Monday, May 5, 2014

Go away: My secret to mom sanity


"Mommy, did you have to go?" Sabrina asked. I'd just returned from three days at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Atlanta, a blogger conference.

I could have dodged her question but I didn't: "Honey, I wanted to go to this conference, although I missed you the whole time," I said. "I went because I wanted to learn and see my friends."

She seemed satisfied, and I was glad I'd been straight up. I think it's good for Sabrina to know that at times I do things for me. And I think I'm a better, more sane mom for it. This time around, I was hoping to get a kick in the butt for a Big Idea I've had for several years. It has to do with major help for parents of kids of special needs. I can never find the time to get it off the ground.

The conference, held at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, was a whirlwind of sessions and hanging with friends I've met through the blogosphere and making new ones. You never know who you are going to connect with or what kind of inspiration you'll get. One day, I sat at lunch with Lisa Conquergood, cofounder of PicMonkey (if you enjoy taking photos and haven't yet tried the site, go). Soon after we started talking, Lisa gave me a great bit of advice for my idea and got me fired up.

The inspiration kept coming. Cooper Munroe of The Motherhood, one of the saintly people of this world, moderated a panel of women who'd been on Shark Tank (from left in the photo): Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked (creator of super-cute baby moccasins); Romy Taromina of PsiBands (stylish anti-nausea bands) and Shelley Ehler (the ShowNo towel).


They all had great stories. I asked about baby steps for getting an idea going. They agreed it was good to seek out opinions, including ones from people who wouldn't necessarily agree with you. Susan talked about a pillow her grandmother once gave her embroidered with "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." It's a quote from tennis legend Arthur Ashe about achieving greatness. Romy shared this gem from Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Oh, yes, I am a sucker for good quotes.

Button I got from Lizz Porter. I was tempted to take the "I'm not a hugger" one to see people's reactions. But, yeah, I'm a hugger. 
Interesting stuff happened. At one workshop, Margit Detweiler gave Facebook insights (photos are 40 percent more likely to get a "like" than posts, which makes sense since Max is 40 percent cuter than posts are). I heard about the good work of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (hmmm...maybe time to explain to Sabrina why that relative falls asleep at the table at holiday dinners). A bunch of great bloggers won Iris Awards. Whirlpool gave away two French-door fridges. At a dinner by the Minted people (love their stuff), I learned about scrapbooking from Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative and got a fascinating glimpse into the world of competitive cheerleading hair from Amy Locurto. She also told me about Instagram cheerlebrities like Jamie Andries (do not look unless you want to get depressed about your abs, you have been warned).

Amusing stuff happened. One night, as I stood outside a conference party with friends waiting for a cab to a NickMom party we were late for, a sweet-looking husband dropped off his blogger wife, I begged him for a lift and he said OK. (Thanks again, Kecia, for letting us highjack Justin!) (Do not try this at home!) Then, at a tea lunch, all of us at the table decided we needed more lemon curd and the waitress took pity on us lemon-curd-deprived bloggers and brought out an armload of jars. (I worried that the airport security person might suspect I was a curd smuggler, but, no.) One afternoon, Elsa from Frozen was at the hotel for a little girl's birthday and we highjacked her for a photo. (Elsa, not the little girl.) (When Sabrina sees this she's going to be all "MOMMY! WHAT KIND OF LEARNING WERE YOU DOING?!")

From left: Sandi Chen, Elsa, me and Amy Mascott. Yep, usually I'm a brunette but I went blonde for the conference. Man, Elsa's legs are white. No, I won't sing Let It Go for you. 
I came home on a high (though depressed about my abs). When Dave and the kids picked me up at the airport, I jumped into the back of the minivan and kissed and kissed Max and Sabrina as they sweetly and memorably demanded to know what I had brought them.



Dave survived just fine, thanks in part to my tender notes (remember to take the bag with the birthday gift it's in the hall closet/Sabrina's violin lesson is 11:00 a.m. Saturday and Max has speech at 11:00 on Sunday/try not to let kids wear the same clothes three days in a row). Then Max proceeded to tell me eleventy billion times that he'd like to be a fireman when he grows up, and he will ride in the back of the truck and live in the firehouse.

It was so good to be home, but it was also so good to have gone away. I've met some of you at conferences and I'd love to meet more of you at upcoming ones. Are you huggers, too? If you don't have a blog, maybe one of these years someone will organize a special needs mom retreat or one of us will win the lottery and take everyone to Tahiti. Meanwhile, pleasepleaseplease plan a weekend getaway with friends or go on an art or yoga retreat or whatever floats your boat. Do something for you, away from home. Your children will be fine. You need to rejuvenate your spirit, get revved about something that excites you and, of course, sleep late. You need to remember how to be you.

Meanwhile, you're all invited over to my house for lemon curd, and because I need someone else for Max to talk to about being a fireman.

Shark Tank panel photo: Mom 2.0 twitter

18 comments:

  1. I'm totally coming next time!!!! I need to take Elsa to the beach and fast!!!!!!!!!!! xxoo

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    1. As Dave would say, we'd have a GOOOOD time!

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  2. Ellen!!!!!!!!!!! IT WAS AMAZING to be with you. It feels like such a gift I got to spend time with you and soak up all your incredible smarts and energy and wisdom. When will we be together again? I hope immediately.

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    1. Cooper! Drop by for CURD! Alternately, we can make plans to meet up in NYC. xo

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  3. I like lemon curd. And my grandpa was a fireman. And he wrote books about building safety and firefighters.

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    1. Well, then, we were clearly separated at birth, or you and Max were, or we ALL were. Is that even possible?!

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  4. Oh! And I have 3 other friends with special needs kids and we try to go away once a year for a weekend. We make t-shirts for ourselves advertising the SNMC (special needs mommy conference) and if we can't get together, we still make t-shirts and have virtual SNMC.

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    1. Love that! Send me a pic of you guys in your shirts?

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  5. It's true - so good to be home, and so good to have been away.
    Don't think we met at all - next time!

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    1. We have never met, though I know you! (You know, the way things go in blogland.) Hope to meet up at one of these cons. Unless you stop by here for lemon curd, although I may have eaten it all by then.

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  6. So glad you were able to get away and have a relaxing and productive time - you definitely deserve it.

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    1. I appreciate that! Let me know if you will validate me should I decide to take a three-month trip alone to Tahiti.

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  7. I like all things lemon and rainbow. My band trip is coming up, so I won't have to be a burden to my parents. :D

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  8. As my daughter's PT would say, "Aw, man!" I wish I'd known you were going to be in the ATL. I couldn't afford to go to the conference but I would've tried to finagle a way to meet up with you and give you a hug. Maybe someday! :)

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    1. I was incognito. He, he. I would have loved to trade hugs! But it's a long life and a small world, and we will. But only if you also like lemon curd. He. He.

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  9. Sounds like a great conference glad you had fun.

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  10. Brings back memories of Mom 2.0 Key Biscayne! Haven't been to a conference since then but this could be the year to try a new one. Glad you had fun!

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Thanks for sharing!



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