Happy Pub Day to Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids, the new anthology edited by our own Zibby Owens!!!! To celebrate, Zibby reads one of her essays from the “Get Sick” section of the book. Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids features 53 essays from 49 authors, including 15 New York Times bestsellers.


Zibby Owens: Well, this is an easy podcast because today’s guest is me. I don’t have to prepare. I don’t have to do anything. I’m just going to tell you a little bit about my new anthology which comes out today, November 2nd, Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids: A Timeless Anthology. It has essays from forty-nine authors who are best-selling, notable, and award-winning writing on five different things that moms, but really anyone, moms don’t have time to do: Sleep, Get Sick, See Friends, Write, and Lose Weight. If you have time to do all those things, I will give you a standing ovation right now. Even if you do and no matter what your own life is like, it is so great to see the world from somebody else’s perspective. That is what these essays do. All of them are written by amazing authors who have been on this very podcast, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” They’re opening up their minds and their feelings and thoughts for all of you. It’s really amazing. For example, Lily King, who is one of my favorite authors who wrote Writers & Lovers and has a new book coming out next week, by the way, a short story collection, if you haven’t picked it up — anyway, she sent me an essay for this collection about her daughter and her daughter’s struggle with some illness which I hadn’t known anything about. In the document, the name of the file was “For Zibby.” I was like, this is the coolest thing ever. Lily King is sitting there and titling a document and writing this for us, for me. It’s just so cool. It’s for all of you. It’s for all of you to enjoy. I’m just so honored to bring the backstory of all these authors into the world. I get very excited about this.

There are amazing authors. I hate to single anybody out. I’ll just read a few names. In the Sleep category: Allison Pataki, who is a best-selling author for The Queen’s Fortune; oh, my gosh, I loved her memoir, Beauty in the Broken Places, about her husband who had a stroke when she was pregnant; and Cecily von Ziegesar, who’s the author of Gossip Girl. In the Get Sick section: KJ Dell’Antonia, a recent Reese’s Book Pick for The Chicken Sisters; and Kristy Woodson Harvey, a recent new New York Times best-selling author; Lily King, who I just mentioned; Caroline Leavitt; Gigi Levangie; everybody. Now I feel bad that I’m not reading every single name. You know what? Maybe at the end of this episode, I am going to read everybody’s names so I don’t leave anybody out. Seriously, even though some of these authors have achieved more commercial or sales success than others, I think all these authors are amazing. Obviously, so do publishers because they’ve all done great and had their book published and are beloved. In terms of people’s feelings, there’s really no way to rank that at all. There are no stories more important than any others. All of them are extremely poignant and probably will hit you in different ways, as is the case often with essays and books. You’ll find the ones that you need, that speak to you, that inspire you, that make you feel less alone. Again, I am just honored to usher these into the world.

I also wrote a couple essays of my own in here. I wanted to just read one of them for you. There are three, but I’ll read one. Hopefully, this will whet your appetite for more. Then you can get the book for essays from other people like Jeanine Cummins and Stephanie Danler and Jean Kwok and Adrienne Bankert, Arden Myrin, Richie Jackson. Oh, my gosh. Okay, which one should I read? I’ve written three essays for this book. The first one is “When Bedtime Won’t Come Soon Enough.” Amen to that. That’s in the Sleep section. I also wrote “Click, Click, Click Through My Mind” in the Get Sick section. I wrote something in the writing section. Yes, “To All the Books I Never Sold.” I want you to get the book and read that because I think that’s my favorite one, but I don’t want to give it away. I think I’ll read “Click, Click, Click Through My Mind.” Again, if you are listening to this and driving around somewhere or doing the laundry or all of the things, go on your phone, buy a copy of this book, please. Is that subtle enough? It would really mean a lot. I think you’ll really like it. You can read four, five, six essays in the time it takes you to listen to a podcast episode. Think about it. It’s going to be really good. I think you’re going to be excited. Okay, here’s my one essay. Buy the book to get my other two and all the other essays.

Click, Click, Click Through My Mind.

