In 2013 I started my only-mama blog.
I was finally closing in on my bachelor’s degree. Nearly 40. Divorced with two kids, ages 5 and 7.
I had a good (but not high paying) job, a fluffy cat-beast and a dog that ate waffles off the table.
From my first blog:
I’ve been a single mother of two boys since the baby was four months old and the big one just shy of three. It’s been over four years, and I have kept all of us alive and relatively sane most of the time. I don’t parent the way I always intended; I’m rather wonky and unconventional and my lectures go on a lot longer than they should. I have always spoken to them on an adult level, but occasionally I am too sleep deprived to think clearly, and go into topics with them I shouldn’t. Like explaining what hot-boxing is. Now the four year old farts on people’s heads. (I know, it’s not hot-boxing exactly, but it is in the spirit of it.)
My boys are brilliant and sweet and I thank my lucky stars I got the kids I did. They never clean up their rooms, demand new toys on a daily basis, and thank me profusely for everything I do for them without being prompted. For purposes of this blog (and in case either of them wants to run for president someday) I shall refer to them as Big Pants, the elder, and Tiny Pants the younger.
I came up with the name “Only Mama” because the domain name “Single Mama” was unavailable. I committed to blog three times a week, and I stuck to that schedule—184 posts that first year—until I started my MFA program, at which point I had to set it aside for a while.
Those years were exhausting, overwhelming, and exhilarating. I struggled with depression, but writing the blog made me look for the funny, tender moments in the day to day. It kept me present, and made me a more positive person. It really rewired how I looked at the world, and doing something I loved and got positive feedback for--measured in comments and page veiws, not dollars--rchanged my self image. Plus, it made me funnier, something not reflected in today's blog post.
Some of my early posts weren't great writing. But the act of writing consistently made me a better writer. The only way to get good at anything is to practice, and Only-Mama was my home gym. The brevity of the medium has carried forward in all of my work—I rarely write chapters longer than a blog entry in any genre I write.
I always knew I wanted my blog to turn into a book someday, and even though lots of other work has come before it—essays and Girlish and Feminine Rising—it will always be where I began, with a love song to myself and my family.
None of my photos in this time period were hi-res enough to use in the book, because the only photos I had were taken with my cell phone. In 2013, cell phone cameras weren’t all that great, but without out them I’d have no pictures at all, so I’m grateful for what I have. I'm also grateful that my kids were so funny. They gave me so much material.
Now, I’m no longer single. The boys are no longer wanting, “Mama, Mama, Only Mama” every minute of the day. The dog is 16, blind, and mostly deaf. The cat has doubled his girth. And it is with the best nostalgia that I present this book to the world today.
I tried to be honest. I think I’m funny. I hope no one poisons themselves with my recipes.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com