There’s a tinge of the bittersweet to Mother’s Day, even during the joy of talking with the children, as I miss my mother and mother-in-law and grandmothers. This year held an extra pang with the recent loss of Maurice Sendak, whose books have enriched our world. As I read them to my kids–so many times–their phrases became common usage, and he added to the lyrics of our family song.
How many times have I put a glass of milk in front of someone at the table chanting, “Milk for the morning cake!”? How many times have I “roared [my] terrible roar and gnashed [my] terrible teeth” at one kid or another, taking away the sting by quoting Where the Wild Things Are as I do it?
The pages in Sendak’s books “became the world all around,” but more, they showed the walls inside us, limned and leveled by words and pictures. Max wants to be “where someone love[s] him best of all,” and doesn’t that sum up everything? Especially when an undeserved supper is served and it’s still hot.
The most disturbing of Sendak’s works is Outside Over There, and each time I read it–I bought my own copy so I could have it near–I rediscover an account of what I think of as the primordial feminine. Someday I’ll find the words for what that book evokes in me, but not today.
So goodbye to Maurice Sendak, who evoked ideas for my own writing and left me wishing I could do so as deftly and deeply as he did. He enhanced my motherhood as well as my children’s childhoods.
We ate you up, we loved you so.