A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times Magazines, Spirit Led Woman and on The Master's Artist Blog. Her work focuses on fiction, popular culture, media and their relationship to people who live according to a Christian worldview. Dee Stewart is the owner of DeeGospel PR, a Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA where she lives. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 5 years old in July at http://christianfiction.blogspot.com, keep up with her current projects at http://www.deestewart.com, talk to in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.
Three Authors Tackle Maternity and Myth for Mother’s Day
“I just think there’s this whole layer of ‘God wants you to live a certain way, God wants you to parent a certain way, God wants you to feel a certain way about motherhood.’ So whenever a failure or difficulty comes up in parenting, it doesn’t just feel like you’re failing as a mother, it feels like you’re failing as a Christian.” Carla Barnhill, editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine. Source: Belief.net.
Barnhill’s sentiment about motherhood and spiritual responsibility has been exemplified in a number of this spring’s women’s literature releases. Tiffany L. Warren’s In the Midst of It All (Grand Central) portrays the life of a daughter whose mother’s poor judgment threatens her soul’s safe keeping. Anne Lamott’s Imperfect Bird (Riverhead) takes a poignant snapshot of a mother’s almost schizophrenic frenzy when she learns that despite all her prayers and applauded parenting skills, her teenaged daughter has taken a nightmarish turn. Colleen Coble’s Lonestar Homecoming (Thomas Nelson) depicts a single mom who runs into trouble at every turn because her self-condemnation cloud’s her belief that God’s providence will cover her and her five-year-old daughter. Moreover, Gina Holmes’s Crossing Ocean is the story of a single mom who risks sacrificing her happiness for the future of her five-year-old daughter.
Warren, Coble, and Holmes’s main characters are all single mothers. When asked why these authors chose to create a story around a single mother, Coble responded: “There is something so heartbreakingly vulnerable [about] single moms and the struggles they face. God can be very close to those who need Him so desperately for strength and guidance.”
Gina Holmes says, “I’ve never been in Jenny’s position, but I know what it’s like to be afraid for my children. To feel guilt over what legacy I will leave them. Wondering if I’m teaching them all the right lessons—about their Savior, how other people around the world live compared to us, the golden rule, to brush their teeth, and say thank-you and please.
“I know what it’s like to be scraping by and wondering how the mortgage will be paid, and to wish I could do more for my children financially. To take them to every movie they are dying to see, or gymnastics lessons, or give them a brand-new bike.”
In Crossing Oceans, Jenny sells her blood more than once to pay for diapers. Despite the hardships of raising her child alone, she’s a good mom, because, of course, the most important things we can give our children don’t cost anything but time.
Jenny is ultimately asked to give what no woman should have to, her last chance at happiness, but is there a limit to the sacrifices we are willing to make for our children?
Tiffany Warren’s In The Midst of It All explores Holmes’s question when we read about the unorthodox family dynamic between Zenovia and her mother, Aubrey.
Audrey and Zenovia’s roles have somewhat reversed because of the care that Audrey needs in her mental state. Zenovia is the nurturer-caregiver. Aubrey and Zenovia are special because this reversed mother-daughter dynamic exists in our communities. Whether you’re talking about a parent who’s an addict or has a debilitating illness like Audrey’s schizophrenia, unique struggles exist within that environment. For example, Zenovia has problems relating to other teens her age. She’s seen too much and matured too quickly, thus leaving her at a social disadvantage.
However, they have found a way to manage the hand they’ve been dealt. As long as Audrey is medicated, Zenovia can deal with her mother’s illness. However, the Brethren [a cult masquerading as a church] creates a caustic environment by removing one of the things that hold her in check: the meds.
Rave reviews for Warren’s tale focuses on the realism and vulnerability of Zenovia’s struggle as a daughter and Christian. When asked who or what was the inspiration behind her novel, Warren admitted that Zenovia mirrrored moments in her own childhood.
“Growing up I experienced my mother’s mental illness in a similar way to Zenovia. I had more of a support system, though, because my grandparents served more in the caretaker role. But I relate to Zenovia’s fear of people finding out about her mother’s illness,” states Warren.
“It took me a long time to write this story, years in fact. I’ve learned that God is forever faithful and true to His promises. I hope that readers glean a bit of understanding about living with mental illness. It is such an under-discussed topic in the African American community. Also, churches like the Brethren exist and have many people in bondage to their legalistic version of God’s Word. These churches are not just denominations of Christianity. They are dangerous cults that block people from having relationship with God.”
Question: What is your favorite novel about mothers and daughters and why? You can respond via Twitter @CFonlineMag using the Hashtag #mombook.
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