Super Mom Saves the World
by Melanie Lynne Hauser

Published: 2007-03-06
Paperback : 300 pages
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"Escape into the world of Super Mom for a few hours...you'll be glad you did". - Meg Cabot, author of Queen of Babble.

"...provides a welcome break from the proliferation of urban mommy books. For those who rely on Fresh Direct and nannies to run a household, this will read like a ...

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"Escape into the world of Super Mom for a few hours...you'll be glad you did". - Meg Cabot, author of Queen of Babble.

"...provides a welcome break from the proliferation of urban mommy books. For those who rely on Fresh Direct and nannies to run a household, this will read like a foreign text. The women in Hauser's world clean their own toilets, volunteer for the PTA and bake a mean tuna casserole."- Kirkus Reviews

In this sequel to “Confessions of Super Mom”, It's six months after the Horrible Swiffer Accident that left her a superhero, and Birdie Lee is still adjusting. For starters, she's hearing voices and having lustful thoughts about Mr. Clean. Then there's the fact that her daughter is suddenly sporting a bright pink streak in her hair, courtesy of her new friend Vienna (and if recent history has taught us anything, we all know that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble). Birdie's son is experiencing his first case of puppy love, her nerdy scientist love interest has just proposed marriage, and her annoying ex-husband is suddenly less annoying. Which can only mean he's up to no good.

But things get even more sinister when her hometown of Astro Park gets Little League fever in a big way. Rabid parents, performance-enhancing Gatorade and a domed stadium on shaky - potentially explosive - ground are just the beginning of Super Mom's problems; throw in a ticked off school janitor and a corrupt mayor, and Super Mom has her hands full.

Read SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD to find out how one woman - one mother - struggles to keep her teenagers in tow with one hand while saving her hometown from disaster with the other. While trying to find time for herself amidst the very real, very messy job of blending families as she plans her marriage to her very own Super Man.

Editorial Review

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Chapter 1

What happens when a normal, PTA-fearing mother of two teenagers suddenly finds herself thrust into a new career at the tender age of forty-one?

And what if that career happens to involve an entirely new wardrobe, including high heels (which she hasn't worn in decades) and underwire bras (ditto)?

Furthermore, what if the job description includes keeping the world safe for democracy and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with really evil villains with unusual names?

Well, apparently she starts hearing voices.

At least, that's what happened to me, after a full six months on the job as the newest kid on the superhero block, that maternal dynamo known as -

Super Mom. (That's me.)

I'd just come home from yet another busy day of fighting crime. I stumbled up to the back door tired, cranky because I'd forgotten my key, but then realized that it wasn't necessary because the extra set was dangling from the door knob, practically sending out an engraved invitation to any interested evil villains to c'mon in and take their best shot at me. I sighed, pulled the keys out of the door knob and pushed the door open with my shoulder, because it's old and it sticks.

"Who left the keys in the back door?" I called, stumbling over the pile of discarded tennis shoes, flip-flops, snow boots and chunky platform wedges just inside the door. None of which was mine. I flipped on the kitchen light, only to shield my eyes from the devastation - the open cabinets, dirty dishes and globs of peanut butter - that greeted me. "Well, I have had it," I muttered, tightening my Apron of Anticipation around my waist, preparing myself for one more final, epic battle between good and evil.

(I'm good, for those keeping score.)

"Martin," I called, my hands on my hips. "Pick up your shoes! Kelly, get that backpack out of the way! Has it occurred to anyone around here to close a cabinet door lately? And what have I told you about turning out these lights? Money doesn't grow on trees, you know!"

I was met by a menacing silence that set my Super Mom sense on high alert; I whirled around, tense, ready for the onslaught of an enemy more terrifying than any villain imagined -Teenagers.

(They're evil. In case you're still keeping score.)

"Mom, I'll just have to put them on again tomorrow, so what's the use? Jeez!"

"Mother, please! I'll get it later when I do my homework! Have you tried lifting that thing, anyway? Do you want me to put my back out by bringing it all the way up to my room?"

