Recently I was blessed to get to interview the author Sherry Boas. Sherry has written a variety of books, including A Mother’s Bouquet, Rosary Meditations for Moms, and The Lily Series, a fiction series, in which the main character has Down Syndrome. She wrote the fiction book Wing Tip about the potential power of family secrets. Additionally, Sherry has written two children’s books, Little Maximus Myers about an altar server who can’t carry the heavy cross and recently she released the children’s book Billowtail about a little squirrel who finds himself on the Way of St. James, in Spain.
Our time together, was such a wonderful time of discussion and fellowship. It reminded me that even upon meeting a stranger, as a Catholic, we already have so much in common to begin a friendship. I pray that you enjoy the wisdom Sherry shared with me during our interview. She has such wonderful insights and advice on motherhood, it was really inspiring for me!
Q: Who is Sherry Boas?
Sherry and her husband Phil have been married for 18 years. They are the adoptive parents of 4 children, ages 16,14,12, and 9. She and her husband adopted all 4 of their children as infants and she shared with us that their 3rd child was born with Down Syndrome. Their youngest son was born at 5 months gestation and while he suffered through many medical issues in the beginning, she is happy to report that miracles have occurred and that he’s doing well now.
Q: What advice do you have for parents considering adoption?
Motherhood is an amazing vocation and if you’re called to it, consider it one of the greatest gifts to be given to you. Through adoption we are able to see how God’s plan unfolds in a very unique way. It’s laid out in a very clear way that this child was meant for you and for your specific family. God sent this specific child to this specific family. The realization of motherhood and the vocation are also clear in my mind, as I watch my children journey as siblings together through life and God willing that we would journey as a family to Heaven together.
Q: What lead you to become an author? Did you always want to be an author?
I did. I worked for 10 years with a newspaper and I had many fabulous experiences. They were preparing life experiences, for what was to come. Motherhood is what most inspired me to write. The skills came from my journalism background, it was the intersection of humanity, there were tragedies and joy and I was thrust into it, sometimes as an outsider, but I found myself feeling what they felt. Without motherhood, however I would have never have had the material to write the Lily books. It is my experience of motherhood, it’s not a biography or a memoir, it’s just how a mother looks at things differently, through the lense of motherhood, were able to see the world and people in a different way.
I went into journalism to pay the bills, but in my heart of hearts, I wanted to be an author. I forgot as time went on and I focused on my journalism career. I knew I would be a stay-at-home mom and I told my boss I don’t know when the phone will ring, but when it does I’m quitting, and when the phone rang, I quit. I just immersed myself in motherhood. It was fabulous, it was more than I had ever thought it would be, and then in 2009, my oldest was 11 years old and I had a realization. My friend was a writer, mother of 2 and I thought, if she has time to do it, maybe I can to and then a story just flew into my head. It was just 1 story. I wrote the book and figured I was done, I had set out to write a book, and I had done that, then a friend approached me and asked when I would be writing the second one. She pointed out that I had left the ending open, I hadn’t realized that. The same thing happened after I finished writing the second book. I felt complete after the third, but then I started to miss the characters so I wrote the fourth and fifth book. The fourth and fifth ones are for me. I love to write fiction. The time I’m most inspired to write is the most fun, when I create, when I have things happen the way I want them to happen.
Q: When do you find time to write?
I usually write between 9pm and 1am. If a thought comes in my head, I jot notes down throughout the day. Through the course of a day, my mind is firing and I write them down and later, in that evening chunk of time, I go back to them.
Q: You own your own publishing company Caritas Press, but your books are released through Catholic Word, why is that?
Catholic Word takes small publishing companies, who books are in line to build up the kingdom of Christ, and they help publish and promote the books. They are who I am in publishing, without them I couldn’t do it. You’ll notice that even on my own Caritas Press website, the book purchase links go right to Catholic Word.
Q: What would you say to moms who want to pursue a passion, like writing ?
Something else can be good for you and for your family, and then there are seasons when it’s not possible, and it would disrupt the harmony and peace of your motherhood. When my children were young and my son was very sick, I was caring for him around the clock and I was not inspired to write then, in fact it would have been an impossible time to write, and what I wanted to do, had to get pushed aside, because I was busy saving a life. Then there were some miracles and now he’s healthy and then I began to write. There are things that fulfill us, other than changing diapers but it has to be worked in and put in a priority list. There has to be a balance. Sometimes when I’m writing my youngest will come to me and tell me he’s hungry. All the others have already gotten something, but I can’t ignore him, I have to stop and care for him, it’s my primary vocation. All women are called to motherhood, whether spiritual, biological, adoptive, we are called to nurture, feed, protect and shelter these children. We are called to use these feminine gifts to care for souls.
