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World’s Okayest Mom: Sometimes Something’s Gotta Give, Preferably Not Your Sanity

A while back, maybe 4 or 5 months, I was browsing Pinterest, and came across this little gem:

http://pinterest.com/pin/410742428485104920/

Like many of my writer friends, I wear multiple hats besides writer. And one of the most prominent hats I wear is Mom. I’ve got 3 1/2 year old MissA and 18 month old G-Man. They’re great kids, and compared to a lot of kids, very well behaved and easy to take carMissA & G-Mane of. But they’re still kids. Which means they require a lot of time and even more energy. And more love than I thought I had in me – which, fortunately, is the easy part. But, as any parent knows, just because you love them beyond compare doesn’t mean you don’t sometimes want to strangle them.

And in this era of Pinterest, where Mommying is a highly competitive, full-contact sport, there’s a lot of pressure on us moms. I try not to, but I feel it, sometimes from family, sometimes from moms I don’t know, occasionally from friends. The one group I’ve never felt it from are my fellow writer-moms. Because as writers, we’re in a unique position. Whether we’re stay-at-home moms or working moms or a combo of the two, our writing is often relegated to spare time status. Sometimes even after we start making money. I’ve yet to meet a full-time writer who works from home who isn’t at least sometimes cast in the role of stay-at-home mom.

And, when you’re trying to build a career in something as difficult and emotionally draining as writing, well, something’s gotta give. Frankly, I think even for non-writer moms, something’s gotta give, because it’s just not possible to be Martha Stewart all the time. Hell, even Martha spent time in prison.

I made the decision pretty much right away that the thing that gives isn’t going to be my sanity. I’m not living up to anyone’s ideal of motherhood except my own. And for me, that ideal means sometimes I have to put myself first. Because the best thing I can give my children is a mom who doesn’t resent the time she spends with them.

In a perfect world I would be independently wealthy so I could feed my children all the “right” foods, prepared by a hired chef so I don’t have to do it. We’d have hired people to clean the house. And, I don’t know, I guess I’d do other things in my quest for perfect momhood.

But reality is my husband and I both work 40+ hours a week. We make just enough money to squeak by. I write on my lunch break and when the kids are asleep. My kids eat french fries and chicken nuggets. If they really want, I’ll let them have pickles and toast for dinner because it’s just not worth fighting over (and hey, it’s whole wheat bread. And pickles are more-or-less vegetables). Yesterday, my husband worked all day. I really wanted some diet Coke but didn’t want to deal with taking them to the grocery store. So we went to (gasp!) McDonalds. We go to Gilles, the local frozen custard and burgers joint 4 blocks away, so often, they know MissA’s regular order.

My house is a mess. We try to pick up and put away and we mostly succeed. We try to do all the dishes before bed, and we sometimes succeed. I won’t talk about how often we dust or vacuum. And I freely admit I’ve never washed the windows in any house or apartment I’ve lived in. It’s all I can do to keep up with the laundry.

So do I sometimes let my kids skip bath night? Sure. Do I sometimes let Curious George or Yo Gabba Gabba babysit so I can squeeze in 200 more words? Yep. Do I suggest MissA and I sit at the table and color together so I can work on a character sketch? Absolutely.

Am I going to win any World’s Greatest Mom trophies from the PTA? Probably not. Do I care? Not a bit. Because I love my kids, and there is no

doubt in my mind that they know that. I encourage them to be independent and have fun. With or without Mommy. They’re healthy and happy and smart and funny and all the other positive adjectives I can think of (with obvious moments of more negative adjectives).

So, after I saw the pinterest mug above, I looked for somewhere to buy one. Because I absolutely am a candidate for World’s Okayest Mom (but dammit, I am the okayest okay mom there is). When I couldn’t find one, I decided to check out the possibility of making one. I went to VistaPrint and ordered 1 for myself and 1 for my husband.

image

A bit later, after a few conversations with Andee Hannah and Leigh Ann Kopans, along with one of my BFFs, Ambha Lessard, it was clear the 3 of them needed mugs, so I sent

Leigh Ann with her mug

Leigh Ann with her mug

them on. And in that time, a number of us had started using the hashtag #worldsokayestmom on Twitter. And people would respond “Oh my gosh, I need that mug!” or “I need a t-shirt with that!” Well, far be it from me to deny the public their wants. Since you can’t set up a store on VistaPrint, I moved to Cafepress. Because of pesky things like copyright, I couldn’t use the exact same image as I had at VP. But I’m happy with the

Andrea and her mug.

