I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog, why I blog, and what others might think as they read Warm as Pie. I recently heard a radio program about the role of social media in a Christian life. The guy speaking was compelling, and his message really got me thinking. His main point was that every post we make–whether on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, whatever–is essentially an act of self-promotion. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are creating a “brand” for ourselves–an image that we want others to hold of us. This is not a ground-breaking idea. We used to talk about the same concept in terms of designer purses, name-brand jeans, and sports cars. I remember when all the girls in seventh grade were wearing K-Swiss shoes, and I wanted desperately to show that I was a K-Swiss kinda gal, too. Now, self-promotion happens in terms of the words we choose, the links we share, and the photographs that show us as happy, fun-loving, carefree, creative, and confident with shiny white teeth and toned upper arms. Okay…maybe that’s just me. Even this post is screaming “here is my obligatory I-am-so-humble-Aren’t-I-amazing post?”. So with the self-promotion concept swirling around in my brain, every Facebook status I consider writing and every blog post I begin to imagine comes with a great, big pause. Talk about squelching one’s creativity. I can’t help wondering if I’m just trying to praise myself and gain praise from others. Am I bringing God glory or putting a spotlight on myself? How can ever know that? For now, I’ll just say that it’s on my mind, and I’m not sure what to do about it.
Blogging allows me to show you our family’s best moments. Blogging allows me to look back over our best moments and to be reminded that we are filling our children’s lives with good things, good memories, good messages, and often good food–even when the kids are arguing, the garbage is overflowing, and the clean laundry is stacked so high on top of the dryer that it is toppling on to the floor where dog hair has collected on the ceramic tile and is now all over the once-clean laundry.
Blogging allows me to tell myself, “Yes, the house is a mess and there are no clean socks, but you are still a good mom.” Folks, my house is–indeed–often a mess. Too often, one child is pouting in his room because I said no to more television time, no to a chance to log on to pbskids.org, or no to cookies before dinnertime. Perhaps even worse, I sometimes say yes to TV when we’ve had enough, yes to PBS because I’m tired and the baby needs to nurse, and yes to cookies because I just can’t say no one more time!
Blogging is like a family photo album. I don’t know about you, but I throw away the picture that shows that my shorts were too tight, something was smeared on my shirt, and it looks like I might be getting a double chin. On the blog, I’m not trying to look perfect. I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not trying to pull one over on you. But I do enjoy reflecting on the positives. I like recording the moments that reveal to me God’s love, the beauty of the world, and the magic of both marriage and childhood. I like to share my successes here. I like to post pictures of my children when thay are smiling or otherwise looking sweet. I don’t take picture of then scowling, pouting, or swatting a sibling. Would you?
But let me tell you, the normal, messy craziness of family life happens here. Daily.
At my sister’s baby shower, a relative commented that she couldn’t believe that Kristy planned to use cloth diapers. She made the comment with a sense of both disbelief and praise. Sort of how you might congratulate someone who is training for a marathon while at the same time questioning her sanity. My sweet sister answered that I (as in me, the big sister) use cloth, and I am her role model. Well, hello there! I was really touched and really proud that this dear, wonderful sister of mine would point to me as a role model. Sure, I am the older sister, and I do have three kids who are turing out okay. But I was still a little bit (okay, a lot) moved at the thought. I am the big sister, but I always kind of wished I was more like Kristy.
As I good as I felt about the cloth diaper conversation, I am uncomfortable about it, and I keep thinking that if the kind relative and many others who were surprised by our diapering choices knew what my diaper routine looked like. They wouldn’t be so impressed. Cloth diapering doesn’t make me SuperMom. It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s easy. Easy. I am not being modest. Diapering takes very little of my time, energy, or brain power. And get this — When I grab a disposable diaper because I’m behind on laundry or just because, the cloth diaper police do not screech to a hault in our driveway and interrogate me about the state of our nation’s landfills or the chemical content of disposable nappies. Cloth diapering has not been an unattainable standard for an ordinary family like us. Cloth diapers are cute. They are better for my baby’s bottom, the environment, and our budget. But they don’t make me some sort of mothering superstar. (I’ll save my thoughts on diapering for another post.)
I’m leaving you with these concluding thoughts: Most of us admire the qualities of others that we don’t think we have. We admire some of the choices that other families make, and we tell ourselves, “I could never do that.” Sometimes we see these “super families” on blogs, or we notice the wonderful things that they share on Facebook. I’m telling you, if [insert admirable thing] were your priority, you could do it, too. I admire people who exercise daily, compost their food waste, clip coupons, grow their own vegetables, make their own laundry detergent, totally avoid processed foods, drink tons of water, keep beautiful journals, always print their digital photographs, read dozens of novels, always recycle their magazines, knit sweaters for their families, make double batches of lasagna for the freezer, iron their shirts, and always have a clean kitchen sink. I am not those people. I do some of those things some of the time. I have different priorities, and I’m just starting to feel okay about that. I hope you will, too.