Category: Writer Mama

I Never Thought I Would Call My Son Beautiful

I Never Thought I Would Call My Son Beautiful

I come from a family of women. In 1999, women and girls outnumbered male cousins and spouses 2:1. During family gatherings, the females dominated with shrill excitement, disciplining the children, and more. Between my mom, her three sisters, and their one brother they had five daughters and two sons. At that moment in time, I was the only cousin with children, and had two daughters.

When I was pregnant with my third child, the assumption was I would take after my mother and have three girls as well. My husband and I prayed months before I got pregnant all the way up to the day of my 20-week ultrasound.

That pregnancy had been different from my first two, but our life had been different too. I was not as emotionally stressed out as I had been while pregnant with our daughters, our life was stable, and not much had changed in my routine since I had become pregnant. I was working and taking 13 units at the community college. I was on my feet more and had more on my mind than just being pregnant. I hadn’t worked past my first trimester during the other two pregnancies. I attributed these reasons to my symptoms of the nausea and slow weight gain that I had this pregnancy and not the others.

The one thing that did get our hopes up that we may be having a boy was the heartbeat. During my monthly check-ups which my husband came we would hear the heartbeat. Even though it had been four years since my last pregnancy we noticed a difference in the heartbeat immediately. With our daughters, the heartbeat had been pretty fast, but the this one was much slower. It was strong and healthy but in the 120-range compared to the average of 140 with the girls.

On November 9, 1998, our suspicions were confirmed. It was the first time we’d been able to definitively know the gender prior to birth, and there was no doubt that this time we were having a boy!

We were having the boy we had prayed for! We would have a son.

A son who would grow up to be a man.

I hadn’t been around baby boys enough to change diapers or pick out clothes. I had no idea what to expect with a son. How different would it be from raising daughters? Or would it be different? Could we raise a son with the same discipline, morals and values that we had begun raising our daughters with? Would he have a built-in “male” personality. Would we only dress him in blue, masculine clothing so strangers would never mistake him for a girl? (These questions sound ridiculous to me now, but I was serious!)

We didn’t want to cut him off from certain toys, but how would we feel if he wanted a Barbie instead of a GI Joe for Christmas when he was 2? We wanted him well-rounded, and sensitive to the opposite sex. This wouldn’t pose a problem after being exposed to my dominantly feminine family. But we also didn’t want him to be violent or overly aggressive. We didn’t want him to have toy guns and be a bully to smaller kids.

These thoughts and hundreds more were part of most our conversations for the next four months. The birth of Dawson Curtis King erased most of our concerns. We were in awe.

We had a little man. Now what do we do?

Would having a son be as predictable as everyone made it seem? My friends who had boys told me that no matter what, my son would play guns and knives games. And if Dawson didn’t, would he be pinned a wimp or a geek? We didn’t want either scenario, but we didn’t know what to do to stop it.

When Dawson started smiling at around 2 months old, we were overjoyed. Like most parents, we finally received a gift back from him for all our hard work. His whole face lit up. As the months went by he reached the typical milestones, and we were proud parents, as if he were our first child. We were constantly complimented at how gorgeous our children were.

Our daughters had big blue eyes and strawberry blond hair. Dawson had big green eyes and pale blond hair.  We even nicknamed him “Bug D” for a time. And his big, toothless grin charmed the pants off almost anyone.

I wasn’t surprised one day when an elderly lady commented on Dawson by saying, “What a beautiful baby!” My husband and I said our usual thank you and went on our way, smiling our proud smiles.

I didn’t think about it later that neither of us had given her comment about our son a second thought.

Back then, before the gender debate, calling a boy beautiful may have offended some parents. Boy’s weren’t beautiful or pretty – they were handsome. For generations, having a son meant having an heir, a leader, a man to continue the legacy of a family.

Some months later, Dawson was about two years old. He was still the baby, but I sensed that status wouldn’t be lasting long. We had just moved into a new rental and we’d all had a long day. Though Dawson was having fun playing with his sisters in the new yard, he was in desperate need of a diaper change. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be happy about it, despite having a horrible rash.

He screamed and fought me and eventually I realized the best way to clean his raw little bottom was to give him a bath. Although he wailed through the whole thing, I felt a peace knowing that sooner I could clean him up, the sooner I could wrap him in a warm, dry towel and hold him close to me.

