I participate in an online essay class with several women as we share our skills, our thoughts and our stories. It is a captivating thing to find so much of your own mother in someone else's story. Young women too soon to motherhood, in a time of no birth control, no resources, no support, and often a sea storm of devaluation. Reading their stories is often heart rending.
Much of my youth was a tale of transition, with staggering changes for the female population. The result for so many of us is unimaginable freedom to be whoever we want to be. While we're not done yet, we are worlds away from the often grueling and entrapping lives of some of our mothers. Those women commonly took their misery out on their children, who couldn't hit back.
It is not an easy maturity to get past the failings of my mother at mothering, to really see her as a person with her dreams denied, her triumphs belittled, her strengths hidden. Granting her sympathy for losses a child can't know in childhood comes only as a child achieves the steadier footing of womanhood, with a more experienced eye, and from the sort of support from the shared writing community.
Writing memoir itself permits the personal forum in which to muster courage and bravery to look at those places so long covered over, buried deep, but such a trove of those experiences so tightly woven to create the "me".
Self-revelation born of honest looking, truth in self-speaking, and unflinching reception of what surfaces produces the inner knowledge about who we really are.