Five years ago I sat down at my kids’ computer and started to connect with the online world. I found a Family Circle website and replied to a few posts. Each time a comment of mine got a like, I experienced a high I’d never known before.
It didn’t take long before I started my own blog on one of the site’s platforms. When the very first piece I did, on the recent loss of our cat Samantha, was featured on their Facebook page, I couldn’t believe people I didn’t know were reading words I wrote, taking the time to say they related to my piece, and enjoyed my writing. I was completely hooked. For the first time since having my kids, I found something that completely engaged and excited me. A few weeks later I moved my blog to its own platform and started to consider myself a blogger.
Everyone in my life was thrilled that I had found something that brought me so much joy and satisfaction.
Everyone but my kids.
At first they were excited for me. They were even impressed that the old gal could learn a new trick. Up until this point it never occurred to them that I could type, let alone use a computer.
Very quickly the awe and even pride my kids felt at watching me do something new was replaced with cries of, “when are you getting off our computer?”
The cries came the loudest from my daughter Lizzy, who was eight at the time. Her significant special needs have always included an extremely hard time with communication. Phrases such as “Mommy, you sure like that computer,” soon grew into demands of, “Mommy, get off my computer now.”
Always delighted whenever she spoke, I would smile and let her know that it was great that she was using her words so well, but we don’t speak to people that way. Then I would go back to my writing.
Tom, my oldest, knew something had really started to change a few weeks later, when I very uncharacteristically threw in the towel after our fifth attempt at the annual Christmas picture failed.
“But Mom, you ALWAYS make getting this picture such a big deal.”
“I know honey, but why don’t we just give ourselves a year off? It will be fine.” I then started to sing an ad libbed song, “The Year Without a Christmas Card,” to the tune from an old TV special I remembered from childhood.
“This is not like you at all. You are only doing this because of that blog. You want something to write about for next week.”
I honestly hadn’t thought about it, but he had a great point. This would make an excellent story. I always knew that boy was a genius.
But the most heartbreaking reaction came from my youngest, Peter, who was five at the time my blog came into our lives.
“Mommy, I hurt my toe. I need a band-aid.”
I looked up from the computer and gave him my sweetest mommy smile. I checked out his toe, which showed no signs of trauma, and comforted him with a big, long, hug. Then I went back to work.
After several failed attempts to elicit sympathy or attention from me, he had finally had enough.
“Mommy, I’ll see you later. I’m going to the nurse.”
He has always been gifted in the art of guilt.
A lot has changed in the five years since I started my site. I no longer use the family computer. I have my own. And I do a much better job of balancing the demands of my blog with my kids’ needs. Though it still can be a struggle at times.
But the biggest change has been with me. After being a stay-at-home-mom for 12 years, I had misplaced a part of myself. And I hadn’t even noticed. I was so attuned to my kids’ needs that I really let my own slide. Finding my passion and joy in writing breathed new life into this mom of three and wife to one.
The real addition to our lives hasn’t been my blog or my burgeoning career as a writer. It’s been me. And it’s turned out to be one of the best gifts I could give not only myself, but my kids too.