I hear it in my head at times. There's a background soundtrack that creeps into the forefront of my thoughts and asks me, point blank, "Who are you to write a book? Who are you to set yourself up as a voice for mothers?"
And these are legitimate questions because, well, who am I, really?
I'm a woman who remembers to show up at my daughter's soccer practice, but forgets the water bottle, the portable lounge chair, and the extra windbreakers for the kids to counterbalance the fact that the soccer field is inevitably 10 degrees colder than anywhere else in my town. (Perhaps my state.)
I'm a mother who loses her patience as I'm getting my girls ready for church on Sunday mornings. Can you just put your shoes on your feet, child? Shoes on your feet. Shoes! On! Your! Feet! We're going to be late. TO CHURCH! And fire flashes from my eyes and my voice hits an unnerving decibel and I walk through the church lobby looking at the other mothers and wondering if they, too, have already needed forgiveness before they entered the 9:00 service.
I forget to pre-treat laundry. I didn't serve any vegetables at dinner this evening. Tonight, none of my children got their baths.
I try my best, but clearly I don't always have my act together. (I never want to pretend that I do.) In short, I'm a typical mom.
And that's why I wrote Then I Became a Mother. Because we need reminders that we're not alone in this gloriously imperfect mess of motherhood.
Today, I took my daughters on a nature trail that we've never visited before. The girls found a pile of fallen leaves, raked them with their hands until the pile swelled to the perfect size, and then jumped with abandon. Breathing in the earthy mustiness, I soaked in every detail: how the sunlight illuminated the golden leaves as they erratically found their way to the ground, how the girls' laughter spilled forth, how the wind blew my hair.
I've known what it's like to endure motherhood, to grit through the hours until bedtime, to yearn for the day when we finally pass the stage of nighttime wakings or temper tantrums or potty training. But as I watched my daughters playing in that pile of leaves, I wasn't enduring anything. I was attempting to stuff my heart full with the sounds and sights and smells.
An hour later when we returned to our car, our jackets were marked with burrs and the girls' knees bore dirt stains. My oldest daughter pointed to the ground. "A dandelion!"
This is a rare find -- an improbable find, really -- on a mid-October day when the Pennsylvania ground frosts overnight and the earth is littered with fallen leaves. But there it was: a dandelion.
Unaffectedly, my youngest daughter plucked it from the ground it and handed it to me as an offering. An imperfect gift, much like motherhood.
And at that moment, I cried.
To be continued.
Then I Became a Mother was released October 20. TIBAM! Humor, hope, and encouragement for moms. Available in both Kindle and Paperback editions.