21 February 2011

Exploiting My Baby

is a funny book by Teresa Strasser, that I recently read, thanks to my friends at From Left to Write. 

I'll be honest....at first, I wasn't crazy about this book.  I thought it looked like a Jenny-McCarthy-Belly-Laughs-esque funny look at the hormonal train wreck that pregnancy often is...the irrational fears that keep you up at night, the breathless hope of what is yet to come, the consuming impatience to meet your baby, and the abject terror of BEING SOMEONE'S MOM. 

When I opened it up, I found something a little different....Teresa is blunt and in-your-face.  She's snarky and she makes fun of you, right to your face. She uses salty language and there are a LOT of people in this world she wants to punch in the face.  I may be one of them, in fact, having mostly enjoyed my pregnancies, but I digress.

But Teresa is also real.  I understand where she's coming from, a lot of the time.  The fears that she will turn into her own kid-hating mother are very real, and I get it.  When you come from dysfunction and your memories of childhood don't make you smile, impending motherhood is maybe a little scarier for you than for someone who had good role models and a living, breathing example of a functioning family unit.  Some girls had moms who stayed home to raise them, taught them to cook and bake, led their Girl Scout troops, and proudly took an embarrassing amount of homecoming and prom pictures.  Some girls had moms who worked and taught them how to set goals and then work hard to reach them, how to prioritize what's important, how to balance different aspects of their lives, and how to make things happen.  Some girls had moms who juggled all of these things and more. 

And then some of us had moms who just weren't there, literally or figuratively.  And that's the hardest of all, learning to be a mom when you want to be completely and totally different from the one you had. 

I give Teresa credit for having the guts to put herself out there and tell her story.  I have to give her credit for being scared and doing it anyway (not that she doesn't get hung up along the way, mind you). While her near-constant paranoia and plentiful ragging on other moms whose methods or manners she doesn't like sometimes get old, I was happy for her toward the end of the book when she begins to make peace with her mom. 

About all those pronouncements, though.  I am reminded of the ancient piece of wisdom about karma:  it's a bitch. 

She kind of turns into the mom that she spent her whole book making fun of.  She chases the dragon, trying to make that baby smile.  She goes for a day or two (or three) without showers. She packs her schedule with Mommy & Me classes.   She buys every toy, swing and Baby Mozart DVD that Toys R Us can hold and she not only has whole conversations about baby poop, SHE TAKES PICTURES OF IT. 

I love it. 

It happens to all of us, Teresa....you're in good company.  We were all scared first-time moms too, and we all thought we were going to do it better too. 

I liked the book, in spite of my initial reaction.  I'm glad I kept going because, although I still don't think you need to use the F word a lot to talk about wanting, carrying, birthing, loving or exploiting a baby and I don't really advocate violence so I don't see a need to punch people in the face, Teresa's book made me laugh.  It made me think about how I relate to other moms.  It made me grateful for my group of mom friends that I lean on, and it made me kind of wish I could bump into Teresa at the mall.

Then again, I don't know.  I don't want to get punched in the face.  

1 comment:

Brenda Bartella said...

I'm with you on initially not liking Teresa's style. Her talk about drugs and alcohol were a turn off for me. But also shared your final goodwill toward her. I wish her well. And you too!