The special bond shared between a mother and daughter is the one place in all the world where hearts can be sure of each other. Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, but our roots remain one.
Last week, I talked about the bond between friends. This week, I want to talk about the bond between a mother and a daughter, or even between a mother and a son. Now in most of my books, I show that parents aren’t perfect. And that’s not fiction. Parents are humans, too. They make mistakes. They judge too quickly. They become over protective to try to prevent their kids from making mistakes, forgetting that sometimes the best way to learn is to make a mistake or two. Or parents push a child in one direction, when it’s not the direction their child wants to go.
Remember Kylie’s mom? She came off as an Ice Queen until the two of them found their way back to each other. Kylie’s Dad had a mega flaw. But eventually, Kylie even learned to forgive him. Della’s parents jumped to conclusions—especially her dad, and that broke Della’s heart. I swear, I almost killed him in Unspoken. I was so mad at him.
As teens, you get mad at your parents. I don’t think you are always right, but neither are the parents. Right now, I look back at my own parenting style and wish I could have changed a few things. I can also look back at some of the advice my parents gave me, and I realize I could have saved myself a lot of pain if I’d listened.
That said, in This Heart of Mine, the parental relationships are a little different. Matt’s mom is drowning in grief over the loss of her husband. She hurts so badly, she doesn’t realize how badly her children are hurting. Seeing their mother and son relationship being torn apart by grief broke my heart, but watching them find their way back together was so inspiring.
The real kicker of a bond that brought me to tears many times while writing this book was the bond between Leah and her parents. You see Leah accepts she’s dying. Her parents can’t accept it, but it’s killing them knowing it will probably be the outcome. Believe me, unless you watched someone you love face probable death, watched them get sicker and sicker, that pain probably isn’t completely understandable. And seeing them get that second chance is so mind blowing. Because I lived through that with my husband, writing about it was so close to home for me.
But I have to tell you, I think even worse than facing that pain with a spouse would be facing it with a child. Parents aren’t supposed to see their children die. That’s just in the BIG RULE book in the sky. And I count my lucky stars that both my children are healthy.
There is one scene where Leah’s mom is talking to Leah about putting her on birth control because Leah’s relationship with Matt is getting serious. And you know how hard that subject is with your parents. Leah doesn’t want to have it, but she knows she needs to. Her mother doesn’t want to have it because she doesn’t want to think her daughter is ready. Here’s an excerpt that shows both Leah and her mom dealing with this tender subject.
“I’m not having sex with him,” I blurt out. Don’t leave it there. Don’t leave it there. “But . . .”
“But what?” my mom asks.
“But I’m almost eighteen and . . .” I can’t say more, and not because it’s about sex but because . . . it’s months away. After thinking I was dying for so long, I’m barely thinking a week at a time.
I take a deep, shaky breath. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.
“Maybe it’s not a bad idea,” I finally finish.
Mom’s pupils dilate. I don’t know if it’s disappointment or shock. Part of me feels she’s about to ground me.
“I’ll . . . make you an appointment. I just don’t want . . . Being on birth control doesn’t mean you should do something before you’re ready.”
“I won’t.” I’m shocked it was this easy.
She nods. I glance at the door. “I should go and start . . .” I don’t want to lie, so I let her assume I mean packing, but I really want to talk to Matt.
And announcing I need to speak to Matt feels like a bad idea. She might think I’m going to tell him about the birth control. I’m so not going to tell him about birth control. But right then I realize I like thinking I’m moving in that direction. I kind of like this elusive thing called a future. I’d really like Matt to be in it.
“Go,” she says.
I stand, but before I even turn she’s up and has me in a big bear hug. “My little girl is growing up and I’m not sure I’m ready.” She pulls back. Tears are in her eyes. “I still want to comb your hair and put it up in pigtails.
I smile. “And dress me in pink.”
She nods and then says, “What’s wrong with pink?”
It’s now or never. “Pink isn’t my best color.”
She looks surprised. “But I thought you . . . What about your room?”
“It’s great.” I say quickly. Too quickly.
She hears my lie. “You wouldn’t have chosen pink?”
“Well, shit!” she says.
I gasp dramatically. “Just because I curse, doesn’t mean you can.”
We laugh together. “We’ll do something about your room. You can pick it out this time.”
I know she paid a fortune for all the pink. “Maybe next . . .” The word years catches on my tonsils. “Later.”
She brushes my hair off my cheek. Her eyes sparkle with mama emotion. “As much as I hate to see you grow up, less than a year ago my worst fear was that you wouldn’t. Just promise me you’ll make wise choices.”
Choices and chances. I think that’s what having a future is all about. I promise, and I mean it. This is my second or perhaps my third chance at life. I don’t want to screw it up. I know not every choice I make is going to pan out. But I’ll never know unless I try.
So, do you and your parents have a bond? Tell me about it and you could win an advanced copy of This Heart of Mine. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.)
This Heart of Mine is up for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powell’s, Indiebound and iBooks.
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