We are happy to welcome Kim Stagliano, an up-and-coming author who has been in the submission phase of this business for a short while. I met Kim a few years back in an online writing group and quickly fell for her wit and charm. We’ve since even met in person and I can tell you she’s cute, smart and sassy, on top of it all! The thing about Kim that is most impressive is that she has been dealt a really challenging hand in the parenthood department, and she has handled the hardship—and trust me, she faces endless challenges—with such incredible grace and humor, I just admire her so much for it. So please welcome Kim Stagliano, and follow some threads to read her submissions to HuffPost and and on her blog. You’ll see what I mean. Deb Jenny
Thanks to the Debutantes for inviting me to guest blog. Never one to read instructions, or follow the rules to the letter, I’m going to take the “Time Capsule” theme and add an unlikely twist. My time capsule will include some bitter pills, along with the usual happy memories, mementos of achievement, and milestone reminders. Some of the debs have written about their musical tastes for the time capsule, so I’ll follow suit.
One of my favorite performers is Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac and solo fame. I don’t wear wispy scarves or claim to be a Welsh witch. (Although my husband will tell you that I can be an Italian-Irish-Venezuelan “rhymes with witch” from time to time.) Like Stevie, I love platform boots and have big hair. One of her lyrics goes, “You cannot know the dream, until you’ve known the nightmare.” And that’s why I would include some of my life’s failures, heartaches and crushing blows in my time capsule.
If you’ve read any of my pieces on Huffington Post, you’ll know that I am “The Mom” to three beautiful girls with autism. (I’m sorry; did you just fall on the floor?) Yes, three daughters with autism. Mia is 13, Gianna turned 12 yesterday, and Bella is seven. My unusual motherhood trajectory has prepared me pretty darn well for the vagaries of publishing. When you have a child who was unable to tell you she’d broken two bones in her arm, the hurdles of writing seem like mere gnats buzzing about. That was my sweet Bella, by the way. When she was five, she fell off her bed, broke her arm, and didn’t have speech to tell me. I put her to bed and didn’t realize her arm was broken until I checked on her twenty minutes later (she was crying) and felt “two elbows.” I lost my “Mother of the Year” certificate on that one.
In remembering my dark moments, I’m able to savor even garden variety joy every day. Things that most moms take for granted are milestone moments for me. For instance, earlier this week, I asked Miss Mia to go get dressed. (I’ve always helped her through every step of dressing.) Imagine my surprise when I went into her room and found that she had pulled shorts off her shelf and put them on! It was too early for a cocktail, so I celebrated with Starbucks (plasma to the autism Mom.)
It is human nature to try to push sadness and difficulty aside, even forget it. I’m learning to embrace my tough moments, and use them as a yardstick against which I can measure my current happiness and success. So while my time capsule will include a photo of the house we moved into two weeks ago, with a gorgeous kitchen and a pool in the backyard, it will also include a snapshot of the larger, grander home we had to sell in 2005, when the double whammy of autism and unemployment nearly wiped us out financially. For every photo of my precious girls smiling, there will be a page ripped from their baby books, unmarked, as developmental milestones went unmet. Along with the photo I took of my cell phone when I got, “the call” from my agent (yeah, I really took a picture of my phone, aren’t I a dork?) there will be a stack of rejections that came first.
Yin and yang. Good and bad. Ups and downs. That’s life. And to quote another favorite singer of mine, Frank Sinatra, “You can’t have one without the other.”
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of www.ageofautism.com and blogs at www.kimstagliano.blogspot.com and www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-stagliano. She is represented by Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency , in New York, and her debut novel is about to go out on submission. She and her husband of 16 years live in Fairfield County, CT with their three daughters.