I’ve been blogging for most of my four kids’ lives. While every post I write is not about them (it’s important that they see I have other interests and concerns), many of my posts are about my kids — what they’re doing, what I’m struggling with, how I’m trying to teach them. My family is the most important part of my life, and so it follows that when I blog about my life, I blog about them.
Eventually I hope my children will read all the posts on parenting that I’ve written and laugh, reminisce, and find encouragement in them. I write under the assumption that they’ll read what I’m saying, and I never write anything I wouldn’t want them to see. My kids read some of my posts now, but for the most part they aren’t very interested. Since I gave up on scrapbooks when I had my fourth and final baby, I hope my blog posts serve as a type of family history for my kids some day. When they care … if they ever care. (I think they will.)
But for now, me being a mommy blogger is mostly just annoying to them. My kids are private and have no desire to be in the limelight. They don’t like it when I take photos of them to put on the Internet. In fact, they hate it. “You’re not going to post this, are you?” is not an uncommon question in my house. For the record, if they ask me not to, I don’t. But I’ve found that navigating the line between telling funny parenting anecdotes and respecting my children’s privacy is not always easy.
When they were 2, I blogged about their tantrums and foibles. It was funny, and it created a sense of community among other moms who were also dealing with tantrums on a daily basis. But now it doesn’t seem fair to post things that are personal or potentially unflattering about my children. Now that their ages range from 7 to 17, I try to err on the side of protecting their privacy. My parenting stories are their coming-of-age stories. Where does the ownership lie? Out of respect for the autonomous adults my kids will one day become, I say the ownership lies with them. My job as their mom is to be discreet when I talk about them online. (Just as they need to be discreet when they post on Instagram and Twitter!)
But I do think some good has come from me being a mommy blogger. Even though they will say the attention embarrasses them, I know my kids enjoy going places and running into people who read my blog who feel like they know my kids. My kids have been warmly greeted by readers who say, “Sam! I feel like I already know you.” My youngest daughter, Ellen, is one of my quirkiest. She has a bit of a following, and people love to meet her in real life. We’ve been lucky that no one has crossed the line into stalker territory, though I know this can be a real fear among mommy bloggers today.
Because I started in the early days (some 10 years ago!) we were mavericks and it was kind of a free-for-all as blogs emerged and gained readership and popularity. If I were starting today, I might choose not to post pictures of my children or use their real names. As blogging has evolved, the need to create a deliberate strategy regarding your family’s privacy has also evolved.
In addition to keeping a fun online record of our family life, I think my blogging has been a good example to my kids on how to write about life in an authentic way. I’ve talked about how hard it is to be a mom to young kids, but I always try to convey the message that I love my role as their mother and that all the craziness is worth it to me. Reflecting on your life in writing is a good habit. In fact, my kids have started their own blogs. Sure, they forget about them and neglect them, but I hope they’ll incorporate the habit of writing and reflecting on their lives with humor and big heartedness just like I’ve done.
My blogging has probably affected my youngest daughter the most. Except for the year I took off during my pregnancy because I was way too sick to blog and the notion of it overwhelmed my pregnant psyche, I’ve been blogging her whole life — and blogging “professionally” here at Babble for half of it. She doesn’t see blogging as a weird hobby. She sees it, simply, as my job.
And when I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she says that she wants to stay home and take care of her four kids. “But I’ll probably just blog for some extra money,” she adds. Blogging from home is a viable and, I might add, perfectly admirable career for my daughter to pursue. I hope she does it … and I can’t wait to read her posts.More On