First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there putting in the hard work and unconditional love it takes to raise a child. Being a mother, is hands down the hardest job on the planet. As many of you know, I recently became a Mother. Actually, my daughter Victoria Bowie just turned 10 months today. Man, has it been a wild ride. I don’t normally post personal shit here, despite that’s how Grimy Goods started, but for those of you that have been following Grimy Goods and my life for the past 10 years (yeah, Grimy Goods turned 10 years on April 2 — stay tuned for more on that later), you know how life-changing having a child has been for me. And if you’ve been following my personal stories on @GrimyDiapers instagram, you also know all about the maternal challenges I’ve endured. Going into my pregnancy, I knew so little about making a human, what a woman’s body goes through, all the insane hormonal and physical changes, and I knew very little about being a mother. I have my husband Bryan (@brolinger) to thank for explaining everything to me. He knew more than I did! Google and #NewMoms became my best friends. For so long, I chose my career as a blogger and digital marketer first, I chose world travel first (24 countries, 4 continents and counting), I chose life experience, human experience first. And I’m glad I did, because that is what worked for me. I thought working from home, running Grimy Goods and still doing client work would be a realistic goals considering babies takes naps and stuff.
I now laugh at my sheer ignorance.
Being a Work-From-Home-Mom
I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it’s been to run Grimy Goods while being a full-time EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFEEDING mom. Victoria and I are still going strong on our journey, but she is finally weaning now that she eats solids. I’ve cried my eyes out, had some wild breakdowns, got anxiety (something I’ve never had before) and definitely aged a few years. I used to never have this many grey hairs or fine wrinkles. I do now.
Running Grimy Goods while becoming a new mom has been painful. To see so many of your creative content ideas sit in drafts and hopefully be visited the following year drove me mad. To fall back on show requests and ignore even more emails than I already did to begin with was anxiety-inducing. I thank my amazing staff for being so on it during those first few months of becoming a mother, and for being so patient with me. I know I sucked at submitting show requests on time and posting show reviews/photos on time, but I was busy becoming a mother. And let me tell you, I didn’t get handed the unicorn newborn.
Despite Victoria being healthy, her first four months of life she had severe reflux due to an immature digestive system. I won’t even go into how challenging that is for baby, and both mom and dad (just thinking about those first few months gives me anxiety), but if you want more details you can read this Grimy Diapers post. I also didn’t get handed the unicorn postpartum recovery. And I certainly did not get the unicorn pregnancy; 4 months of morning sickness, followed by just having this big ole heavy belly. You have no idea how painful it is on the body, all that stretching and new weight on your bones (especially if you’re active). From plantar fasciitis to carpal tunnel, hemarroids (yeah, you can get those while pushing out a human from your vagina) and endless back pains — these are just a few of the many pregnancy and postpartum ailments that I endured. I had to deal with all this shit, while running Grimy Goods. Thank goodness I cut my client work in half and still to this day only take on maybe 40-50 hours a month — otherwise I surely would have gone to the funny farm.
I’m telling you guys all this because I feel like I owe it to you.
For a few months, Grimy Goods had to run bare bones. Thankfully my background in SEO and evergreen posts is what kept my traffic rolling despite how little I published. There’s a reason why Grimy Goods is more than just your #basicbitch music blog — it’s because (1). I love creating and assigning list ideas, (2.) I love fashion and travel, (3.) I love writing op eds like this one, and giving my writers the freedom to write their own like this one. The fact that I built and run this site with content foresight that goes beyond song / video premieres, show reviews and interviews is what will always keep Grimy Goods afloat. However, it pained me to see my blog get minimal love, and not just from me. I saw my traffic dip those first few months of motherhood, but it still was probably higher than most music blogs’ daily averages because of my evergreen posts. I saw my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter take a hit because I no longer had time to engage. I had to turn down so many great opportunities, including partnerships, sponsored posts, and ads because I just did not have the time to commit or update a proposal.
