The Mommy Blogger’s Dilemma

 The author’s beloved, yet all too often, ignored, family

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At a recent party, I was introduced as a mommy blogger which prompted one attendee to relate the story of a mommy blogger of her acquaintance. This blogger, apparently had ten children and was a real posting dynamo, never missing a day.

“Of course, in her last post, she mentioned that while she was writing her last post, one son broke his leg and one sustained serious burns while trying to cook some mac and cheese.”

Ah, the  exciting, yet hypocritical life of a mommy blogger.

I don’t care what your mama status is: Stay-at-home, work-at-home, stay-at-work, work-away-from-home, blogging with children underfoot is fraught with irony.

For one thing, mommy bloggers, like most people, can only be in one place at one time. Eight-year-old Cooper longs for the day teleportation is a reality, but, until then, the laws of nature preclude that. Meaning that I can either live, or write about living. I can either run down the slip and slide, or sit on the sidelines, plotting my next post about slipping and sliding. Mommy blogging becomes the art of being both participant and observer, splitting the personality in a way I’m not sure is healthy.

Another factor is time. How much of it is spent blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinteresting, or otherwise promoting one’s written word? How much time is spent in research, in staying up with current events via the news or other blogs? Any blogger who claims to be one knows that consistency is king. Blogging once a week doesn’t cut it if you’re trying to build a readership. But what is the mommy blogger to do when the flu hits, when the new baby arrives, or when a move/crisis/diagnosis/dishwasher repair puts extraneous events (ala blogging) on the back burner? Crises aside, what is she to do when her choice is between spending the early morning hours deep in prayer or blogging? When choosing to spend the lunch hour between connecting with the children and marketing? When deciding what to do in the post-evening hours, procreating with the husband of one’s youth, or tweeting?

And then there are the aforementioned children. When I wrote ‘The End’ on the book I’ve spent the last two years procrastinating through, I made the big announcement, to which one of the kids said, “Does this mean you’re back?” Yes, dear. Except for the marketing piece. Surely THAT won’t take much time. I sometimes fear the memory emblazoned in my children’s memory of their mother will be the top of her forehead and the back of my computer and a distracted, “Uh-huh, yes dear” ringing in their ears. How much do we miss while tippy tapping away, our backs to our babies, our minds miles away? And yet, giving it all up would be the grave of writerly hopes, Twitter followings, Facebook friendings, and platform buildings, flames writers are advised to fan at all costs.

In my three-year-long blogging career, it’s this that causes me the most unrest, the dilemma between the burning desire to communicate, and the burning desire to be a good mama, a present mama. A better woman might do both and with flair. But I am not that woman. I am limited, tired, and getting older as I type. My kinetic resources are not what they once were and I find it increasingly difficult in this season of life to split them between living and writing about living. I don’t want to be an observer to my own life; I want to be a participant, fully living and breathing each precious moment, not sitting back, watching from an authorial distance, and wondering what the first sentence will be in my next post about this or that beautiful familial moment.

So, what say you, fellow mommy bloggers? Do you write with guilt sitting on your shoulder or have you found a way around that? If so, please share. If not, you’re in good company. Pull up a chair and let’s chat.

 The culprit at work.

 

 

  • Mary Alice

    At Building Cathedrals, we have found that none of us are able to blog truly consistently, so a group blog has really made sense for us — any one can take time off when her family has something big going on, but on a regular basis we are each only posting about once a week, so the burden is pretty light. However, while I will admit that thinking “I’ll post about this later” has sometimes gotten me into a craft project or other family activity, I often think that my parenting is too self aware because I examine it through the lens of a writer, even if I don’t always wind up writing about what we do.

  • http://twitter.com/Chatonsworld Chaton Turner

    Very well said. I write, Tweet and blog while there is a toddler trying to amuse me with dance and an adult male trying to woo me with kisses. Both are more than a little annoyed with the time I spend in front of them but far away… http://chatonsworld.blogspot.com

  • Sarah Baughman

    I definitely relate! Being fully “present” for my kids and for my life in general is a priority, but it’s definitely hard to balance with making enough time to write, and it’s trickier still that these days there seem to be so many “necessary distractions” for writers.

  • Erin

    Considering how little time I find to blog (and that I do it mostly for family who live far away and as a sort of diary), I always wonder at the bloggers who post so much. Either they need a lot less sleep than me or they don’t have any other hobbies or they neglect the house and family more than I do. Considering those choices (though I will make allowance that perhaps they have maids, nannies, and PhDs in journalism/English/etc) I’m not sad at all that I have so few followers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.trotter.18 Rebecca Trotter

    I blog about religion rather than being mom, but I have 5 kids underfoot while doing it. I’m lucky that my kids are spread out – from 17 down to 2. So my older kids are learning about responsibility because I do push off some of the lunch-making, take your sister outside to play chores on them. I was the oldest of a large family, and frankly, I often enjoyed helping out with little ones. And I value the relationships I have with them. So I don’t feel guilty about that.

