Because (originally posted on 12/20/2009)

{This was the first blog post I ever wrote.  It now appears under the “Because” heading on Embrace the Detour, as my reason for undertaking the whole novel-in-100-days craziness.  This time around, I feel less fear about baby’s arrival, but there is still that sense of uneasiness that life is about to change in ways I don’t expect and can’t control.  How will having a second child affect my ability to write Book #3 (and books 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 for that matter)?  How will having a second child affect ME?  As I ask these questions, I can’t help but remember those sweet early days of Lil Mil’s life, when she and I would snuggle up on the couch with my laptop and work on Parallel together.  And as I picture that, the rest of it — the uncertainty, the anxiety — slips away.  Motherhood isn’t easy, but no matter what people say, you’re not alone in it.  You’ve got a precious little life in your arms and by your side.  For me, that makes the road — as rocky as it may turn out to be — more than bearable.  Blessed.}

* * * Check back for more re-posts of my Embrace the Detour musings in the coming months, as I embark on Life With a Newborn once again.

no return

There’s no turning back now. This train is driving itself, careening towards its one and only stop:


I’ll be honest. When I found out I was pregnant, joy was not the first emotion I experienced. It came soon after, in a flood, and has for the most part lingered, swelling and pooling and swirling inside me, working its serotonin-inducing magic. But in that first moment, as I sat fully clothed on the toilet, staring at that double blue line, there was no room for joy. Every ounce of my being was too saturated, too soaked through, with a more potent emotional cocktail: equal parts fear, panic and dread.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want a baby. I did. I just figured I would have time to get used to the idea – in the abstract, theoretical sense – before my uterus began to house one. I believed this because up until the exact moment I found out I was pregnant, I had all but convinced myself that I was infertile. The fact that I had no basis for this conviction did nothing to dampen my certainty of its truth. I was a Woman with Fertility Issues. I had accepted my lot. Thus, an unexpected pregnancy wasn’t something I worried about. At least, not with the dedication and intensity with which I fixate on things I deem worthy to worry about. I told myself it wasn’t fair (in the larger, big picture sense) to fear both pregnancy and infertility simultaneously. So I opted to fret about my assumed inability to get pregnant, since I was certain – certain! – that it was the more likely of the two calamities. And yes, make no mistake: a year ago, I would have categorized both pregnancy and infertility as Calamities To Be Avoided.

Turns out my anxiety was misdirected.

So here I am, 37 weeks later, with a baby “as lofty as a stalk of swiss chard” growing in my belly (seriously, who comes up with this stuff?). His or her arrival is imminent. My husband and I are now proud owners of a crib, a stroller, a car seat, and more baby gear than we know what to do with. We’re equipped. Excited. Ready. And, yet … our lives have been oddly unaffected by the bun in my oven. Sure, my body is doing its part to accommodate this little person inside me. But my life still feels like my own.

I have been advised to prepare for a hostile takeover.

At this moment, feet firmly planted on childless ground, I have no idea what my life will look like a month from now. I’ve had a glimpse, certainly. The majority of my closest friends are either current or former residents of Life With a Newborn. I’ve heard the horror stories – sleepless nights, persistent brain fog, days that pass without a single “me” moment. Not exactly fodder for creativity and productivity. But that’s how it’s supposed to be, right? The months after giving birth to a child aren’t meant to be spent creatively or productively – unless, of course, we’re talking about creative and productiveparenting. And even that would likely be deemed too ambitious an undertaking for a new mom. Don’t attempt anything that will further deplete your already compromised energy stores. Just focus on getting through the first three months with your sanity intact. Only then, after you’ve emerged from your sleep-deprived, spit-up laden haze should you attempt to reclaim your life.

This may be sage advice.

I reject it.

And with that whole-hearted, emphatic and indisputably naïve pronouncement, I begin my quest to Embrace the Detour.

Clever title. But what does it mean?

