Usually, it’s the parents who are proud of their kids. Parents get to be proud of all manner of glorious things: that Little Tot stayed seated on his bottom for a whole entire meal, that Bonnie learned to read, that Shy Girl read scripture in front of church, that Duddly made a phone call and said please and thank you, that Joey blew his nose instead of picking it. Et cetera. There’s bigger things, too, like being proud when the kids donate blood, give a speech at graduation, and refrain from snapping off Aunt Ida’s irksome head.
But sometimes kids get to be proud of their parents, too. I’m not talking about the ordinary “respect your elders” deal. I’m talking about the beaming-pride feeling, the feeling where if you were sewed together with needle and thread, the stitches would actually pop.
That’s how I feel about you and your novel. ‘Cause writing a novel is a pretty big deal. You did it, Mom, so you should know.
I’m writing this letter even though I haven’t actually seen the book yet. It’s due to arrive at my doorstep any minute. I’m jittery with excitement and am starting to do the swivel-head thing, swiveling my head to look out the window whenever a car goes by.
It doesn’t seem quite right that I’ll get to see the book before you do, does it? But you said no when I offered to wait to open the package till you’d received yours. I’ll wait to publish this post until it gets here, though—I want to take a picture of it—and I’ll call you right away and give you a play-by-play.
I know you think it’s in bad taste to be publicly prideful of your offsprings’ strong suits, and I have to say I agree. But I think it’s different when a kid gushes over a parent. I didn’t raise you, after all, so your successes are not a direct result of anything I did. Down here, looking up, I can gloat with abandon.
Though I still try to play it cool. The other week when you and Dad came to our place to scout out a property (I can’t wait till you guys move close), you, up to your eyeballs in last minute edits, brought along your computer and stayed focused amidst the general chaos that rocks my home. And when The Baby Nickel came down with some bug, you happily offered to stay home from church to watch him. I told my Sunday school class about my crazy mother, at home hunched over her computer, ignoring all of us. I rolled my eyes and sighed theatrically, but I don’t think I fooled anyone. They could all see I was pleased as punch.
You’ve written other books before, but this is your very first novel. Novels are scary. They’re huge. They can almost eat you alive, but you whipped that little (big) booger into shape, yes you did. (Don’t worry, I won’t let slip how long it took.) You worried that you wouldn’t ever get it done, but it didn’t really stand a chance against you.
“Yeah, right,” I can hear you mutter. (But you’re smiling through your mutterings. I can hear that, too.)
“It’s pure torture,” you liked to moan, as you wallowed sluggishly through each paragraph, each sentence, each syllable, hunched and vacant-eyed. But I could tell (though you’ll probably deny it up one side of today and down the other) that you liked it. You weren’t having fun exactly, but you were doing what you wanted to do. There’s a lot of pleasure to be found in doing something hard—trite, but true, don’t knock it.
For your first (!) novel, you tackled one heck of a topic, too. Salvation, oh good heavens! It’s no small matter, but the issues—craftily paired with rhapsodic accounts of luscious berry pies and jars of home canned garden goodness—offer much food for thought. Of course, seeing as I was raised by you, I’m partial towards your view points. However, I think we might be in the minority. But that’s okay. It’s an invigorating place to be.
I like your website, too. It’s barebones simple (the Balding Brother did a good job on it), but cozy, too, chock-full of your exquisite writing and spiked with provocative ideas. I spent a couple days reading through all the bonus essays you posted. For some of them, I whooped out loud. (I don’t remember you making us memorize “Happy are you when people hate you, reject you . . .” when Dad got fired, but I wouldn’t put it passed you. Did you think that was a witty joke back then? Your way of making a funny during those anxious, angry days?)
And just this morning, I discovered the wonders of StumbleUpon (kind of a dumb thing to do when I’m already frittering away too much time on the internet) and I “liked” your site. An official little page popped up and told me to wait while it verified your site and then a new sign popped, “Yay! You’re the first to discover this site!” Let the fun begin!
Your Seam-Bustingly Proud Daughter
This same time, years previous: potatoes with roasted garlic vinaigrette