What inspired you to develop “Great Moments in Parenting”?
I wanted to create a place where moms and dads could commiserate about how crazy it can be to be a parent. Not a site about a baby care, but a site for adults. Sometimes at the end of the day it helps to laugh about a hard moment over a glass of wine. This is my virtual parenting happy hour.
Who can submit pieces to the website? What are your guidelines?
Anyone can submit. There are three choices: The “Moments” category appeals to moms and dads who just want to post a quick note about something funny that happened. “Essays” are for those who write about the state of parenting from the front lines (suggested themes include: “Whatever Works”; “The Turning Point”; “The Day That Never Ended”). “Photos” lets folks upload scenes you have to see to believe.
What are your impressions of parenting sites that offer tips on how to be the perfect parent?
None of us is perfect. One of the great lessons you gain from having a child is that you can’t control everything. And you don’t get to pick the child you have.
This site is different because it’s not adhering to one style of parenting, nor is it one person’s blog. It’s a collection of stories from many different parents who are united by honesty and a sense of humor.
Another big difference is that Great Moments in Parenting is open to both moms and dads. Too often men get left out of the conversation because the parenting advice is geared toward women.
Tell us about the importance of sharing our stories and how that can help us be better parents.
Once you realize everyone is struggling to keep their head above water, you worry less about comparisons and perfection. This site is about finding humor and camaraderie in the chaos of everyday life with kids.
What has your own parenting journey been like so far? What has surprised you about being a parent?
When I had my first child I was surprised by how hard it was to care for him every day, 24 hours a day, without a break. Nothing I had done before (including three college degrees) had prepared me for the neediness of a human infant. A few years later I had two more kids (twin girls), and though the days are hectic now, I’m far less worried about “getting things done” or “doing it right.” I know sometimes you have to cut corners and just go with what works. In those early days of endless chair rocking, I worried I wasn’t accomplishing anything, but now I think parenting is the most important thing I’ve ever done. It changes every day, and it challenges and humbles me (sometimes in painful ways). I’ve opened myself up to friends and experiences I wouldn’t have had. And I certainly never cared about anything so much that I wanted to start a website about it.
Kids can do some pretty crazy things! What do you hope readers will take away from this site?
Sometimes you have to dig deep to find that well of patience … and when you get there it’s dry. I hope, in the middle of a crazy moment, as they carry their child screaming from the store, a parent can think, “One day I will laugh about this. And then I can share it on Great Moments in Parenting.”
You call “Great Moments in Parenting” a judgment-free zone. What does that mean to you?
Today’s parenting world is highly politicized. Visit any playground and you’ll encounter subtle judgement around different styles of raising children. My website is trying to put that attitude aside and say: we’re all on the same journey. Let’s be honest and admit when things goes wrong so we can feel more supported, less judged, and even have a good laugh together.
You can read Virginia Woodurff’s essays by typing her name into the GMP Search box, or at these sites:
- The Washington Post (here) and (here)
- Huffington Post
- MidLife Boulevard
- Austin City Limits Music Festival
- Do512 Family
- Birth and Beyond 360
- TV morning news appearance, KXAN/NBC Austin
- TV appearance: How to De-stress Over the Holidays, Your News Now, TWC
- TV appearance: New Year’s Resolutions for Parents, Your New Now, TWC
- “Featured Babymaker” at Austin site Do512
- Cast member, Listen to Your Mother: Austin, 2014
- Virginia Woodruff of Great Moments in Parenting (LiveMom)
- Like a Local: Virginia Woodruff (Statesman.com)