Sue Monk Kidd, the author of best-selling The Secret Life of Bees, will publish another book in the fall -- Traveling with Pomegranates, which she coauthored with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. We spoke with Ms. Kidd about that experience, and she shared her wisdom about raising a daughter – and the reinvention that goes with it.
You have two children – Bob and Ann. How is raising a daughter different from raising a son?
I never consciously tried to raise my daughter from an ideology or a polemic. I guess Ann learned through osmosis. I think that’s how children primarily learn -- through this osmosis from their family, from their parents.
Ann saw me pursuing doggedly, passionately my art, my spirituality – I couldn’t help myself. And something of that went into her. She watched me, as a woman, give voice to my female self. She saw how I was empowered and how I thwarted myself. She saw how this expression of the female was sabotaged, or limited. All of these things that I was experiencing, she soaked up, in quiet ways, in natural, organic ways.
There is a silent transmission between mothers and daughters. And it’s different from the transmission between mother and son. Simply because you and your daughter are the same gender, you will experience things very similarly.
I was raising her – trying to be true to my own self.
I can remember very specific moments in my life – like when I took Ann to college. There she was in the dorm room, and I gave her a little statue of Nike (the Greek goddess of victory). That opened up a conversation about being true to yourself. I heard her saying things I didn’t realize she knew – things that she had just soaked up. There is a definite transmission.
And now Ann, like you, is an author. You wrote a book together, Traveling with Pomegranates, which is due out on September 8th. What was that process like?
Writing the book with her was extraordinary for me as a mother, but living the experience [written about in the book] was even more extraordinary.
When Ann graduated from college, we started going on these journeys together – two to Greece and one to France. We wrote about the very potent moments of her trying to become a young woman in the world. It is a very difficult crossing – asking yourself, “What is the necessary thing to give my life to? And what about relationships? When does that happen and how?”
Ann was dealing with all of these questions, as well as a great disappointment of not getting into grad school. And I was dealing with a threshold too – of becoming an older woman. There is this odyssey that the female soul wants to make at that stage in life. And I thought, “There has to be more to it than just Botox.” I felt like I wanted to explore this passage and see how to navigate through it and come out the other side -- like a renaissance.
So Ann and I were out there traveling together, grappling with these questions, and we just discovered each other again.
The book not only tries to chronicle our individual journeys – our crises and redefining ourselves as women -- but also to capture our relationship – how it was being reinvented.
There is a kind of necessary loss that has to happen with daughters at this age -- just out of college. But I also found that there was this necessary search that you could undertake.
We reinvented our relationship from mother daughter to two women relating soul to soul. We were trying to move out of those old patterns, and let the relationship become something completely new.
It was Ann’s idea to write about our journeys. She discovered her own desire to be a writer -- she came home to that. And as we were writing the book together, we were divulging, laughing, relating as colleagues – no longer as mother and daughter, but as creative partners together.
Sue Monk Kidd will speak at Night at The Village on October 26, 2009, where she will also sign copies of Traveling with Pomegranates, along with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor.