Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Motherhood: How Can We Be a Good Parent and Yet Be Fulfilled as a Woman?

Today I welcome Wendy Brown-Baez, author of Catch a Dreamwho is on a blog tour with  WOW! Women On Writing! She has written this wonderful guest post below on motherhood and also being an adult with feelings, desires, and passions. What she says below is what I feel like I struggle with constantly and somewhat the same message that Brene Brown had in her latest book: Braving the Wilderness. Please read and comment, and then look at the information after the post about Wendy’s book!  On June 3, I will post my review (which I have been working on during the pre-summer reading challenge!) so stay-tuned.

by Wendy Brown-Baez

In Catch a Dream, Lily struggles with balancing motherhood with her own desires, although not at first. As she travels with her best friend and their children, she describes their lifestyle like this: “People ask why we don’t put the children in school while praising their intelligence, their savoir-fare, their knowledge of their world, their innocence and wildness…They are loved, so we don’t feel that they lack for anything.”

Later, she admits: “Jonah never knew his father and has been yearning for one.” The profound link between Levi and Jonah is a thread through-out the obstacles between Levi and Lily in the book. Jonah’s anger at their separation is the start of his rebellion and soon he visits Levi behind her back.

At what point do we stop and consider if our choices for ourselves are the right ones for our children? I think this is the crux of parenting. My parents wanted me to go on to college, but I was a wild child; I wanted to experience life, and school had stifled my creative spirit. As a parent, I wanted my child to be free and to explore the world, but all he ever wanted was the security of the middle class lifestyle I left behind.

Relationships are both exhilarating and painful, and it is normal to go through misunderstanding and hurt as well as passion and exulted joy. Children feel the repercussions in our behavior and moods. It’s hard to be cheerful when our hearts are breaking. It’s just as hard to be steady when our hearts are rejoicing! It is not easy to wait until our kids are grown to follow our hearts, so we take a step forward. Sometimes it leads to forging a new family, and sometimes it is heart-breaking.

There was an incident in Israel that I don’t write about in the book. A rock was thrown at my son’s head. We had to go to the hospital for stitches and x-rays, and I describe it in a poem as “the longest hours of my life.” A few days later, we walked past the rock-thrower, a young Arabic boy. This was during the uprising, so tensions were high, but I scolded him, instinctually fierce: “Don’t you ever do that to my son again!”  I think of my audacity in defending my child. It never crossed my mind that my life might be in danger.

On the other hand, there were plenty of times when I trusted my son to make good choices while I was occupied with my own thoughts, dreams, creative projects, and love affairs—and wish I had been more present. Was Lily a good parent? She tried to be. Do we ever stop evaluating ourselves or second-guessing ourselves as parents? Probably not.

Catch a Dream:  (ABOUT THE BOOK): A woman’s healing journey begins in a country embroiled in relentless turmoil. In Israel, the first Intifada has just begun. Palestinian frustration for a homeland erupts in strikes, demonstrations and suicide bombings, and Israel responds with tear gas, arrests, and house demolitions. Lily Ambrosia and Rainbow Dove arrive in Haifa with their children on a pilgrimage to sow seeds of peace. Lily’s fascination with Jewish culture inspires her to dream she can plant roots in the Holy Land. She falls in love with the land itself, with its people, and with Levi, a charming enigma, dangerous but irresistible. Eventually she is fully immersed in Israeli life, earning her way as a nanny, hanging out in cafes with friends, and attending Yom Kippur in the synagogue. Her son rebels against the lifestyle she has chosen, and war with Syria looms on the horizon. Will she be able to stay? What does she have to give up and what will she be able to keep?

BIO: Wendy has facilitated writing workshops since 1994 including at Cornerstone’s support groups, the Women & Spirituality conference at MSU Mankato, Celebrate Yourself women’s retreats, All About the Journey healing center, The Aliveness Project, Unity Minneapolis, El Colegio High School and Jacob’s Well women’s retreat. Wendy received 2008 and 2009 McKnight grants through COMPAS Community Art Program to teach writing workshops for youth in crisis. The project at SafeZone and Face to Face Academy developed into an art installation
showcasing their recorded writings. When it was noted that students’ reading scores improved, she was hired as Face to Face’s writing instructor.

In 2012 she was awarded a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to teach writing workshops in twelve nonprofit arts and human service organizations. She continues to teach at Pathways: a healing center, in MN prisons, and in community spaces such as public libraries, yoga studios, churches, and cafes.Wendy has taught memoir at MCTC continuing ed and through Minneapolis community ed.

In addition, Wendy has managed shelters for the homeless and visited incarcerated teens. She is trained as a hospice volunteer and as a facilitator of Monologue Life Stories. Wendy studied alternative healing, ceremony, and spiritual traditions with Earthwalks for Health and lived in Mexico and Israel. She has collected wisdom teachings from these diverse cultures, as well as written memoirs of her adventures.

You can find Wendy Brown-Baez at:

Website: www.wendybrownbaez.com

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9 Comments

  1. Wendy’s book sounds quite interesting. Another to add to my ever-growing stack!

  2. Camille Subramaniam

    May 25, 2018 at 8:10 am

    You have lived a very interesting life. I’m a SAHM and writer who really has struggled with juggling those two roles. Any advice on how you raised kids and found time to write?

    • Hi Camille, Well, it wasn’t easy. For many years I didn’t write and during the time I lived in Israel, I only kept a journal rather than writing. When we returned to the states, I took a creative writing workshop and everything else fell by the wayside. My poor son ate a lot of pizza! However, I taught myself a very important lesson when I was working on a novel. I decided that every day I would write for 15 minutes. I decided that I didn’t care if the writing was any good but what I discovered that my brain kicked into “writing brain” when I kept a schedule. I wrote a 300 page novel that way. I believe you can find 15-30 minutes but it may mean giving up something else. Other options: exchange child care with another parent, sign kids up for summer day camp, exchange something else you do well for child-care, institute family reading time. Know that kids grow up fast…some day you’ll have time. I admit my writing career took off once my son was more able to take care of himself …also I live very simply. We didn’t run around to games and play dates and lessons like today’s kids do. But mainly believe in your work and the rest will come.

  3. luvboxerdogs

    May 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Wendy: I love all the advice you gave here in your comment. Some of it we have heard before but it is still good to hear it again and again and again from different sources. Thanks again for your amazing post here. The issues you brought up in it really hit home for me. Best of luck to you with your book and on your blog tour!

  4. Hi Wendy – Such a great post. I’m a new mom so what you said about a mom’s choices for herself being the best for the children struck home with me. My little girl is 10 months. I’ve found the hardest part about being a mom is figuring out the balance between what I need to keep myself physically, mentally, emotionally well and what she needs. I’m looking forward to Margo’s review of your book.

    • Hi Sarah, Just keep in mind that when we follow our dreams, even if it a little at a time, we are setting an example for our kids, so they can dream, too.

      • luvboxerdogs

        June 13, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        Sarah: I think we all struggle with that balance. So many good blog posts and articles online about this and how to work on it. I think also once you stop nursing, there is more freedom, and you don’t have too much longer to go with this!

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