Archive for January 26th, 2009

A Revolutionary Experiment

Caryn: So this weekend I did a bit of Revolution experimenting. The retreat my husband and I attended—on the shores of the amazingly beautiful frozen, snow-covered, and ice-jagged Lake Michigan–was the same one (or, I mean, the same people, place, and sort of thing) we attended two years ago when my good old mama identity crisis peaked.

You could say it was the retreat that two years ago lauched a blog post that launched a book that helped launch the Mommy Revolution. It was there that a strange man kept calling a very pregnant me mama and it was there that I had the almost ridiculously agonizing decision of whether to attend a “publishing” break-out-session or a “homemaking” break-out-session. (Only in America is this a huge dilemma, right?) It was the retreat—no matter how enjoyable and relaxing and interesting—that made me come home and go, Something’s not right in the world of motherhood. Or, at least, in my little world.

So anyway, after two years of thinking and talking and wondering and praying and addressing some of these ID-crisis-causing issues, back we went this past weekend. To where it all began.

And I gotta tell you: Whole new ballgame, people! I walked into that retreat as me, bolstered by the encouragement I’ve received from many of the Mommy Revolutionaries and other women I talk to.

I didn’t feel disloyal to my kids when someone asked me what I did and I said I was a writer (or a speaker or an editor—whichever fancied me at the moment. They ARE all true, incidentally.) And sometimes I tossed out my own advice from my book and gave my “mom and a writer” answer.

I talked openly about the joys of motherhood and how thrilled I am to be raising these great kids, but also talked just as openly about how annoying and exhausting it can be. And how glad I was to have a weekend away from these kids I adore. I said so without even a hint of an apology.

And it was great. I got to spend time talking about things other than my kids, things of the world, things of God, heck, things about me. And I didn’t feel selfish.

Now I know this isn’t world-changing stuff here. But in a way it felt like it. Something so small, something so internal, and yet, I couldn’t help but think that maybe part of the Mommy Revolution has a lot to do with this. We can’t help what other people think about us. I mean, I couldn’t help that one guy—after talking to my husband extensively about what my husband does for a living—got up from the table after I shared that I was a mom (it’s always an experiment with me!). I can’t help that HE thinks it’s uninteresting. But I can help my response.

In this case, Rafi (my husband) and I cracked up. He loved seeing in action what I write about in my book. And so did I. It’s fun to be right.

But what we can change is our attitude and our reactions. Really, isn’t the Revolution about declaring that what people think of us and our motherhood is THEIR problem? As long as we’re looking to God, who cares? Or am I being flip?

Carla: Of course you’re being flip, but since the other option is being bitter, I think flip is just fine. It loathes me to say this, but you’re absolutely right. The Revolution isn’t about changing the culture so that moms can change. It’s about changing moms so the culture can change–and so that if it doesn’t, we’re okay with it. 

I don’t mean that we want to turn moms into something we aren’t. No, the change we’re talking about it what we’ve been reading about in your comments. It’s that change from living lives that are based in who other people think we should be, to living lives based in who we feel God leading us to be. It’s amazing to hear your stories and watch how each of you is impacting other women with your honesty and vulnerability! 

So here’s a thought. For the rest of this week, let’s have everyone who reads this blog tries a little experiment. Let’s all try to own our motherhood in a new way. Maybe it will be answering that “So what do you do?” question with one of your many options and paying attention to the various responses you get. Or maybe it will be telling one other person the truth about how your day is going–good or bad. Ask for help when your instinct is to try to be superwoman. Offer encouragement instead of judgment or defensiveness when you talk to someone who parents in different ways than you do. Or pull a Chloe O’Brian and tell people you’re a stay-at-home mom while you’re implating transmitters in their teeth (best moment of Monday’s episode of 24.). Then, post a comment about what you noticed or experienced as a result. What changes when we change?

Caryn: Oooh, I love the challenge—even if I have no idea what pulling a Chloe O’Brian means. (Can I have a moment of vulnerability and admit that I’ve never seen 24? Or Lost, for that matter? SOME OF US have to work at night, you know. Oh, wait, is that exactly what I’m not supposed to be doing…? Sorry.) I can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories! Please do tell.