June 27, 2012 | 2 Comments
It’s Day #3 of Momnesia Week here at Renaissance Mom and do I have a surprise for you. We’ve been celebrating all things “Momnesia” for the past two days and today we have the “Momnesia” expert, author Lori Verni Fogarsi. Like all things in my life lately, I met Lori while I was working on my blog recently. I was perusing the Land of Social Media — Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest — in search of fellow mom bloggers and authors, family-related topics, books, etc. when I came across LoriTheAuthor’s page on Facebook via another author/blogger mom Jackie Hennessey (if you missed it I blogged about her book in May here). As I mentioned in Monday’s post I was intrigued by this whole Momnesia concept and began to do some more research on Lori and her book.
It’s amazing what you can learn from a quick Google Search:
Lori is the author of the hot new novel, “Momnesia,” (which recently earned her an Indie Excellence Book Award Finalist recognition by the way). She has been a freelance writer, columnist, journalist, and seminar speaker for 15-plus years, and has authored one nonfiction book, “Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs,” which has been widely acclaimed in its genre. Lori is also a happily married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten, and I now consider her a friend.
I recently caught up with Lori (via a few emails) to discuss “Momnesia,” her upcoming projects, what makes her tick, and life in general.
RM: First and foremost, congratulations on your recent recognition as an Indie Excellence Award 2012 finalist!
LV-F: Thank you! I was so very excited to be notified because it’s a prestigious designation in the industry. I feel truly honored!
RM: “Momnesia” seems to be an instant hit since its release in March and resonates with so many women, myself included. Why do you think that is?
LV-F: I think the issues addressed are experienced by far more women than each of us may think: I’ve had many women tell me, “I thought I was the only one who felt that way! You must be in my head!” Even male readers and women who don’t necessarily feel the same as the character in the book have told me that the novel helps them see things from a perspective they hadn’t realized before.
RM: What event(s) in your life led you to write “Momnesia?”
LV-F: I went through a time when I myself experienced Momnesia! I realized that I’d become so consumed with trying to be a “perfect” mom, wife, etc, that I’d completely lost sight of my Self as an actual person—and I found that I missed that person!
RM: How much of your real-life experiences as a mom, woman, and wife (if any) are paralleled in your main mommy character?
LV-F: Like the main character, I came to a realization: My daughters thought my favorite activities were cooking, cleaning, and working! It occurred to me that as their role model, I was teaching them that women are supposed to take care of everyone except themselves. I decided that I didn’t want that for them when they become adults—and frankly, I didn’t want it for myself anymore either, so I decided to figure out a way to change things a bit. I do think my childrens’ attitudes about moms are healthier now … and if you ask them what I like, they will no longer say “Cooking, cleaning, and working!”
RM: Your main character has months to contemplate when, how, and in which ways she has “lost herself” since becoming a mother, one of my favorites was when she found herself in the middle of a store parking lot having no idea if she had been in or out of it, and if she had completed the errands she had on her To-Do list. How many times have we all done that as a mom — spent our days on automatic pilot with no conscious memory of what we’ve done?
LV-F: I think this is extremely common. We get so involved in the nitty-gritty of, um … cooking, cleaning, and working, that we tend to go on autopilot! Even being aware of “fighting my momnesia,” so to speak, I still sometimes find myself doing this and have to take active measures to remember my Self, too!
RM: Do you have a favorite “Momnesia Moment” from your main character?
LV-F: Oh yes, definitely. It’s when she’s visiting the old friends in Florida and they ask her what hobbies or activities she enjoys, and she draws a complete blank!
RM: What is your own funniest “Momnesia Moment”?
LV-F: Momnesia moment: I was being interviewed by a newspaper about my business: I owned a dog training school. The reporter asked what I enjoy in my free time and I drew a complete blank! I literally could not think of one thing I could say was a hobby or an interest!
Fighting Momnesia moment: I was in the parking lot of the dancing school (aka my second home) with my fourteen-year-old daughter who was acting, at the moment, like a typical teenager. So I said, “Look at all of us!” (the rows of moms in cars all waiting in the parking lot night after night), “We’re pathetic! We have no lives because we’re here, every night. Do you think it’s possible we might have other things we’d prefer to do?” I could practically see the light bulb glowing over her head, as this had never occurred to her! Of course, I explained that I really don’t mind — except for when she acts snotty toward me! She’s genuinely much more appreciative now.
RM: Most of the book seems to center more around the relationship between your main character and her husband, Paul, than it does around her relationship with her children until after she rediscovers herself. Why is that?
