I thought about doing a little bit of photo editing before posting this picture, or not posting it at all, but I decided to go with it — shiny face, awkward smile, and all. That… More
Back when I wrote the first part of my first novel, Ruby Among Us, I was a single mom. I
finished it after I was remarried and signed a book contract for its publication after just a few years of marriage. One of the things everyone wanted to talk about when Ruby Among Us was published was how my previous journey as a single mom intertwined with the single mom aspect of my book. I didn’t mind talking about it. At the time it was one of the biggest redirects of my life. Because that’s how we grow and change, right? It takes big events to turn us in a new direction in order for us to really discover who we are, and that’s how I got to my fourth novel, The Real Thing.
It shouldn’t surprise me or my original readers that when I wrote The Real Thing, my journey as a stepmom would come into play. Some people would like to think that the main character, Manda, is me, but I’m not nearly as exciting as she is. Still, I did write about her because stepfamilies are important to me. I’ve experienced a lot of misunderstanding about my role as a stepmom, from those who assume I wouldn’t love my sons as much because I am their stepmom, to those who assume their real mom is out of the picture when she is not. My husband and my daughter go through the same song and dance, because he is her stepdad, they are close, and she also has another dad in the picture. These nuances of our stepfamily have definitely helped me to understand how my two characters, Manda and her new husband, Keith, might feel about parenting, and about the challenges that parenting might, and do, bring to their relationship.
Like Manda and Keith, parenting was the most important thing to my husband and I early in our relationship. Not that it isn’t now, but at that point, our relationship survival was dependent on the success of our being, and staying, a family. If we didn’t take care of our kids, then what was the point? When I first started writing The Real Thing, our kids were junior high and early high school. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t model Manda’s stepdaughter, Peyton, in part, after my three children. Over the years, I feel like we’ve all experienced the most wonderful highs and the hardest lows of being a stepfamily, but the hardest is watching the kids struggle and hoping and praying they grow up to be stronger, to still value marriage, value themselves even more, and to feel loved.
To explore this aspect of blended families, The Real Thing deals with the disappearance of the ex-wife and how it affects everyone in the family, but especially Manda, the new stepmom, and the teen daughter, Peyton. Peyton can’t get the idea that her mother is out there and still wants her out of her head. It wasn’t too difficult for me to imagine what Peyton would have felt like when I had three children who, over the years, showed me a plethora of emotions about missing their other parents when they were with us, and missing us when they were with them.
No work of fiction is ever a biography of the author, and neither is The Real Thing a biography of me or my family, but when a reader feels like the author has unique insight into a situation, it might be that they’ve been through something like it, or that they’ve walked through it with someone else. Both are definitely true for me as the author of The Real Thing. I’ve been through it, and I’ve walked through it with my family. In fact, we are still walking through it.
If you are interested in The Real Thing, please check it out Here:
I spent some time with my daughter this weekend – it’s true you’re going to be hearing about her a lot since its her senior year – and I decided I’m an okay mom. As I watched her in the wilderness in her braids, ball cap, and perfect skin (all young skin is perfect!), I couldn’t help but comparing her to the younger me.
When I was her age, I was the one who was supposed to be dependable, and yet I set about making a series of spontaneous decisions that sent me in a direction that nobody would have ever expected. Oh, don’t worry. They weren’t detrimental decisions – I got her out of it – but I can’t help that if I’d been as smart as her, I might have learned some lessons earlier. And I if I’d been easier on her at times, I wouldn’t be worried that I ever broke her heart. If I’d never gotten divorced, she wouldn’t have to deal with the blended family thing, if I’d only this, or only that… I could go on and on with a thousand things I probably did wrong with her. But just look at her.
Just look at her. She’s amazing anyway, and better than me in a thousand ways.
I know she’s going to surprise us, probably in good and maybe not always perfect ways (if she’s human), but I can’t help thinking that she’s already at the place where I didn’t arrive until I was much older than she is now.
So, maybe I learned something from my mistake after all, and maybe I said some things to her, or did some things that she could see, that helped her get where she is.
Sometimes, we parents beat ourselves up about all the mistakes we’ve made when we’re raising our children, but the truth is, if we do our best, then it’s all we can do. And friends, just after I typed the previous sentence, I remembered that those words were recently quoted by my daughter in an article in the newspaper. I’m not sure who said them first. If I had to guess, I’d say it was my own parents.
I guess my parents did okay too. So, hang in there. Just do your best and let your kids know you love them.
If you do your best, and love them, it’s all you can do.
(Photo owned and copyrighted by Tina Ann Forkner 2016)
Can someone please tell me how to pause my daughter’s senior year? This season in her life, in my life as a mom, is going by so fast! I just want to hang on to every day, but the days are spinning by faster than the leaves changed color and fell from the aspens this year.
Over the years I’ve tried to capture her in stories, images of characters that in my mind are really her, such as a few of Ruby’s scenes as a little girl in Ruby Among Us, and more recently, Ruthie in Waking Up Joy (you knew it because of the hair, right?). The problem is that like unlike those stories, the pages of her life keep turning no matter how many times I try to bookmark them. And yet, it’s such a happy time too.
I love seeing her move on her journey, heading to wherever and whatever God has planned for her story. Still, my momma’s heart skips a beat each time I think about this being the last time for this and for that, and I can’t help feeling like the pages are now turning all on their own. Before, when she still needed me for a lot more things than she does now, God let me have a hand in writing her story, but now, she gets to be the author of her life. It’s hard to pass on the pen, but I can’t wait to read the rest of her story.
(Photos are all taken and copyrighted by Tina Ann Forkner 2016: Hannah and her sweet best friend, Rachel.)
You might have already heard of BookBub, but if not, I wanted to let my readers know I have a profile on this site. BookBub is very popular with book lovers, so if you haven’t checked it out, I’d love for you to follow me there to receive occasional updates from BookBub about my new releases and limited deals.
Every now and then one of my publishers has a book deal on BookBub for readers, but they are always for a short time only. I wouldn’t want you and your friends to miss out! Thanks for your support.