“At first, I just couldn’t find the right words. I would open my mouth to speak, and my brain would spin in circles like an unwanted rainbow swirl on a frozen computer. It’s in the garbage, I would answer when asked the whereabouts of something in the garage. People’s names? Forget it. I would pass women about my age — then, my early thirties — on the street, and they would stop and say, Zibby! We would chat and part ways. Meanwhile, I couldn’t remember who they were or how I knew them. I even started getting lost. On the way back from running to a drugstore down the block, I suddenly stopped on the street I’d traversed a million times and couldn’t remember where I was or which direction would take me home. I just froze on that treelined New York City street, cars whizzing past, clutching a white plastic shopping bag, and knew that the cognitive impairment I’d noticed was getting worse. I called my now ex-husband and said I felt like I was losing my mind. He stayed on the phone until I could get my bearings. Admittedly, it was a stressful time. I had three-and-a-half-year-old twins in the terrible threes who didn’t sleep at all. We were in a temporary rental apartment with none of our creature comforts while our home was being renovated. The loving nanny on whom I had depended, who I loved like a best friend, whose former boyfriend I’d helped catch having an affair, suddenly left our family and New York after a cancer diagnosis. She is now fine, but never came back to work. I wasn’t getting along with my husband. I was out of sorts, depressed, and a bit lost emotionally from not working after decades of academic and professional rigor.

‘I think I’m losing my mind,’ I confessed to some fellow moms while sitting on plastic folding chairs watching an indoors kids and sports gym class through glass doors. ‘I can’t even form proper sentences anymore.’ ‘Mom brain,’ one friend responded, waving her hand dismissively. ‘Me too,’ another said. ‘Totally,’ another added. ‘It happens to everyone,’ a wiser mom with older kids advised. I tried not to worry, but eventually, I consulted a doctor who referred me to a neurologist. Suddenly, I was sitting in a wood-paneled waiting room with the white-haired octogenarians who shuffled into the exam rooms ahead of me. What was I doing? The neurologist kindly examined me and then ordered a bunch of tests. I went from kids’ music classes to having little plastic nodes glued onto my head to assess my brain function, reading Goodnight Moon to sitting in hospital hallways waiting for full-body MRIs. I even endured a ten-hour multistep neuropsychological assessment. And I did it all alone, accompanied only by fear. My mom friends said it was par for the course, but I just knew something was off.

As I paced in the rental apartment one afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get the kids to take naps, the doctor called. ‘We found some abnormalities on the MRI,’ he said quickly. ‘Looks like a cyst of some type on your brain. Probably nothing to worry about. Not sure if it’s causing the memory problems. Don’t think it’s malignant. Probably benign, but I’ll get back to you when I know more.’ ‘Sorry, wait,’ I said, grabbing a pen and paper. ‘Could you say that again?’ I had what was soon identified as a colloid cyst, five millimeters, in the third ventricle of my brain. I’d had bouts with headaches years earlier, so I had an older MRI to compare this one to. The neurologist read the report and decided the tumor had been growing rapidly. Brain surgery was quickly on the table. I told my family and some close girlfriends who all helped me get other opinions. I sent my MRI results to hospitals all over the country. Every single surgeon I spoke to recommended immediate surgery as a preventative measure. If I waited, the tumor could maintain its quick rate of growth and start having a real negative impact. Suddenly, I was juggling whether a surgeon should go in through the top of my skull or if they could do it noninvasively. Meanwhile, I was managing the move into our new home, the ever-present needs of two wildly different twins, and the rest of life, and I still couldn’t keep anything straight in my head. I overate to dull the feelings, getting to the point where all I could wear was leggings with long, billowy sweaters which I wrapped tightly around me.” By the way, when I was reading this essay to my daughter recently, she was like, that is all you still wear.

“On my sixth opinion, one I almost didn’t even get, I met a white-haired, spry neurologist who decided to analyze the hundreds of different slides and slices from my original MRI years earlier which hadn’t shown a mass at all. Unlike the other doctors, he didn’t take the radiologist’s report at face value. I sat across the giant wooden desk from him, sun pouring in through the window fractured by white slatted blinds as he leaned forward toward his computer slowly studying the images of my brain pre-tumor. I couldn’t even breathe. I just watched him click, click, click through my mind. Then he stopped clicking. ‘Aha, there it is,’ he exclaimed. He turned around the screen, and in shadow of the images, there was the same new tumor, now not new at all. ‘It’s probably been there your whole life,’ he said, studying the image again and toggling between two slides that clearly showed it. ‘It doesn’t need to come out. It hasn’t even grown. Same size. Probably just a benign colloid cyst. Very common.’ ‘You’re one hundred percent sure,’ I asked? ‘A hundred percent. You can see it yourself,’ he said, and I could.

