Sunday, May 9, 2010
As I mentioned here, I was recently given the opportunity to meet and interview Amy Wilson, author of When Did I Get Like This?: The Screamer, the Worrier, the Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget Buyer & Other Mothers I Swore I'd Never Be prior to her reading at the Book Stall in Winnetka. (GREAT bookstore, by the way!)
What a treat! Not only was this mother of 3 super-nice and easy to talk to, but I found myself really relating to her and her take on motherhood.
She's an actress. (Me too. Well, former.)
Perfectionist. (Check and check!)
Pretty much daily she feels like she's screwed up in some way raising her kids. (Can I get an amen?!?)
Being a perfectionist and being a mom is not really a match made in heaven. As Amy talks about in the book, there are so many ways to get it wrong. When we sat down to talk I asked her if she felt her desire to be the perfect mother was a pressure she put on herself or if it came from outside sources.
AW: I've always been a perfectionist and a planner and very hard on myself. And until I became a parent, it actually served me pretty well. If I couldn't do something well, I would stick at it. Or sometimes being a perfectionist I would give up on things immediately. Like team sports--I'm not going to be good at it so I'm not even going to try lest I fail. But I sort of brought that to motherhood and I think I thought that motherhood would be when I relaxed, that motherhood was going to be easy compared to some of the other things I had set out for myself in my life. And of course that was not the case. I think motherhood is for most people, and for perfectionists in particular, the worst place to be because there are so many ways to get it wrong. And there's more everyday. No matter what you get right there's always something else you're doing wrong. I keep a running tab in my head...you know, you close their bedroom doors when they go to bed and you think back on the day and you think "gosh, why did I do this?" And it's your regret list for the day. And I think a lot of us are like that. I think there are some mothers who do it alright. And there are some mothers who don't care. And I think that's great, you know, if you can release and let go. And I think there's a lot of people in the middle like me who really try to get it right, don't and spend a lot of time, waste a lot of time, feeling bad about it.
(Boy, do I relate! I have always felt the need to be perfect and motherhood really knocks the wind out your sails on that one.
Little Ricky wasn't going to be exposed to TV...EVER! Well, he already has quite the love affair going on with Elmo.
No sweets until his first birthday. Yeah, that gelato we got on our afternoon walk yesterday probably doesn't fall into the fruit category on the food pyramid. Even if it was orange flavored.)
Amy is multi-talented--she's a writer (obviously) and besides the book she also writes her blog and contributes to Parenting magazine. She's also an actress who has a hit one-woman show, Mother Load (which she also wrote). I assumed all of these creative outlets provided her with a way to deal with her lack of perfectionism, but I wondered how she dealt beyond that.
AW: I discovered, later than I would have liked to I guess, but I discovered that that's in your children. And that's in being with them. Just being with them. Just sitting down with them and if they want to narrate back to you the entire plot of a book you've read to them fourteen times just sit with them. You can do that and not be "what are these things I need to be worrying about" and just be with your kids. There's so much joy there. And it's so, so short. It makes me sad every day that it goes by so fast. That I've been missing out on any of it freaking out over "is this the right soccer league or not?". So I've realized it's embracing just being the mom and just being there.
(Again, super relatable. I find the days I allow myself to just be with Little Ricky and not worry about my to-do list are our best days. The moment I start worrying about the laundry or my email or my latest blog post or this or that ad nauseam all of my good mothering intentions go out the window and I become frustrated and impatient. "Just be there." Wonderful advice.)
(And as for the time with your kids being short, I KNOW! As Little Ricky rapidly approaches his first birthday I feel like the days are speeding by. I just want to hold him close and yell "STOP! I need more time. I want more time!")
After our interview I stayed for Amy's reading. She chose the chapter "Penny the Pig" (which you can find excerpted here). The reading was hilarious, scary and touching all at the same time. While I don't have a school-aged child yet, I could relate to that need to measure up to the other moms. But the realization that some of these moms will do detailed scrapbook pages of their adventures with a stuffed pig scared the hell out of me! I don't scrapbook. Little Ricky is doomed to failure!
Any of this ringing any bells to you moms out there? If it is then you definitely want to read Amy Wilson's book. And as my Mother's Day gift, one of you lucky gals is about to win your very own copy of When Did I Get Like This! I'm still mid-read, but I can promise you this book will make you laugh and assure you you're not alone!
The contest will run until Saturday, May 15th at noon CST. I will select a winner using Random.org. Be sure to include your email in your comment so I have a way to reach you if you win. Sadly, this contest is only for US residents.
MANDATORY Entry: Leave me a comment telling me what you do as a mom that you swore you'd NEVER do!
(Leave a comment for each additional thing you do or are already doing.)
1. Follow Amy Wilson on Twitter.
2. "Like" When Did I Get Like This? on Facebook.
3. Subscribe to my blog via my feed.
4. Follow me on Google.
5. Follow A Modern Day Ricky and Lucy on Facebook.
6. Follow me on Twitter.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of When Did I Get Like This? in exchange for the interview and review but all opinions are my own.
As if the evening wasn't great enough, check this out. Winnetka has a restaurant called Little Ricky's! Next time I'm in Winnetka, I know where I'm having dinner!