Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I love reading books. Sometimes in a rather sinful way. Like I'd prefer to read them than do something necessary (think: laundry, cleaning, conjugal relations, etc).

I have not read this one yet, but I can't wait. EVERYONE SHE LOVED has not just a yummy title and a yummy cover (covet, envy, paint me green), but a yummy plot. In author Sheila Curran's own words:

Four women, friends since college, live in a charming southern beach town. One of them, Penelope, has more money than God. Which may be why she insists on playing the deity from time to time. Despite her beauty and inherited wealth, she becomes preoccupied with what might happen to her husband and children if she died. So she talks her husband into signing a codicil to her will. If she should die, he won’t remarry unless the new wife (and more importantly) mother, has been approved by her sister and three best friends. Years go by, the codicil gathers dust, and more than its share of hilarity, until the unthinkable happens and everyone she loved must find their way without Penelope. Simply told, it’s old money in the New South, romantic confusion, legal entanglements, and the unbreakable bonds between four women – and a man.

Sheila is not just a writer of yummy fiction, however, she is a mummy. So I had to ask: You're a mother. And you killed off a mother in a book. You must not be superstitious or neurotic?! How did it feel to do that? Well, I AM superstitious but in this case I felt it was necessary because after all people do die, even moms. (My first book, Diana Lively is Falling Down, was all about mothers. Its tag line was ...For mothers who think, or for those who vow to think, as soon as they find the time.) Anyway, one thing I've noticed in the world is how birthing a child doesn't necessarily confer perfect mothering skills...and we can find other sources for nurturing, even in men (again, huge theme in Diana Lively.)

NOTE to self: get DIANA LIVELY IS FALLING DOWN, as I am mother who neither thinks nor has the time to notice she doesn't think.

Clearly, Sheila is up and thinking again, but how does she balance the yummy writing with the mummyhood?

My mothering comes first. My writing second. However, I'm a way better mom when I'm in a happy writing place. Luckily I've managed to have great help when I needed to write, and luckily too, I was able to get work done in short bursts so that I usually only put them in day care for part time once writing because my job. What place does each have in my life? It's essential but I often feel as if I'm flying from the seat of my pants. It doesn't feel authentic to do anything to my kids that I wouldn't want them to do to me.

Uh-oh. If I did that I'd have to eat my vegetables first (not the chips in the cupboard) and be forced into bed by eight o'clock. (Now that sounds good.)

Me to Sheila: How much does your experience of being a mother show up in what you write? I think it permeates it. For one, Lucy is the kind of mother I am. She's often lost in her work and tends to let the kids walk all over her but they never ever doubt that she's there for them. If they're scared, they sleep in her bed, if they're sad, she sits and hugs them. All this is fine until her dead friend's eldest daughter looks as if she's developing anorexia and it appears that Lucy's more naturalistic, intuitive and gentle discipline might not be enough to solve Tessa's problem. Also, and this is true no matter how you parent, when anorexia or addiction or similar illnesses strike, everyone doubts their parenting. This leaves Joey, the girls' dad, and Lucy, their surrogate mom, easily talked into anything that 's different from what they've done before. Suddenly they're sucked into this tough love approach with lots of rewards and punishments (an approach I could never get going because I'd forget to apply either rewards or punishments) and this is highly recommended, but no one is thinking that such a system MUST be imposed by someone with heart and soul and also a sense of humor and most of all, of human frailty.

Well, human frailty could take up a lot of blog space. We'll have to stop there and all go read the yummy book itself.

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