Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Final Spectrum column

Published September 27, 2009

St. George Spectrum & Daily News

9 years ago, I was a young mother with three children, a silly sense of humor, and a dream. I had a part time job I enjoyed, and life seemed content on the surface. Underneath, however, lived an electric undercurrent of potential. It pricked and poked and sometimes stabbed at me, saying, “You are a writer. You write. Why are you not writing?”
I confessed these feelings to a friend one evening. I told her how I looked at the pages of The Spectrum and knew I should be in there. I felt it with everything that I was. My friend’s response was matter of fact. “What are you waiting for?”

I had many reasons to hesitate. I had some college experience but no degree. I had no professional writing experience. I didn’t know what I would write or why anyone would hire me. In the end, none of that mattered. I was a writer. Why was I not writing? I said the same to the managing editor of The Spectrum, and the rest is history.

I’m trying to imagine what my life for the last 9 years would have been without The Mother Load. I’ve described this column as “fluff” on more than one occasion, downplaying its importance in an effort to hide what it really means to me. The truth is, this column has been my pulse, my life force, my soul on paper. It has been comfort and catharsis and celebration. It was my “barbaric yawp,” and The Spectrum was my rooftop.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing as if this is a last column, it’s because this is a last column. Faced with budget cuts that were abrupt but not unexpected in this economy, my editor let me know last week that The Spectrum would no longer be able to run The Mother Load. I had been anticipating this for a year, watching the trends and wondering when my time would be up. I’m surprised and gratified that they hung on to The Mother Load as long as they did.

I couldn’t leave without expressing appreciation to some very important people. My first editor, Jennifer King, is someone I will always consider a friend. One day, she told me that reading The Mother Load was the highlight of her week. I considered that statement one of the highlights of my life. Two editors followed, Kathryn van Roosendaal and Rachel Glidden. I was privileged to work with them both and thank them for their kindness and professionalism. Managing Editor, Todd Seiffert, has my undying gratitude for believing in me, promoting me, and telling me once that I had, “quite a following.”

Lois Smith, ILIKEU and wish I could tell you what a huge impact you had on my life. Thank you to readers who sent letters and cards to let me know how much they enjoyed reading The Mother Load each week. Thank you, especially, to a couple of anonymous readers who sent a card of thanks and encouragement and an anonymous gift that came at just the right time.

To my ex-husband, Aaron Wilson: thank you for supporting and encouraging me through the early years and for making me a mother five times over. To my husband, Richard Clark: no one gets my humor like you do. Thank you for every appreciative guffaw, for every proud declaration of, “That’s MY wife!” and for understanding what it means to love words like flabbergasted and surreptitious and facetiously.

More than anything, I’d like to thank my five children, without whom this column would not exist. The “load” of motherhood is, at times, heavy and demanding. It’s a load I’m blessed and privileged to bear. My kids remind me that there is beauty and hope in the world and that dreams are attainable if I just believe. Ray, Miriam, Cate, Evelyn, and Michael, you are my heroes.

While this will be the last edition of The Mother Load in the Spectrum, it will not be the last edition of The Mother Load. I could no more stop breathing than stop writing this column. The venue may change, but The Mother Load will live on, shifting from humor column to humor blog. Check it out at There’s not much to see today, but you’ll soon have access to new weekly editions, past favorites, and some other funny features I’m developing.

Thanks again. It’s been a phenomenal run.