Saturday, November 12, 2016

National Chicken Soup For The Soul Day?

It's weird isn't it, how there seems to be a "holiday" of some kind for just about every day of the year? Sometimes I like to look at them just for fun, to see what weird thing we're meant to be "celebrating." Sometimes they mean nothing to me, like "Make Up Your Own Holiday Day," or "Take Your Plants For A Walk Day."

But other times, I can apply them to my own life and my own story, give them meaning and significance. This is one of those days.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is one of my favorite feel-good book series to read, and I always have at least one book from this series handy. There are tons of options, from thinking positive to inner strength, and the power of gratitude. And to make them even more compelling, these books are created for souls of just about all ages, including children, preteens, teenagers, and adults - with appeal to people from all walks of life. The books touch on faith, romance, stress, success, and so many other topics that it's nearly impossible to be left out of the Chicken Soup loop.

I've even thought about sending my writing to them before, but as I've made it a personal policy to keep all of my writing my own, I thought maybe I'd eventually add some memoir pieces to my Patreon acount instead. Currently, I'm posting flash fiction there once a month, with two stories already posted, and once I reach my first goal for that page ($10 in monthly patron support), I plan to add another tier to the rewards patrons can choose from. In the meantime, and in honor of a series that has always thoughtful and uplifting for me, I thought it would be fun to share with you a little "Chicken Soup" from my own soul - a memoir based on a song.

"In My Daughter's Eyes" - Martina McBride

Nothing in my life has changed my life quite like the experience of becoming a mother.

Pregnancy was a miserable state of being for me - with both of my daughters. I was terribly sick both times, horribly uncomfortable, and desperately excited. Pregnant with my first daughter, I knew no respite from constant waves of vomit, which in the later months also came with waves of involuntary urination. No kidding, when I threw up and broke my own water a week before my first daughter's scheduled c-section (she was breech), I just thought I'd peed myself (again) until for some reason the vomit stopped coming - and the "pee" didn't. With my second daughter, I developed gestational diabetes, which made me gain quite a bit more weight than I'd have liked - and my daughter, too. She was taken by c-section almost three weeks before her due date, and still managed to come into the world at a very plump 9 pounds, 6 ounces.

And a c-section birth is hard, regardless of the circumstances. With my oldest daughter, I went into it positive that I was going to die and leave my precious first child without a mother to raise her. I remember crying on the phone with my father, certain of my impending death - and I remember him crying too, he was laughing so hard. I'll never forget the feeling of shock that flooded through me as I lay on the operating table and heard my doctor say, "Alright, I'm gonna put your uterus back in now. You're gonna feel some pressure."

Afterward, I healed quickly, my fat but healthy twenty-year-old body bouncing back in what seemed like days. And never mind that my once thick and glossy hair was now much thinner and far less glossy, because HELLO BOOBS. So I was sure my second c-section would be a piece of cake, a blessing. It had only been five short years since the first one, and I was getting a complimentary mini-tuck to boot! And no painful contractions or messy labor either. It's a win-win, right?

If only Kathy Bates hadn't been working her day job as a maternity nurse that day. Remember her in the movie Misery, where she played a psycho fan who took an author hostage in order to get his next book faster? She was amazing in that movie - and I don't mistake Kathy Bates herself for the character she portrayed so well - but that character came back to my memory every time my nurse came into my room. To this day, my visual memory of that nurse is still superimposed by Kathy Bates from Misery. She called me a crybaby because my staples were catching and tearing my skin so bad that I cried every time I had to get up and walk to the bathroom. It wasn't until the following morning that another nurse actually checked my surgical incision, discovered what was going on, and asked for clearance to remove the offending staple.

Still. For my efforts, each birth awarded me with a beautiful bundle of poop and post-partum hormones that grew my boobs and shrunk my quantity of hair (unless you're counting the chin hairs that turned me into the kind of woman who carries tweezers in her purse - and uses them in the car in the parent pickup line), and as those bundles grew, so did I. My children are, most days, the lights of my life and my greatest accomplishments. Mothering them has taught me selflessness, thankfulness, patience, and so many other things.

"In my daughters' eyes, I AM a hero. I AM strong and wise. And I know no fear."

