I want to take a minute to highlight a couple of newish media ventures that I think readers of this blog would love. Funnily enough, both are a little old-fashioned. One is a literary magazine, printed on real, honest-to-god, paper. It arrives in my mailbox, and I know I need to clear my evening – put away my laptop and phone and snuggle into my bed a few hours before I actually intend to go to sleep. And the other is a podcast. Maybe that doesn’t count as old-fashioned, but as I listen, this form brings all the warmth and comfort of a radio show that makes me want to slow down, close my eyes, and just listen.
Both of these projects are doing something special and filling our need for real parenting voices amidst the chatter from popular websites and advice-filled magazines. After every installment, they leave me wanting more.
The Longest Shortest Time is a podcast and accompanying blog created by Hillary Frank. Hillary is a writer and a professional radio producer, and her experience shows in the podcast. I love good radio, and this is good radio. I just discovered the Longest Shortest Time last summer, at the recommendation of a friend. I was immediately hooked, and I plowed through the 20 existing episodes, recorded over the last three years, while I packed up our house in preparation for our move.
The Longest Shortest Time is about stories. But stories are different when they’re told from one friend to another, or one mother to another, empathetic mother. That’s something that Hillary recognized. She says:
“Something I did know from having been a radio producer for about 15 years, is – if you have a microphone, and you stick a microphone in someone’s face, they will tell you just about anything, and it’s not awkward. I just started sitting down with moms and calling moms, and dads too, to hear their stories of struggles in early parenthood.”
These are some incredible stories. The most memorable is Hillary’s conversation with her friend Kelly McEvers, an NPR war correspondent, about what it was like to combine early motherhood with her very dangerous line of work. That’s a perspective that I’d never heard before. I am nothing like a war correspondent, in my personality or work, and my experience with motherhood is nothing like Kelly’s. But still, I felt a certain amount of kinship with Kelly when she said this:
(The above image is an example of a *spark*card, quotes from the podcast printed on business card-sized paper. Hillary created these as a brilliant way to spark conversations between parents, with the idea that handing these out at your breastfeeding support group, mom-baby yoga class, or just between friends might help continue the conversations that she begins with her podcast. And spread the word about the Longest Shortest Time.)
There are lots more mundane stories as well: stories of babies that won’t nap, breast milk that isn’t enough, and embarrassing episodes of pumping at work. Even if you haven’t had these experiences, you’ll find that you can relate to these other moms. And you’ll want to hold them up, cheer them on, and thank them for telling their stories, because they are a reminder to us all that we are not alone.
Hillary launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Season 2 of the podcast about a month ago. I’m woefully late at getting this blog post up, because the Kickstarter campaign ends TOMORROW! She’s already met her original goal and attracted lots of attention from business sponsors as well. This is awesome – these are exactly the kinds of mom-driven media ventures we should all support. She extended her goal, and I still donated this morning, because I want to cheer her on, and I know that she’ll only create more goodness with this funding.
I encourage you to check out the Longest Shortest Time. If you love it like I do, maybe you’ll want to donate to the Kickstarter. But you can also lend your support to this venture by listening to the podcast and passing it on to your friends. It’s a lovely, vital resource, particularly for new parents.
Stealing Time is a literary magazine for parents run by a group of writer moms in Portland, Oregon. If I remember correctly, it was born out of the void left by Brain, Child when it closed its doors a couple of years ago. Brain, Child came back, and I’m a subscriber and a big fan of both magazines. But Stealing Time has turned out to be completely different. It’s raw and real. It’s full of stories, poems, and nonfiction that broaden my understanding of the parenting experience. They inspire a feeling of kinship, rare in this day of parenting media that plays to the mommy wars. This is no mistake; it’s part of the magazine’s mission:
Once we became parents, we knew part of the journey of parenting was writing and reading about it. And it was difficult to find the sort of stories we yearned for. We became disenchanted with media that aimed to provoke and shock and appeal to shallowness. We are tired of being pitted against other parents, we are tired of being told to feel shame for trying too hard or not trying hard enough, we are tired of stories about parenting that pretend that there is only one best way to parent.
And so we discovered our mission: To provide a venue for quality literary content about parenting: no guilt, no simple solutions, no mommy wars.
This magazine honors real stories, the ones that transcend pettiness fostered by much of modern parenting media. It also honors good writing. You know that moms and dads have toiled over telling their stories in just the right way, in stolen moments at a coffee shop before school pickup or late at night, after the kids are in bed. These stories inspire me to think about how to better tell my own. And between all the reading and the writing, this magazine feels like it is full of kindred spirits.
You can read some of the literary work publishing in Stealing Time on their website. If you like what you read, subscribe to the print version so that you can snuggle in your bed and turn the physical pages, as I love to do. The next issue of Stealing Time is a special Pregnancy and Birth issue. I’m told it is at the printers now, and I can’t wait to read it.