I met and fell in LUV with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor when I was about 13 months pregnant with my second child, and we had just moved to Savannah, Ga. I had no friends and an 18-month-old who was the definition of willful. I would go to Books-A-Million and to the play area of the mall to stalk other moms. I was so desperate to connect with someone. Aubrey could be crying and ready to go home, but if I saw a cute mom with kids close to Aubrey’s age, I wouldn’t leave until I met her. (It’s sad and pathetic, I know. I was lonely.)
It was on one of these missions to the mall that I discovered Stefanie on a bookshelf. I picked up her book, “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay” and laughed until I cried while Aubrey destroyed the Thomas the Train, train table.
This was the first book about parenting I had ever read that was written by someone I could relate to; it was so honest and completely transparent. Her humor is in your face and laugh out loud funny. She calls ibuprofen “Baby Crack” and actually told a nosy stranger at the mall that, no, in fact, she would not be breastfeeding because she was giving her baby up for adoption. (You know those women who offer oodles of unsolicited parenting advice when you are preggo? They are also SO helpful, touching your swollen stomach and all you want to do is grab their muffin top and scream, “DO YOU LIKE THIS????”)
I left the store with a new book and a pseudo-friend that day and regularly give her books to my friends who are expecting.
Stefanie’s second book, “Naptime is the New Happy Hour,” was just as hilarious as the first and the nation was shocked when Stefanie announced she had a drinking problem and was giving up alcohol all together. The titles of her books were catchy, but they didn’t glorify and celebrate drinking. I think they were a reflection of how MANY parents unwind at the end of a long day by having a drink. Sometimes it’s the only grownup thing they do in a day. But Stefanie realized she had a problem, she couldn’t stop with just one drink, and to her great credit she realized she wanted to stop drinking before it destroyed her family.
Can you imagine writing two playful books with the titles, “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay,” and “Naptime is the New Happy Hour,” then having the cojones to say, “You know what, this isn’t healthy for me anymore, I quit.” -TO THE WORLD?
On her blog, Baby on Bored, Stefanie has Don’t Get Drunk Fridays where she shares her struggle to remain sober. (She’s already got a year under her belt! Go Girra!) She also shares other women’s stories which are truly inspiring. I don’t even have a drinking problem but I look forward to reading these posts every Friday because the women Stefanie features are fearless, brave and wonderful- just like her.
Here she is, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, one of my writing heroes and definitely a woman who deserves a gold star!
What was the most surprising thing to you about motherhood?
This answer will sound totally cliche but I was shocked by how difficult it was and then shocked again by the ferocity of love I have for my kids. The weird thing was when it shifted. I was hating life as a new mom for kind of awhile and then all of a sudden when Elby was around 16 months, BAM, I was head over heels in loooove with her. (See what I mean? How many parenting books will tell you it can take time to get to know your kids and develop a relationship with them?) Missed her when she went to bed, wanted to hang with her all day, it was like I’d been bitten by a vampire or something. And it never really wore off although I don’t need to hang out with her all day anymore. A few hours will scratch the itch just fine.
How do you balance writing/work/book tours with family/mommy time?
I’m not going to lie and pretend like it’s really hard to juggle my time because writing is quite simply a luxury activity except when I’m on a deadline. (Again with the brutal honesty, I feel the same way.) I know I have it good. When I’m on a deadline, although it’s stressful, I can see my kids throughout the day (I have a nanny to take them to the park and feed them lunch while I work) and when I’m not on a deadline, I am with them a ton. I’ve personally never been on a book tour because my publishing company doesn’t do them with writers like me and when I’ve traveled it’s only been a day or two at a time which let’s face it, is a Godsend. (Remember that gold star I said she deserved? She’s been on Dr. Oz AND Larry King in the last few months. Dr. Drew was on Larry King with her. *swooning*)
There’s nothing I love more than freshly laundered sheets in a hotel with On Demand and room service. How else would one get to see movies like Marley and Me (sucked) and Her Sister’s Keeper (Eh)?
If you were childless for one week what would you do?
That’s easy. I would go to San Louis Obisbo with my husband and then when we got back we’d go eat sushi every night. Other than that, life would remain exactly the same. Some people don’t like to stay home and watch marathons of Househusbands of Hollywood on Fox Reality TV. But I do. So it works out.
What is your most hilarious or humiliating parenting memory?
There are really so many but the one that comes to mind is being with Elby as a baby at an indoor playground at the mall. She must’ve been a little under two and still in diapers. I walked over to her while she was sitting in a little plaster boat and there was a huge puddle of pee at her feet. Her diaper was bursting and I was appalled. I pulled her out, stuck her in the stroller and got the hell out of there before someone could tell it was my kid. But when I got to the car, I had no more diapers and I had to put her naked in her car seat all the way home. I wish i could say I was never again caught in a situation without extra diapers but I can’t.
If you could be sure your children learned one lesson from you, what would it be?
Is self-esteem a lesson? If it is then that’s it. I want my kids to feel like they are enough. I’m really into praising my kids even though it’s no longer hip. (A trend setter, too.) I’d rather take the chance they become conceited than take the chance that they don’t feel good about themselves and therefore don’t want to try. Of course, I’m not talking about telling my kid she’s the most beautiful every five seconds, but my older daughter is naturally prone to anxiety and, knowing her, I praise the sh*t out of her accordingly.
What made you want to be a writer?
Writing. (If you are a writer you totally get this and realize it’s the perfect answer.)
At what point in your writing career did you realize you had a drinking problem?
It wasn’t my writing career which alerted me to my drinking; I didn’t write when I drank. The drinking was a crutch I used to relax after an exhausting day of parenting. Now writing is more my escape which drinking used to be. It did occur to me that I talk a lot about drinking in my books but I sort of figured I was joking and that it wasn’t really an issue. When I felt that drinking was starting to interfere with me being the mom I wanted to be, that’s when I put a cork in it.
What was it like to say “I have a drinking problem” after publishing your two first books?
It wasn’t easy. I absolutely worried that people would judge me for what they probably figured was an attitude that promoted drinking and then turn around and say it’s bad. But I had to do what needed to be done. If one is going to quit drinking, I don’t believe that can be done in secret. And I believe that I owed it to my audience to know exactly what was going on with me. I still think that drinking can be fun and a great way to unwind with friends. Just not for me. Not anymore.
I know you have been a huge inspiration to other women in the same situation, has that made it easier or more difficult to maintain your sobriety?
Absolutely easier. It’s the best decision I could’ve made regarding my sobriety. It’s not a path for everyone (being public) but for me, hearing how other women have been affected in a positive way by my example has held me accountable and that’s a strong motivator!!
How long did you wear maternity underwear after you had a baby?
I never wore maternity underwear in the first place. Damn, that sounds bad. I wore thongs the entire time. But, I did wear my black maternity pants and sweats from Old Navy for a good solid year and a half after Elby. And the twins are now two and a half and I still rock a pink maternity dress on occasion!
Stefanie’s most recent release is, “It’s Not Me, It’s You: Subjective Recollections of a Terminally Optimistic, Chronically Sarcastic, Occasionally Inebriated Woman.” AND it’s blurbed by Chelsea FREAKING Handler. Another gold star for Stefanie.
(Click on any of the links above to purchase her books. Now.)
Her next book will be available June 2011. It’s titled, “I’m Kind of a Big Deal.” She most certainly is.