Sunday, April 21, 2013

Listen to ME!

The Listen to Your Mother show directors asked me a few questions about motherhood to provide a little context for the approaching show. Here are a few of my answers along with the headshot that my husband took. He is the only person alive who can find and record my natural smile. I'll explain why that's Oprah's fault in another post. Why did you audition for Listen To Your Mother? My best friend sent a link to the audition that came through a school announcement, urging me to submit something. That’s the reason I applied in pragmatic terms; I love my friend, and I thought it sounded doable. More to the point, though, I think I applied because my failures are so glaringly visible (messy home, short tempers, fighting kids, etc.) and the parts of my life that shine never get noticed (wound dressing, couch cuddling, the dramatic interpretation of children’s classics, etc.). I wanted to shine. What does your day-to-day life look like? I’m trying to think of the elements of every day that are consistent, since our schedule at home whiplashes from frantic to freewheeling. Here are some constants. My youngest always wakes me with a whispered request to play the iPad for an hour before everyone else gets up. I send him off to a quiet room, while I drag myself to the coffee maker and start pulling together breakfast. What follows is either a mad dash to find enough reasonably matched shoes to cover all of our mismatched socks so that we can make it to a homeschool co-op on time OR an hour of reading to my four-year-olds while the big kids grudgingly tackle math. Then, the little guys watch Bill Nye (or something), while I sneak in a shower, and we head out for an afternoon adventure or hunker down with projects and a family book. The above elements are either peppered with music and laughter or crying and screaming, variables that color everything in between. What is the best mothering advice you’ve ever received? “Nobody’s walking around high school with her umbilical cord still attached.” That was my pediatrician’s response to my concern over three-week-old Olivia’s scabby stump, a response that eventually morphed into my mothering mantra. It turns out my diligent efforts to care for her first ever wound by bathing it daily in alcohol had actually prolonged its adhesion. I had pickled it. When our doctor announced her prognosis, I gained a perspective that I’ve resurrected again and again, reminding myself to step back, worry less, and stop interfering. When potty training hit, and poop was predictably everywhere it shouldn’t be and never where it should, I muttered, “Nobody walks around high school pooping her pants.” And when my two-year-old seemed light years away from spontaneously weaning, I chanted, “Nobody walks around high school sucking on her mama’s…” You get the idea. Stuff usually works out, and meddling just makes it take longer. What is the best mothering advice you’ve ever given? Play to your strengths. Too many of us beat ourselves up for not being someone else. I collapse under the weight of dishes and laundry precisely BECAUSE other mothers keep house so painlessly and organically. Crafts make me want to puke. I can’t stand watching my kids work a puzzle; it stresses me out! As long as I keep my eyes firmly focused on the gifts I lack, I run around failing at those things that make me great. And I am great! Great at reading aloud to my kids. Great at telling stories. Great at imagining and embarking on adventures. Great at laughing with my kids. Great at dining room dancing. I could go on and on! And so could every mother on the planet. Every mother is singularly magnificent, and so is every child. I believe that God chose me for my children (on purpose!) BECAUSE of who I am, not IN SPITE of who I am. When I try to become my friends, I fail at being exactly the mother that I was created to be. What is the greatest impact motherhood has had on your life so far? Nothing humbles like motherhood. Not even middle school. My strongest weaknesses peer back at me through the magnifying mirror of my kids’ faces. My deepest fears coalesce around their vulnerabilities. My heart, a fickle little organ I spent so many years training to be tough, stretches and snaps almost every time I stop hurrying long enough to stare at them. I am sunk! I’ve lived a few epic adventures, but only motherhood has taught me to cling, white-knuckled, to God’s grace, and only my kids have made me perfectly certain that nothing’s more powerful than LOVE. What songs are on your favorite Netflix cue? My Netflix queue looks like a theme-based unit study. It’s very homeschool-cool, situated around subject-specific biographies and documentaries. My kids will gripe to their therapists about Mama’s version of “movie night.” We do, at least, serve popcorn! Be sure to purchase tickets soon, if you're planning to attend. I'm told they're going fast!


abaco1966 said...

Very cool! Love the idea of this forum and, wow, you’re going to be fabulous. Hope they’re going to videotape (or whatever the kids do these days) it, seeing as how I can’t quite make it out to your neck of the woods. Good Luck!

Mama Melch said...

The show is going to be so fantastic!
I LOVE your advice btw, and hope to remember it for myself. See you again soon for the BIG rehearsal.
Did you pick what to wear yet?

RachelT said...

It was so fun to read about your road trip and all of your cool surprise items for the kids. We had a blast with our spontaneous "Small World" send-off. The matching T-shirts look like a great idea for your clan, too!