Look Mom… I’m published!

loveySo, today my name is in print- in an anthology called Listen to Your Mother, edited my Ann Imig. A story I wrote “All You Need Is Lovey” is in a real live book.  I feel like a proud mom.  Here’s how this came to be…

Three years ago, I saw an audition on Facebook for a show called “Listen To Your Mother.” It’s a nationwide phenomenon started by Ann Imig, spanning 39 cities now, where writers share personal stories about motherhood.  With all the nerves of my pre-acting days, plus leaky postpartum boobs and hormones, I signed up for an audition.  I wrote two pieces for that day.  One was a dark deep expose of my experience with postpartum depression, and one was just for fun- about the day I ran around town like a maniac looking for my son’s lovey.  I nursed my baby, took a shower (!) and ran downtown for the audition.  The feeling of reading my story was cathartic, I was sure that the world wanted to hear about my depth, my journey.  Then, just for fun, I left them a copy of other essay as well.  I said lightly, “I wrote this one, too- cause I couldn’t decide.”

After the audition, I was a wreck.  I went between “Why did I even try to do this?  I LEFT acting for a reason!” and “I bet they hated me!  I’m not good enough,” blah blah blah.   Until a little voice message made me remember what I loved about acting- Being picked!  With baited breath, I called Pam back.    I saw it all ahead of me- the tears, the catharsis, letting loose my triumphant story of healing.  And then Pam said one more little sentence.  “Um- so, would you mind doing the funny one?”

My heart stopped.  Now, for the longest time, I’ve resisted my own dharma.  In Acting School, I wanted to be Lady Macbeth, but got cast as the jester.  I wanted to be the romantic lead, but got thrown in as the funny sidekick.  And here it was again.  A little wind out of my sails, but still thrilled, I said I would be honored to read.  The funny one.

The first rehearsal, I listened to the amazing stories (two others from my show are also published in this anthology). The depth, the heart-wrenching stories- the amazing things these people (and their mothers) had lived through broke me open.  I cried so hard, I was glad there wasn’t an audience yet.   We went through about three boxes of Kleenex in two hours.  I felt deeply honored to be among these writers.

The days leading up to the show, a tummy bug ripped through my house like a twister through Kansas.  There was a lot of laundry, and a lot of people lying around. But I was fine. I was sure I would be untouched because I had a show- and the show must go on!  I washed my hands diligently, and felt fine… until I didn’t.  Twenty-four hours before the big night, I was praying to the porcelain gods for mercy.  I purged every meal I’d even thought about.  And I cried- lying on the bathroom floor, thinking of the absurdity- how much this show meant to me, how much we try to do as mothers, and how we are still at the mercy of life, our children, and tummy bugs.

By morning, I was wobbly, but no longer needing to lie on the bathroom floor.  I looked at my husband and said feebly, “the show must go on…”

In some ways it was a blessing.  It lowered the bar.  Instead of worrying about how good I was going to be, I was now praying not to puke. Just read the story, and don’t puke- that would be success. As I sat and listened to these brave writers, many of which had never been on stage, my spirit lifted.  I knew I would be fine.  I felt the audience go on a ride with each speaker, like an emotional amusement park of life experiences.  And as I stood up to share my piece, I also realized something… this audience needed to laugh.

And I did what I have done my whole life- I made them laugh. But through the laughter, I realized my story, one of a mother’s dedication to her son’s happiness, rang true through the audience.  There was a resonance, and it continued afterwards. All night, people shared with me their stories of Loveys- deeply loved (and sometimes lost) over their lifetime.  I heard the cherished names:  “Moo-moo, Pink, Bed Ted, and Tigey”

When Ann Imig emailed me a year ago and asked if I would consider having “All You Need Is Lovey” in her anthology, I was thrilled. And last week, the advance copy arrived- and I began to read all the stories- and again was touched by the beauty, the heartache, the immense humor.  All I can say is I am so glad to be in there.

Who knew a Lovey could mean so much?

This morning I feel grateful to all mothers- to the heroic acts of love, the losses suffered, the laughter, and the deep inspiring grit.  I’m grateful to Ann Imig- for this movement, for the book, and for the opportunity to share our stories. Without deadlines, many mothers (including me) wouldn’t find time to write, amidst the butt-wiping, lunch-making, and tummy bugs.  These small moments at my computer remind me that I’m not only a mother, but  a writer. When we share our stories, it makes it all a little more doable,  Thank you for giving motherhood a voice.

For a video reading of All You Need is Lovey (post all night tummy flu), go here:

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The Top Ten Ways Becoming A Mom has Changed My Life

BEFORE:  trouble1

AFTER:  davidschlatterphotography-4464

Here they are, the top ten ways becoming a mom has changed my life:

1.  My boobs are longer.

I’m embarrassed that it’s first on the list, but this one is the most striking. Before my children came along, I had tiny little barely-A-cup gymnast breasts. After my first, the boob fairy granted me a Double D Deluxe set which shocked everyone, including myself. But the boob fairy’s gifts are not forever.  As I now come to the end of nursing my second, we are settling in at a soft and gently elongated B cup. Kind of like water balloons that have been filled and emptied a hundred times.

