Happy Mother’s Day
“You must not go into the burial places, and look about only for the tall monuments and the titled names. It is not the starred epitaphs of the Doctors of Divinity, the Generals, the Judges, the Honourables, the Governors, or even of the village notables called esquires, that mark the springs of our successes and the sources of our distinctions. These are rather effects than causes; the spinning-wheels have done a great deal more than these.”
— Horace Bushnell, “The Age of Homespun,” 1851, quoted in The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
My family decided to create a scholarship in my grandmother’s name at the college she was graduated from in the 1920s with a degree in teaching. The college asked the family to submit a bio of my grandmother. My dad wrote a draft.
And it was all about my grandfather.
Oh, sure, there were some basics: my grandmother was born and she went to school, but then she got married to my grandfather and other than a mention of children, thereafter it was all about my grandfather — where his job took them and so on.
What is it about women’s lives that gets reduced to “she got married and had children, The End”?
Let’s commit to changing this.
Sit yourself down and give some thought to your mother and her life. Write her down. Create the story of her life that shares her with the world with depth and layers. If someone reads it fifty years from now, what do you want them to know about her? What was her favorite color? Did she like to cook? Did she know how to do a cartwheel? What did she like to read? Did she ever make you a Halloween costume? What made her laugh?
Write her down. If she’s still here, ask her the questions that intrigue you. Write her down. She’s more than “the mother of…”, more than “the wife of…”, more than the cook, she’s a rainbow full of colors, she’s a book waiting to be read.
Women’s history is rich, but could be richer.
Write your mother down.