Jen Singer is another one of my tweeps. (That’s one of my twitter people, for those of you who are still missing out on the phenomenon that is twitter.) Jen is one of those moms, who after reading her blog, makes you feel like you could walk into her house, put your feet up on her coffee table and tell her about how your kids just totally humiliated you in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. She would listen, laugh and reassure you that you are a good mother. (Which happens to be the name of one of her many books.)
After lurking around her website MommaSaid.net, laughing hysterically at her “If You Give a Mom a Cookie” video, I wanted to know more. I wanted to know how someone successfully raised two boys, was a pioneer in the blogging world (her site has received a Forbes Best of the Web designation for Parenting Blogs), battled and beat a cancer diagnosis and did it all with grace and a sense of humor. (Information regarding her cancer diagnosis and treatment can be found under the “Laugh” section of her website. Seriously.)
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging before anybody had put the words “mom” and “blog” together, back in 2003 when my kids weren’t in school at the same time. I worked nights, even though I am decidedly not a night owl. I wanted to build a community for my writing and for my future books. Also, I wanted to find other moms who agreed with me that perhaps motherhood isn’t like a baby lotion commercial all the time. (I’m sayin’!)
Were you blogging before you started writing books?
I launched MommaSaid in January of 2003 and published my first book, “14 Hours Til Bedtime” in November of 2004. I’d published essays in magazines like Woman’s Day and Family Circle, but I wanted to expand my audience and to not have to wait six months for an essay to hit the stands in a magazine. Blogging made sense.
Many writers I know who also have blogs, bristle at the idea of being considered a “Mommy Blogger.” What’s your take on the whole “Mommy Blogger” phenomenon?
Well, I’m a mom who blogs about being a mom, so I’m certain that makes me a mom blogger. I hate the word “mommy” though. My own kids haven’t called me Mommy since they were in preschool. “Mommy blogger” makes it sound like a fun little hobby to do at nap-time, which in my case, it certainly isn’t. It’s a business, with spokespersonships and books that help pay my mortgage.
What was the most difficult aspect of your cancer diagnosis?
The hardest part was worrying that I wouldn’t be here to watch my kids grow up. I was too sick to be the kind of hand-on, everybody-in-the-minivan kind of mom I had been, and that was hard on the kids – and me.
How did having cancer change your perspective on motherhood?
Here’s where I’m supposed to say that it made me cherish every moment, smell every flower and sing with the birds. But it doesn’t. Sometimes, the kids fight and the milk gets spilled and I wish I could go hide at a movie that’s not animated with talking animals. That’s when I realize how fortunate I am that, at that moment anyhow, that is my biggest problem. You know, instead of fighting for my life. (See what I mean? Don’t you want to be friends with her? How can you not love someone who is THAT honest?)
What’s the best piece of parenting advice you ever received? The worst?
My German mother-in-law used to remind me, whenever my kids refused to sleep, “There vas nothing wrong vith him all day, and there’s nothing wrong vith him now.” It gave me the strength to sleep train my kids and stop being so stinking exhausted all the time.
The worst advice was not to tell my kids I had cancer. Kids fill in what you don’t tell them with worse scenarios. It’s better to tell them. Besides, I was bald and in the hospital a lot. What was I going to tell them? I was starring as Dr. Evil in the Broadway production of Austin Powers?
Funniest parenting memory?
The night the kids wouldn’t sleep and I was shushing them so they wouldn’t wake up a house guest. I wound up throwing the phone, which had broken and wouldn’t stop beeping, out the window. Then I drove the kids around at 4 a.m. in 11 degree weather until they fell asleep. I wrote about it in Beth Feldman’s “See Mom Run.” Proud parenting moment indeed.
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