Bingo Square: Not in My Wheelhouse
When Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, is born, she thinks ‘I wish my mother were here’. A mother who has been dead for several years, and from whom Laura was estranged due to her mother’s alcoholism. Yet the birth of her daughter makes her feel closer to her mother than she has in some time, and in raising her daughter she begins to have some understanding of what her mother went through. There are common threads in motherhood that cannot be severed, and she feels more of a connection to the women her family who have gone before her. Now My Heart is Full explores how having her baby makes her confront her past with her own mother.
I rarely read memoirs. I think because for a period of time they were all those ‘misery memoirs’ and I just didn’t want to do that to myself. But this one was about motherhood and these days I’m a sucker for a shared experience. And I related to this book so hard, especially the early chapters where Laura talks about her pregnancy, her daughter’s birth and the early days of her life. I had my twins at the same age Laura had Zelda – 36 – and had become pregnant fairly quickly (after expecting it to take forever, if it happened at all. So old, you know?). I have a parent who is an alcoholic and who I am estranged from, except it’s my father and not my mother. I think this does make a difference; the relationship between mother and daughter can have a greater impact on you as you grow up. Or maybe it just depends on the people in question. Either way, I do not feel the same need to explore our relationship, and the ‘loss’ of him wasn’t anything I thought about when my girls were born.
She had a slightly harder time during her pregnancy than I did – suffering from pre-eclampsia and needing a cesarean – whereas mine was full of possible complications that happily never came to pass. We did share the swollen feet, and her description is one I find so fitting: “I felt as though the skin on my swollen feet and ankles and hands was going to split open.”
I also felt like we were very similar in how we approach things. She says of herself, “I don’t think of myself as fearful, just cautious, and caution is easily mistaken for fear, because it often results in inaction. Having a routine, things being stable and predictable, is very necessary for me to be able to function, so I sometimes view major changes with suspicion at the start.” I wonder if this similarity is because of how we grew up. Parts of my child were so unpredictable that it makes sense I would crave more stability now.
And on motherhood: “For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was really living almost entirely in the present.” This has been an unexpected upside to motherhood for me. Kids make you live in the moment, because they do. They are entirely in the present. As a worrier sure, I think about all the ways things the world is terrible and out to injure my children (I can’t help it), but they’ve also made me revel in the now. They won’t be this age forever, so even on the hardest days (and I am outnumbered, it is hard!) I remind myself of this. I drink them in, all their little quirks and habits and everything that makes them them right now, and I take a deep breath and enjoy it. Not always, not every day, but mostly. It is a surprise to me too.
I don’t know if everyone needs to relate so much to enjoy this, it’s incredibly well written and moving, but I think it touched me all the more for what we have in common.