I tugged on the offending backpack, crammed full of high school textbooks; even with my superpowers I couldn't lift it. So I kicked it out of the way and sighed dramatically, just in case anyone was paying attention to me. Then I trudged upstairs, untying my Apron of Anticipation, shaking out the dirt and cookie crumbs that had settled into the pockets - and bumped into two huge piles of laundry in the hallway. Stepping around them, I tripped over an empty soda can somebody had left in the middle of the hall - only to discover that it wasn't really empty.

My chest started to vibrate. I clenched my fists, reared my head back and felt my mouth almost split my face in two.


My Mighty Roar thundered through the house; mirrors shook, dishes rattled and I cringed, just waiting. Sure enough, I heard a huge crash accompanied by the tinkling of shattered glass.

"Mom, that's the second picture this week!" My children confronted me at the foot of the stairs, their arms folded over their chests, twin pillars of martyrdom.

"Can't you learn to control yourself?" Kelly arched one golden eyebrow.

"Now who's going to clean it up?" Martin shook his head.

"Sorry," I mumbled. "Sorry. It just - came out." I took a deep breath, worked up some quick tears and pulled another weapon out of my arsenal. Super Guilt Trip.

"It's just that I've been a little busy today, fighting crime and all," I whispered, wiping my eyes with the corner of my Apron. "I'm sorry if I seem a little cranky - but I did stay up late last night doing all this laundry. But never mind." I sighed and sat down on the top step, showing off the cuts and bruises on my hands, hitching my costume up to reveal a giant gash on my knee from an earlier battle. (Me vs. The Ice Cream Man from Hell, who was notorious for driving away with little kids' change and not giving them their Push-Ups. I won. Just in case - you know, the score thing.)

"I'll find the time to put it away for you," I said with a groan. "I'll just have to get up earlier tomorrow, go without my own breakfast, maybe let an evildoer or two slip through the cracks - but that's fine, I don't mind. That's what mothers do, you know…"

"Oh, please." Martin grinned in that patronizing way he inherited from his father; Kelly shook her head.

"Come here, young lady." I sat up straight, my Super Mom Sense - which alerted me to the first sign of a child in trouble - tingling the back of my neck. "What on earth have you done to yourself?" I grabbed a hunk of her glossy blond hair - which was shot through with bright pink streaks - and yanked on it.

"Ow! Oh, that." She shrugged. "Vienna thought it would look cool, so she did it for me after school. It's no big thing, Mother, so stop looking at me like I pierced my tongue."

"Vienna? Tell me, what kind of person names their daughter after a city? And if Vienna thought it would look so cool, why didn't she put one in her own hair?"

"She did. It's purple."


"I'm hungry," Martin interrupted. "There's nothing to eat. When's the last time you went to the grocery store?"

"Well, excuse me, I was a little busy saving the world. But there's plenty to eat. I think I counted fourteen boxes of cereal."

"There's nothing good."

"Why don't we go out to Wally's Pizza Station? We haven't been there in ages. Remember how much you love the little train that brings the pizza to the tables?" I perked up, feeling the burden of being a superhero and a mother of teenagers slide off my shoulders; we always have a good time at Wally's Pizza Station. Plus you get free breadsticks.

"Mother, really. I wouldn't be caught dead in that place." Kelly twisted a pink strand of hair around her finger and admired it.

"It's a little lame," Martin agreed. "Can't we just order in?"

"I guess…"

"Forget about me, I'm going to Vienna's to study. She's picking me up in a minute."

"She can drive?"

"Yes, and she's a safe driver, so don't worry."

"Kelly, I'm not so sure, I hardly know her and I've not met her parents and-"

My daughter narrowed her gray eyes at me, put her hands on her hips and hit me with her best shot, simply by asking a question. The Question. The Question that punches every parent in the gut no matter how many times it's asked - and answered: "Don't you trust me?"

And the thing is I do. So far. But sometimes it seems that by saying so, I'm giving her permission to run off and do some terrible, unspeakable thing. Like knock off a couple of liquor stores with a sawed-off shotgun.

