Big Mother (10.27.14)
I’m a talker, and I’m a people person. I enjoy telling stories to friends, family, and anyone else willing to listen. Ideally, a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s like a melted cheese sandwich. All of the parts support one another. When I read to my children, I point out to them, “Now, that’s a nice ending.” Other times, I’ll say, “Wow. What an odd ending. I feel like the story is unfinished…or hit a wall…or fell off a cliff.” As you can see, I’m opinionated. My opinions may not resonate with you, but they are important to me. And that’s one of the great benefits of living in the United States of America—the freedom of speech. I get to express my opinion, and you get to express yours. We may not agree on everything, and that’s ok. There’s a market for everything.
In 2002, I became a mother and began my journey into children’s literature. Somewhere along the line, I heard that it was important to read to your children as soon as they were born. That made sense to me. My oldest daughter, Ashlee, was born 10 weeks early due to complications with pre-eclampsia; therefore, I was thrown into motherhood rather abruptly. The first year of her life is a blur at times. I don’t remember buying books to read to her, but I do vividly remember reading to her. It was awesome. I’m a bit of a ham and thoroughly enjoyed reading simple board books to her. The rhyming story Jamberry by Bruce Degen was one of her favorites. Ashlee used to squeal with delight and kick her feet with excitement whenever I read the story to her. What joy! Squealing with delight to be read to! A gift for both of us.
We were blessed with three beautiful daughters within five years; therefore, I was reading, reading, and reading. I primarily bought board books in the beginning of their lives, because they were indestructible and provided short stories for short attention spans. I used to chuckle to myself while purchasing books for them thinking, “I’m like ‘Big Mother.’” I am veryselective about what I choose to read to my children. I want the stories to be positive and/or entertaining, balanced with great artwork.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. We would receive board books as well-intentioned gifts over the years, and I would think, “Wow. I would never spend the money on that book, nor would I want to read it 1,000 times to my kids.” As a customer, I selected books that appealed to me that I was willing to read over and over and over.
One day as I sat breastfeeding, rocking, and reading a board book to my youngest daughter, Rosalina, a voice inside of my head said, “You can write books like this.” And I thought, “Yes, I could.” And then I moved on to my next responsibility.
Several weeks later, I caught a virus that grabbed my attention. I had the most painful sore throat I have ever experienced. It felt like knives were stabbing me inside my throat every time I swallowed. I felt like I was a character starring in a bio-terrorism movie without a script. I don’t remember all the other symptoms, but it was one of the most painful viruses I’ve ever experienced. It lasted for three weeks. I manage my healthcare with alternative health; therefore, I went to my acupunturist for treatments. Eventually though, I went to the CVS Minute Clinic to name this beast. The Nurse Practioner reviewed all of my symptoms and said that I had Cocksackie virus. Are you kidding? The name alone sounded horrific and offensive. She looked inside my throat and said, “Wow. Most people only get one or two ulcers in their throat, but you have about twenty.” Thanks.
Spiritually, I felt like this was a message and an opportunity for me to express my voice through writing. So I did. I went home and wrote three stories* that I refer to as “Slices of Life” (wink! wink!) from my daughters’ lives as babies. The first story, Sling Baby, is about Ashlee being born prematurely and how I wore her as a baby. The second story, Top Feed, Mama! Top Feed!, is about Rachel breastfeeding and her burst of language skills creating the words “Top Feed.” The third book, Peek-a-Boo Moon, is a game that I used to play with Rosalina, while she rode in the stroller as we walked our dog, Gigi, throughout the neighborhood in the evenings.
So out of the fire, “Big Mother” was born—talking, forming, and shaping life experiences into stories.
I’m a storyteller. And these are my experiences.
*The first three stories are written; however, they have not been published to date.
Good things come to those who wait.