Two Different ‘Looks’ at Mothers

My Own Mom vs. A Mother I Wrote
                       By Jeff Salter

             Today, happy Cinco de Mayo!  And, in a few days, Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, potential moms, and other female relatives who’ve ‘mothered’ someone in the family.  And a special salute to step-moms and mothers-in-law.  I’ve been EXTREMELY fortunate to have had both a wonderful step-mom and a terrific mother-in-law.  

My Own Mom
            But the focus of this first section is my own flesh-and-blood mother, who’s still going strong at age 89 (in a few months) — and she’s a pip.  < Hi, Mom! >  Exactly 40 years ago, I wrote a Mother’s Day poem for her.  I’ve tweaked it a lot since then and eventually deleted three of its original six stanzas.  Here’s the condensed, current version: 

                        Questions on Mother’s Day
                                    By Jeffrey L. Salter 

What can one say on Mother’s Day
            that hasn’t been better expressed
by the eager warmth of your newborn son
            as he tenderly sucks at your breast?

Where can a mom find greater reward
            than with such a gentle joy:
looks at her son and now sees a man
            where once was a little boy? 

For the child to whom she labored life,
            can Mom ever cease her love?
Not even when body returns to the earth
            and her soul is taken Above.

                        ——— 

When Mom is a Character
            You might think I mean when your own mother is a ‘character’.  My mom IS … and I based a fictional character on her (in my second and third manuscripts).  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I mean when you create a fictional character and she’s a mother.  Not just that this character has children – a technicality – but when her being a mom is germane to the storyline.
            I have an example in my fourth novel manuscript — a ‘screwball’ romantic comedy.  My heroine and hero are in the midst of a huge muddle, fraught with misunderstandings … and have actually ‘broken-up’.  The hero’s wise and crafty mother plays a very important role in getting the two fighting protagonists back together again so their HEA ending becomes possible.  She’s not merely a character who also happens to be a mom.  She’s pivotal to the story because it’s her role AS a mother which is utilized to bring the warring parties to the truce table. 

What ‘Mom’ Characters have you written?
           If you’ve written a character whose role as a mother is pivotal to your novel, please share an example.  You don’t have to give away more than you want to (if it’s not yet published), but give us enough to comprehend HOW her ‘motherhood’ is integral to your story.

             Please visit our group blog often.  I’m the Hound and I’m here on Thursdays; once a month, I have an exciting Guest Fox.  But visit anytime:  on the other weekdays, you’ll find a Resident Fox.

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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23 Responses to Two Different ‘Looks’ at Mothers

  1. Ciara Knight says:

    Poem brought tears to my eyes. The greatest job in the world is being a mom.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Ciara.
      I agree with your second statement even though, as a man, I can’t completely grasp everything involved in that ‘job’. I’ve often said, quite sincerely, that if it were left to the male gender to handle the pregnancy — as one specific 9-month function — that the birth rate would plummet to nearly zero. Most men I know, including myself, just aren’t willing to sacrifice that much.
      But a lot of us make great dads! and grand-dads.
      Thanks for visiting and please come back any Thursday.

      Like

  2. Tonya Kappes says:

    My mom, Jeff you’ve met her, is so supportive. She does everything for my family that she can. She lives a few hours away from us and travels to all seven grandchildren’s games, with my dad of course. I’m a step mom as well as a mom. I have to say my step son spends every Mother’s Day with me and our family. I love when he tells me he loves me and especially when he says, “just because a woman can have a child, doesn’t make her a mother.” He is precious and soon to be leaving the nest. I do feel like his mom, I feel like I birthed him:)
    I mostly write “my moms” as the quirky character in my book making her a secondary figure. I think moms have a lot of knowledge, so when there is a lesson to be learned, I throw in a few lessons and quirkiness:) Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Tonya, you’ve obviously developed a wonderful and deep relationship with your step-son … which is the way it should be. For the last 25 yrs of my Dad’s life, I had a step-mom and I grew to love her. My kids always thought they had three grandmothers. She’s still living, but is way out on Colo. near some of her natural children. I spoke to her just last week.
      Thanks for visiting today and sharing your story.

      Like

  3. danicaavet says:

    Great poem, Jeff, LOL I knew I could leave the poetry in your capable hands!

    Okay, yesterday’s post should reveal how much I adore my mom and how protective she’s been of me. I wrote a mom in two of my published books. In the first, the mom did some pretty underhanded things in the best interest of her daughter (the protag), but she did it out of love that eventually lead to a HEA for the hero and heroine. In the second “mom” book…the mom was not so nice, or kind, or loving, or anything. She was actually hateful and resentful of her child, giving her to an assassin’s guild and she didn’t care if her daughter died or not. She was pretty horrible, really.

    I’ve had to tell my mom that she can rest assured that she is nothing like the mothers I write about. She looked at me like I was crazy, so I blamed watching Mommie Dearest when I was a child.

    P.S. She loathed that movie because when she wouldn’t let me have my way, I’d call her Mommie Dearest *cough* 😉

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Danica, I’m sure your Mom is honored by your post yesterday … and likely very pleased NOT to have served as the inspiration for the moms in those two published books.
      I’m equally sure she knows you didn’t really mean it when you alluded to Joan Crawford.
      Part of being a mom must surely be dealing with the occasional tempers (and temperaments) of her offspring. I’d hate to have been the mom raising ME!

