Friday, May 14, 2010

Dear Diary: I Hate My Mom (Guest Post)

Today I'm honored to present a guest post by Leah Stewart, author of the new novel Husband and Wife.  Please welcome her and enjoy!

My mother arrived on Mothers’ Day for a weeklong visit, bringing with her an assortment of souvenirs of my youth. (She’s cleaning out her garage.) Among the foreign coins and report cards was my diary, kept from the time I was eight to the time I was fifteen. The last entry, perhaps not coincidentally, describes the acquisition of my first real boyfriend. “Did you read it?” I asked her.

“No!” she said emphatically. “Why would I do that to myself?”

I opened to a random page and saw what she meant. The entry was a catalogue of what I perceived to be my mother’s flaws. Apparently I was furious that she’d sent me to my room “like a two year old” and then followed me there to yell at me. My greatest fear is that I will become like my mother, I wrote. I was thirteen.

This all seems funny to me now, as do the posturing and false bravado of myself at thirteen and fourteen. But it doesn’t seem funny to my mother, who can clearly remember with horror what it was like to have me turn on her. My three abiding preoccupations in those years seem to have been my fear that I was fat, my desire for a boyfriend, and my anger at my mother. All of this makes sense developmentally. As you move into an awareness of yourself as a potential adult, of course you measure yourself against your closest model. But I’m sure none of that matters when you’re the one being assessed and rejected by the person who not so long ago eagerly emulated everything you did.

So I should revise the way I started the last paragraph, and say it all seems funny to me until I think about my own daughter. She’s five and a half, or, as I’m thinking now, seven and a half years from writing a similar diary entry about me. Is there a way to prepare myself for that time? To understand, and not be hurt? Will it help me to reread my own diary entry and remind myself that all of that passed?

Of course you’re like your mother, I want to go back and say to my angry adolescent self. And believe me that’s not the worst thing that can happen to you. More often than not it seems like one of the best.

Author bio:  Leah Stewart is the author of the novels The Myth of You and Me and Body of a Girl, and her new novel HUSBAND AND WIFE (Harper, May 2010). A recipient of a 2010 NEA Literature Fellowship, she has taught at Vanderbilt University, Sewanee, the University of the South, and Murray State University, where she was the Watkins Endowed Professor of Creative Writing. She currently lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband and two young children, and teaches creative writing at the University of Cincinnati.

Learn more about Leah Stewart and her new book, Husband and Wife, at her website.  You'll also find links to sites from which you can order your own copy.  Or enter to win a copy of Husband and Wife here.


  1. Great post! I love it and relate to it. My mother and I were "enemies" until I turned 17 and then all of a sudden, I understood what she had been trying to teach me all those years...and now we're best friends!

  2. I love, and can totally relate to this post. I have an award for you at my blog:
    -Mama E

  3. I think it would be cool to have something I wrote when I was 13 or 14. I could only imagine the teenage angst!
    As parents, we do have to prepare for the worst. The good news is your mom must be extremely proud of how you turned out. My guess is your daughter will be successful too, and this will hopefully erase any terrible teenage atrocities she may partake in. Thanks for sharing this! Great post :)

  4. I'm a mom of two teen boys, one of which loves to cause me this kind of anxiety. I read two books by the same author (Brad Sachs) that I found tremendously helpful. I reviewed them on my blog if you're interested.
    (Hope you don't mind the link...just delete it if you do).

  5. I remember being angry all the time at my mother as a teen. I can still understand some of it but I'm really glad I never documented any of it- I'm not sure I want to completely relive that amount of frustration.


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