he brought a ziploc bag of 10 things to class
it had a little bit of clear liquid in it
the teacher asked what is this
these are 10 of my mother’s tears he said
they are magic, actually
you said to bring something special he said
so this is what i brought
he brought a ziploc bag of 10 things to class
When my husband turned 50 I wondered if he would go through a mid-life crisis. I asked him about it. He said that he wished he had accomplished more by now, and I was offended, at first. I thought about me and our children. Aren’t we accomplishments enough?
This morning when I realized it was September 1, I said “It’s September 1. You know what that means?”
“What?” he looked up, alarmed. He thought had forgotten something.
“I’m going to be forty this month.”
And I burst into tears.
I was surprised by my reaction to my own statement. I have been anticipating this event for a long time, since my friends have been turning forty for years now. I don’t think that the number 4 and 0 mean that I am “old.” Lots of other things make me feel that way, but not the numbers.
I don’t mourn the opportunities to accomplish astounding things at a young age. If I accomplish those things now or even later, they will still be astounding.
I don’t discount the accomplishment that is the family I created with Stewart. We have a comfortable home and we provide safety and love for our little boys. We do the things that grownups are supposed to take care of – we work and pay and worry and plan and clean up after them. We pick them up and teach them and set boundaries for them. We love each other and we show it, setting an example for them.
We allow our faces to light up when our children enter the room.
And that is what makes me cry. We are running out of time. I think of Jennie Perillo, whose husband died at age 50 without warning. They had two little girls. Am I doing enough lighting up so that my children will keep my light in their hearts after I am gone? How much time do I have left to teach them to love themselves and go forth into the world as loving, responsible young men?
Must I live every day like it’s my last? Sometimes I just want to fall back into the pillows and sip a cold margarita. Am I wasting my time?
For my birthday, please, send me some more time. You have thirty days.
Last month I attended the BlogHer Conference – a gathering of 3,000+ bloggers, social media users, marketers, publicists, business owners, writers, and a whole you-name-it bunch of other people who descended upon the San Diego Convention Center for two days of panels and workshops and cocktail parties focusing on the business and craft of online content.
Except it wasn’t just two days, and it wasn’t just panels and workshops and cocktail parties. I know now that the event is much more than a conference. And I came prepared this time.
At BlogHer 2009 I arrived with a suitcase full of expectations – I had watched online since the first conference in 2005, every year unable to attend for one reason or another. In ’09 lightning struck and I was first able to justify the trip to Chicago as a business trip. I did everything: attended panel discussions, took notes, chatted with people in the hallway, befriended brand reps, got stuck in traffic, stayed up late, drank too much, packed my bags full of swag (including laundry detergent), witnessed a streaking, made new friends, exhausted myself. I had looked forward to learning new tricks at BlogHer that would help me focus my blogging and take me to a new level in my career. In the months immediately after the conference, I found that I was more overwhelmed than ever.
In 2010 I was sent to the conference by a client: all expenses paid, with obligations. I did everything above except attend the panel discussions – replacing that activity with the promotion of the brand I represented. I came away from that experience feeling like I had done a good, solid job. But again exhausted and overwhelmed.
Between August 2010 and August 2011, I have slowly come to realize that attending BlogHer in 2009 did indeed take my work to another level. At the time I was not able to see the bigger picture, or what level, exactly, I was hoping to reach. Just the simple fact that I had attended the conference -that behemoth of an event, that speedball of online/IRL collision among friends and friends-of-friends and soon-to-be-friends and maybe-we-shouldn’t-be-friends and yes, clients and business colleagues – gave me a leg up for the next experience. It gave me the base knowledge of how massive we are, our community, and how influential. It’s easy to measure our “reach” with our online metrics, but it’s so much easier to feel the impact, the gut-punch, when all of those wonderful ladies are right up there in your face.
And so in 2010 that’s what it was. Business. I used what I had learned the year before. I reached out to my colleagues/friends. I spread a message. Mission accomplished, but still my body suffered from some serious overdoing of the things that were available to be done.
With all of that hindsight I entered BlogHer 2011 – not just the two days of the conference itself, but the season. As party invitations started flying about the internet and events and alternate events showed up on calendars and websites, I sat back and calmly took note. I measured every offer against the question “What do I want out of BlogHer ’11?”
Here is what I wanted out of BlogHer ’11:
-Learn more about writing from people I respect as good writers
-Reconnect with friends inside the computer
-Attend some kickass parties
I selected panels and workshops from the BlogHer schedule and stuck to that plan. I actually did attend several of these. I danced in the flashmob. I hugged what felt like hundreds of people. I got a manicure. I took copious notes. I did a couple of drive-by hugs in the hallway or the bathroom. I attended some kickass parties. I had a great conversation after hours in my hotel room. I went to bed when my body got tired, even if that meant missing out on some other fun somewhere else. I got up early to do yoga one day. I met new friends randomly. I cemented online friendships IRL. I learned something new about writing a blog post. I was inspired.
