My blog is like a hungry monster, constantly demanding to be fed more and more information, more and more stories. Sometimes I worry that it is getting just a bit too personal.
I always maintain I blog anonymously, but there are one or two fairly major flaws in this. 1) That my only readers for most of the lifetime of my blog were my own friends on Facebook 2) I use my real name on Twitter. Because I’m so naive that, when I signed up for Twitter and it asked for my name, I thought I had to give it. Although my name is pretty commonplace, so I probably just about get away with it.
But no family members are named in the blogs. I also set out with a ‘no photos of the family’ rule, but then I thought the odd baby or toddler photo would be OK, because they’re not recognisable any more. Then I wrote about meeting Danielle Hope (from the Wizard of Oz) and having a photo with her, so it would seem strange not to include the photo – even though it was from only a year ago. The monster was getting hungrier and more demanding. I posted a recent picture of my son playing rugby. But he was playing rugby, he wasn’t particularly recognisable, I tell myself.
I have to think about how what I write affects the people around me – the people I write about. They didn’t ask for me to write about them, but in a blog about family life it’s impossible not to. The test I always apply is – is this something I would tell my friends? If it is, I will write about it.
But it may not be something my husband would tell his friends, or my eldest son would tell his. My eldest gets a bit wound up about my blog. He’s had all the internet safety lessons at school (and rightly so), but doesn’t understand the differences between the way responsible adults use social networking and the way school bullies or pedophiles use it.
He is worried I am putting his safety at risk. Should I take his worries seriously and stop writing about him? Am I being unfair to him because of the demands of the hungry monster I have created? A monster which is nowhere near as important as him, but is still very important to me.
Other parents say to him ‘Tell your mum I’ve read her blog, tell her I really like it.’ He doesn’t like that. My biggest group of ‘parent’ readers are my younger son’s friends’ parents, but because the kids are that much younger, they don’t feel the need to burden him with the information that they’ve read my blog. But the parents of the 11 year olds assume he will be pleased to hear about my blog, not cross.
The blog serves a number of purposes: to share information with other parents who may find it useful now or in the future and to ‘normalise’ situations; to ask for advice on issues I am struggling with myself; to entertain; to practice my own writing skills and, yes; as a form of therapy for me. All of these things add up to one seriously hungry monster.
Some things are too personal or too private to be shared and we all have to make our own decisions on how far we are prepared to go. Some bloggers talk about their sex lives. Others name their children, many have photos of them all over it, others are completely anonymous.
I admire bloggers like who are able to blog about issues, some big, some political and some small, without constantly referring back to their own families. Yet they still manage to keep their blogs just as interesting as other people’s.
Somehow I don’t seem able to do this – am I too self-centred and self obsessed? Or is it just, as I prefer to think, that with three growing kids and their demands, it’s hard to see beyond the next packed lunch, the next ballet lesson, the next rugby match, indeed the next bedtime? Family life is so demanding it’s hard to look outside it and write about something else. And that works for me.
We all do what is right for us.
At times I should probably think more carefully before bashing out a post. But I think/ hope I’ve got the balance about right for my family. And I will continue to feed this hungry monster for a lot longer.