To engage the reader in your setting, try writing using all five of your senses.
I suggest this to my kids and get pretty interesting results. My favorite quote thus far has been,
“Whoosh! I smell old people.”
Gems like that make grading personal narratives on a Saturday morning interesting.
I’m going to take my own advice and try to set up for you the thing that is MOTHERHOOD. (Because all of us twenty-somethings are the first ones to go through it and we really need to let the rest of you know what it’s like…)
Motherhood smells like puke and melted crayons.
Motherhood sounds like the devastating cry of a morning alarm clock when you’ve gotten up four times in the night to check on congested children and supply juice or hugs as needed.
Motherhood tastes like cold dinner and leftovers.
Motherhood looks like a messy house, smashed lipsticks, piles of laundry, dirty dishes, spit up stains, more laundry, and the waiting room at the doctor’s office.
Motherhood feels like cradling a twenty pound infant with your left arm, carrying a five pound umbrella stroller in your right, climbing bleachers to the top to watch a football game while coaxing a toddler to follow you, only to have that toddler puke on you when you’ve all sat down with your things. (Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely because this very thing happened tonight.)
And at times, motherhood feels thankless. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mother or a working mom, in equal measure people will judge you for your decisions and make thoughtless -or even snide- remarks. You’ll feel defensive, sometimes even around your friends and family, because of the choices you make for your children.
Motherhood also smells like clean babies, dried off after a bath and wrapped up in soft, fluffy towels in your lap.
Motherhood sounds like a first “I love you” or a “Mama!” in the night, when only you are able to comfort your scared little one. It sounds like laughter in the backyard and new, invented words that will be spoken in your family from now on.
Motherhood tastes like Oreo kisses and a glass of red wine because you’re not pregnant anymore.
Motherhood looks like family pictures with round, happy faces, Teddy Grahams in your pockets, pacifiers in your purse, and confidence in your eyes.
Motherhood feels like…
Motherhood feels like…
Motherhood feels like this:
it feels like moments of complete, whole, thorough, down-to-your-bones bliss and satisfaction. Moments of bliss and satisfaction in between the moments of puke.
And I want to encourage mothers to cut themselves, and each other, some slack. I thought the whole ‘Mommy Wars’ thing was a myth, or at least some small thing hyped up and over-dramatized by people who really needed something to talk about (and it probably is, a little bit), but I can tell that we all feel attacked and defensive at times, whether it’s because of criticism from other moms who don’t parent the way we do, family members, or by people who aren’t parents at all.
It gets a bit disgusting, the petty and back-handed way parents and non-parents (so…. people) condescend to or about each other because of things like organic food, breast milk, formula, McDonald’s, careers, staying at home, cloth diapers, corporal punishment, disposable diapers, immunizations, daycare, and something called ‘sleep training’, which is… I’m still not quite sure what, even two kids later. And it (the delusions of superiority) really goes both ways. I hope we remember amidst all the decisions we constantly and consciously make for our children that we are also at times unconsciously modeling for them how to treat, speak about and to others who are different from us.
Peers with kids: I know this is our reality now and I am so glad that we are all -hopefully- trying to make educated and best-possible choices for our children, but let’s remember that we aren’t the first mothers (parents) on the planet. We haven’t got it all figured out, we’re not the ones experiencing this wonderful and terrifying responsibility for the first time, and maybe, just maybe, we all have a chance at being superb mothers (parents), even if we don’t all do it the same way.