"I…well, of course I do…" I stammered, helpless, my superpowers failing me.

"Thanks, Mom!" She granted me a quick kiss on the cheek. Then she ran off to unearth the perfect pair of chunky wedge shoes from the pile downstairs.

I studied Martin, who, being the younger sibling, knows far too much. If he wasn't my son, I might have to kill him. "What are you looking at?"

"Nothing." He grinned. "Don't forget to order the pizza - pepperoni."

"Right." I sighed as he retreated to his lair to do whatever it is he does when I'm not around. Then I surveyed the piles of laundry surrounding me; faded underwear and mismatched socks and bras held together with safety pins. I plucked out a pair of sweat pants, T-shirt, comfy bra (meaning no underwire) and retreated to my own lair to change clothes and wonder what Wonder Woman was doing tonight. Probably getting a deep-tissue massage from some man-slave.

As for me, I trudged downstairs, grabbed a broom and dustpan and swept up the glass from broken picture frame, then called for the pizza delivery. I made quick work of the kitchen, taking full advantage of my ability to clean with the power of 10,000 Swiffers, which was by far the most practical of the superpowers I had acquired since suffering my Horrible Swiffer Accident last fall. (***Swiffer, by the way, is a remarkable cleaning product that I heartily endorse. And which was not responsible for my Horrible Swiffer Accident, as I had violated the warranty by negligently pouring dangerous combinations of household cleaners in the reservoir and inhaling their fumes due to improper ventilation.)

***Just a little legal mumbo-jumbo that Proctor and Gamble "suggested" I use from now on.

When I was done with the dustpan I put it away, in the cabinet under the sink. But as I did so I knocked something over - I heard a metallic thunk - so I knelt down, reached past the five dozen paper bags, neatly folded, that I keep in there for no apparent reason other than genetics (there are five dozen identical bags underneath my mother's kitchen sink), and grabbed the knocked over can. I pulled it out, saw that it was a very old can of shower cleaner, chuckled a bit at the idea of me, Super Mom, using a plain old commercial household cleanser, and was about to toss it in the trash when I heard a little "chirrup."

I stopped, looked around, shook my head, and then started toward the trash again.

"Purrupp," chirped something. Something adorable, because it was the cutest, brightest little sound you've ever heard.

"Did somebody bring a puppy home?" I called. Neither of my children answered. I bit my lip, opened the cabinet where the trash can was stored, and dropped the can -

Only to hear a slightly anguished "ooohhggooogoooo….." as it fell into the trash can, down, down, down…

And that's when I yelped.

"God, Mother, get a grip," my daughter said as she regally made her way across the kitchen and picked up her backpack with ease. "Are you starting to talk to yourself now?"

"No, but…I swear…" I looked into the trash. The can of shower cleaner - rusty along the edges, the label faded so that the Scrubbing Bubbles' eyes weren't quite so brightly black - lay nestled among Pop-Tart wrappers and yesterday's paper. "That can talked to me…"

"Mother. Honestly. You are so losing it." But Kelly stopped to give me a hug before she ran out the door to the tune of one car honking.

"Kelly, when will you be home?" I ran to the door and called after her retreating form, just a gray shadow in the dusk.


"Because I want you home by ten - oh! Well, then, make sure you are. Home by ten." I waved pathetically at my teenaged daughter as she got in a car driven by a girl I hardly knew, who happened to be named after the capital of Austria. And if recent history has taught us anything, it's that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble. I told myself that it's not my daughter I don't trust. It's everyone else in the world.

I watched the car back out of the driveway. I couldn't tell if Kelly had buckled her seatbelt. I also couldn't tell if Vienna was smoking a cigarette. I definitely couldn't tell if there were any open containers of alcohol or lusty teenaged boys stashed in the backseat, and because I couldn't tell, I could only begin to imagine. Which is never a good thing to do on an empty stomach, a superhero outfit within easy reach.

