jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Blogging Neophyte

Confession. I know nothing about blogging. True story.

I’d never read a blog let alone posted on one before I began writing my own. I was shocked when I got my first follower, and stupefied when that person turned out to be more a weird self-help program than a person; then a man who wrote really terrible things about women started following. Seriously. And a travel agency. I didn’t know travel agencies still existed. Or that they’d ‘follow’ a blog about a woman who is an okay mom who loves her kids but messes up most days and gets the chokey voice when she’s sentimental. What does that have to do with travel?

I wrote a post and then another. Sometimes people commented, sometimes not so much.  I started reading other blogs and was blown away. Hey, I’m doing this thing too! I’m with you guys!! But wait, they have so many followers… and badges… and advertisements. Where’d they get all that?

The blogosphere is a world unto itself. It is 7th grade, but a 7th grade of witty word play and alliances. There’s the cool chick, the nurturing big sister type, the class Le Clown and the new girl (and this one is beautiful, sharp, smart and funny… with tattoos– who can compete with that I ask you?) Sigh. I was such a dorked out dorkwad dork in 7th grade. And who am I kidding? Most days I feel like I’m that same girl.

I guess I’m not in it for the blogiverse, the fame and fortune, the joy in conjugating the word ‘blog’. I’m in it for the writing.

It wasn’t until college that I realized how much I love to write. I was sitting in a creative writing class first semester freshman year and we were writing these papers about ourselves, about people we knew, about places we’d been, and we were sharing them with one another. I loved it. LOVED. IT. It was so scary and exhilarating. I wrote an essay about my brother and my professor actually asked to meet me outside of class to talk about it, he liked it that much. I still have the original essay with his notes.

IMG_8355

There was a contest at the Yale Daily News for best fiction and non-fiction writing and I entered it. And it won! The contest seemed so big and important and awesome until I won. And then I realized it must have been a lame contest, because otherwise, how could I have won it? I did use that winning essay to push my way into a full seminar with the author, Ved Mehta. After reading my essay, he said I should write a book, that I would write a book. And of course, I figured he must say that to all the girls.

That semester he tore my writing apart, and it wasn’t one of those that-which-doesn’t-kill-us-makes-us-stronger things. I was in a place where people said things to me like, “You probably recognize my from the movie Dead Poet’s Society?” (I did!) and “You know, my grandfather? Elie Wiesel?” (I didn’t.)  I was totally out of my element. Usually I could plug away in classes like Calculus or Art History, stay up later, push harder. But I ended up with a C+ in that writing class, and that is what I believed. I was a C+ writer. Slightly above average in the real world, and in the world of gentleman’s B’s, I knew I had failed.

I didn’t write much after that. Not really. I wrote thousands of student comments while teaching, I wrote in my kids’ baby books, sometimes I wrote long (winded) letters. I wrote in journals that were started but never finished.

It’s crazy, right? Because I’m a confident Mama. I can decorate a hardcore Woody and Buzz Lightyear birthday cake with fondant, make and upholster furniture for Barbie (hey, life’s a compromise), rock skinny jeans (sort of), run a (half) marathon and get four kids into snow gear in under 8 minutes. Most days I even put on deodorant. You know what? I’ll never be prom queen, but I was on the homecoming court. (That last part’s not a metaphor. I was just looking for a way to fit homecoming court AND Yale into the same blogpost…)

October 2013 Right?! I dare you to Pin this  (and I don't even know what Pinning is!)

October 2013
Right?! I dare you to Pin this
(and I don’t even know what Pinning is!)

In the end, it’s hard not to feel like 7th grade me all the time. “The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?” (as Julia Roberts said in the feminist manifesto, Pretty Woman.)

Jennie, 7th grade No one should ever feel like this. Am I right?!

Jennie, 7th grade
No one should ever feel like this.
Am I right?!

But I think it’s time now. It’s time for all our 7th grade selves to shut up, or at least to move on. I know I’m not alone in this. I have too many Mama friends on the edge of great things but feeling like 7th grade them (or 11th grade or 4th grade or sophomore year of college.)

Some days you write the post that means the most and… crickets. Or you volunteer for the thing or apply for the job or ask to join that running group and… well, crickets. And that’s okay, I guess. Because I think now maybe it’s time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do, take a chance, ignore the crickets. Live a little.

“Vivian: Tell me one person it’s worked out for.

Kit: What, you want me to name someone? You want like a name? Oh, God, the pressure of a name… I got it. Cinda-f-in’rella.” (Pretty Woman)

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33 comments on “Blogging Neophyte

  1. Reclusive Rachel
    January 12, 2014

    I’m a new blogger. In fact, I’m not sure I’m supposed to call myself a “blogger” yet! There may be some unspoken requirement before I get to that point 🙂
    At any rate, I can totally relate. Thank you for the post!

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      I think once you hit post the first time, you are officially a blogger. Welcome!
      Could you possibly be a newer blogger than me? It seems impossible! But either way I appreciate the comment. One post at a time, am I right? (Blog on!)

