Thursday, May 05, 2011

Book Reading

So my book reading last night with fellow writer Katy Read went great. I live in a cute little college town, full of smart reader types, and the bookstore that hosted the reading is a cute little indie bookshop on the main street. By starting time, the place was filled, and I knew every single person there. Which just goes to show, a.) I live in a small town; and b.) I have great, sweet, supportive local friends and neighbors.

But the big moment of the night wasn't even at night. It was three hours before the start of the book reading, when I was at home with my family, and my parents, who live 300 miles away, suddenly and very unexpectedly came strolling up our front walk. They had driven all day to surprise me and come to the reading. Only my husband knew. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

So, the front couple of rows of chairs at the bookstore were filled with my husband, my parents, and my two little daughters--and how awesome is that? Never mind the fact that the reading began 30 minutes after my daughters' usual bedtime. Since Julia's first-grade teacher was there, at least she'll know why Julia is so sleepy at school today.

I didn't think I'd be nervous, because I didn't feel so beforehand, but when it came time to read to a roomful of BFFs, neighbors, fellow writers, my husband's colleagues, fellow preschool moms, old friends, new friends, and my daughter's teacher, well...I was. There's something about putting all your words out there to a bunch of people who've never heard them before, and may have their own ideas about you, that's a little nerve-wracking, it turns out. Plus the store was hot and I had a serious case of dry mouth.

And then when I read my last line about "a true friend," of course I glanced at my very best local fellow-mom friend, the one who's a sister to me, the one I talk to every day and who I could not live without, and so I almost cried. Um, oops? The essay is not supposed to be sad? In fact, it's not and I'm a total sap?

My girls were adorable and very proud, which was sweet and cute. But my essay is about how crazy and nonstop the life of a stay-at-home mom to young children is, and how there's never enough time for everything. How when they were toddlers, I was running a rat-race, one that required constant attention to their physical needs, one that left no time for an adult social life. It was worth--it IS worth--every second, and I say that in my essay. But it's still hard. And when the reading was over and I was signing books, Julia came and sat next to me and said, "Mama, your essay made it sound like your life is really hard."

And then I felt really, really bad.

I told her that some hard things are good, and some good things are hard. But really I want her to know that the hard part pales in comparison to how much joy I get from spending my days with my daughters.

I hope one day she understands.


Anne said...

Ah, Shannon; you had me choked up by your parent's arrival and then Julia's comment got me choked up WITH laughter too. I'm so sorry I missed last night. I'm glad it was a precious memorable night. - Of course, it was! I was glad to read this post about it.

Rita said...

Ok, first of all, how awesome is it that your parents came?! So cool of them (and your hubs).

Secondly, just seeing that PICTURE of the crowd gave me dry mouth. I don't know how you didn't faint!

And third: Oh Julia. You're killing your mommy's heart. And mine.

Mnmom said...

I'm so sad I couldn't be there. I love MSMR. I always felt bad when my kids heard me grouse about something. But I always told them that even though it's hard work, I wouldn't want to be anywhere then right there with them.

So lucky to have your folks there. Interesting to have THEM sitting there in their pride for you, while you read about your own journey with parenthood.