      Like

  4. Although most of the characters in my first novel are loosely inspired by real folks, the protagonist’s mother IS my mother right down to her name, Susan, and the relationship between the main character and her mother is basically my relationship with my mother. And the mother character, like the mom character in your screw-ball comedy, is pivotal to the plot. The mother in my book is constantly on my main character’s back about dating, meeting “the one”, getting married and giving her grandchildren. But all in a lighthearted way so that the main character doesn’t realize how much influence her mom’s nagging has on her until later in the story. I honestly could not have written the book without my mother. And despite, the constant nagging, I love her just as my main character loves her overbearing Jewish mother!

    Happy Mother’s Day to your mom and mine 🙂

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      What a great story, Meredith. I know your mom is delighted to see herself in your pages and I’m sure that character will (or perhaps has already) develop a ‘following’ among the readers. The really rich supporting characters often do.
      Thanks for sharing and give your mom a big hug.

      Like

  5. jbrayweber says:

    What a beautiful poem, Jeff. Just beautiful.
    Thank you for sahring it.

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn.
      Glad you could stop by today.
      I visited your blog yesterday, but didn’t comment since it was a completely different type of post.

      Like

  6. everwriting says:

    Hi, Jeff. My mom has been dead for almost six years. Being an orphan puts a different perspective on motherhood and the role Mom plays in the life of the family. My relationship with my mother was turbulent and loving. She was a fully formed human being, no saint and no devil. I’ve written about her, used aspects of her character to create characters in my novels throughout my writing career but the one that fits your criteria is Olivia in my first completed novel. She embodies the best and worst of that person who always has your best interests at heart and still manages to set one child against the other in an effort to be fair. Olivia drives her family crazy but in the end, she comes up with the essential gold for her eldest son. Here’s just a snippet of her at her worst:

    Miguel was fretful, tormented by his cousins, chased around his grandparents’ front and back gardens. When he ran toward Emily, Olivia diverted him and swooped the baby into her silk-covered arms, letting him go again to face the voracious appetites of the other children. Olivia’s shoulder length, aluminum gray hair swayed like a veil when she walked, but was never out of place.

    I write about mothers who are jealous of their sons and mothers who are ecstatic to have daughters-in-law. Being a mother myself, I feel the responsibility to be judicious with the use of this powerful symbol of love. What my mother did or my children do think is an matter for them to decide.

    Before she died, I asked my mother to write about her experiences during Word War II. She had often told me about those years – I was always an avid listener to her tales – but to have them written in her own handwriting is a treasure beyond any other. I do miss her but am becoming more like her everyday!

    Thank you for the poem, Jeff.
    –Leigh

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks for the detailed example, Leigh. Just the kind of response I was hoping for because I find it interesting for a character’s ‘specifications’ (though that’s not the best word) to be fully utilized in the story. In other words (leaving motherhood for a moment), is Maria’s boyfriend a fireman just because that was a convenient career for him (as a supporting character) to have? Or does his skill / job as a fireman play a role in the story?

      I’m very glad you now possess those memoirs of your mother … and that you encouraged her to put them to paper. If you haven’t already used some of those recollections in your novels, I’m sure you’ll find places for bits and pieces.
      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Like

  7. everwriting says:

    Sorry, I can’t get the hang of the HTML tags. Everything after “never out of place.” should not be italicized.

    Like

  8. Laurie Ryan says:

    What a wonderful poem, Jeff. I have one of those wonderful mother’s. She’s my inspiration. And probably the reason I find myself incapable of writing a mean mother. I’ve never experienced it. I do love to write the mother’s who know best, though. You know, the ones who know who you should marry better than you do? It definitely adds some fun to the stories. 🙂 Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Laurie.
      You’ve been such a regular visitor that you’re close to being an Honorary Fox.
      Glad you’ve had such a wonderful relationship with your Mom. Like in many other aspects of life, we hear more about the horror stories … nice to hear those filled with love and approval.

      Like

  9. everwriting says:

    Jeff, what other one? CSS?
    So glad to see so many “Happy Cinco de Mayo”! Being raised in California, it’s like the 4th of July for me.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      The other formatting is called “Visual” and it’s right next to HTML in the editing mode on WordPress.

      Like

  10. Lois Winston says:

    I haven’t based a character on my own mother yet, but the mother-in-law in my current release, ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, is based on my own mother-in-law — which is probably why some of my husband’s relatives no longer speak to me.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      LOL, Lois. I’ve just finished reading that book and I can certainly see why they wouldn’t speak to you. Ha. That M-I-L character is vividly drawn and I was ready to whack her with her own cane and toss her and her dog out the door. If she’s anything like your real M-I-L [difficult to tell how far your tongue is in your cheek], then you’ve truly had an interesting life with the in-laws.
      Thanks for visiting, Lois. I enjoyed your book.

      Like

  11. Love the poem!! Wonderful tribute!

    Most of the moms I’ve written (maybe 3) in romance novels have been a bit fey. Don’t know why. Moms in my mysteries tend to be stronger women than the moms I give the heroines. Something to ponder in my spare time.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks, Jillian.
      Well, maybe the women in your mysteries are needed to drive the plot more than in the romances. If so, it would make sense that they’re stronger.

      Like

  12. Pingback: Mother’s Day | fourfoxesonehound

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