Grace Burrowes is a New York Times bestselling author and all around nice person. When I was looking for guest bloggers for my Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series, she said she’d be willing to write a post. We traded e-mails and discussed dates, settling on this one. I mentioned that it was also Mother’s Day weekend, in case she wanted to somehow tie that into her post. Luckily for us, she did because her post is terrific! It is a warm, witty, and personal celebration of motherhood. Grace is giving away a signed copy of her latest release, DARIOUS, to one commenter. I’m also giving away a book from my personal collection to one commenter here. And there are chances to win a signed ARC of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL (my upcoming release) and a $25 eGift Certificate today at Romancing the Dark Side, so please stop by after reading Grace’s wonderful post. Welcome, Grace!

JA: I took this picture at Valentine’s Day,
a holiday that celebrates love and couples,
but I’m rededicating it to love and mothers today!

“For me, becoming a mother was the road to happily ever after”

I write traditional historical romances set mostly in Regency England or Victorian Scotland, and thus you can pretty well guess they will end with an attractive couple gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes, lifelong commitment thick in the air, and—because of what happened on page 157 and again on page 225 and again on page 341 (twice)—a baby on the way.

And yet, my own happily ever didn’t follow that path. I bounced out of college with degrees in music history and political science, headed on down to Washington, DC, and promptly realized I had two of the least remunerative diplomas on the planet. Once I got the undergrad loans paid off, away to law school I did go, five nights a week, while schlepping a day job that in typical DC fashion, kept me up way past my bedtime more often than not.

I was in love with being busy, looking fine, and preparing to take the world by storm, when—you know that stuff on page 157?—I ended up facing single motherhood. I had dated some, but Mr. Page 157 was not lifelong commitment material.

And here we have what the fiction authors like to call your inciting incident. The pregnancy turned high risk, I had to finish law school by writing papers (about serial killers?!), and abruptly, life was not about looking fine or taking anything by storm but the 2 am feeding.

I grew up in a hurry. Got a job that paid enough but required only the usual forty hours. Bought a little old house in the country where we could have cats and a dog. Found a day care mom I could trust, got my silly self on a budget (sorta).

And an odd thing happened: The guys no longer looked at me like I was a page 157 who could quickly be flipped aside for the next scene.

I no longer suffered fools of the masculine variety, and a pair of broad shoulders didn’t matter half so much as a pair of lips that told only truths, and an index finger that could dial my number just to see how I was doing. Bedroom eyes and clever pick up lines were nothing compared to the appeal of a guy who could pull his share of the emotional load in a relationship.

To some extent, I was protective of my daughter—no cameo swains welcome in our house—and I wanted to set a responsible example for her, but motherhood also shifted the coin I dealt in.

I was no longer interested in a good time, hot chemistry, or getting to Page 157. Those objectives were all fine at one time, but when I became a mother, I traded—up, I think—exchanging my page 157s for a Happily Ever After. Being a mom taught me about the hard, hard work involved in a committed relationship. About giving when you don’t think you have another scintilla to give.

Being a mom taught me about hanging in there, keeping healthy boundaries, and finding courage to face the unfaceable. My characters learn these things in 95,000 words, with each other, and earn their parenting privileges as a result. This is probably the ideal approach, though I wouldn’t trade my path for anything now.

For me, becoming a mother was the road to happily ever after, and so to all the other moms out there (of whatever gender), happiest of Mother’s Days.

What started you on the road to your happily ever after? What stood in your way? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of “Darius,” a story about a guy who ended up on far too many page 157s, hated himself for it, and found hope in a most unlikely direction.

Answer one of Grace’s questions in the comments below and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of DARIOUS, as well as a book from my personal collection (US only). Don’t forget to stop by Romancing the Dark Side too if you’re interested in reading an excerpt from Fiery Edge of Steel (it’s the LAST DAY of my teaser tour before the book comes out on May 28th).

Thank you, Grace, for guest blogging today and sharing your story with us. Have a nice Mother’s Day, everyone!