teenagers

RSSAllThree

Sometimes, when I was a teenager, I just wanted to be a kid again, so that I could play play play with abandon–laugh, shout, be so absurdly silly I’d wear myself right out, like in the good old days.  And no one would care.  

When you were little, life was simple.  Eat.  Sleep.  Play.  Repeat.  (And finish a homework packet or two, under duress.)  Teenagehood can be cool, yeah.  But bottom line, sometimes you just want, for a minute or two, not to have to act your age.

So how does a mom enable these “little kid” moments, where laughter is king and silliness holds sway? She stages them. Honest. Then laughs as hard as her children.

It can get complicated, the business of being a teenager. To decompress, sometimes you just need a teeter-totter.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

DSC07843

Last spring, I packed up a few colorful outfits, some not-so-sensible shoes, grabbed my laptop, got on a plane, and flew to Miami, where the Mom 2.0 Conference, at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, was happening. I had decided I wanted to start blogging, and I knew nothing at all about how one went about it. I’d done plenty of writing. But blogging?

What I did know was that I wanted to reach out to moms of teens. That demographic, I felt, was underrepresented in the blogosphere, probably because we were all busy assembling meals for tweens and teens whose staggered schedules meant that the kitchen stayed open around the clock. Or we were helping with homework until 2 am. Or running this child or that one or all of them to/from ballet or voice lessons or track practice or a study group or a friend’s pool party or an orthodontic appointment or an MUN (Model United Nations) conference, etcetera, ad infinitum. Moms of kids in the (roughly) eleven to eighteen range, you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? I mean, how would any of us have time to blog, of all things?

Nevertheless, I checked in at the conference, and so began an interesting weekend, where mom bloggers of all stripes, authors, speakers, marketers, advertisers, media groups, and purveyors of very nice swag came together for morning plenary sessions, panel discussions, Q & A’s, lunches, a highly anticipated Twitter event, a reception at the Versace Mansion (skipped it, too tired), and on it went. Lots and lots to collide with, take notes on, process. Lots of networking to do, which is tricky if you have no business cards. Gals were handing them out like they were candy, and believe me, some serious thought had gone into the design of those cards.  As I was cardless, my line was, “I’m just starting out,” a confession which prompted one or two magnanimous smiles from women who were no doubt writing me off.

And there was plenty of “Reach out to me” talk going on.  One woman, a well-heeled rep for Macy’s, herself the mother of a teenage daughter, was telling me about her weekend in the Carribean with Rachel Roy and Martha Stewart. “Reach out to me,” she said coolly, passing me her card, and I was thinking to myself, “Mm, you probably don’t drive a Suburban that smells like the family’s last camping trip, do you?” But I smiled blithely, thanking her for her little compliment about my chevron-patterned knit skirt, which I’d picked up at a consignment store a few days earlier.  I doubted she frequented consignment stores.

On the one hand, I thought, what is all this?  On the other hand, I thought, why not?  Why not reach out, connect, build communities?  But I wasn’t sure my voice was sufficiently tuned, and that seemed to be the key feature of the blogs I resonated to–a strong sense of voice.  At the end of the weekend, I collected my things, got back on a plane, and flew back to Orange County, California, where the family waited to see how it had gone.  “It was cool,” I told them.  “Very interesting.”  Which it was.

And that was that.  Summer came.  The extended family met in Budapest to start a European river cruise, a gift from my parents.  My son was getting ready to embark on his own grand, two-year adventure, and I probably wrote five blog posts between May and September.

Then we moved. Out of the country. And I dusted off what I could recall from Mom 2.0 and started thinking again about blogging for real, about trying to connect moms of older kids, whose work is more fraught and rewarding and complex and gratifying (shall I go on?) than anyone can imagine. “We’ve got to be talking,” I thought, and realized I really wanted to try to kick start that conversation.

