Parents approach the task of raising kids in a variety of ways. Some devote every fiber and speck of energy to perfect childrearing—the ones who make art out of lunches and always have fresh, clean sheets on the bed; who enroll their children in every available character-building activity the wallet will allow. Some are criminally neglectful.

Most, thankfully, fall somewhere in the middle.

One in particular might rate herself on the criminal end, but the truth is, she’s insightful, honest, and—over the fifteen years readers have followed her journey—would be nominated as “just-shy-of-supermom” (though she'd probably fight that statement until her last breath).

Melinda Wentzel, also known as “Planet Mom” from her long-standing column in Webb Weekly, has documented and shared her motherhood journey through the years, raising three daughters (two of which are twins) and has released a collection of her essays in a new book, On Motherhood: Fireflies to First Dates, a collection of Planet Mom essays.

Wentzel will be signing her book on First Friday in Williamsport, Friday, August 2, 2019, at The Otto Bookstore, 107 W. Fourth Street.

Her accounts are humorous, entertaining, honest, and revealing. She lifts not just the curtain, but the rug on a messy floor, to reveal the tribulations, the frustration, the sweet joy, the triumphs, the wash of tenderness, and stabs of madness that come with raising children.

“They say, ‘write what you know,’” said Wentzel, and so she did. Somehow she carved time out of the busy days when the kids were toddlers, jotting down a word here or there, a title that popped into her mind that she thought would be good, to sit at the computer later and write it all down in tidy and funny essays. Hundreds of them.

It’s a risky thing to do, to spill the family secrets like a glass of milk.

“Some things are off limits,” admitted Wentzel when it comes to the family secrets. “As they get older it gets harder,” she said of her daughters, who do have a say in how much information is leaked. “But they’re really good sports.” The kids grew up knowing this is what mom does: she’s a writer, and her material is…well, them. (And her husband, on occasion, who she said has been incredibly supportive.)

Writing her material is “cathartic and scary, but mostly cathartic,” said the author. Being honest and vulnerable has helped her connect with readers, and connecting with moms (and dads, aunts, grandmothers, etc.) is her goal. “The book isn’t just for young moms in the thick of it,” Wentzel said. She encourages a wide audience to read her essays. Chances are, if you’ve experienced kids, or you’re about to, you’ll leave the collection having nodded, laughed, cried, and thought, so, I’m not alone, after all!

Wentzel is entering a new phase of motherhood. Her younger twin daughters graduated from high school and are off to college in the fall. But motherhood doesn’t end because the kids fly the coop, and Planet Mom continues to orbit.

On Motherhood: Fireflies to First Dates is Wentzel’s second book; she’s also the author of Deliverance: A Survival Guide to Parenting Twins: 10 Field-Tested Tips to Navigate the First Year. Her work has also appeared in national and international publications from the Atlanta Parent Magazine, to the Khaleej Times Weekender, Dubai, UAE, as well as with a host of online publications including Mamapedia, BetterWayMoms, MomStuff, HybridMom, MomBloggersClub and the Huffington Post.

Wentzel will be signing her latest book on Friday, Aug. 2 from 6-8 p.m.