INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINE LOUISE HOHLBAUM
Author, Diary of A Mother: Parenting Stories And Other Stuff
You may read the review of the book
Is a book always as good as its author? Is it always
a mirror of its author's intellectual and
psychological make-up and behavioural thrust?
It would be a mistake to confuse the author with the characters that she is trying to portray. The subject matter that one chooses and the decision one makes as an author to portray the characters in one way or another is an academic decision, not necessarily a personal one. Whether a book is good or not depends on the reader and her assessment of the subject matter, not the author’s assessment. I would not agree that a book always reflects the author’s personal beliefs. Stephen King, for instance, is a normal family man who lives in Maine. The characters he chooses to portray are oftentimes off-the-wall paranormal figures. I don’t think he, his friends, or his family are that way. If they were, I certainly wouldn’t want to be invited over for a turkey dinner!
Can you suggest an alternative title for your book?
An alternative title might be something like Confessions of a Mother: The Good, The Bad, The Best!
How has your book been performing in the market
Because I live in Germany, it has been a challenge to market the book in German bookstores. I am translating it into German and have several possibilities to translate it into Japanese, Korean, and possibly Mandarin Chinese.
Do you think the image of your publisher has an
impact on your sales?
iUniverse is a very reputable publisher. Several of the 850,000 authors at iUniverse have received traditional publishing contracts for their work. Once people know about the subject matter of Diary of a Mother, a universal theme of life with children, they delve right into the book. The challenge is getting the word out there about Diary of a Mother.
What advice do you have for educated ladies who
deem it an anathema to have children?
They need to learn to let go, laugh about the things that happen, and have fun. They also need to learn to care for themselves in a way that works for everyone. The purpose behind the book was to show the metamorphosis of an Ivy League educated career woman into a stay-at-home mom and housewife. I recently held a book signing in my small Bavarian town. People laughed until they cried and applauded at the end of one of the chapters that I read aloud. My goal is to let parents know that they are not alone, to acknowledge their feelings, and to move on. That is exactly what the protagonist does at the end of the book.
Do children contribute in any way to the high rate
of divorce that largely benefit family lawyers?
Divorce comes about for a variety of reasons. It would be wrong to blame children for parents’ problems. As adults, we make decisions every day that are sometimes good and sometimes bad. Staying focused on our goals (healthy family life, strong marriage, commitment, love, understanding, etc.) is one sure-fire way to avoid a family breakup. Add open, honest communication, and a huge dash of humour, and you have a strong antidote to most marital problems.
Are you a full-time mother/housewife by choice or
necessity? When you see a lady as educated and exposed
as you are revelling in her child-free status, how do
I am a full-time mother by choice. I tried all types of working models: full-time, part-time, flex-time, etc. It all led to little time with family and a lot of stress. Before my second child was born, I made the decision to quit my job to spend the summer with my then two-year-old daughter. It was important for me to focus on her because I knew that once Jackson arrived, things would change dramatically. They have!
There are moments when I feel I would love to spend a week as a child-free single person, cast off all the responsibilities that are heaped upon most mothers, and be as selfish as they come. But then I’d miss the kisses, the dancing, the laughter, the listening, the hugs, and yes even the heartache that comes with mothering. It is the most intense experience, and I am a richer person for it. Even as I am stretched emotionally, physically and psychologically beyond my perceived limits, I am reminded of the importance of my job to raise loving, compassionate human beings.
If you were to lead your life all over again, would
you follow the same path you followed, and have the
same family you have today?
Do you think your children will be proud to read in
the next 10 years of how you portrayed them in your
book? They are on their way to becoming teenagers.
Great question! I have often asked my four-year-old daughter if she minds me writing stories based on my experiences with her and her brother. She smiles and says, “No!” She is the type of child who, when asked what she wants to be for Halloween, says “Sophia, because that is who I am!” Her strong sense of self is a remarkable quality that I admire. My son is very laid back, and I believe that when they are teenagers, they may very well protest about the way I portrayed them. Then again, they may protest about everything!
There is a cornucopia of concepts on parenting,
some anchored on religion, others on secularism. Where
do you stand?
I recently wrote an article called “Powerful Families, Powerful Lives”. Empowering children to make wise choices at an early age is essential. We pray at our meals, talk about Jesus, and interweave his teachings into our daily lives. In preparation for Thanksgiving, for instance, we had a gratitude turkey. Each day the children would write down something for which they were grateful on a paper feather. Then we would glue it to our turkey. Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth, and they know that. For us, it is important to live Christ’s teachings, not just to talk about them.
Should parents-in-law be the recourse of young
Any help that mothers can get is super! My parents-in-law live too far away for any daily assistance, but we truly enjoy visiting with them because my husband and I can actually have a conversation when the children are in the room! The kids are preoccupied with Oma and Opa, and we can relax a bit. We arrange for babysitters about twice a month so that we can go out, remind ourselves that we as a couple are equally important, and to recharge our batteries. It is a misnomer to think that, as a mother, you can do it all. You might be able to do it all, but not all at once! There is a time and place for everything, including rest.
Where do you go from here? When will you reach
your self-actualisation point as an author? Any family
focused title in the pipeline?
I have been writing stories since I was eleven. It was a dream come true to publish Diary of a Mother. Now I have a second manuscript entitled S.A.H.M. I Am: Tales of a Stay-At-Home Mom that is under review at a traditional publishing house. The stories are equally witty and heartwarming, though the setting is now not Boston, but Germany! I also have a novel in the works which will require some travel to Northern Maine where the story is set. It will come, all in good time. My passion for writing has only been fed through the success I have had with Diary of a Mother. Every person who has read it has related to it. The amazing thing is that it speaks to parents and non-parents alike. There is something in it for everyone.