Just days after I birthed my first book, Pursuing My Wonderful, I held my little bundle of joy to my chest and wept.
First, tears of joy and pride that I had brought something so amazing into this world. And then those tears turned to something darker. Sadder.
When I had my first son, born of an emergency c-section, I couldn’t manage to find the words or the celebration that I had just brought a child into this world. I choked on the words, “I had a baby,” wallowing in the sense that I hadn’t earned the title because I never pushed. Not once.
I could only manage to say that the baby was here (as if he was simply dropped off at my doorstep), because in essence, the doctors took him out of me. And although it saved my son’s life, it sure felt like I had taken the easy way out.
After all, what woman worth her salt never had to push? (Or so I asked myself at the time.)
And that is how I started my “Wonderful” journey.
Sure, I had published a book, but had I earned the right to be called, “Author”? Had I actually birthed that baby or had I taken the easy way out by self-publishing?
Not one day after my stash of books arrived at my door, I ran into a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while at Target.
“Are you still writing?” my friend, Esta, asked me.
“Yes, actually. I just published a book,” I responded.
“That’s fantastic! I’m so proud of you!”
In a rush, I briefly explained Pursuing My Wonderful and then added, “It’s a short book. Hopefully it’s good. I don’t know that anything will come of it…”
She stared me down as probably only Esta could. “Thank you,” she said, “You say, ‘thank you.’ Don’t sell yourself short.”
That one stung – mostly because I knew that wasn’t the first time I found myself making excuses for something I should truly be proud of.
No one else was judging me out of anything other than pride. But there I was judging myself from my negative eye.
Perhaps it was a fear of the unknown.
After five days in the hospital – me recovering from my c-section and Nicolas recovering from some early complications – we came home, carrier in hand, walked up the stairs where my dog Charlie happily met us. And even more happily, met Nick. (I still remember that she was furiously wiggling her butt in a curiously loving way that I had never seen before. Man, I miss her.)
The next moment, I remember looking around the family room – just me, my husband, Nick, my mother and the dog – and being keenly aware that we were the only ones there. And we were left to fend for ourselves.
“Who in the hell thought this was a good idea?” I thought to myself. And by that I meant, why would anyone at the hospital assume we were able enough parents to send us home?
No manual. Just the knowledge that I was a kind and loving person on top of ideas, suggestions and feeling our way around. But the millions of books and articles offering “professional parenting advice” couldn’t prepare me for the way my life with my child was going to work.
Publishing my Wonderful gripped me with the same fear and uncertainty.
Who in the hell thought this was a good idea?
Even with my friends and colleagues pushing me forward with words of support and direction, it was still unknown territory. And I didn’t know I would be any good at the “what’s next” any more than I knew that I would be a good parent.
But I opened myself up to it. I threw off my robe and exposed myself as “Author” – and would be judged as such the same way women are often judged once they have earned the title “Mom.”
So far, I’ve done a good job of living up the honorable name “Mom,” but could I do the same with “Author”?
And could I do it when there was so much else going on in my life, including a full-time job, part-time freelance work and children?
I would power through. As I always have. After all, this baby was born and there was no turning back.
Nine days after announcing the release of Pursuing My Wonderful, I walked into my full-time job and handed in my resignation.
Okay, I didn’t. But I would have… I had it all penned out in an eloquently worded letter in my head. But those darned responsibilities just got in the way.
My urge to quit was not because I was so convinced that one book would make me a millionaire (I had only made $34 on it at the time), but because I had just given birth to this book that I have had in me for far more than 9 months and I wanted to spend time with it.
I wanted to coddle it. To listen to it coo.
I wanted to take endless pictures of it and document the journey for all the world to bear witness on social media.
I had no interest in running back to my day job and dealing with the day-to-day issues.
I didn’t want to half-ass it. And I didn’t want to be the part-time Mom that I felt like I have been all this time to my kids. I owed it to myself, I thought, to go all-in.
But let’s face it, reality is reality. And mine does not afford me the opportunity to support two kids on writing alone. At least not in the beginning. Not yet.
My time will come.
In the meantime, I’ll keep feeling my way around and seeing what I can make of it. Because I was the one who thought it was a good idea.
And I will call myself Author. Because I have absolutely earned that right.
Just as I earned the right to be called Mom.