I met a dear friend of mine for lunch a few weeks ago. Friends for over a decade, she is one of those mom friends that I can easily and honestly unload onto all the real crap going on in my life. Nothing sugar coated between us two. We were covering all the basics of conversations- “How are the kids? Seen any good movies lately? How is your husband?” But when the question “How are YOU doing?” came at me, I knew exactly how to answer. I blurted out, “I just don’t know WHAT I am doing.” And by "I don’t know what I am doing," I mean, I really, reaaalllly, don’t know what I’m doing. There has been a lingering sense of completely ‘roaming lost through motherhood’ feeling going in my life for a while, and I have been thirsting for a map.
I can begin to pinpoint the beginning of the roaming at about the same time my writing started to be noticed by people other than my Facebook friends. I had a blog. Now what? What the heck do I do with a writing voice? Do I treat writing like a real paying job? Do I now commit to sitting down and pumping out essays on a daily basis? There are an endless amount of opportunities for bloggers, and even women blogging conferences. In the last few months I have realized that women writers have a vary large and a very in demand voice. I could become a ‘brand,’ or I could dedicate myself to writing about one specialized thing, or I could solicit my writing and spend time reviewing all types of consumer products. I could add disclosure links and media contacts, and ‘where’ I’ve been published links on my blog. I could spend many hours a day on social media liking, following, sharing, linking, and promoting myself and my writing. I could work the phones and make editorial contacts and submit, submit, submit my writing all over the internet. There’s only one problem with all of the above- I kinda don’t wanna. I just don’t feel like that is what I am supposed to be doing. Maybe it’s the fact I have a household of young men needing their mom, and a husband who works out of town and needs me to keep things together at home. Or maybe it’s because by age 42, I feel more like I really know the things I DON’T want to do, more than knowing what it is I actually do WANT to do. I know I like to write, but I also know I don’t want a ton of pressure with it. But then again, I also know I have a following. All of this nonsense had been swirling around in my head when the “How are YOU?” question was asked. And then, out of nowhere, I got a map.
A few weeks ago I was contact by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. They are inviting several women bloggers to their campus for three days, during which time they will be introduced to doctors, researchers, patients, families, and executive leadership of the hospital. They will tour the entire campus, including the Target House, meet with the culinary team at the hospital, as well as brainstorm with the brand marketing staff and editorial and social media teams on ways to promote the hospital’s mission . They invited me to be one of the bloggers. Ummm, what? You want me? A regular mom who writes funny stuff about her crazy family to come to St. Jude and be a blogging partner? And there it was. The map I was looking for.
I leave on Wednesday morning for St. Jude. I have no idea what to expect. (Oh, and I have no real professional clothes to wear either.) I am nervous and excited, but most of all I am relieved, as I feel I finally have some sort of direction with my writing. Sure, I am still going to write satirical essays on the insanity of mothering, and anything else that makes me chuckle about life, but I am also going to be voluntarily giving of my writing time to share and promote the mission of St. Jude. I feel it's part of what I am supposed to do with this blog. And I will start now.
If you are reading this and you are not familiar with the hospital, here is all you need to know. Families never see a bill. Never. Ever. EVER. Children at St. Jude are fighting some of most catastrophic childhood diseases, including all forms of pediatric cancer. Catastrophic. Let that sink in. Cat-a-stroph-ic. When one of my kids wakes up with a cough and runny nose, I practically think that’s catastrophic. When I am awoken during the middle of the night by a kid with a tummy ache, my interruption in sleep seems catastrophic. Schlepping four kids to their well-child check ups, sitting in a waiting room for 45 minutes, where a doctor will tell me they are perfectly healthy, well, that often seems like a pain in my day. Something tells me after this visit to St. Jude, there will be a lot less ‘pains’ and minor 'catastrophes' in my day. A. Lot. Less.
I think my map says I am about to have a total life and perspective changing baptism of epic proportions. I’m ready. Won’t you join me? I hear the water is divine.