Fraser Valley mommy blogger Kristyl Clark shudders a little as she recalls the precise moment social media (that wonderful, terrible double-edged sword of human connectivity) bit her square on the butt — her bare, soapy butt.
The Langley mom was enjoying a quiet bubble bath, sipping wine and scrolling Twitter on her smartphone, when she stumbled across a post that caught her eye.
“A big Fraser Valley lifestyle blog tweeted that they loved a new blog, and recommended checking it out,” said Clark.
“So I looked — and it was mine.
“I almost dropped my phone in the tub.”
Clark’s new blogazine — She’s a Valley Mom — was far from ready to go live. It hadn’t been spell checked, some of the stories lacked headlines, there were empty tabs, it was missing pictures and nothing had been formatted.
Panic set in, and just like that, the late night sliver of “me time” the busy mother of two had managed to carve out was officially over.
Pausing just long enough to wrap herself in a towel, Clark sprinted out of the bathroom and across her Willoughby townhouse, trailing soap bubbles and her husband’s confused gaze behind her as she raced downstairs to her computer.
“I was going to take (the site) down, but it had already gotten quite a few hits,” she said.
“It had been so top secret,” said Clark.
At least, she thought it had.
“Apparently everyone had seen it, so I decided to leave it up and readers could just grow with me.”
Just like parenting, she laughed, blogging is a messy business.
That was a few weeks ago, and Clark still has no idea which button she accidentally pushed to spark her then half-finished website to life. But the philosophical attitude she’s adopted as a stay-at-home mom of Molly, 4, and Zoe, 2, helped her to shrug off the technical hiccup and carry on.
Today, She’s a Valley Mom is up and running in a much more official way.
The Fraser Valley-centric parenting blog offers readers everything from recipes and a family events calendar to Clark’s Pink Laundry column, which runs monthly in the Langley Times. There are also ideas for date nights, a weekly feature on inspiring moms called ‘Mom Crush’ and plenty of ’90s pop culture references.
Among the first celebrity profiles Clark has published, or will soon post, are Real Housewives of Vancouver star Jody Claman, country singer and dad Aaron Pritchett and children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond.
When Clark decided to leave her community news reporting job two years ago, she figured she’d thrive in her new role as at stay-at-home-mom.
The 31-year-old bid farewell to her coworkers, cleaned out her desk and began to plot how she’d be the ‘perfect’ stay-at-home parent.
“I had grown up watching the moms on TV and in the movies who always seemed to be happy, showered and put together,” she said.
“I dreamed about baking my own bread, immersing my girls with fun, educational activities and having a tidy, organized home. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening!”
After a few days of full-time diaper duty, toddler tantrums, missed showers and mountains of pink laundry, the rookie mom quickly discovered that being a stay-at-home parent was nothing like she thought it would be.
Clark also felt the pangs of loneliness that often come with the role — especially during the winter months.
“The majority of my friends were working and I ended up being chained to the house because of my daughters’ nap times. I guess you could say I felt a little disconnected from the rest of the world,” said Clark, who decided to put her unused writing skills to use and launch a parenting blogazine.
The goal behind the site, which is half blog/half magazine is to connect parents in the Fraser Valley with valuable tips, resources and advice from Clark’s army of Valley moms and dads who write regularly for the blog.
And, of course, she’s happy to document her own parenting wins alongside some of her greatest crash-and-burn moments.
Clark has poured out her soul in a post about overcoming an eating disorder, which she worries she’ll pass on to her own daughters. She also doesn’t hold back when she talks about the daily minutia of being a stay-at-home mom — fishing keys out of the toilet bowl and being peed on while shopping at the mall.
“My life is pretty much an open book,” she laughed.
“I’m the queen of TMI.”
Clark jokes about her level of candor, but it takes courage to lay it all out in such a public forum, she agreed.
“I think a lot of moms who blog are afraid of being judged,” she said, noting that some commenters hide behind the anonymity provided by the web to say some pretty nasty things.
Most, however, are supportive and appreciative.
They’re happy to learn they’re not the only ones struggling with a particular issue, or the whole business of parenthood, for that matter.
From one mom’s disappointment about her inability to breastfeed her newborn daughter to a same-sex couple’s experiences parenting in the ‘burbs, the blog won’t shy away from heavier subject matter, she said.
“If I can make just one mom or dad think ‘hey, I’m not alone in feeling this way,’ then it’s worth every minute spent slaving away at the keyboard when I could be watching a trashy reality TV show.”
Adding to the mix of parenting perspectives are six contributors who hail from across the Fraser Valley and beyond.
From a fellow Black Press reporter who struggled with infertility and a retired mom with two adult sons to a former teen mom now raising a teenaged son, a single dad raising four kids and a couple of local family photographers — there’s someone almost every reader can identify with.
“Just like the TV shows I grew up watching, moms in magazines always look so happy… so put together. Yes, there are lots of moms out there who are that way and kudos to them – I’m loving every minute of motherhood, but it’s a lot messier and more chaotic than I ever imagined,” said Clark.
“I think that if I had gone into it with a more realistic view I wouldn’t have had such a tough adjustment period.”
Check out Clark’s blog at www.shesavalleymom.com, or follow the site on Twitter @shesavalleymom. Go ahead and like her on Facebook, too.
When you think about it, social media does kind of owe it to her, after all.