Later yesterday, when I was ready, I did the trip back out to the mailbox and retrieved the package. I carefully slit open the tape, peeled back the brown box, and there it was. The anthology The Ultimate Mom.
I went straight for the table of contents: whew, I spelled my name right on the submission form. Page 34. “The Impromptu Birthday” by Jane Koenen Bretl. It looks great! Nothing had been edited in the story, which was a relief since the contract stated that last minute edits may be necessary. In my mind, I thought that might be half of the tale when they came to their senses. They printed it pretty much word for word; just edited my punctuation since I am a bit ambitious: about colons; semicolons and — dashes. My 50 word bio in the back is the revised copy with my blog address. Whew again.
I felt happy. And relieved. And proud. And excited. And then I put the wet laundry in the dryer and realized that, once again, there is nothing prepared for dinner.
Let me be very clear here: I wrote one little story that is in an anthology with many other wonderful stories about the joys and challenges of motherhood. My story is about potty-training, and a lie that I told my kid. It is in the section “Merriment and Mishaps”. The reality does not escape me, this auspicious start, to have my first published clip be about poo. And me lying.
The Ultimate Mom. The title of the book is a lot to live up to. As the late afternoon sunshine slanted in through the front windows, I held the book and gave a cursory glance around me: an impressive 20 foot line-up of dirty laundry baskets still undone, the breakfast dishes inexplicably still on the counter, and no dinner in sight. In the big, big story of motherhood, I am just an imperfect contributor.
But I smiled, because I am a writer.
And I am thankful that the publisher did not conduct a home visit as a qualification.