Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Sur)real motherhood

Exploiting My Baby: A Memoir of Pregnancy & ChildbirthRecently, Riley had a bad fall off a scooter at her friend's house. She came to me, visibly shaken, needing her mom. I cleaned her wounds, applied ointment and bandages, and she buried herself in my lap. One of those quintessential mother-child moments.One of those moments where I found myself thinking, "wow, I'm a real mom!"

Like Teresa Strasser, author of the hilarious Exploiting My Baby, motherhood wasn't on the top of my priority list when I was a child, imagining my oh-so-fabulous future as a starving artist. My "dream home" was a warehouse straight out of Flashdance.

Long story short, my life took a completely different turn and here I am, feeling full and complete in healing my daughter's wounds and finding the best company in my two girls.

Riley tells me often that I'm the best mommy in the world and in my head, I'm always thinking, "that's just because she doesn't know any better!" And just waiting for the day she no longer believes that.

Because I still have those moments where it all just feels so...surreal that I'm actually their mother.

When the girls were younger, I felt validated in my motherhood by side-stepping Legos and washing bibs. Then it was in attending their holiday concerts and signing report cards. Now, it's in keeping track of their schedules, and picking them up at the appropriate time. These are things that mothers do!

Yet, like Teresa, there are still times where I don't feel quite part of the club. Maybe it's because it wasn't my childhood dream to be a mom that I still feel this need to prove my membership. Like, having the kids and raising them somehow isn't enough! Maybe it's just an insecurity thing.

And the moments that aren't picturesque? Like I'm supposed to know what to do when one of them misbehaves? It feels like one very long improv class, and I'm simply making up the rules as I go along. Like motherhood is a role I'm playing...for the rest of my life. So I play it to the fullest. Blog about our lives and say, "We were here. I was Sylvia and Riley's mom."

The exploitation feels necessary in order to confirm that it is indeed happening. And if I'm lucky, Riley and Sylvia will believe I was at least good enough.

Read more posts inspired by Exploiting My Baby at the book club site, From Left to Write. While I was given the book to read for free, I have not been compensated for this post.

Amazon links are connected to my Amazon Affiliates account.


Kori said...

I had to laugh about life being long a long improv class, only because it is SO freaking true!

teresa strasser said...

Thanks so much April, for posting about my book. BTW - that Flashdance loft was also my dream. And I still wear the sweatshirts with the collar cut out.

Amy H said...

From what I've read of your blog, you're far better than "good enough". Enjoy the real and surreal moments to come!

annie said...

would it make you feel better to know we're all winging it? great post!

Emily said...

I too loved the improv class analogy! I always think, when you die do they put on your tombstome "Beloved Office Worker", or even "Beloved Writer"? No, if you've done it right, they usually put "Beloved Mother".

Great post!

Marinka said...

I agree with Annie--we're all winging it. And I personally believe that "good enough" is excellent.

Lisa Hanneman said...

I think parenting as if you're doing improv is the best way to go. It means you're parenting from the gut and not trying to follow any certain script... And, honestly, I think that makes the best moms.

AwwwTrouble said...

So true! Love the improv class line. Or, is it better called method acting?

BigLittleWolf said...

I love this post.

I never envisioned myself as a mother. And single into my 30s, I never thought I would be a mother. When I did become "Mom," I didn't expect to be doing it alone either.

Life being what it is - and me, being who I am, I never felt part of any "mother" club. I still don't. I think that may always be true for some of us. Yet I have cherished the privilege of being a parent.

When they're no longer little, of course, the issues are bigger as are the kids. We can't heal their wounds as easily, and nor do we get a hug that - unknowingly to them - helps to heal ours.

But now and then, amid the strife and chaos and friction that is part of seeing our parents as imperfect (and our kids, likewise) - little moments pop up. An unexpected kiss. A thank you. A remark - that reminds you how worth it parenting can be.

Brenda Bartella Peterson said...

I loooooooove the improv class metaphor. Like all really good metaphors, there is a truth than can't be expressed in didactic ways.

Shannon said...

Wouldn't it be nice if motherhood came with a manual? Love your post and your writing!

Michelle said...

Motherhood as one very long improv class? That's probably the best description I've ever heard. I love it! And may your daughters never think they could have a better mother. I live for those words some days!