On boogers and blogging
Surprised to see boogers in this post title? I’d say it’s well-picked, considering today’s featured writer has no problem dishing the sometimes-not-so-pleasant details of parenting. She’s not your typical “mommy blogger.” With a professional journalism background, Natalie Clemens knew a few years into motherhood she needed an outlet. From wiping “meticulously placed” boogers off the wall, to aching for her stillborn baby, she shares intimate aspects of motherhood on her blog. I’m delighted to introduce you to a mama with a heart as big as her massive writing talent.
Q. You started your blog, Boogers on the Wall, in 2011 as a way to “write about the joys, headaches, heartaches, drama and ordinary excitement that come with being a stay-at-home mom.” How does blogging help you through the adventures of Momhood?
A recent study revealed that new mothers who read and write blogs feel less alone than mothers who don’t. Researchers found that mothers also use blogging as a way to relieve stress.
I completely agree. As a writer, blogging is a natural way for me to release my stress. If my kids are driving me nuts, if I fail at a menial house chore, if I feel down and out because I’m trapped home all day with my young children as my only social interaction, I can sit down at the computer and punch at the keyboard until I feel a little bit better about my life.
Blogging also helps me relate to other mothers. When mothers comment on my blog after they have gone through similar experiences I know that I am not alone.
Likewise, I have laughed and cried at other blogs when the writers have shared something I can relate to. It makes me feel more “normal” – like I am not the only one who gets upset with her children, hates doing laundry and wishes she could order all her groceries online.
Q. Many of your posts feel like journal entries. Do you guard your words or share freely, knowing others read about the deepest struggle of your life – losing your baby Luca?
When I started my blog I swore to myself to write the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I feel like I would be deceiving myself – and my readers – if I guarded my words and wrote only about the easy, rewarding aspects of motherhood.
Although I occasionally write about doing something right, I also try to write about some of the hard things about being a stay-at-home mom.
Sometimes as a mother, it is easy to feel inadequate. It’s easy to look at other mothers and compare yourself, thinking that they are better than you. I hope no one feels inadequate after reading my blog. I hope they realize that all of us mothers have struggles. Because I honestly believe every mother struggles sometimes even though some women choose to pretend otherwise.
Losing a child has been the hardest thing I have experienced. Yet I feel like writing about my loss helps me cope with my grief. I know that I am not the only mother out there who has had to bury her baby. I hope that as I write freely about my angel someone will be able to gain something from my words.
Also, there is a strange phenomenon associated with the Internet. It allows people to be more open about some of their most personal experiences that they wouldn’t speak freely about face-to-face. I’d like to think that I would talk about losing Luca in person the same as I do online, but I know that losing a child is a taboo topic that makes most people uncomfortable. They want to know how I feel and how to help, but don’t know how to bring it up.
Hopefully my blog can help someone gain a glimpse of what it has been like for me to lose my baby in a way that doesn’t make then feel uneasy.
Once again, I feel like if I pick and choose to write about the easy things about my life, I am doing my readers a disservice. You get the good, the bad and the ugly with me.
Q. KSL recently invited you to be part of a group of women Utah bloggers to tour the studio and be on the radio. What was the best part of the day?
The best part about my trip to the KSL Studio was meeting other amazing bloggers. I was able to rub elbows with very talented women who have awesome blogs. It was fun to meet other moms who write online.
It was also great for me to meet Nadine Wimmer. She was one of the people who inspired me to study journalism in college. It was fun to see all of the news staff off camera in an informal, more personal setting.
Q. You’re a talented writer, and I wonder – what draws you to writing?
I didn’t officially start writing until I was in college. But once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It has been an addiction I have had to satisfy ever since.
For me there’s something magical about writing. I love finding the perfect phrase and the natural word flow that best suits my message.
And I love helping others do the same. That’s why I love journalism. Reporters are able to help others share their stories. There is nothing more powerful than the written word. Words change lives.
Q. The argument that women can have it all came again to the forefront recently when soon-to-be-a-mama Marissa Mayer took the helm at Yahoo. You once shared news-breaking drama as a reporter, and then decided to quit your dream job as a journalist and be at home with your first baby. Have you ever regretting that decision, and do you see yourself returning to journalism? Can women really have it all?
I think every woman is different. For me, I believe I can have it all – just not all at once. I knew long before I started my career as a reporter that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. And although there are times I ache to be back in the newsroom, I consciously chose to quit.
There have been times that I have questioned my decision to give up my dream job, but never regretted it. I think we all have times when we wonder if we chose the right path for our lives. But snuggling one of my babies and hearing them tell me they love me gives me perspective. And reminds me that no matter how many breaking-news assignments I would cover, those stories could never take the place of raising my children.
Right now I’m in the change-diapers, correct-homework and do-housework season of life. Yet as my babies grow up I’ll change into a season filled with more freedom. I don’t know that I’ll return as a newspaper reporter, but I would like to be able to write more professionally when my children get older.
And although I mentioned that I decided long ago that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, I have at times taken on part-time work while being a mom. I put one of my feet in the working world while keeping one at home. But because I was trying to work while also playing nanny, housekeeper and chauffeur, I ended up a stressed-out maniac.
I know mothers who work and seem to have it all together. But honestly sometimes I wonder if they are just really good at pretending they have it all together. I am sure that sometimes some things get neglected. Luckily for me my family is in a stage where I don’t have to work. Luckily I get to be a stay-at-home-mom. Some moms don’t have a choice.
But that brings me back to the reason why I started my blog. I wanted, needed, to keep writing. Boogers on the Wall allows me to satisfy my writing addiction. And I get to write about my children while I sit in my pajamas on my living room couch.
(first Boogers on the Wall post, found here)
I graduated at the top of my class after serving as editor of my college newspaper and earning several journalism awards. I landed an internship at my favorite daily newspaper and was offered a full-time reporter position when the internship ended.
I was living my dream.
Then what did I do? I quit about a year later. I was pregnant with my first son and knew deep down I wanted to stay home to raise my children. I just didn’t know how hard that would be.
I’ve heard people say that to be a good writer you have to write what you know. What you experience.
What do I know? Well, I no longer cover court, attend city council meetings or ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking ceremonies. I don’t have access to behind-the-scene parties or high-profile interviews. I’ve turned in my press pass and therefore my front-row ticket to exciting, news-breaking drama.
So what do I do now? I wipe boogers off the wall — boogers that have been meticulously placed in low-profile areas by my four-year-old son. And I’m getting pretty good at it.
I’m also getting pretty good at writing about it. Yet I know I am not the only mother doing this.
Hopefully other moms can laugh, cry and feel a little more normal as they read my blog filled with the joys, headaches, heartaches, drama and ordinary excitement that I find in my adventures as a stay-at-home mom.
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