When my first book came out, my partner presented me with a really
special gift: a scrapbook, filled with press clippings, reviews, photos from
the book launch events, etc. It was, and is, a prized memento of a time in my
life of which I’m proud. I wrote a memoir that the editor of The Help edited, Penguin published, a
few complete strangers actually bought, and Sony optioned as a TV series. And
I’m close to finishing a second book.
I feel like I’ve accomplished something small but worthwhile
with my life. And really, isn’t that all any of us wants? A scrapbook to wave
over our heads to prove that we did something that contributed to the world, or
at least that made others feel like total losers?
The problem, for most people, though, is that
accomplishments like this take time. And people with children don’t have time. Dozens of my co-workers have,
at one time or another, marched up to me and demanded, “How did you find the
time to write a book?” (Our work days are long and sometimes bitch-slappingly
And I always reply, “You know all that time you spend taking
Sophie/Bryce/Rainbow to Little League/Drug Counseling/Toddlers and Tiaras auditions? That’s
when I write.”
This makes them feel a little less lazy and slothful. And really,
they shouldn’t feel lazy and slothful. Their
accomplishments are those beautiful children – our world’s future leaders –
that they have nurtured, taught, and guided. Their scrapbook needn’t be
mementos of a book release, or album launch, or movie premiere. It can be
memories of the special moments in their children’s lives.
Take my best friend’s sister-in-law. She has raised three
children and, in her lovely double-wide in West Virginia, has a beer barrel coffee
table piled high with scrapbooks. And what are those scrapbooks filled with? Memories
of the kids’ arrests and incarcerations – press clippings, mug shots, prisoner
number tags from uniforms.
Memories that say, “Job well done, Shirlene. JOB WELL DONE.”