Today my daughter is graduating from college. I can barely type without tearing up. Not only because I am so proud of my first born, but also because I owe my writing career to her.
There I was, cruising from project to project in Hollywood, eight months pregnant while producing a pizza commercial in Rancho Cucamonga, when she kicked me so hard I went home. As it became obvious that I had to turn down my dream job on a big film in an exotic locale, I began ranting. The rants became essays and the essays became my first book – which took longer than having the baby. Welcome to Club Mom originally had the subtitle The End of Life as You Know It, but the publisher felt that was too bitchy. So I changed it to The Adventure Begins. And it did.
I followed up with another baby, then a novel about a young mom who suspects her husband of cheating, a romantic thriller screenplay about a young woman having an identity crisis, a grandma book, an essay about being a work-at-home mom in Mommy Wars, a coffee table book on Nesting, a novel called Wife Goes On about a woman who was inspired by her daughter to break free of a bad marriage, an essay about fear of parenting in Arianna Huffington’s On Becoming Fearless, and finally, my new novel, the literary thriller What A Mother Knows.
How could I protect her from the big bad world, I wondered, as I lay in bed and listened to her sob in her room down the hall. But now she will not be in the room down the hall. True, she moved out a few years ago for college, but she came home on holidays. When friends stole her away, I knew she would be back. This is different.
What will I write about now?
I know nothing about what she will do or where she will go or who she will become. But I know a few things. I will always recognize her laugh in a noisy room. I always will see her smile in the darkness. And I will feel her in my arms despite the miles between us. She is the heart outside of my body.
There she goes now, walking across the stage to get her diploma. I wave a sign so that she knows I am here. But she knows.
I am here. I wasn’t writing about her, I was writing about love.
And I can keep doing that._________________________________
Leslie Lehr's new novel, WHAT A MOTHER KNOWS, is at bookstores, on the Recommended Read shelf at Target, and available for download on your favorite device.
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