Categories
Writing

Thank You, BlogHer

Thank You, BlogHer

In 2006, Liz linked to a post of mine about bathing suits on BlogHer. Another friend wrote about music on the site at the time. I clicked through a few pages and joined the site. I remember nearly passing out with glee when Lisa Stone, one of the co-founders, emailed me personally to ask me to join their new and growing ad network.

I made it a goal to someday work for the site. At the time, I still worked for an adoption content website as a blogger and editor, but I stayed active in the BlogHer community. I knew what I wanted.

In 2010, through a series of life changes and coincidence or happenstance or fate or friends or what have you, I achieved that goal. I spent the following five years working with other smart women. I learned not just about editing but about life and balance; about topics and subjects I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to consider or research; about the many ways to mother, to parent, to love, to nurture, to let go; about friendship and grief, love and loss, highs and lows; about achievements and set backs and all the spaces in between when talking about professional endeavors. I learned so much I couldn’t begin to define or quantify it all, but I know the things I learned helped shape how I viewed the world and the people in my life.

I also wrote. I wrote a lot. I wrote about things that piqued my interest and things that didn’t really. I wrote poorly; I wrote better. I wrote because the words of others inspired me to write. And sometimes I didn’t write because someone else already said what I needed to say, what people needed to hear. Editing and writing do that sometimes. I didn’t feel silenced by the words of others. No. I felt empowered.

Over these past five years, I found my voice. I learned how speaking my own truth helped others. When I stopped writing about adoption and shut down my adoption blog, I wasn’t sure I’d have anything worth writing, sharing, or reading. I struggled for awhile, silenced by my own fear and anxiety of not ever being “enough.” Through the daily reading and editing of others’ work at BlogHer, I found the courage to keep writing my truth. Last July, I stood on stage and shared that truth with a room full of people I knew and didn’t know.

BlogHer helped me get to that place.

And that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye.

Last Friday, I closed my laptop and walked away from five years of hard work, growth, achievement, and everything else that comes with working for a company you love. Choosing to leave remains one of the harder decisions of my professional life. It feels both brave and scary in the same shaky breath. Setting off on a new path feels invigorating and paralyzing, but I’m taking each step a day at a time.

My reasons for leaving aren’t as important as the people I left behind in making this decision. While I’ve enjoyed my first week off, spent largely and fully with my sons and husband and associated family members, I’ve also missed the daily interaction with some of the most intelligent, loving, funny, inspiring women I’ve ever had the joy to work with, for, and beside. Our “small but mighty” team did a lot of good work, and BlogHer continues to touch a lot of lives in so many different ways. I will always be proud to say I worked for a company that empowers so many women, both financially and with words.

And now?

Now I find myself in both a time of uncertainty and discovery. I’m taking the month of June off to be with my family. Tomorrow marks one year since my Grandmother’s passing, and we’re interring her ashes along with my Papau’s ashes next Saturday on their wedding anniversary. Over the past year, though many hard life experiences, I’ve found myself wanting to draw closer to my family. And so I am.

I have a few contracts lined up for July. I am searching LinkedIn, job boards, and the world at large for my next job. But for now… for now, I am just enjoying a bit of time to breathe, to stretch, to look at who I am and who I want to become. I’m excited for this time and for whatever waits just down this path. I feel like great things are right ahead of me. I just need to remain patient and steady in the journey. I need to remain present in this time and place.

And so, thank you, BlogHer. Thank you for the five years, the time before that, and the time yet to come. I still believe in your mission, in your work, in the voices you help people find. Thank you for helping me find mine.

Onward.

Categories
Parenting

Different Decisions = Different Families = That’s Okay!

Angry words have been thrown back and forth this week. (Clarification: most of the anger has been in the comments of said posts.) People have been clinging very hard to what they believe in, unable to see that the lines of wrong and right blur when you take the time to consider that each of us are unique and, as such, so are our families.

I have never understood the “my family’s way of life is right and yours is wrong” variant of internet bickering. Unless someone admits to blatant neglect or abuse, I don’t see why this argument even needs to take place. I feel it very keenly as many (too many) people have consistently told me that we are wrong for participating in an open adoption with my daughter and her family. They spout things about confusion (which none of the children have yet experienced) and say silly things like, “That’s not the way it used to be done!” True. It’s not. And, at one time, we didn’t possess the knowledge to save children born too early or have dual breast pumps to provide milk for various reasons or utilize things like, oh, car seats. We’ve learned things over the years. We, as a society, have made changes. In fact, those changes have gone from demanding women to work to sending them back home again to now chastising them for whichever decision they make. It’s lose-lose!

