This is my last column of 2013, and I debated for a really long time about what I wanted to write. I thought about current events and how to make them relevant to the topic of parenting. Surely the "Duck Dynasty" fiasco could be a teaching opportunity for my kid, right? Didn't feel authentic. Felt like a traffic-grabber. I thought of silly ideas, one of them being a "12 Days of Christmas" parody (because WHO DOESN’T LOVE THOSE). I considered writing a ranty Elf on the Shelf column (because I didn’t crap on enough Christmas traditions when I basically said STFU, Santa). Nothing really felt right, until it finally dawned on me: I should write about this column. This a column about my column. It's like "Inception," except on the Internet, and it has nothing to do with dreaming, so really, it's not anything like "Inception" at all.
I turned 29 this past January, and my best friend inspired me to make the most of the last year of my 20s. I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted to accomplish before turning 30. There are a lot of things on that list that I’m happy to say I’ve done, like lose weight (haven't reached my ultimate goal yet), run a 5K (I’ve participated in two) and see one of my favorite bands in concert (I’ve seen two of them: Edward Sharpe and Mumford & Sons). There are quite a few things on the list that I did not accomplish (go to Wine Over Water, start saving up for a Disney trip, begin writing a book), and there is something that happened this year that was possibly the most exciting and rewarding, totally unexpected and not on my bucket list. That thing is this column. (Im)perfect Parenting has been one of the best things that has happened to me in 2013.
This column has helped me grow so much already as a writer, and speaking of that, it has helped me slowly accept the title of "writer." I have a really hard time calling myself a writer—it doesn't feel real, and I feel like a hack when I refer to myself as such—but gradually, it's becoming something that I can claim a little more naturally and with a little less cringing and embarrassment on my part.
Not only have my columns helped me accept that I am a writer, but they've challenged me to continuously come up with fresh, funny, heartfelt content. They've made me become more disciplined with writing because I can’t just write when I want. I can’t put off writing—I have to write to meet deadlines. These columns have forced me to fine-tune my writing and to self-edit (though I have an amazing content editor whom I admire more than she probably knows, I try to turn in my work as complete as possible so that she doesn’t have to clean up my grammar like it’s a crime scene), and have made me expand my vocabulary and become more creative and expressive because I cannot drop f-bombs like I can (and f$^*!@# DO) on my personal blog.
I’ve been reading Nooga.com for a few years, and since I read my first "five things" column by Sean Phipps and laughed my ass off, I longed to somehow belong here. I followed the writers and contributors on Twitter, friended them on Facebook, and I’m happy to say that my e-stalking paid off and that I can now count many of them amongst my real-life friends and not just "people I know on the Internet." Making new, brilliant, talented friends was a completely unexpected perk of landing this column.
(Im)perfect Parenting helps keep my writing focused. Although I love Christmas, the holiday comes with some sad memories that threaten to overshadow my holiday cheer. My mother went into hospice care on Christmas Day 2011 and died three days later. I have tried in the two years since her death to preserve my holiday spirit and to not let those memories come back to haunt me. Writing has helped. More specifically, focused writing has helped. Blogging comes with a certain freedom to talk about whatever I want—and that is great—but sometimes, that freedom allows too much space for my mind to wander to those dark places. My blogging around the holidays tends to get very morose. My column helps me stay focused and keeps my content (somewhat) relevant to the subject of parenting.
I guess what I am trying to say in all of this is thank you. Thank you for coming here every other week. Thank you for reading the words that I write. Thank you for your comments and your feedback (even the negative feedback, as it helps me learn and grow). If it weren't for all of you, I wouldn't have a column. I wouldn't have a platform to talk about my horrible Pinterest fails, my drunk 4-year-old or what being a mother feels like to me. Thank you for embracing me in all my weirdness and imperfection. I appreciate every single one of you who reads what I put out into the world. I promise to keep trying my hardest to make you laugh, cry, cringe, yell, sniff, bark, meow—OK, I’m getting out of control. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Have a wonderful holiday with the ones you love. See you in 2014!
Natalie Green is a Chicago girl living in Chattanooga with her husband and their 4-year-old daughter. When she’s not working full time outside of the home, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, zombies and running. From zombies. And also beer. You can stalk her blog, Mommy Boots, or follow her on Twitter @mommyboots; or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.