Zibby Owens on "Moms Don't Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology"
- Interview By
- Liz McDaniel
There is so much parenting knowledge in this book. Are there specific essays you would recommend for the mom who really doesn’t have time to read all of them?
As you said, a lot of them do touch on the parenting angle. One that is kind of about parenting is an essay by Janice Kaplan where she takes a trip to Japan with her grown son. It is one of that has stayed with me because you realize what it is that we’re all working so hard towards, and it is getting kids to this independent stage where one day you can meet them in Japan and have them tour you all over the country. So in a way, that’s sort of shining a spotlight on the finish line for the moms like you and me who are in the thick of it. I also loved “Lessons from My Origami Failures” by Nicole Kear because that was about one of these days which I could just as easily be having today when your kid asks you to do something that should be easy and she was having to teach herself origami and she just couldn’t get it right and she wanted to quit. And actually it was her daughter who said, “You can’t quit, you told me not to quit!” so she stuck with it. So that’s another one. Just not giving up. For anyone who struggles with YouTube tutorials, as we all have, that’s an encouraging one to read.
Having been able to accomplish so much in quarantine, I am wondering what you’ve learned over the last year and if you have any advice for parents in this be-all-the-things-to-all-the-people-moment?
I’ve learned to just keep my head down. That’s what I say to myself everyday when I start panicking about the future. I used to be a total planner. I had trips booked a year and a half out and everything was planned and that gave me a lot of security. Of course now I’ve learned that’s all a complete joke and we have no control over life. But to sort of mitigate that anxiety and to deal with my kids more effectively, I just continue to remind myself to keep my head down. Stay where I am today. Focus on the kids. Focus on what I have to do right now. And try to look up at their eyes ever so often, but look down in terms of what we have to do today.
Now I want to tap into your superior book-recommending brain. First, books about parenting?
One of my favorite books is by Carla Naumburg “How Not To Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids.” That’s one of my favorites because it’s all about managing your own emotions. And I really love Rachel Bertsche’s book, she’s in the anthology, called "The Kids are In Bed.” It’s just a great testament to using time wisely and how to get all of these other things into your life in a great way.
Any books coming up that you're excited about?
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, who wrote "The Nest", has a new book called “Good Company.” It’s about a couple that’s been married for twenty years and they were in an acting company and they move to LA and it’s all about what happens with their friends and family.
And books that you have turned to again and again during the pandemic?
I have a special place in my heart for “Writer’s & Lovers” by Lily King. That’s the one I think about the most and talk about the most because I’m so grateful to it. I also loved “The Vanishing Half” by Britt Bennett . I’m just really grateful to books where I lose all sense of time and place.
Finally, can you speak to what inspires you to do the work that you do, connecting authors and readers?
Stories are how we all connect. I don’t know why I made this my mission, but I just feel this overwhelming calling to do what I’m doing, which sounds so hokey, but I just feel like I’m the one who is supposed to be doing this, so I just keep doing it. Personally, I’ve gotten so much out of books and reading and writing for my whole life.
And I really want people to know that you can read a page and you still get the benefits of reading. You can still immediately snap out of your own life much more easily than if you were to run yourself a warm bath, which I don’t know which moms are doing this, but it’s not me. If I need a reset, I can just crack open a book and it’s so easy. I just want everyone else to try it if they haven’t or get back into it. Or spend a few minutes that you’re on instagram—and mind you, I’m on instagram at least an hour a day so I’m not saying don’t do instagram. But take ten minutes and read. Read an essay. Read one of these essays. Read something and learn something and feel and just experience more of life.
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