I just did one of the scariest things of my life. Starting this blog was a risky endeavor that exposed me to the world. Today I put myself out there even further. I gave my book proposal package, which included the introduction and first chapter of my manuscript, to Troy, my 16-year-old son, to review.
The product of a grammar-hound mother, Troy has become an excellent proofreader in his own right. Since I have corrected his spoken and written grammar relentlessly over the years, he now turns the tables on me whenever he can. Some parents don’t like to be corrected. When it comes to grammar, I am thrilled when my children can call me out for careless mistakes.
Though my husband and a close friend had also reviewed the work, I knew that Troy would really want to find mistakes as payback. This was a chance for revenge. That’s OK. I wanted the package to be clean and error-free for a book proposal contest I am entering.
But when I handed the bundle of pages to him, I never felt more vulnerable. What will he think? Will his memories be different? What if he hates it, or is angry, or–worst of all– just doesn’t think the writing is good? I can’t remember ever being so nervous about someone’s reaction to my work, including professors or paying clients.
I am putting myself in front of my son as a writer, as a person owning up to their flaws. That’s a very different thing than being a mother. No cloak of protection to hide behind. No option to retort, “Because I’m the mommy, that’s why!”
Maybe watching the Olympics this week is contributing to this feeling in my stomach, taking me back to when I was high school gymnast on the balance beam in front of a crowd of onlookers. Yes, that’s the feeling–the same butterflies in my stomach. My toes grip the 4-inch width of the beam and I try to remain steady. I am only at the start of my routine; so far I haven’t fallen off. But I have a long way to go.
I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to care so much about what our children think of us. A wise, experienced friend advised me that it’s better not to care. I’m not there yet.
But Troy came through. He took it seriously and even found some mistakes that my grown-up readers did not. I knew he would. He made it better. But most importantly, he did not laugh or jeer or brood. And that’s pretty cool, don’t you think?