Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How She Does It All: Mom/Author Tia Williams

tia williams book

Today I'm starting a new feature here on the site where I'll profile awesome moms getting real about how they balance it all. (Or, at least, how they try to!) I'm hoping to show that all moms--even the most perfectly-filtered, impressively-Pinterest-y, got-it-all-together ones--are real. They all have struggles--and triumphs--we can learn from. I hope you enjoy the new series!

So, meet Tia Williams! I first became aware of Tia years ago as an avid reader of Lucky magazine, where she was senior beauty editor. She was often featured in the pages and I loved reading her product recommendations. When I eventually entered the beauty editor world myself, I remember seeing Tia at the very first editor event I ever attended. And--apologies, because I'm outing myself as a weirdo here--but...I was so starstruck!

In the years since, we've become social media friends, and I've gotten to see firsthand what a wildly talented and funny person she truly is. And of course, she's also a mom to a gorgeous, spunky little girl. I learned so much from this interview. Namely that Tia is a great mom with a ton of killer advice. Read on...

Can you give everyone a summary of your resume, Tia? 
"I started my beauty career back in 1998, as the beauty assistant at YM (remember YM? RIP!). Then, I went on to Elle, Glamour, Lucky, Teen People, and Essence.com. Somewhere in there, when I was 25, I had a horrible breakup with a total lunatic, and felt like I needed to flee the country to get myself together, so I moved to Seville for six months. That’s when I wrote my first novel, The Accidental Diva. I followed it up with a YA series, It Chicks, and co-wrote Iman’s makeup book, The Beauty of Color. I also started one of the first beauty blogs, Shake Your Beauty, back in 2004. Now, I’m the copy director at Bumble and bumble, and I just published my fourth novel, The Perfect Find! It’s been quite the ride."

Tell me a little about your daughter.
"Lina, a.k.a Lina Lina Bobina (she answers to both), is seven. I think the thing that stands out the most about her is her wit. For example, she recently had to write a letter to her favorite superhero for school. I asked her which superhero she liked best, and she said, 'Well, the one I like least is Don’t Know Girl.' I said, 'I’ve never heard of her; who’s Don’t Know Girl?' She replied, 'I DON’T KNOW, GIRL!' And then she giggled and skipped out of the room. Girls just wanna have pun, I guess!"
What are the hardest parts of being a working mom? And the best parts?
"The hardest part is that you never get a break. It’s tough, working all day at a demanding job, and then coming home and having to orchestrate homework, dinner, bath, storytime, and bedtime. Finding time for yourself within that schedule is challenging, especially as a single mom. I need a three-month nap. The best part? Her. Lina is a hilarious, magical, interesting nugget of a person, and she’s honestly a delight to hang out with."

Age-old question: How do you balance work and motherhood?
"Not well. I’m still trying to figure out how to stay sane when pulled in a dozen directions. I see the pamper-yourself hashtags on the weekends (#selfcaresaturday #selfcaresunday), and I’m like, who has time for self care? Intellectually, I know how important it is for my well-being to book that massage, block off an hour to take the pole-dance classes I love (so much fun, and hard) or use the Chopra meditation app I bought months ago. But if I ever get a moment alone, all I want to do is marathon Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and eat Nutter Butters. I do make sure that, at least once a month, I have brunch with my girlfriends. Somewhere with applewood smoked bacon."

Being a single mom, how does that affect the work/life balance?
"When you don’t have a partner in the house, when it’s only you–well, it’s only you. You can’t divvy up responsibilities. You do it all. Work, check homework, take out the trash, change lightbulbs, have heavy conversations about dealing with mean girls, sew holes in leggings, cook, run out to Duane Reade at 9pm (sleepy daughter in tow) for the poster board you forget to get for the science project due tomorrow (that you also forgot). There’s no one there to help with the thinking and planning and doing. You’re the CEO! Some things always end up slipping through the crackslike, we eat too many prepared meals from Fresh Direct. But you do the best you can."

I saw a great Instagram post recently that said: “Work, sleep, exercise, family, friends…pick three.” The point being, obviously, that when you’re a mom, you can’t do all of those things. What have you had to give up?
"I definitely don’t sleep! Especially being a novelist, on top of everything else. I wrote the majority of The Perfect Find in the middle of the night, which was my only free time. I’d love to exercise and see my friends more, but it’s really challenging. But we’re always in touch. Between my sisters and my girlfriends, I usually have at least four really robust, hilarious group text threads going at once."

Wait. Go back. You wrote your book in the middle of the night?
"I’d set my alarm for 3am and write until it was time to wake Lina up, around 6:30am. And then, in the evening, I’d write for an hour after her bedtime. Also, I carried my laptop with me everywhere, in case I ever caught a spare moment to quickly bang out a strong 800 words or so. It was definitely a challenge! Before I was a mom, I could write a book in three months. The Perfect Find took three years."

tia williams

Are you a strict mom or a cool/BFF mom?
"I hate to say it that I’m a cool/BFF mom, because you instantly think of Amy Poehler as Regina George’s nutso mother in Mean Girls, but I definitely fall in the cool category. I never baby-talked to her, and I don’t condescend to her, or dictate. She knows who the boss is, and I actively parent her, with intention–but I’m her friend. I always wanted to be the kind of mother my mom was. Liberal, and open, and funny, and honest. Me, my sisters, and our friends could come to her with anything, nothing was off-limits. And even as small children, she made us feel like we were real people with valuable ideas and feelings. Lina’s my homegirl. We dance together, we write together, I tell her about my day, she lets me in on conversations with her imaginary friends. She talks, and I listen."

