Motherhood + Challenging Myself to Read in Front of My Son
When you sing out to the universe, the universe sings back to you.
I can remember the exact moment that I heard about the book Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. In case you're new to our blog, then you might not know that I am an Outlander super fan. I reference quite a bit of my inspiration and own life choices around those books because I just relate to them so well; my love of herbs stemmed from there along with a love of living simpler, working with fibers, and realizing my own power as a woman. I've had a friend refer to it as my "love language" and my goodness she was spot on! That was the perfect way to describe it.
I was in a movie theater with one of my friends from high school. It was the end of senior year, and I was about to move back to Illinois for the summer. The Texas heat was sweltering, and I was sweating profusely everywhere I went outside. My refuge was the air conditioning. My friend and I loved film. Before I had decided to move back home, I was all lined up to go into film as a director but got super cold feet and freaked out. That's a story for another day, but this friend of mine and I always loved going to the movies on the weekends. We enjoyed cinematography and scripts and acting. I can't even remember the movie that we went to see, but while we were munching on buttered popcorn and talking about our college futures a preview popped up for a new television show. There was a woman who traveled through time to what looked like the Revolutionary War period, which I had always been fascinated by for whatever reason. The costuming and coloring of the show looked really intriguing to me, and I was instantly hooked just by the look of it. When the end of the trailer mentioned it was based on a best-selling novel, I knew I loved it even more. I love movies and television shows adapted from novels - those make the best scripts!
It wasn't until five months later that I actually picked up the book, and a couple more months after that that I even opened up to the first page. I was early in my pregnancy looking for something to read. I was living back in Houston with my parents, hardly any baby bump to speak of, and quite friendless. That was one of the biggest reasons that I absolutely despised living in Houston. I used to always think that living in a big city would mean easier access to more diverse people and essentially more friends, but it was almost impossible to meet anyone in that city. There were no sidewalks in our neighborhood and everything had to be reached by a car and the interstate, which was wild! All of my friends that I had met from my senior year of high school had went away to college or were still in high school and not interested in hanging around with a single, pregnant teenager. My other friends lived over a thousand miles away, so while this pity party continues, I needed something to interest my time for the next nine months.
Books were always my go-to. I was a writer at heart; I had spent my entire childhood and adolescence trying to write books. That hobby began at a very early age for me. I was about four or five when my mom brought home blank white books from the craft store and asked me to tell her a story, color pictures, and she would write down what I would say at the bottom. Those are packed away somewhere for me to enjoy in the years to come. I wrote my favorite second grade teacher a story about our class pet as a retirement present - it's honestly the only book I've ever completed! LOL. And all the years after I tried writing real novels, ones with long chapters. I often settled near fantasy and science fiction - I liked reading those types of books the best. But I was never really that great at writing it. I found myself becoming discouraged with creating an entirely new universe in comparison to the one I lived in that I thought was pretty okay. I could never get why my characters just didn't fit in well with supernatural creatures while other novelists could do it so easily. It's been about four years since I've tried writing a novel, but I think I'm starting to realize that 1. I'm still young and experiencing life lessons and 2. I'm much better at writing about real things that happen and real people and narrative situations, like narrative essays, hence this blog.
As I meandered the aisles of this used book store, hoping to find Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones and Stardust by Neil Gaiman (two of my favorite movies and books!), I came across a little red book called Outlander. When I turned it over, there was the photo of the two actors I had seen in the show trailer at the movies. I suddenly recounted my time spent in the theater and my interest in the show. Had that come out yet? I couldn't believe I had forgotten! I gathered it up in my arms for $5 and brought it to the checkout counter. The woman who rung me up said, "Oh, have you read Outlander before?" to which I said no, but I had seen the trailer for the TV show. She made these really gooey lovesick eyes and sighed, "It's really good. You're going to love it. And never put it down, just a fair warning." I smiled and said I hoped I liked it. It sat on my bookshelf for another couple of months.
My belly was beginning to get bigger as my babe grew within my womb, and I had finished reading Stardust, being every bit as in love with it as the film. It was time to move on, and I had remembered starting to read Outlander months ago. I was a bit bored with the first few pages, kind of instantly wanting to dive into the time traveling portion of the story. Let's get to the eighteenth century already, Diana! Even in my impatience, I picked it up again and forced myself to get through it, realizing that the journey really wasn't that bad. I instantly connected with the protagonist, Claire, as she struggled to brush her dark, curly hair and just making it a poof-like mess and her obvious tallness. I liked the immediate interest in herbs and her strong-willed mindset for a woman of the 1940s. Pretty soon I was falling more in love with Claire's thoughts, Jamie of course, and the most surprising character of them all, Scotland. I couldn't believe how much I wanted to see Scotland, to be a part of Scotland, to live vicariously through this book and experience this place. I've never been there, and I don't know for sure if it's even really like this, but I think I was just enjoying the pictures I had made in my mind of this simplistic eighteenth century life, how Diana had connected so many things from that time to things of this time. It was a beautiful place for me to enter when I was so vulnerable and confused. I felt a sense of grounding and of what I really wanted in my now quickly coming adult life as a parent, as a partner, and as a woman.
I ate through the first three books like a champ, and then my baby came. I continued to read the fourth book, Drums of Autumn, while Tad slept the hours away or while we nursed. I often lied with him through his entire naps so that I could read without getting up to disturb him. Looking back, that was such a calm time for me! I kind of wish he would still sleep that long!!! Then this business picked up, Tad stopped nursing, and I began to write more and more. My time was being used up for other things, and even though I had started reading the fifth book, I ended up having to put it down. Motherhood called, and I answered. A really amazing job opportunity called, and I answered. I don't regret these decisions, but it's been a long time since I've picked up a book. I love reading to Tad, and I love that "reading in front of your children inspires them to start reading," but I guess I haven't really been reading. I thought about this a few days ago, wondering what I should pick up. It was a duh moment when I realized I should probably pick up The Fiery Cross again.
Then I received a message on Facebook a day or so ago from a woman I didn't know. She said she had found me in Willow and Sage Magazine and wondered if I was the same person. That was kind of a weird moment for me - who else would I be! In her message she said that she had noticed that I was a fiber artist and that I liked reading Outlander. She was part of a Facebook group of women all over the world that loved the books and were fiber artists themselves (knitters, weavers, spinners, embroiderers, etc). She wanted to know if I would like to join in on the fun. What?! How did that even happen? When you sing out to the universe, the universe sings back to you. It was kind of wild that someone would zone in on that interest of mine and willingly seek me out, hoping that we could all share and enjoy these common interests. Of course, I said yes! How awesome! It was kind of my sign to pick the books back up and get to reading.
If I'm not reading in front of my son, then I'm not teaching him anything about myself. I find solace in novels, in nonfiction, in the words of other writers. There is common ground there, and when you can find a book that sings to your soul and knows you so deeply inside that you could cry, then you should hug that book close to your heart and keep it with you always. Carry it around in your bag and highlight the best lines. Keep those words imprinted on your mind and use them in your life. When I read, I always become that character and find myself working out my problems how they would until it's over. I want my son to do those things, too. I want him to fall so deeply into words that he can't get out of them until they're all gone and he's begging for more. We're minimalists, but I'll never be minimal when it comes to buying a book. They all have something to teach.
What do you think? What books have you fallen in love with?