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At the time my oldest left for college, I had been a parent for over 18 years. That’s a long time. For most of it, I was a stay-at-home mom. When I did work, I was in education so I was able to put my kids on the bus in the morning, be there to get them off in the afternoon, and I had summers off to spend with them. For 18 years my identity was, mom. I was so-and-so’s mother or so-and-so’s wife – that’s pretty much it.
I have three children. At the time that my oldest was heading off to college, they were 18, 15, and 9. My oldest, the one who was leaving, was involved in the high school marching band. I spent a lot of my time at performances, competitions, and football games. My middle one played competitive soccer. That meant driving her to 2-3 practices a week, weekend games, and weekends away at competitions. During these years, I felt like splitting myself in half still would have left something unattended to. I was forever in my car driving carpool, picking up and dropping off kids, and running errands. I was a true mini-van driving soccer mom.
My middle child got her driver’s license and a car when she turned sixteen, just a few months after my daughter left for college. She also decided she no longer wanted to play competitive soccer. No more marching band. No more soccer carpool. No more having to drive my sixteen-year-old anywhere. Overnight, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands.
I no longer had to run around getting things done while my kids were at school because there was plenty of time after school to do the same tasks. My entire life shifted and I became depressed. I would drive my son to school in my pj’s and stay in them until I had to pick him up. I’d lie on the couch watching daytime television. Sometimes my husband would call and my voice wouldn’t work to answer the phone; I realized that many days I wasn’t speaking from the time I dropped my son off for school until I picked him back up. I certainly missed my oldest daughter, but that’s not why I was depressed. I was depressed because I was smacked in the face with a feeling of having little or no purpose. I had nothing that was mine alone. I felt invisible.
I was only 45 so, heck, life wasn’t over but I needed to find a purpose for myself. Although I would have loved to go back to school and get my Master’s degree, something I never did because I had kids, paying two tuitions seemed impossible. Could I start a career midlife? CEO of Google was out. Although I had a college degree, it had been so long since I went to school or worked that I no longer felt qualified to do anything. I was at a very low point in my life. I spent about six months in this state and then I decided no one could fix this besides me, so I did.
The first thing I did was get a part-time job. I now had a place to go five days a week and a reason for waking up other than getting my son off to school. I no longer had to face the what should I do today question or mope around the house in my pj’s. I was able to get out of my mom uniform (usually a t-shirt and shorts), take my hair out of a ponytail, put on makeup, and have conversations with people who weren’t going to ask me to cut the crust off of their sandwich. To these people I wasn’t someone’s mom or someone’s wife; I was just me. It felt selfishly good; good to know I was needed, good to know I had a place to be everyday, good to use my brain for something, and good to know that someone would notice if I went missing. Up until that point, I thought about getting one of those necklaces in case I had fallen and couldn’t get up. I’m glad I didn’t have to.
The second thing I wanted to do was learn a new skill. My brain felt like mush from 18 years of Barney and Sesame Street and I had to know that it would still work. My job is hard to explain but it leaves me with many hours in the office where I didn’t have a responsibility and I was allowed to use the time how I wanted. Nice, right? I decided I wanted to learn something completely new and far outside my knowledge base. I wanted to learn how to build a website. I knew it would be a challenge. I had no prior experience or skill that would lend to this endeavor. Thank goodness for Youtube. You can learn just about anything you want on Youtube. It took me a few weeks, lots of trial and error, some hair pulling, a couple of grown-up tantrums, and a lot of patience, but I learned how to make a website! I was relieved to know that my brain, much to my surprise, was working at close to pre-child capacity.
The third thing I did, which required the skill from number two, was to start a blog. This blog. The one you’re reading right now. I designed my site, made many changes, and began to write content. And you know what? People were interested! I had information and experiences that were helpful to others. It was slow going at first, but about 7 months in, I wrote an article that for all intents and purposes, went viral. I suddenly had over 90 thousand people visit my website in a matter of two weeks and my post was shared over 30 thousand times! So many visited that it actually crashed my site because I wasn’t on a server intended to handle that kind of traffic. The article was, The Three Rules I Made My Daughter Swear To Obey In College.
Doing those three things completely changed my trajectory. I now had things to talk about. Before this, if my husband and I were heading out to dinner alone, I would come up with topics to discuss in my head on the drive over. I actually stopped him several times when he began a conversation in the car and told him to save it for dinner. Pitiful, right? I was excited about something and excited to share what I was doing. I was getting emails from readers all over the United States regarding my posts and I even had another website request to re-post one of my articles. I always loved to write and I was also enjoying doing research to write informative pieces – again, happy to see that my brain was responding.
I’m about to embark on my fourth goal; to share what I’ve learned with others. I’ve had lots of other moms contact me and ask me how I got started and seeking advice for starting their own blog so this will be my next project. And, I’m going to make it really easy for you to do. No, don’t say you can’t. You can. You’re going to watch my video and follow it step-by-step. I’m not smarter than you. If I did it, you can too. Don’t worry that up until this point you’ve only mastered writing a WORD document, checking your email, and posting pictures on Facebook. If you can do all of those things, you can build your own blog website. I promise it will be painless because you get to benefit from all the mistakes I made.
What can YOU blog about? I’m sure there are a few key things that you are really good at and/or have knowledge of. Maybe you are a CPA and you want to teach others how to handle their money. Maybe you’re an excellent cook and want to share your recipes and techniques. Maybe you love to eat and travel and want to share your experiences. Maybe you have excellent organizational skills and want to teach others how to organize their life. It can be anything that you are knowledgeable of, experienced in, or excited about. Photography, sewing, eating, cooking, drinking, books, relationships, shopping, fashion, decorating, finance, travel, television, movies, make-up, getting older, crafts – SERIOUSLY ANYTHING! No matter what you are interested in or passionate about, there will be people out there who will want to hear what you have to say. You can EVEN EARN MONEY writing a blog! There are people whose entire income comes from blogging and they are making huge sums. I haven’t reached that point and I’m not sure that’s my goal. Right now, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing.
If you haven’t already subscribed to my website, do it now. I’m in the process of working on a step-by-step video and will hopefully finish it next week. If you are subscribed to my website, you’ll get notice when it’s done. The instructional video will be COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE and available through a link that will take it to where it will be uploaded on YouTube. Until then, thanks for being here, friend! Looking forward to helping you find your own way into the blogging world!
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