I wrestled with my conscience for a full twenty seconds. Then I threw some money down on the table for the pizza guy, ran upstairs, pulled on my costume again, and hit the streets in my brand new Mom Mobile (complete with Super Paint Color Changing Panels, to protect my identity).

I may have even snickered with evil maternal glee as I kept a discreet distance behind the VW Beetle that was speeding my daughter away to points unknown. I definitely forgot how tired I was, how hungry, how my high-heeled pumps pinched my feet. I even forgot about the talking can of shower cleaner.

Because the truth is, a Super Mom's job is never done. Especially when her own children are involved.

- - - - - -

"How was your session yesterday?"

"Birdie, you know I can't talk about it. Doctor/patient privileges, remember?"

"C'mon, you can tell me! I promise I won't tell anybody else!"

"Well…" Carrie, my best friend and co-worker at the Marvel Food and Fine Beverages, shut her register drawer and leaned across her conveyor belt. "Promise?"

"Cross my heart and hope to be smashed to a pulp by an evil arch-nemesis." I held up my hand, Girl Scout-style.

Carrie giggled, tugged at her straight black bangs, and adjusted her thick glasses. "You didn't hear it from me, but Robin, the Boy Wonder, is a total mess. Father issues, latent homosexual feelings, and a scary tutu fetish."

"Ooh! Freaky!"

"Shhh! Not so loud. But it is creepy, isn't it? He came to me just in time." She shook her head and blinked her little blue eyes like a mole.

"Carrie Peters. Psychiatrist to the superheroes." I smiled proudly. After all, it wasn't just anybody who could turn a thesis about superheroes and stifled childhood aggression into a thriving psychiatric practice endowed by the Justice League of America. (Although the JLA, not wanting the rest of the world to know that their superheroes have some pretty disturbing psychological issues, asked Carrie to keep her day job as a cover.) "Speaking of which…have you ever heard of a superhero seeing things?"

"What kind of things?"

"Oh, you know. Inanimate objects suddenly becoming - animate."

"Birdie, you're talking about a bunch of paranoid people, one of whom believes he can talk to fish, several who claim that they're inter-planetary travelers, and one woman of very advanced years whose breasts continue to defy gravity even though she swears she's had no plastic surgery."

"So, you're saying…?"

"That as a whole, you're a seriously messed-up bunch," she said with a professional cluck of her tongue.

"No fair." I pouted, more than a little hurt. I, too, was a card-carrying member of the Justice League of America (although I hated the picture on my ID card; my cape made me look fat).

"So," Carrie said with an elaborate shrug as she wiped down her conveyor belt. "How's Kelly been lately?"

"Fine. Although she has a new hairstyle."


"Yes. A pink streak running down the side."

"Kelly?" Carrie put down her dust cloth. "Kelly's hardly the pink streak type. Although pink was always her favorite color…"

"I know. From pink clothes to pink hair." I tried to laugh as if I were one of those cool mothers who believed in allowing their kids to experiment with finding themselves. But Carrie and I both knew I wasn't.

"I suppose I would never have known. Chrissie hardly sees her anymore…"

"I know, I know." I sighed. I'd been dreading this conversation for a month now. Carrie's daughter, Chrissie, and Kelly had been best friends since kindergarten. But now, it seemed, they'd grown apart. And as much as I grieved for the apparent end of their friendship, I was more worried about how it would affect Carrie's and mine. What happens to parents when their children aren't friends anymore? I didn't know, and I was afraid to find out.

"It's this Vienna person. Kelly is totally infatuated with her. I'm sorry - I hope Chrissie doesn't feel left out."

"Of course she doesn't," Carrie snapped, a bit too defensively. "She's perfectly fine."

"I'm sure she is. And I'm sure this will all blow over, and everything will be the way it was." I smiled, she smiled, and we both looked away.

"Isn't there anything left in this world that doesn't change?" I asked with an unexpected - melancholy - sigh.

"Well, let's see…oh, I've got it! Doctor Dan will always be an asshole!"

"True." I snorted, grateful to my friend - who was my friend, no matter what happened between our daughters - always ready to cheer me up with a well-timed zinger aimed at my ex-husband.

