How did one mommy blogger get plucked from the many to go on TV and talk about empty nests? I got lucky when Fox 5 news reporter Jennifer Lahmers googled “empty nest blogs,” and voila! “The Never-Empty Nest” popped up on her screen. In true 21st century style, Ms. Lahmers reached out to me on Twitter and asked for an interview. I tweeted back “yes” (media savvy Mom that I am) and gave her my phone number. It was a Friday morning, and in a matter of minutes I agreed to a Monday interview at my apartment. It was as simple (and delightfully random) as that.
But wait a minute—was this really happening to me?
In my pre-mommy days, I’d worked in public relations. Many moons before the Internet--I’m sure you remember that bygone era even if your kids don’t—I wrote press releases, arranged meetings, prepared media kits and followed up with phone calls. I labored to get the attention of the press for my clients. Doggedly persistent (without becoming a stalker) I had to convince reporters and editors to shine their spotlights on my clients. After weeks (or months) of effort (always practicing to perfect my pitch), I’d eventually succeed in securing a “media placement.” I imagine PR firms today continue many of these labor-intensive activities— albeit with the help and speed of the Internet, Skype, Twitter, etc.
Or maybe I’m wrong about what PR firms are doing these days. Come to think of it, I have NO IDEA how the media decides who and what will make the best story. For 18 years I was a stay-at-home mom raising an unusual set of twins. Even after they left for college, I was still busier than expected, helping them manage their complicated lives (especially Sarah, who’s on the autistic spectrum). When I realized that my kids were still unexpectedly present in my life (even while physically far from home) I decided to blog about my “Never-Empty Nest.”Of course, I had to overcome technological challenges and my lack of 21st century media know-how. Five years ago, if someone had asked me: “What’s a blog?” I’d have stumbled over my answer. I remember thinking “blog” sounded uncomplimentary, a derisive term used to describe the work of people who dumped their ideas and words onto the internet without much skill or editing. (Okay, so I wasn’t entirely wrong). After all, “blog” rhymes with “bog,” “fog” and “slog,” so how could the prose be any good? My husband, Henry, who is old school, prefers to call my blog, a “weekly column.” (Thank you, Henry).
When I started “The Never-Empty Nest” 1 ½ years ago, I hired a “social media advisor.” Midway through 77 blogs, I decided to add pictures. First I learned to use the camera on my iPhone. (Yes, I’m pretty late in that game). Next I mastered sending the pictures from my cell to my email, and then tackled uploading my photos so they didn’t appear sideways or upside down. In addition to posting links to my blog entries on Facebook, LinkedIn and 8 LinkedIn sub-groups, I also compiled an email list. But even that wasn’t enough social media. Everyone told me Twitter was a MUST. Try to tweet every day, I was advised.Until last week, I wasn’t a big Twitter fan, I must confess. Who has the time and energy to compress their thoughts into a 120 character tweet? (I know, I know, many people LOVE basking in this semi-anonymous attention.) Also I’m also supposed to “follow” (Does that mean read?) other people’s tweets and hope that some of them follow me. The goal is to acquire thousands of followers, (I have 50) with the hopes of building a “social media platform”—supposedly de rigueur in preparation for publishing my book, Picture Perfect Family, in 2015. Dutifully, I went through the motions of setting up my Twitter account (yawn), but I never understood how it could help me until last week when I got the notification from Jennifer Lahmers at Fox 5 News.
Now, I haven’t been on television since I was a toddler on Romper Room, and that was eons ago. Back then I couldn’t bear to watch myself on the small screen, and as soon as I appeared on my family’s black and white Zenith, I ran out of the room.
For my second ever TV appearance, I wanted to look good enough not to flee from the screen when the show aired. “Are you getting your hair and make-up done?” My friends wanted to know. But I had no time for movie star prep. I just managed to shower and change (after my dance class at the Equinox) in time to meet Jennifer Lahmers and her cameraman. Viewers of Fox 5 News with Ernie Anastos would have to see me with gray roots and self-applied make-up. Of course, I felt even older and dowdier when the lovely Ms. Lahmers, (perfectly groomed and without a hint of gray in her lustrous, dark locks) entered my apartment.
While looping the mike under my shirt and clipping it to my waist, I admitted to being horribly nervous
“Don’t worry,” the cameraman assured me. “I make everyone look good.”
The 45 minute interview flew by. I spoke about becoming an instant empty nester when both twins left for college and tried to offer some upbeat advice to parents who are recent—or soon to be—empty nesters. I also gave a short guided tour through the remnants of Max’s bedroom: family photos, sports trophies, the father/son soldier collection, and a forlorn and battered suitcase. I explained that my son’s recently vacated room was transitioning into a den.
Had I talked too much? I wondered when the interview was over. Had I yammered on about stuff I was going to regret later?
“Not at all.” Ms. Lahmers smiled warmly. “You did just fine. It will all be edited down to a few minutes and should be on at the very beginning of the 6 PM show on Friday, unless there’s breaking news.”
We were about to shake hands goodbye, but somehow we ended up in a hug. Ms. Lahmers was every bit as friendly and kind as she was beautiful. Dazed and floating, I returned to lunch in my dining room and ordinary life. Could this interview be the beginning of my 15 minutes of fame as promised by Andy Warhol? If you missed my interview live, you can still check it out at http://www.myfoxny.com/clip/10714492/the-empty-nest. Is it too much to hope that the Huffington Post will notice me and pick up my blog as a “weekly column?” Fingers crossed. Who says lightning can’t strike twice?