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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reflections on Motherhood

I have a lot to say about motherhood and moms in YA lit, so I think I'm going to write multiple entries on this subject throughout the week. But today I'm thinking of my perspective of motherhood and the moms in my books.

Or, book, really. I'm going to focus on Mrs. Prescott, the mom in Handcuffs. First, she wasn't based on my mom at all. She was kind of based on...what I could become. My fears of myself. I have a friend who said that while you're pregnant it's like they implant some kind of guilt chip in you. And she was right. Once you have kids, everything is so intense, and it's not all good stuff, there's a lot of uncertainty and a lot of guilt. Are you doing everything right? Did you do something wrong? Did you screw those little people up forever? Are you the worst mom in the world?

There's also just a lot of constant movement and action. The thing I miss most from pre-motherhood is silence. I love silence, and these days my house is filled with constant noise. You don't get to do the things that you want to do when you want, you have to think of other people before you think of yourself.

Sometimes if feels like too much, and that's the point where I just want to clock out. Just ignore them, after twenty thousand inane comments, I just want to say, "I don't really care. "

If anyone is an Anne Rice fan and read The Vampire Lestat, you might remember that Lestat's mother Gabrielle sort of gave up on her kids and locked herself in a tower to read books. There are days when that sounds like the ideal existence, to me.

And because I have that capacity, that's the part of motherhood that scares me the most. That you spend so much time caring and feeling so intensely that you overload and just want it to stop. I'm afraid of the idea of being the mom who clocks out stops caring because caring is too hard. And fear is where we go to create characters, isn't it?

And that's sort of where I started with Mrs. Prescott. I think she's mostly a good mom, and she cares, but she's overwhelmed, and Parker is the kid she's sort of clocked out on, because Parker has always been easy...except when the book takes place, which is Parker's journey away from being the easygoing always good and dependable child.

A big part of the book is the mother daughter relationship, it begins with making her mom cry on Christmas, and ends with her talking to her mother. Pretty big relationship for a YA book, really.

Parker's younger brother Preston is extremely hyper and ADHD.(as she tells her older sister in the book, the H in ADHD stands for hyper) A kid like that would overwhelm me fast (remember silence, well moms of ADHD kids might not). Having a kid like that would make me need some staring into space collecting myself time, and a mother of three isn't likely to get that sort of time, particularly when she's holding her family together financially.

Mrs. Prescott cares about Parker, but she's never able to focus on her, and her unfocused misunderstanding (of is it a misunderstanding? Parker is incensed that her mom thinks she is just like Paige, but in many ways, she is like Paige) helps Parker to define and figure herself out, because she has to.

Being a mom is rewarding, and I wouldn't change anything about my life, but man, it's hard.


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