This book has been a very long process of about 10 years! Here’s the story…inspired by some great ladies!
I’ve known many great women in my life who have all influenced the moms I chose in “When Mommy’s Home with Me.” A decade ago I lived in Florida, far away from my family. Playgroup became a lifeline. I always looked forward to socializing with other moms who had become my friends and mentors. One day, as we handed out cheerios, scooped rocks out of our babies mouths, and rescued children who freaked out halfway across the monkey bars, the conversation turned to our PK lives–who we were Pre-Kids. These outstanding moms were also outstanding individuals, excelling in very diverse careers and possessing very impressive talents. They ran businesses, they taught, they created, they managed. One friend even was recruited by the CIA as a spy! I began to notice their unique talents as it translated to their mothering. I realized more than ever that a women’s education, experience, and talents are never “wasted” at home. Indeed, there is nowhere those talents can thrive more than in raising little people. Some moms had taken a break to mother full time, and others saved their best for their kids after a long work day away from home. But all of them were totally committed to their families. They were an inspiring group of ladies!
After that playgroup I waited for my boys at swim lessons. I took out a little notebook, and wrote: “Mommy was a writer, and now she’s home with me…” I got two stanzas down, and closed the notebook for a later date.
The book stayed in the back of my mind for a couple of years. It didn’t come to light again until 2008. I was in the middle of postpartum depression after the birth of my fifth child. I had never experienced anything so debilitating and so disheartening, and I had an empathetic taste for several months of what so many people live with constantly. As I slowly came out of that dark fog, my sweet and supportive husband tried to encourage me towards things that I enjoyed doing. He suggested that my creative side needed a boost and arranged for me to have some time to write. The rest of the book came as a little light in a very dark time. It was very therapeutic to remind myself of just how important my mom gig was. I could be a good mother, even if I felt inadequate, even if my emotions were still wacked out, and even if I felt like I was just surviving. That gift of writing time helped me become more balanced and healthy, and I completed the book knowing that even if it was never published, it has been part of an important personal journey.
It was during the recession when I sent the manuscript out to carefully researched publishers, only to receive a pile of rejection letters in return. Some of them were nice rejections, and one publisher even called to say she wished she could publish it. I shrugged and moved on. I knew the book was a slightly different genre and was maybe not as marketable because of that. I see it as a family picture book. It is a whimsical book, written for children in fun rhyme, but I wrote it just as much for the parent reading it as for the child. I took my rejections as my writer’s due. For the next seven years, I didn’t touch it, though I still wrote occasionally. I thought that the journey was enough for me. Being creative again, and focusing on the importance of mothers had really helped my emotional health, and I was grateful for the experience.
Last January, I started getting an itch to try again. I sent the manuscript to just one publisher, Cedar Fort, because I saw what great family-friendly books they were publishing. A few months later, in August, I got an email, asking for two things: 1) more stanzas, and 2) a different way to deal with the working mom/mom at home issue. I had originally written the book in a very vague way, to suggest that the moms were home for the day, or home for a season, without committing to either. I worked on the additional content and found a bolder approach to a sensitive subject. I’m in a different stage of my own life now, with a part time job and older kids. I have a broader perspective than when I was a playgroup mommy with babies. I decided to embrace the fact that some moms stay at home, and some moms work outside the home…and both can be great mothers. No vagueness. No “take this how you want to” and pretty please don’t be offended. Just a plea that we all mother our best, using our God-given talents and gifts to be the mother we need to be, because nothing else will ever be more important.
With the requested changes, the publisher accepted the manuscript. They chose the illustrator, Kinsey Beckett, and she created the lovely pictures to go along with the text. I asked that a variety of moms be portrayed, and she did a great job creating scenes with all sorts of families, and creating endearing homes that I would love to live in! Cedar Fort requested minor edits, and asked for one last mommy (the teacher). She was added just a couple weeks before the press date!
And now the book is out. It has had a long journey, but like everything, there is a time and a season. I feel like I needed to learn some more about mothering before this book could be written properly. I’m grateful to have found a like-minded publisher that is as eager to promote families as I am! And I’m grateful to all the moms who have inspired both me and this book, especially those special moms from Tallahassee Florida who sparked the first couple stanzas a decade ago.