LV-F: Actually, my intention was for it to center wholly around her as a person. Her struggle, in trying to decide whether to divorce Paul, brought about many of the issues she came to face: Is it really the marriage that’s the problem? Or is it her? Are things “bad enough” that she should divorce him? To what extent should she make the emotional sacrifice of staying in an unhappy marriage to avoid breaking apart their traditional family? Is it possible that if she found her own personal happiness, her marriage might not seem so bad?
RM: For those who aren’t familiar with cats, can you describe Paul’s “Cat Face” to them?
LV-F: Unlike dogs, who tend to be more responsive, cats are very stoic. When you talk to a cat, he just sits there and stares at you. He rarely blinks. Unless you are a can opener, you’re highly unlikely to receive any response from a cat other than his unblinking cat face. This is what it was like for the main character when she would try to flesh out problems with her husband, Paul. He would just stare at her with his unblinking Cat Face.
RM: OK, I think most mom’s would agree that Paul was a hopeless case and your main character definitely had to get out of that relationship, but seeing friends who are currently going through the difficult process of deciding whether to divorce or not where mental illness isn’t a factor, I realize it can make that difficult decision even more difficult What’s your best bit of advice for moms who are trying to figure out if their marriage is salvageable or not?
LV-F: Level with each other about every truth and set aside stubbornness. You have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain by being completely honest with him and with yourself. I find it helpful to ask myself, “Which is worse?” Just one small example might be coming right out and saying, “I really need to feel wanted in order to be in a sexy mood” versus letting your stubborn side win by thinking, “If I have to ask him to act like he wants me, it doesn’t count.”
This “Which is worse” question works in many, many scenarios, including whether or not to get divorced. Which is worse? Staying married to him forever and ever? Or being a single mom who loses the majority of her friends, works her ass off 24/7, often doesn’t have enough money, and has to deal with mowing the grass? When it gets to the point that the latter is more appealing, it may be a sign to move on. If not, keep trying!
RM: What would you have to say to parents who are staying in an unhappy marriage “for their children’s sake?”
LV-F: I think an important factor to consider is to look at what impression we’re giving our children about what a marriage is supposed to be like. Whatever they live with, day-in and day-out, is what they’ll grow up thinking is “normal,” and what they’re likely to end up doing in their own relationships in the future.
I’m not saying everyone should get divorced: We’re having this conversation with the understanding that we’re speaking of women (like you asked above) who are truly on the cusp of deciding. However I do think—and it has been my experience—that if you part amicably and treat one another respectfully, the children can actually be better off.
RM: I know you believe connecting with one’s girlfriend’s on a regular basis to avoid falling into the “Momnesia” trap, but your main character only had a few, trust-with-your-life type of friends, and one was a man. Do you find this is typical of most women’s friendships?
LV-F: Most of the women I know have lives filled with acquaintances but very few extremely close friends. I think it would be unrealistic to expect that we’d have that level of closeness with everyone, but it is important to have a few super close friends who you can really trust and will love you no matter what. As for the main character’s closest friend being a man, I think that’s very unusual.
RM: You didn’t reveal your main character’s name until the very end of the book. Why was that?
LV-F: Unbelievably, I didn’t even realize I hadn’t named the character until I was three-quarters finished! She was just sort of an entity I’d created in my head. Once I realized that, I decided I would stick with it, and that it would be impactful for the reader at the end, actually emphasizing the “Momnesia” concept of how as women we tend to lose our identities.
RM: I know you have written a “Momnesia” sequel. Why did you feel the need to continue with Shelley’s story?
LV-F: “Gramnesia” is a sequel only in the fact that it contains some of the same characters ten years later. It will actually be a stand-alone book, but I hope some of my “Momnesia” readers will enjoy seeing their friends again!
I like to write about what I know, and having gotten married again and combined families, I’ve gained some of the perspectives I need in order to write “Gramnesia.” (I hope this never happens to me …) It’s about a couple of almost-empty-nesters whose combined family of four kids are just about all grown and off to college. They’ve just ordered white furniture and are looking forward to their adult years together when a pregnant, sixteen-year-old girl shows up on their doorstep and announces that she’s the daughter he never knew he had! Basically, I’m taking my imagination’s worst nightmare and turning it into a story! LOL!
RM: I can’t wait to read it! Thank you for taking some time to drop by Renaissance Mom and talk with me, but before you go I need to ask you one more question, and I know from reading other interviews it is one of your favorites. What is your best piece of advice for moms out there?
LV-F: It does not make you a better mom to take care of your kids to the complete exclusion of yourself. In my opinion, it’s actually better parenting to be there for them, do things with them, and enjoy those things, but also make time and do things for yourself too. It teaches them that moms are people too, which hopefully is a lesson that they’ll take with them into adulthood, whether they’re boys or girls.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you and I hope your readers will enjoy learning about some of the concepts behind “Momnesia!”