June 24, 2011 |  Category:   life me parenting

This is a word that has been coming up a lot. I get asked every now and then if I mind sharing such personal details about my life on a public blog. The answer would be no. I wouldn’t write anything that I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing. The other question I might get asked is “why?”. I often say that this blog is more for me than for any audience, but the “why” part of it did become a little more clear when I sat down a few weeks ago with Joanne Wilson who interviewed me for her Woman Entrepreneur Mondays series. We talked, among many things that morning over coffee, about how we were both in agreement that there could be more sharing and honest discussion among women, particularly women who were also working mothers. This is happening more these days on the web via social media and blogs, but there still could be so much more – and I don’t mean fashion tips on what shape dress is the most flattering on your post-pregnancy body or what color wall will be the next trend in kid rooms. I love eye candy distractions as much as the next girl, but I do have a limit, and at the end of the day the most inspiring content on the web for me isn’t going to be a moodboard.

I totally get that blogging of this nature isn’t for everyone. You open yourself up and you’re also opening yourself up to haters, critics, and people who just can’t help themselves by telling you what they think of you. But that’s ok. It’s worth it to get a comment or an email from a reader who can relate to something I’m writing and who then doesn’t feel so lonely for feeling the same things, or from someone who might aspire to have children one day, but can’t quite figure out how to make it work with their career. Our life path isn’t for everyone and I’ve never aspired to be some kind of role model for “the working mother”, but if I’ve helped shed some light to anyone’s questions on balancing work and family by perhaps showing that parenthood and a career doesn’t have to be so black and white, that there are alternative lifestyles out there beyond a 9-5 existence, then I’m happy to have helped in that small way.

Things have changed since I first became a mom in 2004. Things are shifting and the economy isn’t the same. It seemed like most of the new mothers I was meeting back then decided to stay home. Some of the moms went back to work full time after their 3 month maternity leave and I didn’t see them very much after that. I rarely, if ever, met a mother who freelanced like I did and I often felt like I couldn’t relate to either the stay-at-home moms or the working moms because really, in one sense, I was both. I wish there were other people that I could have talked to back then who could relate to the kind of life that we were trying to build, but we just figured it out ourselves as we went along. Our situation was born because we couldn’t afford full time childcare, but we couldn’t live off of Mark’s salary either, so I needed to work. I was always the main breadwinner of the family and that wasn’t necessarily going to change just because we had kids. Somehow we made it happen in the past 7 years through juggling schedules, a PT nanny 2 days a week (up until last summer) and tag team childcare even if it meant that we were sleeping less or that Mark often went to my mother’s group playdates in place of me. If we were being really honest with ourselves, the juggling may have played a part in a few lost projects or jobs, so it’s not been without sacrifices. Often, it was stressful. But in the past few years, I have met more families like ours. I meet women all the time who are starting or running small businesses while raising their kids, or families where both the parents are freelancers or own a business together. Perhaps the change in economy has instigated this, or perhaps we’re all starting to think differently about what it means to be working parents since the traditional structure of corporate America doesn’t make it easy to be a working mom.

And this is why I choose to share. It’s not because I think my life is better than yours (I assure you, it is probably not). It’s not because I aspire to be some kind of role model or blog celebrity (that whole concept is so weird and strange). It’s not because I have anything to teach anybody. What I do have, through age and experience for a lack of a better way to describe it, are stories and I genuinely believe that through sharing, we can help each other out. To tell each other that it’s ok to get angry, to be sad and frustrated, to be scared and lonely sometimes. That it’s ok to be all of these things even as mothers. Although I love my children dearly and I am proud of the little people that they are turning out to be, being a mother isn’t my greatest achievement in life. It may very well turn out to be in the end, but I don’t know this to be true yet because I haven’t finished living my life. Being a mother isn’t what defines me. It’s part of who I am, but it isn’t what defines me. I get to decide what does.

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  • Veronica June 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I have been following your blog for the last year and I have always wondered how you juggle being a mom, a wife and yourself. My best friend who is a stay at home mom with two small girls writes almost everyday on her blog as well, every time I wonder how selfless the role of a mother is and it’s so cool to see her document her two girls every move but at the same time I wonder if I can be like her and just stay at home and have children with no career to call my own.

    I think in your writings, I see your struggle but also the joy of being in the position you are in, it takes a lot of courage and honesty to express yourself in front of a group of strangers from around the world. At the end of the day, we all need a platform or something to express our feelings whether they are good or not and I am glad you are comfortable here.