"And he'll always have a tiny penis…"

"Carrie! Shhh! I should never have told you that!" We both giggled like twelve year olds, then we got back to work because it was five PM; Magic Hour at the Marvel Food and Fine Beverages, when everyone stopped in on their way home from work.

I greeted the first person in line. "Hi, Mary! Going to the PTA meeting next Thursday?"

"Of course. I think our esteemed president would kill me if I didn't." Mary Denton nodded toward Carrie, who grinned.

"So, let me guess…" I scanned the items from her cart, the usual carrot sticks, lunch meats, cheese, spaghetti - and two six-packs of Gatorade and a case of Power Bars. "Is it baseball season already? It's only late March!"

"Opening day is in two weeks!" Mary beamed. "This year is going to be great! Jimmy might be starting left field. And with the new sports complex going up, who knows what will happen? Mayor Linseed even hinted that we might get the Little League World Series! It's all so exciting!"

"I don't know, it's not like we're getting a Krispy Kreme - now that I could get excited about!"

"But we need the revenue, especially since Super Mom shut New Cosmos down," Mary said.

"Well, she had a good reason for doing it. Children were getting very sick because of that junk food." I tried not to sound too defensive.

"But it was locally-grown, patriotic junk food. And half the town lost their jobs when they shut the place down. So all the new construction for the ballpark is a good thing!"

I scowled, pausing in my scanning to look across the road, just past the empty headquarters of New Cosmos Industries, former manufacturer of patriotic junk food that had almost been the ruin of the children of Astro Park. In the distance inched, boldly and bravely toward the sky, a brand new youth sports complex. The pet project of Astro Park's longtime mayor, John Linseed, it was the talk and hope of a town still reeling from the loss of its biggest - albeit evil-to-the-core - industry.

And what thanks had I - the superhero who risked life and limb to shut it down - gotten? A memorial trash can. I could see it now, standing on the corner of Elm and Taylor. Somebody had trampled the daffodils the Beautifying Committee had planted around it. And the trash can itself was covered by graffiti that declared "Super Mom Sukz." I made a mental note to stop by after work and take care of it. (Either correct the spelling, or clean it up. Depended on what kind of mood I was in.)

"Mayor Linseed's coming to the PTA meeting on Thursday," Carrie said. "Apparently he has a special request. Related, of course, to the building of yet another shrine to sports while arts and academics in this country go to hell in a hand basket."

"Stupid mayor," I muttered. The trash can had been his idea.

"I bet he wants money," Carrie said.

"He's a politician, isn't he?" Mary asked with a wise sigh, pushing her cart out the door.

I didn't look up to see who was next. But I could guess from the plethora of Tums, Rolaids and Pepto-Bismal rolling down my conveyor belt.

"Coach Henderson." I greeted the man built like a drill sergeant, but with the kindest face - all creases and tired acceptance - I'd ever seen. "Ready for the start of the season?"

"It's gonna be a great one! And I'm not just saying that because I'm head coach!"

"I know." I smiled and took his money, proffered in a big paw of a hand. "But are you ready for the parents?"

Coach leaned in and whispered as only he could. (Meaning - everyone in the store could hear.) "I'm never ready for the parents! The kids, they're great. But those parents…" He shook his head.

"Maybe it'll be different this year."

"I don't think so. The mayor is already pressuring me to field a championship team. It'll be more of a draw, he says - more revenue for the new complex. It's a shame, really. In my day we played in an abandoned lot, with rocks for bases. And we were happier than these kids, let me tell you-"

A loud thwack caused us both to jump; someone had thrown a huge bag of ice on Carrie's conveyor belt. We all watched as a mean-faced little man turned to the boy - who could have been anywhere between eleven and fourteen because of his slight frame, coupled with big feet - behind him.

"What'd I tell you? What? It's not that heavy! You could have lifted it - you need to bulk up, remember? You can't let that little snot of a Denton beat you out for left field again!"

