Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Perception, Presentation and Perfection

There's been a lot of buzz lately on the mommy blogs and adoption blogs about WHAT we post about. I'm too lazy to link to all of them but here's one from Wendy and here's one from Kristen. Both of them had great thought points that I took to heart--as I think anyone who participates in this whole "sharing your life in a public forum" should listen and participate in the conversation. The core of these recent posts was the privacy of our children, and how each of us chooses to protect that in varying degrees. The spectrum is WIDE. I still have friends who cringe at the thought that I have pictures of my children on the WORLD WIDE WEB for any crazy perv to see. And I read other blogs who not only have pictures of their kids, tell private/embarrassing stories about them, but they include last names and hometowns. I guess my goal is to fall in the middle. But to be honest, would a blog that has nothing personal on it be that much fun to read?
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But one of my blog/internet struggles is slightly different: HOW do I present my life and my self? I've had conversations recently with people about the purpose of our blogs and the version of ourselves that we are presenting to the world. For instance, Blogger A said she worried about what Blogger B's children will think when they grow up and read all these stories about how stressful they made her life, how tired she was, and how many naughty things they did. The presentation is that life kinda stinks right now. BUT, Blogger C told me that she doesn't even read Blogger D anymore, because it's all roses and tea parties and gush-fests. "Does she EVER have a bad day? I just can't relate to someone who LOVES her job as a mommy every minute of every day." The presentation is that raising little children is nothing short of bliss. Now, I'm not referring to the blogs whose clear purpose is just to post cute pictures for friends and family. I'm talking more about talky blogs who share stories, opinions and have kind of dipped a little deeper into the Blog World. (And oh yes--it's a whole new world.)
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So, it makes me think about my blog. Despite what you may think from all the things I share about my kids, I DO actually make conscious decisions to withhold some information from you. There have been many hilarious discussions about private parts that will not be posted. I have awesome videos and pictures of the kids in all stages of nakedness that I choose to leave off. But I also strive to use this little web log to share honestly about this season in my life--the season of raising small kids as a full-time job. I like to connect to others in the same season and share our ups and downs. I verbal-vomited a lot of my thoughts on this last July in response to a magazine article. And I will say it again: being a parent is COMPLICATED. It's not all playdates and snuggles and adorable outfits. It's timeouts and poop on your arm and smashed cheerios everywhere and sheer exhaustion.
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But what I'm trying to remind myself is this: my priority is not to vent, not to provide a funny story--it is to honor my children while recording this time of life. I give you all permission to gently remind me of this if you read a story that might hurt my kids later in life. (This does not include stories that will simply embarrass them. That is fair game!) I would LOVE to read stories from my own mother from when I was a kid--what funny things did I say and do? What did she think about it all? At the same time, my goal is to give an honest glimpse into my life, not sugarcoat it. Do I love it? Yes! Does it drive me crazy sometimes? Heck, yes! Would I trade it for anything? Not a chance.
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The other day I posted some pictures on facebook and a newer friend of mine said "You always seem to have it all together!"
I seriously was panicked at this comment. I could not handle that someone thought of me like that, b/c that would make me the biggest hypocrite ever. Of COURSE I look like I have it all together in a professional photo, for which I had worked tirelessly to prepare for and bribed my kids with candy to get them to behave and smile. I immediately informed her of several of my short-comings and how I SO do NOT have it all together. I love these pictures (these are the ones I posted) because they are great, we look good and everyone needs to have happy, shiny moments caught on film:
But the day-to-day reality is more like sweats and a ponytail. The house is a mess and the kid stole my camera again. I'm tired and could use a little break. So, as we all consider our web presentation, the perception we desire and the purpose of it all, I raise my coffee mug to the goal of BALANCE on the blog and in so many other areas of my life.

4 comments:

Wendy said...

Oh, I love this, Jen...and thanks for the shout out, too! I'm with you on it all. I think you have to set a sort of mission statement for your blog in your own mind and decide up front what it's purpose will be. I blog about teaching and parenting and adoption, but overall, my blog is mostly about me--and hopefully all of you--laughing at myself and enjoying the craziness that is motherhood at all its stages.

Having said that, I'm also with you about what I share about my kids. No private adoption stuff. I'm not going to talk about acting out behaviors, where, when, why, and how my kids were relinquished for adoption. Nothing like that. Ever. No nudie pictures ever under any circumstances at ANY age. Because there are creeps and pervs out there. Lots of them. Because I DO have an 18 year old, so I know that kids grow up and aren't going to be thrilled with some of the stuff their parents have spread all over the World Wide Web.

Great post!

Tibbslove said...

You're a perfect balance of beauty and chaos... this is why I stalk your blog on a nearly daily basis. And to be honest, I read your thoughts and processing regarding adoption, because I know NOTHING first-hand about the whole thing. Your openness is a vital part of me learning how to love adoptive parents better. Thank you for being intentional, Jen.

PS. Here's my dirty little secret: I use the "blemish remover" on my own face when putting photos on the blog. Of course I want the World to think I was born with amazing skin!

Jo B. said...

Do you REALLY want me to blog about your childhood and how I felt being your mom (and Mike's)? Or should I just put it in a journal and hand it over?

I'm not sure where I stand on the continuum of frankness in Mommy blogs, but I can say that I welcome the trend toward admitting the struggles that every parent faces. As a young mom, my dearest friends were the ones with whom I could be "real". Funny thing... that describes my dearest friends now!
Your Mom

SarahinSalem said...

This is a sweet post. I like how you're respectful of how your kids might feel later without being "perfect." Lots to think about here. :)