    The other thing blogging with kids has made me realize is that I have a tendency to be over-involved with my kids (I know – sounds impossible). By which I meant that my life revolved around them and their life revolved around me. Blogging has made all of us take a step back and become a little less enmeshed. It’s good for kids to have to figure out how to amuse themselves without my help. Again, I think back to my own childhood and my mom wasn’t in the middle of everything – playing with us and planning crafts and outings to the park. And I never felt neglected. It didn’t occur to me that she would do such things. But she was there when I needed something – even just to talk.

    Recently I read a couple of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon books with my daughters. I loved those growing up and had read them with my older boys when they were younger. I was so struck reading them this time at the fact that Calvin’s mom was always busy doing something. She might be reading a book or re-potting a plant, or typing a letter to grandma or paying bills or whatever. But she wasn’t fully present and involved with Calvin – she was more likely to scoot him off and tell him to find some less noisy way of amusing himself. I had never noticed this before. That’s how it was when I was growing up and it never struck me as odd. But this time because of my blogger’s guilt, it really stood out.

    The one thing my kids complain about is that they’re always waiting for me. I say I’ll do something and then type and get distracted and they have to come ask again. But as Calvin’s dad would say, “waiting builds character”!
    I do make myself stop considering everything as a potential blog subject. It is crazy-making. The best thing I’ve done is have a notebook where I put ideas for posts that are easy, but not super-pressing. Sometimes just a story that family and friends have heard a bazillion times already. Knowing that I have a few subjects I can write about anytime I need them takes a lot of that “always looking for my next post” pressure off.
    I think that for me a big part of it is I had to stop feeling guilty. This is what I do. Other people do other things and have to put their kids in daycare. My kids get to sleep in and eat when they are hungry and go outside at will. And even grab my attention when they need it. It’s not a bad deal for any of us. But if I feel guilty about taking time to write and telling them to buzz off when I need to, I’m also telling them that I’m doing something wrong. Which I’m not. And when I feel guilty it’s very hard to recognize that a kid who is complaining and whining just needs to be told to can it rather than being taken seriously.
    -Rebecca
    http://www.theupsidedownworld.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.trotter.18 Rebecca Trotter

      Oh – I did want to add that I cut down on social media. It takes an enormous amount of time to do well. Twitter was really taking away from time with my husband – I’d get on at night and never come to bed. Now I use facebook because I keep it open all day anyhow and just send a tweet with each new post. To off-set the loss of publicity, I started doing a weekly “bloggy linky goodness” post linking to things I read and enjoyed that week. It draws the attention of other bloggers and builds relationships. And it’s fairly popular with my readers.

  • Micaela @ California to Korea

    Great post!

    I only blog at night, after kids are in bed. (This is not to say I don’t plan and perseverate over ideas for posting all day long! Just another way of being not present. :( ) I am by nature a night owl, so I don’t mind all that much. But then, I’ve also set the once/week posting rule for myself simply because I’d be neglecting my hubby if I did more.

  • Ellen Painter Dollar

    A few things that work for me:

    - Being really clear with my kids, but more important with myself, about what my focus is at particular times. During the school year on weekdays, I am strict about setting aside the laptop (and only minimally checking in with email on my phone) when the kids are home in the afternoon and evening. If I have a deadline and need to do something on a weekend, I talk to my husband and choose a time when he is able and willing to be the “parent on duty” and I tell my kids I have work to do. On a summer day, if my kids are happily playing with the neighbors or otherwise engaged, I’ll tell them I’m going to work for x amount of time, and that they can come to me if they need something but to please not interrupt unless it’s important. It just doesn’t work for me to try to sneak in a sentence or two here and there at times when my kids need my attention.

    - Taking deliberate and clearly delineated blogging breaks, which I announce to my readers, to accommodate times when I need to give more attention to my kids. This summer, I took the first five weeks off of blogging altogether because we were going away and I had a lot of house/home/family stuff to catch up on. Then I blogged only twice a week (instead of my normal 4-5 times a week).

    - Trying not to let mama guilt creep in (or to let the kids heap it on) if I’m working, and I’ve told them I’m working, and they keep interrupting, and I get annoyed! I am allowed to do things other than be at their beck and call all day, every day, and they are all old enough to get themselves a snack, work out differences with siblings or friends, find their shoes, etc. As in many households where Mom has been the primary caregiver, my husband can go off and work for hours at home with no one noticing or caring, while they can’t seem to stay away from me. I don’t need to feel bad about asking them to leave me be! It’s good for me, and it’s good for them.

  • wholemama

    Good thoughts. I certainly am not opposed to letting my kids fend for themselves, but as the blogging years roll on, I do wonder what the long-lasting effect on them will be. I clearly remember watching my own mom’s involvement in the political arena and thinking, “Why doesn’t she just focus on us?” and this haunts me. Time with the babies is short. Time to write goes on as long as I do.


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