2.  My love is stronger.

The greatest surprise for me has been the pure sweet love that has come through my heart. Before my kids, if a bear had attacked someone I loved, I would have gone to get help, or maybe used bear spray. Now, if a bear attacked one of my children, I would be sitting over a dead bear with blood on my hands before I actually realized what happened. This love is a whole new level. It’s physical, visceral, and undeniable. And truly unconditional.

3.  There are a lot less pictures of my cats.

catsOkay, this one is a little sad. It’s not just the pictures (which there used to be MANY- cute xmas cards with Sandy and Booda, pictures of Sandy lounging around, pictures of Booda looking neurotic for no reason), it’s the rank. My cats have fallen so far down the totem pole, they’re not even on it anymore. These feral beasts that still call our house their home used to be the vessel of all my displaced maternal love. Now they make me crazy. They are on Prozac (literally) which is helpful. But at least once a week my husband will say “hey, did you know so-and-so is looking for a cat?”

 

4.  My house is messier.

Okay, this one might not actually be true. My house used to be a wreck in a certain, creative, costumes all over the place, dishes in the sink, ‘I’ve-watched-an-entire-season-of-Alias-this-weekend-because-I- can’ kind of way. Now my house is a tornado of toys, legos, sponge bob, stuffies, train tracks, diapers, socks (I think my son goes through 4 pairs of socks a day) and other people’s underwear. I think the main difference is before when my house was a wreck, I’d usually avoid having anyone over until I got it mostly cleaned up. If I did that now, I’d have no friends. I’m amazed at my tolerance for mess while nannies, friends, and family members come over and join blissfully in my chaos.

5.  I have a whole new concept of time.

When I think back on my ‘pre-baby’ life, I can’t believe I ever thought I was busy.  What was I so busy with?  Now, the idea of wasted time (a movie that I don’t like, or a bad massage) is an abomination.   I can write a blog post in 20 minutes or less, shower in two minutes, and eat a full meal in under 5 minutes (probably not the best thing for my digestion, but necessary sometimes). A wise person said, ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person.’ Or just give it to a mom.

6.  I get to play with LEGOS!  (again)

IMG_1737This one might be my favorite. My son calls me a ‘master builder’ as we work for hours on a space station that covers six different moon plates (won by me in an intense Ebay showdown-probably with another mom).  It has seven spaceships, sleeping areas, a rocket launching pad, a mobile space lab, and a hanging planet earth hanging from the curtain rod near the lego table. Sometimes I think… “this is why I became a mom.” To do the things that brought me so much joy as a kid and call it “parenting.”

 

 

 

7.  I love my husband way more.

There is something about seeing a tiny human being with a mix of facial features matching myself and a man I love that is beyond words. When my almost two year old daughter wrinkles her eyebrows in that same earnest way that my husband does. Or when I tossle the curls of my five year old son, and smell his sweet little boy smell of sunshine, sleepiness and peanut butter and think of a picture of my husband at the same age, my heart just opens. Not to mention that he’s seen me inside and out, both physically and emotionally over the last five years. I’m pretty sure no one knows me or loves me like he does.

8.  I have a lot more anger. And I express it.

Even as I love more, I also get a whole lot more pissed. I’ve screamed “HONEEY!!!” across the house in a way that was not the least bit tender or endearing. And towards my beloved children, I’ve heard such phrases leave my mouth as “I’m going to swat your behind!” Or “Do you want me to call your father!” Or when I have the wherewithal “mommy needs a time out.” I’ve hit the wall- more than ever before, and at least once physically. I’ve felt the deep soul rage that can only come from that special blend of sleep deprivation, constant body molestation and total lack of self care for months on end.

9.  I’m less self- centered and more present.

So even though I’m less in love with my cats, I’m more in love with and love taking care of a lot of other people. I delight in cooking a beautiful meal for others (something that used to offend my feminist hide). I feel a sense of calm strength staying up all night with a sick kiddo on my chest. And I love making my son laugh in the bathtub more than making an entire audience laugh at Improv Olympic in Los Angeles.

10.  I love who I am becoming every day.

I think most moms would agree with me when I say I’ve had two different lives. One from the day I was born until May 12, 2009 at 2:02am, and one from that moment on.  When I felt my son’s warm slippery body on my chest, after working for days to get him out, and my heart sang as I looked into his perfect, wet, open eyes, I knew life would never be the same.   Since that day, I’ve let go of perfectionism, and welcomed the philosophy of “good ’nuff.”  I’ve let go of thinking I can do it all myself, and opened up to my place in the grand village of life.  I’ve stopped trying to ‘look like I have it all together’ and learned how to live more fully in my skin.  And I have my children to thank for this.  Even if I would like to get a little more sleep.