Grimy Goods was Becoming Basic, and it Killed Me
Whenever I would feel myself going into a downward spiral, I would just look at this beautiful, bright little creature named Victoria Bowie Olinger. My universe, she is my everything. As I’m writing this my heart is getting tingly, there’s a pit in my throat and my eyes are swelling with tears. I had no idea how much I could love someone. I mean, I love Bryan a shit ton, but there is no love like the maternal love between mother and child. I built this human for 10 months in my belly, our blood was one, she fed off me and still does, my heartbeat was her constant lullaby and still is … I can’t even begin to explain our witchy connection. At just 10 months, this little girl is already showing signs of being just as magical (if not more) as namma and mama. So yeah, when I’m down, I just look at Victoria and drop anything and everything else without question. Nothing matters. She is my first priority and the reason why I ultimately chose to be her full-time mama as opposed to getting a nanny or sending her to daycare. The option was there, but I wanted to be present for every single moment of Victoria’s first year. I’m thankful that Bryan and I were in a position to do this, despite taking a sizable income cut on my end. When raising a child, it’s all about sacrifice. They’re only going to be this little once and you best believe I’m going to soak up every single bit of that adorable smile (I mean, have you seen my kid’s toothless grin).
What Falls Down Must Get Up
good great at what you do, you can always take a hit and still come out on top. Around 5 months when Victoria’s reflux passed and as she grew more independent, my workflow picked up again, and so did Grimy Goods’ traffic. I came back anew with fresh ideas and more optimization.
All about that quality over quantity.
Grimy Goods’ traffic peaked again, new partnerships and ads were inked and I was back online slinging emails and keeping my content schedules organized. Don’t get me wrong, there’s days where I fall off the map because my child needs me, but I know how to get back on top and dominate.
Not to mention, through all the challenges of new motherhood, I managed to launch and monetize a new brand (Grimy Diapers). And this was done with Instagram alone. Y’all just wait until that blog goes live …
You know what’ the best thing about creating a second brand? It’s the endless benefits of crossover. I thought Grimy Goods would benefit Grimy Diapers most, but Grimy Diapers has been the giver here. A whole new demographic has been introduced to Grimy Goods, and they’re moms! Moms need access to good music for the endless list of activities they have to accomplish each day. You think they have the time to scout out playlists or concert recommendations? And what better, seamless way to deliver their needs than coming from another mother. The crossover between Grimy Goods and Grimy Diapers has been most beneficial. And not just for me. I can’t tell you how many awesome, badass women I’ve met. Many were already fans of Grimy Goods, and now many of these women are part of my Mama tribe. I learn just as much from them, as they do from me. It’s nice to finally be able to connect again (as Sandra) with some of my readers and Instagram followers. When I took the direction of running Grimy Goods as a brand (2013), and not so much as “Sandra,” I lost that personal touch. It’s nice to have it back and to be able to express myself as a human, as a woman, and now as a mother. I think that’s what helped Grimy Goods’ initial success, was that raw human connection.
Sometime you gotta hit a low, to reach a new high. I’ve always known this to be true, but I haven’t taken a hit since 2008. That was the year I lost my job and created Grimy Goods, and started freelancing full-time.
BEST. DECISION. OF. MY. LYFE
While I by no means would call new motherhood a “low,” it has been quite a challenging facet of my life that set my creative spirit and career back.
Now that I’ve got a grasp on Motherhood (at least for now — yeah, it’s an ebb and flow), my career has been kicking ass again. I closed out April with almost 100,000 views for Grimy Goods, I just presented at the Adelante Mujer Latina Conference, it was my second time presenting as a speaker; I monetized my Instagram as Grimy Diapers, documenting mine and Victoria’s journey through motherhood, I’m doing client work again on a minimal basis, and I’m making self-care and date nights a priority. I accomplished all this while healing from 10 months of pregnancy and 9 hours of labor and delivery, 10 months of being a mother earthside, 5 months of postpartum anxiety (it still comes and goes), 5 months of body repair (fuck that “6 weeks” bull shit, every woman’s body is different and so are their methods of laboring and delivering), 10 months of postpartum ailments (some of those physical pains don’t go away right away, like my plantar fasciitis), 10 months of new physical ailments (Victoria finally weighs 20 pounds and my back is taking a beating), 10 months of trying to feel confident in a postpartum body, 20 months of keeping up with friends and family (my social life took a dip as soon as I got pregnant … #BecauseMorningSickness), and last, but certainly not least, keeping a healthy marriage. Trust, it can get real stressful and scary as new parents, especially when there is severe reflux or any baby ailment involved. Your marriage / relationship will be tested in more than one way.