Andrea and her mug.

new one. It has the same sort of geek-girl comic book feel. And, of course, CP allows me to expand beyond mugs to shirts, notebooks, and the ever-important flask (because every Okay Mom needs to get her drink on from time to time).

So, for every mom out there who has felt judged for not being perfect, for every mom out there who is barely hanging on, I’m giving you permission to embrace your okayness. Even revel in it like Andee, Leigh Ann, Ambha and I do. And shout it to the world!

http://www.cafepress.com/worldsokayestmoms

It should be noted, since I first looked for an OK Mom mug, it appears others have had the same idea on Cafepress. There’s even a store with almost the same name, which is why Moms is plural on my store. But in my completely biased opinion, this one is the best design.

And feel free to check back. I’ll play around with other designs (hell, if you have design skills, let me know). I’ll probably add Dad, maybe even kid/son/daughter, aunt/uncle or other various people. And I’m totally open to suggestion.

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Writer Websites: Using WordPress to Make Your Site

A few different writer friends have recently asked about creating a writer website. So I’m quickly sharing my very limited knowledge. It seemed a blog post was a better way to reach multiple people asking the same question, rather than sending multiple emails and tweets and Facebook posts.

I bought my domain through WordPress. You can do that here: http://store.wordpress.com/  Or you can just sign up for a WordPress account    and use the address you’re assigned. I’m vain enough to want my name there.

Setting it up was relatively painless. I picked a theme, and went from there. It’s all templates. One of these days I’m going to work with a friend and customize it, but right now it hasn’t been a priority.

I’ve also found a number of articles about author websites in general and WordPress in particular. So, in no particular order, here they are:

http://www.expand2web.com/blog/how-to-make-wordpress-look-like-a-website/

This site in general has some good articles on building your writer website:
http://marketyourbookblog.com/why-use-wordpress-to-build-a-website/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+ThemarketYourBookBlog+%28The+%27Market+Your+Book%27+Blog%29

http://en.support.wordpress.com/using-wordpress-to-create-a-website/

http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/emarketing/article.php/3937176/How-to-Build-a-Small-Business-Website-with-WordPress.htm

http://wp.smashingmagazine.com/2011/12/14/15-step-checklist-creating-perfect-wordpress-website/

http://richardmuscat.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/using-wordpress-as-a-cms-step-by-step-tutorial/

www.tripwiremagazine.com/2011/04/wordpress-sites.html

http://wordpress.lexty.com/

http://lifehacker.com/5890139/how-to-create-a-custom-theme-for-your-wordpress-blog-with-minimal-coding-required

http://lifehacker.com/5365600/the-beginners-guide-to-tricking-out-your-wordpress-blog

http://wpsitebuilding.com/

http://lifehacker.com/5963281/bones-simplifies-the-process-of-creating-a-wordpress-theme

http://learn.wordpress.com/

http://www.carrieelle.com/2013/02/10-wordpress-plugins-every-blogger-needs.html

Also, if you’re wanting to post pictures on your blog, beware of copyright issues. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to post your writing without your permission, even if they gave you credit, photographers want more than credit for their pictures. If you think that’s being overly picky, author Roni Loren has a cautionary tale for you:

http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html

So here’s a link that explains a bit more about what photos you can and can’t use:

http://meghanward.com/blog/2012/06/21/where-to-get-photos-for-your-blog/

When in doubt, take your own pictures, even if they’re not great.

Hope this helps!

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One: Debut Novel by Leigh Ann Kopans, Now With More Comics

The lovely Leigh Ann Kopans (a proud member of Team World’s Okayest Mom, which is a topic for another post) has decided to self-publish her debut young adult novel, One, and it hits the virtual and actual shelves a week from today. I was lucky enough to read an ARC (advance reader copy, i.e. a pre-publication copy) and it’s a great book. It’s got a teen who’s half a super-heroine and struggles with her place between the Supers and the Normals. To read more about it and order a copy of this spectacular book, check out Leigh Ann’s website.

As part of the street-team for One, I’ve gotten to see some of the innovative things she’s done to promote her book. And instead of the usual blog-hop tour, she’s doing something very cool. Another writer with mad artistic skills made a short comic book of One. And each day in the 2 weeks leading up to One‘s debut, a new panel will be released. And since I have at least 5 regular followers on my blog, Leigh Ann jumped at the chance when I offered to post a panel here.

If you’re interested in the panels already posted (and you know you are), here’s the schedule. And don’t forget, buy the book next week.

Now, without further ado, here is today’s panel.

One by Leigh Ann Kopans

One by Leigh Ann Kopans