If you read my post yesterday, you know how much I loved the book CALLING HOME by Janna McMahan. I think Ms. McMahan is such an amazing writer, and I'm really honored that she agreed to guest blog at Booking Mama. CALLING HOME is such a beautifully written book -- and one of the major themes that I appreciated was the relationship between a mother and a daughter. After reading Ms. McMahan's guest post below, it will be evident that she wrote about a mother's love directly from her own heart. To read more of Ms. McMahan's essays, articles and short stories, visit her website at JannaMcMahan.com.
That Mother Thing
I always wanted to be a writer. I never wanted to be a mother.
In the same year, I became both.
After college, I poured my vigorous type-A personality into my career. There were ad agency jobs, corporate positions and non-profit work. I was competitive. I never wanted to lose a job to someone with more education, so I went to graduate school. I was a performance junkie working for recognition and a raise.
I loved to read and always thought that one day I would write a novel. In between study and work, I thought up plots and developed characters; but I always neglected to put those ideas on paper.
In my late twenties, I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease, and suddenly things that had seemed so important took on a feeling of uselessness. After enduring the psychological strain of illness I had changed. Life was no longer about what other people thought of me; it was about what I thought of myself. It wasn’t about performance for money; it was about living the life I wanted.
I needed more than anything to write that book. So I quit a public relations job I liked and bought a computer. I was surprised how easily the words came. I typed furiously and enjoyed every paragraph.
Six months later I was halfway through my novel and three months pregnant. I tried to act as if the baby was a surprise, but the truth was more than I had opened myself up to the idea for a variety of reasons. I was ready for a monumental change. I wanted to prove I was healthy. I needed someone to hold.
I wrote freelance articles, worked on a novel, published a few short stories during my pregnancy, but once Madison arrived I didn’t care to focus on anything but her. The first time we were separated she was only a month old. A well-meaning friend dragged me to a FarmAid concert. I was miserable the entire time and I wiped silent tears while counting the minutes until we could leave. My friend rolled her eyes at me and said, “Who are you? Good grief. If this is what the mother thing does to you, count me out.”
There is a reason most writers don’t hit their stride until they are in the thirties or forties. It takes that long to get past your self-involved youth and tune into the motivations and emotions of others. A writer needs to gather life experiences like different jobs, intense romantic relationships and the adventures of travel. Parenthood, with all its joy, frustration and heartbreak, is a powerful point-of-view adjustment. I could not have written Calling Home before I became a mother; it would have been impossible for me to comprehend the lengths Virginia would to go to make things right for her child. But her actions are not unusual. Most mothers I know would willingly match Virginia’s sacrifices. I know I would.
When I see smitten new parents in supermarkets who look as if they are the only people in the world to have ever procreated, I know I’m not alone. You may love your grandparents or your husband or your dog. But it is a universal truth that the love that would make you throw yourself in front of a speeding bus or give up the last flotation device is reserved only for your child.
Ms. McMahan graciously gave me an extra copy of CALLING HOME to share with one of my readers. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please leave a comment with your e-mail address. I will randomly choose a winner and post the name on April 11th. You have until Thursday, April 10th at 11:59 pm EST to enter the contest. Good Luck!