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Today Is The Day My Child Said: Don't Share That, Mom

Today my daughter spent some time in the kitchen making a “potion” that was made up of the dregs of some Gatorade, some apple juice, and a handful of pistachio shells. She solemnly brought me a sample to drink and said, “You have to be very careful of the mustachios. Those mustachio shells are very, very dangerous.”

My mother and I burst out laughing, trying and failing to wait until she was out of the room. As I am won’t to do, since I’m a mom blogger and a Twitter addict, I pulled my laptop to me and sent out a quick tweet, because seriously? Mustachios? How cute is that (forgive my typo here, please)?

Then my daughter noticed, and asked what I’d done. I told her that the word was actually “pistachios” and that I thought it was adorable that she called them “mustachios” and told her it made me think that the nuts had little tiny moustaches, and that was really really funny.

She looked very serious and said, “So your friends are laughing at me?”

Well.

I’ve been waiting for this day, and in fact, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the line between sharing our lives and treading on our kids’ privacy online. After all, I’m the biggest advocate of moms sharing their stories online; I believe that telling OUR stories as mothers is a brave act, and one that is important. Yet, even so, some of the comments on this post about this subject have really made me think; when, in fact, DO we need to think about the kids?

My daughter is five and a half, and she gets the internet. I know some people think she doesn’t quite grasp the full scope of it, and maybe that’s true, but she knows that I talk to my friends through the computer, that my friends read my words and see pictures of her. She often asks me to take pictures of things she’s wearing or drawings she’s made so that I can “show my friends.” She makes little videos of herself with my iPhone and asks me to post them on my “mom blog.” So she has known, for a long time now, what being a mom blogger means.

I’ve watched many a mom blogger hit this point (particularly Heather Armstrong with her oldest daughter); the kids grow up, have an opinion, and ask to be left out of the story when it comes to blogging. My daughter has a well-defined sense of self (oh yes she does) and as a family in recovery we talk frequently of setting boundaries and respecting each other and our desires. So when my daughter objected today, I knew it was time to have the conversation.

First, I made it clear to her that no one was laughing at her. We laughed because what she said was cute, that it reminded us in a moment of the joy of childhood, and that what she said was  unintentionally funny. We weren’t laughing at her to be cruel.

But then I turned the conversation more serious. I made sure she was listening to me, made her sit and look at me while we talked, and I told her, “Tori, you know I write on the internet about our family for other people to read. If you would rather I not share something that way, you have every right to say no. To tell me not to. It’s your life, and I share it because I love you, but if you are uncomfortable you can tell me. Okay?”

She thought about it a moment and said, “You weren’t laughing at me?” I repeated that we were not. “Okay,” she said. “But will you still show my pictures?” I said I would. “Okay.” She said, and skipped back off to finish her potion.

Now, it’s up to me. It’s time for me to make a habit of asking her if it’s okay to post something just like I do with my mother and my husband, the other folks that live in this house before I do it. What this does to my designation as “mom blogger” remains to be seen. Can I still be a “mom blogger” if I’m not blogging about my kid?

In the last year I’ve seen many visible signs of the mom blogging community growing up; this September it was truly astonishing to see the huge percentage of “first day of kindergarten” photos circulate through the blogosphere (not that there aren’t plenty of mom blogs with new moms and babies, but those of us that have been around a while have kids that are growing up). Divorces are becoming frequent (another sign of aging relationships), many women that blog have been returning to the workforce since their kids are all in school… the face of mom blogging is changing. As we grow older as a community, one of the things we are all going to have to realize is that the kids are also part of our community, too, and this will test the maturity of the mom blogging community as a whole. After all, my GOD, someday our kids will blog. Won’t that be something?

I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows up. But in this house, from now on my daughter gets a choice when I decide to share about “mustachios.” But still, guys; how cute is that?

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