(It’s been a week since my post about hugs was published on Scary Mommy. As of a few days ago, it had almost 30,000 hits on Facebook alone, and the number was still climbing. The day after it was published, when it started to pick up steam, I wrote a post about my initial reaction to the attention it was getting. You can read that post here.)
I write this blog because it’s the place where I capture what I see. I don’t write it to pretend like I am an expert. I don’t write it because I feel like my perspective is more valid than anyone else’s. I write it because it helps me engage with my own life experiences on a deeper level. It helps me reflect and appreciate. Some people take photos because it helps them see the beauty in the world. Some people create art. Some people write songs. I write this blog because, when I do, I slow down and I pay attention.
I write this blog for me, about things that matter to me. An added perk of doing so in a public space is that sometimes my posts start conversations. I think it’s great for people to talk about teaching kids about feelings, teaching kids about personal space, teaching kids to be authentic. I love being a part of these conversations.
But participating in big conversations like that via a digital platform is scary. Once you put something on the Internet, it is out there. Think of a blog post like a photograph of yourself. But rather than a photograph of your outside, it is a photograph of what’s going on inside your brain at that moment.
It’s no secret that our appearance changes. We age, we make babies, we go on health kicks. No one expects you to always look the same. Photos become outdated.
However, once you put a snapshot of your brain on the Internet, it feels permanent. Almost like people attach that snapshot of your way of thinking to their understanding of who you are as a person.
That is terrifying for a few reasons.
First, writing is hard. It’s hard enough to speak in a clear, articulate way. But to do so in a limited space is even more complex. I try to keep my blog posts short enough that they are readable. Fitting my entire perspective of a complicated issue into one clearly written blog post is almost impossible. I have to simplify. And that sometimes means leaving out pieces. In other words, it’s almost always an incomplete picture.
Second, feedback changes a writer’s perspective. As soon as people start commenting, I start reading my work through different eyes. And I almost always see things I could have done differently or better. As the conversation continues, my way of thinking about the topic expands. That’s the beautiful thing about conversations. They open you up to new ways of thinking.
However, no one can see that my perspective is growing. All they see is the single snapshot of my thinking at one moment in time.
Third, what all of this boils down to, is a fear of being judged. As a reader, you can probably relate to this. I wonder sometimes how many people read my posts and then worry that I am judging them if their perspective or parenting approach is different than mine.
I promise you. I’m not. The joy for me in sharing my parenting experience in a public blog is in the collective experience of a variety of perspectives. There is no joy or personal gain for me in judging someone else’s way of doing things.
In fact, you’d be surprised to know that I’m probably too busy worrying that you’re judging me based on something I wrote. (Especially if I feel like it is an incomplete or outdated snapshot of me.) It’s hard to resist the urge to keep “editing” myself or trying to clarify “what I meant to say”. This week I’ve seriously contemplated making a t-shirt that says “Hugs are not bad!! I only meant that they are a great opportunity for a learning conversation! They are a safe playground for kids to learn and make mistakes and talk about issues in a safe place before they grow up and go out into big scary spaces!”
Okay. So that probably would be a terrible t-shirt.
My point is, I want to be a part of conversations that matter. I want to offer my perspective in case it will expand someone’s thinking. And I want to hear other perspectives and let them grow my own way of thinking.
And to do so, I have to put myself in the middle of a conversation that I have no control over. I have to do a lot of letting go of ideas and opinions and fears. Sometimes, that’s really hard to do.
But that’s okay. Because in the bigger picture, my opinion in these conversations is irrelevant. What matters is the conversation as a whole. And the fact that we, as a parenting generation, are taking the time to have it.