    As long as you don’t sell your blog to a reality show and start going on sponsored trips by Disney, I will come back often and visit your blog. Thanks for sharing and being transparent about your true feelings, whatever they might be.

  • Vanessa Rae June 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I think we’re all inwardly leaning towards transparency, to be able to set labels aside and go where the wind, the heart and our instincts take us. To be able to be who we are in whatever the moment calls for. You are a blessing. And that is that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • oilandgarlic June 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    What I love about this blog is that it’s more than “just” a mom-blog. I feel like you’re blogging as a whole person, if that makes sense. I always thought of myself as a person first, a female second (and now a mom). I think everyone should think of themselves as a individual person first before any labels (mom, dad, parent, man, woman, freelancer, artist etc..) because we all have many different qualities.

  • cookie monster June 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Goodness! You really should write a photo/documentary book. Love this post. Thank you again for your blog. =)

  • miss alix June 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    i feel like what you’ve written here is one of the most honest and touching things i’ve read on a blog in forever. it is inspiring. i feel like blogging has so much to do with connecting with people and sharing stories. thank you for writing this and and having such a lovely blog.

  • Laura June 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Great post. I love how “real” your blog is. So many blogs are often frivilous and I enjoy the honesty and stuggles you write about as well as the enjoyment you find in your life.

  • jimin June 28, 2011 at 1:18 am

    a few weeks ago, i found your etsy shop. since then, i’ve been enjoying reading your blog very much. i specially love this post.

  • yukot June 28, 2011 at 3:20 am

    thank you for continuing to blog!! i am a designer with a 1.5 yo son and love visiting your site every night after he goes to sleep. i think you can see from the number of comments for this post that so many of us find your blog inspiring. i look at a lot of other blogs, but i actually enjoy reading yours. i hope you keep posting, i would feel so sad if you ever decide you are done with blogging. btw, i am writing this as i eat your cookie i got for father’s day 😉 yum!

  • JANEBCN June 28, 2011 at 3:33 am

    a post that spoke to my head and heart, as a freelancing designer who is main income earner, and has a special needs kid who needs help with everything as well another a teen boy there are days when I think I will lose my mind and then I read a good post out in the blog world and feel validated in my resistance to being defined only by motherhood or special needs or my work or my accent ( I live abroad) or my relationship, a good life is a sum of all it’s parts and they shift constantly in their weight and importance. I hope you keep writing.

  • Darcy June 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    thank you for this. thank you.

  • Janet June 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I truly love & adore every single blessing, up/down, topsy-turvy moment that comes from being a mother. Blogs by mothers are a blessing and connection to others. It becomes the corner avenue to meet friends!! Women, in particular mothers (in this respect) benefit from knowing others’ struggle and can just pick themselves up!! Thanks!!! :)

  • Melanie Biehle June 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Hi Jenna,

    I found out about your blog through Annie, your friend in Seattle. She thought I would love it and I do!

    I’ve been reading through some of your older posts. I like to start at the beginning of blogs that I like and read the entire “story.” Of course it takes forever, especially since I work full-time, have a husband and a nearly 11 month old son, and am trying to work on my blog and other creative projects since those are my true passions. One day I’ll actually make it through your entire blog. :)

    This post truly resonated with me. I love your closing lines. “Being a mother isn’t what defines me. It’s part of who I am, but it isn’t what defines me. I get to decide what does.” I totally feel the same way. When I was pregnant one of my main concerns was “losing” myself. I have all these parts of me that I love – creativity, sense of adventure, spontaneity, and others that I’m sure I’ll think of when my coffee kicks in. I knew that my life was going to change in a huge HUGE way, and while I was excited about being a mother, I didn’t want to lose those parts of me.

    I’m still working on finding ways to balance everything that I want and need to do in my life. It’s tough, but when I read blogs like yours and posts like this, it helps. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your life this way.

  • Alison C June 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Precisely why this is still the only blog I follow. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mrs D July 6, 2011 at 1:35 am

    This is exactly why I love to read your blog Jenna. Thank you for sharing!

    I particularly love your ethos of ‘being a mother doesn’t define who I am’. A lot of women (some of them mothers) would really struggle with that concept, but I applaud you for it. It’s what I hope for in myself when I start my family.

  • Chel July 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I needed to hear that, to know I’m not alone. Thank you.

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