July 2, 2012

The Summer Series - Abigail Green

I've made no secret of the fact I enjoy connecting online. And I love to meet other moms who are writers. It's helpful to be able to share tips and commiserate with those who understand the passion and the challenges.

Today, my friend Abby is writing about something that is so important to me. Authenticity. It is something I strive for in every aspect of my life, especially online. And when I read this post, my jaw dropped open. Let's just say I could relate...

Keeping it Real, in Parenting and in Writing

As I was sitting in my car drinking wine out of a paper cup one night I thought, At least this will make a great blog post. Relax -- I was not drinking and driving. I was sitting in my parked car outside a liquor store two blocks from my house because I needed to get away from my children after a long day of parenting and freelance writing. And I needed a glass of wine. Have you ever tried to conduct an important phone interview while a toddler screams and kicks the door because he doesn’t want to nap? I have.

As soon as my husband got home from work, I took off. Only I had nowhere to go. My friends were all busy putting their own kids to bed, like normal moms do. So instead of going to a bar solo or drinking from a paper bag-wrapped bottle on a park bench, I sat in my car sipping and scrolling through Twitter on my phone, savoring a few precious moments of alone time before I had to jump back into the fray.

I didn’t blog about it, though. In fact, until now, I have only related this anecdote to a couple of close friends. This is because a) it kind of makes me sound like a loser, alcoholic nutcase, which I am not. And b) if it’s not illegal, it’s at least not admirable behavior for a grown woman who happens to be a wife, mother, and a professional.

But you know what? That’s who I am – a generally happy, well-balanced work-at-home writer and mother of two insanely active boys under 6 who occasionally (OK, semi-regularly) gets overwhelmed and needs a break. There you have it.

I’ve been blogging and publishing personal essays and articles for a long time. Over the years, I have found that the pieces that feel the most personal and exposing to write are usually the ones that get the most response from readers. I didn’t set out to write about how dirty my house is or how stressed out I get when I’m on deadline and dealing with childcare snafus. These sorts of posts don’t exactly paint me as a model of parenthood or professionalism.

But there’s got to be a reason why my writing resonates with readers, and I believe that reason is authenticity.

One of the biggest compliments someone ever gave me is when they said I am the same in person as I seem on my blog. This thrilled me. Because I AM the same. I’m not trying to portray a certain image or voice or pretend to be something I’m not. I’m far too frazzled to keep up a fa├žade like that. I’m just being myself – real, flawed, human. A busy mom and writer trying to do her best. And that’s something I’ve discovered lots of people can relate to.

I’ve also realized it’s not a bad example for my kids. I admit to them when I’m sad or tired or upset, and I encourage them to do the same. When I pick up my son from kindergarten and pepper him with questions about his day he sometimes says, “I don’t want to talk about it right now, Mom. I’m feeling grumpy.” I get it. I’ve been there. And I’m glad he feels comfortable admitting that instead of slapping on a happy face for appearances.

But if he asks where I’m going next time I head out the door for a solo parking lot happy hour, I’ll just leave it at, “Mommy needs a time out.” There’s such a thing as too much authenticity.

Abigail Green is the mom of two small boys in Baltimore, Md. A freelance writer for more than 15 years, she has published over 200 articles and essays in magazines, anthologies, and on the web for such places as American Baby, Health, and Smithsonian magazine, as well as A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers, Babble.com, and TheBump.com. She is also the author of the e-book Mama Insider: Laughing (And Sometimes Crying) All the Way Through Pregnancy, Birth, and the First 3 Months. She blogs about parenting, publishing, and more at www.AbbyOfftheRecord.com.

Thank you so much for participating in my series, Abby!
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