Sunday, February 10, 2013


One of the questions I've gotten from adults over the years is How do/did you do it? How do you juggle a career and parenthood and also find the time to write?

The answer is simple: Imperfectly.

As evidence of that, I want to share with you a letter. Over the years I've kept copies of my correspondence with Nancy (my editor), and I happened upon this one tonight. I think it illustrates the struggles of a working mom who is also trying pursue a creative passion. Is was written somewhere in the early stages of the Sammy Keyes series. My sons Connor and Colton were about 6 and 8 years old.

I worry that you think I'm a callous brute of a mom. I recognize that on more than one occasion I've been seemingly insensitive to one of my kids while you and I were on the phone. And today one child was crying because I'd raised my voice at another. Sigh. You don't know that a banana cured the hysteria or that Colton wasn't upset at all that I'd been testy, because he'd (AGAIN) forgotten the book which he needs to complete his homework assignment. He knew he'd goofed up. (Although his report is on Louis Braille, sometimes I think he'd be more suited to report on a famous deaf person...)

Such things you've witnessed from afar: Crying kids and Barney. You probably don't remember suffering through the Barney theme song which I just HAD to sing with Colton at the end of that goofy dino's early morning show, but I do. What must she think? Me singing this damned song while she waits patiently to have a long-distance conversation with me. The fact of the matter is my kids have got to learn that I am not at their beck and call 24 hours a day. They CAN wait to have a snack, or show me just how big a poop they've produced. Yes, it will wait.

My conversations with you are very precious to me, although today Connor told me that they were complete "nothing nonsense." You see, he'd (for the first time for either of my kids) picked up the extension and listened to our "stupid" conversation. "You care more about Nancy than you do about Colton, Mom! I have to tell you something. I have to tell you something important. Mom. I LISTENED, and I KNOW that what you were talking about with her was NOTHING compared to what I'm going through here. I'm very upset Mom, and you have no idea how bad I feel!"

Guilt City.

But hey, there's Colton saying, "It's okay, Mom. I'm not upset. Connor just needs a banana."

Such is life in our household. Especially between 4-5:00 PM

So don't think I'm a brute, okay? I give so much of myself to my kids. Sometimes I think I love them so much my heart will positively break. I'd do anything for them, but they've got to learn that there are times they cannot demand my attention. I'm just sorry that you've been witness to my attempts at their re-education.

The fax has arrived. I'm looking forward to reading it after the kids are in bed. Meanwhile, there's homework to finish, and Colton's drying to de-throne me in foosball, so I've got to go defend my title.

Thanks for being you,
So take heart if you find yourself trying to juggle everything. It's not easy, even if a public persona makes it look like it is. We all make mistakes. Sometimes the answer's a banana. Sometimes it's a good night's sleep. But the key is to keep stumbling forward because eventually you will get there, and the only way you will get there is imperfectly.


gabrielle said...

Whenever I read these posts about writing a book and the whole process,I think to myself("there's no way my mom could write a book.") I mean it already seems stressful being a parent,but a writer to,that Would be hard. But,hey you did it. And you're awsome!!! Have a great week everybody!!!


Bella Honeydew said...

"Sometimes the answer's a banana. Sometimes it's a good night's sleep. But the key is to keep stumbling forward because eventually you will get there, and the ONLY way you will get there is imperfectly."
- Wendelin Van Draanen

Thank you! Thats going in my book of awesome quotes I've been picking up! =) =) =)
I have alota sentences from SK books in there, like one of my favorites is : Grams told me my binoculars were going to get me in trouble. =)

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

"I just didn't believe her."


Thanks Bella!

gabrielle said...

Another famous Wendelin Van Draanen quote!! You really are awsome Wendelin!! :)

Yusa said...

Wow that letter is really deep and like wow you went through that? Yeah i felt neglected by my mom when i was little a bit because a lot of her attention went to my brother and i get it... and that pcture of a flower is perfect for the imperfect title :)

Shaina said...

