Happy Birthday, Mary Tyler Mom!

MTM Birthday Cake

This month, Mary Tyler Mom celebrates her first birthday.  This makes me happy.

When I went back to work after a four year hiatus last winter, I took that return to normalcy as an opportunity to write about something other than grief and sadness.  A blog was born.  Mary Tyler Mom got her name from one of my childhood icons, Mary Tyler Moore.  She was a symbol of independence and sexiness and capability and pluck and pantsuits and spunk.  She could turn the world on with her smile.  She was gonna make it after all.  Just like me.  Mary Tyler Moore was my patron saint of hope.

After a few months hanging out with my three readers, writing weekly posts about working and mothering, I made the decision to move MTM to ChicagoNow.  I struggled with the decision at first, worrying about "creative control," and other pretentious things like that.  In the end, the move was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I met other bloggers, amazing writers, and mighty human beings who supported me and helped me make a home for Mary Tyler Mom.   I had the voice and now I had a platform.

In September, a fellow blogger (Thanks, Susie!  I didn't forget!) nominated me for "My 7 Links," a blogger's challenge to identify particular posts in seven different categories.  Well, I was a little busy in September with Donna's Cancer Story, but at this first birthday, it seems like a perfect opportunity to look back and throw my beret up in the air.

The Goal:  "To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again."

My 7 Links:

Most Beautiful Post:  "Kraft och Omtanke" to You.  This was written in October, while I was still trying to come down after having written Donna's Cancer Story.  The volume of love and support which was shown to me during those few days still moves me.  To be at the receiving end of all that can't help but change you.  A reader from Sweden sent me the message during those days "Kraft och Omtanke," which translated means, "strength and consideration."  This post is my reflection of what those words truly mean and how much each and every one of us are deserving of them. 

Most Popular Post:  Gwyneth Paltrow Can Kiss my Sweet Chicago A$$I wrote this on my tenth wedding anniversary, a gift to working mothers everywhere.  If you've ever wondered about all the Gwynnie references in my posts or on my facebook page, this will explain them all.  Within this link is another link (bonus, yo) to my original Gwynnie post, written last winter.  Ugh, I could go on, but I won't. 

Most Controversial Post:  Barbie v. Cancer.  Believe it or not, I am still in the middle of "Barbiegate" as one of my readers referred to it yesterday.  Here's the deal people:  I am not a Barbie fan.  Never have been.  I make no apologies for that.  What I learned, though, is that Barbie is an American icon, and YOU DO NOT MESS WITH AN AMERICAN ICON.  Okay, okay, okay, I get it.  My point, in a nutshell, is that kids need research more than they need dolls.  I hate the idea of children with cancer being used for corporate profit, which is what would happen if Mattel were to make this doll.  It is what it is.  Also, this post taught me the lesson that an opinion is a powerful thing.  It doesn't matter that when I wrote this I was sitting on my living room sofa, in my pajamas, my kid at my feet happily playing away.  I am mommy blogger, hear me roar. 

Most Helpful Post:  Thanksgiving:  Wherefore art thou?  It seems that my most powerful posts come from a place of agitation or indignation.  Huh.   The truth is that I can be a cranky son of a gun through the holidays.  I worry for Mary Tyler Son, I do.  Kids deserve better, though, so I work hard to keep my inner Grinch at bay and give the kid a proper season full of joy and wonder and all that holiday jazz.  The key word, though, in that admission is "work."  Holidays do not come naturally to me.  The joy and wonder that finds its way into our home between October and January is hard freaking earned.  Methinks I am not alone in this, hence the popularity and helpfulness of this post. 

Post(s) Whose Success Surprised Me:  Donna's Cancer Story.  In September 2010, before Mary Tyler Mom was even a thought in my head, I posted a photo of Donna every day on facebook and wrote a few paragraphs about what happened in each month of her 31 months of treatment.  This was a way of recognizing Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and rembering my girl.  At least it started like that.  It ended being something completely different.  Without consciously knowing it, reliving the trauma of Donna's cancer helped me steel myself for the first anniversary of her death.  In August 2011, I pitched the idea of modifying it for Mary Tyler Mom, thinking I would reach a larger audience.  What I foolishly thought would be a cut and paste job turned into a momument to the love and hope and joy and terror that moving to Cancerville with Donna brought to my family.  The numbers are impressive:  over 500K hits, $25K in donations to Donna's Good Things since it was published, over 100 Good Things performed by readers in Donna's name and memory, and no less than two readers got tattos (acorns and "Choose hope").  And 1 writer was born -- with its publishing, writing, and producing it every day of the month, at some point in September, I finally came to call myself a writer.  Without smirking.

