Sometimes parenting can bring unexpected challenges (more than dealing with 4am feedings and getting to work on time). For Leah Moore, it was her daughter’s rare diagnoses and the addition of twin boys that inspired her to share her journey with others on her blog The Cheese Bus. Navigating the ups and downs of parenting, the pain of dealing with tough days and the joy of exciting discoveries, Moore documents the road less traveled but in no way less relatable. As she explains, her site “is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey.”
I believe in the power of telling stories as an English teacher. I celebrate this work every day in my high school classroom. Six years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome, Cri Du Chat. I needed to learn to identify as a special needs mother and figure out what that looked like, without losing myself too. I also have twin two-year-old boys – so our house is anything but quiet. I have learned how to manage the joyful chaos that exists in our house and I wanted a place to share these experiences with other parents. The Cheese Bus is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey. It is about finding the joy in the unexpected road and figuring out how to laugh along the way.
Honest, humorous, optimistic.
My favorite post was the first one I wrote, “The Irony of Language.” I am a high school English teacher and my students were assigned to write their own belief statements, based on the concept of “This I Believe.” To help model the assignment, I wrote this piece for them. It has been about five years since I wrote it, and it always makes me cry. It is about the irony as a mother who uses words every day as a teacher and raising a child that was told she would never speak. However, when I look across the table at my now six-year-old who is able to talk to me, I remember how far we have come. It is my favorite piece for what it means for our family overall.
It brings me joy to connect to other people, so I am make sure I maintain that work. I brainstorm ideas throughout my day and record them in a journal or my phone. After I complete the endless tasks on my to do list as a working mother, I replace the time I would have mindlessly watched tv with time to write. I never force myself to follow a deadline or put pressure on myself. Some weeks I write two entries, sometimes there are months in between. My goal isn’t about how many people can read it but rather to make sure I write honest stories. The best part of a parenting blog is that every day I gather material, it’s just about finding the time to write it down.
The English teacher in me uses everything Atticus Finch ever said to Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, but especially “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” I try to live my life with empathy and foster the same in my children. Most days, I just settle for the wisdom, as long as everyone made it through in one piece – it’s a success.
Even writing this one makes me tired. The alarm goes off at 4:50am. I join my neighbors at the gym because sadly my baby weight wants to follow me forever. I throw breakfast at my children while bribing them with as many episodes of “Peppa Pig” as humanly possible. I run out the door at 7am for a full day of teaching 9th graders powerful books. Most days I can make it home by 4pm for (choose one: dance class, speech therapy, grocery store catastrophes, or worse case scenario “Peppa Pig” and Popsicle on the couch). The twins go to sleep around 6:30pm and my daughter and I have a nightly ritual of watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” By 8pm, I am “alone” for the first time so I can joyfully pack lunches, make dinner, pay bills, grade papers, and sometimes say hello to my husband. And then I collapse.
Write from the heart. It doesn’t matter how many people read what you write. What matters is that you put something out in the world that will connect to someone else. Write your story. Someone will want to read it.