Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The One With the Disclaimers

I've thought long and hard about what kind of content to provide on this blog, especially, what and how much to share about our personal lives here.

I've heard some complaints that my life as portrayed here seems too perfect and unreal and that it's setting an unrealistic standard for those who have an outside perspective. A few years ago a blog reader that I met in person was surprised that I wasn't all glitter and cupcakes and am actually a bit "snarky" - to borrow her impression.

Anyway, when I mostly post cute, fun things that my kids do or say, I am not trying to present an unfair view that they're always angels who never throw fits or hit each other or don't eat their vegetables. I choose to write about the good/funny/cute things because those are the things I want to remember. Just like everyone else, my kids make huge messes and color on hotel room walls and play in the toilet and break things and talk back and refuse to get dressed so we're late places and scream at the top of their lungs in grocery stores. They whine when I tell them it's time to come home from the park, or don't take their naps or whatever. They are real, human children with lots and lots of faults and shortcomings that point a bright light on my faults and shortcomings as a parent.  We all have bad days, weeks, months, even, and my children are no exception.

Working out a relationship with a child is tricky business. Each of us has needs, desires, and personalities that must be navigated through. And that's hard to do. In person, I discuss these things ad nauseam with friends, fellow parents, anyone really.

But in all the trickiness of navigating parenting, I have found it essential to me to keep things simple and positive. If I got bogged down in all the trials and repeated them here for you, lovely readers, it would start to consume my perspective until negativity and bogged-downness was all that was left.

I do believe that a bad memory is one of the most critical coping skills a parent possesses. We would be insane to ever have more than one child if we couldn't forget the fussy first weeks, or the waking up at night for the first year(s). There are many, many nights when I can't wait to put all my children to bed because it has been such a long, rough day. And then immediately I'll lay down on the couch and start wishing they were awake because I miss them so much! (Does that sound like a rational, sane thing to think? No. No, it does not.)

Long before I became a parent, a mother I very much admire told me to remember that "The days are long, but the years are short." I've found that to be the most true statement about parenting anyone has every said. The individual days are a long and hard struggle. Sometimes the weight of the responsibility of guiding my children towards independence, towards reasonable and conscientious adulthood, seems like a task I will never survive. Sometimes I can't take any more crying or screaming and I just want to curl up in a ball and cry myself. We all get mad sometimes, we lose our tempers, we handle situations poorly (even when we know we can and should be handling them differently), we think we won't make it to the end of the day,

But then it seems that in a blink each of them has grown into an unfathomable being, with their own thoughts and ideas. All at once one of them will turn and say something that is so completely their own, a clear sign of who they are, that it takes me by surprise. Far too quickly, they are growing and changing and being. And so, when I look back on this brief time I had with them, I know it will be easy to remember the struggles. It will be easy to remember that they were cranky, and sometimes inconsolable, and that at times they made me madder than I ever thought I could be. But I keep this blog so that I will remember the good things, too. The sweet things or the funny things. The little glimpses into their minds that they shared with me.

I do believe that deciding what we share on the internet is a delicate matter. For one, it's a very permanent thing. And for another, it reaches a wider audience. I have a general rule about not over-sharing negative things about anyone on the world wide web. If I had a disagreement with Steve about something, I wouldn't share it here. If a friend did something I didn't like, or hurt me in some way, I wouldn't write a blog post about it. I hold my relationships sacred enough to know that I wouldn't want a moment of frustration to be left a permanent mark against their character or mine. And I regard my relationship with my children as even more sacred. Someday they may read this blog. And I would want them to know that more than anything else, I loved them. I cherished them. I made myself crazy trying to think of how to do what was best for them. Because at the end of the day, that is what is true. That is what I hope will last and those are the thoughts that I hope will stand the test of time.

So, if you want the real inside scoop about my experiences as a parent, please, ask me in person (or via email even) and I will be happy to share my struggles and commiserate with those of you who are also in the trenches with me. (Or who have been in the trenches and think my portrayal of them is too rosy.) My children are not, never have been and never will be, perfect. Neither am I or my husband or anyone that I've ever met, ever. Because we are humans. And being a human is being a wonderful and complicated mess. And we respect each other's imperfections and give each other the benefit of the doubt as often as we can.

Normal state of the girls' room: chaos. This is only one corner.
We stay in our pajamas all day if we have nowhere to be.
Also, our floor is very rarely clean, mostly thanks to the littlest guy here.

7 comments:

  1. This was so well-written, Michelle. Love it. I feel the same about our blog. I think maybe sometimes people think we're bragging about our kids or trying to make it seem like things are perfect, but in reality, I see it as a scrapbook for our boys and I don't want them to look back and think I spent the majority of their childhood complaining and being depressed because of how much work they were.

    I also agree with the privacy aspect. Kids are humans too and they deserve respect. I wouldn't want them telling every terrible thing I do or say and I owe them the same. They also need to know that we as parents aren't sharing everything negative they do with the world.

    Love your perspective, as always :).

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    1. They do deserve respect! I love your thoughts on the matter! Let's get together in person soon, and then I can also see your cool new house!

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  2. I appreciate your attitude towards what to write on the internet. I also appreciate how wonderful you are to talk to in person because you're not afraid to talk about real life issues "ad nauseam" in an honest, open and loving manner. Online and in person I regard you as one of the most inspiring and beautiful people in my life. Thank you for this insightful post!

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    1. Love you, Kaycie! Excited to be on this journey with you. :-)

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  3. Spot on, my dear.

    I sure love you, Steve and every bit of your 3 little mess-making, conversation-interrupting, request-making, sometimes whiny or melting down, picture-drawing, hug and kiss giving, adorably sweet and funny hooligans. It's an honor to be part of the [sometimes] chaos at 4501 :)

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    1. Thanks for being a part of our craziness, Auntie Mal! I'm glad the hooligans haven't driven you away. :-)

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  4. So great! I loved this!

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