“When I became a mom, everything changed,” I said to a group of students aspiring to start a blog based off their already successful podcast. They wanted to hear what I had to say about my experiences as a blogger.
“How did you deal? Your voice changed. How did you stay true to you?”
Well, that’s a good ass question coming from a 21 year old. I knew the answer, though, because I’m honest with everyone about how motherhood has affected me, in all the billion or so ways that it has. I explained that many of my loyal readers dropped off. Naturally, my content changed. Topics of interest changed. I changed. And I was being cautious about the things I blogged about, which was unlike me. Mom trolls scared me. I wasn’t happy with the whole situation, so I took a break and focused on raising a tiny human being.
No young person ready to take on the world ever wants to hear anything about “taking a break.” I sure didn’t throughout my twenties, even up to the day Huntington Jay Snyder was born (when I was 30). Taking a break can be a sign of weakness, and when you’ve a type-A personality, this is pretty much one of the worst things ever.
You feel defeated. And you no likey.
Once my life shifted from young, married and adventurous newbie in Albany to exhausted and confused 30-something in Momville, it took me a long time to get a grip on where I wanted this whole blogging thing to go. Where did I fit at the Times Union? Why am I suddenly so sensitive to what readers have to say? I’d been as strong as a brick shit house up until the day my son was born, so what the hell happened?
I felt protective of myself, and my family.
Becoming a mother was adjustment enough, without the reader comments – both positive and negative – flying into my inbox every day. I didn’t have the energy to rifle through them, my anxiety was through the roof about all things, and, with the exception of sharing cuddly baby-mama photos on social media, I couldn’t bring myself to be an open book anymore. If I felt like writing about my life, I didn’t want to be judged. Normally, I wouldn’t have cared to be judged. Except, with baby, I couldn’t be completely honest. And I ain’t wasting time writing a thing unless it’s totally honest writing.
I was scared and didn’t want anyone to know.
I suddenly had no idea what I was doing in terms of being a good mom, being a good wife, and managing time. And, I strongly disliked my professional/work situation at the time. Everything was flipped on its side and survival was the only mode I could be in. Priorities changed. Also, my brain felt like total garbage. “Mommy brain” is a totally real thing, it’s hell, and it never seems to completely go away (at least, mine hasn’t yet and we’re on year four over here. Am I really writing this or is it all a dream? It’s 10:15 p.m., did I eat dinner yet? How old am I again? What is a horse, exactly?)
No one tells you this hard stuff about becoming a mom. They say it’s tough, they say it’s challenging, but they also spare you the raw details. You literally feel like you’re on that county fair ride where you stand up, and the inertia or pressure or whatever the heck it is (where my science peeps at?) holds your body in place as the round thing whirls around fast as hell and you don’t really understand how you’re not flying out the top, but you’re not, so it’s okay (the scary part of the ride will be over soon, after all). We called it the “Round-Up” back in West Virginia.
That’s exactly what being a mom feels like.
Three years ago, I couldn’t bring myself to blog in my authentic voice. On occasion I would manage to whip one out and hit publish, but it was rare. I shifted around ideas, toying with “parenting” blogging so I could focus solely on one genre/area in an effort to find some sort of regularity, or routine, but I missed discussing random stuff on random days. And, I feared being pigeonholed as a “mommy blogger” who writes teething toy reviews. Ugh.
So, how could I work all of these county fair-ride feelings into a coherent blog post, share my story authentically, and not be able to handle the comments that would inevitably come my way?
I couldn’t. I was healing, evaluating, exploring, resurfacing as a person. It wasn’t the right time to expose everything. I had to withdraw and take care of this evolving woman I was becoming. (I want to also point out that I’m still evolving.)
So, how did I stay true to me? 21-year-old aspiring blogger wanted an answer.
Everything eventually circled back around. New normal was discovered. Great (new) work environment, family support and love, and a happy little boy, all helped. And now, looking back I can say, I did stay true to “me”…
but now, I’m “me” times 1,000. I’ve turned things up a few notches. I’ve got a whole lotta moxie. Though it’s been a process, being a mom has caused me to discover a fierceness, a boldness, a confidence I never had before. Let me be clear, though – that confidence is not how to “mom,” which I honestly have no idea how to do, really. I just roll with it, day to day. I ain’t no motherhood handbook. But I work hard. Harder than ever, for all of the things that really matter.
I think, in this whole motherhood adventure, one thing has become clearer than the rest: Life’s hard, and to enjoy it, you’ve gotta work hard. At everything. Especially emptying the trash, with a toddler wanting to help. That is hard.
The process of determining how I wanted my voice to be heard through blogging? Well, that was hard, too. Do people really want the authentic me? They’re getting it anyway, I’ve decided. I’m not afraid anymore. And I hope, one day, my son is just as confident. He’s going to need that confidence to not only survive, but to thrive. God only knows who will be president by then (crossing my fingers it’s not Kid Rock).
As Mother’s Day 2017 comes to an end, I need to wrap up with this one thought: Let’s be more honest, about all things. When something is challenging, let’s own it. When life is bringing you down, don’t stay silent — communicate openly instead.
And if you’re a mom, God bless you. Keep working hard.