Thoughts on writing, parenting, and community

Photo credit: Michelle Morelos Photography


So … I’ve never been much of a joiner.

This will come as no surprise to those of you who’ve known me forever, but it might be a revelation to anyone I’ve met recently.

I’ve gained so much from this experience as a parent and as a writer. If I had to pick one thing that caught me off guard, though, it’d be the incredible and diverse communities I’ve found in the past year.

Who knew they were out there?

Maybe everyone but me.

What was I thinking?

Here’s what I thought about parenting: I’d have a baby, and … parent her, I guess. Maybe I’d see my mum more often, and spend a bit more time with my friends who have kids, but mostly my social circles would remain unchanged. Also, I’d do less sleeping and more laundry.

Here’s what I thought about writing: I’d start a blog, and maybe eventually have a piece or two published elsewhere. I’d write, submit, write, submit, and write some more. Maybe I’d even put ads on my blog and make money from it. I might get to know an editor or two, but that’d be pretty much it.

I was wrong, and I’m glad

It turns out that isn’t how any of this works. No parent is an island — and no writer is an island — and I’m thankful to have found myself on solid ground.

The truth is, parenting is an experience best shared. I’m so lucky to have shared my initiation into parenthood with my prenatal classmates at South Community Birth Program. While I’ve definitely wanted to hide from the world at times, I’ve never regretted getting out and spending time with these brilliant, hilarious, and supportive women. It’s been such a privilege to see them come into their own as parents, and to watch our babies grow together. We probably wouldn’t have met if not for biology and timing, but I’m so glad we did.

To my surprise, writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum either. Since I started blogging I’ve discovered a new world — a community of writers I never knew existed. And I’ve learned that there’s so much more to it than writing, submitting, and writing some more.

Writing, parenting, and community at a blogger party

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting some of my fellow writer mums at VancouverMom.ca’s Top 30 Mom Bloggers celebration. I suck at parties, so I was super nervous. And I did spend part of the event doing that thing — you know that thing? The thing where you stand awkwardly near a conversation hoping you’ll be magically absorbed into the conversation … or at least that people won’t notice you’re standing alone, creeping on other people’s sparkling repartee?

Oh, lord. Please tell me I’m not the only person who does that thing.

Anyway, thing-doing notwithstanding, I also managed to connect with a few of my favourite local bloggers. And it was ah-may-zing.

In which I attend a classy event and start fangirling all over the place

The event was held at Roundhouse Radio in Vancouver. It was cool and classy and everything you’d expect of a party full of hip internet types (plus me). There was wine and chocolate and even gift bags. But the highlight was really the incredible people I met, and I want to tell you about them.

Bonnie of The Koala Mom generously offered me a lift to the event, which was great since there was wine and I need wine to socialize. It was so nice chatting with Bonnie and meeting her adorable 7-month-old, Pearl.

Shannon of Adventurous Mama was lovely, and I was so excited to meet her in person (she and I are in a few of the same blogging groups on Facebook) that I didn’t know what to say. So obviously I stuck my foot in my mouth with a super-weird Mean Girls reference, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. But I was glad to meet her anyway.

Jennifer of Prairie Girl in the City shared her experience running her business from home and how she gets it all done (pro tip: grandparents!). Plus, she manages to look fabulous in the process — we didn’t actually talk about that bit, but it’s true.

Rhonda of Oh My Violet and I chatted about baby names, and how any name you choose will inevitably be more popular than you expected. Incidentally, her daughters’ names are gorgeous. Rhonda is a lifestyle/DIY blogger, and since I am a certified walking disaster I admire her endlessly. Also, she has a beautiful peacock feather tattoo.

I talked with Siobhan of Type A Type B about freelance writing, and the ins and outs of our day jobs. She doesn’t know it yet, but she and I are going to be best friends (well, except for the fact that I just wrote this on the internet, which is extremely creepy and may actually result in some kind of restraining order. Call me, Sio!)

Amy of According to Amy is famous, and hilarious, and actually knew who I was (!). We talked about the game-changer milestones no one tells you about, like when your kids can brush their own teeth without help. Now every time I hear her on the radio I’m all “hey guess what? I met her!” and the baby’s like “yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about” because she doesn’t understand words.

I bonded with Connie of He She Wee over our daughters’ shared birthday, and finally got to gush about her photos in person. She was bubbly and genuine and holy hell, do I ever adore her blog. Connie suggested we set up a playdate, so stay tuned for stories of our epic toddler adventures together. Or maybe non-toddler adventures, with wine. Or MAYBE toddler adventures WITH wine.

It’s only the beginning

There were so many other bloggers I only met briefly, and still more that I wanted to meet but didn’t. I blame the fact that the party was only two hours long, plus it took me a while to drink the awkward away get into it. But the nice thing about this community is that the party is really just the beginning. I know I’ll cross paths with these remarkable women again, and I hope it’ll happen often.

So here’s to community, and here’s to lifting each other up! Because none of us are in this alone.

8 Comment

  1. Michelle says: Reply

    You’re not the only one who does the thing 🙂

    1. Jean says: Reply

      I am very much enjoying all this commiseration over the thing. Also, I’m now envisioning a huge party full of thing-doers and I feel much better.

  2. It was awesome meeting you and lived our visit together. You were actually the first person I chatted with that evening, so thank you for helping me break the awkwardness of showing up alone.
    And don’t worry, I was totally doing that thing too 🙂

    1. Jean says: Reply

      Oh my goodness, it’s so reassuring to hear that I wasn’t the only one doing the thing! Thanks for that, and for the lovely chat. Hope you enjoyed the rest of the party!

  3. Sio says: Reply

    Oh goodness, Jean. Reading through this hilarious post made me realize that we pretty much feel the same way about everything: parenthood, writing, South Community (I went there too), and the blogger party. Obviously this reaffirms that we are going to be best friends. Glad we could clear that up. Thanks for such a wonderful post and for mentioning me. You made me feel special and that’s what best friends are supposed to do 🙂

    1. Jean says: Reply

      Oh, yay! Thank you for not having me arrested 🙂 and send me a message if you want to meet for coffee or something sometime!

  4. So glad we carpooled there! It was fun to have a chance to chat with you because I’m totally awkward at parties too. 🙂 Bringing a baby does help because I have a defacto ice-breaker whom everyone wants to smile at (since she wouldn’t let them hold her). Welcome to the Vancouver Mom blogger community! I just discovered it last year but it rocks. You’ll get to know us! 🙂

    1. Jean says: Reply

      Aw, thanks for the warm welcome Bonnie! I’m glad we carpooled too and it was so great to chat. I agree that bringing a baby can be a good conversation starter 🙂 which can be annoying if you don’t actually want to talk to anyone (e.g. at Walmart), but great at things like these where you want to meet people. And your babe was the belle of the ball!

      (Also: sorry — I just saw this! I’m not sure why I don’t get email notifications of comments anymore …)

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