You captured MOTHERHOOD at its finest right there--it's exactly like that. But for me it's not book-writing that has me "re-educating" my kids, it's other things I do to stay sane, like run and play my violin. Thank you for posting this! It is very real and encouraging. :)

Kylie said...

I loved what you said at the end. It is so true. I am actually at a lost of words so I will leave it at that. Good night everybody.

gabrielle said...

By the way,on amazon,and other websites that sell books,the synopsis (I think that's what its called)for Killer Cruise at the end is misspelled. I just thought I'd let you know Wendelin.:)


Isabel said...

Wow, I'll so remember this for when I grow up. You really had some feeling that time, huh? I felt/feel like your kids sometimes, for instance when my brother and I were small, my mother would pay more attention to my brother than me, but then he was younger. Also, when we went to see our family, we first went to my dad's family. So over there my dad didn't pay attention to me, yet he paid attention to my brother, and my mom didn't pay attention to me, only my aunt did, so yeah I pretty much felt sad, mad, annoyed, and so many other thing. But then, the last time we saw them was 4 years ago. Then we went to meet my mom's family, over there my mom never exactly cared of anything but her family, and my dad was in and out alot. My aunt would go to work, so would my uncle, my little cousin would go crazy, so he was the one who like, half listened. My grandmother and I became closer, cause I told her how I felt, I said :I feel like nothing, I feel invisible." And my grandmother would comfort me. So later I told my mom, and she told me that the next time she might see them would be 2 or 4 years later, so she had to spend time with them. And now I understand, and I appreciate it that both of us learned from out mistakes and misunderstanding.

So yeah, Wendalin, your letter is AMAZING, I laughed, I felt bad, and I agreed, that letter goes DEEP!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

It's just a little window into the struggles of being a parent. I've learned that I'm happiest when I focus on the good things my parents did, rather than on their shortcomings. I've asked my children to try to do the same. I think a parent's greatest 'payday' comes when their child has a child and understands first hand how hard it is to do everything 'right'.

Wild About Words said...


That was beautiful and true.

Imperfectly yours,

Isabel said...

I think you're right.
Maybe my will love it when I get a child and understand. Maybe that'll come at my 'future' babysitting job.

And maybe I'd love it when my children understand, but then again, that is far, far, FAR away.
Lets see!

James Clark said...

Sorry if this isn't the best place to drop this, but watching the SOTUS tonight, my 13-year old spotted Joe Biden behind the President and declared "It's Hudson! That's exactly what Hudson should look like!"
Don't know how she recognized him without the cowboy boots, but she was still quite sure.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

James: Thanks for a wonderful late-night laugh! Tell your daughter I said hi.

Isabel said...

James: I sure do picture Hudson alot, I wish he were real, so he'd be my friend, but he's a friend in my mind. Thanks for the laugh!

Jessica said...

This post about public personae not being perfect really hits home with today's news about Oscar Pistorius. My thoughts and prayers are with both the Steenkamp and Pistorius families. I pray that it was a horrific accident, for the sake of the millions of children who look up to Oscar.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Jessica: Agreed. It's horrible and tragic. We'll have to wait and see what the facts are.

Yusa said...

oh my i just read about that thats horrible! He is so looked up to i really hope it was an accident!

Bella Honeydew said...

My prayers are with there families to.

Isabel said...

That is so sad,I hope it's an accident, not real. It'll be too sad if it's real, my prayers for Oscar and his families.

Isabel said...

So I went to the library today expecting 2 books, I get the books, one of them is The Running Dream, and I'm like "YES, Oh Yeah!" Then I see a third book and I'm like "MORE!! :DDD" Then when I check them out the Librarian says, "you have one more called...Runaway." And I nod like "YES...?" Then she gets it and I'm like, "FOUR BOOKS< YAAAAY, and one of them is RUNAWAY!! YAYAY! Can't wait to read it!

Bella Honeydew said...

You will really enjoy them I'm glad they came!=)
Yes! More people reading The Running Dream and Runaway!!=)

Yusa said...

No post this week?