Had I not seen this doctor, the last stop on my multi-opinion tour, I would’ve had a variety of eager-to-operate surgeons claw into my head, perhaps destroying what made me me. ‘What about my memory loss, my cognitive impairment?’ He looked at me with sad, sympathetic eyes, really seeing me. ‘It’s probably stress and sleep deprivation. Get some rest. You’re going to be fine.’ I could barely stand up, flooded by relief. It’s ten years later, and the cyst is still there. It hasn’t grown, as my annual MRIs show, when I remember to get them. I still lose my ability to retrieve words when I’m extremely tied. Sometimes I don’t recognize friends on the street who clearly know me. I occasionally get lost and disoriented, but neuropsychic test results reflected my already-known impaired visual-spatial abilities, so compromised that I can literally get lost in my own neighborhood.” By the way, this is not in the essay, but this is why I have some trouble parallel parking and dealing with anything else that requires a lot of visual-spatial abilities. “My twins are now teenagers, and one of them sleeps later than me. Although, I ended up having two more children who still sneak in at night. I got divorced and then remarried. The home, re-renovated, was sold years ago. My new husband comes with me to every single doctor’s appointment and holds my hand in the waiting room. I never even have to ask. My brain remains untouched thanks to that one doctor who took a little extra time for me. If only I could remember his name to thank him.”

That was my essay. I seriously can’t remember that doctor’s name. I can’t even find it in my inbox. That was a very stressful time in my life. I look back on it not so fondly, but I am very grateful to that final doctor. It just goes to show that you have to keep getting opinions. You just never know, so I wanted to share that with all of you. Oh, I told you I would read the list of the authors, but I just wanted to remind you that this essay was in Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids, on sale today. It would be super helpful if you would post about the book on Instagram, social media. Tell just one or two friends about this book and that you’re excited about it and that you’re excited to hear from all these amazing authors. It’s like a dinner party. You’re going to a dinner party with all these fabulous authors. Tell someone about it. That’s all it takes, one friend to another. That’s how books take off. All the marketing in the world, if the book isn’t good and if friends don’t tell friends, the book is not going to take off. If you love it, which I hope you will because I really worked on it and so did my editor, Carolyn Murnick, who edited all the essays — I really think you’ll love it. Please spread the word.

Just so you know, here’s some more of the authors. Again, as I was saying, in the Sleep section: Lynda Cohen Loigman, Carla Naumburg. Should I tell you their books too? That might take a while, but okay. Lynda Cohen Loigman, who wrote The Subway Sisters — wait, I’m almost a hundred percent sure that’s what it’s called — The Two-Family House. The Wartime Sisters. Yeah, I knew that wasn’t — I’m mixing it up. Okay, sorry, The Wartime Sisters. Carla Naumburg, who wrote How to Stop Losing Your Shit with Your Kids. Allison Pataki, best-selling author who wrote The Queen’s Fortune. She has a new book coming out soon about Marjorie Merriweather Post and wrote a beautiful memoir called Beauty in the Broken Places and also some kids’ books, Nelly Takes New York and Poppy Takes Paris. Forgive me if I say any of these titles wrong, but you get the gist. Cecily von Ziegesar, who wrote the entire Gossip Girl series and most recently, Cobble Hill. Michael Frank, who wrote a beautiful, underappreciated novel called What Is Missing. My essay, “When Bedtime Won’t Come Soon Enough.”

Then the Get Sick section. Camille Pagán, who wrote “While I Was Sleeping.” Andrea Buchanan, “Bodies in Motion and at Rest.” KJ Dell’Antonia, “In Spanish, I Don’t Have Cancer.” That’s a really beautiful essay about when she got a breast cancer diagnosis and was learning Spanish. KJ is the host of the “On Writing” podcast and also is a recent Reese’s Book Club Pick for her Chicken Sisters book. I also loved her book, How to Be a Happier Parent, or something that sounded very similar to that. You can tell I’m tired based on my essay because I can’t remember any words. See? Now you know all about me. Kristy Woodson Harvey, “A Small, Shiny Thing.” This is one of my favorites only because it’s about her grandfather who passed away and a sign that he may leave for her. Read that. Shelli Johannes, “I am Not Broken. Today, I’m Okay,” about her chronic illness. She’s a children’s book author of many books including Vivi Loves Science, Cece Loves Science, Theo TheSaurus. Lily King wrote “Walls in our Minds,” as I mentioned, about her daughter’s battle with Lyme disease and is the author of Writers & Lovers and Five Tuesdays in April, which is coming out soon, next week in fact. Caroline Leavitt, With or Without You. Her essay is called “Sick Leave” about what happened when she had her son many years ago. Elizabeth Lesser wrote “My Good Body.” Gigi Levangie, “A Son Not My Own.” Emily Liebert, “My Father Immortal.” The one I just read. Then Elizabeth Passarella, “Nana’s Last Ride.” This should be a whole movie, this one, “Nana’s Last Ride,” about her picking up her grandmother who had dementia and having to drive her across the country. Susie Orman Schnall, “The S Word.” Actually, she wrote The Subway Girls, which is what I mixed up with Lynda Loigman’s book. Sorry about that. Melissa T. Shultz, “Sunlight Through an Angled Window.”