Post That Didn't Get the Attention it Deserved:  Got Milk?  This was written in the midst of World Breastfeeding Week and it holds my own, personal experiences with breastfeeding, as well as my thoughts on the moms who don't breastfeed.  Moms love to judge.  Sad, but true.  This is a call for tolerance and understanding, for whatever decision you make in regards to how to fatten up that baby of yours.  When it was published, Mary Tyler Mom had a significantly smaller reach, and my hope is that others might find it through this challenge and spread the word. 

Post I'm Most Proud of:  This is a tough one, because, quite honestly, I could close my eyes and point to any of the posts within Donna's Cancer Story and be happy with its designation as "Post I'm Most Proud of."  So know that.  I opted not to pick and choose between those, because, like Donna and Mary Tyler Son, they, too, are my babies.  There are things a mother just doesn't do, and that is one of them.  So with that said, Jack Layton is my new hero is a post I am truly proud of.  It was written late at night and was one of those posts that just kind of appeared on my screen.  I felt passionate about what I was writing, passionate about what Jack Layton stood for and accomplished.  For me, passion = joy and ease in writing.  That is something I am proud of, indeed, and something to be celebrated. 

So there they are, My 7 Links!  This was fun, but now for more fun.  As part of the challenge, I now get to nominate other bloggers to take the challenge themselves.  Drum roll, please . . .

My 5 Blog Nominations:

Finding My Voice

I Want a Dumpster Baby

From the Bungalow

Daddy Knows Less

My Sports Complex

Real Mom Nutrition (YES, I added one extra) 



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  • Happy Birthday! I still remember the first post I read from you about wearing black flats. With that simple post, I knew I would be reading more from you! I love your candid nature and your amazing ability to connect with readers in a truly authentic ( and no BS ) kind of way. Congrats on your success! I am happy you joined the CN crowd!

  • In reply to Beth Rago:

    Thanks, Mama! I love our community at ChicagoNow, too.

  • Oh, nice of you to tag me! I've been blathering on on my blog for eleventymillion years, so it'll be hard to choose posts simply because I don't remember most of them, but I appreciate the challenge!

  • In reply to beth4158:

    If by "blathering," you mean writing thought provoking, meaningful posts, then, yes, I agree with you. I love your voice, Beth, and remember sitting in a restaurant with you December 2010 saying, "I think I want to start a blog," and getting such excellent feedback from you and Patti. You were and are one of my inspirations and still the best editor I know. I heart you! MTM.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    I heart you right back! Sitting down to craft my post tonight.

  • Can't wait to read "Got Milk?"! It's the only one I haven't read. Thank you so much for nominating Chris's blog! He's going to be thrilled and so honored to be mentioned. Kraft och omtanke.

  • In reply to kantal113:

    Hello, lady!

  • Happy Birthday MTM :) I wish you many many more! I always feel like I'm reading the words of a friend when I read your stuff. You're a sarcastic, grouchy, opinionated, no nonsense gal and I luv ya for it! The world could use more folks like you.

    Tell MTD to buy ya somethin sparkly for your birthday ;)

  • In reply to MandaPanda:

    Thanks, MandaPanda! That's super nice to read. And I think you get me when you see the "sarcastic, grouchy, opinionated, no nonsense gal" along with the earnest, hopeful, joyful, life-is-beautiful kind of gal, too. I am both these things! I so appreciate your company these past months.

  • Happy Birthday! MTM, you are an awesome writer. You are witty, calm, entertaining and caring! I started reading with Donna's story and have been reading and talking about your blog ever since. I love it. It makes my day. My only complaint is that you don't blog enough. :) Thanks for being out here!

  • In reply to MO AND MOOSE:

    I love everything you said except, "you don't blog enough." Yikes! Mary Tyler Dad would surely trade me in for a non-blogging replacement if I spent more time than I already do!

    Thanks for reading, Mo and Moose, and all your comments along the way. MTM.

  • Im glad that I have had the opportunity to meet the person that sparked a new view of life merely from reading a blog. Then I meet you and you raise the bar even higher for mom's everywhere.

    Although you didn't nominate AISI as your top blogs, I wont hold it against ya! Keep inspiring and can't wait to tell the world how Donna changed my life!

    Oh ya, Jeremy rocks socks as well :) HBMTM!!!!!!!

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    So worth reading the original Gwinnie blog. MTM dropping F bombs. I think I'm in love. :)

  • MWDAS was right - you do the work! I love it and keep it up!

  • What an honor to mentioned i this post, with these great posts of yours. Thank you so much! And Happy Blogthday! Blogthday?

  • In reply to Daddy Knows Less:

    My goodness I was half asleep when I wrote that comment and it shows. Give me a C+ on grammar but an A for sentiment. Now back to work...

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