• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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No I Would Not Give You False Hope


Mommie DearestI was on a panel about mothers and daughters over the weekend at BinderCon. I have to admit I was dubious about attending, (don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me bullshit)  but it was galvanizing. We were four women with entirely different experiences about motherhood. Naturally, I stood for maternal criticism and daughterly low-self esteem. Got a lot of laughs, but was truly more moved by a Jamaican novelist who portrayed a matriarch lecturing her daughter about her lack of worth in their town and the larger world. Also a woman read about her daughter developing Tourette Syndrome. She could barely get through it and we were all with her. She wrote with such clarity and specificity; we were in her thrall.

Do you have a mother-daughter story?

14 Responses

  1. I met my mother for the first time after she died.
    125 letters discovered at the bottom of her cedar chest, which my mother and father wrote to each other while separated by WWII, explained away the woman I believed her to be.
    If only I had known.

  2. Do I have a mother daughter story? You have no idea.

  3. “Do you have a mother-daughter story?”

    Only second-hand. My first wife was the sixth of six children. Her father did not want her, did not want any more kids — five born in six years was enough for him (why, you might ask, would he not then keep his whanger elsewhere? avoid the issue of further issue? not knowing, can’t say). Her mother kept the secret of her pregnancy as long as possible, but these things will out. Upshot was this final offshoot was momma’s special one. They played with paper dolls together, and later games of chess.

  4. I do. I’m the mother in the story. It’s not pretty.

  5. Doesn’t everyone? My novel Seven Locks, is one. Deconstructs the Bitch-over-time in us all. It certainly changes when we have kids ourselves. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” That’s Will talkin and he usually knows what he’s talking about.

  6. This question darts the heart. It is a thousand questions in one, and has as an infinity of answers. The answers are sublime and contentious, carefree and circumspect, hilarious and focused, purposeful and worrisome, wise and foolish, beautiful and dangerous., I wish I could be less abstract, but my relationship with my daughter is all of the above. It is entirely shrouded in love, hope, the past, the unforseeable, the moment-to-moment navigation of a relationship that that I am blessed to have. Daughter.

  7. Yes, a beaut. I got away from my mentally ill father only to give birth to him again years later in my mentally ill daughter. The brick wall of her isolation and pain has broken me and my marriage, but still we pursue every expected and kooky avenue to get her help…much as we did long ago in conquering the infertility that took us 9 years to have her.

  8. Yep. My mother was a scholarship day-student (rode the local bus or drove) at Mt. Holyoke, class of 1954. And like Notorious RBG @ Barnard, my mother was very aware she was on the “Jewish quota” ( 1/3 Catholic, 1/3 Jewish). I would LOVE to write our story!! Now she has Alzheimer’s and cannot speak any longer but two years ago when I moved her into assisted living, I found a personalized signed copy of The Feminine Mystique. Hard mother to live up to! She and my dad were Yankee Jewish bridge players — ladies on Tuesdays and men Thursdays, once a month.

  9. More a mother versus daughter story. My mother lost out on a great job offer because (as was the excuse in the 1950s), they wouldn’t hire a pregnant woman. The first, of many circumstances that – as I was told so often – were ultimately MY fault. Has taken me decades to rewrite that mental script, and I’m still editing.

  10. Do I ever.

  11. I purposely didn’t talk to my mother about moving to a nursing home before the planned day. I knew she wouldn’t comprehend what was happening. So, I decided to tell her we were going for a ride and break the news when we were on our way. Even with dementia, my mother could sense that something was awry. She knew we weren’t going to the deli for ice cream. She didn’t want to go; she refused. So there we were standing in front of Harbor View–my mother looking at me as if I were a total stranger who was trying to abduct her. “Go to hell, I’m not going anywhere.” I felt like an abuser. I imagined old women with their walkers and their Russian and Caribbean aides lined up in the lobby whispering to each other: “Isn’t it terrible?” What a shame!” “Look at what that bitch is doing to her mother.”

    • I told my beloved grandmother, as we packed her suitcase for the trip to the nursing facility, that she was leaving for a cruise. The only time I lied to her, yet I have no regrets.

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