The Brutal Truth

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog, why I blog, and what others might think as they read Warm as Pie. I recently heard a radio program about the role of social media in a Christian life.  The guy speaking was compelling, and his message really got me thinking.  His main point was that every post we make–whether on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, whatever–is essentially an act of self-promotion.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are creating a “brand” for ourselves–an image that we want others to hold of us.  This is not a ground-breaking idea.  We used to talk about the same concept in terms of designer purses, name-brand jeans, and sports cars.  I remember when all the girls in seventh grade were wearing K-Swiss shoes, and I wanted desperately to show that I was a K-Swiss kinda gal, too.  Now, self-promotion happens in terms of the words we choose, the links we share, and the photographs that show us as happy, fun-loving, carefree, creative, and confident with shiny white teeth and toned upper arms.  Okay…maybe that’s just me.  Even this post is screaming “here is my obligatory I-am-so-humble-Aren’t-I-amazing post?”.  So with the self-promotion concept swirling around in my brain, every Facebook status I consider writing and every blog post I begin to imagine comes with a great, big pause.  Talk about squelching one’s creativity.  I can’t help wondering if I’m just trying to praise myself and gain praise from others.  Am I bringing God glory or putting a spotlight on myself?  How can ever know that?  For now, I’ll just say that it’s on my mind, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Blogging allows me to show you our family’s best moments.  Blogging allows me to look back over our best moments and to be reminded that we are filling our children’s lives with good things, good memories, good messages, and often good food–even when the kids are arguing, the garbage is overflowing, and the clean laundry is stacked so high on top of the dryer that it is toppling on to the floor where dog hair has collected on the ceramic tile and is now all over the once-clean laundry.

Blogging allows me to tell myself, “Yes, the house is a mess and there are no clean socks, but you are still a good mom.”  Folks, my house is–indeed–often a mess.  Too often, one child is pouting in his room because I said no to more television time, no to a chance to log on to pbskids.org, or no to cookies before dinnertime.  Perhaps even worse, I sometimes say yes to TV when we’ve had enough, yes to PBS because I’m tired and the baby needs to nurse, and yes to cookies because I just can’t say no one more time!

Blogging is like a family photo album.  I don’t know about you, but I throw away the picture that shows that my shorts were too tight, something was smeared on my shirt, and it looks like I might be getting a double chin.  On the blog, I’m not trying to look perfect.  I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not trying to pull one over on you.  But I do enjoy reflecting on the positives.  I like recording the moments that reveal to me God’s love, the beauty of the world, and the magic of both marriage and childhood.  I like to share my successes here.  I like to post pictures of my children when thay are smiling or otherwise looking sweet.  I don’t take picture of then scowling, pouting, or swatting a sibling.  Would you?

But let me tell you, the normal, messy craziness of family life happens here.  Daily.

At my sister’s baby shower, a relative commented that she couldn’t believe that Kristy planned to use cloth diapers.  She made the comment with a sense of both disbelief and praise.  Sort of how you might congratulate someone who is training for a marathon while at the same time questioning her sanity.  My sweet sister answered that I (as in me, the big sister) use cloth, and I am her role model.  Well, hello there!  I was really touched and really proud that this dear, wonderful sister of mine would point to me as a role model.  Sure, I am the older sister, and I do have three kids who are turing out okay.  But I was still a little bit (okay, a lot) moved at the thought.  I am the big sister, but I always kind of wished I was more like Kristy.

As I good as I felt about the cloth diaper conversation, I am uncomfortable about it, and I keep thinking that if the kind relative and many others who were surprised by our diapering choices knew what my diaper routine looked like.  They wouldn’t be so impressed.  Cloth diapering doesn’t make me SuperMom.  It’s not that hard.  In fact, it’s easy.  Easy.  I am not being modest.  Diapering takes very little of my time, energy, or brain power.  And get this — When I grab a disposable diaper because I’m behind on laundry or just because, the cloth diaper police do not screech to a hault in our driveway and interrogate me about the state of our nation’s landfills or the chemical content of disposable nappies.  Cloth diapering has not been an unattainable standard for an ordinary family like us.  Cloth diapers are cute.  They are better for my baby’s bottom, the environment, and our budget.  But they don’t make me some sort of mothering superstar.  (I’ll save my thoughts on diapering for another post.)

