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Being the main course

May 22, 2012 - Betsy Bethel
Sometimes I feel I am the crumbs of life. I am not the satisfying main course, nor the much-anticipated and savored dessert. I am what gets brushed onto the floor or into the trash. I am gobbled up greedily by the family dog.

I read ... a lot. I read novels, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, blogs. Other than writing, there is little else more integral to being a writer than reading. But often when I finish reading a particularly well-written piece, I feel ... well, "crumby." Rather than feeling edified by a meaty bit of prose, I feel dissatisfied with my inability to whip up such sustenance.

I play the Great Highland bagpipes. I help lead a group up in Pittsburgh. We don't just perform, we compete against other pipe bands of our caliber. I also compete as a solo piper. I am not terrible but I am not great. Again, one way to improve your playing is to listen to great performances. So, for the first time, I attended a professional solo piping competition over the weekend. Piper after piper took center stage, producing delectable sounds and fulfilling my hunger for greatness. But my fullness was fleeting. The reality of my inabilities sucked up my satisfaction and left behind the crumbs of inadequacy.

Motherhood is different, however. As a mother, I have to satisfy. There is no other option. While I will probably always question my significance at the table — even my right to be there — I am driven to be more than just crumbs, for my daughter's sake. A child can't thrive on crumbs. She needs me to provide her with a balanced diet of healthy foods — both literally and figuratively. She needs a little of the arts, a helping of sports, a bottomless bowl of knowledge, a side of discipline and a large serving of the main course, love. Those are things I am confident I can provide ... I AM providing.

There are people out there who would like to reduce me — and my efforts — to crumbs. I am not "mom enough" according to last week's Time article. I read book after book that tells me I don't make the right discipline decisions. I sometimes get caught up in my own comfort and desires instead of doing what's right in the long run for my daughter. I get calls from the school that she is in trouble again. For a few moments, yes, I feel defeated. I feel like I've been swept onto the floor again.

But I always scramble back up onto the table. Because my daughter deserves more than the crumbs of life. She deserves a mother who is the main course.


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