The Bittersweet Pull

I had a great long breakfast that turned into lunch with the WDSTSI crew, along with a new friend—author and feminist Jennifer Baumgardner—and renewed my spirits. I particularly liked what Jennifer (who is the mother of a 3-year-old) said about how we don’t realize how high the stakes are for women with children or the desire for them…it seems either you “lose yourself” or your child loses you. It is that feeling of being torn in half and yet, this constant struggle goes unnoticed and even we, “mothers,” feel we can’ t really talk about it for fear of being labeled as what? Whiners? Silly? Trivial?

Yet, it does not feel trivial to leave a crying, apparently heartbroken kid screaming, “You promised me a story!” as you go out the door to “work.” This after spending the morning putting milk into his special rabbit cup and then cleaning up some and playing the clapping game and talking about how the yellow of the egg is not a giant eye and that it will make him strong. And chasing him two and three times to put on those blue socks and yes, scooping him up in all his round lusciousness to “fly” him…and you have a story you’ve been working on and someone wants it, which is great because these last few months the others have been rejected, and yet…there he is crying and your heart breaks–maybe he is manipulating you as your childless friends are want to say, but you’ve never felt that. It’s more that he loves you, talks most to you, laughs with you, even gets mad mostly with you–and too, there is that little girl inside of you long buried–whose mother was always too busy…but the story is good and even though you hate this leaving and even though it takes you nearly two hours of puttering and browsing online to hush the jangle of tears and shouts and running feet you left behind, you do start writing and here you are–in this place where all else disappears–where you are lost to the world, absorbed in the telling of your story. And no, you cannot do that with him there beside you. He knows instantly when you disappear into that story, knows instantly and looks up from his Lego car to ask for you.

I made this film because each of my days of raising three beautiful boys who have grown into beautiful men was this pull. Now if I can just figure out how to describe it without sounding dull or housewife-y or sickly sweet or complaining…


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