No doubt, you've noticed I have a tag line attached to my name up there on my site's banner: More than words.
I thought about what I wanted following my name (it seemed too bare up there without one). Apart from nothing at all, I tossed around the following:
Writing, loving, living
One word at a time
In my opinion
and various others I can't recall.
I settled on 'More than words' because firstly, I am more than the words you see written here. My whole life is not laid out on the table for the world to read on this site, nor was it when I was writing over at Mummy Mayhem. That's not because I'm trying to keep things from you.
The word 'authentic' gets thrown around the blog world a lot, and I think some people confuse choosing to keep some things private as not being 'authentic'. Not true. Authenticity is about the way you choose to share information and how you portray yourself to others. Are you expressing your true opinions, or playing the fence-sitter because you don't want to rock the boat and perhaps get (who you deem to be important) people off side?
But anyway, I digress.
The reason I don't (and didn't before) share everything is because I want to keep some things for myself, and I want to protect others that are a part of my world.
Secondly, it's a reminder for me to not allow myself to get too hooked in to the blogosphere like I did last time. That's not a reflection on other bloggers or my readers. It's all about me.
I spent a lot of time reflecting about blogging after I finished up MM. Eventually I came to realise that I spent a lot more time blogging and reading blogs back in my MM days than I should have. My real life suffered a bit (even though I refused to see that at the time).
My tag line for MM was 'Escape the mayhem for a little while...', and that's precisely why I started that blog. I felt a need to escape from the daily grind of parenting. Just for a little while each day. And I wanted others to feel they could escape the mayhem of their own lives and join me. Problem was: I escaped all too often.
Originally, when I started MM, my plan was to blog just once a week. I never stuck to that. As soon as I hit 'publish' that first time, I was hooked. Then when I started receiving comments on my posts, I was hooked even more, and thought the more that I posted, the more people would read. And I couldn't let my readers down. Oh, gosh, no.
I was justifying all the blogging at the time, because a) I really hadn't made time for myself since Eldest Son's birth almost eight years before - therefore, I felt I deserved it; and b) I was mostly blogging at night, and I figured that it wasn't interfering with my time with my kids anyway.
However, it was interfering with my time with my husband, Mr A. Picture this: me on the couch every night, laptop in front of me, tweeting, facebooking and writing blog posts. Every. Night. Where was Mr A during this time? Usually in the study, on the computer himself. Working (but not always). Reading online newspapers...passing time, basically. After all, I wasn't available, was I? What else was there for him to do? Even though I didn't really realise it until much further down the blogging track, my blogging was getting in the way of our relationship. Our relationship wasn't bad, but it wasn't what it could be either.
It wasn't until mid last year, when I suddenly stopped blogging so much at night (it had started to lose it's shine for me by then), and started watching Mad Men with Mr A, or just sitting on the couch talking to him, that I realised just what our relationship had missed out on. We reconnected, and I believe these days we're closer than we've been in years.
But then I started sneaking in blogging time during the day with Youngest Son around. Once again, I justified it: He got a lot of one-on-one time with me, and had done for years (unlike his brothers). A bit of blogging here and there wasn't going to hurt him, and besides, he was getting FREE STUFF from PR companies (yet another aspect of blogging life I eventually struggled with, which I'll write about some other time) sending him lots of toys and the like - all thanks to my blog.
However, eventually I realised how much my blogging was influencing our time together, and just how much he was noticing it.
The first clue was when he was playing with his doctor's set case. Instead of using it as a case for his medical instruments, he had it open like a laptop, and told Mr A he was working on his blog. Then there was the time he told me, whilst playing playdough, that he was going to let his kids play with playdough too when he became a Daddy one day, so he could do work on his blog. Then eventually, I would hear myself some days getting annoyed with him when he would interrupt my blogging time, and eventually I realised: this is not good. Did I really want my son growing up remembering his early days with his mother as a time when all she did was have her face planted firmly in front of a computer screen? Did I want to keep saying, 'No,' to his requests to play with me, because I had to stick to my self-imposed (albeit loosely structured) blogging schedule? Was my blog really worth it?
And there was something else: I became moody. I was feeling pressured to get out posts full stop (not by anyone other than myself), but also to churn out posts including the products I'd been sent (and liked). After all, I was grateful for them. Then there were the additional weekly posts that I'd set for myself that I felt I had to maintain for my readers, because I'd started them (although, not surprisingly, when I didn't get around to posting them at times, the blogging world didn't fall apart). (Today, when I read back on some of my blog posts at MM, I'm not overly impressed. There are a few I'm proud of - that I took my time writing - but the rest are just...fillers. Blogging for the sake of blogging. It had never been my intention to do that.)
Eventually, I started to pull back. Not just from blogging, but from Twitter and Facebook (wonderful social media tools, but also HUGE time wasters if you allow them to be). And the more and more I pulled back, the more I realised how much I really did need and, most importantly, want to spend time with my family. Quality time. None of this, 'Hey, you build this puzzle whilst Mummy does some stuff on her computer,' business. Nuh-uh.
Although my kids were initially upset they wouldn't be receiving anymore freebies when I announced I'd finished up MM, I honestly think they quickly didn't care about that stuff in the end, because they had something better: me.
Maybe, if I'd been better at time management, or was prepared to wake at 5am every morning to blog (I know that some bloggers do this), then it wouldn't have been such a big deal. I'll never know the answer to that.
'More than words' reminds me that I have a life outside writing. Although writing is important to me, it isn't all that I am. Besides, there's no point being a writer if you don't make the time to create life experiences to write about, is there?