“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once.” —Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
Mother’s Day in the Philippines is celebrated every second Sunday of May. This year, it was the 10th. Needless to say, it was a very different experience. We are still in extreme quarantine in Metro Manila so a lot more of my listed plans have been cancelled. Please indulge me in imagining my ideal Mother’s Day: a trip to the flower shop to get flowers, getting my new iPhone (my contract is due for a renewal with my service provider), then visiting my favorite bookstore to get a new read or two, lunch or dinner at my favorite pasta place, and finally my usual earl grey tea and cheesecake for dessert.
Instead, we stayed at home and tried to order cake but there were no available deliveries to our area. We settled for ice cream though I’m not complaining, I love ice cream! I also opted for dried blooms instead of a fresh bouquet because they are way cheaper and sustainable, and also because they are very pretty and I love the aesthetic. I invented new games with my son — one involves a giant spider who chases an anglerfish to tickle him (I’m the spider!). All in all, a very different day than I had envisioned but I find myself really appreciating the change in perspective this quarantine has given me. I am grateful everyday for the little things. Disconnecting from unnecessary interactions including toxic social media and focusing on my family has done so much for the improvement of my mental health as well.
As always I turned to books for inspiration, and to add to the celebration I thought of rounding up some books I loved that explore how it means to be a mother and/or the complexities of motherhood:
From Goodreads: Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. — I loved this because it explores almost all kinds of motherhood, and how our choices in life will always define who we are. It also has a very intricate plot and various characters that only a highly skilled writer could have pulled off.
From Goodreads: How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies? A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. — Miracle Creek is an intricate and soulful tale that will challenge the way we see humanity: its relationships, its sense of justice, and the consequences of our actions no matter how big or small. I especially loved how it showed that a mother’s love is her own power and vulnerability all at the same time. Read my full review here.
From Goodreads: Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. — On the surface an intriguing crime mystery novel, Big Little Lies for me is made more special by its insightful portrayal of motherhood and families with different personalities and from different backgrounds. It also has one of the most memorable female friendships I’ve ever read.
From Goodreads: “Mother knows best” takes on a sinister new meaning in this unsettling thriller perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe. — The story feels like a metaphor on postpartum depression. It speaks of a woman’s journey towards motherhood stripped off of the rainbows and butterflies, and with only the gory details laid bare. Read my full review here.
From Goodreads: Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients. — The book is a meditation on what it means to be a woman and a mother, and of the sacrifices a pregnancy entails. It is also a tribute to the nannies, baby nurses and house helpers who choose to take care of other people’s children just to earn money for the future of a family they left at home. It perfectly captures the essence of combined hopelessness and strength of this kind of love.
I know that this is such a short list, so do let me know if you have other titles to add. What book/s have you read that celebrates mothers?
I’d like to end this post by sharing this illustration made by my talented husband Mervin Malonzo. I believe he created this for me a few years ago as part of a campaign to normalize breastfeeding. I do think the art celebrates and empowers not just breastfeeding women, but all mothers and mother figures who nurture and take care of people other than themselves.
Happy Mother’s Day! All moms are blessings and let’s show them our love all year round 💕