Category Archives: Victoria Secunda

Mothers & Daughters

When I first read Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, I was haunted by the image of her mother sifting through a dumpster because it was my great fear that that was how my mother would end up.  And further, I worried that after everything that had happened between us and our complete estrangement for well over ten years, I would end up taking care of her.  Readers of Chanel Bonfire will probably be shocked but not surprised to hear this: shocked that after everything my mother did to us, I would feel obliged to try and look out for her again, but not surprised that that is how it could turn out.  Roles like ours–mother/daughter, antagonist, protector, jailer, guard, etc. are hard to slough off.

While many readers of Chanel Bonfire enjoy the book for the harrowing stories and comedic moments and the vicarious thrill of another life lived, many others see a version, a shade of their own experience.  Particularly, many women see variations of their own relationships with their mothers.  Some are in the past, their mothers are gone, but they are still trying to reconcile what happened; some are on-going and being made even more complicated by aging and the reversal of roles between daughter and mother; others–those of teen girls like Robbie and I were–are still very much in the thick of it.  

Many readers ask how I found my way and worked out my relationship with my mother–what I did, what I read.  One of the most useful and practical books I found was “When You and Your Mother Can’t Be Friends” by Victoria Secunda.  It is a clear-eyed view of this most complicated of relationships and I highly recommend it.