This is what I love about blogging–discovering new young mom blogs, connecting, and learning their stories. So glad to have stumbled across Shannon Oertle’s blog, www.11thandshannon.com. It’s a visually beautiful blog and I love her story. Which, of course, I am now sharing with you. Read on for life from Shannon–writer, artist, and stay-at-home mom. Thank you for sharing Shannon!!
Tell us the story of your “two lines.”
In 2009 I had just recently graduated college and moved down to Florida to live with my parents. I left my big city dreams in Chicago to regroup and apply to graduate schools. Little did I know I would find my partner for life, Matt,and go on a wonderful vacation where BAM! Pregnant at 22, living in my parents house! We quickly married (we were actually already talking marriage even though we had only dated a few months!) and had no idea what we were in for! (Does anyone?) Matt is seven years older, and had a good job and owned a house. The only problem was I had no idea what I wanted! So we spent a year selling that house, moving all the way across the country (and back again!) before finally settling into our own home as a family a few blocks from the beach.
What’s a typical day in your life look like?
Now that Charley is two, he goes to day care part time, three mornings a week. Just enough time to keep my sanity, go to yoga, grocery shop or blog. My husband works from home most of the time as well, so we have a pretty crazy flexible schedule. Some days it’s great when we can just decide to go somewhere as a family, and other days it’s a struggle (like when my husband talks super loud on a conference call and the little man does not nap!). But we have finally found a balance. On the days when Charley doesn’t go to school, I try to do outside activities. We love to ride our bike together, go to the park, or to the beach and just play in the sand.
I love the look of your blog–can you tell us a little bit about it?
Blogging has been my saving grace! When I first moved to Florida I didn’t know anyone, and I was pregnant and planning to leave, so it was not a great time to make friends. Instead, I read blogs. Honestly, since I was out of work and depressed, that’s all I would do all day long: read about other peoples’ lives. My mom compared it to watching soap operas on tv. So after a few years of that, people kept telling me I should start a blog, so I finally did. It’s a lot of work! I take it seriously now and try to post almost every day, mostly about mom style, cool kids products and interior design. I developed a real passion for all of the creative inspiration I found through blogs. I’ve also had a hard time finding other artistic women to be friends with in Florida, and blogging has been a great outlet for that. I feel like I am actually using my degree (photography and fiction writing) in a way that is productive but still flexible enough to stay home with my son.
Where do you hope to go as a writer?
When I graduated with a writing degree I felt a real pressure to aspire to be the next Ernest Hemingway, but really I enjoy blogging so much more. It feels like what my original passion was for: magazines. I see blogs as the magazines of our generation. I love creating interesting content geared towards moms. I really hope to continue to grow my blog and inspire other young women who feel lost or unsure. The thing that I love about blogs even better than magazines is that they offer a more realistic view. I like seeing what real women like me are wearing, instead of eighteen-year-old stick-thin models, and I like seeing their kids and their houses. It feels like a great big community where we can all trade secrets about our favorite products, and tried and true parenting advice. Parenting is such a hard job; we need all the community we can get.
I blog about mom style because it is so important to me. It’s about more than cute clothes. For me, it’s a lifestyle. When I was really depressed for a long time after having my son, I didn’t want to put any effort into my appearance, I didn’t care and had bigger things to worry about. But I found, when I took the extra effort to take a shower, put on makeup, pick out a cute outfit, I looked happier and I felt happier. It reconnected me to a passion I had before kids: fashion and styling. My mantra became that if I felt like I LOOKED like I had everything together, then eventually I would FEEL like I truly did, and slowly that came true.
Any advice for other young moms out there?
An older friend told me last year “You are never going to find someone exactly like you, so stop looking.” and it really struck me. I realized I had been missing out on lots of social interaction because I kept searching for someone exactly like me: college-educated, early 20’s, toddler son, etc. It wasn’t going to happen. We each have our own unique stories for how we became a young mom, so don’t write off someone as a friend because they are older, or their kids are older. Some of my best friends now are women who are going through the same thing, but have careers, or are ten years older than me. I used to be intimidated by older moms, I felt like I would get into trouble, or I wasn’t doing anything right, but now I see them as peers. We all have no idea what we are doing, so let’s just admit it.
Also, don’t lose sight of your passions. I feel that blogs like this and Early Mama are so important as inspirations to other young moms out there. Just because you had kids young doesn’t mean you can’t still follow your dreams (you might just be taking a different route to them!)
Well said, Shannon!!