Later Mom Features
As I recently told a group of 400 organizations from around the country gathered to hear 200 authors pitch their books for a chance to come to their town and speak, all of my work has a simple message. I take sad things, and make them funny. Which is why my most recent book is about marriage. Ba dum bum. Of course I was kidding, I love marriage, I couldn’t have just spent three years researching and writing about it if I didn’t. But reflecting back on my work for the past 20 years, “Take My Spouse, Please” is the most recent bead added on to a string of projects that take life’s biggest challenges and bring people together to the tell the truth about them so we can laugh together.My whole professional raison d’être, for lack of a better expression, is to create community through laughter so we all feel a little less alone in our struggles.
I started out as an actor, back when we were still called actresses! I worked on Broadway briefly, and then took a class in Stand Up at UCLA. Very soon after I started working on the road. I then wrote two comedy shows, one with a partner that was called “Two Thin,” an educational show about anorexia and bulimia and another called “The Move,” a solo show with puppets about giving up my apartment in NYC for good to move to LA to be with my husband, harder than I thought since it was the apartment I was living in when I cared for my father before he died. Fast forward 10 years after I took that class at UCLA and I started teaching it. Then I had my first baby, was landlocked at home with an infant and felt alone and isolated so I created a live storytelling show called “Afterbirth…stories you won’t read in a parenting magazine.” It toured major U.S. cities and was published as an anthology in 2009 by St. Martin’s Press. A few years ago, when the kids were old enough to not accidentally kill themselves, I had the space in my brain to look across and see my husband again. I thought, “‘Til death do you part, that could be a really long time.” We were in a difficult place, and I wanted to laugh more in our marriage like we used to. I went looking for a book for how to do this more. I couldn’t find this book, so I wrote it. Visit www.daniklein.com.
What was your road to parenthood like? I came to the parenting party very late. Before I met my husband, I used to say it wasn’t like I was dying to have a child. I was just afraid of dying without ever having one. Then I was lucky enough to get pregnant and meet my first son. Talk about mind-blowing. The person I thought I was before giving birth was blown up the minute I saw this baby.
Is there one project in your career thus far that you are most proud of, and why? Although I loved writing and producing the “Afterbirth…” series and book, the new book “Take My Spouse, Please” is the project that makes me most proud. Not only because it was a truly comprehensive and challenging, but because it had a genuine effect on how I relate to my husband. I learned so much important and valuable information about how to be married successfully by interviewing all these happy couples, some of whom had been through some very difficult disappointments, and they could sit across from me and laugh about these experiences together. Absolutely inspiring. Plus any time, and it’s only happened a handful of times in my life, where you have an idea, and through determination and hard work it becomes a tangible thing that moves people, I find this truly thrilling. I hope they will feel less alone in the very normal struggles of living with other people, some of whom you may have birthed. To have hope that, with a little self-awareness, effort and levity, change and happiness are possible.
Do you consider yourself a role model for women? That’s a tall order for anyone, but I do think if you struggle with believing in yourself, or setting goals and realizing them, especially when you’re certain you won’t be able to, then yes, please let me be your role model. You can do it, whatever it is. You just have to ask yourself how badly you want it. I was terrified of the void that would be left in my life when my second son was starting kindergarten. It was my fear of his bus pulling away, and me left standing on the corner with no where to go that motivated me to write a 45 page book proposal in the three months before that date and go out and sell it. Fear can be a wonderful catalyst to change, if it doesn’t paralyze you.