I was blessed to have a maternal grandmother who was a central character of my childhood. She was loving, and colorful, and intense, and eccentric, and I can’t imagine having grown up without her constant presence. Her house was about a half-hour drive from ours’. She came over several times a week, and we spent nearly every holiday with her and her large extended family. When I finished writing about my relationship with my mother, it felt natural to then look back another generation and think about my grandmother, and how my relationship with her—which lasted until I was in my thirties—also influenced me.
When writing Motherless Daughters, I’d met quite a few women who’d been raised by grandmothers after their mothers died, and I was interested in their stories. I also knew a number of women who’d been raised by mother-grandmother pairs following their parents’ divorces, and I was curious about how this had impacted them. Usually, I discovered, it was to their benefit to have had two maternal figures in the home. Grandmothers, I discovered, were lead players in many womens’ childhoods.
Writing about my maternal grandmother made me also think a lot about my father’s mother, with whom I’d been very close but who died when I was nine. I’d also moved out to Los Angeles, not far from my sister, about the time I started writing the book and my first daughter was born when I was in the middle, so I felt surrounded by female energy the whole time I was writing it.