So let’s recount. My husband Paul and I have four children— Sophie 12, Amelia 9, Patrick 5, Ty, 3, and we are expecting our fifth child, a boy, due Aug. 2!
A fifth child has a much different reaction than the arrival of the first — but for our family, no less significant.
It’s actually ironic because if someone would have told me I was going to have five children, I wouldn’t have believed them. When I was a kid, I never even babysat!
Most people never believe me when I say that.
I’m sure as you are reading this you are no doubt thinking the same thing.
But it’s true. Ask my mother, who will readily tell you that when I was a kid, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with babies. I never even played with dolls — my favorite “doll” was a stuffed Pink Panther my dad won for me at a carnival.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. And when I got older and into college that love turned into a deep desire to write the “great American novel.” And, judging the lives of the famous writers I had encountered on the page (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce) that particular goal seemed to require a certain kind of troubled and somewhat tortured soul to get the job done.
Writing was an endeavor to be taken very seriously and not for the faint of heart.
To be taken seriously my novel needed to have depth and be filled to the brim with childhood suffering and angst. And at the end of said suffering and angst I would be rewarded with a million-dollar book deal from a respected New York publisher. And, in no version of this vision of myself as a famous writer did I ever see babies and diapers.
So what changed?
Well, actually the birth of our first daughter, Sophie. I had no idea how much I would love being a mom.
I still wrote that book. And, between those pages of writing, rewriting and rewriting again, something fantastic happened: I met myself on the page.
And it was there on the page, during all those late nights writing while rock-a-by-babying and in between changing diapers that I learned what a very solitary process writing a novel can be. And by the end, I didn’t want to write about angst and suffering.
I wanted to write about creativity and wonder. I wanted to express the joy I was experiencing out-and-about on the local adventures I was sharing with my kids. Whether it was tromping around the Pacific Northwest woods and beaches or cooking up culinary adventures in the kitchen.
I also realized I wanted to be a part of and contribute to my local community in a deeper, more meaningful way.
I was more than OK with someone else writing the “great American novel.” I wanted to write something that people of all ages (both male and female) could relate too and actually want to continue reading — whether they had kids or not.
As luck would have it, the Renton Reporter was game.
Two and a half years after my very first column in the Renton Reporter, I am still so thankful that editor Dean Radford and Publisher Ellen Morrison believed in that vision.
From the beginning they have given me total creative freedom to write about the unique people and places in Renton our family has been fortunate enough to meet.
Rentonites have enjoyed reading about our family’s tours to the Cedar Grove Landfill, salmon hatchery, a local tree house, cooking-with-kids web series at IKEA and so many other adventures.
And the positive feedback we have received from the community has been incredible.
A personal note of appreciation from the mayor for a story he enjoyed reading. A thank you from Sibling House, a local charity that received a grant from the Renton Rotary as a result of someone within the organization reading my column. A local father who has volunteered as an art docent for seven years gets an opportunity to present his plan to include art in all of our Renton elementary schools, to name a few.
Following my childhood dream of being a writer has not led me to fame and fortune.
It has led me to something much more interesting and meaningful: doing what I love, which is cookin’ and trippin’ around the Pacific Northwest with my kids and writing about our adventures together.
So thanks for your support!
And I look forward to meeting you here on the page each month in my Renton Reporter column, Life in the City.
As well as our latest adventure: a new family series I will be hosting for popular local magazine ParentMap which will come out in June.
And in the spirit of childhood creativity and wonder I say, “Let the wild rumpus begin!”
I love suggestions! If you know of people or places in Renton that surprise, delight and inspire the community, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow Carolyn on her blog, www.pippimamma.com.