What has been the hardest challenge you’ve faced as a parent so far?
"Cooking. I’m terrible at it. I can handle breakfast and lunch. But dinner is terrifying. I have real anxiety around 4pm at work everyday, when it hits me that I have a child that I’ll need to feed in a couple of hours."

And what's been the most rewarding thing?
"The most rewarding thing about motherhood is watching this little personality grow, right in front of my eyes. I can’t believe the things that come out of Lina’s mouth–her observations about the world, her philosophies. She teaches me so much. The other day, I showed her a picture of Hillary Clinton (who she’s already calling our 'new girl president'), and she was totally shocked–because she didn’t realize she was white. She assumed she was 'light black with dyed blonde hair.' Because in her lifetime, the only president she’s known is black! I was amazed at how A., she so casually tossed around the idea of a woman president, no big deal, and B., she couldn’t picture an America without a black president. It was a stunning moment. Seeing the world through her eyes is incredible."

Talk to me a bit about your hopes and fears raising a daughter in today’s world.
"I’m honestly dreading the social media conversation, which I hear will be coming around sixth or seventh grade. I’m not excited about her joining social platforms. Cyber-bullying is out of control. And the insane physical/beauty standards set by Instagram-famous 'models' and It-girls can be really damaging. Honestly, my goal is to raise a daughter who's too self-confident and self-possessed to even entertain viral fads like that lip-suction device girls are using to mimic Kylie Jenner’s fishmouth. Shudder."

You transitioned to natural hair a few years back. I remember you had a beautiful story about how the decision had to do with your daughter. Could you explain?
"My daughter has a head full of big, beautiful, lush curls. And as soon as she could talk, she was telling me how much she hated them. She wanted straight hair, like Rapunzel’s–and her mommy’s. I had a relaxer, at the time, and got weekly blowouts. And it occurred to me, that there was no way I could teach her to love her curls when I was beating mine into submission! I stopped relaxing my hair, embraced my natural hair, and now we’re just one big, happy, curly family."
natural curls
Okay, speed round. What’s your best parenting tip for...

...Getting kids to eat things they don’t want to eat?
"Put it in a smoothie with lots of bananas."

...Screen time?
"Don’t feel bad about parking your kid in front of an iPad if you need to get something done. Just make sure she doesn’t somehow access HBO GO and land on Sex & the City. I have NO idea how that happened, but I learned a very valuable lesson about parental controls that day."

...Discipline?
"If you’re screaming at your child, you lost that battle five minutes ago. If things are getting out of hand, take a deep breath and teach your way out of it. Conflicts are teachable moments. Easier said than done, of course, but what’s easy about parenting?"

...Getting your child to open up and confide in you?
"Open up and confide in them. I’m pretty transparent (in an age-appropriate way) with Lina, and we have easy-breezy small talk all day. I try to set it up so that the doctor is in, at all times."

Okay, now…tell me about your book!
"The Perfect Find is about Jenna Jones, a 40-year-old former fashion editor superstar, who loses it all–and then finds herself a clueless rookie at on online fashion zine, working with digital-savvy millennials who think she’s a dinosaur because she doesn’t have Facebook and has never hashtagged a day in her life. Plus, she’s working for her evil rival from the ‘90s–and somehow gets entangled in a wildly lusty, very secret romance with a co-worker half her age!"

Is it autobiographical at all?
"It’s absolutely autobiographical! I wrote this book during a really low point. I had the life I always wanted–the magazine career, the books, the marriage–and then, in my late thirties, I got divorced, and laid off, and then got super-ill and was unable to work consistently (for two years). I invented Jenna Jones so I could live vicariously through her fight to reinvent herself and come back, stronger than ever. Also, I had my own transformative love affair with younger guy–but it didn’t work out in real life. But I wanted it to happen somewhere, so I wrote the story the way I wish it would’ve played out, for me!"

You’re known for your sex scenes and there’s some juicy ones in The Perfect Find. How old will Lina have to be before you let her read it?

"There’s way too much smut in The Perfect Find for Lina to read it before she’s 35. Actually, lifetime ban on Lina reading any of my novels. Ever."
__

So, talk to me below! Would love to hear what you think of this piece--and of this new series in general. Also: If you live in NYC, Tia has a book signing on April 28th at 6pm at the Barnes & Noble in the Citigroup Center in Midtown. But because I know you want to get Tia's book right now: You can order it here!


5 comments:

Lindsey said...

Happy to see this series! I know you know that it's a topic near and dear to my heart (thank you for participating in mine!). xo

Brittany Graham said...

I love you and your daughter's matching green outfits! Those are too precious!

TheJerseyMomma said...

What a great idea for a post! I love reading about other moms. And hey, I used to love YM!! So funny that she started out there.

Allison Dogaer said...

Sounds like a fun read. I'll be adding it to my reading list.

Jennifer Corter said...

What an inspiring story! I will have to add it to my reading list, too!

Post a Comment