Creative Writing at The New School

Candy SchulmanSchool of Writing faculty member Candy Schulman's essay "Raising My Mother" has been named Essay of the Year by The American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The piece, first published in the Chicago Tribune, is a moving account of how time and illness can tragically reverse the roles of a daughter and a mother.

About the piece, Schulman explains:

After a highly active life, my mother was bedridden with advanced dementia in her nineties. Managing her care and watching her decline was painful. I knew others were facing similar challenges. As an essayist, I strive to transform my personal angst into stories that resonate with readers.

Raising My Mother explores role reversals as I became “my mother’s mother.”  This theme evolved into a series of essays.  I sold five essays to Marcia Lythcott, the wonderful Op-Ed Editor at The Chicago Tribune. She left me a message that she was buying Raising My Mother after having read only half—the emotional power was so strong. It was the best compliment I’ve received from an editor.

Using material from this series of essays, I have written a memoir, also titled Raising My Mother; I am currently seeking a publisher. Both the essay and the memoir are dedicated to my mother, whose complicated life and indomitable spirit have been a great inspiration to me.

Below is an excerpt of the essay, but you can read it in its entirety on the Chicago Tribune's website.

I received a Mother's Day card, filled with childlike prose, colorful illustrations and glittery hearts. The cover's message, in a purple playful font: For you, Mom.

For kissing my boo-boos, for wiping my face,

For calming my fears with your loving embrace,

This card was not from my daughter — a disconcerting fact, but not entirely surprising either.

For putting your foot down and just saying NO!

For dealing with tantrums and back talk and pranks,

What more can I say but…

"I LOVE YOU" and "THANKS!"

A smiling mother was hugging a grateful child. The card was signed "Mom." It was from my 91-year-old mother. Never before had it been more evident that our roles had completely reversed. Had she noticed the irony when she purchased the card? Did it even matter?

On Mother's Day and the rest of the year, her shaky script wrote. "Thanks, Mom."

I wept.

 

Candy Schulman's work has appeared in many journals and newspapers  including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Glamour, Travel & Leisure, Parents, Family Circle, and Newsweek. She has lectured at premier writers' conferences and has been a guest speaker on National Public Radio. A School of Writing faculty member at The New School for 25 years, she has a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology from New York University. A native New Yorker, she lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and daughter.

 

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Founded in Greenwich Village in 1931, Creative Writing at The New School continues to promote, engender, and shape innovative literature.