Michele Filgate’s anthology makes us reflect on our own complicated relationships with our mothers.
What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About is an essay anthology edited by Michele Filgate. Fifteen writers open up about their relationships with their mothers in touching, often heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious ways. When I saw this book—and it’s difficult not to, what with its striking fuchsia cover with neon lettering—I was intrigued and also wondering, “why hasn’t this been done before?” As Filgate puts it, “For even a brief instant of time, every single human being has a mother.” And yet, I don’t recall reading too many stories about the relationships between mothers and their adult children.
This anthology is in no way a book that glorifies motherhood, but it is one that celebrates all the different relationships one can have with their mother. The comfortable. The messy. The familiar. The misunderstood. Reading the collection is reminiscent of the feeling you get as a teenager when you realize your parents are not superheroes who know everything and what’s best for you. That “grown-ups” don’t know what they’re doing and no one stops growing. But with that realization comes a weight lifted. Yes, your mother makes mistakes, but that only makes her more human. And with that comes the potential for understanding and friendship, or in some cases defiance and separation.
Some stories will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. Some will have you pausing with phone in hand, finger hovering over the call button that will connect you to your own mother in seconds.