A few days ago I was contacted by the lovely folks at RedEnvelope to participate in their Book Moms Mother’s Day project. They’re asking author moms to offer up some snippets of advice in honor of the day, and I was so delighted they invited me. (Have you shopped at RedEnvelope? They have gorgeous gifts–and I’m pretty sure I urgently need this Mercado Global Matea weekender bag in black. How fabulous is that?)
The best and most enduring piece of advice my own mother has given me came when I finally–after fourteen years of rejection!–got my first book deal. I thought that I understood where my career and my life were headed at that point. I had everything figured out. Or at least I thought I did…as it happened, every time I believed I had a handle on the new demands being thrown at me, life pitched a changeup. Situations that I thought were going to be straightforward acquired Byzantine complications, while developments that felt challenging smoothed out in front of me. One day, frazzled and frustrated, I vented to my mother. She heard me out–thankfully, she has a very high threshold for ranting–and when I was finished, she smiled and said, “You will never have this figured out and the sooner you understand that, the happier you will be. Being a published author means your life will never be predictable, so roll with it. Expect the unexpected.”
After that, “expect the unexpected” became my mantra–so much so that I toyed with the idea of having the Latin equivalent tattooed on my wrist. In the end I chose not to get the tattoo because I didn’t need it. I think about those words every day without a reminder. In fact, I live them. And I’m much happier for it.
As part of this project, I decided to ask my 19 year-old daughter what the best piece of advice is that I’ve ever shared with her. Without even thinking about it, she said, “Always wear leopard underwear. That way if you’re in an accident, you’ll have something interesting to chat about in the ambulance.”
And on that note, Happy Mother’s Day!