Here are all the events I attended surrounding BlogHer ’11:
- Women Create Media
- The OC Blogger Bash Happy Hour produced by MomsLA
- Clever Rock Star Party
- Yoga sponsored by Pfizer
- BlogHer breakfast
- Manicure in the Trop50 booth
- The Power of Cause Marketing sponsored by Jimmy Dean
- Essential Blog Content Development Workshop (first slot)
- Operation Glory (Flashmob during BlogHer lunch)
- Old School Bloggers
- Expo Hall
- Voices of the Year Community Keynote
- Nintendo Wuhu Island Luau at the Hotel Del Coronado
- BlogHer Breakfast
- How To Pitch Freelance Editorial Work
- BlogHer Lunch Keynote starring the head of PepsiCo
- Hallmark’s sponsored suite
- How To Pitch a Book/Revolutions Are Happening Online
- Kick A$$ Proposal
- Expo Hall
- Wine Tasting Soiree sponsored by Cameron Hughes Wines
- Secret Style Suite party
- Cheeseburgher 2011
- Ladies Who Tech Brunch
ZOMG I was tired already but I am now even more tired just remembering all of this. There is one thing missing, though: a hangover. I was smart and grown-up this year and I took it easy on the drinks and I went to bed when I was too tired to convince myself to stay up. It totally worked. I came home tired, happy, and ready to write the shit out of something.
This was an original post for LA Moms Blog on April 8, 2009. SV Moms Group was acquired by Technorati so I post my archives here on Fridays.
Something is happening to me, something nobody warned me about. Or maybe they did, but I wasn’t paying attention.
My little boys are turning 4 and 2 this month. I’ve been pregnant and/or parenting babies or toddlers for over four years straight. During that time I’d been living like I was underwater: not really hearing, feeling, or understanding anything the way I used to. But over the last few months, the fog has been clearing.
I’m waking up.
The dream-state of early motherhood may not happen that way to everybody. I honestly don’t remember anyone telling me, when I first got pregnant and flapped around joyously telling everyone the news, that I would morph into a person who barely resembled my old self.
On the surface I went through the phases of mothering just like all the other mothers: the wardrobe consisting of sweat pants and ratty nursing bras, the potty-training and development stories, the juggling act of balancing professional and family life. Inside I suffered from chronic Mommy Brain: poor memory, emotional fatigue, and a vast disconnect from what once was an ambitious, goal-driven nature. The children brought new priorities to my life, but what of the old goals and dreams? When I turned away from them I felt like I was losing myself, but I was so tired all the time that I didn’t care.
Over the years I have met and befriended hundreds of mothers of young children. Within my local moms’ group I’ve had more than one conversation in which a fellow mother has admired me for having it all together, or a friend has turned to me for advice, or someone has called me a Supermom.
Every time I hear something like this I bark with laughter and disbelief. It’s nice that I look like I’m handling everything so well on the outside, but maybe I’m the only one who’s in on the joke. I’m just doing the best I can, and most days I feel like I’m just keeping my head above water, supporting each child with one hand, legs kicking furiously below the surface.
Something is different now. Someone else wants attention and isn’t taking “no” for an answer. That someone is me. Maybe it started with my recent weight loss. Maybe it’s because my kids are a little bit older now. Maybe it’s the support and affirmation I get from the online community. It’s probably a combination of all of the above. I’m getting my body, my energy, and my spirit back for myself. I hadn’t even realized that the last one was missing.
Like every change, this one is disconcerting because it raises a conflict. My hopes and dreams of old are still alive inside me but they did not take into account that one day I would have young children and very serious responsibilities. Instead of shoving them back down into my subconscious again, I challenge myself to adapt my aspirations to fit my new life story. Traveling the world at a moment’s notice is out, but planning family friendly adventures brings me great joy. Working 16-hour days on a television set doesn’t allow much time for family, so my dream of world media domination has to accept a narrower focus – one week of popularity on Twitter can carry me for the rest of the year.
I’m also much more keenly aware of my relationship with my husband. We allowed the pressures of supporting a family and running a household to divert our attention from our roles as partner to each other. As I’ve been doing more things for myself and indulging in my dreaming, he pulls me back to reality. But with my renewed energy, I can remind him that in addition to mother and wife, inside I’m still the young woman who made him heady with love and passion. Our marriage is truly the foundation of our family’s happiness, and even though it’s hard to find time to spend alone together, we must make it a priority and something to anticipate on a regular basis.
It’s a constant and ongoing struggle, but I trust that the rewards will be worth the work. I first had issues with my identity change when I became a mother 4 years ago. I always thought that stress would pass and I would settle into my new role. What I’m learning now is that instead of changing roles, we take on new ones. Our challenge is to make room for them, to embrace them, and to let them shape our dreams and our actions in the best possible way. Maybe nobody warned me about this because, like pregnancy or childbirth itself, it’s something you just have to experience to understand.