Author: Good Night June
BCM : How did your life change when you became a mom?
SJ: Well my first son had colic, so I was immediately in sink-or-swim mode as a mother. I remember those early weeks so clearly (so many tears—his and mine!). I was both drowning in the joy and exhaustion of it all. I had a very hard delivery, and there was a lot of recovery involved, too. Even still, I think back to that time with fond memories: I sat on a couch for weeks, recovered, and fell in love with a baby with the most beautiful brown eyes. I set my priorities, my work, my world aside to get to know him (crying and all). It was such a profound time in my life.
BCM: What has/have been your most memorable moment(s) as a mom?
SJ: So many, but I will share one that just happened: I’m a runner (I run daily if my schedule allows it), and it has been such a joy to introduce running to my three sons (ages 7, 5, and 3). They’ve seen me run many races in the past few years, and recently I signed the two little ones up for a 1-mile fun run in my hometown, and my 7-year-old opted to run the 5-mile race with me. I was so very proud of him. We held hands the entire way (his preference!) and we crossed the finish line in under 57 minutes (not bad for a first grader!). He was so happy and proud of his accomplishment. I have been running this race since I was in elementary school, so it was particularly poignant to share it with my children. I had tears in my eyes in the final lap—tears of joy. I don’t think there is anything greater than sharing something you love with your children, only to find that they love it too.
BCM: What has been the biggest challenge for you in motherhood. Any advice for new moms?
SJ: My biggest challenge has been navigating the “mom guilt” that I think so many mothers fall into. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but from day one, I’ve found it easy to sink into feelings of inadequacy in motherhood—the idea that I should be doing more cool things for/with my kids, feeding them more healthy/organic/exotic foods, enrolling them in art, violin, cooking classes—you name it. Recently I had an epiphany, though. I decided to redirect the energy I was pouring into my mom-guilt into just having quality, nurturing time with my sons, and it’s paid off in huge ways for my happiness and theirs. Ultimately, I’ve realized that time spent hanging in the backyard with the garden hose may go a lot farther in terms of a happy childhood than high-priced cultural experiences that I guilt myself into thinking I must arrange.
BCM: Congrats on your sixth book–Goodnight June. What was your inspiration behind writing Goodnight June?
SJ: Thank you! I am so very excited about the release of Goodnight June. It is entirely inspired from my experience as a mom. I sat in the yellow and white gingham upholstered rocking chair in my upstairs nursery every night for years and read three boys Goodnight Moon. After hundreds (thousands?) of times reading the story, I began to wonder about its author, Margaret Wise Brown. Who was she? What was she like? And what was her inspiration for ‘the great green room.’ When I let my imagination begin to wander, my characters began to whisper, and I had the beginnings of a novel. Motherhood definitely inspired this book.
BCM: What are your favorite books to read to your sons?
SJ: My boys love all of their old picture books from babyhood (including Goodnight Moon, and all the beloved Golden Books), and we still return to them often, especially at bedtime. But lately we’ve been delving into chapter books, which my oldest son helps to read. Our favorite series right now: The Magic Treehouse books.
BCM: How do you manage your work/life balance?
SJ: It is a constant struggle to find balance, but I tend to work as often as possible after the boys are in bed (which requires discipline—I’ll admit, I sometimes want to hit the couch with a glass of wine and some TV-time), and on weekends. I’ve managed to write seven books over the last four years by cobbling together bits and pieces of time, and it’s somehow worked. I do drink a lot of coffee and sleep very little as a result. But I wouldn’t have my life any other way.
BCM: What are your favorite activities to do with your sons? Any fun family “must do” activities you can recommend to other moms?
SJ: I love to cook, but I also love the joy of eating out, and I’ve taught my sons to be good at restaurants and to appreciate the dining experience. We go out for sushi a lot (they love sushi!). We also love simple pleasures, like running through grassy fields, throwing rocks into Lake Washington and talking about whether sharks might be swimming out there in the deep (this was a point of discussion today), and catching a ferry over to Bainbridge Island to visit my parents. I also took all three kiddos to Pike Place Market recently and they had the full Seattle experience: flowers, produce, honey sticks, and then lunch at Lowell’s.
I’m totally obsessed with…Nespresso. I was an early adopter, and have been drinking a double-shot Americano from my trusty Nespresso machine every day for years and years. I also usually have one in the afternoon too.
My biggest influence is… Maeve Binchy. I fell in love with the stories of this late Irish author in high school and decided that I would like to one day create the kind of worlds she created in her books. She was a great.
My favorite drugstore buy is…Jergen’s Natural Glow lotion. I love this stuff! I have been using it for years and it’s a great way for this pale Seattle girl to look like she’s got a little sun (when she hasn’t).
My guilty pleasure is…The Bachelor. I’m sorry, it’s true. And while we’re confession, I’ll add another: The Bachelorette. And, oh dear, Bachelor Pad. I would love to have lunch with Chris Harrison.
My favorite color is… Green.
My favorite NYC activity is… I want to go running on the Highline next time I’m in town (next month!).
My favorite Seattle activity is…Wandering through the Pike Place Market cobblestone streets on a sunny day.
My favorite NYC restaurant is…ABC Kitchen. I had a lovely dinner there with my three agents last time I was in New York. I’m still thinking about the fiddlehead ferns.
My favorite Seattle restaurant is…I adore a little place in my neighborhood called Pair—small plates, amazing atmosphere, great cocktails, warm service. I’ve been going there for years, and I always take people there when I’m in town. It’s also fun that the cemetery across the street is the very place I used for an important scene in the novel that made me a New York Times bestseller, Blackberry Winter.