By Cara Sue Achterberg
If you’re a mom, at some point or another (or maybe every day) you’ve wanted to run away. I know this is true like I know that the sun will come up tomorrow, my incorrigible dog will never come when I call her, and that it’s highly unlikely my kids will ever empty out the sink strainer or replace a toilet paper roll.
When I first moved to our little hillside farm in our small town in south-central Pennsylvania, I hated it. Not the farm, but the backward, seemingly judgmental community harboring mean people who did things like steal my yard signs supporting an enlightened candidate who could change everything, threw their yard trash, broken computers and worn out furniture down the embankment at the far end of our road, and filled the lines of the ten (count ‘em) fast food restaurant drive-thrus that passed for fine dining in our little town.
I spent my days dealing with an elementary-aged child who was “different” and drove his first grade teacher to dump the contents of his messy desk almost daily, a preschooler who was ready to move out and get her own apartment where she could make the rules, and a toddler who, while adorable, required constant monitoring as he was prone to do things like shove a screw driver in a wall socket or use it to poke holes in the back of the couch.
Plus, there were stalls to muck, chickens to feed, gardens overrun with weeds, and a living room with dark brown carpet that showcased every white dog hair, cracker crumb, and piece of fuzz from the slowly leaking couch cushions (per aforementioned holey couch). I worked two part-time “jobs” – one as an awkward Mary Kay lady and one pitching articles to magazines who inevitably either declined them or offered to publish them for little or no compensation.
Top the whole life off with a husband who traveled to China for weeks at a time and when he was in the country spent the better part of every day in the office. Fun times.
Now wouldn’t YOU want to run away?
So, I did.
Every afternoon, during the two precious hours of “quiet time” (Read: one child stuck in his crib next to a box fan running so I couldn’t hear his complaints and one child plopped in front of the TV for an endless loop of Dora the Explorer.) I would sit at my laptop and run away. Or at least, live vicariously through three moms who did exactly that. Dani, Meg, and Charlotte went away for a girls’ weekend and didn’t come back for 90,000 words.
The book literally spun out of me. It kept me sane. All those things I worried about – was I wasting my life home with kids? Would fears about my kids’ safety and sanity always rule my life? Did I marry the right person? Would my life ever “start?” I wrote through them.
Thirteen years later, my nest is beginning to empty. I’ve learned to love (some of these) backward people and even appreciate the small town that still has no real restaurants, and - my second novel, Girls’ Weekend is published!
It’s very hard to see past the yogurt smeared on the fridge and the sticky hands demanding your attention, but motherhood does get better. Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t run away, if only in your mind.
Being a mom and being a writer has been a win-win for me. The kids have provided me with plenty of writing material for articles, essays, blog posts, and fiction. And writing about them has documented our lives.
I imagine someday (hopefully very long from now) I will be a grandmother. My kids will finally respect the efforts I made at mothering well while following my writing dreams. And they will ask, “How did you do it?”
And I will tell them, “I wrote through it,” and hand them my laptop loaded with the stories of their lives.
Inside the Book:
Title: Girls' Weekend
Author: Cara Sue Achterberg
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Women's Fiction
Harried Dani can't explain why she feels so discontented until she meets a young gallery owner who inspires her to rediscover the art that once made her happy.
Dependable Meg faces up to a grief that threatens to swallow her whole and confronts a marriage built on expectations.
Flamboyant Charlotte, frustrated with her stagnated life and marriage, pursues a playboy Irish singer and beachside business opportunities.
All three of these women thought they would be different. None of them thought they'd be facing down forty and still wondering when life starts. What they do when they realize where they're headed is both inspiring and wildly entertaining.
GIRLS' WEEKEND is a fun, yet poignant romp through the universal search of who we are, why we love, and what makes us happy by an author who is quickly emerging as one of our most incisive storytellers.