I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to a book club of truly creative, inspiring, interesting and strong women. Several of the members write and publish a new magazine – get born. It’s a bold, brave, creative look at mothering. Not just the “oh how sweet” parts, though there is that, but the parts you didn’t know were going to happen or the parts that make you a little ashamed of yourself for feeling.
I was touched by the below piece, printed with permission from the editor Heather Janssen, because I could relate so well to Carol Lang’s daughter’s habit of talking back “as if my equal.” It begs the question, “Is this inevitable, no matter how frustrating and painful, if one is intent on raising a strong daughter? As opposed to the former, girls should be passive and docile and keep their opinions to themselves or just not have any strong opinions at all? Is this a natural progression in the mother-daughter relationship, if we want them to grow up willing and able to express themselves boldly? If so, how on earth are we, as their mothers, supposed to handle it internally? Because really, sometimes it just sucks to be on the receiving end of it.”
get born is a magazine that deserves to thrive. To do that, it needs subscribers. At only 16.95 a year, for four issues, it’s a great bargain to open the pages and have the divine pleasure of knowing, “Thank God, I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.”
by Carol Lang
When I was a kid, I didn’t play house. I didn’t play with dolls. I played kick-ball and climbed trees. I chased boys, rode my bike and roller-skated all over the neighborhood.
I was a Girl Scout, but did poorly in all things “traditionally domestic.” My mom gave up after a while.
When I was older, I did babysit. The money was awesome and the time with kids short. I didn’t dislike the kids but mostly I liked staying up late and watching Saturday Night Live.
I went to college, studied math, computers, chemistry. Drank too much but got good grades. I met a boy.
Got a husband, and a career with lots of promise.
Husband said he knew I would want a family some day and he was comfortable, and confident, to wait.
I got pregnant. I cried. Husband celebrated. I pretended I wasn’t pregnant, most of the time.
I really wanted to keep working. I knew that was wrong. I planned a long maternity leave.
I became a mother. I wasn’t prepared. I had absolutely no freaking idea what I was supposed to do with the amazing miracle my body had created. So precious. So fragile. A piece of my heart outside of my body (Elizabeth Stone).
I read. I read a lot. Good mothers are smart mothers, well educated mothers. I spent money — on the “right” toys, “right” foods, “right” products, “right” activities.
All my mother friends seem so confident, so on top of things. Their babies so perfect. Perfectly wonderful, or perfectly horrible. Mine just are. We mothers play a game. It’s competitive, ruthless. I am uncertain of the rules but I play. A game of extremes: best or worst; smartest or dumbest; strongest or weakest. No average. No middle. I compete, fiercely. I only lose.
Along came Baby #2. And, #3.
What am I thinking? There’s no way I can handle all this. What made me think I could serve, protect, love three priceless, precious beings?
Babies are getting bigger, older. Challenges are growing, too. I feel pressure to find solutions. I keep going.
I get promoted. And, promoted again. I am surprised this is happening. I am scared all the time. I wonder a lot about priorities.
I can organize. I can plan. I am over-protective, control-freaked, and obsessive about every detail. Babies are active, and involved in many activities, maybe too many, maybe not enough. I can feel things start to unravel, but I must keep going. I must keep them going. Good foods, family dinners, homework in on time, to bed on time, clean bodies and clean clothes. And, myself, I must smile – stay calm, relaxed. My heart pounds out of my chest. I hope no one will see.
I am faking it. Every day I fail to meet the measure, meet the expectations.
I hate you, mom. You’re a bitch. Leave me alone.
Quiet, shhhh – someone will hear you and I’ll be found out.
My oldest son fails geometry.
My younger son lies, a lot.
My daughter is full of sass, rebellious and recalcitrant. She talks back as if my equal.
The paint is coming off the walls and there are more weeds in the gardens than flowers.
I look over my shoulder. I worry I will be exposed, the imposter mother. I fear for my babies. Am I good enough for them?