It is my pleasure to introduce you to the very talented Lori Tharps, with whom I share a debut novel release date, a history of living in Spain and strong (and sometimes competing) passion for writing and motherhood. Welcome, Lori!
A version of the following essay originally appeared on the MamaLaw.com website.
August 24, 2010 was a very special day for me because it was the day my debut novel, Substitute Me hit store shelves. I’ve authored two other non-fiction books, but completing my first novel is like a dream come true for me. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to make up stories and I loved to read. So now I have accomplished by greatest dream. Cue the music, curtains close. Not! Becoming a published author has not changed the course of my every day life in any substantial way. I still have to go to work every morning, be a great mom to my two kids and keep a smile on my face while doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love my life. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I could use some help every now and again.
Even though in my novel the Carter household is forever altered after Zora takes over the domestic duties, sometimes I dream about hiring a ‘substitute me’ for myself. These days, that is my greatest dream.
If I had a substitute me, I’d want her to:
• Make a delicious breakfast every morning, including fresh-squeezed orange juice.
• Pack the boys’ school lunches with a healthy and fun rotation of meals that they’ll actually eat and not trade with the kids whose moms give them blue Kool-Aid and snacks with neon-orange cheese powder.
•Clean my house while I’m at work, paying special attention to the dust on all of the shelves, which I like to pretend I don’t notice.
• Make a scrumptious dinner that won’t make me fat, but tastes like it will
That would be pretty much all I’d ask for, but then again, we’re just dreaming here, so why stop? If I were in the market for a real ‘substitute me,’ I’d probably also ask her to:
• Take the boys to karate, baseball and music lessons, so I can work on my writing while they’re gone.
• Help the boys with their math homework when I can’t figure out what the heck ‘new math’ really means.
• Do the laundry because I have a tendency to avoid going down in the basement because I’m afraid of the spiders and crickets that sometimes like to jump out and scare me.
• Join the PTA at the boys’ school, so the school knows I want to be involved in my children’s’ education.
• Start a boy-scout troop in our neighborhood because the older kid wants to be a boy scout and there are no local troop leaders.
• Go out salsa dancing with my husband every once in awhile to remind him that the spark is still alive in our marriage.
• Start a savings account for the kids’ college fund, because that’s number 47 on my to-do list and I’m probably not going to get to it any time soon, at least not before the older one has to actually go to college. (Note: she should probably get another job too, so she can add sufficient funds to that account.)
That’s it. Obviously the likelihood of finding such a person is zero to none, but it sure is fun to think about that job description. What would you ask your ‘substitute me’ to do if given the chance?
Lori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University. To find out more about her work and whimsy, please visit her website at LoriTharps.com.