Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas

What makes a great mother?

Melissa's previous post on all the uncertainties of motherhood really hit a note with most of us, and I especially like Doppleganger's note about her own mother being a rock in her early life. Also with Melissa O's recent post on how motherhood for her is going to change soon, I was starting to think of what are the qualities that make a great mother.

But before I could come up with any earth shattering conclusions, I was re-reading Maya Angelou's autobiography "Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas". I have read all of her books and would have considered her a great mother. So now when I was re-visiting her life when her son Clyde was young, I was surprised that for 2 years she boarded him with a babysitter for 6-day-5-nights a week. She was working 2 jobs to make ends meet and describes the agony of their weekend routine: he would cry whenever she picked him up and only stop when they were blocks away from the sitter's house. Then he would be inconsolable when she had to return him. For 2 years!

But the rest of the book is a wonderful collection of moments with him as he grew, his questioning God, his reaction to the marriage breakup, his rejection of killing, etc. She's every bit as devoted a mother as I hope I'll be but I can't help but think back on how awful those 2 years were for her before she became famous. How mere survival drove her away from her only child. For 2 years!

And maybe it hit me because I part of what I think a great mother is is someone who really contributes to society, often through a professional life. Imagine life without the Maya Angelou as we know her. Who else has articulated black women's struggle quite as colourfully. And I love listening to her - check out her BBC interviews like how she would like to be remembered. Absolute poetry.

Anyway, just adding to our discussion on motherhood...


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