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Delia Ephron Says You Can Have It All

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

We all have moments in our day when we have peace and calm, right?  Mine usually comes after I pop my Lexapro in the morning or sip my wine at night. Okay, I’m kidding. Those who read my post know I’m neither a drug addict nor an alcoholic, though I sometimes aspire to be–especially when Emmett pulls Fia’s hair, coming away with fistfuls. She in turn clubs him over the head with Big Bird. Cue the wails and tears. It’s not fun. A lot of parenting isn’t fun. And yet, yet, it feels like the greatest thing I’ve done with my life.

I was a world traveler before. I was a TV host. I was a reporter. I never wanted kids. I never wanted to be tied down to anything or anyone other than my husband who was equally anti-kid. Then we reversed course and had a baby. Then another. For me, I define my life as the person I was before I had kids and the person I became after. It is a line in the sand and even though my memories and experiences pre-kids made me who I am, the line post-kids is by far my favorite. This time is like no other. Sometimes I want to just bottle it so on a gloomy day I can open up my bottle and breathe these moments back.

My friend Delia Ephron recently wrote an article in which she talks about how you CAN have it all. In moments. No, you can’t have it all, all the time. Unless you are on drugs. Then you think you are having it all until you end up in the psych ward or on Skid Row.

For her, finding that perfect moment in the day is walking into a bakery. I believe she has walked into every bakery in New York City at least 17 times. The other night she emailed me about her stress level. The reason I knew she was stressed? She said she was on her 8th chocolate chip cookie. But I know that within her stress she had some perfect moments when she crunched down on the chocolate or sank into the doughy part.

Anyway, her article really touched a nerve in me since I constantly struggle with my mom guilt. Am I doing it right? Am I spending enough time with my kids? If I only get a sitter while they nap does that make me a better parent because then I’m with them during their waking hours? If I put Emmett in preschool for a few hours when he is 2, am I selfish? The spinning in my head can drive me mad. Just this week I posted something about my brain turning to mush, but still vowing to practice more gratitude. 

But my struggles aren’t unique or rare. As Delia says in her article it’s, “depressingly American.”

She has a new book coming out that I know all my readers will love. I may be biased, but it’s not just me. It got a glowing review by The New York Times. No easy feat. The book is a humorous and heartfelt memoir, but unlike traditional memoirs, it is broken up into short chapters that you can read in snippets at the end of your day or while waiting for a doctor appointment.

I told her it was the perfect “tired mom” book because I would get in bed and read one chapter each night. It touches on all sorts of aspects so there really is something for everyone: from losing her famous sister Nora, to her alcoholic mother (one of the reasons I think we are such kindred spirits), to her love of bakeries (the article above was adapted from the book), and much more.

Between her article and book, I began to look for my own moments of grace. I realized they are everywhere. When Emmett first wakes up and just burrows into me, his warm body tucked into mine; when Fia wraps her small arms tightly around me and says, “You’re my best Mama,” and at night, when they are sleeping–I tiptoe into their rooms. I touch Emmett’s soft curls. They frame his face like a cherub. I lay my hand on Fia’s heart and feel it beating. These are nightly rituals where I know I have it all. Then I crawl into my own bed and open up a book. Last week it was Delia’s. As I settled in, the house was safe and still.

She wrote: “Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind. Not particularly American, unquantifiable, unidentifiable, different for everyone, but you know it when you have it.”

I’m lucky I have so many moments. And that I have friends like her to remind me of them.

Her book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Independent Bookstores. I will also say it makes a great gift for your best mom friend!

From the New York Times Book Review:

“The book builds in gravity and heft to finish gorgeously…“Sister Mother Husband Dog” is a valentine, sometimes frilly but more memorably about love, loss and all that is irreplaceabe.”

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