Seven years ago, I started my first blog. When I began, if I’m being honest, I thought blogging sounded kind of dumb. If I wanted to write about my feelings, I’d just put them in a journal.
Why did the whole world need to read about my day to day life? Who would even care?
I started my blog for the same reason that 99% of moms start their blogs – I wanted to keep distant friends and family in the loop on our expanding family. It only took a couple of months, and I was hooked.
It turns out that sharing our mundane day to day life was cathartic in a way I didn’t know I needed. It was a hand out into the void where suddenly I was met, and women everywhere were nodding and agreeing with me. We got one another. And in that space of solidarity, motherhood didn’t seem so lonely.
So I kept blogging, and I focused heavily on the funny aspects of our days, because when there are three children four and under in your home, insanity rules, and laughter was the only way to keep from crying.
Those funny blogs got me a little attention, and afforded me a few fun opportunities, but then something happened.
My kids grew up.
Suddenly writing about our days had to take on a entirely different shape. I was no longer writing my story, but I was writing their stories, and I had to filter which stories were okay to tell, and which needed to stay inside the family.
For several years, the theme of authenticity has been running throughout the blogosphere. Tired of the perfectly manicured photos of a happy life, the online world wanted to see glimpses of reality. “Tell us how it really is!” they yelled, and the pressure to document real life took on a life of it’s own.
While I am absolutely on board with the idea of not presenting life to be constant puppies and rainbows, I also find myself balancing in that tenuous place of wanting to protect my people. So how do we blog authentically while still protecting the people closest to us? I’d like to offer a couple of suggestions:
1.) Stop and Think
Before posting anything, try to remember what it was to be a kid. Remember back to the days when life was confusing and big, and youthful exuberance got you into trouble on occasion. Now try to imagine your mother sharing your every milestone, every tantrum, every mistake, with the entire world, with pictures for added effect.
We have to be willing to think about how the stories we tell will paint our children. In an effort to give an authentic picture of real life, we must not sacrifice the honor and privacy that they deserve.
2.) Some Things Don’t Need to Be Shared
This goes not only for the stories we tell of our children, but for anyone close to us. Before I post anything about my husband, I typically run it by him first. And while I’m not trying to portray he and I as the perfect couple, you can know for certain that I will never share publicly about any relationship challenges we may be having.
Those conversations are reserved for the privacy of my home, or over a cup of hot tea with a friend.
3.) Be Trustworthy
I want the people around me to trust me. I want them to know that they can open up to me and be themselves without fear of becoming the next viral blog post. My goal is to build my friends and family up, not tear them down just because I can get a good story out of it.
We’re learning how to navigate these waters of social media as much as our children. While I’m so very grateful that I didn’t have to deal with such things as Facebook and Instagram as an insecure teenager, I’m also grateful that my mom wasn’t there broadcasting every embarrassing moment to her hundreds of followers.
If protecting my children and my people makes my online life look a little more ideal, then so be it. I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t a perfect family. Our children aren’t perfect little well-dressed robots. My husband and I don’t laugh and kiss all day long.
We’re imperfect and we’re real. But you won’t see every imperfection online. Some things are just meant to stay at home.
What about you? Tell me how you protect your family while living an authentic online life?