"And so it begins." Coach Henderson shook his head. "Little Brian-" he jerked his thumb in the boy's direction - "He's not a bad player - a little slow off the bounce, maybe, but not bad. And he's a good kid, too. But that father…"

"Yeah." We watched as "that father" grabbed a candy bar out of Brian's hand.

"What? No candy for you - I told you you have to lose five pounds. You're too slow. Too lazy. Too fat and lazy."

It grew quiet in the store. The only sounds were the rustle of bags, the steady hum of conveyor belts - and the constant berating of a boy who seemed to shrink with every word, every breath, his father expelled.

"Hey, Brian," Coach Henderson growled in his kind way, as Brian's father paused for breath and paid for the ice.

"Hey, Coach." Brian smiled, his pale, peaked face gaining a little color.

"Hello, Mr. Derringer." Coach's face darkened, but he still managed to give a polite nod to the boy's father.

"Coach Henderson! Well, are you going to come to your senses this year and start Brian? I admit last year he was lazy-" Brian winced - "But this year should be different. I'll make sure it's different, won't I, Brian?"

Brian didn't say anything; nobody did. Although Coach Henderson growled like a furnace getting ready to blast.

"Brian's a fine little player, Mr. Derringer. No need to make sure of anything. I'll see you at practice." Coach popped open a bottle of Tums and poured some down his throat, crunching like mad, as he grabbed his bag and trundled out the door - after stopping to give Brian a weathered, but kind, smile. Brian's eyes lit up, just for a moment; then they glazed over, as if a curtain had been pulled across them.

"Grab that ice, Brian. Are you happy now? Coach saw what a wimp you are. Now take that ice to the car and hold it on your lap all the way home. I'm turning on the air conditioning, too." Mr. Derringer - who had a face like a ferret with sharp, pinched features not unlike his son's, only his were etched out of meanness, not sadness - pushed Brian toward the door, causing him to hit his thin shin against a grocery cart and tumble down, ice and all.

"Hey, you!" I couldn't help myself; I leaped over my conveyor belt and pulled the child up, since his father wasn't moving a muscle to help him. "There's no need for that - are you all right, sweetheart?"

He nodded, his nose red, his chin quivering, trying for all his might not to cry.

"Excuse me, who are you?" Mr. Derringer grabbed the ice - and Brian's arm.

"I'm - well, I work here, and -"

"Then keep your nose out of other people's business. Who do you think you are, Super Mom?"

"If I were you," I growled, narrowing my eyes into a Merciless Gaze, raising my right arm. "I wouldn't ask that question…"

"Birdie!" Carrie appeared by my side and grabbed my arm. "Birdie, look, you have customers!"

"Yes, go back to your customers, miss. And I'll take care of my son. Do-gooder." Mr. Derringer spat this last and pulled Brian out the automatic doors; through the window I could see him plunk the bag of ice back in the boy's arms and stride away toward the parking lot, not looking back to see if Brian was following.

"Carrie, I swear…" I was trembling all over.

"Birdie, remember where you are - remember who you are. For now."

"I know, I know." I went back to my register and started scanning groceries - frozen peas, chocolate syrup, granola, Band-Aids, razors. I didn't look up, trying to concentrate on just being Birdie Lee, mild-mannered grocery clerk. I needed to get hold of myself; this was Little League season, after all. If I ran around flinging toxic cleaning fluid into the eyes of every parent I saw yelling at a child, I'd probably fling myself dry.

"I hate baseball season," I muttered anyway. "Thank God Martin never played."

"And thank God I have a daughter who hates sports," Carrie agreed.

"I'm so glad I'm with a kind man." I thought of Mr. Derringer and shuddered. "Not one of those frustrated ex-jocks living out their fantasies through their kids."

"You're lucky. You've got the last sane man in Astro Park."

"Well, let's not tell him. It might go to his head." Finally I was able to smile, trying to put the thought of Mr. Derringer and his mean, pinched little face out of my mind. But there was an obstacle to this: The parade of juice boxes, power bars and Gatorade rolling steadily down my conveyor belt, fortifications for Little League Season. I sighed, and reached for the next item in the endless stream of consumer goods. A bottle of Mr. Clean.

