Monday, August 9, 2010

Backwater Mama:Amam Retawkcab

Here is a view: a woman elbow deep in her small garden, kneeling in shorts that have a milk stain or two on them already and hair that hasn't seen a shower since yesterday. A toddler bent and focused on the green beans being picked, her feet tucked into sandals that need a good scrubbing and are on the wrong feet to boot; her hair is in desperate need of a brush. Behind them both a baby sits in a highchair in the middle of the yard, naked but for her diaper, cooing and babbling away at her family.

But who was viewing me so? A book salesman came peddling his wares today, catching me off guard and unprepared for company of any sort - even the transient kind. I felt incredibly backwater as I held my toddler tight to my side as I explained we'd already bought those books and were full up for the time being. Half way through the youngest began to fuss, irritated at being forgotten, I picked her up switching one child for the other on my hip. Once in my arms I discovered that not only was she naked but her face was covered with remnants from her much earlier banana snack. That was the icing on the cake: I was ready for the salesman to leave so I could run back into the house to shower and clothe the youngest and generally un-hillbilly myself.

But after some thought I began to consider: Do we not always see the worst of ourselves in our own reflection? Aren't there two sides to a mirror and if so, what other way might I have been perceived today?

Another view: A woman is elbow deep in her small plot of garden, her daughters close at hand. She is teaching a valuable lesson: reap what you sow, be resourceful. If her clothes aren't perfect it is because small hands have used her as a napkin or blanket depending on the need. If her hair isn't done it is because something more pressing has pulled at her attention: there is always one more book to read, one more game to play. Her daughter's shoes are on the wrong feet because she is an independent, do-it-myself kind of 3 year old. If her youngest is naked but for her diaper it is only to allow her to stay cool, to be more comfortable than anyone else is allowed to be in humid summer heat. The remains of bananas on her cheeks make me think: shouldn't we all be so covered by fun once in a while that even a good scrub can't get it all off?

The mirror of motherhood has two sides: It can be so easy to see only the harsher version, but to be able to see beyond to the side that rejoices in the very parts that make it unseemly is the challenge. My hope is always to look into the mirror and then beyond into the world where everything that I think marks me as an unkempt mother rather exemplifies my best attempts at motherhood.


  1. This is just awesome.

    Because yes, we do tend to assume that others interpret things in the most negative light possible. Even when we know that we ourselves? Give others the generous benefit of the doubt all the time.

    Why are we able to be so kind to others and then insist on being so hard on ourselves?

    I hate that.

    I do that.

    And I love this post.

  2. Wonderful post, and I love new blogs b/c I feel so part of something new. Like I'm part of the bricks in the bottom that hold the building up. Following you now, I'm no. 5 follower, and I know I will enjoy reading your posts.

    You have the ability of making me want to come back...(-:

  3. Very thought provoking. We need to remember to he kinder to ourselves.

    And what a wonderful way to spend time with your children.

  4. I'm over from Pretty All True. I'm getting my own lesson in perspective at the moment. I am very, very hard on myself. I tend to see only what is lacking & miss what is there, in most aspects of my life.

  5. wow. I wish I could remember the other side of the mirror when I start to beat myself up...
    this is a great post.
    and thanks Kris for recommending!

  6. What a fabulous way to re-frame a situation. My therapist is always telling me to do this, but somehow he's never managed to convey it the way you just did. So that's what it means to stop beating yourself up. That's how you do it.

    You just taught me something that I REALLY needed to learn. Now, to see if I can put it into practice....

  7. i love this! we are our own worst critic that is for sure.

  8. You said it so perfectly.

    I'm usually more concerned with dinner, baths, homework, and what little bit of quality time I get with my kids than the fact that my hair's a mess, the boys are in their underwear, and one or both of them are covered in(washable) marker.....until someone shows up.

    Then I feel like I should have accomplished all the things on my "to do" list and managed to have perfect hair and two immaculate children.

    Why can't we be proud of what we do accomplish as mothers instead of always magnifying in our minds the little things that get by us?

  9. Amazingly touching post. Seriously. I have goosebumps across the legs I just shaved and I don't even mind one bot. :)
    Beautifully written and a version of this motherhood thing I overlook daily. Especially, as you said, when it comes to looking at myself.
    Very nice. Loved it.

  10. *bit.

    duh, Kali. Sorry.

  11. @kris
    Thank you! And thanks for the link from your page. :)

  12. @The Empress
    Yay for new followers! I'll make it to your site, too, and check it out. Love having new ppl to spruce up my page! :)

  13. @Renee
    Glad you liked it. Gardening? Not always my forte, but me eldest loves it, so I'm going big next year. gulp!

  14. @WTH am I Doing?I think, as mothers, we're all to hard on ourselves. keeping things in perspective is hard work!

  15. @NicoleThank you for stopping by, keep reading! :) (mine and Pretty All True)

  16. @Angie
    Glad I could open your eyes to a new way of looking at things. I wish it was always as easy as it sounds. That revelation of new perspective? Took me 3 days to come to. Which meant there were 2 days of beating myself up AFTER the fact for my sloppiness. We're all a work in progress, friend!

  17. @Anonymous I love that you specifiy it was *washable* marker. Wouldn't have judged you if it was sharpies. Thanks for reading, and understanding me!

  18. @thebossofu.comThank you for the kind words! They mean a lot. Looking at myself in a kind manner is hard work, it's nice to hear others struggle sometimes, too.

  19. Thank you for this beautiful reminder to not be so hard on ourselves--to see the beauty in our crazy lives.

    So glad that Kris sent me your way!

  20. I'm over from Kris' as well. I love your second view - the real one...the one that helps us teach our children what kind of people we are and that we hoope they become. You wrote it perfectly.

  21. You are an amazing writer! I love this! I actually had the same thoughts the other day as our new next door neighbor rang my doorbell unexpectedly. I automatically thought about my hair and my living room floor (both of which were destroyed). :)

    I can't wait to read more!

  22. Natalie: Oh to always see the second view - that's the goal, but a HARD one!!

    Cassidy:! so excited you stopped by. Keep reading, when you get a chance, there's lots more on the page and hopefully - girls willing - more to come! :)

  23. I came over from Pretty All True, and I'm glad.

    Frankly? I loved both views. But I understand the instinct we all have see ourselves negatively and the damage that thinking does.

    Thanks for the reminder to see the best side of things!

  24. Man. Kris really knows how to pick 'em. I so remember those days - smelling like spit-up, looking like someone spit-up on me, hair a mess, hoping I remembered to put on deodorant!

    You put this so beautifully.

  25. @ moveovermarypoppins: thank you for the words of understanding. persepective - in art as in life - is hard to master. I'm still the most basic of students!

    @ cathyjoy: your words? ring unbelieveably true to me. getting out of the house without spit up on my clothes or milk in my hair is grounds for a standing ovation. it rarely happens. I've learned to live with it. i have many years ahead when i can smell (and look!) nice.