My boyfriend gave me Mom & Me & Mom for my birthday this year; he snuck onto my iPod touch and it was one of my most recent
additions to my “must-reads” list on Goodreads. 🙂 I’ve read some of Maya Angelou’s poetry, but this is the first of her books that I’ve read. I was always aware she is an amazing woman, and then this book showed me she is an amazing, inspiring woman whose strength and will are not matched by many—and so was her mother.
Angelou’s mother sent her and her brother to live with their grandmother when they were three and five, respectively; so, when 13-year-old Angelou was brought back to her mother, it was as though they were meeting for the first time. As can be imagined, Angelou needed time to adjust to this new person in her life, who she decided to call “Lady” instead of “Mother.” In this heartfelt tribute to the extraordinary Vivian Baxter, Angelou chronicles both the lessons and unwavering support she received from her mother.
Angelou’s relationship with her mother is an intriguing one because her mother actually has to earn the right to her title, let alone her role. But once she’s earned her place in Angelou’s heart, the two never take each other for granted again. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of the book; so many of us are privileged enough to have our mothers with us right from the beginning that we don’t always see clearly or fully appreciate the support and love they provide us with.
Even in the title, Angelou recognizes that she was surrounded by the love and support of her mother, and in her beautiful, honest style, she writes:
She had my back, supported me. This is the role of the mother, and in that visit I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important. Not just because she feeds and also loves and cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe an eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap. She stands between the unknown and the known.
My mother is one of my very best friends, and I always do my best to show how much I appreciate her, but this book gave me an even better perspective. I look very forward to reading more of Angelou’s books and learning from the wisdom and strength of this incredible woman.