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Embracing April Moments

April 3, 2014 - April Leiffer Henry
When my friend and OV Parent Magazine Editor Betsy Bethel first asked me to write a “working mom” blog on her site back in the fall of 2008, I had almost no idea what I was doing. The only mommy blog I’d ever read was Betsy’s, and I knew that the word blog originally came from two words: web log.

Elliot was 18 months old when I started as “Office Mama,” a name I haphazardly chose during a phone conversation with Betsy. He called me “Mama” at the time (and he still does, and so does his sister), and I worked in an office. Bam! There you have it. Office Mama I was.

My blogosphere adventures began mostly as an online journal of Elliot’s life and my lamentations about being away from him for eight hours a day, five days a week. Many of my early posts are guilt ridden, and I feel awkward reading some of them now.

More than five years later, Elliot is almost 7, his sister will be 2 in a couple weeks and I don’t feel guilty about working outside the home anymore. Sometimes I feel sad or sentimental, but not guilty. If I ponder it too much, I start to think maybe I should feel guilty for not feeling guilty about being a work-outside-the-home mom.

If you’ve read my posts over the years, you know that labels freak me out. One of the pieces in which I decried labels – and one of the blogs of which I’m most proud – is “Ditching black and white for gray.” In it, I included a short excerpt from “Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood” by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple.

“Even the categories that we expected to find – the ‘working moms’ and ‘at-home moms,’ who were supposedly vying for superiority in the Mommy Wars – have blurred, largely because the boundaries that once separated them have vanished,” they write. “Today, a burgeoning middle ground is filled with women who inhabit both worlds at once. And this seems like pure upside, until we look around and can’t find anyone else who seems to fully understand our experiences. All this custom-tailoring has left many working mothers feeling lonely and alone.”

Ever since I posted “Summer for the work-outside-the-home mom,” I have been using that term, rather than the general “working mom.” I’m actually kind of OK wearing the work-outside-the-home mom badge, and part of the reason being a work-outside-the-home mom is so important to me is because it allows me to be who I am.

I am a writer, a storyteller. Yes, I could write from home. But, for me, being in the workplace surrounded by other people who are also writers is good for my soul. Plus, much of what goes into writing – meeting inspiring people, interviewing them, getting to hear their life stories – doesn’t happen for me in its fullness at my desk. It happens when I get away from my computer and talk face to face with people.

Sister Mary Robert is my favorite nun from “Sister Act.” Soon after she meets Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Sister Mary Clarence, Mary Robert asks her, “Do you know how sometimes it’s as if you have to be yourself or you’ll just burst?”

That is how I feel about writing. I just have to do it because it’s who I am. If I’m not writing, I feel like I’m going to burst.

Which brings me back to blogging. For more than five years, OV Parent has graciously hosted my writing. But being an OV Parent blogger has given me way more than a site where my writing “lives.” Posting my work here has helped me learn much of what I’ve described above – that I am more than OK with being a work-outside-the-home mom, that I am a storyteller. Perhaps most importantly, blogging in this forum has helped me realize that, despite the so-called “mommy wars,” different is not less. As I wrote in last week’s post, I believe it is OK to love someone with whom you disagree and to disagree with someone you love.

Growing up, one of the most common questions I heard was, “Were you born in April?” For the record – no, I wasn’t. I’m thankful I don’t hear that inquiry much anymore. Kind of like how I eventually had to embrace my very wavy hair, I’ve decided to make my namesake month work for me this year.

On the first of April, I officially announced my new blog, aprilmoments.com. It is my very own site. I’m calling it “April Moments” because my brain is almost constantly weaving a narrative. Whether I’m at home, my workplace, my car, the grocery store or the gym, any given “April Moment” could turn into a blog post.

Going out on my own feels strange. But it feels right, too. I began writing because I had to do it for myself – or else I was going to burst. Through blogging about fertility challenges, miscarriage, weight loss, cleaning (or not), confidence, apologizing and other topics, I have read comments and emails from many women who want to share a simple, common message: “Me, too.” The honor of “Me, too” is something I do not take lightly.

Now I feel as though I’m writing for myself and for others, so they can find comfort in knowing that someone has experienced a similar struggle. The same goes for you, too, though. If you have a story you feel like writing, then write it. Every story carries with it the unique perspective of its author, no matter what the topic.

Thank you so much, OV Parent readers, for embracing me and for reading what I’ve written. It has truly been an honor to share my work with you. If you have enjoyed reading my writing, I would like to invite you to join me at aprilmoments.com. You can subscribe by entering your email address on the homepage, or you can follow me on Facebook.

 
 

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