Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Help

Don't you adore that book? I scarcely know a fellow woman who did not read it. One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed most is the unique, equally strong and vivid voice given to each of the three main characters, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. I thought their individual depictions evoked empathy, compassion, and thorough understanding of perspective from each of their points of view. Reading it I felt for them all, equitably, yet differently.

Or maybe you didn't like it. Perhaps you found it exploitative, humiliating, and inappropriate for the author, Kathryn Stockett to draw from her own experiences to "speak for" characters other than herself.

Did she have the right to do so? I suppose it's a topic worthy of debate.

As someone who occasionally takes the time to write the smallest bit of fiction purely for fun, I can understand both sides of the argument.

As an adoptive mother, I've known plenty of women who abstain from telling their children's stories, opting to rather let their kids tell them themselves, if they so choose. Others lay it all on the line and allow people to glimpse inside.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time at all, my guess is you know in which camp I tend to fall. {wink}

I don't take issue with sharing the stories of my children as it relates to adoption (or a variety of other things!) if I believe there is a benefit in doing so.

Since our adoption I have felt a pretty compelling urge to let our lives be exposed, so that others may profit from our experience. I have tried to openly speak of our trials and our triumphs and tell the things I wish I had known, the things I have seen and heard and learned through great trial and error, in order to spare another, to help another feel less alone, to shed light on portions that may be hidden, to offer the tiniest bit of consolation to a friend or fellow sojourner on this road, because I would want to know.

As I live my days with Meadow and Flint and as I have witnessed their struggle, I have developed a few opinions that are ever evolving and subject to change with the passage of time, but mine nonetheless.

The way I see it our accumulating years spent together tend to mingle our stories. Our challenges, our victories, our loss and our gain, it all merges and collides and intertwines, weaving itself into the tapestry that is known as family.

For a person who cares to participate in the telling of a story, unless you're capturing Tom Hanks and his ball in Castaway or writing the Life of Pi with only a boy and a tiger, you will probably have more than one human character.

One of my greatest pleasures on earth is getting lost reading a fictional piece of writing. I enthusiastically admire captivating, emotive novels. When I read about the authors of my favorite books, one thing is common to nearly all. They write about what they know. They take a portion of what they have lived and embellish it, turning it into a story, either from their own vantage point, or someone else's.

It's in that vein that when I decided (After persistent persuasion! Thank you, Mr. Sully!) to participate in a writing contest (in which I submitted a FICTIONAL entry) I used a voice that may sound like my daughter's to tell a tale.

There is no doubt I garnered inspiration from her, but my words are my own. I did not write about a specific experience of hers, but what I imagine I would feel if I were in a position like her own. That is all.

Obviously, it is not something she is going to be reading.

It's no surprise that her life's journey has affected me deeply. It is a subject on which I am most passionate. Her story is, in part, my story. Her arrival is my doing. Her pain is my reality. Her loss is my grief. Like all my other children, she is the beat of my heart and the breath of my lungs, my girl. It's easy for me to enter her world in the musings of my mind and fall into what I perceive my feelings would be if I were in her place. As mothers we all bear the burden of our children to some extent, carrying their pain and claiming it for ourselves.

That may be why when a prompt for a story enters my radar, the first and most prolific thoughts that arise are for a character who is an Ethiopian princess, an adopted girl.

It's been made clear not everyone will agree with me. I would expect nothing less.

Take it as you wish, but maybe that helps you understand where I am coming from. Judge me if you must. I've been around long enough to know you adoptive mamas can be a real force. ;-)

Here is my story
My best "go ahead and yell at me if it will help you feel better" and I might yell back face from the day I shaved the side of my head....(!)

1 comment:

Holly said...

I love you so much sister!
Your piece rocked.
It was magical (AND YOU GOT COMPARED TO HUNGER GAMES!!!!!!!! AHHH!!!!)

I'm SO curious from what depths the 'negative' comments are coming from.
It almost seems like jealousy but I could be way off.
Just curious, more than anything. Seems a silly thing to be jealous of but that's jealousy for you, right?
Again, I'm only assuming it's jealousy to begin with.
Either way, I'm curious about the bigger picture of people's hearts who feel the freedom to 'type' out a comment like that.

And I'm doing it now ;-).
Bad Holly...bad bad.
I should stop thinking 'out loud' and just end this comment now!

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