As I put the towel around him, careful not to rub his bottom, I held his head close to my chest and comforted him. Moments later, we sat on the rocking chair and I repeated the words, “It’s okay, Mommy is here.”

He stopped crying and looked up at me with his big, tired eyes, his full red lips relaxed. His cheeks slightly flushed a pale peach against creamy soft skin. He was perfection, God’s fingerprint and gift to me. Holding my two-year-old son, the creak of the rocking chair the only sound, I felt beyond blessed to recognize the rare moment.

I stole a kiss from his soft lips and laid my head back, realizing I may never have a moment with him like this again. I wanted to savor it forever.

I wanted to remember his small, tennis-ball sized knee resting above my hipbone. The silkiness of his damp, blond hair. The feel of his moist, goose-bump back where the towel didn’t cover him. His huge eyes, gazing at me with all the love I could ever imagine. I was his mother and the only person in the world who could share this moment with him.

Weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant with baby number four. Over the next three years, Dawson would become the big brother to two more boys. Allowing our sons to be boys became the norm. They had innate instincts to battle each other, and although we never condoned violence, we allowed them to express their warrior sides in safe, yet aggressive ways. Any given weekend their playroom would be lined with action figures ready for battle, the backyard littered with Nerf gun bullets, and light sabers strewn on the stairs.

Yes, this woman who couldn’t imagine life with a son, now had three boys! Each one a blessing in his own way and I can’t imagine life without all these young men.

Although Dawson has no memory of the moment we shared on the rocking chair some sixteen years ago, I believe with all my heart that my love for him will never be forgotten. More recently, his father and I have had to wrestle with him in a more figurative way. We had to make a difficult choice to move Dawson away from a life he loved. How much I wish I could have held and rocked him during the moments he expressed his frustration and resistance, and tears fell down his cheeks. But like that day so long ago, I recognized his pain and in so many words expressed my love for him and reminded him that it would be okay. Mom and Dad were here for him.

Today, Dawson turns 18. He still has a smile that melts my heart. For months now, he’s emphasized the fact “he’s a man.” He is eager to step into the world of adulthood and is very much a man in every sense of the word. Yet, he has a soft heart, and a caring and sensitive spirit. I credit God’s grace with the man my son has become and is learning to be. He is a perfect balance of masculinity and gentleness.

Today, my son is officially a man, and he is beautiful.

TOP 10 Ways I Use Real Life to Inspire My Fiction Writing

I have lived a relatively profound life. Some things “happened” to me, and were beyond my ability to control. Others were the result of poor choices, ignorance, or a secret desire to create drama when I felt things were a little boring. As I have matured as a woman and in my walk as a Christian, I have realized that each experience–every defeat, hurt, or challenge–has led me to a victory as well. Themes such as divorce, adultery, poverty, teen pregnancy, alcohol abuse, a sick child, financial challenges, etc. emanate from the nearly four decades I have walked this earth.

Some people who have faced similar challenges have decided to create good from them, while others choose to use them as an excuse for why they cannot succeed. Still others deny experiencing such things have affected them at all. As a writer, I have long felt the call to take my own personal experiences and turn them to the page in an effort to help others see and understand the purpose within their own lives. I desire to offer 1) encouragement to the mother lacking sleep because her little baby is sick and the doctors cannot tell her why; 2) hope to the young bride who just discovered she is pregnant in the same month her husband admits that he has been having an affair; 3) peace and rest to the harried stay-at-home mom who has everything the world could offer, yet still seeks happiness beyond a picture perfect life.

Whether you are an author or a reader, I hope you find some inspiration in my Top-10 list of ways I use real life to inspire my fiction stories.

