In February of 2011 I read a New York Times Magazine cover story on Mommy Bloggers. At the time, I was going through a bloodcurdling custody battle. My ex-husband, “Prince Machiavelli,” who is super-rich and loves to fight, was suing me for full custody of one of our children. I am not super-rich and I don’t like to fight, so I had become a trembling blob of anxiety.
Since I couldn’t afford therapy on top of obscene legal fees, I had taken to e-mailing friends and relatives updates of my custody saga. But then, when I read about Mommy Bloggers and how many of them mine their lives on their blogs, I decided to start one of my own. Blogging would be cheaper than therapy, I figured, and it would keep me from burdening those close to me with my ongoing tales of post-divorce woe.
Before my divorce, I had been a writer. I wrote essays and articles on lifestyle, parenting and health issues for print and on-line magazines. I dreamed of writing a book, but had to jettison that pursuit when my marriage blew up, and necessity forced me to go back to school and begin working full-time. Between my job and having primary custody of my two kids, my previous identity as a writer melted away.
Until I discovered there was this thing called blogging. Knowing virtually nothing about blogging platforms, SEO, or social media, I stumbled through WordPress instructions and launched Perils of Divorced Pauline on February 27, 2011. I based the title on Perils of Pauline, an amusingly melodramatic damsel-in-distress film serial from the early 1900s. In my blog, I changed all names and identifying elements to protect myself from being sued, and to safeguard the privacy of my family.
Speaking of family, here they are, their photos cropped to preserve their anonymity:
My second husband, Atticus, without whose love and support I might have crumbled.
My 19-year-old stepson, Caleb, an amazing musician and photographer, now in college.
My beautiful 14-year-old son, Luca, the quintessential spirited child, now in boarding school.
My soon-to-be 10-year-old daughter Franny, who awes me with her sense of humor, kindness, social butterfly-ness and fashion panache. She is with us 62.5% of the time.
My almost 8-year-old stepson Kevin, a sweet-natured, Lego-loving kid who has become a true brother to Franny. He is with us 30% of the time.
And our cat, Clementine. We actually have three, but we play favorites. She is with us 100% of the time.
As soon as I posted my first blog piece, my writing ambition awoke from its long slumber. I blogged my way through my custody battle, my son’s special need issues, and anything else I found compelling — like blog trolls, historic preservation, and celebrities. I try to inject some sardonic chuckles into my writing because, as my mother always told me, you can’t get through life without a sense of humor. And she was so right.
My custody battle is now resolved, although not the way I’d hoped. Six-figures deep in legal fees, without even getting to court, I was spent, both financially and psychologically. My son was falling apart from the conflict. So I did the previously unthinkable. I gave my ex virtually everything he wanted: full physical custody of our son and sole decision-making power over every major issue. If you want to know more about that down-the-rabbit-hole process, read here.
In writing about divorce, custody, and complicated children, I have found a community of other mothers who have gone through similar experiences. Their comments on my blog, Facebook friendships, Twitter followings, and e-mails have inspired me. Writing is not just about the love of the craft, or making meaning out of life’s twists and turns — it is also about making connections and helping others feel less alone.
As my sister says, I am practically in the Witness Protection Program, so you’ll never see my face. But you can hear my voice as I talk about Parallel Parenting on Super Mommy Not.
If you want to contact me, I would love to hear from you. You can follow me on Twitter @divorcedpauline or Pinterest, friend me on Facebook, fan me on my Facebook page, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am friendly, and I spend an ungodly amount of time in front of the computer, so I promise to respond.
Finally, if you are a blogger and you would like to participate in my Blogger Space series, please send a photo of your blogger space, a blurb about why you write where you do, and a link to your blog to email@example.com.