During the first twelve weeks of my new baby’s life (the length of a standard maternity leave), I will endeavor to do the wholly unadvisable and likely impossible: I will attempt to write — and finish — a novel. I will try to write daily, both for the book and for this blog. I will likely regret making the previous statement.

A few caveats: First, it’s not as if I’m starting from scratch. I’ve already written three chapters of the book — a Young Adult novel in the vein of Sliding Doors, with a sci-fi twist — and I have an outline for the rest. Second, this isn’t the first thing I’ve written. It’s the first novel I’ve attempted to write — which I’ve heard is a unique beast — but it’s not as if I’m new to the whole sitting-down-daily-to-write routine. Over the past two years, I’ve completed five TV pilots, twice as many treatments and pitch sheets, several webisodes, and a handful of other random things. And third, while my goal is ambitious, the stakes are pretty low. There is no looming editor deadline, no agent eager for pages. Nothing happens if I fail. Although, the truth is, if I do fail — that is, if I don’t finish by the three month mark — I will probably be forced (by my husband and my own conscience) to go back to work as an attorney. So I guess I take caveat #3 back. The stakes are incredibly high.

So that’s it. Embrace the Detour is an experiment in creativity and productivity in what I’m told will be an exceptionally un-conducive environment. It’s my attempt to prove that motherhood — and in particular, Life with a Newborn — isn’t something you’re supposed to just “get through” and then get on with your life. The fact that it’s new and scary and hard doesn’t mean it has to take you away from your life. So it’s a detour. Maybe it’s also a shortcut.

Then again, maybe it’s a rabbit hole. Dark and twisted with no way out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m optimistic and excited, both about this project and my sweet new baby. But underneath those socially acceptable sentiments, I’m completely and utterly terrified. Not about motherhood itself, but of what motherhood will do to my life. To all the Good Mommies out there, this will sound horrible. It sounds horrible even to me. But it’s the truth. See, I like my life right now. I like who I am. Where I am. Who I’m with. Where I’m headed. And that’s what scares me. I’m afraid that motherhood will take me wildly off course and that I won’t be able to find my way back. That being the mother I want to be will require me to leave other parts of myself behind. That I’ll wake up one day and wonder what happened to the me I spent so many years trying to find.

And yet, I want to believe that I won’t have to choose. I want to believe that it’s not an either/or, that a woman can be both supermommy and superstar. That I can.

And so here I am. Determined to do this small thing in order to prove to myself that I am capable of doing something much bigger and much harder and a lot less concrete.

I have no idea what to expect (this being my first blog, my first book and my first baby), but I have a good feeling about all of it. But then again, I’m still living in the Land of the (Child)Free. For now.

A New Adventure

I’ve been wrestling with what to do now that Lil Mil is practically a grown up (22 months, people!  what is going on with time racing by?!?) and I’ve finished my novel.  I want to keep blogging (my recent hiatus has been like not working out for a few months… I thought about it less and less as time went on, but four months later, I feel slothy and slobby and out of shape – do I even know how to do this anymore?), but this site no longer feels like the right place to do it.  Embrace the Detour was, in its design, a time-limited project.  An “experiment in creativity and productivity,” I always said.  One that I’m so glad I took – I ended up with a novel I’m proud of and hundreds of blog posts commemorating my daughter’s first days of life.

But now it’s time for a new journey.  Or, at least, a new phase in the one I’m already on.  I want this site to remain the repository for all the posts I wrote and detour stories I collected, and I want people to click around and explore.  But from now on, my new posts will appear HERE.  If you’re on the ETD email distribution list, you’ll keep getting posts, originated from my new site.

I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey.  You’ll be hearing from me more often, but the posts will be shorter.  I’ll be keeping you updated on my writing projects (for now, Parallel, the not-yet-titled-Book-2 (not a sequel to Parallel) and TEACH, the TV pilot my writing partner and I sold to ABCF, but hopefully there will be more to tell you about soon!), and doing a lot of what I did here – musing about life and love and identity and motherhood and the juggling act of work/home/everything in between.  So it’ll be the same.  But different.

Check it out!


Two years ago, on Thanksgiving Day 2009, I told my family about my latest endeavor. My soon-to-be blog. Embrace the Detour, I was calling it. “An experiment in creativity and productivity,” was how I described it to them. Excited (and very pregnant), I showed them the freshly minted site and read them highlights from my “Because” page:

During the first twelve weeks of my new baby’s life (the length of a standard maternity leave), I will endeavor to do the wholly unadvisable and likely impossible: I will attempt to write — and finish — a novel. I will try to write daily, both for the book and for this blog. I will likely regret making the previous statement.

They probably thought I was insane. They may have been right. I was about to have my first baby. Those were some pretty bold pronouncements for a new mom. Some pretty grand “I will”s.

I wasn’t certain I’d be able to do it. In fact, I was pretty scared I wouldn’t. But I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to. I wanted the finished product, but more than that I wanted to be a person who could set a goal and attain it.

Desire is a powerful motivator.

Four months after Lil Mil was born, those four “I will”s had become four “I did”s. And while there were moments when this challenge felt like a giant boulder strapped to my back, there were more moments when it felt like a blessing. A gift. It was order amidst chaos. It gave structure to what would’ve otherwise been a free-for-all of hormones and bodily fluid. It fueled, and thus kept alive, the vision that might’ve burned out (or been doused out by breast milk and baby barf).

Although I didn’t write the book as quickly as I’d planned (12 weeks turned into 100 days and the draft I initially produced wasn’t something I’d ever want my name on), but less than a year after launching Embrace the Detour, my novel was ready to go out to publishers. Because really, wasn’t that what I was truly hoping for? Not just a finished manuscript. A book deal.

I wasn’t sure how I’d get there, but I knew I needed the manuscript first, so I focused on that. And then, when the draft was in decent shape, I started querying agents. Slowly, one-by-one, so I could judge the feedback and tweak my query letter if necessary. I’d sent three queries when I got an email from an agent who’d been reading my blog. She wanted to read my manuscript.

Um, yes. Yes, please. Yes, yes, yes.

So, almost exactly a year ago today, I sent that agent, Kristyn Keene at ICM, my story. And exactly a month ago today, I sold that story to Sarah Landis at HarperTeen in a two-book deal.

I sold my book.

I sold my book.

I. Sold. My. Book!!!!

It’s been a month since it happened (I wanted to tell my parents in person before announcing it here) but it still feels surreal, like a dream. Which makes sense, I guess, because it IS a dream. The dream that has informed so many of my choices. The dream that has made me hopeful and happy and determined and unafraid.

Today I am thankful for that dream. Thankful most of all to God for giving it to me. Thankful to Lil Mil for being the reason that dream became action. Thankful to Husband for believing that action would bear fruit. Thankful to Kristyn for seeing the promise in my story, and for putting in the time to make it better, and for selling it to exactly the right publisher, and for being, sincerely, the loveliest individual I’ve ever worked with. Thankful to Sarah for saying yes (and for paying me to write another one!). And thankful to you guys, many of who have been on this journey from the beginning.

In some ways, it’s the end of the road. But, truly and wonderfully, it’s only the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

What A Wonderful World



Posted in: Family Matters

We go through our lives, being the people we are, acting the way we act, generally oblivious about the truest things about ourselves.  We know if we’re outgoing or intelligent or prone to spilling things.  But few of us know – really know – if we’re impatient or biting or inherently kind.  You know who does know all of these things about us?

Our mothers.

We like to pretend that we’re “real” around other people.  If you’re anything like me, “real” in this context means about half as horrible as you actually are.

When Husband sees me in the morning, I’ve usually been awake for at least an hour and consumed two oversized mugs of coffee.  I hear him wake up and am ready – with a smile! – when he appears.  I am friendly.  I ask how he slept.  I offer to pour his coffee.  I have the occasional crabby morning, but usually I’m in a much better mood than he is (I have two settings on my morning dial:  asleep and awake.  Husband has four:  asleep, lying-in-bed-but-no-longer-asleep, walking-around-but-not-yet-awake, and awake.  The first three are not his friendly place.)

