reminds us that in the few weeks we have been doing Mother Mondays, we have had comments and emails from many of you (we appreciate your feedback) about your relationships with your mothers. Happily, the majority of our respondees have had healthy, positive relationships with mom and have let us know that you don’t mind becoming more like your mothers.

That, however, is not always the case. For instance, last week Virginia was in a drugstore and listened to a mother loudly nag, berate, criticize and embarrass her daughter, who looked to be 14 or so. Her crimes—indecision about a blow dryer and some toothpaste—hardly major offenses. The longer it continued, the further the girl retreated into her own blank-faced fortress of solitude, slinking down the aisles like she just wanted to disappear. Mom’s tirade and general sourness, although aimed squarely at the teenager, also spilled over to the younger brother and sister, and the cashier. Yes, we all have bad days, and kids can try your top, middle and bottom nerves, but from the children’s reactions, or more accurately, lack of reaction, it seemed this display was more the rule than an exception. When Virginia left the store, hoping and praying these children would indeed fall far from the tree, Mom was still screeching at her brood.

We’ve all been in this position, wanting to plead with somebody to lighten up on their kid. More than likely we shake our heads, exchange disturbed looks with those nearby and walk away. But what is the long-term effect of a mother’s routine, casual meanness? How many of us have been crippled from the crib because we have been subject to regular verbal backhands? The mom effect may be the most powerful force in the universe! We must use it carefully.

So for good or otherwise here are 10 more ways you just might be Taking After Mudear!

59) Other people in your family expect you to know where their stuff is--and you do.

60) Other people in your family expect you to know where their stuff is--and you tell them to keep up with their own stuff.

61) You hear a little voice call "Mommy" and you immediately turn around.

62) You hear a little voice call "Grandma" and you immediately turn around.

63) You hear a little voice scream "Ma-aa!" for the seventeenth time and you say, "She changed her name and moved to another city!"

64) A night in makes you as happy as a night out used to.

65) A night out no longer concludes with breakfast.

66) You're happy when your bedtime comes and you can really go to bed.

67) New recipes are fine, but you know that nothing cooks like an old pot.

68) Your bust is keeping company with your waist. Your waist measures what your bust used to, and your butt resembles a relief map of the moon. You can hear your mother say, "sure, you can eat like that now, but it's gonna catch up with you," and you know you've been caught.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 7:31 PM

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