Friday, April 05, 2013

Author offers community of encouragement

From today's Briefing:


How influential is writer Glennon Doyle Melton? One day in March, she asked blog followers to help secure enough money to place a homeless pregnant teen in a restorative home for two years.

They needed to raise $83,000 in 48 hours, with no single donation exceeding $25. The goal was met in less than six hours.

The Florida-based Melton — mom to three and an openly recovering bulimic and alcoholic — founded the blog, an online community where she shares experiences in parenting and where readers, known as Monkees, offer one another encouragement. (No cruelty allowed.)

Her book, Carry On, Warrior, was released this week. She will sign copies of her book on April 10 at 7 p.m. at A Real Bookstore in Fairview.

We spoke by phone this week. Here are excerpts.

What is the significance of your book’s title?
As parents, we hear over and over again, “Seize the day … it goes by so fast.” You always get the message that you’re supposed to enjoy every moment.

It is extremely hard work. Being a parent, really getting through anything in life — we are warriors, dealing with all the challenges that come our way.

You write often about letting go of the idea of perfection. Why do moms, especially, have such high expectations of themselves and their children? 
In the media there’s a lot of pictures of motherhood — magazine pictures of what it looks like to breastfeed, TV shows where the moms seem to be levelheaded all the time. A lot of the messages are completely different than what we really experience.

Our parents got the same messages, and they sort of acted for us. We become parents, we think, “My mom enjoyed every minute, why don’t I?”

I spend half of my day, every day, reading letters from women — literally hundreds a week. I know it’s not easy for anybody.

You place significance on recognizing “great moments” — not creating an entire “great day.” Why do you emphasize the moments?
I don’t know how anyone could do that any other way. Kids are completely unpredictable.

We’re having the best moment ever at dinner. Two freaking seconds later, in the middle of this moment, one person spills their milk, someone starts screaming. I take a picture in my mind of two or three awesome moments. That’s the best I can do.

How do your Christian beliefs shape your parenting?
They shape everything. I believe in grace completely. I lived a pretty crazy life. The idea of grace for me, all the time, and for everybody else, all the time, is just a helpful way to live. I don’t have to figure out who is deserving of grace and kindness. It’s really pretty simple — grace and love. Those two things are hard enough.

You write that you started your blog as a healing process from bulimia and addiction. How has writing helped?
So many people have a hiding place. Life is pretty hard. We find a place to hide; for me it was addiction. … It was a safe place. No one could touch me there. Writing is how I make sure I don’t go back into hiding. You get all of your darkness out. It’s not so scary when you get it out. It’s just being human. Whenever I start to feel uncomfortable about anything, I write it out.

How long have you been sober?
Ten years and eight months. I quit drinking and binging and purging on the same day — when I found I was pregnant with my oldest. It was a forced coming out of hiding. I really didn’t have a choice.

What do you love about parenting?
It just helps me become a better person. I don’t think I knew who I wanted to be until I knew what I wanted my kids to be.

I want them to be comfortable in their own skin, accept themselves, listen to their hearts, take risks, follow their dreams. They helped me figure out who I want to be.

What do you struggle with as a parent?
I honestly can’t believe how impatient I am. I can think all day while my kids are at school about how much I love them and how fun I’ll be when they get home. And then, I swear, 12 minutes after they get home … when they start telling me a story, I feel like someone is taking me hostage. I feel like a need a tranquilizer.

I struggle with patience and focus, relaxing enough into their little world to just be. I find myself rushing with my children — and we don’t have anywhere to go. I’m telling them to hurry, and I realize we’re just going to the grocery store.

You have a strong connection with your readers. How have you nurtured that sense of community?
I love them so much. I know them. They are me. I’m them. We’re all facing similar challenges, joy and grief, great losses, some triumph. When you get really down deep to the feelings we all have, those are all the same. When we go to that deep level, we all realize how the same we all are.

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