For all the unsolicited advice today’s parents receive on the right way to do, well, just about everything, there’s one thing we’re all trying to do exactly the same: a good job. In the brief slice of time we have at day’s end, we often reach for parenting books promising the latest research, laughter—and sometimes just good old affirmation—to calm our worries. Here, meet three Colorado authors offering just that by successfully intersecting their careers with the role of Mom:
There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer by Pam Moore
Authors don’t typically receive their own book as a birthday gift, but that’s exactly what happened to Boulder writer Pam Moore. The existence of There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer, a selection of Moore’s most poignant, relatable, and self-deprecating blog posts—from her late 20s triathlete days, to marriage, motherhood, and back to running—was a 37th birthday gift. Her husband, Dan, secretly hired a copy editor; a graphic designer; asked other writers to pen blurbs for the cover jacket; and had a copy in hand by late 2015. And then? He caught her teary-eyed reaction on video.
Having moved to Boulder in 2008 from Rhode Island, Moore—now a mom of two girls, born 2012 and 2014—began blogging at Whatevsblog.com after finishing her first Ironman as a way to share her training stories. Moore’s writing is particularly magnetic when she regales the reader with stories of training bike rides and swims that conclude in her, well, losing all track of time/direction. In an early essay, “A Three-Hour Tour,” she knocks on a stranger’s door seeking directions—and ends up with a ride home.
Moore has since completed six marathons and clocked her fastest half-marathon ever post-baby. These days, with her time at a premium, she mostly runs. But while she’s an athlete now, she wasn’t always that way: “As a kid, I was horrible at sports,” she says. “It was a painful experience, being teased. But once I realized I enjoyed running, I had something to prove. Then it was like, ‘How can I improve, can I get faster, can I do more?’ ”
Pick up There’s No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer on Amazon, or at Flatirons Running, Full Cycle, and The Mama’hood in Boulder. —Sarah Protzman Howlett
Science of Parenthood by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler
The Science of Parenthood came about via the creative endeavors—and parenting experiences—of two moms. Denver-based Jessica Ziegler, the daughter of a New Yorker cartoonist, had a web design and illustration background. Her friend Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, based in Orlando, had written about parenting on her personal Facebook page that friends ate up. But Dworkin-McDaniel, a talented writer with 25 years of experience in magazines, needed illustration to really drive her jokes home, eventually calling Ziegler at her Highlands Ranch home. “She pitched me on the idea and I said, ‘Wow, that sounds like a whole lot of free work,’” Ziegler says. “But then we were on the phone for an hour and a half, and she ended up selling me on the idea.” The duo first self-published two books—The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets—before striking a traditional publishing deal with Science of Parenthood in November 2015.
The quick read is full of juicy blurbs, graphics, and charts—parents of toddlers and younger, see “Pavlov’s High Chair,”; tween parents, please reference “Orders of Magni-’tude,”—ideal for the rushed parent who likes to read for two or even three minutes before falling asleep. Life provided plenty of fodder for Ziegler, mother of an 11-year-old son, and Dworkin-McDaniel, who is raising a 10-year-old boy. “We find the time because we each only have one kid,” Ziegler jokes. “Toxic Shock” is one of Dworkin-McDaniel favorites, based on the time, as Ziegler tells it, that “her baby decided to play Jackson Pollock with his poop.” Ziegler’s favorite part? “Special Shoelace Relativity,” she says. “It’s based on the concept of time passing differently based on what’s going on.” Check out The Science of Parenting on Amazon. —SPH
8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom by Gretchen Gagel
When Gretchen Gagel started brainstorming a title for her book, 8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom, her first choice was a tad less tactful, but oh-so honest. “I wanted to title it, I Want Everyone Who Thinks You’re a Bad Mom to F-Off,” she says. For one of motherhood’s most poignant questions—to work or not to work?—the advice in Gagel’s book is simple: Do what is right for you.
The mother of two college-aged children traveled 46 weeks a year when her children were young. When a friend asked for advice on the seemingly impossible balance of motherhood and a career, Gagel knew she’d need to write a book to hash out all the details. So she wrote one on vacation about 13 years ago. She then edited her first draft on another vacation. Gagel says she knew the downtime would be her only chance to write because work waited for her at home. Gagel is currently the president of Continuum Advisory Group, a consulting firm to clients like GM, Questar Gas, and NiSource, but her career experience ranges from working at Coca-Cola and Ralston Purina to being the president of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and the assistant dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. “Figuring out parenting and career choices is something you don’t talk about,” Gagel says. “There is a lot of guilt involved. Internally we think we need to be Betty Crocker, Bill Gates, and Heidi Klum all in one person.”
When it comes to her children, Gagel says she’s aware that her career means she can’t be at every single event in her kids’ lives. But to make sure she doesn’t disappoint them, Gagel directly asked them what they consider can’t-miss moments. Their answer: birthdays. Gagel has never missed one of her kids’ birthdays, including making a travel pit stop this year at her son’s college to take him to dinner. 8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom breaks down Gagel’s advice and experience into easily consumed parts with space and prompts to explore your own situation. “This book could have been 10,000 pages, but I wanted it to be short,” Gagel says. (The book is 146 pages.) “We’re talking about working moms trying to fit this in.” Find 8 Steps to Being a Great Working Mom on Amazon. —Lindsey R. McKissick