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What’s a ­Mother For?

Are you edging closer to marking this Mother’s Day with your own words?
    Perhaps local writer Janice Lynch Schuster of Edgewater can push you over the edge.
    For her mother, in memory of her grandmothers — and in appreciation of the many acts of motherhood — she has combined 17 quatrains — stanzas of four lines — into a poem-book, What Are Mothers For?
    The simple quatrains stretch from birth to motherhood, beginning with

    Into your arms
    And strong embrace,
    I entered this world
    To a mother’s grace.

    More colorful are the pages. Each poem is centered in white type on a single-colored page opposite a vivid illustration. The drawings came first.

    “When my grandmother, Mary Lynch, died in January 2015 at the age of 94, I found that in my grief, I could not write, something that I do as routinely as breathing,” Schuster told me. “Having seen Zentangles, I began to draw memories of my grandmother and me.”
    Coloring with watercolor markers came next. All out of the blue, as Schuster had not drawn since childhood.
    “She never took a lesson,” said her mother, artist Mary Hourihan Lynch, noting that was a good thing for the drawings’ unselfconscious spontaneity.
    Finally came words. Then the notion that the words and pictures could become a self-published book.
    Photographer Min Enghauser, an artist with her mother at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, helped with the layout, design and, Schuster says, “navigating the complex process of getting a book uploaded to Amazon’s self-publishing site, CreateSpace.”
    The hardest step is the first. Schuster advises how to take it:
    “Tap into the motherlove that you’ve received and given. Express it in a way that is loving and healing, that is true and whole and real. Your heart knows what it needs to say, no matter that you think you might not.”

Order on Amazon. Schuster donates 15 percent of sales to Reading Partners Baltimore, where her son is an AmeriCorps volunteer bringing literacy volunteers to schools where nearly 75 percent of students cannot read at grade level.