Decoding mommy blogs with Bethany Hiitola
Discover the world of mommy blogging, free things to do in Chicago with your kids, and motherhood with Bethany Hiitola. Funsherpa sits down with the writer behind Mommy Writer Blog to understand what it is like to be a mom, blog with kids in the house, and find inspiration in creative writing projects.
F: What do you enjoy the most about Mommy blogging? What do your kids think about your blog?
B: I never really looked at it as mommy blogging or anything but an outlet for me to write what I know. I’ve always been a writer and had a few blogs that I sorta maintained off and on for a few years prior to ever being a mom. But, when I had a kid, found myself at home most of the time with no babysitter (and surrounded by mothers who appeared to know what they were doing), I decided to turn to the outlet I always turn to–writing. And thus my blog and website were born (concurrently I also decided to pursue my dreams of writing fiction and getting it published – so they both were jointly born along with the first child).
My kids are still very young– son is 7 and daughter 2 1/2. So their opinion of my online space is yet to be determined. Although my son now can read at a pretty high level, and has his own computer and unfettered access to the Internet–he’ll find me soon. Though, I am not worried. I always try to write from my point of view (not theirs) so I hope they find it fun and entertaining.
F: Can you talk about your experience when you first became a mom? What were some of the things you had to learn/unlearn from just being an adult with no kids?
B: Frazzled. When I had my son, labor was about 20 hours, I was up all night, and well, birth was an experience that once you go through it, you are changed (in more ways than you care to share). But I survived. And had this pink wiggly crinkled thing handed to me and then everyone left the room. There was no instructions, no one to sorta sit down and tell you what you might expect from the first few nights, how to really change a newborn’s diaper, how you are going to survive on so little sleep you won’t know how to hold a conversation. And it just stays that way. No instructions. And really, no schedules and constant change.
The biggest difference from life with no kids to having kids is just learning to be unselfish. Suddenly your life will revolve around this new little being. And you have to let it for a while until you and the baby adjust. Sure, this changes as the child grows older and becomes more independent, but overall, you give us things for your kid. Whether that is sleep, time, schedules. Pretty much everything changes. And you need to find ways to make yourself a priority too (babysitters, help from family and partners, time away, etc).
And really just BE FLEXIBLE. The flexible and laid back you are about the kid, and naps, and feedings, and all that stuff–the easier your life will be. And more relaxed you will be. And the easier time you will need/have to adjust to motherhood (or parenthood. Dad’s have to do all this too). It’s all good. And children bring a new outlook on life for anyone. But as a parent they change the way you look at the world. So take deep breaths and just enjoy the ride–no matter how it takes you on little side tracks.
F: You seem to write a lot. Can you share with us some of your creative writing projects? What serves as your inspiration?
B: Is it that obvious? Yes I do write a lot. I always have written but never dedicated so much time with it until after I had children. But, then again, my children are part of the reason why I have dedicated more time to writing. After my son was born I found myself working over 40 hours a week at all hours of the day (to adjust for working from home with a young baby) and I wasn’t happy. I needed an outlet just for me and one that might get me out of the rat race.
I haven’t quite gotten out of the (corporate) rat race yet, but I knew there was no chance I could do that without giving a real, true, honest-to-God effort at writing books for publication. So here I am.
I’m working on a bunch of projects right now. The first is the 2nd technical non-fiction book about open source software. My first book was about creating podcasts with Audacity (you can find it here) and it was fun to write. So I signed up for another that I am working on now! This one is about using Inkscape as a web designer. It is due out by the end of the year.
I write for a variety of places online that you can find from my website and they keep me sane during the week when my work schedule is driving me crazy. For fiction, I have a book that I’m shopping around now, another one in the works, and some small pieces that are being published in quarterly magazines. Just enough to keep me from not going to bed too early in the evenings. And to keep me writing, no matter what my day throws at me.
F: What are some of the things you’ve learned from other Mom bloggers? What have you taught other Mom bloggers?
B: To relax. Have fun. Vent if you need to. And ALWAYS respect your children–as they are a wealth of blogging fodder (both good and bad) and are the cutest things ever. With them at your side, they sorta define that mom blogger part of your life. But you are also you. And Mom bloggers stick together. We have that common bond of parenting and we often share stories, agree with one another, disagree with one another and then always want the best for our families.
I am not sure what I have taught others. Maybe just that you can blog, have a life, be a mom, a blogger and other dreams too. Funnily enough, I have always associated myself as a writer. Before a blogger, before a mom, before a mommy blogger. So, I just hope that maybe that is what people have taken away from reading my blog.
F: If you could change one thing about being a mother, what would it be?
B: The extra 15-20 lbs I still have of baby fat. A magic potion to get rid of the constant large dark circles under my eyes. And maybe an “obey your mom” card that I can pull out and use for nap times, cleaning rooms, brushing teeth and more…
Other than that, I just want to enjoy the ride as much as I can. My son is 7. And honestly, there are times I still think he might be about 3 years old and playing super heroes with capes in my living room.
F: Any advice to new parents in Chicago to ensure their kids get to appreciate the city they live in?
B: Go to museums, shows, concerts, outdoor events. EVERYTHING you want to drag yourself too. This city offers anything from free to very expensive activities. Don’t be afraid to drag your kids deep into the city or to the ‘burbs. They both offer unique experiences that can enrich your child’s lives. And expose them to just about everything from sports games, to concerts, to small events (like free comic drawing classes), culture, and more. Just pick a few items a year and make it happen!
F: If you could take your kids anywhere, where would you take them? Why?
B: Finland. We will take a trip there at some point, we just haven’t done it yet. But we have a strong Finnish Heritage and I’ve would love to see the country itself. And the small village by the same name as my surname.
But really–I would love to take them all over the world: England, India, Africa. I’d also love to go see the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Ocean. And well just as many new places as we can afford.
F: What have some of your best experiences on Mother’s Day been? What would make your perfect Mother’s Day holiday?
B: I don’t get caught up on the holiday too much. All I really like are hugs, kisses, and some special homemade things from the kids. If I get a few hours of “free time” after a family brunch that makes it all a bit better. Gives me kid-free time to just re-coup and then come home to more snuggles.