When I’m at my parents house, Mom is always up before I am.  She’s in the kitchen, drinking black coffee and working a crossword puzzle, when I stomp down the back stairs.  (Yes, if left to my own devices, I would stomp around for a good twenty minutes every morning.  I’d do it in my own house if we didn’t have hardwood floors that rattle when I do it.  Or a husband who prefers not to be woken up every morning by what feels like an earthquake.  See how we behavior modify for others?).  When I arrive in the kitchen, I’m sullen and crabby.  How’d you sleep? she’ll ask.  Fine, I’ll mutter.  Then I’ll stomp around some more.

She’s the only person I’m like this with.  With Husband, college roommates, even Sister, I make the effort to be bright and sunny first thing in the morning.  Not with Mom.  Mom gets dark and stormy.  And stompy.

I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, wondering why I’m such a crab with my mom and so nice to everyone else.  It’s not just mornings, either.  If I forget something (which is often), or misplace something (even more often), or spill something on whatever white piece of clothing I’m wearing (every time), Mom gets the brunt of my annoyance, usually in the form of:  ”It’s FINE, Mom.  I’ll deal with it.”  And then she promptly comes up with whatever I’ve forgotten/finds whatever I’ve lost/removes whatever I’ve spilled with one swipe of her deft hand.

I’m doing what we do in blogland.  I’m using my particular experience to make a general statement about how we treat our moms.  But the generality breaks down when I add this key detail:  my mom is a Perfect Mom.  Yes, it’s Mothers Day, and yes, this is what daughters do on Mothers Day, they inflate their moms’ egos to make up for all the horrible things they did during their teenage years.  But in this case, it’s more than just Mothers’ Day puffery.  My mom is, quite literally, a Perfect Mom.  I venture to say that there are people with perfectly wonderful mothers who know mine and would agree with me (don’t worry, I won’t force you to do it publicly).

My mom isn’t the doesn’t-even-seem-like-a-mom-at-all mom.  And she’s not the hard-charging-career-woman-who-managed-to-juggle-it-all mom, or the Sally-Field-on-Brothers-And-Sisters/I-spend-my-days-making-roast-chicken-and-gardening-and-obsessing-over-my-children mom, either.  She’s a woman who’s smart and capable and talented and beautiful who spent a good chunk of her 30s and 40s being a mom.  Not just “staying home with the kids,” but really and truly, being a mom.  Cultivating my interests.  Encouraging my dreams.  Showing up (usually with a snack) at every swim meet and softball game and talent show.  Defending me when the gossip train came charging through.  Learning the lyrics to an Ace of Base song so we could sing it on the drive to school every morning.  When nobody wanted me in their Girl Scout troop (long story), Mom started a new one, which quickly became the coolest in town (yay Troop 1485!)  She made my eighth grade dance dress when I couldn’t find one I liked.  She edited my college application essays.  She helped me study for the Bar Exam (she was more prepared than I was, and she’s never taken a single law school class).  She planned my wedding without the help of a wedding planner.  She spent hours googling “breast engorgement” when my boobs were so big after Lil Mil was born that I quite literally thought they’d explode.

She was always there, no matter where “there” was.  And from a very young age, I knew – like I knew the sky was blue – that she was on my side.

Oh, she annoyed the crap out of me sometimes, and I her.  We’re different more than we’re the same.  But I have loved her fiercely since I was small, and I never wished for anyone other than her.  I trusted her and she never let me down.  Not once.

Meanwhile, I stomped around the house and left my bed unmade and rolled my eyes and forgot to say thank you most of the time.

Why?  Why does my Perfect Mom get the worst of me when she deserves the best?  Why does she have to deal with my impatience and sarcasm and early morning moodiness, while everyone else gets the more likable person I make a concerted effort to be?  Like I said, I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately.  And I think I’ve come up with the answer.  Or part of it, anyway.

I never tried to earn her love, because I always knew I had it.  No matter what.