Should I keep writing this blog? And other things I think about at 3am

Last night I woke up at like 3 in the morning and I started stressing about everything. Things always seem worse in the middle of the night. My brain was rapid firing like a million anxieties. What am I going to pack in the kids’ lunches? Don’t forget to call the plumber tomorrow. I can’t forget to sign Zoey’s permission slip. Should I stop blogging and get a real career? What on earth am I going to do when the kids are older? But what career would I get? I wonder if Zoey’s jazz shoes still fit for her theater show.

Wait, what? Rewind. Baby Sideburns is quitting blogging?!!! Is this really happening?

Don’t get me wrong. Working in my pajamas, being my own boss, living by my own schedule, these are all awesome things. But my rugrats are not cute little rugrats anymore. They’re more like larger stinkier rodents these days. See?

big-sister

Then.

brother-sister

Now.

I mean, how long can I keep putting it all out there? It’s not like I can just post cute little pictures of my kiddos anymore and say “look how cute they are!!” and get a thousand likes. And there are days I have nothing to say. Well, I have stuff to say, LOTS of stuff. But how can I? Zoey comes home from school and she tells me her secrets and there is no way I’m sharing them on my blog.

A. It’s not my place to.

And B. If I start revealing her secrets, she’s gonna stop telling me things.

I laid there in bed thinking. A lot. 

And then this morning I woke up and desperately needed caffeine so I went to Starbucks and sat down and as I’m sitting there guzzling my coffee, a woman walks up to me.

WOMAN: Are you Baby Sideburns?

And I’m like yup, in the flesh (as in LOTS of flesh I didn’t used to have). 

WOMAN: (paraphrased because I didn’t record her because that would be creepy) I’ve been reading your stuff for a long time and I just wanted to say thank you. You’ve made me feel less alone.

I didn’t see it coming and it totally caught me off guard and even made me tear up a little.

ME: An-cue.

I could barely choke out the words “thank you.”  

Back when I started this stuff, I used to wake up in the middle of the night (all the time because I was breastfeeding) and I would put up posts at 1am, 2am, 3am, all throughout the night and lots of women used to write back immediately. Hundreds of moms who were up breastfeeding, changing diapers, worrying and stressing out about everything—doing all the same things I was doing. And my posts made us all feel a little less alone. Because when you’re breastfeeding in a dark room in the middle of the night and the rest of the world is asleep and your hormones are super whacked out, you feel alone. Very alone. 

Now things are a little different because no one wakes me up anymore (insert angels singing here). Well, most nights they don’t. But I would like to think this blog still makes people feel a little less alone at more sane hours of the day.

So thanks to one random woman who had the courage to walk up to my table at Starbucks and say thank you, I’m not quitting this blog. She was a great reminder of why writing it is still worth it. Very worth it. Even as our rugrats get older, we still need each other.

People often ask me how do you start a blog and make money. And here’s my answer.

ME: You don’t.

You do it because you love it. You love writing or taking pictures or telling stories or designing rooms. And you like sharing that stuff with people. And if you’re good at it, you’ll give someone a smile, or an idea, or a laugh, or maybe even help them feel a little less alone in the world.

I wish I could go back to yesterday when that woman came up to me because I know exactly what I would say back now. I wouldn’t choke out a sad little an-cue. I would say, “Thank you. Thank you for making ME feel less alone. And for reminding me that this blog is absolutely worth it.”

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There are 41 comments for this article
  1. Hannah at 10:03 am

    I just started following your blog within the last year after I read “I Heart my little A**holes.” My kids are younger than your kids but I love reading your blogs because the you seem to feel the same things I do. Your reactions sound like something I would do in the same situation. Short and sweet, yoh make me feel less alone too.