  2. Heidi
    January 12, 2014

    Yours is the first blog I am following. Perhaps we should celebrate this afternoon when I schlep my 3 girls and my 10th grade self (not 7th grade since my single state has the added thrill of sexual play without intercourse…). I love the way you writing makes me think. Love you!

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      Yay! Now we can work on making sure our lovely girls don’t feel like 7th grade me all the time (ACK!) or 7th grade you all the time (way more adorable, but UGH!) And you have to know you’re part of the inspiration for 7th grade (9th grade, sophomore year of college…) us. Love you, too!

  3. Le Clown
    January 12, 2014

    Jen,
    Blogger: it’s but a mere word. It took me awhile to accept that I was not just a fand of the National, but a stalker, albeit a new one. And you are right, there is absolutely nothing funny about stalker jokes.
    Le Clown

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      Le Clown,
      See what I mean? Totally creepy.
      But in a good way. And if by “stalking” you mean following, then thank you for stalking. If by stalking you mean stalking, well, then… sadly… creepy.
      Did you just say that you weren’t funny? Now that’s confusing but funny, am I right?
      Thanks for stopping by. You definitely add that something special to the party.
      Jen

  4. bpendergast4
    January 12, 2014

    You are rockin’ that 7th grade picture! From one 7th grade self to another – I loved your post. You make me think and smile as I read.:)

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      7th grade us… now that would be a picture!
      And your comment made me smile right back! Thank you! I know what a busy, busy Mama you are! Seeing you pop up in my comments is a delectable croissant. Yum!

  5. RFL
    January 12, 2014

    If I could work homecoming court and Yale into the same sentence I think I would have made it my tagline. You are doing great with this blogging thing. I think you know more than you think you know, but the bad stuff is easier to believe, or it sticks around longer anyway.
    Keep up the good work! I really dig your writing.

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      That made my day. Ha! What a tagline. I also worked at the Limited. Could I work that in? 😉
      And what sage words from Pretty Woman, right? Who knew I’d be quoting it at age 42?
      I dig your writing, too. Watching for more!!

  6. Aunt Claud
    January 12, 2014

    Jen, I absolutely LOVE reading your reflective, witty, poignant, catch up with the kids’ and your life blog. I look forward to reading your BookS. See I said books, because I know there will be more than one. Keep it up–no dorky 7th grade stuff there! Much love.

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      How awesome are you?! Why haven’t I had an Aunt Claud my whole life? I think I needed YOU in 7th grade!
      Thank you so much for reading. Really, it means the world!

  7. kellyinrepeat
    January 12, 2014

    I left college feeling the same way. I had a full tuition scholarship and left with a C+ in my studio course. I did not write or paint for years after that. Unworthy. It was not until my first son was born, weighing 2lbs, that I returned it the studio. I did not know where else to turn. I have learned that my writing and my painting are my best friends and that even when I ignore them or uninvite them to the party, they return, no harm done. I think being a confident mother comes from the assumption that we will be mothers… There is not much else I have assumed about myself, which is odd because when I was five years old I carried a red hard cover journal with me, not a baby carriage.
    Thanks for the post … Serving once again as a reminder that I am not alone.

    • jgroeber
      January 12, 2014

      Oh, thank you. That is it exactly!
      Parallel lives, right?! And I love that line, that they return, no harm done. In fact, sometimes they return when we need them most. That’s so important to remember. We can and should forgive ourselves. No harm done.
      We are not alone. How happy am I that I tried this weird blogging thing to connect with doppelgangers across the country?!
      Paint on. Mother on. Write on. (Right on! Ha!)

  8. Janice
    January 12, 2014

    Your 7th grade self was awesome and you have just continued that trend ever since. Your blog was so good, I nearly peed my pants. Yes, I just worked in a portion of another great quote from Pretty Woman.

    • jgroeber
      January 13, 2014

      AH, I nearly peed my pants! Who knew how prophetic that would be after vaginal birth?! I love that you loved me then, Bean (and I, you.) Your 7th grade you is always safe with me.
      In case I forget to tell you, I had a really good time tonight.
      xoxo

  9. Anna Spanos
    January 13, 2014

    I was in the same place you were a year ago, and honestly I’m still figuring out this whole blogging thing. I think you’ve got the right idea though – just keep making good work, that’s what it’s about.
    And if you really want a badge, I’m sure you could learn some web design and make your own, which would be way cooler than all of those “top best first cousin/auntie blog” badges everyone else seems to have found… 🙂

    • jgroeber
      January 14, 2014

      I was thinking to myself, “Why hasn’t Anna posted on her blog lately?” Then I realized I wasn’t following your blog! Yet I love it! Truly it’s amazing I get deodorant on any every day. And as far as badges, I’ll just make a woodcut print and hang it over my bed for now. Even if I got a badge, I’m not sure I could figure out how to put it on my page. I did hear this week that Emma Thompson keeps her Oscars in her downstairs bathroom. Maybe being underrated isn’t overrated enough.
      Thank you so much for the supportive words. I love your writing and I’m excited to (finally) be following.

