When I Married My Mother

by jo maeder

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The Beginning

“When I Married My Mother” is a story about a daughter who has a strained relationship with her mother, but makes the decision to live with her mother when she becomes too old to care for herself. Jo Maeder is a forty-seven year old divorced DJ living in New York City when she decides to make the move to care for her mother in the Bible Belt in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her mother, Mama Jo, lives alone. She is seen as very strange by the people that live in her town because she is a severe hoarder, has a massive collection of dolls that she treats like humans, and drives around with a teddy bear in her passenger seat so she isn’t alone.

Mama Jo

Jo and her mother have been estranged for nearly thirty years when Jo finds out about her mother’s ailing health. Their relationship had been strained ever since Jo’s parents’ divorce when she was fourteen, but many of the problems had started even sooner than that. Mama Jo is described as being chronically late on everything. It takes her hours to finally get ready to leave the house and one of Jo’s therapists even suggests that Mama Jo might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The therapist says that OCD might also be the reason Mama Jo is an extreme hoarder. Jo speaks of when she was little saying that her parents slept in separate rooms becomes Mama Jo’s room was full of miscellaneous things. When Jo makes the move to live with her mother when she is older, Mama Jo’s house is so jammed with stuff that it even makes finding somewhere to sit difficult.

Making Amends

When Jo decides to make the move to live with her mother she is told by everyone, including Mama Jo, that the idea to move in together won’t work and is probably going to end up being a disaster. To start her plan, Jo buys a house for her and Mama Jo to live in together. It takes a lot of convincing and motivating due to Mama Jo’s stubbornness towards change, but Jo eventually gets her mother to agree to move in with her. Things start off kind of difficult for Jo as she tries to adjust to living with her mother, but she soon finds them going on crazy adventures together that she never thought would happen. In one instance, Jo and Mama Jo end up going to a male strip club together and in another they go and see a drag queen show. In living with her mother again, Jo finds herself becoming close to her mom. They talk about some of the things that happened when Jo was younger and discover things they never knew about one another. The time they spend living together proves to be healing and begins to help heal their long-fractured family. In what Jo thought would end up being the worst years of her life, turn out to be some of the best.