The anxiety of having a child is nothing new. Parents have been worrying about their kids for ages. However, the list didn’t always include lead poisoning, organic food choices or the potential dangers of medicine.
“I was thinking, ‘Write what you know.’ And I finally found something that I knew. It was being a neurotic mother. But it’s a different kind of neurotic than my parents were. It’s a generational thing,” Paige Wolf, 31, said.
The new mother of now-14-months-old Sam found herself in the midst of daunting questions about raising children in a modern world. With her own worries fueling her research, she began penning the book “Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt.”
“Being a green mom, I could share all this great stuff,” the 12th-and-Lombard-streets resident said. “A lot of it is simple and affordable and manageable. And a lot is so hard and we beat ourselves up about it. [The book] is a leg up.”
Putting the pen to paper last January, Wolf, the owner of Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations, finished up the 12-chapter book a few months ago. With the writings being shopped around, Wolf decided to self-publish “Spit That Out” in time for the 2010 holiday rush and is looking to have copies for sale later this month or early December.
“I put the call out there and I was shocked people that I’ve known through my whole life, my husband’s friends’ wives and people I went to high school with and famous comedies and authors, that they were sitting there worrying about whether the fruit was organic,” Wolf said. “I didn’t know that it’s so universal, these kinds of concerns.”
Wolf decided she would fill this informational void by reaching out to field experts and amassing the information in book form. The strengths and eccentricity of “Spit That Out,” however, are not just comprehensiveness, but a practical approach to becoming — and maintaining — a green household.
“It’s about the small steps, doing what’s doable and what possible. I don’t think everyone needs to live in a hut with no electricity. I’m going to use air-conditioning when it’s hot, that’s what makes me relatable,” Wolf said. “There are things that are so easy there is no excuse not to do it. Composting is really easy. Recycling is so easy it’s ridiculous not to do it. It doesn’t cost anything.”
Raising a child in an environmentally-conscious fashion is a natural extension for Wolf and husband, Mike Bederka, as the two have instituted sustainable living practices in their everyday lives.
“About five, six years ago I redirected my PR firm to do entirely green practices and clients who were green and had sustainable practices,” Wolf said. “Now, I can say my clients are all green or at least have some strong green practices. If I want to, I will take on a client who doesn’t have green practices or sustainability, if they come to me and are interested in going green.”
As a journalism major at the University of Delaware, Wolf worked for the school’s paper, “The Review,” where Bederka was her editor — a role he continues to this day. She wrote for local papers and continued this skill upon graduation.
“I ended up getting a job at the Grand Opera House. It was a job in PR. I don’t know how it happened,” Wolf, who commuted to the Delaware arts and music venue from Philadelphia, said. “I was the PR manager and it was a really intense job for a 21-year-old.
“It was a massive learning experience in PR, graphic design, journalism — a super boot camp. After a year-and-a-half I quit.”
The on-the-job training she received was put to good use when she approached a neighborhood boutique and offered to write them “a press release for 50 bucks. They started getting press and their vendors started asking me and then restaurants and it snowballed to what it is now.”
It includes managing no more than 10 clients out of her 19147-ZIP code home — the base of her public relations operation for the past five years.
“[Green practices were not] something I did since I was a child,” Wolf said. “Like a lot of people in the country, six or seven years ago ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘The 11th Hour’ came out and this truth [about the current state of the environment] came out in the media.
“That was when the whole nation woke up. It had a really big impact on me and learning more and taking on practices in my personal life and it moved in to my professional life.”
Wolf realizes the demands of a “green” lifestyle can seem daunting, and she hopes “Spit That Out” will help to dispel untruths like costs make any green practice changes prohibitive and the idea that people are alone in feeling overwhelmed by the available information.
“Number one, I want people to know they are not alone. And they are not the only ones Googling things up late at night,” Wolf, an Abington native, said. “It definitely helped me and answered questions in some way. If you have the personality type that is a worrier. Some people think I am calm, cool and collected. I think I can appear that way on the surface.”
With writing done after the recent addition of an epilogue, Wolf is working to put the finishing touches on the manuscript before readying it for publication. The successful completion of her first book was a personal victory a long time in the making, but hardly an endpoint.
“This [book] came from me worrying and I’m constantly finding new things to worry about,” Wolf said. “So I guess I’m not going to stop writing.” SPR
To learn more about “Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt,” visit www.spitthatoutthebook.com.