Have you ever reread a book many years after the previous time?
I’ve been doing that recently and I’ve noticed some interesting things.
For example, I just finished rereading the 1990 republication of The Stand by Stephen King. I read that book many, many times back in my late teens and early 20’s. I thought it was a great book and my paper back copy got a serious work out.
I’m 41 now. I still think it’s a great book, but I understood it in such a different way, that I was quite surprised by it.
In my younger years, I liked it because the characters were interesting, the story was exciting and I could identify with the young pregnant woman, Fran, because I was young and pregnant at one time too.
This time, in my older years, I still enjoyed it for the same reasons but also because my years of life experience allowed me to understand concepts in the story that I didn’t quite get when I was younger. I understand the workings of governments, conspiracies, cover ups and such things so much more now. And understanding those things made the story far richer and deeper to me now than it ever did when I was 20.
It was a happy surprise.
Wisdom really does come with age. Unfortunately, you have to get to that age before you believe that idea to be true.
The point of all this really has nothing to do with The Stand but with another book I’ve just started to reread. It’s called She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.
Now, I don’t really want to sit here and type out the synopsis of that book, but I will recommend it, especially to married moms.
What I will say is that it has two main characters, Ariel and Justine. Ariel is a married mother of three young boys, as is Justine but with two young girls. Ariel is new to the upscale neighborhood and spends a fair amount of time comparing herself to Justine (who appears to be the perfect wife and mother) and finding herself falling short to her chagrin.
Now I’m coming to the point of this blog post…
When I read this book the first time a few years ago, I totally identified with Ariel. I spent a great deal of time feeling humiliated and ashamed of myself when I compared myself to other married moms (this was primarily with the women I knew at the church I used to go to back when everything went to hell for me). They all seemed so perfect. What houses I visited were, not perfectly clean and tidy, but far more orderly than mine was. These mother’s coached sports teams for their kids and had them involved in all sorts of neat activities that mine never did (as for coaching, it was to everyone’s benefit that I never even considered involving myself in such a thing). I was certain that their happy marriages weren’t just a facade they put on like mine was. They dressed up like princesses for their daughter’s birthday parties. I’d never even held a birthday party (with other children there) for any of my kids ever.
What kind of a horrible mother was I?
Or that’s what I thought for a long time.
This time reading She Makes It Look Easy, I’m only into the fourth chapter and I don’t identify with Ariel at all. In fact, she kind of disgusts me.
She compares Justine’s perfect home to her own and feels embarrassed. All I can think as I read is, “Seriously lady? You have three little boys and expect to have a house that would cover a home decorating magazine? Why would you care about that?”
She compares her pale skin and I-bore-three-children shaped body to Justine’s perfectly tanned and toned figure and feels self-conscious. All I can think as I read is, “Please! Why can’t women quit worrying about dumb-ass crap like that!”
Then it came to me as I was reading while having a cigarette on the back step: I’m a good mom.
I don’t have my children enrolled in a bunch of activities. The main reason is I couldn’t afford it if I wanted to. The equally important other reason is that busyness is one of the downfalls of today’s society and I will not subject my children to that.
My house is less than spectacular. But I really don’t care. There are things that are difficult for me to do for physical and mental reasons and that really is why things don’t get done quite like I want them to . But in all honesty, I was always a shitty housekeeper. The main reason for that is that I learned what was really important when I was going to college. College leaves little time for anything other than studying and working on assignments. Since I was a single mother of two young boys at the time, I chose to spend what little free time I had with them instead of working at keeping my house orderly. Besides, trying to keep a house clean with young children living in it is like trying to shovel a sidewalk during a blizzard.
I’m 41 years old and weigh 175 lbs and I know plenty of mom’s who are lighter in weight than I am. Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know where I stand on body image issues. Besides, like an employee at a Safeway told me about 20 years ago, God only made so many perfect bodies and the rest He skimped on.
Have I made my point yet? Not sure if I did. Well here it is anyway:
I’m proud of me. I am content with how I look. I am content with how I keep my house (although if someone could invent a smart phone app that would wash the dishes, I’d be even more content). And above all, I think I’m doing a pretty good job raising my kids. I think it says a lot when a 16-year-old boy will say out loud to his mom and to other people that he thinks his mom is pretty good at being a mom.
So, yes, I am proud of me.
That’s all I wanted to say.