The suburbs are vast, and everyone is looking for that parent that’s just like them. This month we’re taking a look “Behind the Trike” and meeting the parents who bring Lake County to you every day. Today we’re meeting our fearless leader and creator of Little Lake County, Melissa, the “Mom in Charge.”
Melissa and I met back when our big boys were only in preschool. When she told me about her idea to start a website for parents in Lake County and asked if I would be a writer, it was really exciting. But, I had never blogged before and had absolutely no idea how to begin. Melissa patiently helped me through my cluelessness (and still does!) She is truly the creative force behind Little Lake County and even manages to keep all of us silly writers on our toes — usually while toting a baby on her hip! But that’s not her only job; Melissa can also be found at Peanut Butter in my Hair, Lake County Suburban Life, and ChicagoParent.com. This week, Melissa shares how she keeps up — without losing her cool.
How did you learn the skill for your business?
Um, skill??? Hmmm…well, I often say that motherhood made me a writer. I guess it was always in there, and the journey of motherhood brought it out. I was always the type of person to narrate my life in my head as I went about my day (also narcissistic, so blogging was a perfect fit). Or I would make up stories of people and things I saw on the train or out walking. When I became a stay-at-home mom, writing became a way to keep my brain active and not feel so disconnected, and it’s grown from there.
The marketing side of social media I can only credit to going to a Liberal Arts college taught us to think creatively. I also worked for and volunteered at non-profits for years. At non-profits, everyone does everything when it comes to market and fundraising, which is all very similar to social media. I am also a lifetime member and have been an adviser with Alpha Phi Omega setting up service projects and working on large events teaches you a lot.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere really. My children and the experience of motherhood have inspired me a lot. However, I believe inspiration is all around you. One of my favorite creative writing exercises is to pull random words out of an envelope and make a story, poem, or free-write from that. You would be surprised at the beauty you can create when the only thing you have to start with is the prompt “orange juice.”
What is the hardest for you in work life balance?
ALL OF IT.
I am a textbook type A with a little bit of OCD thrown in for fun. When I start working on something, whether it be a project around the house or working on a story or event, I quickly go all in, and I don’t want to do anything else, which is not very balanced. I have to set very structured guidelines and schedules for myself, which I am terrible at keeping, to have any kind of balance.
What would your kids say about you?
I hope they would say that I am fun, and I love them and make them happy. However, past preschool questioners tell me that my children are quite literal and would say things like she works a lot, she makes better scrambled eggs than daddy, and that I make them pick up their toys before they can watch TV.
Your most challenging moment as a mom?
All of them…mothering did not come naturally to me. I struggle a lot with trying not to smother them but also not to be so hands-off. Since we have experienced a loss (second trimester), if I had to pick one, it would not let my medical background cause my children and me even more anxiety by always jumping to worst-case scenarios. If my brain had its way, we would probably be visiting the ER weekly…maybe more now, we have a new walker, so many head bumps! Reeling in my anxiety, so I don’t pass those issues on to my kids is one of the biggest challenges.
What do you do to recharge?
Re- what? It’s been a long year to add our fourth child, who has never taken a bottle. I love to run, and I hope to one day complete a marathon. If spring ever comes, I will be starting that again. Also, writing, not for Little Lake County but for my personal site or for any of the number of book ideas I have started. I recharge creatively with a quiet early morning writing session before anyone gets up.
Melissa is the creator and Editor of Little Lake County, a freelance writer, blogger, and social media consultant. She lives in Grayslake with her husband, four children, and a smelly cat.
Read more from Melissa.