Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mom & Pop: A Mother Shares Her Passion For Books

by Neg Burger)

Note: This essay is part of "Mom & Pop," a monthlong series where readers celebrate motherhood and pop culture. It was penned by Meg Berger in Detroit. If you have a story you'd like to share, here's how to submit it.

We didn't have movie nights at my house. There were six of us kids, so getting all of us to agree on a movie was downright impossible. And we didn't have cable TV, either — not just because of the cost, but because my feminist mother couldn't stand the way women were depicted in '80s music videos on MTV.

What we did have were books.

Before we could read full-chapter books, my mom would read to us. My siblings and I would take turns sitting next to her while she read Winnie the Pooh and Little House on the Prairie and The Black Cauldron.

When we were old enough to read on our own, she started making weekly trips to the library. I know so many people now, as adults, who don't utilize their public library. Free books, people! All the free books you can read!

There were no rules when it came to what we could or couldn't read; Mom never censored a thing. My sister read Stephen King's Pet Sematary when she was 11. I read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel in the fifth grade. If we ever had a question about the definition of a word or a plot point, she was there to help us out.

"Hey, Mom," I remember asking once. "What does the word 'turgid' mean?"

Yes, I was reading a romance novel. And yes, I was reading a steamy scene.

She gave me the definition. I was embarrassed, but she was so unfazed and nonchalant about it, I didn't blush for long. That's the kind of woman my mother was and still is: an open-minded, matter-of-fact, loving person who simply doesn't judge. Her 13-year-old daughter wants to read smutty romance novels? So be it.

As I got older, my mom introduced me to authors like Margaret Atwood and Barbara Kingsolver. It was because of my mom that I read The Stand and Rebecca and A Wrinkle in Time and countless other literary classics.

I love reading more than most any other activity or hobby. I don't view it as a chore or something that I might do every now and then. Reading is in my blood, so ingrained that to go a day without it simply isn't possible.

I hope my own kids end up feeling the same way. If they do, I'll make sure they give Nana an extra hug and tell her thanks.

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