Unpacified is not a blog. Well, not exactly a blog.
A blog, in its most traditional form, suggests that the author invite readers into his or her daily life: struggles, successes, feelings and opinions. And to me, that sounds AWFUL.
Let me back up for a second. I love blogs and have the utmost respect for anyone who has been able to develop a digital platform. Creating (and maintaining!) a blog is a time-consuming, uphill battle and my hat is off to those bloggers who are able to make some noise within the community.
I’m a writer. That’s what I do; it’s what I’ve always done. My dream has always been to write really great stories, preferably about people and things that have nothing to do with me… until now.
After becoming a mother, I quickly became aware that there was an incredible lack of raw, honest, unfiltered material for women (digital or otherwise). It wasn’t a completely abandoned market (please read this fucking AMAZING post from The Ugly Volvo), but it was widely overlooked. I decided I wanted to write a book that offered women a unique, underrepresented view of the ups and downs of new motherhood… but I wanted to do so from behind my own personal brick wall.
My wonderfully supportive, incredibly patient literary agent (Matthew Elblonk) told me I needed to start a building a tribe online; that the publishing world has evolved, and “motherhood” writers need to be present in the digital space.
“No,” I quickly responded. For me, it wasn’t even a conversation to be had.
“Leslieeeee,” he said, in the sort of tone that says “you’re being ridiculous and you know it.” Matthew is one of the few people that routinely, and unapologetically calls me on my own bullshit. (My husband is very grateful to have someone to share this burden. And because Matthew is not legally bound to me in any way, I am far less likely to throw a shoe at him).
I explained that the market was saturated enough, and I didn’t need to throw my name in the ring. What could I possibly offer that wasn’t already out there being done?
To which Matthew said, “Well, then, what’s your book gonna be about?”
Shit, I thought. He had a point.
Launching Unpacified meant that I would be opening a window into my own world. I was scared it wouldn’t work, I was scared my voice wasn’t as unique or as loud as I hoped it would be. And what would happen if it didn’t actually resonate? What if people couldn’t relate to me?
By nature, I’m obscenely, albeit selectively, private. I’ll tell you about watching, in the reflection of a plastic bassinet, my daughter being pulled out of my stomach, but I can’t express a feeling to save my life. I can be both incredibly sensitive, and blissfully unaware. Writing about myself, in any form, would leave me vulnerable to criticism, critique and self-doubt. I’ve been unable “to people” long before it was popular. During my engagement party, I ate dinner alone in my parents garage. It’s really nothing to glorify.
Eventually, I sought the advice of a close girlfriend for whom I have tremendous respect (despite her inexplicable distaste for all shades of purple). She is much wiser than I am which is pretty annoying because she’s also much younger than me. She and I share a mutual appreciation of “being about that hermit life,” so I figured she would get it and had hoped that she would agree with me…she did not.
“Yeah, you sort of have to,” she said. Understanding my hesitation, she suggested that I take one step at a time: start with an Instagram account, and go from there.
Reluctantly, I took her advice… slowly, at first, before completely diving in.
And the result? Sheer awe and total humility.
Over the past 90 days, I’ve come to two pretty incredible realizations.
Number 1: Despite the commonly held belief that women are catty, jealous and competitive creatures, I have found that women are tender, encouraging, respectful and kind.
Behind the scenes of Unpacified, I’ve been truly humbled by all of the amazing women who have helped me to begin this venture. My tried and true lifelong home girls: Cassandra, Krystal, Piper, Lauren T., Lauren S., Lindsay, Jenny, Jeni, Jenn, Jacque, Aili and Erin (in no particular order). I have also unwittingly–and very gratefully–stumbled into a community of the most supportive women imaginable, who want nothing more than to help another woman succeed with nothing to gain for themselves, except a new friend (Hannah, Kallyn, Lauren G., Sydney, Casey, Tracy, Jeannie, Nicole, Holly, Alex, Emma, Valorie and the incredible talents at LC.com, Ilana, Rachel and Allison.)
Also, Yoni may not be a card carrying girl tribe member, but he gets serious visitation rights. Thank you for the unbelievable images. Aside from being an integral part of this project, they’re something I will always cherish. Seth Cohen has nothing on you.
To all of you, I offer my sincere thanks…I’m forever indebted for your generosity and owe you my second born (for real…babies are hard).
Number 2: Women are STARVING for candid, raw and genuine conversations about motherhood.
The most unexpected and gratifying reward of this journey so far is all of you…the thousands of people who found my silly little Instagram account and connected to it in some way. I am so humbled. And to all of the amazing mamas out there who have commented, messaged, or emailed me to say that you found yourself relating to me or thanked me for my willingness to be open or for representing motherhood in a raw and humorous way, I say this… it is YOU that I should be thanking.
I didn’t want to open up my world because it scared me, and I am beyond grateful to all of you for opening up to me. I have come to realize that this journey isn’t really about “a book” (although a book would be nice… Elblonk). This is about women being good to women, and moms supporting other moms. This is about breaking down the misconceptions, the unrealistic expectations and the idea that just because you had a shit-tastic day doesn’t mean you’re not fucking awesome.
This isn’t a blog, because Unpacified isn’t about me; it’s about US!
This is a place for women who know that no parenting journey is the same. That breast fed babies are awesome, and so are formula fed babies. That crying it out can work, but not letting them cry it out is cool too. This is a community that knows that motherhood is hard enough without us harping on one another. There’s ZERO chastising, judging, or shoving opinions down each other’s throats. Becoming a mom may have made me soft, but I’m not about to put up with any mom-shaming bullshit, so if that’s your agenda…to the left, to the left.
To quote the Countess LuAnn…Be cool. Don’t be all, like, uncool.
This isn’t about my journey; this is about OUR journey. While I will happily share little stories of my life, the true aim here is to create a community of support for women who don’t always have their shit together or manage to slap on mascara. This is about women who love their family endlessly, but also desperately want to binge watch reality TV without consequence.
You have something to say or a funny story? Email me and you could be on Unpacified. You’re struggling or in need of some guidance? Reach out or comment below and I’ll try to help the best I can…or together we can call on the Unpacified community for their support. You need a vent session or want to make sure that you’re not the only one to accidentally forget to buckle your baby into the carseat before jumping on the freeway? Then you are in the RIGHT PLACE.
I may not have all the answers, I may not have the best advice, but I can promise you this: you won’t be alone.
Welcome to Unpacified…it’s not always gonna be easy, but it’s gonna be great.