I've been given permission to share letters here between a woman and her mother (now in her 70's and requesting anonymity). They were written in direct response to the blog post "A history of pretty," which explores the impetus for embarking on this series. The photographs in this post are from my own experience, cataloguing the time the and thought and essence of this project thus far.
From Mother to Daughter.
I would like to hear your thoughts on it.
From Daughter to Mother.
... I found Amy's quilting to be visually a bit disturbing because it was so familiar and so private, hung out there as it is for public viewing -- a little like the clothesline you wrote about. Even so, it has a beauty that reflects on the notion of menses itself. I felt the essay that accompanied the quilt was outstanding and gave me much to think about.
My response to Amy's art is layered and goes deep into what it meant to raise sons rather than daughters, for which I was always grateful. It has taken me 53 years, and growing beyond childbearing years, to feel truly comfortable in my own body. If menstruation had only been a stain of blood each month, it would have been easy to deal with. Instead, the hormonal fluctuations each month often created a sense of insecurity and distrust in my own assessment any given situation. I was okay on my own and my mood seemed manageable when it was just me and the kids. But when my now ex-husband was home, it was a time of heightened anxiety, fraught with emotional landmines. I could deal with the physical pain, cramps, fatigue, headaches. I just wasn't good at dealing with the difficulties, long-inherent in our relationship, during "that time of the month." Without those hormonal fluctuations, I might have trusted my intuitions more, realizing that maybe I wasn't "crazy" after all.
All that is to say, Amy's work made me dig deep into my own memories and thoughts about being a woman over the years. I do remember the first time I needed napkins and how you, Mom, made me feel special about joining the sisterhood of women. I remember thinking I was now grown up enough to have a baby. That was mind blowing for a 14 year old. (I was a late bloomer.) You always made us feel like being a woman was a fine thing and that it would and should not impede anything we ever wanted to achieve. You offered unconditional support and love even during the times our journeys were difficult for you to watch. All of your daughters have been richly blessed.
With love and gratitude,