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May 2012

The myth of the empty nest

Sometimes when I look at my children I say to myself, “Lillian, you should have stayed a virgin”
– Lillian Carter, mother of the 39th President of the United States.

As we approach Mother’s Day in the US, I am given cause to reflect. You see, nobody told me (or if they did I wasn’t listening) how time- consuming, demanding, exhausting, intense, expensive, life-changing, challenging, and absorbing it would be to become a mother. “Come on in. The water’s lovely!” the mothers would say, baby slung nonchalantly across ample bosom, two-year-old gripped firmly by hand.

But I have never been able to be nonchalant at anything, (except my ability to dance all night in a six-inch pump). Anyway, within days of giving birth (by emergency C-section) to offspring number one, I heard a nurse saying to “come down the corridor to be sterilized.”  I was out of the bed like a shot before it dawned on me she’d actually said to go with her to have the baby’s bottles sterilized.

When I finally had an empty nest, I couldn’t get to the computer fast enough to write a novel. Other women had written novels. “Come on in, the water’s lovely.” Well, nobody told me (or if they did I wasn’t listening) how time-consuming, demanding, exhausting, intense, life-changing…you get the picture.

I had no idea what I was setting in motion; that my book would need intensive care for many months after giving it birth, that I would get swept up in a world of blogs and tweets, instagrams and web cams, and need to produce another book soon if I were to keep any credibility as an author. Sleepless nights would be just the least of it.

Fortunately India Butler (she of India’s Summer, a great beach read that I urge you to download to your Kindle immediately) refuses to go quietly, and is demanding a sequel much as my three-year-old son demanded a sibling. On many occasions, he would ask loudly in public, “When is daddy going to give you that thing you need to make another baby?” Finally, I relented and delivered him a little sister. Well, a surgeon delivered her but that’s another long story.

I wish all women a very Happy Mother’s Day, whether you have given birth to children or to projects. We are all nurturers in our own ways. So give yourself a lovely treat by downloading India’s Summer…a perfect way to celebrate! You know you deserve it.