Lynne Spreen's Reviews > Still Here Thinking of You: A Second Chance With Our Mothers

Still Here Thinking of You by Vicki Addesso
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Dec 25, 2013

it was amazing

What a moving collection of memoirs. I can't say enough about this book. I read it in one day, unable to stop. It's thoughtful without being self-pitying, yet managed to wreck me again and again with its poignancy. Each of the four authors delivers a nuanced, multidimensional reflection on who their mothers were, what shaped them, and whether the direction their mothers took in rearing them was as bad as it seemed, or better now in retrospect.

In fact, this was one of the compelling aspects of the portrayals: as the writers matured, as the years passed, their perspectives of their mothers changed. In one instance, one of the authors as a very young girl is left alone to empty and reorganize a cabinet drawer in the middle of the night, even though the mother had to know of the activity. The girl, now an adult, muses to a friend (I'm paraphrasing), "How could she have left me alone in the dark hallway that night, not checking on me, not wondering why I felt compelled to do this?" and the friend answers, "if it had been my mother, she would never have had the restraint to let me work through it. She would have stopped me." So which view is right? Who can say? And isn't that the most freeing, forgiving way to reflect on how we were parented (within normal bounds, of course).

I identified with these families, as many readers will. I'm lucky to still have my mother - she's almost 90 - and I'm still learning from her. The innate narcissism of the child may never fade; she may be my mother but she's still an individual human being, and to what extent am I willing to accept that? I think this is the question the book suggests.

To be sure there is neglect, as in the horrendous ignorance of one of the mothers. Uncomfortable with dark thoughts or deep introspection, and preferring a bootstraps approach to problems, she shames and scoffs at her adult daughter who is in the throes of postpartum depression. Eventually the daughter recovers (she is one of the authors of this book), but her experience portrays a complicated relationship. Who is to blame? Is anyone? It was an earlier time, when PPD wasn't widely known, but was that any excuse? And what do you do if you can't answer that question?

I highly recommend this thoughtful, entertaining, introspective book. My thanks and best wishes to the authors: Vicki Addesso, Susan Hodara, Joan Potter, and Lori Toppel.
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December 25, 2013 – Shelved
December 25, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Marla (new) - added it

Marla Miller There's so much truth in the age old adage that as we age, we turn into our mothers-or a version of-Mothers are so important in my life & in my writing, this is a must read based on your review-I just put it on my shelf-Thanks Lynne & happy/healthy 2014

Lynne Spreen Back atcha, Marla. I don't think I'll ever turn into my mother although we have many of the same characteristics. I don't mean that as a conceit; there's so much I aspire to emulate in her! But some of her ways are repressive and self-negating. That's freeing to finally understand but also kinda sad. PS I totally have her neck. See Nora Ephron.

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