Tag Archives: motherhood

Motherhood

The third book in my Bethany Beach series is out now on Kindle!

Anne’s Family Plan takes place up the coast  from Bethany at Dover, Delaware. Its story centers on civilian physical therapist Anne Lee (first seen in Book One in the series, Reese’s Summer of Promise) who, after learning she’s unlikely to ever bear children, meets a USAF pilot, a widower with two daughters, ages twelve and fifteen. As Anne comes to grips with the fact that she’s perfectly fine without motherhood in her future, she has to confront a big question: What happens when you fall in love with a man but not his kids? She eventually discovers that motherhood is not a one-size-fits-all career.

Annes_Family_Plan_200x300I’m a happy mother of three grown children, but before I bore them I’d not been around babies or even young tots much at all. My ideas of motherhood were wildly unrealistic. I had this notion, for example, that I’d be able to take my new infant with me to opera rehearsals (I was a singer at the time), and he’d sleep peacefully through the whole practice. (Cue hysterical laughter from mothers everywhere.)

As my children grew, I discovered I struggled with some other aspects of motherhood. I was horrible at setting up play dates, for example, because I came of age when kids just found each other and played in yards or in alleys.

I also don’t think I was terrific at children’s birthday parties, not knowing how to keep fun flowing and merriment abounding, astonished at how a particular game lasted only five minutes when I’d budgeted twenty for it.

I could go on, but the bottom line is: I was less than perfect at some mothering tasks, okay at others, and maybe really good at some.

When I watch my daughter-in-law deal with motherhood with grace and panache, I’m in awe. I know it’s hard but she makes it seem effortless.

I console myself over my failures with memories of successes (I hope they were, at least!). I was a fierce advocate for my kids at their schools, making sure they were in appropriate classes for their skill levels and, yes, battling with some teachers who, oddly enough, seemed challenged by bright kids. (And I did this while also trying to instill in my kids respect for those teachers, even when they treated my children unfairly.)

Despite my mothering deficits, my kids did look up to me enough to seek my counsel. For years, an armchair sat next to my desk (I worked from home at freelance jobs) that we dubbed the “advice chair” because at various times they’d plop down in it, often interrupting my work, to talk out a problem or tell me about their goings-on. That chair still sits in our family room now, and I don’t know if I could ever get rid of it, despite how worn it becomes.

I love my children more than life itself. But I realized, looking back, that motherhood was sometimes an uncomfortable fit for me and that I struggled to do a good job.

And you know what? That’s okay.

It’s okay if you struggle at parenting. Your particular child doesn’t come with an instruction book.

It’s okay if you get some things wrong. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are thousands of ways to parent that will not damage a child irreparably, and only a handful of things that will ruin a kid’s life.

It’s okay if you even wonder if you should be a parent.

That’s at the crux of Anne’s Family Plan. As Anne falls in love with Lt. Col. Eric Bankwell, she also confronts the fact that she’s okay not wanting to be a mother — even as two friends announce their pregnancies. What she’s not okay with is pretending to care for Eric’s daughters…until she learns she really does.

BookLife has said of Anne’s Family Plan:

“This book features an uncommon plot and unique take on modern-day romance and one that highlighted some pervasive, but little seen, aspects of military life…The standard love-story trope is elevated here into something intriguing, quickly capturing and keeping the reader’s attention.”

I want to thank my USAF pilot son David Sternberg for helping me with military and air force details. (All mistakes are my own, however!)

I hope you take a chance on this new book. It’s on sale as it launches at the Kindle store (you can order it here) and will be available in print soon.

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“Buy the shoes”

It’s August, which used to be the month of birthdays in my family when I was a girl. Mine, my father’s, and my mother’s–all within five days of each other. (My sister, the rebel, has a birthday in February.)

Sadly, my parents are gone, leaving only me to celebrate during the dog days of summer. However, I do think of my parents a lot during this time of year, especially my mother. And when I think of my mother, I hear her whispering in my ear: “Buy the shoes.”

You see, when I was a teenager and then a young adult, I went through what I guess you could call an awkward fashion phase that lasted, oh, maybe 20 years? For a while, when I was younger, I favored chiffony things, but since you can’t wear those every day, I ended up “borrowing” a lot of clothes from my more practical and stylish sister. She loved that. Oh, yeah.

Then I moved on to my don’t-look-at-me phase, which dovetailed with the time I started working in a college PR office. During this stage, I favored neutrals and blend-in-with-the-wall shades, all designed to make me appear “professional.” I guess at that time I thought professional meant boring.

There was one constant through these various style shifts, however–shoes. Or rather, my complete blindness to good-looking footwear. I just didn’t pay that much attention to it. It was more fun to spend my meager paycheck on blouses, skirts, dresses, jeans, a haircut. Besides, since I wasn’t staring at my feet most of the time, why would other people notice them? This led me to wear shoes until they practically fell off my feet. Scuffed, run-down, battered-looking shoes. Shoes that appeared as if they’d made a trip across the country and back…walking alongside a Conestoga wagon.

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My mom, with me and my sister

My poor mom, she probably struggled to bite her tongue about my fashion choices (after all, we all know what mother-daughter discussions on clothes are like–raging battles with no chance of diplomatic resolution). But she found a way around my fashion sense, including my shoe blindness. She zeroed in on my taste and bought me items accordingly–a lovely cream-colored herring-bone skirt, for example, that suited my beige-is-the-new-black era, and a sleek pair of ecru pumps which were about the swankiest pair of shoes I’d ever owned up until that point. She chose wisely. The shoes fit, and I ended up wearing them a lot since they blended so well into my blend-in wardrobe.

Owning that sweet pair of shoes triggered an epiphany. First, they made me realize that I liked wearing nice shoes. They made me feel more confident, more professional, more “together.” They made me realize that small details can make a difference. They made me feel…I was worth it, to borrow an advertising slogan. I was worth good shoes. I deserved good shoes.

I used to love going shopping with my mom, and even today when I’m in a department store, the smell of new clothes brings back memories of going through the racks with her, a silent bond between us. And while I don’t collect shoes the way some women do, I have a decent assortment of comfy and good-looking footwear for virtually every occasion–from lightweight walking shoes to silvery slingbacks I wore at my middle son’s wedding.

Every time I go shopping, if I’m hesitating over a purchase of something I really like, I hear my mother’s voice: Buy the shoes. But that mantra really means something much more than just pursuing a materialistic comfort. Now I know its true message:

Be good to yourself. Value yourself, and others will value you, too. Don’t scrimp on this wonderful gift of life I helped give you. Buy the shoes.

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