Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writing Motherhood

Today is a big day for me in the blogosphere. Two important parts of my world are colliding- Writing Motherhood and New Jersey Moms Blog.

Today, the New Jersey Moms Blog will be hosting a Blog Book Bonanza with Lisa Garrigue's book, Writing Motherhood, at it's center. I began taking the Writing Motherhood class last September and as cliche as this will sound, it was life changing. Lisa, the class and the book Writing Motherhood, invited me to write down all the feelings, the good, the bad and the ugly, that I had been carrying since I became a mom.

With the paperback release of Lisa's book, 50 bloggers from Silicon Valley Moms Blog, the big umbrella under which New Jersey Moms Blog falls, were invited to read her book and respond to a writing invitation from Lisa. The one I chose is...

Rules! Rules! Rules! The first thing Lisa tells her students is to throw away the rules of writing because rules bind our imagination, constrain our creativity, and muffle our voices. Our children, however, live much of their lives according to rules-rules that are imposed in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on the playing field. Think about the way rules function in your household. Which rules are non-negotiable? How have the rules changed as your children have grown older?

Your writing invitation: Write about a time your child broke the rules.

Caroline has a sensory processing disorder. This has meant many things in our lives. It has meant terror and screams during hair brushing and tooth brushing because of tactile sensitivities, broken bones and stitches because of motor planning issues, multiple bathing suit changes at the beach because of scratching and itching and “yuck!”

It has also meant a decrease in proprioceptive abilities and poor vestibular modulation. In English this means that Caroline’s body wants to be in motion all the time, her body rarely understands where it is in space and she is impulsive. In Mother this means an impulsivity that makes following the rules nearly impossible. Over the years we have learned that our “No” has to be limited to true safety concerns. Even with this as our guiding principle, I probably say “no” hundreds of times a day- no joke.

I think about the time we had gathered our dinner club together for a family BBQ. A friend was watching the little ones in the front yard. One of our rules is “Never run into the street.” Pretty simple, right? That day something got to Caroline. We never found out what. But in the middle of a game, she darted right into the street.

I couldn’t shake that feeling of shame, embarrassment and guilt. I couldn’t stop thinking all the thoughts that were running through all the other mother’s heads. I wanted desperately to sit them all down, tell them my tale of woe, tell them that Caroline’s little brain, neurologically, is programmed differently than their little bundle’s. I do all the things the other mothers do. It just doesn’t always work.

Instead of doing this, though, I try instead to switch my own thinking. When I see behaviors in other children that seem off, that seem ‘correctable’, I try to imagine the stories that exist in these families. Their mother’s tale of woe. Rules are rules but they are not always black and white. There is almost always a story filled with grey.


At June 17, 2008 at 3:03 PM , Blogger Feener said...

i am a writer for NJ moms as well. i would love to talk more about spd and your daughter if you could. offline. are you planning on going to the lbi party this summer ?

At June 17, 2008 at 3:17 PM , Blogger WritingMother said...

Hi Stacey, this is Lisa Garrigues, author of Writing Motherhood. Can I just say, this is one of your strongest pieces. Given the weight of the subject, you manage to make it accessible, applicable, even funny. I love the way you play with language, mixing the pedestrian with the technical. And there's great originality here, to speak of "Mother" as a language, for instance. I just hope enough mothers get to read your post, b/c I know your experience rings true for so many of us, whatever challenges our children may face. All best, Lisa

At June 20, 2008 at 11:37 AM , Blogger Ann said...

Hello Stacey,
I found you through Mom Bloggers Club.
I can relate to this post oh-so-much.
Thank you for your honesty.

At June 23, 2008 at 10:00 AM , Blogger sara said...

this is excellent, stacey -- written so well. i have a new appreciation for how difficult blogging can be now that i've started my own. keep up the great work! hugs, sara


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