Nearly ten years ago I experienced one of those defining moments that has completely changed my life—and definitely for the better! It wasn’t the purchase of a grand new home, a dream vacation to Hawaii or discovering that I wouldn’t be stoned after my first attempt at karaoke—nope, it was something far more important—I was hired by The NK View and The EG Monthly as a writer.
I can remember the day almost perfectly (and so can Editor Kate Phillips!). I had just about finished reading my monthly issue of the then, NK Villager, when I noticed an ad that caught my attention. The ad stated that writers were needed for the magazine, experience helpful but not necessary. My heart skipped a beat as I folded the page and placed the issue on my crumb laden countertop so that I could give it some further thought.
I had spent my years after college working full-time in a local dental practice as the office manager. That was my first “real” job, and I loved every 15 years of it. Not only did I work in a top-notch, high-quality and interesting environment, I happened to get one of the best perks I could’ve ever asked for—a husband!
Yep, on my 21st birthday (a day I was not supposed to work due to party plans by friends and family!), I filled in for someone who had a sick child and met my husband when he came in to have his teeth cleaned. Talk about fate! We got married two years later and I’m happy to report that after nearly 25 years of marriage, we’re still flossing together on a regular basis!
By the time I had seen this notice about the need for writers, I had since retired from my career in the dental field and was a full-time, stay-at-home mom to seven kids ages 9 and under. How I even remembered how to read a magazine back then is still beyond me, but am I ever grateful I found the time.
Writing has always been my true love (other than my family, faux finish treatments and pinot grigio!), but I never pursued it seriously because it was always one of those careers that guidance counselors and even well-meaning family members tried to shoo me away from. The life of a starving writer just didn’t seem that appealing, though caring for cavity-ridden teeth seemed more of a sure thing!
While I was pregnant with our seventh child, we bravely took our growing family on a summer vacation to Disney World. The commotion we caused everywhere we went was something I never expected. By the end of the week, I was so tired of answering curious on-lookers questions about whether or not the kids were all ours or did we have a blended family, I turned my frustration into an essay that was published by The Providence Journal, titled “Yes, We Have Seven Kids and are Proud of it”.
And so it began! The essay was very well received by both proponents of large families and those who wished we would be a bit more conscious of the carbon footprint our deluxe family would be leaving on the planet. The comment that continued to catch my attention, however, was “Cheryl, I didn’t know you could write! You should keep at it.”
Those encouraging words were all I needed to hear, and soon I began watering my creative seed and promised myself that I would search for an opportunity that would allow me to continue my love of writing all while raising my brood.
After re-reading the ad looking for writers for the Villager, I finally picked up the phone and bravely dialed the magazine’s number. Was I ever relieved to get an answering machine! I left my information and within a few hours, Kate called me back. She put me at ease immediately, and we both still chuckle about the extent of my contact back then with the real world—as a stay-at-home mom with seven kids I only ventured out of the neighborhood to visit either my OB/GYN or pediatrician.
Within a month I had my first assignment and ten years later I’ve been happily writing articles each month in addition to my column, The Family Zone, for our wonderful readers in North Kingstown and East Greenwich—a job I am privileged and ecstatic to be doing.
The time has gone by so quickly and we’ve since added one more addition to the family, our final chapter—daughter Annie who was born six years ago. As the mother of eight, (one who battled and overcame six years of infertility) you can’t imagine how many times I look at my kids in complete awe (or harried disbelief) and give thanks as well as pray for continued sanity as we now start sending them off to college, one by one, tuition by tuition—my heart is racing—let me stop there!
During the course of being a regular contributor with the magazines, I’ve branched out and written for national magazines, local newspapers, on-line publications such as Patch, am the adviser of the Pier Middle School’s newspaper, The Mariners’ Catch, and wrote and published my first book, Pregnant Women Don’t Eat Cabbage, in 2010.
Most recently, synchronicity has played an important part in landing me a new writing gig with MacMillan Publishing in New York City as their new Mighty Mommy host. Each week I will be writing a parenting column that will reflect on the various twists of parenthood along with a podcast of the article. Because you have all been like family to me, my first loyal readers to join me in the ups and downs of family life, I invite you to visit www.mightymommy.quickanddirtytips.com to share in this journey.
I look forward to my continued writing relationship with The NK View and EG Monthly (I hope you do as well!) and the opportunity to meet more and more of our community and share all the “feel good” stories this publication is dedicated to publishing every month.
I’m so happy I took a chance on myself by contacting Kate ten years ago which in turn became the inspiring springboard to my writing career. Even more so, I’m so glad I never have to live with the regret of “what if”—something far too many of us do in order to avoid potential failure, the most important lesson this Mighty Mommy hopes she can share with parents and kids alike.
Copyright 2012 Cheryl L. Butler