Friday, 8 August 2008

Why Blog?

Every now and again, someone asks me why I blog. There are myriad reasons, obviously.

To record the day to day fun and frolics of being at home with my Boys. I know that if I don't make a note of the little triumphs and frustrations that form much of my day-to-day life, I will forget them. They will fade into the background and simply become part of the muddled memories of this too-brief time. The day that Boy #1 shouted 'Bogey!' in the middle of a crowded supermarket, or the afternoon when Boy #2 treated his brother and I to an air-raid like tantrum on the way home from swimming would simply disappear somewhere in the mess along with the rest of the debris that floats along with being at home with two small boys.

What else? I blog to keep my mind active. Believe it or not, I used to have a pretty challenging job, one that I loved, and that kept me on my toes. Sitting down every day or so in front of a blank screen and trying to make something half readable out of nothing - well, it gives me a sense that I've achieved something other than laundry and wiping bottoms.

I blog to have something for 'me'. Something that doesn't involve sitting mindlessly in front of rubbish television, sucking in the worst that modern day fast food culture can throw at me. Something that, whilst often a direct reflection of my day-to-day existence, is not actually reliant on it, and which doesn't, by any stretch of the imagination, include all of it. (I would hate to think that in 10 years time my sons might take the time to read my posts and accuse me of telling you their most embarrassing moments. Believe it or not, I actually keep those secret. Mind you, in 10 years or so, they'll be teenagers, so they will probably accuse me of that anyway. I probably should write it all down. It would be much funnier...)

What else? Oh yes, that deep dark secret that I like to hide from myself but which is right up there with my other top reasons to blog; Ratification. Say it again! Ratification!! Yep, I blog because I like - no, love - to hear other people say they liked what I wrote. That I made them laugh. That they recognise those moments I'm writing of, can identify with them, and in some way, it made their day a little better. I'm not proud of needing positive feedback to complete my self image, but there it is. As a stay-at-home mum I don't get regular appraisals, pay rises, or bonuses. I mean, yes, I get appreciation from my beloved, and hugs and kisses for my boys, and mostly that is enough. I'm not asking for sympathy - I chose this role, and still believe it's the right thing for our family. But every now and again it's good to hear someone say something nice that is unrelated to the dinner I just cooked or the fact that my boys are behaving well.

And there are other reasons too, of course there are. But mainly, there is this one; I blog to read of other people's lives. Finding a blog 'out there' that I can identify with is such a treat. It's the flip side of my previous reason, I know. The knowledge that there is someone, often on the other side of the world, living a life unrecognisable to urban, settled, safe Me, who can articulate what I am feeling, or have felt, can lift my day.

So, if you have the time after this long and rambling introduction, read this. Reluctant Memsahib has written a post that I - and I suspect a lot of women - can so completely indentify with that it takes my breath away. It reminds me of the time when I lost my way, way before I blogged. When I wanted to go into a cupboard and shut the door, to just sit there in the dark, and blank out all the white noise and the fuss. But I didn't, and I can write about it now with only a momentary sense of the depression that for a short time dogged my steps.

I don't for a moment think that I will be lucky enough to never feel that way again. But whilst there are people out there who can define the moment, and help me understand it, I'm confident that it won't be any time soon.

So if you're feeling at all unsure of of your role in life, read this post - and then, make jam. Metaphorically speaking, of course.


  1. You're right. She does write like no one else doesn't she? My comment was more of a question- Do we expect too much out of our lives? What would happen if we (women) just sat back and went with the flow? Interesting that men don't seem to have such huge misgivings.

  2. EPM, I'm not sure we overthink our lives. I just think that - particularly having grown up in the 70's and 80's, when we all fully expected to have it all; the glittering career, the rock solid marriage, the kids and so on - to realise that compromise is in fact the name of the game for most women can be a hard thing to swallow.

    No one tells you that it's going to be that way, right? And until you experience it for yourself, you have no idea. Which is why motherhood hits a lot of women so hard, I think. They - or at least I - have to take a little time to reconcile their sense of loss of self if they decide to stay home. I knew it was the 'right' thing to do. But I don't know about you, but pre-children, how did you define yourself? I'm betting it was by your job. And once that's gone - what then? It can take more than a moment to work it out...

  3. Well before children definition of my character definitely fell into the career category and once that objective was fulfilled came the gnawing of hunger for more so I looked for places to volunteer or go back to school for more education. I've been married for 8 years but I was strategic at advancing life for me. Being a mother has really pulled me into a different place where I'm completely focused on my family. I don't stay late at work anymore, I watch the clock until it's time to home and relieve husband to take care of the baby myself and I'm constantly looking for ways to support him - he has the tougher job. Now my mind is strategic about the families future, and leaving Florida for a job with better benefits in time for #2. I might expect too much from my life and I've had plenty of disappointments, going back to work early being one, but I'm incredibly optimistic and I keep pushing for improvements in every category.

    Finally - thank you Potty for blogging, I enjoy your blog tremendously.

  4. RM definitely has a way with words that eludes many other writers! And the message is always succinct! I think all women lose either themselves or their way at some stage. It is good when it is recognised, I know a few women who know something is wrong but can't put a finger on it.

    As for blogging, I blog for many of the same reasons as you, I am still working on getting the readers though, because without those the comments just don't flow fast enough!!! :)

  5. PM, my 4 year old girl just looked at your picture and said "they are too big for the potty, it is in the bin" let's hope it can go back there very soon and poo in cot becomes a thing of the past!!!

  6. I am past the age for you to identify with me. I have had my children and the mad hair tearing years are behind me. I think it is admirable that you stay home to raise the two boys yourself, as i did mine, but I remember many days when i thought i was going mind numbing crazy and would have liked to run away from home and have nothing to do with the whole thing ever again. I think I lived in the Twilight Zone then and was not quite normal.

    If I had to do it again, I would put my children in a childcare center and get me a part time job, just to be around normal adults and not feel so frigging lonely and abused and so numb skullingly stupid. I think the joys of motherhood are vastly over rated. In reality, there is a lot of aggravation in it.

    I would also only have had one child, probably, because handling two is just a bit over the top. You're always trying to please one at the expense of the other, it seems.

    I suppose the good part comes when they get older and more reasonable and human like. When you can talk sense with them. You don't feel like fleeing into the closet that often then.

    I think there needs to be a worldwide discussion about the merits of motherhood and if it can be done differently.

  7. Hi SB, it sounds like you were more organised than I was in finding non-work related activities pre-kids, you should probably run a class. And thanks for the compliment (now I feel really needy!).

    Hi MdP, yes, the potty definitely should be going in the bin sometime soon - but not quite yet, I'm afraid. My main goal right now is to get the thing in use again!

    Irene, you're so right on the discussion of motherhood. I had coffee yesterday with a mum who told me how angry she was at her husband because a career was never in question for him; he didn't have to choose between parenthood and children, he just got the lot handed to him on a plate. Now, I don't feel that way about my marriage - but I can remember a time when I did.

    The question is, how do you change the status quo? And is it right to? I can't help feeling that children deserve a parent (be it mother or father) to take control of their upbringing if it's financially, physically and emotionally possible. (But then I would think that, wouldn't I, having made the decision to stay home...)

    I wonder whether it's our expectations (men and women's) that need changing before anything else...

  8. How very lovely and generous that you can so eloquently share these feelings. How very comforting to those of us who feel less able to do so. Life is such a poo for throwing things our way which we have to just muddle through, often still reeling as the next bombardment comes our way!
    Is blogging the new Jam then? Certainly it is for me! Thank-you for this post and the inspiring link. t.x

  9. PM your last comment has come round to what I was (badly) trying to say - interesting that men dont have these issues to face. I stopped working in the coporate world because, well the kids needed one parent to be there for them. Although at one point my husband and I were earning roughly the same, there was never a question that he would slow down or stop working. I used to feel very bitter about that, but quite honestly, I'm glad I'm not working like that any more.
    With hindsight, I think it's very important for mothers to have something other than just the kids. Whether it's a part time job or a volunteer thing (and not just at school).

