07/26/2012 11:19 am ET Updated Sep 25, 2012

Are We Confusing Having It All with Doing It All?

What's the first thing you do when you open a new book? Well, besides look at the photo section? It's a fact. Almost everyone does that.

But what's next? Do you peek at the ending?

As an author, I check the acknowledgments. I've tried to make mine at least as interesting as anything else in my books -- they give me an opportunity to hint at the backstories -- and I'm always a little surprised when the acknowledgments by a brilliant writer are boring.

The reason I bring it up is how often you'll see something like, "I'd like to thank my son for not complaining about not seeing much of Dad while this book was being written." Look a little closer and you might find that book took years to write. So the dad chose writing over his kid for -- what? -- years?

Which is... his choice. It's none of my business. But I think it's okay to notice what others are doing, not to criticize -- but to help you define what you want. I never wanted to miss years of Katie's life because I was writing some stupid book.

As I look back on the books I've written, what strikes me is how they got written at all. Because my memories of those years -- and I took notes -- are all about savoring Katie. When she was little and she asked me to play, I almost always said yes. When she hadn't thought to ask, I usually volunteered. And when I wasn't playing with her, Dad was -- or she was watching a favorite cartoon or taking a nap or asleep for the night.

I don't remember exhaustion from when Katie was little. I only remember fun.

And I'm amused by the seemingly endless debate about whether women can have high-powered careers while being really good moms at the same time. From what I know about those high-powered careers, how would you have time to floss? Then again, they fuel much of what I love about the world -- and I'm not suggesting anyone who has one should have made a different choice. Sometimes Dad's much better suited to staying at home with kids -- and that's only one way families can accommodate a big career and thrive.

But to pretend one person can fill two or three full-time roles, all at once?