[#RapplerReads] Understanding a mother’s love

Raven Lingat

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[#RapplerReads] Understanding a mother’s love
These books show that a mother’s love isn’t as simple as it seems

Editor’s note: #RapplerReads is a project of the BrandRap team. We earn a commission every time you shop through the affiliate links below.

Here at Rappler Reads, there’s a topic we’ve covered in various ways. 

In February, we wrote about grief and the memory of a mother. [READ: [#RapplerReads] How do you process your grief?] In April, we looked back on how history and war can affect a mother’s love. [READ: In Pachinko, does a mother’s love surpass struggles of war and tainted identity?] One guest contributor even talked about her own journey to motherhood and the book that’s helping her along the way. [READ: [#RapplerReads]: From the shelves of strong women]

If you’ve read these pieces, you might observe that we have a lot to say about mothers and love. That’s because it’s such a multifaceted thing. How can we even begin to understand what comprises and motivates this kind of love? 

For the whole month of May, we’re going to try. We’ll be publishing pieces that unpack the different forms a mother’s love takes: from the enduring love of a dog mom to the thought-provoking stories of a new mom, and everything in between.

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To start things off and in celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s a list of books that talk about a mother’s love.

A mother’s love sacrifices

When we’re first introduced to Lily Bloom, the protagonist of Colleen Hoover’s bestselling novel It Ends With Us, she’s a twenty-three-year-old woman on the cusp of adulthood. Her father has just died, she’s met someone she thinks she can fall in love with, and she plans to put up her own business. As the story progresses, she grows up and we grow up with her. 

I believe that while this book is a love story at its core, there is one kind of love that stands. The heart-wrenching final part of the book is focused on Lily’s love for her child. And spoiler alert! She sacrifices everything she has – a comfortable routine, the love of her life – so her daughter wouldn’t grow up seeing her father hurt her mother as Lily did. It takes a strong mother to break the cycle of domestic abuse and I believe she’s one of the strongest fictional moms I know.

A mother’s love is always present

One of the first books I ever read was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Since I was young when I first read it, I could relate more to Jo and her sisters than their mother, affectionately called Marmee. But looking back on this book as an adult, I believe that Marmee exemplifies a certain kind of love only a mother could provide.

The book mostly revolves around the lives of the four March siblings. But enveloping the girls is Marmee’s presence, which can be seen in the times she berates her children or when she praises them. Marmee is always there to counsel her children whenever they have problems. She handled the management of their household and parenting when her husband went off to war. Through Marmee, we see that a mother’s love manifests in their constant presence – a presence that is integral, but at times invisible, to the whole family.

A mother’s love welcomes

Filipino-American Virgil Salinas, the protagonist of Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe, is a lola [grandmother]’s boy. A shy and quiet boy in a family of “big personalities that bubbled over like pots of soup,” Virgil’s only confidant is his Lola.

From Lola, he learns about the folktales and myths from the Philippines. He discovers the story of the Stone Boy and of Pah. These stories become a part of Virgil’s psyche and affect the way he sees the world. While not his biological mother, Lola shows Virgil a love that accepts who he is. With her, he can be his introspective self. And because of Lola, he becomes part of a culture that is unlike what he grew up with. In Lola, we see that a mother’s love can help us with belonging and identity.

A mother’s love changes

In Maya Shanbhag Lang’s What We Carry: A Memoir, there’s a quote that I love. “Maybe at our most maternal, we aren’t mothers at all. We’re daughters, reaching back in time for the mothers we wish we’d had and then finding ourselves.”

In this memoir, Lang reexamines the stories her mother told her when she was growing up, along with her childhood, family history, and what she knows of her mother. The book helps us understand that motherhood is not static: the mother we knew when we were growing up may not be the mother we meet every time we go home as adults. As we grow up, our relationship with our mother changes. It shifts even more once we become parents. Like all emotions and many things in this world, a mother’s love evolves over time. 

A mother’s love is brave

My teammates likewise have their own realizations when it comes to a mother’s love. Marj Handog, BrandRap editor, shares that “Assembling Alice reminds us of the strong and brave moms among us. Written by poet, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, it’s a true story about Alice Feria, one of the first female journalists in the Philippines. She was one of the fearless Filipinos who joined a secret resistance movement against the Japanese. Get to know what it’s like to be a woman and a mother in a time of war while enjoying this work of literary nonfiction.” 

Join us as we unravel what a mother’s love entails. Post your May book reads and reactions on social media with the hashtag #RapplerReads. – Rappler.com

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Raven Lingat

Raven Lingat is currently part of the BrandRap content team, where she leads the GoodRap series. You can also find her writing about K-pop and films.