Behind the Scenes – Good Job, Baby Girl

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Author: Figuring out how to add movie scenes to a memoir was challenging. My first attempts were rough and confusing. One woman in my critique group unabashedly told me exactly how much she didn’t “get it.” She made my writing better. I kept furiously working until even she agreed it made sense. This was the scene in the book where I finally won her over. It was a painful memory to write about, but using the movie scene to distance myself really helped tell the story.

 

My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, by Betts Keating
Chapter Sixteen – Good Job, Baby Girl

…I remember standing next to my husband in a brightly lit, white hallway while holding my seven-day-old daughter in my arms. I remember looking down at her and thinking to myself, No way. There is no way I’m handing this child over to those people. No way, no way, no way, no way….

Back to the movie.

OPEN: INTERIOR/BOSTON HOSPITAL/HALLWAY

CAMERA HOLDS on MOMMY and DADDY standing in front of sign that says “Pediatric Surgery.”

MOMMY holding BABY. DADDY stands with arms around MOMMY.
Two young DOCTORS stand nearby waiting to take BABY to surgery.

MOMMY (crying)
I don’t think I can do this.

DADDY (with emotion)
Me either.

MOMMY and DADDY cry over and hug BABY murmuring “We love yous” and other reassurances.

DOCTORS motion that it’s time to let them take the BABY.

MOMMY won’t let go. She clings to the baby, wetting the baby’s face with her tears.

DADDY makes small motion towards helping MOMMY hand over BABY.

MOMMY (whispers)
Not yet… not yet…

CAMERA HOLDS on MOMMY – hugs baby close almost “blocking” the doctors from taking her.

MOMMY (blubbering)
OK, baby girl… this is it. All you have to do is take a nice long nap while the
doctors do all the work. OK?

MOMMY makes small motion toward letting go.

In one swift move the DOCTORS seize their moment, swoop in, grab BABY, and walk quickly down hall toward the double doors of surgical wing.

CUT TO: MOMMY and DADDY – left standing in hallway with empty hands and obviously deflated spirits.

CAMERA pulls back from couple and continues down hallway away from MOMMY and DADDY (from POV of BABY as if BABY was looking back at her parents and seeing them fade away).

Emphasize smallness of two parents standing lonely in a large, colorless hallway.

VOICE-OVER/MOMMY (whisper)
Ouch.

FADE TO BLACK

 

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Motherhood on Balance Summit

So excited to announce that I will be part of the 8-Day Motherhood on Balance Summit with Mara Watts and these lovely ladies. My interview will be Wednesday, May 3rd at 9am. See more info below.

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I have joined Mara Watts in The 8-Day Motherhood on Balance Summit – a FREE 8-day summit filled with interviews, tips and advice on how mothers live a life on purpose while striving towards balance.  This summit was created to help mothers overcome the stress and anxieties with trying to live a balanced lifestyle.  The interviews are both enriching and raw with mothers and women opening up and sharing their stories.

Join us here ~ http://bit.ly/2naspmC

Raising a Heart Warrior in the “Normal”

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This week is CHD Awareness Week. A week that rides on the coattails of Heart Month, Heart Awareness Month, Wear Red Week, CHD Awareness Month and many other names for February. February has become the month for everything heart related, for obvious reasons. Thinking about this compelled me to write something in honor of our own heart warrior, our youngest daughter. But, what could I say exactly? When I spoke to my husband about it, we both agreed. Sometimes it’s the aftermath that sticks with us. Sometimes the residual, the left-overs, the stuff around the edges, is the part we still struggle with.

Like when this happened…

We were at a swim meet, which is not unusual. We had been to many meets before, more than I want to count. It can be challenging to keep a positive attitude while sweating out of every pore of your body. You have to learn how to sit next to water but not actually participate by getting in the water. It can do funny things to your brain. Just ask any swim parent.

