I had my monthly book club last night. Yes, I joined a book club. Yes, I live in New Jersey. Yes, I've thought about getting a dog but only for the sole purpose of said dog picking up the food that Bean routinely gets on the floor. The book club is composed entirely of women and the number varies depending on whether or not people like the selected book. Toni Morrison's Beloved had eight women show up as opposed to last night's What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty which had eighteen women. While I haven't made any awesome friends (yet), it's a welcome opportunity to discuss books that weren't written by Dr. Suess.
The main premise of What Alice Forgot is that a very busy, Type A mom hits her head and wakes up missing the past ten years of her life. She wakes up in the middle of a contentious divorce, not even able to recognize her own children. The story resonated with a lot of moms in the group in that it got many of us thinking of the evolution in our own life and how much we've changed since motherhood, marriage and everything in between. Would twenty-three year old Christine even recognize me? She'd probably tell me that I looked tired, should probably wear more make up and start running more. She'd be dumbfounded by our house, and more so in by my ability to keep it clean and organized (Anyone that knew me pre-cooking career can attest to my not being a neat nick of any kind).
By giving Alice (from What Alice Forgot) memory loss, the author enables the character to look at her own life with fresh eyes and see her choices from a very different perspective. I think many of us become myopic over time, seeing the world through our own eyes and forgetting that other people have views too. And also that our views can sometimes affect their view. My life is so very different now. 23-year-old Christine thought she'd be living in Europe, teaching English and cavorting with a man named Serge. Or I'd being happy teaching US history to high schoolers in New York City. Neither path saw me as a domestic diva, thrilled at being able to do her own laundry and excited to purchase new Swiffer refills, or as mother to my adorable child who I honestly cannot imagine my life without.
The main character Alice got so caught up in being Super Mom and getting everything perfect with her house, her kids and her marriage, that eventually it was all just a show. Her kids didn't care for her much. Her husband couldn't stand her and her close relationship with her sister fell to pieces. Reading the book with a bunch of other moms led to numerous discussions about marriage, resentment, careers, and kids. One woman had a very different take away from the book. She said that she feels like all she does is say "No" all day long. She is always rushing one kid here and another one there, picking up the first one and doing chores, shopping, cooking, laundry, bill playing and everything else. She's always rushing somewhere, always doing something so even when she is with her kids, she's not always wholly present because she always thinking about the 9 zillion other things that she has to do. After reading the book, and seeing how Alice evolved from this woman super excited to have her first child to becoming a mom, not very well-liked by her own kids, she was inspired to say more "Yes" than "No." The kids will learn to appreciate and remember the silly "Yes" times rather than the "No" times.
I'm not advocating a kid playing with matches. But sometimes I put this pressure on myself to be somewhere and do something by a certain time, and really it doesn't matter. I make the schedule so why should I freak out if I don't have dinner started by 5 PM? We're not going to starve. The earth will keep turning. Sometimes, I need to remember to relax and be a kid and play with my awesome kid. The laundry can wait. The Christmas cards can wait. In the great scheme of things, these things don't matter. What matters is the time that I have with my child and to cherish that time. She's growing up and she's doing it fast. She will not always want to cuddle on my lap and read stories or play the tickle Monster game. So today I had a "Yes" day. Yes, we ran errands and did laundry and cooked dinner, but we also played tea party with Elmo and Super Grover, read several of my least favorite books and made three batches of cookies. Bean easily ate her weight in raw cookie dough and I just licked the spatula along with her. There were cuddles, heinie grabs and songs and we loved every minute of it. Saying yes, is definitely more fun and only slightly messier.
I need to remember to say "Yes" more, even if only for fifteen minutes. She will remember those "Yes" times and learn to cherish them as I have.