Five years ago today, I sat down and crafted my first blog post. It was something I’d wanted to do for years. I kept thinking about it and pondering at the thought and perseverate over the task until one day I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud, “If you’re going to do it, then just do it already.”
And so I did.
I try to celebrate Zealous Mom each year on the anniversary of my first post, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about the emotional impetus that led me to start this blog. With a five-year anniversary being a pivotal one, I want to share that story today.
My life is fast-paced, but I don’t do things quickly. I think about everything for a very long time from every angle imaginable and how it will affect everyone in my life. If it comes down to it, I just listen to the voice inside of me. After thinking about a decision for entirely too long, I often end up doing what feels right in my heart.
A couple months before Case was born, I took the lead teacher position at my school. In our school system, the lead teacher manages the entire end-of-grade testing process. I returned from maternity leave mere weeks before the beginning of testing, so I was truly one of those moms pumping breast milk under my Oxford shirt while simultaneously drafting a spreadsheet.
My mom was keeping Case and Brooks was in preschool. My husband was a high school assistant principal at the time. In the evenings we all finally got home around 5:00 or 5:30. We threw something on the table to eat, got the boys to bed around 7:30 then prepped for the next day. I would typically pass out at 9:00 on the couch because I knew I would be awake throughout the night nursing and up for good at 6:00 am to get everyone fed and out the door to our respective locations.
At the end of testing that year, I put the boys to bed one night and sat down and cried hysterically. This was not the life I had envisioned. With a full-time job that ran into the evenings and a newborn, I barely engaged with Brooks the entire day. I felt I was losing my connection with him. I also felt I was losing connection to my creativity. At that time, I was writing one column for WNC Parent, a regional parenting magazine but that was my only writing outlet.
I’d already bought the domain for Zealous Mom and created a skeleton of the site. I began to hear my inner voice tell me to just do it. Blogging was the last thing I had time for. It took more time away from the boys and it didn’t pay anything, but I knew I had to figure out a way to make it work. So once school was out, I somehow got both boys to nap at the same time every day. The span of their naps differed, but I usually had about an hour to blog each day when they were both napping.
I blogged about parenting, life, cooking. Those old posts are so sweet and raw. They mean so much to me. Just as my current posts will mean so much five years from now. During those first posts, my writing wasn’t polished, my photography was amateur and my techy skills were virtually non-existent, but I plowed through. I researched, I asked questions, I sought advice from friends who were already blogging, but most importantly, I kept at it with a ferocious hunger.
The summer of 2012 was pivotal for me. Being home with the boys, nursing my baby, working with Brooks on his letters, making homemade baby food, taking walks outside and letting myself loose on this blog helped me find the real me. The “me” I wanted to be. I called my principal and through hysterical tears told him I wasn’t coming back as lead teacher in the fall. He’s now a dear friend to both my husband and me, but at that time, I honestly thought he would despise me.
But instead, he said, “It okay. Family first. Always.”
That summer was the start of a new season in my life. My family and husband were a little nervous about me quitting a comfortable and safe career, but they all supported me. I couldn’t let them down so I did whatever it took to make it all work. I waited tables, audited special education records for the school system, taught online classes and began building my freelance writing career. When Case was a little older, I went back to my old school and taught reading part-time then became a part-time language arts/social studies instructional coach for a few years.
Throughout all those years, I woke up at 5:00 am to write, blog and pitch freelance clients. I obtained an ad-on degree in journalism. I began writing for several area newspapers, started writing sponsored posts on my blog and developed social media marketing skills. Last May I finally made the decision to completely leave the world of education and become a full-time content creator. I use the title “content creator” because I feel like it encompasses the variety of services I offer. It’s easier to say that than explain each individual job and/or client I have.
This blog has been a staple through that entire journey of self-discovery. And not only have these pages watched my professional metamorphosis, they’ve laughed with me as I’ve written comical tales of travel and motherhood. They’ve held my tears as I’ve written about the complexities of marriage, the heartache of watching children grow up and the dark grief of losing a mom to cancer.
When my life felt completely out of control, this blog was my only place of solace and comfort. It was the place I came to heal.
In June of 2012, when I hit “publish” for the first time, I never ever imagined all this blog would come to mean. Not only is Zealous Mom a virtual scrapbook for my boys and a writing portfolio for me, and not only has it offered my family opportunities, trips and adventures, but it’s become a lifeline for my sanity. It’s become my personal storybook. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope with all that’s in me, I will be writing about it on the pages of this blog.
Thank you, friends, for your readership and loyalty to Zealous Mom. Below are a few oldies but goodies. Love and hugs to you all!
My first post:
Fun and play:
Most popular (most page views):
A few others: