Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best-Selling Blank Books

I recently read about an Englishman whose self-published book is topping Amazon's UK charts. It consists of 200 blank pages beneath a cover with the title: "What Every Man Thinks About Apart from Sex."

His success at turning a gimmick into profit got me thinking about a similar blank book I could publish. Imagine the possibilities! And considering how difficult writing is, this route might be a novel approach to becoming a best-selling author.
I considered a variety of titles, eventually settling on: "What I Knew About Motherhood Before I Became a Mother."

Although I've since learned many Mom lessons the hard way, I do wish someone had warned me a bit more about motherhood, especially the stressful conversations I'd be having with my children. For example, I've threatened for years to cut off all financial support to my children if they 1) Buy a motorcycle 2) Get a tattoo and/or 3) Pierce their bodies.

So when No. 1 son-the-cop recently telephoned with the announcement that at the age of 25, he'd fulfilled his longtime dream of purchasing a motorcycle, I was speechless. Then he proceeded to detail the tattoos he'll be getting. Again, stunned silence. "Mom, Mom, are you still there?" he finally said.

"I think your mother just fainted," advised his father from the extension.

"Just kidding about the tattoos, Mom," he laughed.

This was even less funny than the startling realization that motherhood looks  different when you don't have anything to hold over your children's heads anymore. But after adjusting to the reality that my son carries a gun to work every day, I suppose a motorcycle doesn't seem so bad.

Meanwhile, No. 2 son's check-in call at the beginning of his Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge archaeology adventure as part of his college education began with, "I probably shouldn't tell you this...."

And here is where I began thinking, "Are we really going to have ANOTHER one of these conversations no one told me are part of motherhood?

"The swamp is home to the largest concentration of black bears on the East Coast," he continued. "But don't worry. We've been given lots of safety instructions."

I struggled to remain calm and offer my standard response in stressful situations (the ones where I'm screaming inside): "That's nice, dear."  But the screams in my head were getting louder, so I added, "Such as?"

"If you hear loud noises in the underbrush, be prepared to make loud noises in response," he said.
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Then he offered: "And I probably shouldn't tell you this either, but I may get trained in using a machete."

The screams were now in danger of escaping into the atmosphere.  "Will you be able to use the machete against the three types of poisonous snakes that inhabit the swamp? Because I'm really concerned about the snakes."

"I'm not sure. But don't worry. We've had lots of safety instructions," he repeated.

Don't worry? As much as I wanted to, I didn't scream this out loud. Instead I said: "Maybe you should ask your brother if you can borrow one of his guns."

This was the moment when we both realized I'd gone over the edge: a woman who hates guns was suggesting one son get a firearm from the other. "I don't think they'll allow that, Mom. This is a university course," No. 2 son said, carefully enunciating each word as if trying to placate a crazy woman.

After I calmed down somewhat, I came up with a solution: I probably shouldn't tell you this.... but I'm ordering No. 1 son to get his gun and climb on that motorcycle I didn't want him to buy -- and drive the 3 1/2 hours south from Washington, DC, to retrieve his brother immediately.

Then I'm going to sit down and design that cover for "What I Knew About Motherhood Before I Became a Mother." I think it probably should include a motorcycle and a machete, don't you?

What would the title of your blank book be?


Laurie said...

I enjoyed your post, Pat! I can relate. I know that I'm not going to enjoy a conversation with my daughter when she begins her call by saying, "Mom, we, have a problem..."

Joyce Tremel said...

Pat, I have two grown sons, too. I could have written a very similar post!

No. 1 son worked a couple of summers as a park ranger in Prince William Forest Park in VA. They have snakes and black widow spiders. He now works in that big white building with the dome in DC. I think they have snakes of a different kind there.

No. 2 son lives directly across the street from a city paramedic station which helps put my mind at ease. If something happens, the response time should be about ten seconds.

Joking aside, we should be happy that our relationships with our kids are so open that they'll tell us almost anything.

C.L. Phillips said...


My title for your blank book : "What Mothers Know about their Sons"

:) I was ROFLMAO at this post. Reminded me of when I told my mother I bruised my elbows climbing up the stairs when in fact, I had wrecked my secret hang glider. :) Imagine her delight when she found pictures of the glider 20 years later. Who says I can't keep a secret! :)


Karen in Ohio said...

Pat, it isn't just sons who do this to their moms. My three girls have also, at various times, caused me overnight grey hair.

The older one used to drive back and forth from college in a Fiero she bought from a girlfriend. One time she was run off the road by a semi. If you know anything about Fieros, you know they are really low-slung cars, with not much to them.

My middle daughter is a climber. Now I'm okay with it, but it took a lot of years before I could hear some of her exploits without flinching. And the youngest? She went to a nearly all-male military college--the Citadel, and was in a dorm with mostly men all four years of school. Between the potential for harassment and the heat, and the stress, more grey hair.

It's a miracle any of us make it through our own childhood, let alone our kids'.

Jenna said...

LOL! Mine are still small - 8 & 12 - so I've got a ways to go before the really scary stuff starts happening. As for the book, that's a cute idea. Not surprised at all that the sex one is selling well!

Gina said...

Maybe it's a blessing that I don't have kids . . .
My blank book would be titled "The Answer to Every Legal Question" and it wouldn't be completely blank. On every page would be written these words: "It depends." You can tell I'm an attorney, right?

Patg said...

Gina, yours is priceless.
And since I can identify with all the grey haired moms out there, I think my blank book would be:
Meet The People Who Listen To Advice About Choosing To Be A Mother.

Let's face it, who can fight raging hormones?

PatRemick said...

You all have me laughing! Laurie, my No. 2 son starts those calls with: Um, yeah...
Joyce -- I'm sure those Capitol snakes are worse than the ones in the swamps!
CL I think my boys could use that title for their blank books!
Karen & Pat -- I think I've invested more money in covering my gray because of these children than I spent on their college educations... LOL
Jenna -- you just wait!
Gina -- I think you have a best seller there!!