A friend pointed out to me the other day that when we were growing up, the mothers who stayed home with their children were exalted while the ones who went out to work, out of necessity or desire, were shunned. It’s true. My mom took a lot of flack for working (and working hard) during the 1980’s. She raised me with a strong work ethic and pushed me to be the best that I could be. I was nervous to tell her that I was considering staying home when BigBrother was eight months old. I was afraid she would be disappointed in me, that I had let her down in some way, broken the code of Strong Women. Instead, my mother took my hand and told me that whatever I needed to do for my family was of the utmost priority. Whether that meant working outside the home or being at home, she would support me. And she has. She’s let me cry to her on days that I have gotten nothing done because of illness or general chaos. She has applauded my promotions and rejoiced at my published works. I guess, then, I’m confused as to why more people aren’t like my mom. Maybe they should be.

We see in the adoption world all too often the general contest of who has it worse. Birth mothers from the closed generation often shun birth mothers with open adoptions, claiming we can’t truly know the pain of adoption since we have it so “easy.” Adoptive parents get a rough time from birth parents who claim that they caused all of the pain and, therefore, they shouldn’t complain when parenting gets tough. Then adoptive parents turn around and tell birth parents to hush as they chose this life the moment they opened their legs. And then, goodness, if an adoptee dares to speak up about any grief, loss or pain, they are told to hush their mouths and to be grateful because they could have had it worse. Instead of supporting each other in the muck and mire and hard stuff associated with adoption, we cut each other down. We refuse to see that we’re all in this together, that without one another, we don’t really exist. We can’t make any progress with ethical adoption reform or the process of adoptees gaining access to their Original Birth Certificates because no one will work together. It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening. And it’s really pointless as we should realize that we can and should be working together.

And that’s exactly what I saw in the mommy world this week. I’m not going to argue about whether or not my working life is easier or harder. I am so happy with my own life right now that I don’t think it matters one way or the other. Instead, I challenge mothers to stop fanning the flames. (Look! A fire pun on our blog! Go figure!) There’s no need. When a mother, whether WAH, WOH or SAH, complains that she has had a hard day, don’t laugh and say, “How the heck was your day so hard? I had to deal with x, y and z! Shut up!” Instead, offer your support. Your shoulder. Tell her that she will get through this hard time. Tell her that she will make it out the other side as a stronger woman, mother and human being. And then, just maybe, she’ll be there for you on your next awful, horrible, no-good, very-bad day. Because you will have one. Just like I will have one. Just like she will have one.

We’re never going to accomplish anything as long as we point fingers, take sides and demand that we deserve a cookie, a medal, a trophy, an award. They don’t make those for The Best Mother Ever. There’s no Red Carpet awards ceremony. You don’t get to mingle with the stars simply because you put down another mother to make yourself look better. My parents always taught me, you get what you give. If you throw nastiness out into the world, nastiness will be thrown back at you. I try, nine times out of ten, to live that lesson. And that tenth time, of course, when I forget, I am reminded. Quickly. (Did I just admit that my parents were right?)

I know I’ll never see this utopia of mothers agreeing on everything. That’s not even what I’m asking for as disagreement causes us to push our understandings just that much more and learn something new about the world, about mothering, about ourselves. Instead, I just want to see mothers supporting mothers. I want to see more compassion. I want to see more help being offered. I know. I’m a Bleeding Heart. I always have been. My parents tease me mercilessly but, hey, they raised me to think for myself and, dang it, I do. I think they’re proud. Nine times out of ten.

In the end, we here in the FireFamily are working our tushes off to make decisions in the best interest of our family. Sometimes we trip up and make the wrong decision. Sometimes we get it right. Just like every other family out there. What works for us now might not in a year or two. I won’t defend our decisions and I don’t expect other mothers to defend theirs. I do, however, expect other mothers to love their children with the heat of a thousand fires and use that love to do everything in their power to make the best decisions possible at any given time.

Because if we’re not doing that, there’s no hope for our future.

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[By the way, the picture of BigBrother up there is how I envisioned everyone acting. And isn’t it funny when you really think about it? No? Okay, then just laugh at his cuteness with me and how I’ll put that picture in his yearbook someday. See? There are joys to motherhood!]