To that end, I thought I’d share my take aways from the conference. First, if there was one thing that became clear to me, it was that mom bloggers have reach. They have bandwidth.  I figured that out the second I visited momitforward, for example, one of the really amazing blogs referenced in a panel session I attended.  Up to that point, I had no idea that women could mobilize like that!–taking up themes important to moms of all kinds, creating communities, and making great things happen.  Second, while the business of connecting with your tribe through your blogging efforts takes the kind of boundless persistence I would have thought only Olympic athletes or candidates for political office were capable of, even small steps forward invite good things.  I talked to all kinds of other bloggers who were steadily building their communities and having a great time doing it.  Third, if you focus on content that matters deeply to you, eventually you’ll find traction.  Over and over I heard this, and now I guess I’m challenging us all to prove the idea solid.

Finally, I thought I’d share a story that continues to inspire me.  One of the panelists that weekend was Lee Rhodes, of glassybaby.  A lung cancer survivor, she wrestled to get her company going in spite of the fact that naysayers popped up everywhere.  Wasn’t going to work, everyone told her.  No one would ever want to pay a premium for handblown glass votives.  But the light of candles had always kept her going during the dark days of her illness, and she felt so sure of her uniquely artisanal product and its mission that she pushed forward.  Take a look at what glassybaby is doing today, in spite of the fact that when the company was still just an idea, no one thought it could work.  Her message to everyone at Mom 2.0 was that all kinds of “you-can’t-do-it” folks will show up right when you’re ready to start something new and noteworthy.  They’ll tell you why it’s a bad idea.  They’ll tell you not to waste your time.  Do it anyway, was Rhodes’ message, because you might be about to connect with your right life.

For me, that was the big take away from Mom 2.0.  Whatever your own (or anyone else’s) hesitations about your blogging efforts and mission, do it anyway.  Because plenty of people are listening.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Palafrugell_4958

I have two daughters, both in their teens, both tall and statuesque.  (I know, I know, forgive me while I dote.)  Each is lovely in her own distinct way. Each has her own unique strengths and tastes. One adores vintage style and dreams about being an industrial designer. One listens to Bach while she does homework and occasionally breaks into song in cathedrals. My point: they’re different. As a result, sometimes they have to work to understand each other.

Which brings me to a phenomenon I’ll call “love” blogging. My older daughter, she of the waist-length hair and patrician features, stumbled upon an interesting blog recently. A Blog About Love chronicles the journey of a highly interesting couple whose first marriages ended and whose second marriage–to each other–has brought them not only happiness but wisdom, the pearls of which they share with those lucky enough to count themselves among the blog’s readership. But while it tends to focus on married love, the posts resonate on many levels. Indeed, my daughter has found the overall theme so inspiring that she now has resolved to be more loving and understanding, starting with her younger sister–a blue-eyed wisp of a thing who could easily have stepped out of a Celtic myth.

It’s impossible to overestimate the bandwidth of the love blog. Last night, for example, we were all sitting around as a family after finishing an exercise in Spanish reading and pronunciation (we’re living in Spain until next summer), and when my older daughter had an opportunity to get frustrated at something that might normally have prompted frustration, she turned to me with a smile, touched me lightly on the arm, and affirmed that she was choosing not to be bugged. “Since I’ve been reading A Blog About Love,” she reminded me, “I just want to be more loving to everyone.”

I know, right? The moment sounds almost cloying–like it could be fake!  But it wasn’t cloying.  And it most certainly wasn’t fake.  The evidence:  a seventeen-year-old girl chose love.  Because of a blog.  Naturally she was the greatest beneficiary.  After all, the kind of forbearance informed by the intention to practice love instead of something else always benefits the practitioner more than anyone else.

Thank you, authors of A Blog About Love.  Your message has currency, not only with the second-time-arounders but also with a much younger crowd as well, including a beautiful girl whose views of love have broadened as a result of having collided with you.  She, like your other readers, is gaining confidence that love is a verb–i.e., anyone can practice it with success.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }