By the time I was nearing my blog break I was a blogging machine. I was writing every single day and had learned how to anticipate, plan & write a post that would attract the most attention. It was as if I could form my life to nestle itself perfectly into a poignant piece of writing. By the way, those days are so far from my grasp. If only the words would flow like butter. Yet back in my blogging-magic days, I would wake up thinking about some something or other and somehow I would figure out how to craft said something or other into my day. I would think and plan and think some more. I was so good at planning that even before I took the picture, somehow my daily photos perfectly arranged themselves into my post. So perfectly arranged were my photos that before taking them I could see the exact moment to take them. Thank goodness for the days where life knocked me on my ass and I could not plan. Thank God for the times I was forced to be real. Thank the Lord for that one day when my young son decided to finger paint all over the playroom walls, I mean, finger paint with the poop he had retrieved with his bare hands from his diaper. Best blog post ever! And guess what? It was real! Those real days, as gross as they are, are more like my day-to-day then the moments I planned. Planning was my escape.
And with a big smack of reality I can honestly say, one of the most prominent reasons I stopped blogging was because I was not happy with the machine I had become. I was detached and disconnected from the humans that were a warm touch away. I was preoccupied with listening and observing. I watched and waited for the good stuff. Impatient back then, I now wonder how many moments I forced into my words and pictures.
Then, just the other day, I was talking with a friend about all the crafty bloggers, and as an example, the Mormon Mommy Bloggers — a group, because of my background, I am very familiar with. After talking it through, I began to see a pattern. I do not think I am the only one who has planned for the perfect moment or at least not the only one who has manufactured moments for my blog. Ouch! Did I really just admit that about myself and make a similar assumption about others? I mean, why does all that food always look so perfect on the foodie blogs? Why are the birthday parties with accompanying dessert buffets, vibrant colors, and pictures shot with the perfect amount of depth-of-field so completely stunning?
See, and for example, Mormon Women tend to be crafty, which is simply inherent in their culture. Often these very crafty and well educated women are stay-at-home moms, who, like me, are home raising their kids. The simple fact that you are a stay-at-home would indicate to some a need for a distraction or better, something to keep you from going crazy while home alone with your gaggle of children. In 1995, it was scrap booking — hours and hours spent making just the right scrap book page. I remember a friend at the time. She had three children then (now has five). She fondly told me how she spent twelve hours working on one scrap book page. I wanted to know what her kids were doing while she scrap booked. And once I blogged with tiny children, I knew exactly what her kids were doing. While she sat in a room with her scrap books, like I did with my laptop, her children were entertaining themselves. Is that really a bad thing? She stressed to me the point that she wanted the scrap book perfect for her children. “When they grow up, they will know how much I cared.” I know people still scrap book, however, we also have this amazing ability to scrap book on the internet, so-to-speak.
And then I ask the obvious questions, “Is it possible that today’s Mommy Bloggers are yesterday’s scrap bookers and the generations before . . . ?” Your kids can be running crazy, but if you can write about them, get distracted and post the most wonderful picture of a birthday party or something you handmade, well, then you have something to fill that empty and crazy space in your head. You also can show the world what a loving mother you are. Am I close? I think it is about self worth, fitting in and being the best. We all want to be validated. And speaking to the ladies out there, maybe we as a species do what we need to do (plan, adjust) to receive the most in return. When people read your blog and see all of your beautiful pictures, does it really matter that your kids absolutely melted down at their birthday party? I’m not really sure.
And while I was thinking about all of this I thought about that time we went to Moab. I was sad and depressed. It was October 2006. I could not plan a perfect moment if I tried. With the wind knocked out of me those perfect moments happened on their own. Instead of standing on the sidelines and thinking it through, with the most loving encouragement of Kat & Erynn, I took a deep breath and decided to join in. Towards the end of our weekend, the Dads and the extremely pregnant mom were off four-wheeling while the other mom and I were back at the condo with all the kids. It was hot. There was a collection of mud from sprinkler run-off just outside. Once outside, it started with running through the sprinklers. Then, it was the shedding of the clothes down to the underwear. There were giggles, dares and enormous enormous all-in efforts to not land in the mud. (Ok, you know they all totally wanted to land in the mud.) There was the first slip, then the second and then the boys were covered, covered in sloppy, red, desert mud. Kyle, Eli & their friend each picked up a clump of the brown and slimy stuff. Splat. The mud hit with reckless abandon. Over and over again the mud smacked all over their tiny boy bodies. There were giggles and threats. The little girls ran far away, avoiding even the tiniest drop of mud. And then, I could see it. Kyle had a plan. In a split second he snuck up and threw the most enormous mud clod right in Eli’s face. There was snot. There were tears, there was a lot of anger and it was beautiful. The snot & mud combo running down Eli’s face is one of my all time favorite moments and I got the shot! It only took seconds for him to snap out of it and then he moved on to the smiley, happy boy having the blissful-Martha-Stewart-Themed Mud Fight. I get it. As comfortable as those ugly, awkward moments are, they can also end up being the most amazing. What’s wrong with posting a child having a meltdown or a burnt birthday cake? Those things are real. I challenge all of us to be real, not planned, real, but real real!