Last week I went to SoCal for a business trip and I took the opportunity to read a book, “Rockabye” by Rebecca Woolf. The story follows her through her unplanned pregnancy and the first few years of her son’s life. In the book she is so honest about the struggles of becoming a parent: the pressures of other people’s opinions, the exhausting guilt, the fear that you are no longer allowed to be yourself, the constant anxiety that you will make the wrong decision and fail your child, the simultaneous urge to run away balanced with a love so intense you think it will break you in two.
I read her book and I felt every single word.
Her book said so many things that were lying heavy on my heart. Things I was afraid to say aloud for fear that someone would agree, “You know you might not be the best Mom for him, we’re going to take him back and give him to a better Mom.”
Nobody can do that of course but it’s there always in the back of my mind, a fear that whispers at me constantly. When you spend so much time having to convince people that you’re a worthy parent with home studies, fingerprints and international background checks at some point you start to believe you deserved the abuse. That maybe you aren’t good parent material and that's why you had to spend a year defending yourself. And when the going gets rough and you’re tearing your hair out that voice gets louder and louder. Last week the voice was overtaking me when I found her book. I couldn’t believe how brave she was to say the things she did. It was so comforting. Apparently I am not totally crazy. Or at least not alone in my crazy.
So then I wrote her an e-mail to tell her how much I appreciated her brutal honesty. It was the first time I’d ever written an author but I was just so grateful I couldn't NOT write and say thank you… but here’s the thing. SHE WROTE ME BACK.
How awesome is that?
Not a bounce back form e-mail. A sincere, thanks for your note and I promise you will make it e-mail.
And that’s why I decided to be a little more honest and courageous on this blog, to share a little more about my real life. Her story reached me at a moment when I was feeling lost and needed her words. And I think that’s the beauty of writing, the opportunity to use your voice to give something beautiful to somebody else. Maybe it’s the birthday card with a personal note or the magical realism that gives everyone in a world a taste of your home country. Maybe it’s the information someone needs to balance their budget or the Jane Austen novel that gives you hope you’ll find your Mr. Darcy. And maybe sometimes, it’s just your story, honestly written, that reaches someone as they’re struggling and gives them the consolation of knowing they are not alone.