But then I gasped.

For just as I swiped his shiny butt over the scanner, Mr. Clean turned his grinning bald head, looked at me. And winked.

"Carrie - I - remember what I was saying about inanimate objects?" I stammered.


"Well, this bottle of Mr. Clean…"

Carrie froze, a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi in her hand. She turned to look at me, a concerned scowl on her face.

"What would be wrong with that bottle of Mr. Clean, Birdie?" She asked in her soothing, hypnotic psychiatrist voice. "That plastic bottle of perfectly ordinary cleaning solution you're holding in your hand?"

I looked at her, at the stout woman in my checkout line who was staring at me as I manhandled her bottle of Mr. Clean. I swallowed, tried to smile, and shook my head.

"Nothing, never mind. I must be tired, that's all." I placed the bottle - very gently - down among the rest of the items. Carrie nodded with approval - although her eyes, little blue stars magnified by her thick eyeglasses, did blink once or twice - and turned back to her own customer, as I continued to scan perishable and non-perishable items. But as I did, I couldn't help but feel as if someone was watching me.

And that feeling didn't go away until Mr. Clean was double - no, make that triple - bagged and put away in a shopping cart. Covered up by a giant bag of kitty litter.

Order Confessions of Super Mom Contact Melanie for Book Club Visit Contests and Fun Additional Melanie Writing

Reprinted from Super Mom Saves The World by Melanie Lynne Hauser by permission of NAL, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Melanie Lynne Hauser. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission. view abbreviated excerpt only...

Discussion Questions

From the Author...

If you’re in a book club, or just looking for some things to ponder, I’ve put together a few discussion questions for SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD:

1. Considering all the other unsung heroes out there, why do you think a superhero honoring mothers was necessary in today’s society? Or do you think that mothers should be celebrated in this way?

2. As the book begins, Birdie is beginning to feel as if the town doesn’t appreciate all she does. Do you feel that women are typically underappreciated in this way, in the workplace and at home? Or do you think that Birdie is too sensitive about this?

3. The friendship between Carrie and Birdie is a very big part of these books, yet they’re both worried that it will change as their daughters grow apart. Do you feel that their bond is real, or was it a friendship that grew out of convenience, and will fade as their lives take them in different directions?

4. Blending families is an important theme of the book. Do you feel Birdie and Carl are too honest when they admit to each other that their own children will always come first? Will Carl replace Dr. Dan in Kelly’s and Martin’s lives, or do you believe Birdie will try to keep her ex-husband involved as a parent?

5. Dr. Dan’s attempt to win his ex-wife back fails. How selfish were his motives? Do you feel there was any genuine feeling or attraction on his part? Was Birdie ever truly tempted, or was the feeling she once had for him truly dead?

6. Birdie admits that her fears over her son dating are stronger than they were when her daughter was the same age. Why do you think this is? What role does gender and birth order play in her different approach to her children?

7. Despite her hatred of Mr. Derringer and the way he treats his son, Birdie is reluctant to truly intervene until the end. Do you feel she should have stepped in sooner, as Super Mom? Did the fact that she had no evidence of actual physical abuse make up for the obvious psychological damage she witnessed? What exactly is the line between abuse and poor parenting?

8. While the entire town is involved in the building of the new stadium, and the excitement of competitive sports, academic and music funding is slowly taken away. Do you think this is a true reflection of our society today?

9. The fundraising competition between the PTA and the Shriners is one of the more humorous parts of the book. However, do you think that school fundraising is an issue that needs to be addressed? Is the depiction of the PTA really that exaggerated in the book? Are the parents of Astro Park well-intentioned in their zealousness?

10. Who is the true villain of the book — Mayor Linseed, Jasper, Janitor Bingo, or Dr. Dan? Are any of these innocent of bad intent? Or is there some flaw in all of their characters?

11. Why do you think Birdie is so quick to overlook the fact that Janitor Bingo initially wanted to do her harm? Beyond their connection through cleaning, what is the bond that ties them? Why does Birdie feel so responsible for him?

