Chicago mom and novelist Thea Goodman talks about the transition to parenthood

Mom of the Month: Thea Goodman, Author of “The Sunshine When She’s Gone”

  • Two kids, Esme, 7, and Ethan, 3. Married to Eric Oliver, a professor at the University of Chicago
  • Chicago
  • Author

You write with passion about sleep deprivation. How bad did it get for you?

Pretty bad. (She laughs.) I think it’s hard for everyone. … This was what parenthood entails, we didn’t expect anything different. We were resigned to being a little fuzzy. I do think it’s really challenging. Even just daily quarrels that you might have with your spouse really do come from sleep deprivation. I notice when we both had a good night’s sleep how different things seem in the morning.

How do you describe your parenting style?

My husband is a political scientist. He basically looks at data and makes analysis from data. He always tries to remind me that as long as we don’t traumatize them, the chances of them being happy are quite high. So we try not to create any pain in their lives. I’m very smothering, very super-loving. I’m kind of a softy. But we also have rules and firm boundaries about bedtime, screen time, the rules of the house. As long as they stick within those rules, we’ll be very friendly.

Your worst parenting moment?

Last winter, coming in from sledding and my son had been really very trying. We walked into the house and my daughter did something or asked for something and I snapped at her in a very mean way. … It was one of those moments when I completely unleashed my wrath at her and she hadn’t really done anything wrong.

One thing you’d change about your life

I would love it if we could tuck three or four more hours into the day. Usually by the time the children are in bed, we don’t have very much time left before we have to go to sleep. I would love to have more energy from 7:30-10:30 p.m. to write or have a conversation with my husband or finish an entire movie.

What do you like best about raising kids in Chicago

There’s so many things to do with children in Chicago. … Culturally there are so many riches that are available to children here. I think it’s really unique for a major city.

The Sunshine When She’s Gone


In her debut novel, “The Sunshine When She’s Gone”, Thea Goodman
didn’t have to look far for inspiration. While the events in the
novel are fictional, the book explores the life transition of going
from being a married couple to having children. “It’s something
that me, my friends and many of my peers were all going

Goodman will hold a book launch March 6 at Women &
Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago.

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