Sometimes it’s hard to think of a relevant topic to write about, and other times a topic sits there frantically waving its hand in the air and mumble-shouting, “Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! Pick me!!”
Fiiiiiine, Privacy Issues Around Mommyblogging, I’ll call on you.
All within a couple of weeks’ time, I read Beth Anne’s Babble piece on this issue, Lisa Morguess’s musings on the same, and the blog Lisa linked to which discusses the Kelle Hampton instagram fallout, a BlogHer piece by a mommyblogger who had some pics of her kids stolen and hideously misused, and finally my own husband expressed some concern about how I will go forward blogging about our kids without violating our privacy, which photos are and are not okay to share, etc.
OKAY. Universe. I hear you. Of course I have thought about this. A lot. And I still need to figure some things out, like how to go back through my blog archives and watermark all my photos (ugh), and what not to write about, and whether I have already crossed some lines that I need to somehow reverse, and how to move forward, and so on. I have always thought that Dooce has done an admirable job of respecting her children’s privacy and individual identities, but even if I wanted to copycat Dooce, I could not. I don’t have the clothing budget.
I’m forever torn on this, because while I am sensitive to the idea that my sons are individual people and deserve privacy and the ability to build their own identities, I also feel like the nitty-gritty is where a lot of the most interesting stuff about life lies. Since I was pregnant with Miles, I have keenly desired to be a fly on the wall in other parents’ lives and just see what it’s like for them. I don’t want expert advice, I want to know how other people navigate the little things. So that’s what I have tried to share. But yes, this gets tricky. How do you share your experience of potty training, so other people can maybe get some tips or feel less crazy, without violating your kid’s right to keep his poop private? How do you assure other moms that your kid also has silly tantrums without embarrassing his future self? How do you let other anxiety-riddled parents see your journey through something like a speech delay, so we’ll all feel less alone, without burdening your child with a past that he will someday move beyond?
I don’t know.
And frankly, if that weren’t the kind of thing I were sharing, I’m not sure what else I would be writing about. I’m not a food blogger (I’m just not), I hardly buy anything and I’m not fashionable, I don’t clip coupons or travel. I do love reading, but I’m not interested in becoming a full time book reviewer. Mike always tells me he likes when I write about weighty issues, respond to parenting topics in the news, etc. But for one thing, those pieces take a LOT of time to write and I can’t crank them out with any kind of speed. My post about Quiet and introversion, for example, took a couple of days of writing and weeks of thinking. And also, I don’t really think people would care as much about what I have to say on such matters if they weren’t able to get a sense of who I am. Opinions are like, well, you know, but the opinion of your online “friend” is marginally more compelling I think.
My kids are NOT my identity, but they certainly are part of it. Their care takes up the bulk of my time and my headspace, and my concern for them is central to my life. So while I have other interests, I’m not ashamed that parenting is chief among them.
So other than the tedious task of combing through my archives to protect photos and other details, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do next. I am acutely aware that as Miles enters the preschool years he is entering the world outside our home, and as such should be afforded a little more protection from the internet than he has heretofore gotten. I do think it’s sad that kids today (largely through their own Facebook pages, but also through mommyblogging to some extent) have lost the ability to reinvent themselves – when we went to a new school or even to summer camp, we could try on new identities, but 21st century children are more confined by their online selves. How to avoid boxing them into the personae that they have on my blog seems tricky indeed.