I had a visiting nurse one time tell me, everything seems ok here, but what are you doing for you? Later that night I told my husband, the world tells me I should be getting a manicure and pedicure, and she probably thinks I’m crazy, but I’m busy saving a life. That’s what mothers are doing everyday. We feed and nourish our children with food and spiritually as well so that they can live in heaven. It’s so amazing that we’re allowed this privilege, we’re sustaining lives.
Q: What advice do you give to struggling moms, particularly moms who struggle in general with motherhood?
I know a lot of moms struggle, especially when they come from the career world, and now they’re home and it’s the same diapers every day and when they get older, it’s the same quarrels and you feel like, how many times am I going to have to say that, but if you think about it, every human endeavor is monotonous. When I write I have an explosion of inspiration and then what, then I have to edit what I wrote, and I’d rather not have to do that, but every job has an element of that to it. Our motherhood is such a fleeting moment, really a blip on a screen, and they grow up before we know it and we have to savor this time. We have to seize each moment and pour our whole self into it. That being said, you can’t just make yourself love motherhood, but you can use your intellect to realize that this is the highest pursuit. You have to get past the drudgery, roll through the emotional moment and realize in an hour or two, you’ll be laughing at something they did. It really is the rollercoaster of humanity, and at the end of the day we’re left thinking I should have done this and this differently, and you’re thinking I didn’t sign up to feel this bad about myself, but as with anything you try, we are all trying to do our best, and then there’s tomorrow, another day to start again.
Q: What are your greatest joys in motherhood?
The moments when I see my kids altar serving, or I hear their prayers at the end of the night, and they’re so holy and heartfelt. They are so in touch with God and in these God moments, I can see God because my kids can see God, those are my favorite moments.
Q: What do journalists never ask you that you want to share with the public?
Hmmm, maybe nothing? Well … Famous last words….
I want to sum up motherhood. When you have a child with disabilities, people often question and ask why, it’s the human question, why me? Of all the people in the hospital ward that day, how come it happened to me? No matter their abilities and/or disabilities, God has a specific plan and purpose for every person’s life. If you know someone with Down Syndrome, you don’t question that God has just as big and important of a plan for their life as he does for Einstein, and you’re the parent who gets to watch it unfold. They have polled families with Down Syndrome children and 90% of families are glad and those children are happy. We only see the disability, but really it’s a blessing for those around that person. We have a picture of what we thought our life would be, and maybe our plan didn’t include adoption or disabilities, but once that picture fades and God’s plan is revealed, we are able to see the blessings in it. We just have to trust God at the moment when things seem to be turning out different than we thought, that we’ll be better off. We have to remind ourselves daily, that everyday when we struggle and we ask why, that we can’t stay in that, we need to use our reason and maybe we’ll see later why, or maybe in 20 years, but we have to trust God.
We have to remember that a child is not a possession. That can be easily lost. With technology now, where we can create a baby in a test tube and we can prevent a child from being born. It appears that we have the ability to decide when a child enters life, but we’re not the owner of that child. We can’t own that child because they have their own distinct dignity, made in the image and likeness of God.
Q: Sherry, could you please end with one last story about the importance of motherhood?
My son was born at 5 months gestation and he couldn’t drink from a bottle. The nurses had told me he would have to stay in the hospital until he could drink from the bottle. When we went in one day, to our surprise, they told us they were sending him home. I didn’t understand, because he wasn’t drinking from the bottle yet, and then the nurse told me - you’re the only person he’ll eat for, so we’re sending him home with you. It’s a message to all mothers, that in this motherhood vocation we are highly important in sustaining lives. If he’ll only eat for me, he’d die without me. I just think mothers are amazing!
Copyright 2014 Courtney Vallejo
About the Author
Courtney Vallejo is a convert to the Catholic faith, who lives in California. She and her husband homeschool their three adopted children. She is the cofounder of AMomRevolution.com, whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and reclaim joy in motherhood. She also writes for her own blog, CourtneyVallejo.com. Courtney holds a Master's degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Follow her Gluten Free/Dairy Free adventures on Instagram: @aglutenfreerevolution.