A few years ago I ran into an acquaintance of mine at the grocery store, we will call her Molly. We have known each other since college and had a lot of the same classes together. I hadn’t seen her in years and she isn’t on Facebook so we were genuinely catching up. She started gossiping about some mutual friends-“Did you hear Jane married a Doctor? and how Carrie was extremely successful in opening her new business..and had I heard how our mutual friend Emily went on and got her second master’s degree?” Molly was successful herself-working as an accountant for our town’s largest employer. She had two kids and an affinity for traveling the world.
She asked me what I had been up to and why I was still in Normal!? I laughed and pointed to my daughter who was flinging Cheerios out of the shopping cart and said, “Well, l got married and we stayed here (Normal). I’m actually a work from home mom now. I help with my husband’s business… and I’m super busy raising my kid on the side.” She did a silent nod and had an awkward smile and responded back with “Wow, I never thought that Carrie would be THE ONE who created a hugely successful business and YOU would be the stay at home mom…I always thought it would be you who did something big with all your creative energy?” It took me a few minutes to absorb the enormity of her words. She was making assumptions about my life, her words stung and I wasn’t sure why. As a person who usually can’t shut up, I had absolutely nothing to say. We finished chatting and as I walked away, I was confused why I felt the way that I did. I was happy, extremely grateful and comfortable with where I was in my life, so why was I feeling this way? Was there something I was missing?
I Always Thought I’d Be A Journalist
Growing up I always aspired to be the next Barbara Walters. I envisioned myself sitting on a couch interviewing people I admired and digging deep into their life about various topics. I spent hours cutting out items from the JCPenny catalog and wrote fake stories about their life. I loved writing, researching and letting my creative side shine. Most kids wanted to watch TGIF on a Friday night but I was begging my mom to watch the newest 20/20.
So I pursued that passion, and in college, I majored in Broadcast Journalism. I loved it so much but from the day I started classes, it was acknowledged that very few people become successful as television journalists. The pay is bad, the work-life balance is terrible and many times you have to start out in small rural towns climbing your way up. My dreams were further crushed when the recession of 2008 hit and T.V. personalities were being let go left and right. It was hard to find a job, any job for that matter. So right after college, I realized that I would probably never become the journalist I dreamed about and thought I closed that door.
Working in the Corporate World
I got married and needed health insurance, so I sucked it up, put on my big girl pants and went on to work for a rental car company making a very base salary and working terrible hours. I was basically a glorified chauffeur and car washer. I HATED it. So I quit and closed that door so hard never, ever looking back.
Shortly after, I began a job at a property management company that was great, but it was just a paycheck, not a passion. I worked there for three years, until a new door finally opened. I finally landed a job at a technology company that I LOVED, a culture that I fit into and found a career I was extremely passionate about. I worked my way up the ladder and eventually became a supervisor. But…just as I had closed the doors to all of those other jobs, in 2015 after my daughter was born, I had to close the door to the career I loved. My daughter was suffering from extreme acid reflux that caused her to vomit and choke. Having her in anyone else’s care was NOT an option. So I resigned from my job and picked up some administrative work helping my husband.
Mommin So Hard
I never knew that I would love being a stay at home mom so much AND I also never knew how hard being a stay at home mom would be. It’s full-time gig, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It comes with no pay, no sick days, it’s extremely dirty, exhausting, it’s HARD, but boy oh boy is it fulfilling. I love every moment of watching my children grow. Being a stay at home mom is a job I was meant for, and for the first time in my life I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. All those doors closed because they were supposed to.
More Than Just A Mom
After my daughter was born she was diagnosed with severe food allergies and a new door opened into a world I knew nothing about. I spent a lot of time researching food and learned to create foods that were safe for my daughter. I became incredibly health conscious and food became my passion. I lost a lot of weight, was eating super healthy, started experimenting with flavor profiles and cooking techniques and jumped into recipe creation and development. It was right around this time that I ran into Molly and after our conversation, I realized why I felt the way I did. I WAS, in fact, missing something in my life, a creative outlet. So I created a “secret” Instagram account that started out as a food diary on my journey to a healthier life, and it became my favorite hobby. The best part- that “hobby” eventually evolved into a part-time job as a recipe creator and food photographer for a large company.
This Was Almost a Food Blog
Large and small companies were reaching out to me to have my recipes featured on their sites (how cool is that?!). Several companies would also send me their products to experiment with and get my feedback on. New doors were opening left and right, and I eventually landed a huge contract helping a larger food company develop and create recipes (talk about having your cake and eating it too!). This was an extremely exciting and fulfilling time in my life. Working with these companiies inspired me to think bigger and launch my own creative space, a food blog.
I spent hours perfecting my cooking skills and had an entire notebook full of ideas and things to try. I spent hours at the library studying cookbooks, flavor profiles and different types of cuisine. I bought a domain, designed my website from scratch, took a photography class and was in the kitchen every day cooking away and creating delicious recipes while my daughter was napping.
October 1st, 2017…
On October 1st I decided that my old computer was no longer sufficient in order to use the powerful photography tools I needed, so my husband and I agreed that we would invest into a Mac. All day long I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe I had got myself so worked up over buying a computer. My new Mac was FANTASTIC and ran better than I could have ever dreamed, I went home and worked on my blog for hours… but the rest of the evening, I still felt sick. Three positive pregnancy tests later, I realized why. Baby #2 was on their way.
What a weird time in my life.. I was being asked left and right to help freelance in the food world and I was right in the middle of launching a food blog. BUT the thought of food…well it made me sick, literally. I was struggling everyday to get in the kitchen. Smelling food made me so nauseated and I felt I could no longer keep up with the demand of my clients’ work. How could I create a recipe if I didn’t have the stomach to try it myself? Eventually, I had to dump my freelance gigs and put my aspiration for a food blog on the back burner. I tried to close the door on the food blog but it never really closed (perhaps my kiddo left her Barbies in the door?)
Blog So Hard
In February 2018 I was six months pregnant and my old Instagram account hadn’t been posted to in months. My food blog sat idol. I was so excited to add mom of two to my resume but I still felt like I was missing something. Molly’s words always echoed in the back of my head “I always thought it would be YOU, who did something big with all your creative energy” Why not start over? I had learned so much about blogging, journalism, food, recipe creation, photography and being a mom- so why not combine all the things I loved into one place?
My initial passions never died, being a journalist and creating a blog were the foundation; food and family were the bricks. I overcame the idea that I wouldn’t be the next Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Minimalist Baker, Pioneer Women or Skinnytaste and I was ok with it. In fact, I realized that I didn’t want to be them, I just wanted to be me and I wanted to talk about what I know best- being a mom, with a splash of food, fun and fashion on the side. So I turned my newborn son’s early morning wake ups and late night feedings, into plugging away on my computer, envisioning a new kind of blog and working hard every day to create it.
There Is No Such Thing As A Normal Life
I am now ready to open a new door and FINALLY launch my blog– Normal Life Mom. This is a Family Lifestyle blog which will focus on all of the things I love and know- family, food, fashion and FUN!
“There is no such thing as a normal life, there is just life,” is a quote from the movie Tombstone that I have always loved. This blog isn’t about me or anyone else living a “normal” life, cause there is no such thing as a normal life. Life is only as normal as you decide to make it. I am just a mom who happens to live her life in Normal, Illinois.
So what what is my “normal”? I’m an allergy mom #teamnoeggs, a work from home mom, wife, journalist, reality junkie, boy mom, girl mom, recovering Diet Coke-aholic, runner, coffee lover, recipe tester, organic fanatic, social media enthusiast, frugal family fashionista, product tester….and I’m now adding blogger to the list.