I’m a mother. I’ve been one for 26 years. As a mom, I’ve worn many hats and learned all kinds of stuff they don’t teach you in books. What’s that saying? “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”
Well, I have 4 times that many children and at least one theory: That being a Mom is an adventure of a lifetime.
I’ve done a lot of things in my 48 years. I lived in France for 3 years as a teenager. I left high school at 16 and graduated as an RN at 19. I’ve been a nurse, a doula, a childbirth educator and a midwife. I’ve sold Mary Kary and Creative Memories. (I sucked at it but I did try! Kind of.) I’ve homeschooled, sent kids to private school, charter school and traditional neighborhood schools. I’ve done IFSPs, IEPs and 504s for more than 2 decades. I’ve been room mom numerous times, served on parent committees, on school boards and on community boards and committees. I’ve become a “Master Gardener” and “Master Food Preserver.” I’ve done Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H. I’ve been a political activist, advocate, campaigner and even a legislator. For 26 years, I’ve done all those things while also being a mom.
I’ve earned my stripes – those streaks of white in my hair and the stretch marks on my belly. Both badges of motherhood. In fact, I celebrated the day I found my first white hair at age 35. For crying out loud, I had 10 kids. Surely I deserved to look like I was mature enough to be the mom of many!
I am down to just 12 kids at home – 11 of them in their teen years. They keep me young. Every once in a while, I even tell my husband that surely we could add just one more. Or two or three, so they wouldn’t be lonely. Just sayin’.
At our peak, we had 20 children at home, ages 1 – 17. And I homeschooled. And baked bread. And sewed matching Christmas outfits. And canned fruit and vegetables from our garden. Molly Mormon on steroids. Aren’t you glad I’m not your mother-in-law?!
Truth is, even with everything we got accomplished, what I desperately needed then was a circle of friends who could let me be REAL – and who would be real with me. I had a couple of women who were there for me, but in many ways, the first 20 years of my parenting were some very isolated years because I was afraid to let people know that raising 20 kids was hard! Add in mental illness, attachment issues, backgrounds of trauma, neglect and abuse and yeah, it was hard. It was great, but it was hard and I had no one I could tell that to because after all – I had done it to myself.
Now, I read books from people like Seth Godin and Sheryl Sandberg and they talk about the need to belong, the need to be connected with other members of our “tribe.” It resonates deep inside me because I know it’s true – it’s always been true. This life is about relationships, about learning and growing together, about lifting another and allowing oneself to be lifted. We NEED each other.
Our world is changing rapidly and yet at the core, we still need and want the same thing we always have – connection with other people. Love and trust, loyalty and authenticity. Being real. Being vulnerable. Daring greatly, as it were.
That is why it is so thrilling to me to be a part of the Utah cast of Listen to Your Mother. This year, LTYM shows will be in 24 cities around the country and will feature live readings from local writers who publish online. In Utah, there are 15 of us who will be reading pieces we have written about motherhood. A good friend of mine – Mandee Grant – let me know that LTYM was auditioning back in March and encouraged me to apply. I’m not a “Mommy blogger” but I am definitely a Mommy, so I gave it a shot. The piece I wrote and read for Heather Johnson, director of the Utah show, was “Loving Angelia” – my story in 5 minutes or less about why I would adopt a baby I knew would die. However, it’s not the one I will be reading next week. That one is a brand-new, never before seen or heard. My teens have given it two thumbs up, though, and they are
brutal blunt honest critics!
Here’s the bottom line. You need to hear these stories. They will make you laugh and cry and want to hug your kids. I promise. They will also make you feel connected in deep and meaningful ways.
These women are now my friends. I admire them in so many ways. Many of them are just starting their grand adventure into mothering and yet here they are, offering everything I wished I had when I was a young mom. I’m not sure I would have even had the courage to interact with them but I at least would have been a blog-stalker desperately looking for wisdom and validation. The LTYM women of Northern Utah are REAL. They are willing to share themselves. They offer a real network of support and encouragement by being real moms with real kids, all trying to find their way through the uncharted territory we call motherhood. (And yes, I’m still figuring it out and I’m on the downhill slide to empty nesting.)
Please come join us May 9th at Thanksgiving Point. Tickets are only $10 and will likely sell out. (Especially since I’m bringing most of my kids!)
I promise you will love it.
And just in case you were wondering, I found some great political tie-ins. One of the presenters is the daughter of one of Utah’s previous Lt. Governors and another has done some lobbying in DC. See? I told you the world revolves around politics……..