Reading Michener with Mom

Happy Friday!

We don’t talk a lot about family here, do we? It’s not that family isn’t important to me – it is – but my family has never been a close one. My parents divorced when I was 7, and my extended family is both small and spread out. We don’t see each other much, and only in the last couple of years have we started having semi-regular contact. For the most part, it’s just been me and my mom, but in the last 8 or 9 years our relationship has been fraught with the types of issues many mother-daughter duos face. It’s only been recently – the last month or two – that I feel like we’re taking tentative steps towards a healthy relationship.

Mom lives about 3 hours away, and while we email regularly, we’ve struggled to have productive telephone conversations. It’s too easy a lot of times for us to fall back into old patterns. She and I are both working on making our relationship an “adult to adult” relationship.

My mom and I actually do have a decent amount of things in common, which I didn’t really realize until just now. We both like to cook, enjoy traveling, are big animal people (though she’s more cat than dog), like sewing (she gave me a lesson, more on that later!), and love to read.

This is actually the most recent picture of my mom and I that I can find...and it's from 2010. Think it's time for a new one!

This is actually the most recent picture of my mom and I that I can find…and it’s from 2010. Think it’s time for a new one!

As we’re navigating this new relationship, we’re finding it easier to capitalize on those common threads – it’s personal, but much easier to stay objective and see each other as equals more or less.

A couple days ago I read a blog post on Modern Ms Darcy about bundling together books and friends. Long story short, the author and a couple of her friends read a book together, then call and discuss it. It’s flexible, they just connect when they have time. The author’s club was with her friends, but I thought, why not try that with Mom?

I emailed Mom, and gave her the basics….we’d pick a book, read it, then chat about it as we moved along. No rules, no requirements, just chatting. I suggested if she was interested that she pick the first book.

She loved the idea, but suggested I pick the first book since she had no idea what I’d read. Then she proceeded to describe a book she’d read years ago and wouldn’t mind rereading….in other words, picking the first book! And what did she pick?Michener ChesapeakeMom doesn’t mess around, friends. This bad boy is 1000 pages long.

I’d never read Michener, but it sounded interesting, had a good rating on Goodreads, and was something Mom was excited about. I figured why not? We agreed to read the first 100 or so pages and then touch base.

I actually really like the book so far, and it’s fairly easy to read. We had our first chat tonight, and it was so neat to talk to her about it. I could tell she was really excited, and I enjoyed hearing about what the book meant to her. She lived in Maryland for several years, and of course we were in Virginia for 12 years, so a lot of the places in the book are familiar. She told me a story about how she’d bought the book as a Christmas gift once for my late stepfather’s father, because he was born and raised in the Chesapeake Bay area. She thought he’d really enjoy it – and was disappointed to find out that he’d been disappointed that it was fiction!

We didn’t have any kind of literary discussion, just talked about what we thought of what we’ve read…but that was fine. I felt like I was actually seeing my mom as her own person, and not just my mom. At the same time, I was hearing about her life before me, and that was cool too. It was a pretty eye-opening experience. We were connecting in a way we haven’t ever before, and that was really nice.

Talking to her about the book made me think that it might be fun for us to take a trip to the Chesapeake Bay area in a few months. We could drive through some of Michener’s locales, make it sort of a literary history tour. It’s got me excited, and now I’m heading over to Pinterest to see what I can dig up.

Mom and I read pretty fast, so I’m guessing we’ll have the book finished by Thanksgiving. She suggested A Tale of Two Cities for our next one. I’ve never read that one either, and I haven’t ever read Dickens for fun, so that should be interesting!