Summit Right Brain: Author Karin Mitchell writes about the weird, gross, yet entertaining aspects to life with kids
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“Stop Licking That!” is a phrase that Summit County writer Karin Mitchell exclaimed so many times to her two young children that she decided to write a book about what she refers to as “the insanity that is parenting.”
Mitchell, who has a master’s in writing, has been an educator for 14 years and a caseworker for social services. Her first book, a novel titled “Between Families,” took on the serious topic of coming of age in an institution. In Mitchell’s second book, “Stop Licking That!”, her real life day-to-day experiences come to the fore as she describes in hilarious detail the ups and downs of being a mom in today’s society.
Summit Daily News: Tell me about your background and what got you started as a writer.
Karin Mitchell: I have an undergraduate degree in special education and have also taught in the public schools special services programs. After my first son was born that changed things, it was too hard to work in child services, because I couldn’t draw those boundaries. I stayed home, worked on my master’s, got pregnant with my second son.
A friend contacted me about a position as a writing tutor at CMC (Colorado Mountain College). Now I work as a tutor and also do disability services, teach writing, run graduation. I fell in love with teaching adults and I basically will do anything CMC asks me to do. It’s a wonderful place to work.
SDN: Your new book, “Stop Licking That!”, which comes out in February, seems to be quite a departure in tone from your first book, “Between Families.”
KM: The two books are drastically different. “Between Families” was young adult literary fiction — and very serious. It is a coming-of-age story against the backdrop of an institution.
After the publication of “Between Families,” friends who had read the book said, “You’re so funny, you should write something funny. You should write about your kids.”
SDN: Could you give me a peek at one of your favorite moments from the book?
KM: At the beginning of the book, I write about the experience we have as women going to the doctor for our first pregnancy appointment. Women typically fold all their clothes very carefully, including their intimate apparel. I’d say that’s pretty funny — that modesty — considering what you are shortly going to be sharing.
SDN: What are some of the “Tips, Tricks, and Weird Facts” you share in the book?
KM: I’ll tell you why you should teach your kids to blow snot rockets, and why mothers kiss their kids’ heads.
SDN: Snot rockets sound disgusting! Why should kids blow snot rockets?
KM: I can’t tell you! You’ll have to read the book.
SDN: Speaking of disgusting, was there anything you left out of the book because it was too gross, too inappropriate? Do you think your kids will mind, one day, that you’ve shared all these details about them?
KM: I did ask my husband to look over the book, to make sure I wasn’t over-sharing — or at least that what I was sharing was about my kids when they were 3 or under. I am sure my kids will be horrified. Oh well. They are stuck with me as a mom and I figure I am going to embarrass them — and will probably do even worse than that. That being said, the last part of the book is an apology to my children.
SDN: Thinking about all the crazy aspects of raising young kids, do you ever long for the days before you had children? Or fantasize about what it will be like when they’re grown up and out of your hair?
KM: No. There are things that I miss about pre-kid life, and I do talk about that in the book. Before having kids, I was always looking for the next “Big Experience”: zip-lining, travel to far-away countries. Having children has narrowed my scope. I don’t long to go back to being the pre-kid me, but I do miss the days when I had more time for my friends, when we could just go out and ski. But no, I love being a parent.
SDN: Jane Austen supposedly wrote her books at the kitchen table, surrounded by the hubbub of family life. Is that how you work?
KM: No way! Children will not let you do that. My husband and I make arrangements and I’ll go to Red Buffalo, the Pour House, the library, Elevate in Frisco. I carve out time, and know that those couple of hours are the time I have.
My husband is a huge support. Writing is a tremendously vulnerable thing. It’s really key to show my writing to my husband. And he is really smart — he doesn’t offer any input. He just believes in me.
SDN: What do you do to replenish yourself as a writer?
KM: I have to be physically active. And I think about what I am writing while I run or ski. Writers’ groups keep me motivated, too. I recommend the group at Elevate in Frisco.
SDN: What do you hope people will take away from your book?
KM: What I hope people will take are all of the things about being human, that are embodied in being a parent. Being a parent, it’s super-entertaining, gross, weird and also the best thing you can do and be.
And even if the reader is not a parent, I hope he or she will view this as a memoir, as a slice of the human experience.
The book’s publication date is Feb. 9, and I am doing an evening program at CMC on Feb. 23 from 6-8. We’ll be doing Mad Libs from the book and I hope there will be lots of audience participation. And there will be child care available, of course.
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