Like many of us I’m sure, I didn’t set out to become a mummy blogger. I just wanted to see if I could write. No master plan, no strategy.
When a colleague suggested it, I didn’t know what a blog was but he help me set up Scribbling Mum and within weeks I was immersed in the online world. Clicking on links, ending up in new blogs, reading, commenting – the hours flew by. Oh yes I thought, this is fun, I could do this.
And to my delight it seemed that people liked reading my words, some even commenting on my style – I’ll never forget first reading those comments – “I have a style?! Really?! Who knew?!”
I loved sitting down and just scribbling down my thoughts, capturing the little things that were happening as a family day in day out, then hitting publish and seeing my words go live instantly. And I was swept up by it all, spending more and more time not only on writing but all of the other things that I thought a blogger was supposed to do.
But were there enough hours in the day to read all the blogs in my feed, leave comments, join in with memes and linkys, share views on networks, chit chat on twitter, keep a Facebook fan page up to date, check rankings, check my Klout, pimp my posts on various sites, consider sponsored posts, reply to PR requests, arrange site advertising, appear in a local newspaper article, have a chat on Radio Scotland, be a MADS finalist oh and did I want to be on a web TV parenting panel?!
It was taking up more and more hours and I started to feel like I should write a post. My very own cartoon blogging devil would sit on my shoulder – “It’s been five days since you last posted. Five days. CAN YOU HEAR ME?!” Sometimes when I wrote I felt like I was writing as Scribbling Mum and not me, Caroline, if that makes sense.
Then came the kicker.
I wrote a post that was taken the wrong way by some people.
It was about how as I’d sat in a soft play on my own and observed some local mums playing with their young children, each pregnant – I could remember being like that and I reflected on how I was so glad to be past that all-consuming baby stage, when all I talked about was baby this and baby that.
I live in a small community and a local Mum read this and was quick to comment that I had clearly been describing women she knew and who did I think I was to eavesdrop on conversations and run back to the internet to ridicule people. She told me that I had used the real names of local children and I had no right to do this.
As I stood in my kitchen reading the comment I felt sick. Had I done that? Is that how it read? But that wasn’t me, I’m not like that, she’d missed the point, really I’m not like that.
I approved her comment, apologised and changed the children’s names on the post. But I got two more from locals and one more from someone who I suspect just wanted in on the fun of leaving nasty comments. I approved and responded to them all but I was gutted, embarrassed and felt sick in the pit of my tummy.
Online I was completely supported by other bloggers, my online friends. It seems that everyone makes at least one mistake, hindsight is a wonderful thing. “..stick by your words and it will pass, don’t let them win, keep the post up there, it’s your corner of the internet, if they don’t like it they don’t have to read…”
But, days on and I still felt sick.
I was hugely self-conscious standing at the school gate and didn’t go to a kids’ party that was held at the soft play scene of my crime. Did people watch what they said in front of me now?
In the end it was my sister who hit the nail on the head. I’d called her from work crying, stomach still churning and dreading another comment pinging into my inbox. She asked me whether it was really worth it. We talked about how keeping the post up meant I didn’t have control over it and in a small community it could go round like wildfire if these woman felt so inclined to share it.
In the end my real life was more important – #fact. So I deleted the post, took a week off and then wrote my last post at Scribbling Mum. Do I miss it? I don’t miss my little cartoon blogging devil shouting at me. I don’t miss sourcing good article images. I don’t miss pimping my posts. I don’t miss friends saying “I read your post” and feeling a bit self aware. I don’t miss feeling guilty about having my laptop on instead of chatting to my husband in the evenings. I don’t miss Scribbling Mum.
I do miss writing.
Well, strictly speaking, I should say I did miss writing. Because I’ve just started again, I could ignore the itch no longer. Only this time I like to think of it as low key.
I’ve turned off comment moderation and all email notifications, I have deleted my Facebook page, unplugged my stats and have a standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ PR reply. I have however allowed myself one auto update to Twitter – I’m not going completely cold turkey!
We all have our own reasons for why we blog and for me it’s always been about the writing, connecting with my favourite bloggers and the friendships I’ve made with some very cool people. I guess time will tell whether I’ll manage to strike a better balance this time. Oh, and I shall do my best not to ostracise myself from my local community whilst I’m at it.
* ok, that’s not strictly true.