12. Birdie and Carl talk about the fact that they were so busy being parents, they didn’t even remember to dance at their own wedding. Is this an indication that they need to do a better job balancing parenting with being in love? Or have they found a way to do that already? What do you think is the underlying strength of their relationship?

13. The end of the book suggests that Carl will soon be celebrated in his own right. How do you think they’ll manage a marriage between two celebrities? How will Carl react to his fame? How will Birdie?

14. When the book begins, Birdie is unable to fly. What is it that gives her the confidence to do so at the end? What in her life has changed? What do you think flying symbolizes to her? To all women?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A Note from the Author:

Dear Reader,

I’m often asked why I chose to write women’s fiction from a superhero’s perspective. Contrary to popular belief (my family’s, anyway), it’s not because I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I grew up. (Queen of the Universe was my actual goal.) Although I do think that if you grew up in the United States during the 1960’s and 1970’s, you can’t help but have absorbed a lot of superhero mythology. Batman on TV, the Wonder Twins on Saturday mornings and yes, of course — Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman; pop culture icons, all.

But the truth is, I just wanted to write women’s fiction, period. I wanted to write about the issues we all face as women — juggling work, kids, spouses (ex or otherwise). Much of the “mommy lit” that I was reading at the time tended to place the heroine in a high powered job with personal assistants and nannies at her disposal. I wanted to write about more of a working class mom — the kind of woman I knew personally. But the truth is, writing about people you already know can be just a little, well — boring. What’s the fun in reading about characters that are exactly like the people you see at PTA meetings? I wanted to give readers something a bit more; characters whose every day lives were very much like theirs. But who had an element of fantasy, of fun, that mere mortals can only dream of. What better way to do that than write about a superhero? Better still — a mom. A Super Mom.

And what fun it all turned out to be! Daydreaming of powers that would make a real difference in my boring ol’ soccer mom life — now, that was exciting! It’s fine to be able to see through steel (Superman) or swing from building to building (Spider-Man). If you’re an idle bachelor who has nothing better to do. But if you’re a woman, a mother, with a messy house, no time for a personal life, and kids growing more distant by the year, swinging from building to building doesn’t really help out, you know? But being able to clean with the power of 10,000 Swiffers? Knowing exactly what your teenagers are up to, no matter how hard they try to hide it? The ability to put grown men into Super Time Outs with just a glance? Much more practical!

And the more I wrote about this part — the fun, superhero part — the more resonance it provided to the “real” part. I understood that there were many parallels between the journey that a superhero takes, and the journey that we women experience. Gaining new powers, juggling secret identities, learning to embrace our strengths — I ended up realizing that women really are the true superheroes in life. Only we don’t always take the time to rejoice in it. Until now.

So that’s why I don’t really think that I’m writing women’s fiction from a superhero’s perspective. I’m just writing women’s fiction. Period. Exploring issues that women face, trying to find humor in the ordinary events of our lives. So what if my heroine wears a cape, Spandex and leaps over tall buildings at a single bound?

Sooner or later, don’t we all?

* * * * *

Obviously, I could go on and on about these parallels — in fact, I think there are lot of things to talk about here, as in all women’s fiction, and I hope that you do, too.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Light, Fun, enjoyable read (Confessions of Super Mom)"by Christal F. (see profile) 02/17/09

The actual book we read is called "Confessions of Super Mom" not this title.

While there is some discussion, it's mostly just a light, fun read. Highly enjoyable. Our group needed a les

... (read more)

  "What an Unexpected Delight!"by Betty S. (see profile) 04/20/07

I thought this would be too "light", but I was totally wrong. This book is very well written, with some very funny parts and some very touching moments. I will read this one again.

  "This book is a great one to choose when the club needs a real pick-me-up. The story is warm, the writing and characters awesome and it's full of laughs and tears."by Denise M. (see profile) 03/18/07

We read the first book in this series last year and loved it. It was great to see what happens to the characters we came to love in the first one.

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