I started my blog, Beyond Mommying, for pretty selfish reasons. After six months of job hunting, getting my hopes up, and not getting where I wanted to go, I found myself as only a stay-at-home mommy of two with a third on the way. While I loved (and still do) being that, I was lost. I didn’t know who I was outside my children; I was seeking a personal identity, one that was just mine.
I graduated college in three years (with essentially a double major). I completed my M.Ed. despite being put behind due to an unexpected hospital stay early in my first pregnancy. I did three classes each semester after she was born while simultaneously working four different jobs to catch up. I spent two and a half years living abroad, traveling, creating new dance works and serving as President of the American Women’s Club of Dublin. How was it that I couldn’t get a decent job? What was wrong with me that no one saw my worth?
So began Beyond Mommying—a way to share myself, my experiences, my knowledge. A way to feel relevant. I’m still not sure what I wanted or expected in that moment, and I’m not sure if I’ve met or exceeded my own expectations. But what I do know is this: Blogging has made me a better mommy.
It seems like a funny thing to say, because I often feel like the time I spend on my blog could be better spent doing things for my family. But when I look at Beyond Mommying, I can see all the ways it’s benefited my family as well.
Many bloggers focus on becoming “monetized” and use their writing to support their families. While I think being able to do that would be really awesome, it’s not my ultimate goal, and the benefits I’ve received cannot be as easily quantified.
Because of blogging:
I look at every moment closer and hold onto even the small things. I write about my life and share what little bits of parenting and teaching wisdom I have. While before I would just breeze through the day without paying much attention, much of what I do know provides stories, leads me to post ideas, or reminds me of things that would be good to share. I write down or actively remember the little things that happen and the funny things my kids say and do, and then I archive them on Beyond Mommying.
I give my children more meaningful experiences. One of my least favorite things about teaching preschool was the clean up after art projects. When I stopped working when Honeybun was a year old, I tried to keep up some of the art and creative experiences for her. But I still hated it. When Sugarplum came along, I was so overwhelmed it was a lost cause. But thanks to Beyond Mommying, I have a place to share their experiences and my knowledge of why they experiences are so important. I’ve begun doing art with Sugarplum which she would get to do if she were attending preschool (though I stand firmly by my “Parenting Vs. Preschool” decision).
It has made me examine my parenting. There’s something about putting your life out in the public eye that makes you take a second look at things. While I have the power to share what I want, hide what I don’t, and lie if I want to, my goal has always been to share truthfully, good or bad. So with that goal in mind, I’ve found myself questioning my decisions, trying to do better, and experimenting with new parenting tactics and systems hoping to not only make a difference in my family, but to possibly find things that work that I can share with my readers.
I take more pictures. I’ve always used my own photos on Beyond Mommying and I intend to always do so. For one, I don’t want to deal with copyright issues, but I also want my posts to be authentic, and what is more authentic and truthful than sharing my family? I admit I take a lot of “stock” type photos for my blog posts, but I also spend a tremendous amount of time going through old photos to find ones that fit the feeling and point I’m trying to convey. I also take the time to photograph our daily lives more than I used to, which not only enhances my blog posts but builds our library of memories. (photo from "Struggling with Problem Solving")
I read more, learn more, and have found a community in which I fit in. I admit I didn’t read a lot of blogs before starting my own, but now they main source of my free-time reading is other mommy’s blogs. Truthfully, I used to discount the wisdom of a “non-expert.” Now that I am one, I realize the insight behind life experience and I enjoy reading about other mommy’s real life experiences more than general parenting articles which I used to focus on. I feel connected to the women whose stories I read and knowing I’m not alone in this journey, that my feelings are not unusual and that there are women all over just like me makes me a more tolerant, loving and accepting of myself and my parenting style which trickles down to being more tolerant, loving and understanding of my children and our relationship struggles and shortcomings.
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