I’m leaving you with these concluding thoughts:  Most of us admire the qualities of others that we don’t think we have.  We admire some of the choices that other families make, and we tell ourselves, “I could never do that.”  Sometimes we see these “super families” on blogs, or we notice the wonderful things that they share on Facebook.  I’m telling you, if [insert admirable thing] were your priority, you could do it, too.  I admire people who exercise daily, compost their food waste, clip coupons, grow their own vegetables, make their own laundry detergent, totally avoid processed foods, drink tons of water, keep beautiful journals, always print their digital photographs, read dozens of novels, always recycle their magazines, knit sweaters for their families, make double batches of lasagna for the freezer, iron their shirts, and always have a clean kitchen sink.  I am not those people.  I do some of those things some of the time.  I have different priorities, and I’m just starting to feel okay about that. I hope you will, too.

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8 thoughts on “The Brutal Truth

  1. rochellevalasek

    I absolutely love this blog entry! And to me…you are a great mommy role model. And Kristy will also. I’m proud of you, Erica. Cloth diapers and all. 🙂
    Love you! And great seeing you.

    Reply
  2. Mom

    I agree with Shelley, I love this post. I also love your blog. to me it is a wonderful letter from home. I know how much you love to write and your blog lets you do this without taking you away from your sweet little babies and your great hubby! We readers do not care if you need to do laundry or if a dust bunny just ran by….Please keep writing and sending lots of your beautiful photos of my beautiful grandchildren even when they are grumpy! Love you bunches, Mom

    Reply
  3. emlevenson

    In a way, it makes me a little sad that a radio interview could make you second-guess the power of the written word — of YOUR written word. We may not always know why we share the things we do, but I truly believe there is a reason for it all.

    Your experiences help others, whether you realize it or not. By sharing a part of yourself (which is what I believe blogging and social media gives us the power to do), you allow others to do the same. To make it safe to put yourself out there, to follow dreams, to live life, and to talk about your struggles.

    I can’t begin to tell you how therapeutic blogs have been for me on my journey — through the transition to vegetarianism, the diagnosis of food sensitivities, and even in trying to get pregnant. Without the “support” of others, and the sharing of the journey, I would be in much worse shape.

    I enjoy reading your blog and catching a small glimpse of what your life is like. Looking forward to reading more.

    Reply
  4. Emily

    This is great, Erica! As a “sort-of” blogger myself, I have thought many of those same things. Years ago when I first started my family blog, (which really is just my form of scrapbooking), one of my friends said she was surprised, but glad, that I put pictures that really captured my family and memorable moments even if I didn’t look glamorous myself… (geeze, thanks!). lol! Anyway, that stuck with me… that those who want to keep up with me and my little family are interested in the good, bad, and ugly… not just the “shiny white teeth and toned upper arms” (although I do like those toned upper arm shots! haha!) Plus, are we really doing any good by setting others up to expect perfection from us or themselves… NO way!

    Reply
  5. Kristy

    You are a great sister and a great mommy! You’re a role model in many ways. And I am saying that after seeing some crazy times! 😉

    Reply
  6. applehillcottage

    Hi Erica,
    It’s me Carol the librarian at Trinity. I just started a blog myself, and I have been struggling with the very same feeling you just expressed so well. Why do I want people to read my blog? But we need to remember that stories are at the heart of Jesus–they are how we process, how we learn, how we lead–and isn’t that what blogs are? Stories of our lives. Your blog is great. Miss you…

    Reply
  7. Claudine

    Wonderful post Erica. Storytelling has always been a very important part of people connecting to each other, and I believe blogs can be exactly that, a connection to others through a different medium. From what you’ve shared here, its seems that by the end of the post you’ve come to a similar conclusion. That blogging doesn’t necessarily mean self-promotion or branding…

    Reply

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