Get Thee to an Other Mother!

Posted on Updated on

I can’t pinpoint when I became aware I had an other mother any more than when I became aware of my own name. I remember when I met her, sure. I was a floundering 22-year-old from the backwoods of Oregon and she was an 82-year-old former burlesque dancer from New York who said things like “Every woman should have at least one affair. It builds confidence.”

Seven days from now the whole world will meet my other mother: Byrne Miller. November 5th is the national launch of “The Other Mother: a rememoir” and the date her collected children, including me, will have to start sharing her with readers everywhere. What I’ve learned since the fabulous local kickoff of the book in Beaufort, SC is that women of all ages instinctively “get it:” we’ve all needed and cherished the love of other mothers even if we’ve never put our finger on it until this book came along.

Moveable Feast reading at Kimbel's on Wachesaw Plantation
Moveable Feast reading at Kimbel’s on Wachesaw Plantation

What I’ve also learned is that there are many different reasons why. Othermothering isn’t the sappy happy apple pie fantasy of nuclear families. It’s real world and defies stereotypes. After I spoke to 65 avid readers Friday at Litchfield Book’s Moveable Feast in Murrell’s Inlet, one grandmother raised her hand. I thought she might ask the question I often get: “Was your real mother ever jealous of your Other Mother?”

But instead she said she bought her ticket to the luncheon the minute she saw the book cover and title. “I figured since my daughter and I don’t always seem well matched this might be just the solution.” The whole crowd laughed right along with her and Litchfield Books sold out of my book within the hour. Most told me it was gift for themselves, and some had Christmas presents for their mothers and other mothers in mind. But when I was signing books after the talk, two different women asked me to inscribe their copies to their daughters. “Can you write something like Dear Jane, have you thought about finding an other mother?”

It reminded me that daughters aren’t always the sweet dears we like to think we are. It dawned on me why I never got the feeling that my own mother was jealous of Byrne. She was probably sick and tired of my twenty-something know-it-all self and relieved that another woman was willing to guide me into another phase of life. Hmmm…. Come to think of it one of my many nicknames growing up was Miss Information.

Byrne -- in her 60s, photo taken in Santa Fe
Byrne — in her 60s, photo taken in Santa Fe
My mother, Beverly, in a high school production of "My Fair Lady"
My mother, Beverly, in a high school production of “My Fair Lady”

3 thoughts on “Get Thee to an Other Mother!

    Elaine Joselovitz said:
    October 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    When I first saw the photo of you mother Beverly I thought it was you (yes, you’ll always be blonde to me). And if mothers can be younger than their children, in a way you were a kind, encouraging mom to me as I learned the ropes at work. Did I ever say “thanks”? I meant to. Elaine J.


      teresabrucebooks said:
      October 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Okay Elaine… that one made me a little teary-eyed. The thank you part, not the blond part 🙂


    Art said:
    November 3, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    It maybe that you don’t like, or get along with a sister/brother/father/mother. I love my father, but I don’t like him. Our families are made up of those who act in ways that help us grow within a vessel of love. It can be painful as they come and go as they change and you change. Very bittersweet , liket the essence of the book.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s