momlogic's Vivian: "Project Runway" alum Laura Bennett is trying a new gig on for size: author! Her new parenting book, "Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos," is a tart, incredibly witty confessional about what it's like to birth and raise SIX -- count 'em, SIX -- kids while abstaining from the insanity of helicopter parenting. Here's what she had to say about it over coffee at her place.
momlogic: Your book is hilarious! You have a way of stringing words together. Have you always written?
Laura Bennett: No, but I always did well in English class growing up. I use my education in design when I write. In architecture, there's an initial idea, and every decision that you make has to refer back to that idea. The concepts of design are completely universal. I used MacSpeech and told my stories to my computer, which felt weird. But it gave it a conversational tone and helped me get a lot of information down on paper really fast. I found it was sometimes funnier than I was.
ml: What's your secret in mastering the juggle of such a large family?
LB: My life is set up so the kids are all out of the house between 9 and 2. Anything that I need to do -- as long as I can do it between those hours -- gets done!
ml: What people don't know about you (but they'll learn in your book) is that you had it rough as a single mom when you left Texas and came here to New York to pursue your dream of being an architect. As a mom, what did you learn from that experience that stayed with you?
LB: To always see the positive in a situation and to get joy out of life. With my daughter (Cleo, 21), we had to struggle and wait for things. We had to walk around the city, and she knew we had to walk because we were struggling and didn't have money for the bus. She was much less of a sh*thead than some of my other kids, who have always had everything they ever wanted -- the latest phone, the latest computer. Of course, becoming a single parent was my choice. It must be hard when it isn't. But I was glad to be there with Cleo and never felt like I was damaged goods because I had a child. And today, with six, I could be panicked. I could be harrowed. But I don't allow that to happen. So no matter how tough your situation is, if you could glean that little bit of fun and find the humor, it helps.
ml: What was it like to do "Project Runway" pregnant? I give you PROPS: I couldn't get my ass off the couch!
LB: Some pregnancies are harder than others, and that one happened to be an easy one. And you have to remember, too -- I was literally seven blocks from here. I could see my kids' bedroom window from where I was staying. So I never felt trapped. If something had gone wrong, I would've just walked. But in a way, being on "Project Runway" was easier than being at home. You're sequestered. You have no phone, computer, money, magazines or books. They take you everywhere you need to go. They tell you where to stand. They feed you when it's time to eat. When you go to the bathroom, you still have your mic on, 'cause it takes too much time to take it off. You're taken care of instead of having to take care of other people, so that made being pregnant OK. I was at a fashion spa!
ml: Your chill attitude is commendable! Think it's because you're outnumbered?
LB: I was a relaxed parent with my first child. But once you're outnumbered, it gets harder and harder, and you start to realize that aiming for perfection is just never going to happen. But I never aimed for perfection. When you have as many children as I do, your kids have each other. The more you have, they sort of take care of each other. They have playmates, so they're not up in your grill at five o'clock when you walk through the door wanting to play with you. Someone is, but not all six of them. I think having one or two children can be harder in some ways.
ml: I love how you celebrate each kid in your book, as opposed to some parents who see their kids as vanity objects, or an extrapolation of themselves.
LB: They come out the way they are and you celebrate them for them. You think you have all this influence? You don't. They just come out with the personalities that they have, and you hope you can teach them a decent amount of manners.
ml: What do you hope moms will glean from your book?
LB: That motherhood is the hardest job in the world. And that beating yourself up in your quest for perfection will only make you crazy. It goes by so fast. I have a 21-year-old about to graduate from college. If you spend that whole time worrying, trying harder, wondering what other people are thinking about the job you're doing, you're just wasting the time. So relax and try and enjoy it -- as painful as it can be when you're in the middle of it!
Want to hear more from Laura? Pick up a copy of "Didn't I Feed You Yesterday?: A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos," visit her website or follow her on Twitter! She'd love to know what you guys think about her next book project: easy-to-sew high-fashion basics!