Meet our new Assistant Editor, Rachel Reiff Ellis. She’s an Atlanta native, (working) mom of two adorable kids, and a blogger among other things. We asked Rachel how she found herself writing about kids and her real-mom advice for new parents.
How did you find yourself at P&N?
Believe it or not, a few years ago I was well on my way to becoming an OB/GYN. I attended medical school for a brief period of time, but found the balance between parenting (my son was only 16 months old when I enrolled) and a medical career to be weighed much too heavily on the career side for my liking, especially for that particular time in my life as a mother. Everything about being a physician was fascinating to me, and I was sad to leave that dream behind, so I started writing about it. From there I got turned on to the world of blogging, and later began writing a humor column for a parenting magazine here in Atlanta. When I heard about the opportunity to be a part of an editorial staff for a magazine that focused on pregnancy and infants, I couldn’t believe my luck – it was my two interests combined! Getting the chance to work here makes me feel like I’ve come full circle, in a way.
What is your favorite part about working at P&N?
The staff here could not be more friendly and inviting. Everyone has made me feel right at home and I already feel like I’m part of the team. Also, the computer on my desk came with a fake mustache attached to it. When I saw that on the first day, I knew I was in for a great time.
What inspires you?
I’m definitely an extrovert, so being around people in general is a motivator for me, but I especially love to be around smart, creative, enthusiastic people who are doing something that they enjoy. It helps me push myself to think outside the box and work toward my goals with a lot more verve than I might otherwise.
Introduce your little ones:
I have a five and a half year old son named Noah, who started kindergarten this year. He’s incredibly inquisitive and is well on his way to surpassing me in both shoe size and SAT score. My daughter Rosie will be two on October 29th, and she is the life of every party. She’s never met a stranger, and from the time she was about six months old until she was almost eighteen months old, her hair looked pretty much exactly like David Bowie’s. And she totally rocked it.
What was your biggest surprise in pregnancy and/or becoming a mom?
It’s absolutely unbelievable how much I love my kids. The fact that I love them is not a surprise, but it was pretty overwhelming finally meeting each of them for the first time and knowing that from that point on, we were inextricably linked forever. It’s the kind of thing you hear about all the time before you have your own children, but can’t really grasp until it happens. However you might imagine that sensation to feel, multiply that by a million, and you’ll still only have a vague sense of the actual magnitude of the experience.
Your words of advice for new moms-to-be:
It’s easy to get swallowed up in motherhood once your children are born, but make sure you don’t leave behind every trace of the person you were before. Your kids might become the biggest part of what makes you who you are (and maybe even the best part), but there are so many other things that will still need cultivating. Don’t let those things atrophy – having a strong sense of self will absolutely help you to be the very best parent you can be. I’ve been a mom for almost six years now, and I still need constant reminding of this. (In fact, maybe I should print this paragraph out and put it on a mirror somewhere in my house…)
What are your top three mommy must-haves?
Honestly, my answer for numbers one, two AND three might be the Internet. Being at home with a tiny, helpless being all day can get lonely–even if they are the cutest tiny helpless being you’ve ever laid eyes on. I found a lot of ways to feel less alone through the use of blogging and social media and parenting websites, and even though it wasn’t quite the same as a heart to heart with a close friend over coffee, it sure did tide me over in a pinch more than once.
(I would be remiss, however, if I did not also say that I probably could not get through a day without a case of travel wipes on my person at all times. Kids are relentlessly sticky.)
Give us a glimpse of a day-in-the-life of Rachel:
Mornings are pretty crazy at my house. My husband and I both attempt to get ready for work while also feeding and packing up our kids to go to their respective locations. Most days we’re fairly successful, and other days someone walks out the door with two different socks on and a massive cowlick (usually me). Once I finally get to the P&N offices, things calm down a whole lot. At work I’m mainly in charge of updating the P&N website, answering emails (if you write to firstname.lastname@example.org, chances are I’ll be the one to respond!) and writing and editing different parts of the magazine. At the end of the day I go get the kids (my husband drives a scooter to and from work, so unless we invest in a two-person sidecar, I’m the one with pick up duty) and we do homework, have dinner, and try to spend some time outside before bathtime, books and bedtime. After the kids are asleep I usually do a little bit of writing, and I also try to remember to take a moment to make sure we all have clean underwear for the next day. It’s a pretty full life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As a mommy blogger yourself, what are your favorite parenting blogs to follow?
It’s funny, because I don’t really think of my blog as a “mommy blog”, and I think the blogs I enjoy the most are the ones whose writers talk about parenting but also a whole host of other things. One of my favorite blogs is Finslippy, written by Alice Bradley. She’s a phenomenal writer, and is very candid about her struggles and triumphs in parenting, as well as life in general. She sounds like someone I could meet for coffee. I also enjoy Rebecca Woolf’s blog Girls Gone Child . She found herself unexpectedly pregnant in her early twenties, and tends to have a wonderment about her life as a parent that is lovely to read. (Our children are also the same gender and age, which only makes me like her more.) One of my all-time favorites is Mimi Smartypants, who I’m about 95% sure would laugh if she saw herself on a favorite parenting blog list. She writes about her daughter only about a third of the time, but her (excellent, whip-smart) writing makes me laugh harder than just about anything else on the Internet. There are many, many more I could list – there are so many excellent women (and men) writers who are chronicling their lives on the web, I seem to stumble across a new one every week.
You'd be surprised to know ______________.
That I have never been to Disney World. The reason I know you’d be surprised to know that is that every person I’ve ever told that to has gasped out loud as soon as the words left my mouth. I’ve also never had a tan, but if you’ve ever seen me in person, that fact is not nearly as shocking as the first one.
Honors, accomplishments, lifetime milestones:
I’d say that growing and birthing my two children ranks right up there on my list of accomplishments. Gestating another human being is no joke–it’s incredibly hard work! But it was also a huge milestone for me to be accepted to medical school. My undergraduate degree is in music, so I had a lot of work to do before I could even apply, and getting that big envelope in the mail that said “Acceptance Enclosed” was a golden moment that I’ll never forget. I also traveled solo in Europe for two weeks when I was a junior in college, which was an amazing adventure. And as for honors, once when he was three years old my son Noah looked at me out of the blue and said, “I’m glad you’re my mommy.” I’m not sure a higher honor exists than that.
(In the words of Oprah) “Here's what I know for sure”:
You never know where life is going to lead you. Be open to change, and seek joy in all you do.
Come say hello on the P&N Facebook page or by email–I’m really looking forward to getting to know the readers of P&N! –Rachel.