By the way, it takes a village. This is how I managed to juggle it all.
So sorry if I can’t hang, or write about your band like I so often used to, sorry if I can’t text back right away, sorry if I can’t email you back in a time frame you deem acceptable, sorry for making you wash your hands before holding my babe, and sorry if I don’t want my kid hanging out with babies with runny noses. I’m not a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I’m a full-time work-from-home-mom. You have absolutely no idea how tumultuous it is for me when my child is sick and what it does to my Grimy workflow. With that said, kudos my badass spawn. Despite how many “germs” I expose Victoria to, she’s thankfully only had a cold once. This kids goes to so many bars and restaurants, has been to Mexico, has been on numerous flights and she’s only been sick once. My kid is magical AF.
Please universe, let her be like mommy and daddy, and get sick only once every year or so.
So yeah, sorry. #ButNotSorry
Moms Are The Ultimate Badasses
With all that I have accomplished in my life — being first-generation, not growing up with a silverspoon in my mouth, working since I was 15, and being a woman in a man’s music world — I’m pretty proud of myself. I’d like to think myself pretty badass, even as I write this wearing Crocs. But I’ve never known true badassery than a Mother who devotes herself to her family and child. We care for the family and child, while recovering from a beautifully traumatic birth experience. Some of us do all this while working! Some of us do this while breast-feeding a child (which takes up so many hours of your day). We do all this while riding a hormonal roller coaster (breast-feeding + weaning = ooooof). And some of us do all this while bleeding. I was one of the few exclusivley breasfeeding-moms in my tribe that got her period about 4 – 5 months postpartum. It makes EVERYTHING harder.
Moms are strong. They’re fierce. They’re magical. Mothers are badass. There’s a reason why the universe chose woman to carry and create life into this world. It’s because we are the strongest beings on this planet. I never knew our levels of pain and strength, until becoming a mother. Once you live it, you get it.
Now that I’m a mother, I look at moms in a whole new way. I have a newfound respect for all the women in my life that became mothers before me. I bow down to the mothers with multiple kids! How the fuck do you do that?! And I can’t sing enough praises to my own Mother and mother-in-law. Gloria and Linda, how did you do this back in the day?! Mothers today are so thankful to have it a bit easier with knowledge, breastfeeding and postpartum education / care (although this country really needs to make maternity leave and postpartum care a priority), and dope-ass technology like this, this and this. I mean, it’s still challenging, but at least we have some progress.
New Mom Advice
To all my friends with child, or thinking of having a little babe, to all my readers and Instagram followers, I hope you found this very personal and emotional blog post helpful. I needed to share this information so you understand what’s been up with Grimy Goods the past year. I needed to share this for all my badass boss friends owning their careers and slaying, shattering those glass ceilings left and right. Your career and all that you’ve worked so hard for does NOT end when you have a baby. Yes, it will get rough. It will be the most challenging thing you’ve done in your life (especially if you’re self-employed) — but know this, you will come back on top. And who knows, a new door may open for you like it did fore me with Grimy Diapers. Enjoy the time with your baby, as I mentioned before, they’re only this little once. The joy and happiness Victoria has brought to both Bryan and I is unmatched. It’s seriously the best and coolest thing ever.
I fuckin’ love being a mom.
With that said, I leave you with a playlist that inspires me. Music from some of my favorite bands, who just so happen to be badass women, some even mothers.