I’ll Never Be A Mommy Blogger! …And Other Things I Should Not Have Said

I'll Never Be A Mommy Blogger

I didn’t set out to do this.

Writing this. Right here, this blog that you’re reading. In fact, I didn’t set out to be part of this team or this blogging network or even to write blogs at all. This was never my plan.

Let’s take it way back.

Once upon a time, I was an over-zealous, self-righteous, elitist college student who was determined to validate her existence with lofty degrees and professional credentials that commanded people’s respect. I dreamed of writing, yes, but I wanted to write academic books that made me sound really smart. Higher education was my ideal because, in my mind, that was where I would get ideas for all my super smart books. If I am highly educated, I said to myself, I will be highly valuable. 

Because deep down, I didn’t really think I had anything worthwhile to say on my own.

My educational pursuits came to a sudden halt when I gave birth to my first child during grad school. I initially planned to continue, but due to departmental constraints, I ended up simply bowing out and looking for a big girl job. If I excel in my career, I said to myself, then I can be a strong, feminist role model for my daughter. I remember opening the Yellow Pages (in 2008, it may have been the last physical phone book I ever actually read) and flipping through categories to see what sounded interesting. Then I called businesses in those categories and asked if they were hiring. That’s how utterly clueless I was as to what I wanted to do with my life.

While my bizarre method actually did produce a pretty decent job, it wasn’t as fulfilling as I expected. I just need to find the right job for ME, I said to myself, then I will truly “find myself” and discover my self-worth. Including my time as an undergrad and a GTA, I had eight different jobs during the first six years of my marriage. My last job was a temporary gig where I did some writing, and I told my husband I wished I could do just that. He said these words to me: “Babe, I don’t care what you do. Just pick something and stick with it.

It was then I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. At that point I was just a few weeks shy of delivering my 3rd child, so it wasn’t like I was brand new to the momming deal. However, I was still trying to find my stride in that role. I more often felt like a kid with a super-long babysitting gig than an actual adult parent, so being a stay-at-home-mom seemed like the perfect way for me to embrace my identity. This is the one thing I can do with all my heart! I will be a great mom, I said to myself, then I will feel like a real grown-up, and people will treat me with respect.

Maybe you’re noticing a pattern.

To continue reading, please visit Knoxville Moms Blog, where this post originally appeared on June 29, 2017.


Story Lines

Story Lines

“Your face is the first thing people see about you. Shouldn’t you take care of it?”

This was a post about a skincare regimen one of my Facebook friends was selling. Her products sounded magical: they promised to make skin softer and younger looking, remove dark spots and blemishes, and treat fine lines and wrinkles. While these benefits are supposed to excite potential customers like me, sometimes I wonder why we “treat” fine lines and wrinkles, as though the natural process of aging is a disease to be cured. Truth be told, I want to relish in my crow’s feet and the deep grooves in my forehead, and I never want to forget where they came from.

A life well-lived.

Wrinkles are more than the random pattern of sagging skin; they tell the stories of how we became who we are. Because our faces show our expressions, our wrinkles are the story lines of worry, sorrow, laughter, and joy. Certainly erasing the fine lines won’t erase the memory, but embracing these “story lines” can tell so much more.

Meet my grandmother, Elizabeth “Lib” McCalman Caldwell, October 30, 1925-July 28, 2015. She was a fiery redhead, raised during the Great Depression in Memphis, Tennessee. She married my grandfather after he returned from World War II, and they bought a pig farm in Mississippi where she began raising a family without indoor plumbing. Four daughters later, they moved back to Memphis and opened a service station. There they had five more children — all boys — and planted roots for the rest of their lives. Lib (Mammaw to me) raised nine children while her husband worked often 100 hours a week, and those children didn’t always make it easy on her. She cared for her aging parents, her husband, and her younger brother through tremendous health issues until each of their passing, all while continuing to serve in her church and mentor others in her family and the community. She lived on her own in what eventually became a “rough” part of Memphis until her mid-80s. My Mammaw traveled all over the world with Gulf Oil, laughed with her whole body, and made the best ham sandwiches in the middle of the night. There was always a puzzle in progress in her dining room and dishes in her sink from feeding someone.

Her face contained more story lines than anyone I have ever seen, and my only wish is that I could have heard more of them.

To continue reading, please visit Knoxville Moms Blog, where this post originally appeared on March 21, 2018.

15 Affirmations Your Child Needs to Hear Today

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on September 22, 2016. 


Watching my kids get off the school bus every day is a special treat for me. They bound down the steps like prisoners set free, looking back and giggling as their friends call to them from the windows. Once their big, yellow ride is out of sight, they turn and head toward home, just a few houses down. I have a clear view of their path from my front porch, and I can often discern how their day went by observing their gait. Most days they race each other to the mailbox, or skip along the curb toting a prize they received in class. Other days they leap off that bus, not a care in the world, but as they start toward the house I can see it hit them: I have to tell mom what happened today. The skip slows to a walk and then to a trudge with head hanging low as they confess the bad grade, the poor behavior, the hurtful interaction with a classmate.

With a limited realm of life experience, these simple slip-ups can truly feel like the end of the world to a child, especially if they are repeated. Of course we want our children to be their best selves, but they need to be reassured they are capable of better. I do not suggest children be coddled or go undisciplined. As parents, though, we must recognize that words matter, and if we want our children to realize their potential, we must speak that truth to them.

Here are 15 affirmations your child needs to hear from you:

1. You are a good boy/girl.

2. You belong in this family, and nothing will ever change that.

3. You have an important contribution to make in the world.

To read the full list, check out the original post on Knoxville Moms Blog and encourage a child in your life today!

To Thine Own #Selfie Be True

To Thine Own Selfie Be True.png

This post originally appeared on the Knoxville Moms Blog on April 13, 2016. To view this post in its entirety, please click the link at the bottom of the page.

When I was growing up, there were two things my mom could not live without: her planner and her camera. Ironically, she was very often losing them both. A few of our contributors are known for their love of planners (it is one of Lauren’s New Year must-haves!), but that is one of mom’s obsessions that did not rub off on me. The photoholic tendencies, however, are another story.

My mother has thousands of pictures. Most of them are in albums because back in the day you had to actually print pictures to look at them, so I can think of an event or trip or vague time in my life, go pull out that year’s album (or set of albums – thousands, I’m telling you!), and bask in all the 80’s glory of perms, shoulder pads, and pastel everything. I can walk through all of my awkward phases of the 90s (what’s that? You only had one awkward phase? Boy did you ever miss out! *eye roll*), then point to my brothers’ awkward phases to make me feel better. There are pictures of every family member, all our friends and teammates, and every teacher we ever had. But one person is noticeably absent from almost all these seemingly endless albums…

My mom.

Of course she was there, but she was always on the other side of the camera. She cherishes all the memories captured in those photos, especially since they are all taken from her perspective! But as I get older – and watch my parents get older – I wish I had more pictures of my mom to reminisce on my childhood from my own figurative lens, which was very often directed toward my mama.

This brings me to now, my own life as a mom. The truth is, much of my children’s day consists of looking at me. Whether I am playing a game with them, serving them food, disciplining them, or snuggling on the couch, there I am, right in their midst. I memorialize these occasions for myself by snapping pictures, but these will one day be their memories as well, so shouldn’t their perspective also be recorded?

Enter selfies.

To continue reading the full post, please click here to visit the KMB site. Don’t be camera shy; to thine own #selfie be true!