HOMETOWN Montclair, NJ
ON THE WEB Pamela Redmond Satran
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Three
DAY JOB Writer
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK Always My Dad, by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Sharon is a Montclair author and friend and this deceptively simply-looking illustrated book, now out of print, is one that never fails to move me to tears. It accurately captures the intense love between parent and child.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
My children are grown now, but I was a serious writer throughout their entire growing up and tried many different configurations of time and childcare. When my daughter, now 29, was very young, I worked full-time as an editor at Glamour. She had a wonderful babysitter and then went to preschool, but I remember that time as being very difficult – long days, lots of transitions for all of us, and while we were all happy with what we were doing, it wasn’t first choice.
After my older son, who’s now 22, was born, I began working 20 or 25 hours a week as a freelance writer, with a sitter in the home, which made everyone’s life easier. But because I was paying for a sitter, I felt that I had to spend my time doing work that paid money, and so wrote magazine articles and nonfiction books.
When my younger son, now 18, started preschool, I decided it was time to become more serious about fiction writing, a career ambition that had been on hold for many years. I took some classes, found a writers’ group, began letting myself devote some of my work time to a novel. That book became The Man I Should Have Married, published by Simon & Schuster in 2003. My seventh novel, The Possibility of You, which is a deeper, more ambitious book than I’ve attempted before, is published February 21 by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I was walking with my older son in his East Village neighborhood when a crazy-looking hippie woman, with long wild hair and moth-eaten vintage clothing, walked by, muttering to herself, looking as if she was on her way home to feed her 37 cats. “That’s me if I’d never married dad and had you guys,” I said to my son. He didn’t even hesitate before nodding in agreement.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
My husband and I married seven months after going out and had our first child a year later, and so in a way we have always been parents. It’s only now that our youngest child has gone to college that we are alone together for the first time and creating a relationship as a married couple. And so that’s what seems different to me, in that we rely primarily on each other for company, entertainment, advice, help, whereas before there were always children there in the mix.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
My children are old enough now to tell me what they think my strengths and weaknesses are, which are very much not the same as what I might think they are. They feel that I’m very demanding and that my expectations of them are very (too) high, that that creates too much pressure and makes the relationship between us stressful. I see myself as a lot more relaxed and accepting and loving than that, and if I see my kids as the smartest, most beautiful, most interesting people on earth, I think that’s a strength as a parent. But my kids don’t see it or experience it like that, at least not yet.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
The few junctures where I seriously feared there was something wrong with my child stand out: my five-year-old daughter wandering away from us in Atlantic City and being lost for 20 minutes until a security guard found her standing near the elevators, wanting to go for a ride by herself. My one-year-old son drinking window cleaner in the two minutes I was distracted by a phone call. Horrible. But all ended fine.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
A thousand moments all the same – sitting snuggling with a child doing something simple, watching television or reading a book or just talking. That’s as good as it gets.