September 2, 2013

Back to Blogging Basics

my baby you'll be
“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
– Robert Munsch

When I was pregnant with Nicki, and she was a tiny embryo without a nervous system or brain capable of cognitive thought, I felt like I was sharing my story. Even when she a newborn in the “fourth trimester”, crying was her only means of interacting with the world and was completely dependent on Domingo and I. Her story was still our story. Then she learned to hold and manipulate objects. She learned to crawl, and walk and run. She’s talking. She has opinions, and gets frustrated when we don’t understand. Her personality is shining through in spades. While our stories are still intertwined, I’m becoming more and more weary of accidentally stepping my bounds and sharing her story.

I blog under my real name, without a pseudonym to offer at least a layer of indirection. By extension Domingo and Nicki are being blogged about in their real names as well. While I can ask Domingo what level of sharing he’s comfortable with, Nicki will not understand the possible ramifications for quite some time yet. I have so far used myself as a guideline (“Would I be comfortable if my parents posted this story about me?”), but I tend to be more open than the average person. I’m certainty more open than Domingo, and Nicki may take after her daddy.

I’m also concerned that what I might blog about would negatively impact her later in life. Stories of baby antics are a potential source of embarrassment but are unlikely to do real harm, especially since they’re pretty universal. Yet what if I accidentally hint at a health issue or a learning delay? Could that impact a potential future employers hiring decision, even subconsciously? I am dyslexic. It’s something I’m comfortable about enough to share openly, but there have been people (a high school teacher and an ex-supervise come to mind) who mocked me for it. If Nicki should find herself in a similar situation, it should be her choice to share it, not mine. Delays and health issues are pretty obvious topics to steer away from, but blogging is still relatively new, we don’t necessarily know the ramifications discussing seemingly innocent topics may have on our children.

A few years ago Kanses state published a study on societies impressions of working moms. In the study researchers showed a video of a mother and child interacting to two groups of people. In the first they described the mother as a stay at home mother. In the second she was a working mom. There were no other differences in the descriptions and the same video was shown to both groups. Not only did participants judge the “working mother” more harshly, but they had a more negative view of the child. On the one hand this study’s findings aren’t terribly surprising. It’s a form of confirmation bias called biased interpretation. We interpret our surroundings to fit our beliefs. If we believe the working outside the home damages the mother-child relationship, we are more likely to view those around us who work as having impacted relationships with their children because it fits our world view. Still, this study has been haunting me lately, particularly because the results extend to the child. I’m a working mom. I’ve formula feed (I’ve breast fed beyond a year as well, but that’s usually viewed as a positive by society). I’ve employed cry-it-out. I’ve even admitted to breaking the no media before two rule. I’ve admitted all these things here and while I absolutely think these were the right things to do for Nicki, I know they are somewhat controversial. Could you, anonymous reader, be subconsciously viewing Nicki more harshly because I blogged about those things openly? Worst.mom.ever.

So I’ve been making an effort to share less about Nicki since she turned one. I’m posting less candids, I’m sharing less antics. There is no way to completely disentangle Nicki’s story from my story, Nicki will be less of the focus. I’ll be returning to my original intention of blogging – a place to practice writing and maybe even growing my professional brand.

While I think this is the right decision, it wasn’t an easy one. I have a fear that Nicki will one day grow up, read my blog and wonder why I talk about her less. Will she think I loved her less as a toddler than an infant? Domingo and I will likely have at least one more child. Will the next child (and by induction nth child </math joke>) think I love them less if I don’t share as much about their first years? And if I share their first year as much as I shared Nicki’s, will Nicki feel less loved that I am discussing her less at the same time?

Domingo and I have a running joke that he knew I loved him when I was willing to accept the marriage tax penalty. Hopefully, one day Nicki and I will have a similar joke, that she knew I loved her because I was willing to blog about her less.

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