I wish I could say the words from this song have always proven true in my life, and in some ways, I suppose they have. When my daughters were very small extensions of their mother, I WAS a hero. There was nothing I couldn't do, no question I couldn't answer, no boo-boo I couldn't kiss away. I WAS strong. And Lord, I WAS wise. I was full of valuable life lessons that were quickly absorbed without discrimination by my daughters - important things like, "No, baby, don't put that toy in your panties," and "Hey! How many times do you need to be told that nostrils are NOT finger-holsters?" I was the fearless heroine of the house - willing to risk life and limb to protect my babies from such horrors as spiders, ants, and even flies.

Now, things have changed. I am no longer a hero, as I have been replaced despite my best efforts by the latest Disney Channel TV stars and whoever is the "cool girl" in either of my daughters' classes. I am no longer strong, and the closer my oldest daughter gets to her teen years, the less wisdom she believes I have. We've come full circle now, and I am full of fear.

I am afraid my daughters will grow up to believe their reflections are more important than their characters. I am afraid my daughters will learn from the world that what they are willing do without their clothes on is more important than what they are able to do fully clothed. I am afraid they will have their hearts broken, that they will stumble into abusive relationships, that they will be violated by the world at large as they become the women they will someday be. More than all of those things, I am unspeakably afraid that I can never be enough to guide them through the inevitability of everything I just mentioned, and I can only hope with the quiet fervency of a resilient dandelion, that their separate gifts will always hold them together as friends.

"In my daughters' eyes, I can see the future - a reflection of who I am and what will be."

I often tell my daughters that while I am immensely proud of the individual things about them that make them who they are, occasionally their gifts make mothering them somewhat difficult. I say these things usually with a mixture of true pride and undeniable frustration, and my children, having been raised to be quite a lot like their mother, take the words precisely as they are meant to be taken.

With the oldest, I tell her I'm glad she's rough and tough, that she's got a crunchy outer layer that protects her inner fragility. I tell her I'm glad because it means no one will ever run her over - she'd never let them. But I also tell her that this makes it hard sometimes to be her mother, because … well, because I can't run her over, either! It's the same with her stubbornness, her dry sense of humor, and her quickly developing sense of sarcasm. She's just like her mother most days - and for me as her mother, that's both a blessing and a curse.

With the youngest, I tell her I'm glad she's got such a big soft heart, that's she's incredibly generous and naïve and talkative and always forgiving. I tell her I'm glad because she's too friendly to ever meet a stranger, because she's too chatty to ever pass up a friendship, and because she's too forgiving to ever hold a grudge. But it's hard for me to see those things in her too, because as her mother I know that it means I have to work harder to protect her - and to teach her to protect herself. She gets her feelings hurt, and then immediately forgives whoever hurt her - even if they've done it a thousand times. She's still so full of innocence and soft sweetness that we've dubbed her "the marshmallow," and I know that while it's perfect and sweet and enjoyable now, someday my little marshmallow girl is going to be toasted in the fire of life.

Lucky for her, she's got a hard sister AND a hard mama waiting right there in the wings to help her blow the fire out - and to remind her that marshmallows are best when they're a little burned, anyway.

Happy Chicken Soup For The Soul Day,
And until next week,
Happy Reading.
B.

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click that link and purchase the product, I will receive a (probably very small) compensation. I am, however, committed to only sharing products I genuinely love and trust to be of great quality and value. Any opinions expressed are my own, are 100% honest, and are not affected by my participation in the affiliate program.*

14 comments:

  1. You are an amazing person and even if you don't know it...your girls are an extension of you. All the qualities they have they've learned from you in the best way possible. You have been their example despite your feeling of lacking in their lives! You are the best and they are a reflection of you! Congrats on raising such beautiful children!!!!

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  2. I get the daily email for Chicken Soup. I mainly love the quotes they give daily but every so often I read the stories too,

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    1. They're just always inspiring, aren't they? I love them. ❤

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  3. I've never read those books but I've heard such great things about the messages they hold. I think this post reflects how strong of a person you are and your daughters are going to learn so much from you :)
    Amanda

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  4. I havnt heard of these books but they really do sound an intresting read so im going to get one and have a read for myself

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    1. I recommend it. They're always uplifting!

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  5. Loved your post!
    I can feel the love you spead for your girls!

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  6. This was a wonderful read... I can tell you're a great mother to your girls. (And you're not the only one who carries tweezers in her purse, either!)

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    1. Hahaha, thanks for backing me up. #TweezerSquad

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  7. Awak what wonderful inspirational stories . I'm so bookmarking this site!!!

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