Ten Must Reads for Mama Day

In honor of those who mother and have been mothered, Aster(ix) editors pick their favorite Mama stories and essays from our archive:

 MOTHERTIME by Irina Reyn

“Almost twenty years later, when I was getting ready to become a mother, I found myself mourning the end of my pre-mother days in the same theatrical way. I would bid adieu to small acts of freedom. The finalities I noted: the last time my parents, my husband and I would watch movies at their house deep into the night, the last vacation to Turks and Caicos with my husband where I forced us to go out even if we were too tired (“Soon we won’t have a choice!”), my last time—at least for a long while– at a writers’ residency where I basked in solitude and emerged with practically no new work. Instead, I meandered through the woods, thinking, Goodbye, this life.”

EVEN IF I KISS A WOMAN by Daisy Hernandez

“I am ten years old and sitting at the kitchen table when a friend of my mother’s tells her and the tías the latest chisme: a woman they all know from the neighborhood has left her husband and children to be with another woman. Gasps make their way around the kitchen table where café con leche is being served.”

 

TITA NORMA WORE A HEADSCARF by Katherinna Mar

“Mom had secrets like you wouldn’t believe. She came to the States with one little suitcase, now shoved into the back of a closet, held quiet with a tiny lock. When I was kid I once tried to pry it open, but she stormed into the bedroom, smacked me across the face and said, “you’ll never get it open, I’ve swallowed the key.” I leafed through my parents’ dusty old photo albums trying to find her face couched between those of her family’s, round sepia faces, I imagined, ones I’d never seen. I left all those photos back home, she said. And the typhoon swept them to sea.”

HOW (IN A TIME OF TROUBLE) I DISCOVERED MY MOMS AND LEARNED TO LIVE  by Junot Diaz

“I always used to claim that I loved my moms, told everybody this, but how in the world can you truly love somebody you don’t even know? This is a short piece so it’s not like I can fill in all the shades or hit you off with crosshatchings galore but I’ll tell you one thing: that night was the first time in my life that I had to deal with the possibility that my moms was a full human being and not just somebody who washed my underwear and cooked my meals. It was like suddenly finding yourself in a depth of water. It was an astonishment.”

THE STRUCTURE OF BUBBLES by Emily Raboteau

“I was not, in fact, my mother, but we were self-similar. How can I explain this? Imagine a broccoli floret or a frond from a fern like the one on my father’s windowsill—miniature replicas of the whole. Not identical, but similar. These are approximate examples of fractals. They abound in nature. You can find them in mountain ranges, lightning bolts, snowflakes, coastlines, blood vessels, river basins, stock market prices, lungs, galactic clusters, corn-rowed hair, and even certain fireworks displays, like the one that will shortly take place a few blocks away on the shores of Lake Michigan. In other words, I was my mother’s daughter. The resemblance was undeniable. I had her heavy eyebrows, her dolphin grin, her look of surprise. I closed my eyes, feeling dizzy all of a sudden, and grabbed hold of the counter.”

FORGET HALLMARK: WHY MOTHER’S DAY IS A QUEER BLACK LEFT FEMINIST THING by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

“We were never meant to survive, and if mothers are part of why we are here (and they are), then they are the queerest of us all. But this is not even news. If we remember what black women have been up to in the United States we can just go ahead and let go of the assumption that mothering is conservative or that conserving and nurturing the lives of black children has ever had any validated place in the official American political spectrum.”

LEAVING MESHACH by Chika Unigwe

“They would return to Obiagu Road, expecting to find her waiting, having no idea that she was gone. They would call for her and search for her, shouting “Mamman? Mamman?” But she would not be there to love them with her hugs. They would cry for her and Meshach would be the one to hold them and tell them,”Shhh. Stop crying. Papa is here! We do not need Mamman.” They would be comforted. He would make them shriek with laughter and forget that they were missing their Mamman. They were children after all.”

TÍA MILENA / MILENA TÍA by Carolina Gonzalez

“In circles of single or childless friends, we often talk about catching baby fever. We notice clusters of pregnancies and joke that spending too much time around swelling bellies can result in contagion, even if there’s no likely father figure around. But I seem immune. Never have I felt the primal uterine pull I see in so many women I know. In the past few years, I’ve even lost the regret over not having one of my own.”

 

THE LETTER by Glendaliz Camacho

“Every application that I filled out brought me closer to the day I would leave the prison tower of Mami’s love. It didn’t matter anymore that I couldn’t go to the movies with everyone on Friday or talk to a boy over the phone because I was leaving and never coming back. I was just biding my time and boarding school would only be the start. After graduation, I would go away to college and after that I would get a job and my own apartment. I had the next ten years of my life mapped out.”

WHAT THE BEAR KNOWS by Rich Villar

“My mother must have known about the danger. But she was hot, she  needed to wander, and the shared connection between a woman in her rollers, in the ghetto at eleven o’clock at night, and her guardian angel. She knew restlessness and the need to buy milk. She knew she was bulletproof. I didn’t know this about her, yet.”

 

 

 


Image Credits: John Liu