(Apologies to my European friends who have already celebrated Mothering Sunday.)
It’s a funny thing that holidays to celebrate inclusiveness tend to (unintentionally) become the most exclusive days of the year. Last year for the Advent Calendar, we talked about “Blue Christmas” and the mixture of feelings that the holiday can evoke. We had a wonderful discussion, and quite a few people told me that it was a refreshing change from the hype of a perfect holiday.
One of the earliest scenes that I wrote for The Way Home was Kat’s first Mother’s Day after reuniting with Natalie.
Natalie’s voice stops as I usher her into the kitchen and she takes in the table set with our best dishes (really her dishes, but since I had so little to move in I’ve started to think of hers as mine), a mixed bouquet in the center, loose daisies wrapped around the cloth napkins sitting on top of the plates, and the (if I can say so myself) most scrumptious-looking meal ever of fresh croissants, miniature omelettes, fresh fruit, and little heart-shaped muffins. Or sort of heart-shaped, if you squint a little when you look at them.
I tug the stammering Natalie to her chair and push her into her chair. I sit down in mine, beaming, as I hand one of the serving spoons to her. “Dig in!” I say happily.
Natalie takes the spoon and starts scooping honeydew melon and grapes onto her plate in a daze. Her other hand reaches up to pat her adorably mussed hair. “But, Kat, what on earth…” She looks up at me in confusion.
And without warning, tears stream silently down my face. I’m not even moving or blinking, just sitting in my chair. Natalie reaches across the table, her face a mass of concern and question marks, but I back my chair away.
“Kat? What’s wrong? Are you…” Natalie stops mid-sentence as realization floods her face.
I turn my head to the left, staring at the yellow-and-white tile floor. I close my eyes, feeling the tears stream past my cheeks and drip off my chin. I’m not here, I tell myself silently.
I jump as I feel Natalie’s hand on my shoulder. She must have gotten up to stand next to me. She puts her other hand on my cheek and very gently tries to turn my face toward her, but I keep my eyes closed. I feel her start to ask a question, catch herself, and then wrap her arms around me. She rests her cheek on the top of my head as she pats my arm.
After a few moments, I cautiously open my eyes and twist around to look up at Natalie.
“Mother’s Day?” she says, not even needing my tiny nod of confirmation to know that she is right.
I swallow hard as she hugs me again.
“And you were trying to make it a special day for me to take your mind off of it, weren’t you?”
I give another little nod. “I’m sorry, Natty,” I whisper. “I wanted it to be a nice day.”
Mother’s Day can be hearts and flowers and kisses for someone expecting a wanted child or celebrating having a mother and/or a daughter. It can also be a painful reminder of a maternal figure who is no longer present. For Kat, Mother’s Day is a mixture of loss and love. Natalie and Mama Jane have brought love into her life, but for several years she lost both of them. Even after Natalie and Mama Jane are back in her life, the memories of Kat’s mother sometimes overshadow the love she receives now.
For some, this will be the first Mother’s Day after losing a mother. For some, the label of “mother” is a complicated one due to various circumstances. Some people may be reminded this weekend of dreams to become a mother that have not or may not come true. Some may be happily child-free but feel a twinge at an orchestrated societal custom that reinforces the connection between “woman” and “mother” in cultures that have not often validated the worth of women who do not become mothers for many different reasons.
For children in foster care or institutional living, Mother’s Day is a reminder (in addition to their losses) that society often views them as objects of pity rather than people in their own right.
The Way Home is a difficult story for some to understand. Someone recently called it “the oddest book I’ve ever read.” Not because it contains spanking, but because it doesn’t describe a typical bodice-ripping romance. It depicts the journey of Kat and Natalie through dark times of loss, alienation, and isolation. Betrayal. Mutual distrust, and the slow dissolution of a friendship of a lifetime.
Lighting the Way, volume two in the Kat & Natalie series (due out on June 6th from LazyDay), describes how Kat and Natalie fight to stay with each other. The Way Home is about Kat finding the courage to go back to Natalie. Lighting the Way is about their commitment to never again let the darkness of the world split them apart. (Sorry. Was that a spoiler? :D) It paves the way for volume three (release date November 23rd of this year) when the joy of their relationship finally begins to overtake the sorrow. (I can’t wait for the third book!)
In asking for Lighting the Way‘s cover art, I wanted to continue the floral and window imagery of The Way Home. I also wanted a darker color scheme and an old-fashioned feel. Kat and Natalie, despite their spanking, are two old-fashioned girls in a modern world.
I also wanted a small, subtle reminder of the discipline that is both the blessing and bane of their relationship. Look closely, and you’ll find Natalie’s famous wooden spoon.
Lighting the Way has been my most difficult book, requiring eight full months of revising and editing. I’ve wanted to throw it at the wall many times, but I am prouder of this book than any other so far.
We’re going to throw Kat a birthday bash on June 6th for the release date, but I’ll give you more details about that later. For now, I’d like to offer hope that any journey, no matter how dark, can find light if we can hold onto love. Sometimes when we least expect it, we find love from someone we thought we had lost forever.
This weekend, I hope you will find love to light your own way…and that of others. Won’t you join me in being a little light?