  2. Sara H. at 10:04 am

    You’re a gifted, witty writer (say that 3 times real fast) and an awesome person, no matter the subject.
    I don’t usually buy books made of paper (non digital), but I’ve bought both of yours!!
    No Regerts!! I treasure them. I imagine them being passed down through the generations…

  3. Katie at 10:09 am

    I feel like so many people tell stories about their babies or toddlers. NO ONE talks about tweens and their challenges. For a few short months I had felt like I had this parenting thing down and then BANG hormones in my 10 year old. She turns 12 next week. I know Zoey is a few years younger than mine, but your blog makes me feel like all this is normal. The crazy s**t she did doesn’t mean she is going to grow up to be a gypsy. Other kids go thru these same crazy emotions and other moms struggle with it and that both are ok. Thank you.

  4. Mary at 10:11 am

    I’m MUCH older than you and my kids are all grown up but you bring back soooo many memories of those long gone days! Now I’m waiting to be a grandma and will share your blog with my soon to be new mom daughter! I’d miss you very much…

  5. Nicky at 10:11 am

    I love your blog. And books. And want you to know that you aren’t alone. Because my kids are older and we go through the same things you do, though probably a few years after. And it’s nice to hear from another mom who isn’t crazy. I wish I could walk up to you in Starbucks and thank you. Because, great job.

  6. Molly at 10:12 am

    I’ve followed your blog, Facebook and Instagram forever!! I would be up in the middle of the night with either my 8 or 5 year old (newborn at the time). But, even now, I feel like our kids are growing up together. So many of your posts I can relate to and make me feel not crazy…or less crazy, lol!

  7. Julie D. at 10:14 am

    Thank you to the random woman at Starbucks and thank YOU for staying. I need you. You’re like my coach in this whole kid raising thing. While I get that as your kids age you’ll have to be careful not to share their secrets, I’m pretty sure you’ll still have things to share that will help, guide and inform others… or leastways, commiserate and make us not feel so alone. You definitely do all that and more. Keep rockin’ it.

  8. Kelly Riley at 10:16 am

    My girls are older than your kids (15 and 17) but I LOVE your blog! I can’t tell you how many times I have literally laughed out loud! It’s nice to know that other moms out there have the same successes and failures that I did when my kids were that age. It makes my day when I check my email and see a message from Baby Sideburns. That means a new blog entry….. yes!!!
    Please don’t give up writing. You have a gift and your humor is infectious! You definitely matter to all of us other crazy moms out there!!

  9. Tina at 10:37 am

    Love your blog! Just really don’t enjoy the sponsored blogs. It feels so fake. Honestly. I know it’s how you actually make money blogging. I am glad that you were inspired to keep blogging. It really is nice to feel like someone else is struggling with you!

  10. Carol Byrne at 10:39 am

    I don’t have any children of my own, but I still love your blogs. I really enjoyed when you and Zoey did the makeovers… Thank goodness you will still be doing this. We all need you in our lives.

  11. Karen Hope Blacher at 11:24 am

    This is so weird….I’m about to give a pep talk to my hero…..

    So of course, I’m gonna make it about me. For a minute. Bear with me.

    I was an English teacher in my past (pre-kids) life. I wasn’t very good at it. I have been a stay-at-home mom since my second was born. (I have three now). I’m not very good at that, either, but I can’t seem to get fired. I suck at this whole running-a-household thing. I suck at dishes and laundry and remembering to sign permission slips. I think I’m doing okay on the keeping-the-kids-alive part–I mean, I haven’t done a head count RECENTLY, but the noise level feels about right. I really hope I’m doing okay on the raising-them-not-to-be-complete-a$$h*les part. Most days, I’m doing okay at the keeping-my-own-sanity part.

    And some days, I really suck at ALL the parts. Especially that last one.

    But you get it, and you’ve been there, and you share it with the world. And that has made all of it so, so much easier.

    Now, my youngest is 7. My parents retired last year, and relieved me of full-time babysitting duty (because I’ve been watching my sister’s children, too, since they were born. They’re 6 and 5 now.) I promised my husband five years ago that when this happened, I’d decide what I was going to be when I grew up. I’d go out and start a career. He wouldn’t have to be the sole breadwinner anymore. But I wanted a year of being a stay-at-home mom with kids in school full time first.

