For My Writer-Mom: A Bouquet of Memories

writer mom at star reading

My writer mom worked as the editor of our local newspaper, covering news all over the county. If a reporter couldn’t make it to an event, Mom would grab her camera, reporter’s pad, and pen—and quite often her daughter—to capture the news herself.

This meant that whether I wanted to or not, I visited sporting events, live nativity scenes, church bazaars, festivals, fairs, horse pulls, pie-eating contests, and a lot of parades. writer mom on ladderMost kids would relish frequent outings to festivals and fairs, but apparently I grew tired of being dragged from town to town. Even though it was an era when the Girl Scouts and local celebrities riding in Model T cars or standing on floats would heave generous gobs of candy to the spectators, apparently I moaned one time, “Not another parade!” Ah, what a cross I had to bear!

All because my mother was a professional writer and editor; a committed, working journalist.writer mom at desk

When she was a child, her dream never wavered: she wanted to write. Mom majored in journalism at university and worked for years at our metropolitan newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, as a writer, editor and columnist. Her work in the lifestyle department allowed her to meet and interview movie stars as they came through town for a show or event. I always enjoyed telling my friends, “My mom met the woman who plays Ethel on I Love Lucy.” Mom said Vivian Vance was gracious and charming—one of her favorite interviews. And one of the most challenging? Jack Palance.

But continuing to work full-time at the Star became a challenge when my brother was born. When I came along four years later, Mom adjusted her writing life to accommodate motherhood … to accommodate me.

writer mom with baby Ann Kroeker

She gave up her work at the Star to take that position at the county newspaper in order to be available to her children; she gave up being the journalist she wanted to be, in order to be the mom she wanted to be. She could have been interviewing movie stars. writer mom at star in 1960sInstead, Mom stood all day on Mondays, scrambling to get the county paper ready, making editorial decisions about which photo of the fair queen should make the front page, trimming school lunch schedules with scissors and pasting down stories of council meetings and road construction.

But because Mom didn’t drive downtown to Indianapolis—because she was willing to work hard at a less prestigious job that was flexible and kept her close by—she was there to cheer me on at softball games and track meets. She could see my plays and band concerts.

She was around for school award ceremonies where I received some minor recognition—nothing newsworthy that would draw a reporter, but Mom would come … as a mom.

And I didn’t appreciate her sacrifice one bit when I was young.writer mom with kids

When I was little, I woke up early to watch morning kids’ shows, which would have been limited to Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, and a few cartoons. Mom says one morning I slipped into her bedroom in my jammies and asked, “Mommy, can you watch car-coons with me?”

Touched that I requested her presence, she dragged herself out of bed, pulled on a robe, shuffled into the living room, and eased herself onto the green vinyl chair as I snuggled down on her lap.

After a few minutes, I chirped, “That’s good, Mommy. You can go back to bed. The chair’s all warmed up now.”

For a lot of women, it takes becoming a mother to appreciate their mothers. It takes a humbling vinyl chair moment to realize everything our moms put up with.

writer mom with mugFor me, I think that the tension and pull between motherhood and writing has opened my eyes to my mom’s sacrifices. Mom sought to balance work and motherhood, respecting and honoring both.

Now I’m attempting the same thing.

I’ve grown to appreciate the challenges she faced to make her life work. Mom knows all about “imperfect conditions.” I think I finally feel the pang of those compromises she made, of her grief at the loss of a position that really fit who she was as a writer in order to choose a life that allowed her to be there.

For me.

And my writer mom has celebrated the life I’ve chosen, which is also the life of a writer-mom, seeking a both/and instead of an either/or life.

Thanks for modeling how to write in the midst of motherhood, Mom. Thanks for being there. Thanks for supporting and celebrating my work while carrying on your own. You deserve a bigger tribute than this, but it’s a start. And it’s…

For you.

writer mom chapel of ease 3

This bouquet of memories honors my writer mom, who creates a kind of virtual bouquet these days with her camera, shooting the glorious flora (and fauna) of the Low Country.

For more mom-inspired memory bouquets, visit Laura Lynn Brown, author of Everything That Makes You Mom: A Bouquet of Memories and follow her #mombouquet tour (now through Mother’s Day) via social media channels.

mombouquet

(Post modified from the archives)

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  • Comments

    1. This is your version of Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard” poem.

    2. So sweet! Thank you, again.

    3. What a lovely tribute Ann. You Mom sounds like a wonderful lady. As I’ve tried to devote more time to writing, I’ve wondered how on earth Mom’s find the time. Your Mom balanced it all so very well. You’re doing an amazing job too.

    4. Often it is much later that we understand and appreciate all the sacrifices our mothers did for us. Your tribute to your mom does give her a bit of what she deserves and you are following in her footsteps. Hugs and kisses to moms who give and give and give!

    5. This is quite wonderful, Ann. I’m going to check out Laura’s blog and see what’s up. Somehow with the latest algorithm change at FB, I’m missing way too much stuff! Thanks for this one. (I’m subscribed to both of your blogs, but haven’t seen anything from Laura in weeks. I’ll try again.)

      • Thank you for dropping by, Diana, and reading about Mom. And I am pretty frustrated with Facebook, too. I find that my phone lets me see far more than when I’m on my computer. So strange.

    6. Saw the word “bouquet” and knew it was a Laura thing. You’ve written part of this before, right?

    7. tears here
      beauty in your words
      in your love
      passed down, and down, and down
      and your children shall rise and called you blessed

      • Oh, Karen, thank you for coming by and dropping in this sweet response. Yes, we must pass down the love, the memories, the stories, the thanks.

        The other day my college-aged daughter came by for a visit with friends we hadn’t met yet. I arrived home late after a conference, so I was the last in the family to say hello. As soon as I greeted them and met everyone, the girls all looked at each other and I got the impression my daughter had told them I might act a certain way or greet them with a particular silliness or something. Anyway, I didn’t feel bad about it, but it was such a vivid reminder that everyone has to sort through their relationship with their parents, and now I’m on the end that is being analyzed by my adult daughter. It’s a strange place to be, but natural and normal. I hope that she arrives at a comfortable place that offers grace and sees some good in me.

    8. What a wonderful tribute to your “writer” mom and she is richer for making her wise Proverbs 31 woman. I’m glad she didn’t give up everything but still continued to write. I wonder how many mothers think they HAVE to give up everything and look down at their precious gifts (children) with resentment and not joy. Bravo to you your mom….bravo!

      • Chris, thanks for this note. You make a good observation, that she continued her love of writing even when it evolved (and maybe not in the way she had hoped). I agree with you and join in shouting bravo to my mom! Bravo!

    9. I love the reflective quality to your writing Ann. We are blessed by your walk through your Moms career and I’m spending time imaging all the good things she spoke into your life. What extraordinary sacrifice to leave the Star. God Bless her for her choice and presence in your life.

      • Thank you for taking time to sit with my mom and me, blessing us both. She’s never once held that over my head to make me feel guilty or anything. She may have dreamed of even bigger possibilities–for example, a friend of her from college was really high up at Scripps-Howard in Washington, D.C., but she never sulked or felt sorry for herself in a way that would make us feel bad. Instead, she faithfully went to work at the local paper, and did a fabulous job creating a quality newspaper that everyone in the county pored over, week after week.

    10. Ann,
      That story about your mom warming up the chair for you is priceless and made me chuckle…says it all about a kid’s perspective…and now you as a mom, balancing your writing and editing with caring for your children…such love modeled by your mom and by you…Thank you :)

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