Q & A: Author Dena Higley on trying to be a perfect mom

“I’m a mom. I simply don’t have time to OD.”

Those words appear in the prologue to La Cañada Flintridge resident Dena Higley’s book, “Momaholic: Crazy Confessions of a Helicopter Parent.” The book chronicles Higley’s meltdown in the face of workplace and family pressures, as well as her own self-imposed requirement to be a supermom to four children.

Higley, for decades a writer on soap operas, including “Days of Our Lives” and “One Life to Live,” writes in a breezy and humorous style but delivers serious messages about parenting and balance. “Momaholic” was recently published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., a publisher of Bibles and contemporary Christian books and materials.

Higley and members of her family will appear at a book launch party from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. tonight at Penelope’s Café, Books and Gallery, 1029 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge. Higley answered questions from the La Cañada Valley Sun via email.

Sun: Is there a passage or topic in this book that you found most difficult to write?

Higley: The most difficult part of writing this book was admitting that all my attempts at being a perfect parent backfired because of my own emotional baggage, not because I didn’t follow a certain parenting philosophy or style.

Q: How did you arrive at the questions in your “Momaholic” questionnaire, and how would you score if you took it today?

A: The “Momaholic” questionnaire is supposed to be funny and completely based on those few bad habits I’d developed over the years, when I had become more of a personal assistant than a mother. Today, I’m happy to say I’m doing much better. Still a ways to go … but better.

Q: Of the reactions you’ve received from readers, what most surprised or moved you?

A: I’ve been shocked at what an emotional chord this book has struck in other mothers who have felt intense pressure to be perfect. They love the fact that my book debunks the myth that moms have to do everything for their children, when in fact, “hovering” does nothing but retard their son or daughter’s emotional development.

Q: How have members of your family responded to having details of their lives chronicled?

A: I worried that the deeply personal tone of the book would upset my family — but the only one who actually comes across deeply troubled is me. The stories about my children are stories of courage and fortitude and they’re proud of who they now are individually, and who we are collectively.

Q: Tell us a little about your life in La Cañada Flintridge. Where do you like to go to shop, dine, enjoy nature?

A: My husband is an actually La Cañada native so we feel right at home anywhere here in town. City Hall Café in Montrose is our regular lunch place. I love to take my grandson to Descanso Gardens, which has been a refuge for us over the years.

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