This may sound funny to any of you reading this who attend the Alt blogger conference regularly, but when I first signed up I thought I would be the only mom there. I was fine with that scenario, but that’s definitely how I thought things would go down. I imagined myself as this old, washed up mommy with spit-up stains and wrinkled eyes, just wandering around amongst a sea of 20-somethings.
I was WRONG…on both fronts.
Two ladies living it up at Alt! And note the stunning Longest Thread wrap I’m wearing in a dreamy shade of pink. This mama was so proud to be representing such a cool brand (missing her babies but proud nonetheless). And that’s Kristen from When at Home. Check her out too, yo. (photo by Justin Hacksworth)
Man oh man was I wrong. The place was teeming with talented, ambitious, successful MOMS. Lots of them, and I actually managed to put makeup on and pretend like I wasn’t thinking about a million different things at once. Like, you know, I was, for reals, focusing on what people were saying and responding to them (a real luxury as a full-time working mama).
And all these ladies I was surrounded by…they’d like all pushed a baby out. So besides the fact that this was a lesson in not making assumptions, it was also a fitting place to take a look around and be inspired by these incredible moms. Because everyone knows that Alt bloggers and small business owners are the coolest. Well, they just are. They rock and they care about what they’re doing and they’re passionate about making an impact in this little world we all have in common.
The quotes below are from my notes taken at alt. Martha Stewart and Joy Cho were perfection and managed to live up to everyones’ lofty expectations.
Here are some of my takeaways from Alt mamas…
1. Don’t stop creating. You may need to take a break during the baby days or toddler days or teenager days (wait, when was the non-break time again??). But by and large, if you’re passionate, you’re going to hear the work a’calling. GO. Even if it’s for a short while, or an hour a day, continue brainstorming and experiencing your craft whenever you can.
“If you have that spirit in you to constantly produce and be useful…thats part of being an entrepreneur.” - Martha Stewart
2. Take baby with you. If you can, bring your kids and your babies everywhere possible, be it work trips or a speaking engagement, and DON’T feel bad about it. Of course there are places and situations where the littles just aren’t appropriate (as in, they will make your work harder), but taking them with you when you can will help you clear your head so you can focus. Unless, of course, you need the time apart to think without tears and toddler messes, then find a babysitter and do your thing, girl.
It filled my heart with joy to see so many Alt ladies either brought their babies or where proud to be showing off a baby bump. Besides, what better DIY project to show off?
“There are babies here!….I love babies.” – Martha Stewart while speaking to alt attendees and noticing someone’s baby in the crowd.
A mama in the crowd during an Alt presentation. (Photo by the talented Justin Hacksworth)
3. Shut down that guilt. Just because you want to work and expand your skills doesn’t mean your kid will suffer for it. It’s so easy to slip into the mommy guilt rut and start thinking that having our brains on something other than our beautiful baby means we’re somehow being a horrible mom. Where did this disillusion come from? Why are working and being a caring, loving mother mutually exclusive? It’s just not logical. I loved this quote from Joy Cho…
“As much as I feel that mommy guilt, I realized that me being inspired…is inspiring to her too.” – Joy Cho about her daughter watching her work.
4. Reconsider the pressure to “balance it all.” If you’re a mom, you’ve probably heard people tell you that you’ll eventually find the balance again, as if you’ll magically figure out how to give the same amount of energy and effort to work and play and your relationships and friendships. Maybe what we’re looking for is more of a “juggle,” as Joy Cho shared. Chances are you’ll find your own path and that works too. But the point is, if a “balance” seems unattainable, maybe it is and maybe that’s the way it should be.
“It made me realize that I couldn’t do everything. I needed to juggle.” – Joy Cho
I write a lot about being a working mom. It’s challenging, ladies (and men too!) to bring in the money, spend time with your kid while also keeping your mind growing and expanding by working on hobbies and being entertained. Staying in touch with ever-changing trends and pop culture is actually important if you do anything in the creative realm and yet it’s the thing that’s most likely to get kicked to the side when baby comes along.
Just know that you are not alone. I saw hundreds of mommy creatives at Alt and they were phenomenal. They were present and running full speed ahead toward their goals. Go in the directions of your dreams. – said someone…other than me.
Quick love note: This post was sponsored by Longest Thread, who is a dear partner and sponsored my attendance at summer Alt this year. Check out their colorful Turkish towels here and use a special code to get a 30-percent-off discount through August 1. Code: 30PERCENT. They are now selling dishtowels. Find them here. How sweet is that nugget of a discount? Thanks for supporting my partners who keep this blog going.