On everyone’s gift list is the name of someone who baffles them – someone who wants nothing, has everything or is just too picky to please. On many people’s lists, the person who is the hardest to shop for is often the one who deserves to be spoiled the most: their mom. But what Mom wants is often the simplest of all gifts. She wants to feel seen, loved and appreciated. One local author is bringing that message to mothers everywhere with a heartfelt book for all ages.
Lauren Vena – Monmouth County resident, makeup artist, wife and mother of two – is the author of the recently published “My Mom… the Best Mom Ever!” The book is categorized as a children’s book and is suitable for young readers. However, it’s filled with relatable humor and just as easily passes as a feel-good story for parents, making it a perfect gift for so many on that holiday shopping list.
Vena is a makeup artist from Marlboro who said she comes in two different varieties, depending on the day.
“There’s the glam side and the hot mess,” she laughed. “Sometimes I’m totally put together and working with an entire bridal team on the biggest day of someone’s life. Other times, my hair is standing straight up, I’m smudging my eyeliner from yesterday and sitting on the couch in my husband’s T-shirt.”
It was during one of her “hot mess” days that Vena realized what would later become the theme of her book.
“It was just one of those mornings,” she said. “I hit snooze and was late getting up. I was putting the kids’ lunches together and throwing Eggo frozen waffles in the toaster. I was thinking of all the things I should have done the night before but didn’t have time to. The dogs were barking, and nothing was going my way. With two different shoes on, I walked my kids to the bus stop, and before they left, they hugged me so tight and told me to have the best day. I got home and went back inside, took a deep breath, and I realized no matter how bad my day is, they love me no matter what. Nobody is perfect, and my kids don’t want anybody else. It’s all unconditional love.”
It was then that Vena began penning a story for her kids, Chloe and Travis, who are now 11 and 9, respectively. For a month, she wrote to them and drew stick figures to accompany the words on each page. When she felt she had documented enough of the family’s humorous ups and downs, Vena read the story to her children.
“They were hysterical laughing,” she recalled. “My daughter said, ‘Mommy, it’s so you.’ At the end, my son was crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, ‘But you are the best mommy, It’s true.’”
After seeing her kids’ reactions to the story, Vena read it to her husband, Joe, who encouraged her to reach out to a publishing company. She contacted Jennifer Tuma Young, of Inspired Girl Books, who agreed that the messy, loving, relatable story of motherhood was one to share with the world. After a year of writing and illustrating the book, “My Mom… the Best Mom Ever!” was published.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the country as an artist and educator,” Vena said of her experiences while doing makeup. “[I’m] best known for doing makeup for media, weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and photoshoots of all kinds. But with all of this, I am most proud to say that I am a wife and mother.”
Throughout the pandemic, many events have been postponed, reducing Vena’s workload and giving her more nights at home with her family. During a stressful time for so many, relishing that unconditional love is a gift we all deserve.
“My Mom… the Best Mom Ever!” is now available in paperback and hardcover from Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. To learn more about Vena, visit LaurenVena.com.
Three things to know:
- Vena’s “pinch me” moment in make-up artistry was when she worked on actress Vanessa Williams. Vena said she cried after realizing she had come so far since she was 18 and decided to get into the field.
- The Vena family’s two dogs, corgi/chihuahua Bella and golden retriever Buddy, are featured in the book.
- “My Mom… the Best Mom Ever!” was Amazon’s top paperback new release on its first day of presell.