1. ASK “WHAT IF?” I am sure I read this in something written by James Scott Bell, but I used this strategy long before I ever heard his name. What if one person, one choice you made in life was different? How would that influence your life today? Often, when I work through this question, I realize “what if” would ultimately lead to a more negative result, even if at the time it felt like the better option. Or, maybe it would make a much better novel than a real life choice…even if the characters faced tragedy or experienced success in a way that doesn’t seem possible today. One project I will be working on this year is about three sisters.What if each of my two sisters and I had made one single different choice regarding when to become mothers? Between us, we have a single mother, a working woman who married and started her family in her thirties, and one who started motherhood as a teenager. Though our real stories could also prove novel-worthy, this is a way to explore the possibilities. Continue reading “TOP 10 Ways I Use Real Life to Inspire My Fiction Writing”

5 Things I’ve Learned as a NaNo Noob

NOOB

It was October 31 and the deadline for submitting my final draft to my publisher for No Eye Has Seen: Book 1 Beyond the Valley. During the previous week, I had psyched myself about finishing Book 1 and diving right into Book 2 by participating in National Novel Writing Month 2014. Last year, I signed up but that was about all. But this year, I felt I needed to follow through. I had no idea what to expect, but having joined a few writing communities online, I felt I would not be alone.

I made my final edits and emailed my manuscript about 11am. The kids were still in school and I figured I had about four hours to set up for #NaNoWriMo before the Halloween festivities began. I was already tired, but the coffee was on and I was determined to stay up until midnight and dive in right away.

I downloaded my free trial of @Scrivener after watching the promo video on YouTube. Then, I transferred what I had for Book 2– the first five chapters and a chapter-by-chapter summary/synopsis for the rest of it. In under two hours I managed to learn the program enough to apply my summaries to the virtual cork board. I would be subtracting the 9190 words I’d completed already making my minimum total word count goal for November roughly 60K words. Continue reading “5 Things I’ve Learned as a NaNo Noob”

Invest in the Dream: 4 Tips to Keep Writers Writing

Since being released from circumstances beyond my control, I have been working hard and writing and editing. The more I dig in, the more I feel energized in spirit, even when my mind and body are tired. Here are a few things I am learning are vital to improving my craft while understanding the always-changing market, trends, and publishing industry.

1) Read something, anything about the craft of writing DAILY. I am currently subscribed to Daily Writing Tips, Writers in the Storm, Seekerville and several other daily or weekly emails. I also have paper subscriptions to Writer’s Digest and Poets and Writers magazines. Usually it takes me one or two articles to spark an idea for my WIP or a new story idea.

2) Join a face-to-face critique group. I wrote about this in a post only a few weeks after joining a local Christian writer’s group. What I shared in that post is still true today. I could not keep writing without them! Read it here.

3) Seek support from the people in your life. Writing is hard work even if it is rewarding. I learned long ago that writing is not an individual task. Aside from connecting with other writers, we need friends, family, co-workers to be supporting us. Check out this recent article from Rachel Gardner on supporting writers in your life if you are having trouble feeling supported as you journey forth in this writer’s life. Continue reading “Invest in the Dream: 4 Tips to Keep Writers Writing”

Now is the time for Joy, Abundance, Peace and Rest!

Before I took control of the battle of my mind and gave my circumstances over to God, finding the energy to write seemed impossible. My writing had been on the back-burner despite my initial reaction that job loss=more writing time.

I have this need to get everything else done before I write. I rarely succeed. Eventually I give in, but by then I am tired and creativity is sparse.

Worse than my normal “thinking” mode, I gave into doubt, frustration, and the need to make a very difficult choice.

My frustration, discouragement, fatigue became apparent.

I was tired–that was the only word I could come up with. TIRED.

Thank God, He was still in control! Three weekends in a row, He pressed in…deeper than I expected and brought things to the surface I did not even know existed.

But life does not have to be a series of dramas or traumas. <–Tweet This!

I felt the need to remind myself of all God had brought me through. I needed to believe He meant good and not harm.

My God made beauty from ashes.

My God has anointed me with the oil of gladness.

The LORD, My God saved me and made me a beautiful, spotless Bride of Christ.

My God saved my marriage not once, not twice, but three times!

My God healed my youngest sons of physical and chronic illness.

My God saved my daughter’s from death.

The Savior of my Soul has nurtured a passionate love between my husband and I that is deeper and stronger than ever.

Jesus rescued me from myself as a wayward teenager on a path of destruction.

The LORD, My God instilled in me the desire to be a storyteller–to tell my story and to listen to the stories of others. He called me to use my stories to heal, encourage, and to provide hope.

Continue reading “Now is the time for Joy, Abundance, Peace and Rest!”