When I became pregnant with my first child every mother I met wanted to give me advice. Not much has changed in 12 years. Every mother still wants to tell me how she got through the long days and short years of parenthood. She tells me what worked and what didn’t. Her regrets, her successes, and her failures. It’s natural after living through something to want to share what happened with another person.
And while I appreciate the advice, what I really want when I talk to another mother is her story.
Because stories have arcs. Stories move us from who we were into who we were created to be. It tells me about the hard places that changed a person. Where everything seemed lost, but there’s still a way out. Advice is something I can read in a parenting book, but the stories I hear remind me we are all connected, we all struggle, and we all want to do better.
It is so easy to slip into advice mode. I see a new mother struggling with an issue that I’m familiar with, like sleepless nights. And on my tongue is the sentence, “You know what I did when. . . .” And I can see the new mother’s eyes glaze over and whether or not my intention is to judge, what she hears is, “I’m not good enough.” Because my words are advice and not my story.
Advice separates us while stories unite us. Stories are told around dinner tables, over cups of coffee and on sidewalks. Advice is whispered behind a hand, or told with an elbow in the side, or with a roll of the eye. It says, I am already past you and I never want to go back.
But a story, we get to sit with the person right where they are.
Remember what it was like to be scared, angry, or tired. So tired you couldn’t think straight. The number of times I started coffee without remembering to put the pot underneath, and I would walk into the kitchen dreaming about the steam rolling around my face as I took the first sip of the morning. And then jolted out of my dream when I stepped into a cooling pool of coffee.
Do you remember being that tired?
Or the time I got cancer, and I had to take radioactive iodine and couldn’t be within 6 feet of any person. My body was lit up on the inside like a Christmas tree, and my hugs could actually hurt a person. A woman in my bible study sat next to me and told me about the time she also had radioactive iodine. And how hard it was to be going through the most difficult thing in your life and not be able to touch another person. To not get a hug. A kiss from your spouse. A hand on your shoulder.
It was hard for my friends and family to understand what I felt, but she, that wonderful woman, sat with me in my hurt. She didn’t tell me what to do, she simply said this is what happened to me when I swallowed that life saving, but deadly pill.
Your story matters and needs to be told to someone else.
There is so much advice out there for moms, and it’s mainly well intentioned, but what I want, crave and desire more than anything is the story of the person I am with. I want to see that mother’s arc, because then I know it will be okay. No matter what I face today, I will change, grow and learn.
This summer I get to tell my story with 60 other bloggers and writers in the ebook, The Mother Quilt. 60 women tell their stories to bring us all together. To tell another woman, it’s all going to be okay. Because once upon a time this happened.
Through our stories we can even change the world. When you purchase a copy of the book, not only do you get to sit down with mother’s all over the country and share in the crazy journey, you also get to share with mother’s across the world.
All proceeds go to support Mercy House Kenya. A house that brings new mothers together and helps them live their story arc in a new and dramatic way. The goal is to raise 40,000 dollars to provide clean water on the campus.
And if more is raised, then more good is done.
I am so glad I get to add this chapter to my story. That when I sit down with a new mom, I can say, “Once upon a time, I didn’t think I had anything to say, and then this happened.”
I love stories, and you’ve read mine on this blog since March 2012. Over 500 entries since then.
All those stories.
Do me a favor. Purchase a copy of the book here: THE MOM QUILT
You can also receive updates about the project here:
Once you purchase the book, please share on facebook where you bought it, and then share a story on Facebook. Someone out there on the interwebs needs to hear it. Be a little vulnerable, be humble, and be confident that your story is one worth sharing.
Then call up a friend and share the book with them. Or invite a whole group of women over and sit at a table and tell your own story out loud.
Advice can be given by anyone, but your story can only be told by you.
Spread the word about the ebook, THE MOM QUILT. It will be released Monday, August 10th and all proceeds, 100%, will go to raise money for Mercy House Kenya. And if the goal is met, the money will go on to fund more projects. Thank you for your support.