  10. Jeyna Grace
    January 13, 2014

    That is one awesome cake 🙂 And if you won a writing competition once, it means you’re good. Keep at it!

    • jgroeber
      January 14, 2014

      Thank you. It’s amazing what kind of culinary convection is possible after 2 glasses of wine and watching a youtube video on fondant three times. My mother sat at the kitchen table until 1 am cheering me on and then towards the end said, “Do you think they’ll actually want to eat THAT?” Classic pick-me-up.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. COnnecting with people means so much. I guess 7th grade me will never fully stop being her needy self! Ha! But in the blogosphere, it might just all work out.

  11. Cassandra
    January 14, 2014

    Oooh! A mama blog! Love! {{four kids, snow gear, eight minutes??!!}} SERIOUSLY impressive! Takes me at LEAST twelve! 🙂 I’m a new kid on the block too…I’ll walk with ya bit…happy blogging!

    • jgroeber
      January 21, 2014

      Yay! Hello, other Mama blogger. Looking forward to checking you out, too. Thanks for stopping by. (The trick is to lay out all snow clothes ahead of time and yell a lot, but not too much. Also, kick them right outside into the snow the second they’re each done so you have less and less interference. Dress one, kick. Dress two, kick. And so on… Ha!)
      Blog on!

  12. talesfromthemotherland
    January 20, 2014

    You know I’m a fan, and totally get the 7th grade quandary. Alas… I’m working on that. 😉 Hey, entered a weekly writing competition on Tipsy Lit this week, and won… you should throw your hat in the arena next week! As always,your words move and impress me. That’s why I keep coming back. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      January 21, 2014

      I have no idea what any of these contests mean or how to look them up. I wasn’t kidding about not understanding badges, Pinterest or Tweeting. Betty White does better than me at this by a long shot.
      With that said, I have to say, your point of view fiction piece from a few days back was incredible (was that the Tipsy Lit contest?) Crazy good and so moving. Couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t get it out of my mind afterwards. That scarf! I know I was probably supposed to go somewhere and vote but I was reading on my cell phone blah, blah excuses.
      At any rate, Tipsy Lit. I’ll check it out at the first truly free moment.
      Thanks for your support (and the Tip-sy.) You do know you’re the “nurturing, big sister type” I reference above, right? 🙂

      • talesfromthemotherland
        January 21, 2014

        Yes, the piece was for Tipsy Lit; voting is on Saturdays and I plan to enter again this week… I won this past week, *grin* *grin* The 100 word Friday Fictioneers comes out on Wednesdays… it’s great! Here’s the link: http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/friday-fictioneers-2/. The tipsy lit prompt for this week just came out. Posts need to be up by Friday, linked and then voting is Saturday: http://tipsylit.com/2014/01/20/prompted-age-is-meaningless/.

        Now, I don’t have wee ones anymore. So it’s easy for me to say, do it. But if you want, then those are the 2 I really love.

        As for Betty White… trust me I have been clueless all along… I just keep making snail like progress! 😉 I am in fact the big sister in my family. xo

  13. OutmannedMommy
    February 8, 2014

    I just found your blog through Perfefction Pending. I’m also new to the blogging world and I loved this piece. I love the comparison to being a 7th grader. I feel that way frequently. I was just saying the other day that I was thinking about going to this conference for women bloggers but I was worried I’d be that kid at the jr high dance standing on the wall, breathing loudly, and watching the other kdis have fun. 😛 Good to know I’m not alone!

    • jgroeber
      February 10, 2014

      Ha! This blog world is awesome, and awesomely confusing. Sometimes I’m not quite sure what to do with it. But then I meet Meredith virtually and share a virtual story and play date virtually and… it’s just awesome again!
      And totally go to the bloggers conference. The mamas will certainly LOVE you. Not enough dads on the playground most days. It’s like you’re going to a middle school dance but at a girl’s school and you’re the only guy (without any creepy connotations.) Yay!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Pingback: Guest Blog, Yo! The Things We Carry With Us | jen groeber: mama art

  15. OutmannedMommy
    February 10, 2014

    I love the idea of a virtual play date! God bless the internet. Well, I’m glad I found your blog 🙂

    P.S. I’m a mommy, not a daddy 😉 I was a girl wall flower… Totally not a big deal, just thought I’d tell ya. Cheers!

  16. janyceresh
    February 11, 2014

    I absolutely love your writing! And this post was brilliant! You’ve found your voice and you’re well on your way to finding your audience. Until then I think crickets make for a lovely ambiance.

    • jgroeber
      February 20, 2014

      Oh, thank you for that.
      Crickets aren’t half bad sometimes, it’s true.

  17. Margie S
    March 5, 2014

    Ignore the naysayers and haters! Sadly, they seem to be more verbal than the nice ones. Or perhaps us people pleasers just listen to them more and that is our own folly. Keep up the great work! Poor crickets, they get no respect. For us, crickets are a fine, four course meal fro my son’s gecko.

    • jgroeber
      March 9, 2014

      I think it’s definitely easier to hear the bad. But thank you for the good! It’s nice to build up a stockpile for the thin times.

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