I'll start from where I think would be a good place to start. As I'm sure many mothers can relate, the birth of my fourth child brought with it some pretty big changes- more busyness, less sleep, more to do, and less time to do it in. That also came along with a period of readjusting and redefining myself to adapt to my circumstances. During that readjustment process (which for some reason seems to have taken a LONG time this go round) a number of things have dropped off my plate in the process- some deliberately, others not so much like regular exercising, sound sleep, yadda, yadda. It's the story of almost every mom anywhere in the world.
But the other night as I was struggling to fall asleep yet again at 2am, I thought, “What has happened to me?” It's not just the big things- it's the little things too. My organizational skills, my ability to set a goal and follow through with it, my time management skills, my self-discipline- they all seem to be ghostly remnants from a former life. What were once strengths are now desperate weaknesses. I no longer find time for friendships or things that in the past had kept me not only afloat, but swimming. From the outside very little may seem to have changed, but from the inside, at times I can barely recognize myself.
While things were (and still are) hard in some ways, there are many things that have kept me going. I've discovered a passion for photography (that's a word I generally avoid using but I've found that it really has become a passion). I've enjoyed being a wife and a mother more than I ever have before. Reading the scriptures has brought them to life in a way they never have before.
And then there is my blog- one of the few things that keeps me feeling connected to the outside world (when you live in Suburbia, Idaho with four kids ages 7 and under, that's not always an easy thing to find). It challenges me to process my thoughts and to verbalize what it is that makes me tick. There's something about the process of verbalizing my thoughts that demystifies them. I put my finger on whatever elusive concept it is I struggle to make sense of. Old people do Sudoku and crossword puzzles to ward off insanity… I blog.
When I started my blog, I started it with the intent of creating a connection with other people. I feel connected and close to people when I read their blogs so I hoped this would do the same for other people that lived for away or even perhaps that lived near by.
I realized before I started that in some ways stepping foot into the blogging world can be like stepping foot back into high school and I braced myself for it. The popularity contests, keeping up with so and so who seems to have it all together, and the criticism that comes along with it- it’s all out there in the blogging world.
But I decided that what I was doing was first and foremost for me. If somewhere along the way people decided they wanted to read my blog, then so be it. I promised myself I would never recruit readers nor would I allow myself to feel badly if no one commented on what I had written. As much as I enjoyed the feedback, I couldn’t let that be my primary motivator.
As time went on, I realized some of the things I had said had rubbed some people the wrong way and hurt some feelings. I realize that yes, there have been some very insensitive things I have said and I've beat myself up over it time and time again. I've stayed awake at night for hours agonizing over this or that thing I said, wishing I could go back in time and shut my big, stupid mouth.
The more time went on, the more I found myself stressing over things I posted, at times fretting for days over whether what I wrote would be misconstrued or misinterpreted and then come back to bite me in the butt.
Finally I decided I had had enough. One more thing to stress and lose sleep over was the last thing I needed- so I made my blog private. As I started going through the process of sending out personal invites to read my blog, I had a realization. If I was trying to avoid hurt feelings, purposefully excluding and shutting people out wasn't going to help my case- it would only make things worse. The only way to avoid any further problems, as far as I could see, was to make it completely private, visible only to me and no one else.
At the risk of sounding overly theatrical, after I made that decision, something inside me fell apart. I felt like one of the last remaining remnants of my former self had just been laid to rest. I literally felt like someone had just died, and that person was me. I cried like a baby for the rest of the day. I couldn't even think about it without crying. (Yes, this is where I’d be rolling my eyes too)
That's when I realized that my tears weren't about the blog. It was the feeling that I had just sealed the coffin on the person I used to be. And what hurt the most was that I like who I used to be and felt I had just given up on her. But darn her, she has stayed just outside of my grasp for over a year. What else was I supposed to do?
So I called up a friend who is one of my go-to people for advice. Once again, I started bawling like a freakin' baby. I told her that I felt like I had just given up on one of the last remaining pieces of who I used to be. I was failing miserably at any and all attempts to reconstruct my former self. I was done. I was checking out. And then she did something that startled me. She started crying too, on the other side of the line. Her tears made me realize that this loss wasn't only mine. My throwing in of the towel, not just of the blog but of everything else, affected others around me too and they are people that I care about deeply.
I had fallen victim to the very thing I had sworn off that plagues not only bloggers but so many others as well, and that is the need for approval. I was so pathetically lacking in self approval that I couldn't handle the thought of others not approving of me either, and this blog is very much a reflection of me.
So here's my point (finally). I have never, nor will I ever solicit readers for my blog. I will never have giveaways to entice readers or even have the “followers” icon on my sidebar. Your choice to read my blog is entirely yours. Most of my closest friends don't read my blog and that's perfectly fine with me. I try very hard to speak honestly without offending, even though I’m not always successful. There is a fine line between being direct and honest, and being a tactless butthead, and that is a line I try hard not to cross, even though unfortunately I will probably still fail from time to time. I will still love you and we can still have a good relationship if you do not read my blog. Who knows, it may even make our relationship better if you don’t. The relationships I have with my family and friends are in the end what buoy me up…not my blog, but there is a sense of self that I have to maintain so I won’t lose my mind.
I hope this is the last blog post that I’ll fret over, as I certainly have.