Catholic Mom Book Spotlight

Invisible Underwear, Bus Stop Mommies and Other Things True to Life
by Karen Rinehart
paperback, 232 pages, PublishAmerica, April 2004
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As moms, we can sometimes get carried away with the craziest things and the only way to put things into the proper perspective is to stop, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and laugh at the situation.  Catholic Mom and author Karen Rinehart's new book, Invisible Underwear, Bus Stop Mommies and Other Things True to Life is the perfect gift for any mom, grandma, or for yourself, when you just need a good laugh to start the day!  From the very first chapter, I found myself laughing and nodding - I always admire authors' abilities to capture in words the emotions that run through my mind.  In Invisible Underwear, Bus Stop Mommies and Other Things True to Life I know that you will, as I did, find yourself relating to so many of the stories.  Order this book, have a great time reading it, and share it with a friend...and get ready to smile!

Lisa,
Webmaster, CatholicMom.com

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CM: Karen, thanks for taking your time to participate in this CatholicMom.com Book Spotlight. Please tell our readers about your book. What was your inspiration for writing the book and what is it all about?  

I wrote this book because I am one to do anything… anything, I tell you, to avoid ironing.  Ironing and mopping the kitchen floor.  I’d been writing my newspaper column, True To Life, for about a year, when a colleague (a hysterically funny syndicated newspaper columnist) encouraged me to compile my writings into a book.  I figured he must know what he was talking about.

I grouped columns with similar themes, then created chapters accordingly.  For instance, the chapter, “Domestic Bliss”, includes columns titled: “My Other Home: The Laundry Room”; “The New Iron”; “What’s For Dinner?” and “Everything I Know About My Son I Learned From Emptying His Pockets”.

Preceding some columns, I added brief introductions or insider tidbits on how the column came to be, feedback I received or if it’s all true.

One goal of the book is to reach more readers.  I regularly receive letters from readers who’ve forwarded my columns (either clipped from the paper or taken off line) to family and friends.  Some folks contact me after a column was sent to them, and ask how they can read my columns where they live.  One woman here in Concord, clips every column and gives them to her daughter in law who doesn’t receive the local paper. (Yes, they get along wonderfully). 

So the book is a way to share the fun, the laughs, the poignancy of real life with others outside of my newspaper readership areas. It’s also been a great way to arrange speaking engagements with various organizations, book clubs, moms groups, etc.  I truly enjoy meeting new and “old” readers.

CM: Could you please share with us a little about your family and how as a busy wife and mom you found time to author and publish this great book?

Naively, I thought this book thing would be so simple.  I mean, the columns were already written, right?  All I had to do was stick them together on one floppy disc and call it a day, right?  Ha!  There were days of edits, edits and more edits…where ironing actually sounded more fun.  Writing a book can be hard work and marketing the book is even harder…but I believe I’m using my God-given gifts for the better, so that knowledge, combined with encouragement from family, friends and strangers, (and a LOT of Hail Marys) keeps me going.

Thanks be to God for a wonderful husband and kids who know how to pick up the slack.  I could never be as productive as I am without their support.  Not to mention my husband is the techno guy in this house and my computer skills stink.

I’ve never wanted to be one of those moms who was so engrossed in “work” or “career” that my domestic/family responsibilities suffered.  There have been though, a few rough times when deadlines loomed and I acted less than charitable or domestic.  Somehow my family found a way to live on leftover pasta for three days straight and come through relatively unscathed.  My daughter stays stoic—she’s sure there’s a reward for her in it in the end—“Mom, when you sell a million books, can we go stay at The Plaza Hotel in New York City?”  Such an imagination that girl has.

CM: What message are you hoping to share with moms who read your book?

You are not alone!  You’re normal! You are a good mom even if your feet stick to your kitchen floor, you have ring around the toilet and you occasionally throw something and scream, “Who do you think I am? Your slave???” 

The feedback I received from the column, “Productive Day Guilt” brought me to tears of humility and joy.  Yes, it’s great fun to hear my writing makes people laugh and how much readers relate…but it is so humbling to share with other moms and let them avoid the mistakes I made when my kids were younger (even though this is not the deliberate message or intended goal of the book).  We are moms—this is the noblest of professions—why didn’t someone tell me that when my kids were younger and I was obsessed with how much I “accomplished” in a day at home.  How come I didn’t laugh more and stress less?

CM: While your book is not specifically "religious" in nature, you tap into your Catholic faith for many of your columns. How has Catholicism been a part of your life and how does your family celebrate your Catholic faith?

I’m a member of a growing group of Catholics raised in the 60’s and 70’s who, as adults, have returned to the Church we abandoned in our younger years.  To have read, researched, studied and questioned our Faith as an adult…to have learned the incredible Truth of the One Holy Catholic Church founded on the Apostles…has made me love the Church and being Catholic like I never thought possible.

My husband, raised Presbyterian, has accompanied me on this journey of discovering the Truth, yet he has not converted.  He does, however, attend Mass with us every week and make sure the children attend CCD, youth group and the Sacraments.  My brother the Priest, says Scott is more Catholic than a lot of Catholics!

This past summer, while in the throes of assembling this book, our family was faced with a painful ordeal.  It was during this time of anger and anguish that I realized the absolute beauty and necessity of memorized prayers—something I think is inherently Catholic.   When the stress was so great, the sorrow so deep, the future fearful, the words and joy missing—what strength I gained from reciting the memorized prayers of the Church.  To paraphrase, Even when you don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will understand and carry your prayers to Heaven…

CM: Writing and publishing your book is such a major accomplishment! What are your personal and professional goals for the future?

Personally, I’d like to continue raising my kids without scarring them too badly for life.  My daughter will be twelve this summer and my son just started driver’s ed.  Get the picture?  Right, the hardest days are ahead! My fervent prayer for my family is that the kids will grow in their love for the Lord, never abandon the Faith like I did, but rather, live it fully, and for my husband to decide he wants to join us at the Lord’s table.

Professionally, I’d love to say hello to all of you from the set of Regis and Kelly, Oprah and Good Morning America!  I mean, why not?!  (Write those producers!) I’d like to do more speaking engagements and book signings. It is truly a joy to meet other readers, especially moms who share the same values, and hear how we relate to each other.  I see other books in the future—maybe a shorter collection of columns, maybe an anthology totally unrelated to my newspaper columns and perhaps a story about having Priests in your family.

CM: Thanks again for your time! Are there any closing thoughts or ideas you'd like to share with our readers?

Please let me share some serious wisdom I’ve learned in the last several years: I was so adamant when my kids were born that no matter the sacrifice, I needed to be home with them.  I still firmly believe this, but I’ve also learned that as they get older, they need you home even more.  It’s during these older years that they’ll be faced with scarier life changing decisions (drugs, cheating on school work, the Internet, etc.) and they need us rested, vigilant and attentive.  The stories the other moms and students tell about what’s happening in our children’s’ middle schools and high schools make me want to go live on an island.   And these are public and Catholic schools!  Unplug the IM, know your kids’ friends and their parents, ask questions, be nosy, take naps, let them see you laugh, apologize when necessary.  Make them clean their own bathroom for Pete sake.

Finally, I think others do a better job describing my book and what I write better than I do! You can read book reviews on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and my website, www.karenrinehart.net.

Thanks for letting me share this part of me with you.

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