    My year is almost up. My husband’s been mentioning it, often. I told him I felt like I wasn’t valued. Like I was a freeloader in my own life. Like my contributions weren’t good enough, and also, dammit, if this is all I do now, why aren’t I better at it? I felt like a failure. And my husband–my wonderful, amazing, supportive, incredible husband–he told me I was getting it all wrong.

    He said that he wasn’t pushing me because I wasn’t making money, or because my contributions don’t have value. He said he was pushing me because he thinks I’m amazing, and brilliant, and it makes no sense that of the two of us, he should be one people look at and say “yes. He’s a success.” He said he was pushing me because he sees that I’m not driven. And he wishes I’d see how much I could accomplish if I were.

    I’m NOT driven. I’ve been busy focusing on how much I suck at life, and taking a little comfort in the knowledge that other moms out there suck at it too and still somehow manage to be awesome and amazing and successful. (Again, thanks for that.)

    So….I’ve been trying to find something to be driven about.

    About a week ago, I wrote a blog post. Not because I was driven. It was a whim. I have a tiny, never-viewed, crappy free blog that i started five years ago because all my writer friends said I should. I did it to entertain my friends and maybe, someday, to build an audience for my novel, which at the time I never thought I’d finish. (I finished my first draft this year. Not driven, my b**t! Only took me 20 years. Now just 376 more drafts to go….) But anyway…I resurrected THAT blog to make a post about something that was going on in my kids’ school, because I was frustrated and I felt like I had something to say. I shared it on some local mom’s groups.

    It went viral. 420,000 views and counting.

    It was a perfect storm. It went viral because of the subject matter and the news cycle, not really because of anything I did. But it made me think. Really…it made me think of you.

    I never considered becoming a blogger because I figured, it’s just one more little self-indulgent thing I’d be doing because I loved it–not something that changed anything or reached anyone. I’m no Baby Sideburns.

    Yes, I named you in my internal monologue. I legit said to myself, “Pfft, why bother? I’m never gonna be a Baby Sideburns.”

    And then I thought….but, like…what if I could?

    I want you to know that what you do DOES matter. It DOES reach people. It DOES change things. Never underestimate the value of being raw, and funny, and honest, and letting people out there know that they aren’t alone.

    I also want you to know, because maybe the bottom looks a little fuzzy from the top, just how much you had to accomplish to get where you are. I’ve been trying to funnel some of the viral traffic off my one, crazy-lucky post and build an audience for a real parenting blog. Even with that running start, it is HARD FREAKING WORK. I had to learn how the internet works. I had to learn how to find my audience, and how to make sure they see me. I had to WORK, harder than I ever thought I would. (I mean…you make it look so easy!) And after all that work, sometimes I’m lucky to get 30 page views on a post. I’ve only been at this for a week and I’ve already considered giving up.

    You make it look easy. I wonder if maybe you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that it is. The fact that you, for even a moment, stood at the top of this mountain I’m trying to climb and said “eh, maybe I should get a REAL job” makes me realize, once again, in the most comforting and wonderful and also d**n-girl-I-want-to-slap-some-sense-into-you way, that you really ARE like me: you really, truly, don’t see the value in your own achievements. So please, let me tell you.

    You. Are. A. Superhero.

    Your value as a voice, as a mentor, as an inspiration, and as a friend, is in no way diminished because your children are getting older. We’ve all been growing up with you. We’re still in this thing together. We still need you. Thank you for deciding to stay.

    And thank you for helping me find my drive. Because I think I’ve decided…

    I want to be YOU when I grow up.

    Please promise me that if you ever quit blogging, it will be because you feel you’ve earned a break, or because you’re off on some other grand new adventure that excites you and lights your soul and gives you purpose. If you quit, quit for YOU. Never, ever quit because you think we’ve stopped listening. Or because you think your voice has lost its value. Or because you think your accomplishments don’t matter, because this isn’t a “real” job. It is. It’s a real job, it’s a hard job, and it’s a job not everyone has what it takes to do. And you’re freaking amazing at it.

