Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Makes Laurel a Happy Healthy Hip Parent

I first connected with Laurel Snyder through Twitter, a social networking site that is both addicting and inspiring. It provides marketers and bloggers with great resources and countless contacts. I'm friends with her on Facebook and follow kidlit bloggers closely, which is how I first discovered her.

Getting to know someone is easy to do when they have children. Simply mention their role as a parent and you'll start to hear stories that tell you everything you need to know about the way they behave, behind closed doors. Laurel is a happy, healthy, hip mom and without meeting her in person, or her children, I can say that based on the answers she provided.

You may know Laurel from the books she's authored: Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, Inside the Slidy Diner, The Myth of the Single Machines, Half Life, and Daphne and Jim. You can find Laurel's books at your favorite independent bookstore. She's currently working on her second novel.

It's my opinion (and that of most others I know) that all parent
s are working parents. Laurel does, however, earn a paycheck from her writing, although she admits that the bulk of her income goes to child care. Here's what else Laurel had to say, in her own words:
I write books for kids, and thank my lucky stars I'm able to publish them. It's a blast! Not only do I get to think and dream and get paid, but I also get to do events for children, and bring my kids along!

How many children do you have?

Two, both boys. Mose is 3 and Lewis is about one and half. They're wild men.

What makes you happy, as a parent (besides when your kids finally fall asleep)?

Oh, man. So many things make me happy. But most of all I'm happy when I see them having fun with each other. In the bath or the yard, digging with sticks, or sitting on the couch looking at books, or building a fort with pillows. didn't expect they'd be ready to play together this early, and it is really amazing. Sometimes in the car the older one will start laughing for no reason, and Lew will imitate him and they'll just cackle.

What's the healthiest thing about your relationship with your children?

I'm a believer that the most important thing is that I not be resentful or stressed, so I cut a lot of corners (baths, meals, etc). At least at this point, that feels hugely functional in our house. I'm not ashamed (or secretive about) Cheerios for dinner, or them sleeping in the buff, or sometimes turning on the TV for an hour before preschool, so I can have coffee and listen to NPR. I feel good, and so they feel good. They're VERY relaxed kids.

Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about each of your children?

Oh, recently Mose adopted this imaginary friend named "Little ghost". And one day we were driving in Virginia, and he freaked out and was like, "We left Little Ghost!" So I asked him where we'd left him. And he pointed out the window, to where we just happened to be passing an awesome pumpkin patch full of scarecrows and dogs and all sorts of fun stuff. Convenient, eh? We stopped, and ended up with a ton of cookies and cider. Oy.

Lew isn't very verbal yet, so everything he does is adorable, but it's very hard to describe. I love when he "talks" on the phone. And the minute we get in the car he sings and sings until we stop.

What is your proudest parenting moment?

Is it weird that I can't think of one? I don't really think of it in moments. As a stay-at-home mom, my life feels like a giant wave of routine, but I love it. Maybe that I have driven 12 hours (ATL to Baltimore) and back, by myself, three times, with both kids. I feel like it's something to be proud of that I have two boys under three who can sit and talk and sing and sleep and manage a drive like that together.

What is your biggest parenting challenge?

Balance. Isn't that true for everyone? Finding the moment BEFORE the moment where I get frustrated. Setting aside time for myself, but not skimping on the kids. Being a good mom and also a good woman. And remembering that sometimes you can't do it ALL and you have to ask for help or call it a day.

What's your favorite family-friendly restaurant?

Dakota Blue, in Atlanta. They have baskets full of toys and are just grubby enough. But not too gross. I also love to go to Holy Taco. The only Mexican place I know with brisket tacos, amazing margaritas AND chicken nuggets (or as Mose says, "tikken donuts").

What's your favorite activity you enjoy with your children?

When my husband is home and we're all here together on a Sunday morning, and we read the Times and drink coffee and the boys make a mess with art supplies and we eat sausages and raisin toast off paper plates in the living room. Usually there's some TV involved and nobody showers. It doesn't happen often enough.

What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?

Do all you can to relax. I'm really worried for the Purell mommies who spend all their time researching toxins online and fretting over babysitter reccommendations. I understand the impulse, the desire to keep your kids safe. But you can't protect them from everything, and the end result is often, I fear, messed up kids.

Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?

My mom. My friends. But most of all my gut. I believe in having a pediatrician I trust and leaving medical questions in her hands. After Lew was born I tossed out the books (except the AAP, for 911 moments) and swore to stop the Google searches. We all have instincts and the books tend to get in the way. Online medical and parenting advice is like the "monkeys with typewriters" phenomenon. For every concern, some crazy person online will have guessed correctly, simply because there are 8 trillion crazies online. But you can't spend your life cutting out every food that turns up in a "study." I believe in moderation.

How would your children describe you?

Mose says I'm a goofball.

To learn more about this goofball mom and author, visit her site or those of her publishers: Laurel Snyder
Random House
Ten Speed Press

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