“She wants you to call her cell phone. She’s on vacation in Hawaii. She gave me the number,” said Tracy, my editor at NAL/Penguin.
“She” was Martha Sears, author and co-author of numerous books about parenting, including my very favorite ones from back when I was a new mother to Carter. I’d dog-eared so many pages that the books no longer laid flat, but curled up in the corner so that if you stacked them, they threatened to avalanche.
Tom was home, so I locked myself in our bedroom (with the piles of clean laundry dumped on the bed, waiting to be folded) and dialed the number. I couldn’t imagine what Martha Sears might have to say to me; that she’d agreed to read my book had been thrilling enough.
But a phone conversation? On her vacation? I immediately began to fret. It’s about my failed attempts at breastfeeding Avery, I thought. Or maybe she’s calling to tell me writing this book was a big mistake.
The phone rang and rang, these pesky thoughts going through my head all the while. Then someone picked up.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hello!” she answered back.
And that was the beginning of a long conversation about my book. She was warm, she was patient (“What are you doing now?” she asked. “Folding laundry,” I answered, “oh, you mean work-wise! I’m still working on my book.”) Occasionally, she’d interrupt in the politest possible way, saying things like, “Bill just ordered breakfast, can you hold on a minute? I need to order now, too.”
She’d taken my book (then still just a manuscript) with her on her vacation and read it thoroughly and carefully. She had excellent questions, and shared wonderful suggestions. She’d wanted me to call so she could give me these gifts–her time, her experience, her expertise. And though she’s a dozen years ahead of me as a mother to a child with Down syndrome, and dozens of books farther down the publishing trail, she reached out to offer me a hand up.
It felt like a dream. When I awoke, I knew exactly what I needed to do to make my book better, and I did it.
Today is also a ParentDish day and as you might guess, I have a lot on my mind. This week’s column is called “My Life is a Laundry Line” and it’s about, well, all of YOU.
On we go to MotherTalk! Yesterday’s winner is #17, trisomymommy. Congratulations! (And if you didn’t win yesterday, there will be another drawing for a $20 Gift Certificate at the end of the day today, just enter your name in the comments.)
Terri of Barriers, Bridges and Books felt that my book brought her back to the early days of her own experience, when she was a mother to “3 kids under 4.” She also brings up the issue of comparison between the twins, and amongst all 3 boys. She writes, “This book is a beautiful read for new parents of children with Down syndrome, it is also a touching reminder for parents of older children—each of our stories are different in the details, but connected at the core.”
What Was I Reviewing? enjoyed the prose and says my book was well-written, but felt that my actions and reactions were self-indulgent. She had difficulty relating to my experience, as it was very different from her own. For this reason, she gives the book a “pan.”
Anne of Archie’s Room writes about looking back, and wishing she could tell herself about how good life with Down syndrome will be (how I wish that, too!). She recognizes her story in mine, and mine in hers. She writes, “My familiarity with her story makes me think she’s telling each of our stories, unique as they are, all of them rolled together, then tied-up with our common threads.”
Stacy of Blessed Chaos writes about the misconceptions, and misinformation she and her husband faced in the beginning. She remembers quickly realizing that parents of children with Down syndrome were often the best sources of information, and she found support and hope at forums like Downsyn.com, a place that helped give back her pride in her family. She writes, “I have found myself nodding in agreement and understanding as well as filling up with tears as her account throws me back to our own early days of confusion. If only I knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have been so scared.” She also has a book to give away; to enter, go to her site.