Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sex-Therapy, Missing Grandmothers, Infertility, Proper Foot Wear, and Your Inner Child

I wrote a book. Some people would classify it as "chick lit." I love chick lit. I like hens, too. But what's the problem with that title? People think a book classified as "chick lit" isn't about anything of substance. Or maybe they think it's about chickens lit on fire. Either way, not helpful.

I'll Take What She Has covers many topics in it's enthralling plot, among them, missing grandmothers, infertility, sex-therapy, and proper foot wear. If that isn't the stuff of The National Book Award, I don't know what is.

But one heart in the book, one thread of substance, concerns a mother, Annie, struggling with how to parent her energetic, strong willed daughter Hannah. My friends, there is nothing romantic about parenting a candidate for the World Wrestling Entertainment Network. Any parent of a powerful tycoon-tot knows that trying to mother a difficult child has many adjectives tied to it--chick and lit do not apply.

I like to tell a story in a funny way. Otherwise, we might as well all cry. And I don't like crying. In the words of an old friend of mine, "it makes me feel sad." I want to infuse the world with joyfulness and so I wrote a funny book about the agonizing struggle of coming to terms with the dreadful, appalling, and alarming fact (if you are not a parent yet, don't read these words): YOU CANNOT CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN.

The only thing a person can do, in the end, is find a way to make sure that your child, and your child's maniacal moods, don't control you.

Annie is sparked into delving deeper into the issues of her mothering by a book on her shelf: Parenting From the Inside Out. I actually own this book. I even read the first page. The book explores the idea that our own childhood effects our parenting. No lightening bulbs there, naturally, still how many of us simultaneously parent our children and re-parent ourselves? As in, get out your inner child and give her some lovin'!

I love the plot thread of Annie and Hannah. Annie complains a lot. She's funny and sassy and angry. Yet in her relationship with her daughter, in her dedication to figure out how to best mother her unique little girl, her best self gets revealed. Driven by her desire to mother better she examines her own life (who has done this? This is not easy!), her own childhood, her own motivations, and ultimately reckons with her imperfect parents and discovers a way to make peace with them (and those parts inside herself that are not perfect).

"Motherhood is so failure oriented," Annie says in one conversation with her good friend, Suze. That's two mother hens talking, but not about anything lite. Motherhood's messes are a real thing that matter very much, at least to two important people: the mother and the child.

Pulitzer Prize in Mommy Lit? Give it to me, people. I nursed a baby while I wrote the first three chapters of that book! And that's only the beginning.

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