Monday, July 11, 2011

We Should All Interview Our Mothers

What do (or did) you talk about when you talk to your mother? Are your conversations filled with mundane things such as what time you're going to the grocery store or the price of gas? Or do you talk about politics and current events? Do you ever talk about the past?

For the most part, the talks I have with my mom are fairly generic. Although I desperately want to know more about her childhood and what (and how) surviving World War II in Okinawa was like, she's tight-lipped about it. She allows me to ask one or two questions a year, and when she reaches her limit the wall goes back up.

I had a mini-breakthrough last week, however, when I interviewed my mom for "When Mom Was My Age," a weekly series run by writer/editor/traveler extraordinaire Jane Friedman. In the series, women interview their mothers, asking them what life was like when they were their daughters' ages. While I would much rather discuss the details of my mom's life when she was 11, I had a lovely time asking her questions about her life at my age, 42. Read the interview here.

Screen shot of "When Mom Was My Age," featuring my mom

The photo on the left is my favorite picture of my mom. I lifted it off of my sister's Facebook page (Thanks, Ginny!) and sent it to Jane. The photo on the right is of my mom standing outside of her elementary school in Okinawa. It was taken in 2006, my mom's most recent visit to her homeland.

My mom has a very matter-of-fact way of speaking. No sugar coating, no elaborations, just the straight answers. On paper (or the computer screen, as it were), she makes it seem as if her life were nothing special, but in person she seems satisfied with the choices she's made.

If you've ever wanted to gain greater insight into what your mom went through in her life, interview her. Answers flowed more freely when my mom knew I was working on a project rather than simply having "a talk." I'm lucky to have my mom still, so I should bombard her with more questions while I can.

My mom's enthusiasm and candid answers during our "When Mom Was My Age" interview gives me hope that one day soon I'll be able to ask her about 1945 after all.

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