In the See Friends section, we have Chandler Baker, “We Met Online,” whose new book, The Husbands, and other book — this is literally what I would edit out, but I’m not going to edit it out because this is just me — The Whisper Network, that’s what it’s called, are both Reese’s Book Picks, I think. Adrienne Bankert is an amazing journalist who used to be with GMA and is now anchoring her own show. It’s called One on One and is wonderful. Lydia Fenet, who works at Christie’s, wrote “Life of Pie.” All of these people have all written books that are all amazing. Melissa Gould, author of Widowish, “What’s in a Name? My Best Friends.” Nicola Harrison wrote “A Gift By the Sea” about how she coparents with her ex, which is amazing. Heather Land wrote “The Little Pink Unicorn.” She’s the author of I Ain’t Doin’ It and that whole viral movement. Abby Maslin wrote “The Pursuit of Becoming.” She wrote a beautiful memoir called Love You Hard. Jeanne McCulloch wrote “Snow and the Night Sky,” which is beautiful, about a friend who passed away. Malcolm Mitchell, “Mission: Quiet the Stomachs.” This is a really powerful essay about how he grew up very in the depths of poverty and had to steal food. He’s now a Super Bowl champion and started a literacy nonprofit. He is a total role model and rockstar. Lindsay Powers, “Let’s Just Meet Here Every Day.” Rev. Lydia Sohn, “I’m Here for You.”

In the Write section, Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, which also, by the way, is a whole publication I have on Medium, as you probably know — just go to my website, zibbyowens.com, and click to Moms Don’t Have Time to Write or just Google it or whatever. Aimee Agresti, “Can a Writer Be Too Emotional? Asking For a Friend.” Esther Amini, who wrote “Concealed Beneath the Surface.” Terri Cheney wrote “Camera Broken, Vision Renewed.” She’s the author of Manic. Jeanine Cummins, the author of American Dirt, wrote “In the Time of Corduroys,” all about identity and what it means to be part of a given identity and what those labels mean and if we need them. Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter and Stray, wrote a beautiful essay called “Roses.” Joanna Hershon wrote “The View Out My Window.” Her book, St. Ivo, was fabulous. Angela Himsel, “A Brand-New Way.” Jean Kwok, “Whatever You Write in This Will Belong to You.” Jean actually wrote two essays in this collection. She’s the author of Searching for Sylvie Lee. Jenny Lee wrote “Life Lesson, Korean-Mother Style.” Abby Maslin, “Call to the Page.” She also wrote two essays for this collection. Sarah McColl, “The Circular Breast.” Arden Myrin, “I Am the Writer.” Rex Ogle, “Historias Sobre Me: Stories About Me.” Rex has a new book out right now called Punching Bag. I have an essay in this section called “To All the Books I Never Sold.” Claire Bidwell Smith, the author of The Rules of Inheritance and Anxiety, The Missing Stage of Grief, wrote an essay called “The Reason Behind the Words.” Laura Tremaine, who hosts the “10 Things About You” podcast and Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First, the memoir, wrote a fabulous essay called “Clarity Arrived.”

Then in the last Lose Weight section, Elyssa Friedland, “I Diet. Therefore, I Am.” Richie Jackson, “Peloton and On and On.” For anybody who loves the Peloton, you have to read this essay. Jean Kwok, “Mama, Am I Pretty?” a heartbreaking and beautiful story about Jean growing up and not looking the way her family wished she would, even though she’s totally pretty, by the way; Jean, if you’re listening. Brooke Adams Law, “The World I Build for You.” She wrote Catchlight. Shannon Lee, “The Anchor and the Seabird.” Susan Shapiro, “The Pandemic Taste Test.” Then some very short acknowledgments. I did not go over the top this time like I did last time. I think they’re only two or three pages. That is it, so come on. It’s so fun. Buy the book, Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids. Thank you so much for listening, for supporting everything I do on this podcast, for tuning in, for being fans, and just for being awesome. I wish I knew all of you in real life. It means so much to me, you have no idea, that you spend your limited time listening to me talk to authors or read essays like this one or whatever. It’s just such a dream come true. I just started this podcast three and a half years ago. Who knew how it would change my life? It’s insane. I appreciate every single download and listen. Spread the word. Spread the word about the book. Spread the word about the podcast. Keep listening. Thank you.



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