My little girl turns sixteen years old today. I had several years where I didn’t think I could have children at all, then one day I was in a car accident and the doctor insisted on a pregnancy test before the X-Rays. I was angry he suggested the test. It felt like salt in the wound of infertility. At that point, mother’s day felt like blasphemy, Ihated pregnant women in general, and I had strange desires to spray paint graffiti on the walls of Babies-R-Us.
The doctor came back to the room I occupied. He looked pale and worried. I’d been so waspish when he insisted on the pregnancy test, and now he had news for me. “Do you want to have a baby?” he asked slowly.
I’d straightened and felt sick with hope and desire. Mr. Wright had also straightened–both of us on edge for whatever this man might tell us. ”Yes.” My response was careful. Please, oh please, oh please.
The doctor relaxed immediately, smiled wide, and wished a hearty congratulations. Who cared about the pains of having been totally slammed into by another car? I was going to be a mom!
And now she’s sixteen. She is the exact age I was when I looked at Mr. Wright and thought . . . you know, I could actually marry this guy. All of my major decisions in my life were made by the time I was sixteen (which totally freaks me out about her now being that age). I felt so grown up, so capable. And then all those years later I found myself carrying a chubby, pinkish baby into my home. All feelings of capability fled that first night having her home. Mr Wright and I stared at each other. Now that we had her, what did we do with her?
Here are sixteen things I’ve learned in my journey through motherhood:
- Keep your word. I have favorite idle threats–like insisting I’m going to rip out their tongues if they can’t speak nicely to each other, or that I’m going to sell them on eBay. Naturally I’m not going to sell them on ebay because it’s illegal, and I’m pretty sure ripping out tongues might be illegal as well–though I haven’t checked into it. But aside from the joking idle threats, unless something falls out of my control, I always keep my word. If you tell them they’re getting “unplugged” from TV, games, and the electronic world in general for bad behavior or poor performance, then they are. If you tell them they’re going to Disneyland, don’t then backpedal and tell them Disneyland burned down. You go. Sometimes integrity is all we have left to us. Make your word dependable.
- Laughing at kids when you’re supposed to be yelling at them may not be the most effective way to get a point across. Wait to laugh when you’re alone and they can’t see you.
- If at all possible, train child to go to your spouse’s side of the bed in the middle of the night when they feel sick. That way, you will never be vomited on.
- Open communication goes a long way toward trust.
- If you want to feel old and lame, try dancing in front of teen daughter’s friends.
- While child is in school, use the time to practice for hours on Dance Dance Revolution. This won’t guarantee you a win, but will make you feel less stupid when your score is more respectable.
- The best way to clear your kids from a room is to kiss your spouse loudly.
- People tend to act to the level of expectations of others. Expect greatness from your children.
- Hauling boulders out of mountains and accidentally breaking windows out of the family van while escaping a hive of hornets can be hilarious.
- Sometimes moms need time outs too.
- Jumping out and scaring your kids is also hilarious.
- Them doing it to you is not.
- Keep the camera handy at all times.
- Make a rule that they can’t bug you until the sun comes up. Works great in winter . . . you might need black out curtains for the summer.
- Let them know up front that the tooth fairy is pretty flaky, unreliable, and quite possibly a politician.
- In writing I always say show, don’t tell. In child rearing, I say something similar. Show AND tell them you love them every day.
Happy Birthday Tjej! You are everything I never was at your age. I am so glad you’re my daughter and so in awe of the woman you’ve grown to be. I wasn’t always a good mom every day, but I was always glad to be YOUR mom every day.
Today I found out my book Hazzardous Universe is being featured on the Seagull Book and Tape home page of their website near the bottom. I don’t think that’s ever happened with one of my books before. How cool is that???? The book is being featured alongside the video my publisher did of Kevin Wasden and me. The sound is really low so turn your speakers up. The background music is fun.
Go have a look: http://www.seagullbook.com/
I am lame in the video a little, but I am lame all the time so it won’t be a surprise to anyone.
Book two to the Hazzardous Universe is done and into the publisher, and I’m a little antsy to start working on book three. So much fun stuff ahead!
Something I discovered while working on my newest book today was that sometimes accidentally adding a letter to a word can really really change the meaning to a sentence. My main character went from being busy to being busty. No surgery involved Glad to have caught that one.
I’m almost finished with my latest Work in Progress and am beyond thrilled about it. It’s one book that will be part of a four book series. The other three books are being written by Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, and Annette Lyon. I am so excited for all the coolness of this series! It’s women’s fiction that deals with relationships and the importance of friendship. It is such an honor to work and write alongside the three women who have changed and altered my writing path for the better. They are all such incredible writers as well as incredible friends that it humbles me and fills me with gratitude to be associated with them.
We’ve had a few writing get-togethers, which includes food, laughing, talking, more laughing, and actual writing. So cool to work and collaborate with great minds.
I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration lately and found that my experience has been really positive with working with others. Kevin was and is an absolute joy. He’s been really wonderful to let me have creative freedom in writing the story of Hap Hazzard and Tara Jordan. And now, working with Josi, Annette, and Heather, I’ve found even more joy. Working with creative people who all respect each other really is key. That’s how collaboration can work. If everyone is there for the sake of the project and can put their own egos aside–the project suddenly becomes a life unto itself and creativity flows.
I always warn people when they mention they’re planning on collaborating on a project. There are so many things that can go wrong. I’ve seen friendships die on the vine due to projects that went awry. But my own personal experiences have been so phenomenal. I’d love to take the credit and say it’s because I’m just so darn easy to work with, but really . . . the opposite is true. I am sometimes beyond lame. I think my collaborations have worked because I’ve surrounded myself with good people. They make up the differences where I fall short.
I guess that’s the secret to successful collaboration–work hard, be willing to make concessions, and surround yourself with good people. Today is just a good day and writing rocks.
Valerie Holladay: friend and mentor passed away on July 3rd. I’ve already posted about this at writing on the wall, but wanted to mention it here too so that anyone who doesn’t know can have the chance to go her memorial services on Monday.
Valerie Holladay’s sister wrote that Valerie rescued injured animals from the side of the road and lifted strangers who had lost their way. At the time I met Valerie, I was a stranger who had lost my way. I was in the throes of depression over the rejection of my third manuscript when someone introduced me to her at a luncheon for authors. She asked me what I was working on.
Well . . . she asked, so I spilled. She did something rare upon hearing my story, something spectacular, something that changed me forever and made me who I am right now. She offered to read the manuscript and give me some advice. I sent it to her and several weeks later got a letter back from her. It was my first editorial letter. My previous publisher had been relaxed about editing, and so I had no experience with such a thing. Through her selfless offer of help to a sad stranger, I learned what it meant to polish a draft–to view characters in a different way, to consider plot points that didn’t work. She taught me how to make a gritty, caustic, bitter character lovable.
And when I was done with all the changes she said I should make, the story was a million times improved. I had written a good book before, but this was something different. This was a whole new level of writing. It struck me how much I owe her, how grateful I am for that chance meeting that changed a so-so writer into something more. Her generosity was boundless, and I know that she had done this for many others besides me. She genuinely cared about people. She wanted their happiness for them as much as they wanted it for themselves. Valerie’s good heart left an imprint on the hearts of many.”
“A memorial service will be held on Monday, July 11, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. at her ward meetinghouse: 222 South 100 East in Nephi, Utah. The family will be receiving visitors in the Relief Society room from 10-11 where we will have a display and a music/picture video honoring her life. Family and out-of-town friends, please plan to stay for a luncheon immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society of Utah.”