  10. I want to respond in kind so I'm going to try. Having met my hubby in my early 20's and then enjoyed a good career, my expectation was to have at least 4 children. As it turned out I gave up my career just to have a baby. I have my one beautiful boy and many lost babies for whom I mourn every day. The things that keep me going are my kind hubby, my gratitude that he works so hard to give me the privilege of staying home and spending every moment I can with my boy, and the awareness that there are many women out there who will never be able to moan about their children's mess, potty training, school sats or anything else because they just didn't get so lucky. So, I do have bad days, I do wonder if my brain has turned to porridge and why the laundry can't at least find it's way into the utility room, but really - one smile from my beautiful boy and I wouldn't swap for the world! t.x

  11. Well Potty, I think you're marvellous!!

  12. Potty, I love what you write, you do make me laugh and I most definitely recognise the moments you write about.
    It is really hard but you will find a way through because you care about being a great mum and how you're raising your boys. Worrying about stuff like that just shows what a fantastic mum you are. One day you will sit down with them and see how grown up they are and how so very proud you are of them and you will be able to tell yourself, I did that and it will all so be worth it.

  13. Hi KP, thanks for the comment - and then for coming back and explaining a little further. I'm so sorry to hear that you were unable to have the big family you had hoped for. It's amazing to me how anyone manages to get through that, but incredible numbers of couples do, and I take my hat off to all of you.

    EPM, hear hear! Something other than the kids is so important - whether that's study, volounteer work or just spending to save. The problem is of course that when you have small children in the house you are often so tired you can barely see straight, let alone think what to do to expand your horizons!

    Frog - thankyou, as ever!

    Tara, I know you're right, in fact just the other day when my sister congratulated me on how well the boys are doing I put my usual false modesty aside and said "Thankyou. I will take full credit.." (Well, she's my sis, if you can't joke with a sister....). But when you are then presented with poo in the cot, well, those moments can seem a long way away!

  14. Well put, Potty Mummy. Very well put. And I'm not just saying that for your ratification. I really mean it. That someone else somewhere else identifies with a little bit of your own small life that you've put into words, somehow makes your life feel a bit bigger and richer. The challenge is to connect with those people and those moments, and I think you achieve that. Consider yourself super-ratified!

  15. Thank you PM; you're very kind. Just back from my (1500 klm round trip) school run. And do you know what: today I don't want to be Me. today I don't want to Make Jam. Today I want to be mum to three. And I have only one at home now to cluck over! Ah well ... x

  16. Yes, losing me was the impetus for starting my blog. Amazingly, it has enabled me to find myself and enjoy my life as a Working Mum on the Verge! Yeah for blogging!

  17. Thanks Iota. Maybe I should write it on the bathroom mirror - for those moments when I go in to wipe off the debris from Boy #2's dinner, for example!

    RM, I can only imagine. Forget the jam - dig out the chocolate. Or the red wine. Or both?

    WM, I second that. Funny how writing things down can help put it all perspective, isn't it?

  18. PM - You do write things so well. I have read all of your above posts as well but not left a comment. Will try to do so. I've just been up to the Edinburgh Book Festival and been in the world of books/writers. Didn't feel like the non-existent me at all (for a change). I was so high from the "buzz" I ended up writing the post at 1am! Hubbie and I both stay at home to look after the children and even after all the help I get from him I still feel invisible. We're not rich BTW - just pretty poor. We were both high earners (I worked in the City and he worked at the Barbican as Front of House Manager) but we opted for a kind of "alternative" life in the country with the children. I've come to think that life, work, children and the such a messy's really hard to it right. Will also look RM as well as not looked at her writing yet. Can't wait. Best wishes, Hadriana x


Go on - you know you want to...