In the past, I would chase down my kids and let’s be honest… hover… to make sure they were actually in the right place at the right time so they could achieve the glory of swimming in a 30 second race. Lately, they have both grown old enough to keep track of their own events.  My daughters had earned the right of responsibility and I had been lulled into a new sense of freedom. I let them go and do their thing, while I was suddenly free to do other things, like volunteer to help organize the new timing system. It’s because I was volunteering that I was watching the meet so closely. It’s because I was volunteering that I ended up looking up at the blocks… and then down at my heat sheet… and then up at the blocks… and then down to my heat sheet… and then…  With a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, I realized that what I saw written on the page did not match the swimmers lined up for the race. One swimmer was missing. My youngest daughter was missing.

The anxiety washed over me like a waterfall. I was paralyzed.

I had just seen her. It had been a mere matter of seconds since she told me how much she was excited about getting to swim in this race. It was totally unlike her to forget. She’s usually that swimmer who lines up at the blocks early. She’s usually anxiously awaiting her turn. So, where was she?

As the panic began to rise, the bile in my throat made me feel like I was going to puke. I couldn’t seem to suck in a full breath. Relax. Breathe. I told myself.  Run through the possible scenarios.

If she had left the pool area she would have told me. She doesn’t wander and she’s not the kind of kid who would run away. Okay, move on.

If she had been taken, someone would have seen it happen. She was with her friends. They would have said something. Okay, move on.

If she had gotten sick, someone would have noticed. Again, she was with her friends. They would have found me and told me. Okay, move on.

So, where? Where was she???

After what seemed like forever, finally, I saw her. She was at the other end of the pool, by the concession stand. She was with her friends. Laughing. Having fun. She had no idea what had happened. She had simply gotten distracted.

Okay. Deep breath. It’s going to be okay.

Except that it wasn’t okay. Not really. It’s never, ever completely okay.

That little girl is more than my daughter, more than my genetic reproduction. She’s my medical miracle. My heart warrior.

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Everyday that she wakes up and says good morning is one more day marked in the “I can’t believe she has made it this far” book. Every moment she drives me crazy is another moment that I almost wasn’t given. Every question she asks over and over, every time she rolls her eyes, and every time she gets sassy, is another moment I was never promised. Every hug, every kiss, every tear is a second chance to love the baby that almost wasn’t.  I could lose my mind if I think about it all. I could lose my mind trying not to think about it all. It makes life here in the “normal” difficult to process.

As a family, we’ve fought the war of survival. We’ve battled the anxiety and fear. We’ve earned our scars. On most days, we’ve already won. We chose to fight rather than give up. In that, we’ve already received our trophy. We’ve already been accepted into the club.

It can be invigorating. It can be exhausting.

Somewhere inside of all that invigorating exhaustion, is exactly where I discovered that missing one race is not the same as missing her life.

She had missed the race, yes, but she was having fun. She had missed a race, yes, but she was also, finally, confident enough to explore on her own… without clinging to me. She had missed the race, yes, but she was happy, secure, and surrounded by friends. Who wouldn’t want that?

Sure, she made a mistake. She had even let the team down, but I didn’t need to scold her. Once she realized what had happened, she felt terrible. There was nothing I could say to her that she wasn’t already saying to herself. She’s the kind of kid who probably won’t ever do it again. At least, not if she can help it.

Guess what? Kids make mistakes. Kids get distracted. Even medical miracles. In my anguish of fear and anxiety, I had forgotten to consider, maybe she had just screwed up. Maybe, she had just acted like an eleven-year-old. Maybe, she was being “normal.” The crowd was so big, the meet was so chaotic, and my panic was so distracting that it kept me from seeing what was completely obvious. She was just a kid being a kid.

No matter what our particular situations may be, I think as moms we can all agree that anxiety and fear come with the territory. I think we all agree that our children are never far from our minds or our hearts. It’s more than a knee-jerk response. It’s like smelly left-overs from a meal you didn’t want in the first place. Something like garlic asparagus or kimchi. It’s the kind of gift that keeps on giving. But, just because my panic is justified, earned even, it doesn’t make it healthy.

That day at the pool, it only took two minutes to find her. Only two minutes had passed between the panic and the relief. Two minutes that of course took another two months off my life. That’s the price I pay for being her mother. It’s also a small price to pay.

