Selling new book worth it to give kids record of their family


I wrote a blog a few days ago about the joy of feeling slimy.

The topic making me squirm is the selling my new book, "Can I Just Say Something?"

It's not so fun, marketing one's self. It involves acting humble, yet spunky, trying to make people believe a book review or signing will be good for business. Like I'm sort of a portable party or three-hour special.

Every doubt I've ever had about myself is flying around, waiting to roost.

I thought the hard work came with choosing what to include and then proofing that sucker over and over. I felt great relief when we finally shipped the draft to the printing company (not for long, however -- I saw some tiny mistakes almost within the hour. Dang it).

But, no. That wasn't that hard part. Not even the years of writing those columns was the hard part.

Come to think of it, going over all these years in a micro-time fashion has been sort of sweet. Yep, I totally cried reading my own words about David ... His theatrical sense of romance and habit of getting himself into hot water.

I laughed over the robeless rescue when I was choking, not to mention the no-more-barbecues dance. And the Trans Am debacle? Still managed to seethe a little. Lucky for him I can't get to him just now.

What has been really delicious is listening to my kids. All of them were too young to care when I began this column. It was just what Mommy did and no one better bother her more than once when it was "Deadline Day."

Not even the eldest realized I was chronicling their lives while immunizing them word-by-word for having our home life exposed to the public eye.

We have a proof copy of the book on the kitchen counter these days. As I hurry to make something that qualifies as dinner (if I ever remodel the kitchen, I am creating a place for the crockpot that will not fail to catch my eye in the mornings), I listen with the ears on the back of my head.

The baby is the most entranced. She was, um, actually the baby when this all began. Now she's in seventh grade and using face cleanser and a tiiiiny bit of make-up on special occasions. She has no memory of life being lived out from underneath the microscope.

I love to hear her discover new things about herself and her siblings. "Mom, did I really say 'Dada, go go?'"

"Yes, you did."

"But how do you know for sure? Maybe I was saying something else. Did you record me?"

If this child does not become a lawyer it will be society's loss, that's all I'm saying.

"I know because I was there, honey."

And it goes on. Even the older kids are learning what Mom was really thinking about this or that. Like when the twins asked for "boy" haircuts and came home looking like kindergarten convicts. On the outside I was using terms of encouragement -- "Oh, you two look really, really cute!"

On the inside, though, I was writing furiously. "I noticed a few folks looking askance at boys in pink shorts and baby doll shirts ... Cowlicks, previously tamed by the weight of much longer hair, were suddenly freed of all constraint and able to stand up and announce themselves in places we hadn't even known about."

My now 24-year-old is going to realize just how terrible I felt on the day I somehow remembered to clean the house but didn't remember her award ceremony at the middle school.

"It was one of those moments that make you long for a time machine. I stood there feeling like a completely inadequate mother, knowing I had no defense that was going to get me through the next hour of 'You didn't come! Everyone else's parents were there (which they weren't)! My stuff isn't important to you (which it is)!'

"Therefore I had no choice but to let it rain down upon me. Yes, I agreed, I blew it."

Our oldest and only son will, perhaps, take the time to truly read what I wrote on his 27th birthday, a deeply restrospective moment.

"I knew everything, of course. No one had ever been pregnant before me. I was expecting an angel to show up any day to inform that I was carrying, well, you-know-Who. I inspected every label of every morsel that went into my mouth. I grilled each new mother I met about which products she'd chosen and why."

That boy -- now 34 -- just better get it, this time, how much the world suffered when I got pregnant with him.

And the middle child? The one I am forever assuring she is wonderful, smart, beautiful and talented? May she gain peace when she reads this book, knowing I completely respect her for many things, but the one I told readers about is public knowledge.

It was a middle-school talent show. She was asked by a friend to be a last-minute fill-in for his act. I nixed the plan, but she took her own action.

"Upon my return, I read my program. There, on top, was the first act featuring my kid and the bass player, My heart stopped. Unprepared and the opening act...

"They stood on the stage for an eternity as sound glitches were worked out and sponsors were thanked and -- well, minutes seemed like hours. Finally the house lights dropped and the duo began. My daughter's clear, sweet but tremulous voice sang along to the thunking of the electric bass. No background music filled the gaps. The adolescents faces a room full of armchair judges.

"Then I saw my daughter's very best talent, Despite being told 'no' by her mother, she was unwilling to bail on someone in need. And will to be half of an imperfect act in order to be a complete friend. And that's some talent."

Yeah. It's stuff like that I hope my children absorb when and if they read this book.

Can I just say something? Selling this thing is no fun, but getting the chance to hand my children a nicely bound piece of their past?

I can live with that.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at or at or by calling 509-526-8322.


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