High time to get some info out there, right? You can ask us all anything in the comments, if you like, but we thought we’d get the ball rolling.
Actually, Rosie started it and named it, which is so sweet. I think I would have named it Happy Despite Them, and in fact Deirdre had started a blog with that name for our family. Happy Despite Them is our family motto, and I’ve told you about that.
But it was just our little girly place until I caved into my natural impulse to tell people what to do. Now that I’m old enough to get away with it (not that I haven’t always done it), it seems like a good thing, as long as you realize that I have one qualification – experience of my own shortcomings.
At the same time, I also really like posting about crafting, because I love crafting blogs.
I asked Rosie if she minded me sort of using the blog for my own purposes, and her response was something to the effect of “blogging begets blogging, so go ahead.” She’s great that way.
The Like Mother, Like Daughter name is “us” now, but I do want men and boys to know that we love and include them as well. I keep bugging Will to do a post about cars for big families, but he demurs.
2. Who even are you?
I am Leila. Egyptian father, American (Irish, Welsh, a spot of German because otherwise things wouldn’t get done, right?) mother. Only child of divorced parents. Wife of Phil, aka the Chief, maybe The Chief (can’t get the house style right here, like Sukie and Suki), who is American (Irish, Irish, and a little German, because, yeah). Mother of seven children, grandmother of four.
I’m a convert to Catholicism from nothing-ism with a brief, completely uninformed and unconvincing stop as a Moslem (now called Muslim but not when I made that stop, which was sometime in middle school).
3. Wait, how do you say your name?
I’ve heard everything, so don’t worry too much. Lie (like “don’t tell the truth”; misleading, because I always tell the truth)- La.
But of course, in Arabic, Lay-la. Which my father and all the Arabs always called me, so that’s okay too. He, having studied German, decided that Americans would only be able to say Lie-la but it should be spelled Lei-la because in German that would lead you to pronounce it correctly (for them, not for him).
Now you have some insight into how my mind works.
My mother named me after the heroine of Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers, so if you do the New York Times crossword, you will get that one right from now on (although you may still have to fiddle with the spelling)! My father named me after his mother. It turns out that Leila is probably the only name that the Arabs and the Welsh share in common, so isn’t it amazing how God works?
My middle name is Marie because I didn’t have a middle name, but was getting confirmed and then, soon after, married, so that was a good time to honor Our Lady and find something to chuck in there in between Leila and Lawler.
If you think about it, you will see how Marie is literally the only name that will work and not make things sound sillier than they already are.
4. But what are your qualifications to write about raising children and other such things?
I have none, really, other than the whole seven children thing, and a lot of solid reading — far more reading than may be reconcilable with actually doing a good job raising children (this is how I know that the young moms should limit the blogging, and wow, good thing they didn’t have blogging back then, because that would have spelled disaster for me). That my children came out great is due to my husband being awesome and my children being amazing. It is helpful that my mind works systematically, in a my-father’s-an-engineer kind of way.
Apply the appropriate discount to all I say.
Still. You either think what I say resonates with common sense or not. I also have many friends with many, many children. After more than 34 years of marriage, lots of homeschooling, lots of just life, I have perspective. Time does a lot to focus your opinions, let me tell you.
And I have been given the gift of faith. That is all. (For instance, I have no experience with adoption, special needs children, twins, nursing twins, or having all boys or all girls — although I could probably put you in touch with people who do.)
If you want to know about how Ask Auntie Leila came about, I explain the joke in this post.
Listen to me at your own risk. No money back.
5. Oh, so you have boys too?
Yes, three. I know some people think we only have girls (four). I love and admire our boys (men). They are great. I think they are very handy as well as amazingly smart. For all I know, they are also crafty, but if they are, they don’t take pictures for posting. Maybe some day!
6. Why does it sometimes take you days or even a week to answer your email from the blog? We can tell you are on the internet, you know, by how you’re tweeting and FB-ing and all.
I get a fair number of emails, because somehow people do want advice, and by golly, I am going to give it! So part of it is that it takes me a while to give a response — after all, I don’t know you and can’t just dash something off! Emails are tricky. (Which reminds me, if you emailed me and I didn’t answer, your email probably got lost, my bad. Try again if you want to.)
But part of the reason for my delay is that I try to take time to pray about what I’m being asked, so that you aren’t just getting my spur-of-the-moment, possibly ditzy thought, but hopefully something that is filtered through God’s perspective. Ditzy but prayed over.
I do take my readers’ questions and requests to daily Mass and put them in the Rosary, and so when you’re puzzling over my reply, just know that it’s probably God’s voice that’s confusing you.
Just kidding, it’s me.
7. Is there a downside to blogging?
I love it. I know that some bloggers are introverts. I am not. I am super extroverted. I am a believer in making bosom buddies with the person you sit next to on the plane, even though that has never happened to me — and why do they all look so trapped! I love to read, but secretly, part of the appeal on the plane is that my neighbor will see my book, know we are kindred spirits, and strike up a conversation about it, instantly becoming my best friend.
But I do worry sometimes about how people who know me in person experience the blog — especially someone who knows me from my wayward younger days, although now isn’t great either. If there is someone from my childhood or heedless young adulthood who reads, that person is no doubt shaking his head in utter disbelief that I would dare to write anything about anything.
To say I’m flawed is to give the impression that I’m just like most people, no biggie. It’s a bit worse than that in my case. To anyone who has experienced the trickier sides of me in person, or who has been frustrated with me on the blog, I do apologize most sincerely.
I’m also just fairly mediocre at most things, which is evident to anyone who comes in the door or talks to me. I worry a bit that readers will mistake what I post about as expertise, but even more, I worry that people who read the blog and also know me will not realize that I know this.
I say I’m not good at “most” things because, well, there’s lots I haven’t tried yet, and no doubt I will be superb at those. (Turkish boyfriend in My Family and Other Animals — love him.)
But, I have something to say to people like me, so that’s what keeps me writing. Sometimes you know the truth even though you aren’t the best exemplar. If that’s the gift you’ve been given, you have to go with it, even if it’s somewhat humiliating.
8. You seem pretty chill. But every once in a while we notice you get a little…
Yes, now that I’m older and wiser and a bit more chill, I want to have the kind of blog that I would have loved — that would help the young me. A blog of family life, of prettiness, of encouragement, of faith, of how to go ahead and just do things you enjoy, of the value of commitment and devotion, but in an accessible way.
But some things make me mad. I do not like to be told that something I believe is motivated by hate or anger. If I wasn’t angry before, that would do the trick. So, okay, I’m motivated by anger sometimes. And of course, the world is full of many problems, most of which get me worked up. I’m not sure anymore that getting worked up helps, but that doesn’t change my essential propensity to get worked up.
I’m trying not to rant about things, because I think that the internet is full of ranters (some doing a very good job, by the way; read regularly and appreciated by me). I think that what’s less available, and what people are actually hungry for, is just showing how to live as well as you can.
If you would like to get to know ranting me better, though, you can follow me on Twitter.
9. On the other hand, there are so many more impressive blogs out there, so why do you bother?
I know. If you happen to be easily overwhelmed, though, I feel like we’re your site.
10. Would you come speak to our group?
Yes, I would, if we can work out the details. Get them to invite me. You can email me about it: leilamarielawler (at) gmail (dot) com.
As it turns out, I have an opinion about everything and, like I said, I love to give advice (see 4, above, for disclaimer). So it’ll be great!
Any other questions? Go.