    Thank you. SO much. Please know how amazing you are, and how much you do, and for how many people. Never doubt your worth. You are a treasure. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  12. Andy at 11:25 am

    I’m a relatively new dad (2 and 4 year old girls), and this blog has helped me so much with sanity during those “Holy S**t!” times. Sometimes it’s just needing a laugh, sometimes it’s needing to feel like my wife and I aren’t in this all alone. You do a great job and look forward to more. Thanks!

  13. Meg at 12:13 pm

    I have to say, when I saw the title of today’s blog in my email, I freaked out a little. You can’t quit!!! So I was relieved to read on and find that some amazing woman in Starbucks reminded you of how much people love you. Thank heaven for that lady!! Obviously, she reads your blog, so if reads through all the comments: Thank you, Random Lady who convinced Karen to keep Baby Sideburns alive!

  14. Jennifer Mierisch at 12:36 pm

    Same, you have made me feel less alone too. If I were in your shoes, though, I would be asking myself the same questions. Like, as the kids get older, how will they feel about being written about in a public way? I think about that all the time when i post stuff about my kids on Facebook. I would 100% understand if you didn’t want to do that anymore. But l would miss you! Consider this, you are a talented enough writer that you could have a blog on another topic and it would still be awesome. I would read it!

  15. donna at 1:05 pm

    don’t stop. you’re awesome. from an admiring grandma. you make me laugh and cry and are relatable to many generations! a special talent for sure!

  16. Bev Marcus at 1:11 pm

    I am a 70 year old Grammy who LOVES your blog. You just add a smile to my day. I was an L and D nurse my whole career and I have loved seeing your baby mommy insights. Now my grand girls are similar in age to your kids and I can relate to that. Keep sharing your thoughts!! I need all the smiles I can get!

  17. Christine at 1:59 pm

    As a mom to a teen and a tween who is on the cusp of teendom (wah! how is my baby 12?!) I can whole heartedly say momming may get easier in some ways, but it gets way harder in others. Moms at this stage still need their “village” of strong women who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. There are times you still feel as alone as when you were up at 3am nursing your babies. Glad to hear you won’t be quitting, cuz this mom of older kids needs you! ❤️

  18. Kimberley Hlina at 3:41 pm

    I’m not even a parent, and I read every one of your blogs. Also, what happened with hubby + Valentine’s Day gift stuff? You left us hanging! (or did I miss it?)

  19. Julie A Andracek at 4:10 pm

    Even though you won’t (and shouldn’t) share exactly things that will happen in the future with your kiddos, you can still share with us your feelings and reactions….but you are hilarious, honest and true! Plus, I’m sure Zoey and Holden will still enjoy you sharing….some things! Thanks for being amazing!

  20. Rachel at 9:18 pm

    My baby boys are now 14 and 18…and I love my Little A…holes, too. Even though they are older, my job is far from over. All my friends either have grown children or babies. I feel very alone. You remind me that I am not crazy…it is just what being a parent can look like sometimes….and that is ok.

  21. Heather Garcia at 11:52 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog and watching your kiddos grow up. Keep blogging for as long as you love it, when it’s time to stop you’ll feel it. For now keep posting pics of your everyday life. I love that you don’t sugarcoat anything or post pics of always smiling kids. You my dear are keepin it real and that’s a hard thing to find on the internet these days. Crotch to crotch hugs.

  22. Kathleen Cawley at 7:36 am

    There are a ton of infant blogs and infant books but the insight and support seems to wane as the kids get older. Yet they are still immature and going thru stages and we are still all struggling thru the swamp of modern parenthood…So keep on writing! Support is good. Reality is good. Perspective is good…and so too is your blog! Thank You!!