The weight of her illness at times surrounds me, engulfs me, and brings me to my knees.  Occasionally, especially once I have recovered from my mommy induced panic, I can see that’s not necessarily a bad place to be. From down low, the best thing I can do for myself and for my heart warrior, is look up.

©2017 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.
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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.

Quotes

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©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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MMMSN_cover_chair_3d

Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

 

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.

Still Waiting for My Train

About a month ago, I was at a book signing in my hometown. It was a shared event. I was promoting my book together with my nephew, JJ Calloway, who was there to promote his book. It’s a family thing.

Unfortunately, over the weekend, not only did I discover that my parents had been battling a nasty cold for weeks, but I found out that my nephew was also under the weather. So, it was no surprise that when I got home, I also got a cold. It’s a family thing.

Colds, although annoyingly inconvenient, can be a good thing. They give our bodies the warning alert it needs to slow down. If I have learned anything from my multiple injuries, it’s that it’s always a good thing to let our bodies rest in order to heal. I took advantage of my downtime, and I read a book.

I decided to read Lauren Graham’s, Talking As Fast As I Can. In an effort to be completely honest, I should tell you that I put this book on hold at the library months ago. I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan, so I knew I would like it. I wanted to be at the top of the check-out list. I planned ahead. I looked forward to it. I just didn’t expect to battle congestion and a foggy head space at the same time I was enjoying it.

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While sitting in my favorite chair, tucked under a cozy blanket, drinking tea with honey to try to outwit my obsessive coughing, I happened upon these sentences:

But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want
exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t be called life, it would
be called vending machine.

It’s hard to say exactly when it will happen, and it’s true that whatever
you’re after may not drop down the moment you spend all your quarters,
but someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way.
You just don’t know it yet.
(Lauren Graham, Talking as Fast as I Can).

Someday my train will come? Will it? Currently, I’m not so sure. Some days I feel like my train got delayed, rerouted, or perhaps even derailed. I would like to check the train schedule, radio the engineer, or simply hear its slow rumble coming down the track. But, I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact location of my train. I’m not even sure it has left the station. I seem to still be struggling with the same things that I have always been struggling with. And, I don’t recognize a solution, at least not yet.

Our circumstances have been wreaking havoc on my spirit again. They have shown up like annoying little monsters of stress and anxiety… all ugly and gnarly. It’s so easy to return to my old patterns of grief and discouragement. It’s so easy to want to wallow. But, that doesn’t get me from anywhere or take me to anywhere. That just leaves me where I’ve been, stuck on the station platform desperately looking down the track for a sign, any sign, that my train is on its way.

I have tried, over and over… and over, to convince myself that the place where I currently reside is not going to be the place I will stay forever. It’s not easy to talk to myself about this. Some days, I just don’t want to listen. Some days, I am just tired of fighting the good fight. Lauren Graham only had to wait five years for her train, it’s been over 15 for me… and I’m still here. Still waiting.

No, I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.

Amazingly, even though it has been so hard for so long, reading these few simple sentences reminded me that it’s worth it to keep looking down the track. It’s worth it to keep hoping. Yes, someday, my train could still come in.

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Inspiration. Creativity. Nuggets of wisdom. Hope. They all work in mysterious ways. They all show up when you least expect them. They always come as a surprise. At least they do for me. It took a perfectly timed book release, paired with a perfectly timed library rental (I wasn’t even first on the list, I was third), paired with an unexpected sick-day, for me to slow down long enough to even read these sentences. Could that all be a coincidence? I don’t think so. I think, everything conspired together perfectly to send me a message.

Sometimes you’ve gotta slow down long enough to listen.

Thank you, Lauren Graham, for writing these sentences. Thanks for reminding me it’s still okay to hope. Thanks for reminding me it’s still okay for me to expect my train to come in.

Wait… is that the solemn sound of a train whistle I hear in the distance? 

I hope so. Yes? Maybe.

 

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.
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MMMSN_cover_chair_3d

Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

Find out more about JJ Calloway’s book, Monster Visits the Land of Colors, here.

Click the FOLLOW button to follow this blog.