with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
Back in the early days of blogging (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth) (kidding; more like about a decade ago), there was this constant conversation about audience and boundaries. Personal blogging was a new beast; no one knew for sure how much it was okay to share. Some advocated total honesty, others feared some sort of mysterious backlash that could only come of reckless secret-telling.
I sort of feel like we’ve come full circle. That conversation was a constant, for a while, and then it kind of petered out as people blogged about things other than their personal lives—and those who did blog about their lives figured out how to set workable boundaries—and now I see it coming up again in different ways.
A few months ago when BlogHer was soliciting panel proposals, I was approached about being a panel about blogging about your special needs kid’s school. Our panel was not selected, unfortunately, which is a shame because I think it would’ve been really interesting. More and more you hear about unintended repercussions particularly among those of us in the IEP/special education trenches, and I was eager to hear others’ stories on the topic. Of course, at the time, no one at my son’s school was reading my blog, so it was kind of theoretical for me.
About a week before school finished up, this year, I got a very sweet email from one of my son’s teachers about something he’d done in class. “And by the way,” the email concluded, “I spent most of the weekend reading your blog!” I died when I read those words. Even though I have Rules. (I am all about rules.) Thankfully, the next sentence went on to say how much she enjoyed it and how funny I am (phew!), but still, there’s that pang of fear when I realize someone I know in person is reading me… and that pang multiplies by about a hundredfold when it’s someone who’s so important to my family.
It got me thinking about this topic, again.
Just about five years ago now I had my 5 minutes of fame on The Today Show, and two of the things I said during that interview (I don’t think either of them made it into the final edit, incidentally) were essentially the tenets of my blogging existence. They were:
1) Never blog anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling as a story at a cocktail party,
2) My blog is a love letter to my children.
Even back then, I did not believe in blogging like no one is reading. If you want to write like no one’s reading you, write in a diary and maybe don’t let anyone read it. Words have consequences, and when you choose to let them loose in the world, I think it merits some thought about what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re willing to possibly endure as a result.
On the other hand, personal bloggers who never get personal are usually boring. What is safe is often uninteresting.
So the trick is to find your own personal line between boring and dangerous, and then walk it like it’s the tightrope to Nirvana, I guess.
But the thing is, I used to feel like that line was pretty clear. For years and years, I wrote about my life online, secure in what I revealed and what I held back, and it made sense to me. This year, that all kind of unravelled. Ever since my teenager’s been sick I’ve just felt… stilted. That sharp line that I’ve adhered to for years has gone blurry.
It’s not that I’m no longer writing a love letter to my kids, it’s that one of my kids is in so much pain that I am afraid of making it worse. Now, or later. I don’t know what she needs and I can’t bear to think I might make her already difficult life even harder. Her story is her own, of course, though so much of mine is tangled up in hers.
So now, I blog like… a person who isn’t sure what it’s okay to say. And that’s probably not the most entertaining reading.
But the point of this post is that it made me realize: The real rule in blogging is to blog like the people who matter most to you are reading. Whatever that means.
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