Some of the photos from Listen to Your Mother: Northwest Arkansas are available. Photographer Megan Clemence spent the day with us, and she took beautiful shots. They make me happy. The videos won’t be up for a while, so I decided to put what I read here.
Six years ago, I was a really good parent. Six years ago, I knew things. Six years ago, I had my act together.
My kid is five. Now I’m just trying to get through the day.
I’m probably ruining his life. No, I’m definitely ruining his life. Everybody says so: books, television, mommy blogs, school, family… even the voices in my head have turned against me. Fine, the voices in my head were never really on my side. They’ve always suspected I was a total screw up. “You’re doing it wrong!” is the billboard I see everywhere.
I wasn’t always like this. I was a clever girl. I was in the smart kid-classes. I went to a good college. I did good work. I won awards. I was confident in me.
Then something primal happened. I wanted a baby. I needed a baby. I would burn my house down if I didn’t get a baby. That’s when things started to change.
We didn’t get pregnant right away. Then we did. Then there were miscarriages. We splashed around in the shallow end of fertility treatments. We decided to adopt. It took a long time.
It was subtle at first… the questioning… the judgment… the doubt. Are you sure you want to do these treatments? Are you sure you want to stop? Is there nothing else? Don’t you want to have your own baby?
I tried to explain our decisions to our friends and family. Some got it. Some didn’t. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who I was trying to convince.
Then there were more questions. This time from strangers. How much money do you make? Where do you live? Have you ever committed a crime? What is your parenting philosophy? What is your childcare plan for a baby who hasn’t even been conceived yet and for whom there is no due date? What do you mean you didn’t already know infant and child CPR? Is your child-free home baby proofed yet? What are your thoughts on God?
It seemed like there were supposed to be Sunday School answers. I gave them the best I could. I projected a level of confidence I didn’t have.
Then the questions came from birth moms. Will you love this baby? Do you promise? What kind of life will he have? Can you really promise? Is your life actually better than mine? What makes you so special?
I was running out of answers. Maybe I wasn’t as remarkable as I liked to think.
Then we were matched with a birth mom. The week after our son was born, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. My husband took me by shoulders and asked me the hardest question yet… What is it exactly that you’re afraid of?
I’m scared she is not going to sign the papers… and I’m scared she is… because then I have to raise this baby!
He hugged me. We can do this, he promised. After all, crack whores do it every day. We have to be better than that.
Really? Are you KIDDING me?!? That is not the standard! But then I laughed. Although sometimes I secretly wonder if the crack whores might be doing it better.
Some days, my pluck is gone. I doubt every decision. Does he eat enough vegetables? Should I have made that craft on Pinterest for his class? Why have I never written a book? I really should lose weight. Could I find a way to sit with my friend while she has chemo? Will I lose my job if I miss another day because my kid’s school closed for a non-snow event? Should I even be working? Do we love Jesus enough? What is my theory on parenting? Do I pay enough attention to my husband? Am I ever going to get anywhere on time? Why can’t I park legally?
I was once a capable enough person to assert I could be mother. I used to know things for sure. Now, I feel like an ignorant slut who should never be left in charge of a lemonade stand, much less another human.
If I say all this out loud, what will people think?
I cannot say thank you enough to the amazing audience who came out to the Listen to Your Mother Show in Northwest Arkansas. Such sweet women Lela Davidson and Stephanie McCratic did an amazing job of pulling this all together. I now plan to stalk and harass them until the put on another production that I can participate in.