Friday, October 27, 2023

New ‘Rookie Mama’ columnist shares unique take on motherhood

The Windham Eagle will introduce a new monthly column next week about a topic that everyone has had some experience with – motherhood. Whether you are a parent or a child, we all have mothers, and this new column provides a look at the day-to-day life of being a mother operating without an instruction manual.

Michelle Cote's column "Rookie Mama' will
debut in next week's edition of The Windham
Eagle newspaper and examines the experience
of being a mother operating without an
instruction manual. SUBMITTED PHOTO. 
Michelle Cote is the “Rookie Mama” and her column was originally launched in 2015 to promote a Maine daily newspaper’s Sunday section, but quickly gained a devoted following and became syndicated, appearing in newspapers across America. Since her column last appeared in 2018, her mothering experience has grown significantly and now she is reviving her column for The Windham Eagle.

“I’ve been a big fan of Michelle’s column and know how she relates to readers,” said Ed Pierce, Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle. “If you don’t know about Michelle, you soon will through her writing, and I predict this column is going to be widely read and talked about in this community.”

Cote says she’s thrilled to revive her column for a new audience here in Windham and Raymond.

“The best thing about writing this column is once again having the opportunity to humbly share what I've learned – and continue to learn – about raising a bunch of boys,” she said. “The most challenging aspect is finding time to write – because I'm raising a bunch of boys! Although my perspective has evolved from mama-of-a-newborn to mama-to-four, I hope to use this wonderful opportunity to share helpful frugal living tips, crafting hacks, relatable stories, and lots of puns.”

Writing the “Rookie Mama” column as a regular series sort of happened by accident.

“My publisher at the time asked for me to write one introductory article to accompany a family-focused

section of a new Sunday newspaper, not because I was a writer – far from it,” Cote said “I was creative director in the graphics department – but because I was a new mama. His wife liked to bake cakes for the office, which I truly appreciated, so I happily obliged. He received positive feedback and asked that I continue.”

She graduated from Catherine McAuley High School in 2001 and received bachelor's degrees in both Graphic Design and Communications Media from Salve Regina University in 2005, where she was a founding member of its AIGA (American Institute for Graphic Arts) student group.

“I served as creative director of a daily newspaper for 13 years, and my 'Rookie Mama' column received recognition from the Maine Press Association before being picked up for national syndication for a period of time,” Cote said. “Five years ago, I accepted a position in interprofessional education at the University of New England, using my communications, marketing and design background to help coordinate events and programming for students from a wide variety of healthcare disciplines.”

According to Cote, the things she’s learned the most about being a mother are things other moms can relate to.

“The old quote is as profound as it is true – Motherhood is deciding to forever let your heart go walking around outside your body,” she said. “I've learned to appreciate my own mother in ways I couldn't understand before. Oh, and I've learned to navigate multiple conversations at the same time, eat an entire meal in under a minute, and get dressed in even less time.”

In writing the column, Cote found that in some ways she’s different from her own mother and yet similar in many ways.

“My own mother is a classically trained musician, loves to knit, and has a tremendous amount of patience,” Cote said. “My lifestyle with my children is highly focused in our garden, in the kitchen, sports and creative arts. My mother comes from a large family; I'm raising one! She raised all girls; my husband and I are raising all boys. My mother and I are both very creative and abundantly affectionate toward our kids, despite raising children in different generations.”

Of all the columns that Cote has written, she says that her favorite is an unlikely one.

“I once wrote a Christmastime column about our French-Canadian family tradition of eating tourtiere – pork pie – during the holiday season,” she said. “While most people eat this with ketchup, I prefer mustard, far superior. Of all topics I'd written about, this proved to be the most controversial. I received several emails – even handwritten 'P.S.' notes in Christmas cards – from horrified readers who were outraged by my preference for mustard on pork pie. My husband loves it, too. And we're very much in the minority among those who share our heritage!”

Starting with the Nov. 3 edition, Cote’s “The Rookie Mama” column will appear monthly in The Windham Eagle newspaper. <

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