Let’s see. I became a mom in 1990. And a working mom several months later. But that’s going back too far. I’ll start here . . .
In 2002 I accepted my failure as a poet, set aside my dreams of being a novelist or, at best, a short story writer and started cranking out random essays on a variety of topics. I submitted one to The Commonspace, an essay about how I’d never make it in St. Louis because I didn’t go to high school there. (Follow the link to see the haircut that makes me look ten years older than I am). It was the first time I published anything online and it began a friendship with the editor/publishers that I still treasure today.
What The Commonspace did for me, as I published several other pieces with them, was give me the writing confidence I needed. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked Brian and Amanda sufficiently for this so I’ll do it now: Thank you, guys. You changed my life.
Then, I wrote a goofy little essay about capri pants and who shouldn’t wear them and e-mailed it to some friends and family. My sister pushed me a bit further and said, “You should talk to the Post, this is really good.”
I started the conversation with the Post-Dispatch, encouraged by both my sister and the response I’d gotten from what I’d written so far, and with dry mouth and in a nervous sweat, wrote my first “test” article for STLToday.com.
I wanted to do a consumer column. Something where I reviewed the
crappy customer service at retail establishments all over the St. Louis Metropolitan area. I started with an article about car washes. What’s the difference between the $4 wash and the $6? Is it worth it? Fortunately, I guess the bit showed some kind of promise, because I started with an experiment the Post was trying, writing roundups of what was going on in town and other little pieces for the online version of the paper. All of that work resulted, finally in Shop Talk, the shopping column, then blog, that I wrote for a few years.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’d been writing the weekly Shop Talk for about a year when my editor said, “I think this would work better as a blog.” It being 2003 or so, I knew what a blog WAS, I just didn’t know HOW to blog. So I went home and figured it out, diving in headfirst and setting up STL Working Mom on Blogger (I’m now using WordPress). I remember sitting at my desk thinking, well, now, who the heck AM I? And what do I want to do with this thing? I decided, if nothing else, I would use my blog to capture the silly stuff my kids did and said — just so I would remember later. I thought maybe I could share some wisdom with working moms struggling to successfully balance work and kids. AS IF I HAVE ANY.
The STL for those of you having trouble with that part, is the airport code for Lambert St. Louis International Airport. Many St. Louis Web sites use this as a prefix, such as the most popular St. Louis Web site, STLToday.com. Since I was writing for that Web site at the time, and very accustomed to typing STL, STLWorkingMom seemed like the way to go — a blog for St. Louis working moms. It wasn’t until last summer in Chicago at BlogHer when I realized, as people from all over the country glanced at my nametag and asked, “Still Working Mom?” that outside of St. Louis, the URL is kind of a problem.
Two years ago, after having established myself pretty thoroughly as the St. Louis Working Mom in STL, we picked up and moved 800 miles to Charlottesville, Va.
There was much to do in the two months I had to prepare for the move. That, and Mark moved without us so I was playing temporary single parent while trying to sell the house, keep it clean, learn all that went with a new job, manage the kids’ schedules (and prepare them to move) and oh lordy, Thanksgiving and Christmas were in there, too. I was definitely in high gear during those two months. I started sloughing off all I could, calling the Post to tell them I would no longer be able to do the features I was contributing to the print version of the paper (pieces on shopping and fashion that required me to go out and pick up items from stores and bring them to the Post to be photographed). That was the first thing to go. I stopped cooking, too — we ate out almost every night for a few reasons — there was just the three of us, I didn’t want to mess up the kitchen and it seemed that every evening we had to be away from the house to allow a Realtor to show it. Then, I gave up the Shop Talk blog — I needed every minute I could get and while it broke my heart to stop, I had to give them enough time to find a replacement writer, so gave my notice and drafted my final post. Finally, I stopped blogging on STLWorkingMom for about a month, writing a post to explain my absence and letting
the reader my readers know I’d be back.
Somehow, we all made it through the move. The house sold, we packed up, I went on “vacation” until after the new year, we arrived in C’ville and set up shop. I started blogging again soon after, gratefully discovering Waldo, befriending Jennifer and settling into the local contingent of the blogosphere. Yes, my first Charlottesville friends were bloggers. How better to learn about a new community than reading its blogs?
I have kept my St. Louis readership — just as I’ve kept my St. Louis job and friends. Several people asked if I was going to change the blog to Charlottesville (or C’ville) Working Mom and frankly, I just haven’t seen the need. (Also, there’s a great new blog called C’ville Working Moms that takes care of that!) I also know that URLs need to stay the same if people are going to continue to find and follow you, so www.stlworkingmom.com is not going anywhere. People know my story and in fact, I think being a two-city working mom might just make this blog a little more interesting.
So that’s the story. I think that even though we have no plans to leave Charlottesville, I’m always going to be the St. Louis Working Mom. Thanks for reading and — if you are
the person one of the readers who have followed this journey from its earliest days — thanks for hanging in there and for following me 800 miles!