Ruth Reichl felt a need to re-title her book from “Not Becoming My Mother” to “For You Mom, Finally” because she finally came to an understanding about who her mother really was and that she had actually grown into the independent and self-reliant woman that her mother had always wanted her to be. The first title depicted an anger at her mother and her ways. The second title, shows a deep understanding of what her mother went through and who her mother really was, out of the public persona that she showed the world.
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I was drawn to read this book from cover to cover because of the editorial description at the back of the book stating that the book was a look into the life of the author’s mother which, up to that point in time, the author knew nothing about.
This book actually showed me the kind of understanding, love, and compassion that we can give our mothers, if only we took the time to really get to know where they came from, hoped to have gone, and actually ended up at.
It was nice to discover that the author actually gave her mother a chance to explain herself and her actions, and that she was repentant in the end for the way she misunderstood, treated and felt about her mother.
…my mother was a great example of everything I didn’t want to be, and to this day i wake up every morning grateful that I am not her. (Reichl, 7).
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As child growing up, I remember watching my mother do certain things that often had me thinking, “I will never do that when I grow up.” But after reading this book, I looked back upon the things that my mother did. It seems that by being negative, my mother was actually teaching me all about her own life lessons. I guess mothers tend to teach their children about life lessons in similar ways. After all, they do say that a mother’s success is in the way her child leads his or her own life. (See For You Mom, Finally by Ruth Reichl)
… “You’ll see,” she said. “one you find out who you are you will find your beauty. You have to grow into your face. But I promise you this: You will.” (Reichl, 40)
Having been an ugly duckling growing up, I know of the pains that the teasing and taunting of the “better looking” peers can cause. Now I remember what my mother also told me back then about how external beauty hasn’t got anything on internal beauty. All I needed, she said was the self confidence to pull it off. Strikingly similar to the lesson that Miriam tried to teach Ruth. We all grow into our beauty. But how and where we find the beauty is all up to us. When we do find it, it gives us the confidence to face the world and provides us with the happiness that only a person secure within the knowledge of who he or she is as a person can bring. (See For You Mom, Finally by Ruth Reichl)
Questions For Discussion
- There was this time that my mother told me the story of how disaster struck on her wedding day. My uncle and her cousins who would be bringing the cake in to the reception area dropped half the cake on the ground. They quickly gathered up the cake chunks and bits, dust and all, and repaired the cake. My mother, upon hearing of the disaster said, “Serve that part of the cake to his mother. She never liked me anyway.” Maybe I will write about it for future generations. Just so they will understand their grandmother better when the time comes.
- Let us just say that I wanted to study a totally different course in college. But because the course I wanted to take was considered to be “lightweight” in my family, I felt ashamed about wanting to pursue it. I still wish that I could have pursued the original course I wanted, but I am here now and I will make the best of it. Will I regret this decision? Maybe, but then again, I now live in an era where second chances are freely offered, and I can take that chance once the time is right for me to do so.
- I believe the compulsion to marry only comes from the long tradition of women need to have a man to lean on and take care of her and children to carry on the bloodline. Being currently single, I find it hard to envision myself married because I am too used to living an independent life where I only worry about myself and do not need permission from anyone else to do anything. However, having a spouse would allow me the permanent companionship of someone who shares the same interests as I.
- After World War 2, it was imperative for men to get their wives back at home because they were afraid of the women becoming too independent, having experienced a bit of equality of the sexes during the war. Men have always been portrayed as the stronger sex and they have never been too willing to give up that persona. As for what women can do to encourage more equality between the sexes, I am afraid it will take a rewiring and retraining of the male mind mind to accept women as such.
- I believe that Miriam had succeeded in giving Ruth a different life from the one that she had because she as able to raise an independent self-thinker, who did not give so much weight to what the people around her thought she should be or do, but instead strove for personal happiness. That is all that matters in the end after all.
- I do not believe that Miriam’s unhappiness was unfounded. She was born in an era when a woman had no right to do anything without the male approval and would be considered a failure if her life did not revolve around a man and family. Neither did she expect too much because she knew exactly where her place was in that particular kind of society. All she wanted though, was a happy personal life, something she could have had, if society had only allowed her a portion of freedom to fulfill even one of her personal ambitions.
Reichl, Ruth. For You Mom, Finally. 2nd Edition. New York: Penguin Books. 2010. Print.