(photo credit: Flickr)
I remember the thrill of the discovery, like I had unearthed a secret treasure.
Lonely and isolated as a new mom, I woke up each morning before the sun and with the cries of a hungry baby, followed by naps, laundry, more cries of a hungry baby, followed by more naps, more cries, bedtime. The next day was exactly the same, as was the day after that, and the day after that.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad! Motherhood was just…not what I imagined it to be. In boredom, I went online, clicking one website after another, when one day I read the words of a mother. I don’t remember them exactly, but her message spoke to my soul, the secret place inside of me that couldn’t admit outloud that I didn’t know what I was doing and that most days I wanted to escape, even if just for 15 minutes. This discovery, a mother–just like me, staying home with a baby all day–confessed in writing that being a mom was hard, wonderful, exhausting, boring, fulfilling, gratifying, and every other adjective I had also secretly thought only to myself.
It’s liberating to know you’re not alone, but it’s also enlightening to learn that your own knowledge of the world is not the only reality.
I have kept reading. For years, I’ve read about what other parents have dealt with, how they do what they do with each obstacle they face. I’ve read about triumphs and tragedies, daily quips and years long sagas. I have learned what they think of their vacuum cleaners and their congressmen and women. I read about parents who have such radically different parenting styles and beliefs than my own safe, sanitary bubble style parenting. I continue to read and learn.
Discovering women writers online has influenced who I am and the way I parent today. My world, which formerly consisted of only what I knew intimately and maybe of what I saw on TV or read in novels, is now wide open. Before blogging, I didn’t know anyone personally who homeschooled their children, or gave birth at home, filed for bankruptcy, was Mormon or Jewish, or was a single parent. I’ve found that it’s much easier to have an open mind about things I personally know nothing about, when you’ve read someone’s words and their story–and realized that their opinions and actions are shaped by their experiences just as my opinions and actions are shaped by my own experiences.
What I’ve read for these past six years has influenced how I feel about spanking, processed foods, vaccinations, potty training, education options, religion, cleaning products, and, oh, everything else that I might possibly have ever thought about. When I have parenting questions, the first place I look is online and the parenting writers are usually whose opinions I search and trust the most. In the past, I’ve even written about concerns I’ve had about my own children’s development and have received words of wisdom from friends and strangers far and wide, giving me a virtual pat on the back or hug when I’ve needed it.
Now that I work from home, an option that is partially available to me because of my online interactions for all these years, I’ve taken a cue from other working mothers to learn how to “do” this working thing. From organization tips, to quick recipes, reasonable expectations of babysitters, to balancing (or not!) work and home life, this online space has helped me figure out how to get it all into 24 hours each day.
This is the person that I am today, influenced by more than just my own little bubble wrapped world: the working mom of two school-age children, wife, half-marathon runner, wrinkle cream junkie, recycling fanatic, organic milk buyer, occasional coupon clipper, obsessive email labeler, friend, open-minded, woman writer.
I’ve partnered with Story Bleed Magazine and P&G to celebrate the launch of mom.me. To celebrate their launch, mom.me is hosting a carnival of stories to discuss how technology and online communities of moms have shaped the way we parent.
You, too, can join this conversation with mom.me. Let’s talk about how this little (huge) online world we’ve made for ourselves on the Internet is creating us, changing us as parents. Join this carnival, join this conversation.