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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day

I'm a good girl. I've always been a good girl. For most of my life, it could have been me that Mary Gordon was thinking of when she wrote, "There is no seduction like that of being thought a good girl." But recently I have definitely not been good, in my family's definition of the word, or what I thought was my family's definition.

This is what I mean: I have written about subjects we don't even talk about. And I have published a little bit of what I have written. And it's about my mother's family, her brother, his accidental death. I emailed her before publishing the poems, and we had an email exchange, and things went much better than I had expected. My mother said she hoped I would write about her brother's life, since she didn't want only his death remembered. And that seemed like a reasonable request. But a difficult one, since we don't talk about my uncle, and so I know very little about his life.

I know he was a good guy, and it was the surprise and pain of losing a 22-year-old that made my mother's family shut down on the subject. I have a little bit that was written by my grandfather about his son, and I'm going to talk to my mom about him and about their childhoods when I visit her this summer. And then I'm going to try and comply with my mother's request.

But in the meantime, I feel a little strange, having broached a topic largely considered taboo in my family. And I have brought up pain that has been for a long time pushed down. Or at least unexpressed. Despite my mom's apparent acceptance of what I've done, I feel odd, and will probably continue to do so, until I do as she has asked. After all, I am a good girl. Or was.

And tomorrow is Mother's Day. I feel like the relationship between me and my mother has been changed by what I've done. And this is the first Mother's Day when I haven't been sure what my mother is thinking of me. My first Mother's Day not knowing if I am still a good girl in everyone's books.

And I feel more free as an artist than I ever have, and more relieved than I did as a child unsure of why there were things I was not supposed to talk about. But I feel that I have made [m]other[s] pay for my freedom.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.


Michele said...

You took an ending and made it into a beautiful art object which, as they say, has now begun a new life, and in this form, can never die. Some days, skipping across the tops of the desks is the best thing you can do, for everyone. Happy Mother's Day to you and yours.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thanks, Michele, wise words. Happy Mother's Day to you too!