Starting a parenting blog was one of the most fulfilling stress-relief-creative-outlet combos that I could have signed up for. Beyond the perk of being able to keep my writing pens from collecting dust and shielding my “left brain” from non-usage cobwebs, I get to talk…to myself. Constantly. Mostly to my readers, but…to myself, too.
My mental output is pretty charming. And reliable. I trust it.
I have come to rely on my blog like a friend I must call on twice a week and relay all current parenting adventures by, just to ensure continued pseudo-sanity. I seek out readers rabidly for verification that it’s okay to hide out from the kids in a bathroom sometimes. Networking with strangers about normalizing diaper blow-outs and identifying signs of autism have become a pastime of sorts.
The parent network is unparalleled.
Moms and dads and caregivers are the most truly overworked, perpetually exhausted, by-any-means sacrificial lambs on planet Earth. Most parents maintain the barest minimum verbal scripts and physical motions through their days because that’s the only way they would make it in those moments.
I have been there. Numerous times. Too numerous to count.
Sometimes, “robot” is all we can perform because the kiddies are performing (everything, everywhere) otherwise.
It is strangely relieving, though, to see another mom struggle with a screaming preschooler through Target since I know that, just 10 minutes prior, I was that mom with that kid and had to shut him up with popcorn. It doesn’t feel so solitary to compose a Facebook status about the toddler waking up constantly in a night and receiving parent friends’ chiming in with their own experiences of similar horrors. Publishing a blog post that highlighted the sweet spirit of a dad’s humanitarian tot and of another dad’s painful honesty about missing his girls’ daily lives, and to have those posts reach hundreds of people, is reassuring and encouraging and exclusive in a time when we are getting further apart. Parenthood and its dramatic unravelings and unrolled consequences is somehow just that tiny bit easier when embraced in something like…a giant play date.
While parenting is the play date, being a parent blogger is like a really fancy, really mythical dinner party.
I attend the party regularly now, but recall with fondness my first “meeting,” or my first few weeks blogging. If instructed to bring something for the group, I packed (wrote) what was the equivalent of tiny snack bags carrying cheap fruit snacks. My snacks–boxes of raisins, a package of peanuts, some chocolate candies, fruit snacks, all wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon–wasn’t a slouchy presentation. It was a handsome gift with ease and thoughtfulness considered. I thought I was cute with my contribution.
My blog was readily donated to public scrutiny. It was pretty and professional and vulnerable. Wrapped in cellophane.
I got to my designated grand room. I greeted others immediately; I handed my package to the hostess. “Very cute,” she complimented me of the gift. My first month of posts were to this woman, summarily, “cute.” She then took my snack bags and fruit snacks and dropped them into a basket, a deep, dark void where they disappeared instantly.
The void is the Internet with no readership. “For everyone to share,” she noted, then skated on smoothly.
I glanced around at the others in attendance. One mom had a 9-tier wedding cake adorned with a topper that shot sparks majestically into the high ceilings. Her popular blog, born decades ago, is the one most covet with thousands of readers and a podcast companionship with top-10 listener status and daily offers to buy. One dad had cupcakes that jumped about, decreasingly in size, like nesting dolls. His blog is hilarious and has readers because of his witty Twitter micro-blogging and his ability to seemingly not care about parenting while caring too much simultaneously. There were 7-course dinners. Volcanoes made of sugar and fondant. Gorgeous plates of salmon and turkey and caviar. Their donations to the party were so much better than my little modest one.
Who was I kidding? Bringing baby snacks to such extravagance, such lavish, lush opulence?
I didn’t even have hors d’oeuvres-level food.
That’s what a self-taught blogger feels like when her blog is live and she has no idea what to do next.
Blogging was intimidating. I said I was going to stick it out for a year because I had given out money I couldn’t afford to pay my fantastic website designer. I lowered my expectations that first month to none.
It was going to be a long first year.
Slowly, however, I built a modest meal. I found out how many people actually don’t mind fruit snacks, did, in fact, start off with fruit snacks themselves. I dared to request other parents to help me locate readers. I was invited to speak on my creation process and actually entertained an audience of real-life people. They viewed me as the “expert” in the room because I had done it. (Mind still blown.) I stuck to my authenticity and intentions, remained faithful to where I started, and didn’t change to fit all of the other blogs around me. I didn’t try to eat the caviar.
I am proud.
Snacks got me here.
Photo courtesy of Mea