  23. Jenn Ferguson at 9:54 am

    Teens have way more stressors. As a mom of teens. Its nice to hear we arent alone in the crazy world that they become. Sharing your stoires of ups(which there is a lot) and downs (again a lot) may help another. Keeping their secerts is a huge thing and they may respect you more. Talking to them about how they feel about what you post will also help you make the right decision later down the road. I have read your blogs for a long time now and love what you have said. In the end what you do for you and your family is all that matters.

  24. Jennie at 12:55 pm

    I’ve been following your blog for years now, honestly I have no idea how long but it’s been a long time. I love it. You say out loud all the things we think and as my babies (11, 9, 8) move into the older child/tween years I look forward to yours doing the same and having an online camaraderie with you. Having babies is hard work. Raising humans, good humans is… well… so many words and no words. Doing it with moms like you makes it definitely less alone and a lot less painful!

  25. Kirsten Mahoney at 5:00 pm

    I bet you’re on your third box of tissues trying to absorb all your happy tears with this outpouring of love. You deserve all these warm fuzzies and more. From the woman in your local Starbucks to those of us downing caffeine around the world, we thank you, we appreciate you, we hope for many more years to come! Here’s to not raising Dushnugget A-holes!

  26. Charlene at 6:12 am

    Yes! Less alone indeed. Thank you. So much!! ❤️❤️ And I would pay to read your blog (you know we all have to make a living

  27. onegassybaby at 11:30 am

    Late comment here… I have been reading you since… since pre-book 1, I think… Our babies are about the same age… You helped me SO MUCH during those years… SO MANY times I felt like a C O M PL E T E failure, I would get a notification of a new post and read that I am actually normal… That what I see on Facebook is ALL fake news.. All the happy smiles and cute pictures hide hours of tears, sleepless nights, money shortages and many other struggles that have been erased in my brain to make room for the new experiences that are happening as life goes on… But I do remember how much you helped me… So funny because I have skipped your posts for a while because I was so busy with the yongest (yeah, remember that post “don’t listen to your ovaries!!)… So I skipped your blog for a while and the other day I was thinking “Is she still blogging? But her kids are 9 and 7 now… what could she be talking about…” . You still have an “audience”, we all feel like friends and we can all relate to your real life posts. I wouldn’t dare post any of that but you do it in a way that is real, funny.. I would look like a failure with capital F. You are awesome. I also think that new moms will always benefit from the older posts and we can always relate going trough the same stuff you are going trough with 9 and 7 year olds… I just read the MOMO post and I am struggling with what are my kids watching on You tube, Tik Tok… who are they talking to on Roblox… Do I let them play? Do I take it away, north korea style? Do I just let them watch PBS kids? Do I force them to eat Spinach? Do I let them eat Chicken Nuggets everyday? Nerf Guns or no Nerf Guns? If you want to keep going, I really enjoy your blog and like the lady at Starbucks, you’ve helped me a LOT and still does, even if I don’t post comments, or if I don’t read every post, I really like your blog 😀

  28. Eva-Maria at 4:11 pm

    I very much appreciate your blog. I have three kids aged 2, 5 and 7 and they all do their best to drive me insane each and every day. It feels good to know that there are other moms out there who are busy trying their best to parent their kids, willing to share their experiences, failures, struggles and advice, instead of faking the perfect parent and make it all appear like a competition you have to win. Thanks for advocating a sharing, caring and helping community of parents. It works worldwide. Best regards from Germany!

  29. Channon at 2:22 am

    I think as our children get older we need just as much support, if not more than when they are babies. We have so much more to contend with.
    Boundaries, discipline, attitude, social media etc. So reading your blogs makes me realise I’m not alone.
    Your doing a great job.
    Channon xx

  30. Jessica at 2:10 pm

    I’m just a dog mom and live with my boyfriend of 9 years. We dont plan on having kids, but I love your blog. For starters, it’s funny. Second, some stuff is relatable because men can be like children sometimes (well, so can my dog, but I thinks she’s more mature than my boyfriend! 😉). Lastly, most of my friends have kids. And I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like (not entirely due to them being parents), but your blog helps me be able to understand and relate to them. Hope you keep it up!

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