Monday, August 29, 2011

Mommy Challenge #2: Just say "No"

To drugs?  No, but close.  To toxic blogs. 

Lately I've been working out who I am and who I want to be as a mom.  I've also been trying to figure out who I want to be as a blogger.  Interestingly, I've also lately been reading books on how to become a (better) writer, and in these books, the authors suggest that to know what you like to write, you have to know what you like to read.  I think it's no different for bloggers.  So, in addition to assessing those "voices of motherhood" I've been talking about, I've been assessing blogland voices for the same purpose:  to find what resonates with me so I have good examples, ideas to incorporate and wisdom to learn.  And in doing so, to refocus my attention on these things and cut everything else.

Well, let me tell you, it's been nothing but cut-cut-cut.  For several years, I've been following a certain type of blog, the "perfect mommy blogs" I've called them, and I've always had a love-hate relationship with them.  I've loved them because, gosh-by-golly, some people really seem to have pretty lives.  And isn't it nice to look at pretty things?  But I've also hated them because, for crying out loud, does it have to be *all* pretty, *all* the time?  It's funny because even the most perfect of the perfect mommy bloggers always seem to have the token "my life isn't perfect" disclaimer slapped on somewhere, but then they never reveal anything imperfect or non-pretty (dare I say "ugly"?).  And that's just frustrating.

Why?  Here's why.  I've been divorced.  I've been infertile.  I've been broke.  These are not things that I proudly proclaim or wear on a t-shirt, but they are part of me and my history, and close friends can attest that even when I was going through those things, I tried my hardest to learn from them, to find deeper meaning in life beyond a happy marriage, beautiful children, and piles of cash.  And even if I've been blessed with some happy resolutions, I could never, ever pretend as though those things didn't happen or that lots and lots of other people are going through similar things, and that even more people have struggles that I could never imagine.  And I can't pretend as though I'm not dealing with a new set of problems, either.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "embarrassment of riches?"  I think this is what I'm talking about.  Riches meaning not just money or material things (although that's certainly a huge element), but an abundance of blessings.  And instead of having some embarrassment of riches, or as I would state it, a modesty about blessings, some bloggers choose to brag and flaunt, or complain about trivialities, or make their readers dizzy with dollar signs.  There is no search for depth or meaning to blessing or lack thereof, and there is no acknowledgement of struggle that might happen outside their front doors.  And I have found that this is a state of things that I find to be toxic, to put it bluntly.  Just plain poisonous.  Because I know people who can't pay their bills.  Whose children suffer from morning to night with heinous illnesses.  Who are in counseling to work through years of sickening abuse at the hand of a loved one.  I know people who go through the daily grind of life, utterly miserable in their marriages, in their jobs, in their homes, and they can't do a darned thing about it but pray for relief, restoration, peace, or deliverance.

This is not to say that blogs can't be positive, happy places, venues where we can (and should) rejoice with those who rejoice, even if that means ourselves.  Or that we can't talk about pretty things that we've bought, or nice places we've been to.  Of course I don't mean that -- I'm happily married to a wonderful man and we have two beautiful children together and I delight in talking about them!  It's just that nature abhors a vacuum, and so does blogland, at least for me.  Balance seems to demand itself, even if only a conscious inspection reveals as much.  And after being frustrated without exactly knowing why, I've done the conscious inspection, and I've found the vacuums, the toxicities, the too-pretty-to-be-true.  And I've cut them!

So here's the challenge.  Do you find yourself falling into the "it's so pretty and I want it and I'll read about it even though it makes me crazy" trap?  Do you follow blogs (or a friend or neighbor, for that matter) too closely, because you are fascinated, but you have felt the ugly side of the fascination, which is frustration?  I've actually thought to myself, perhaps I'm the only one who has struggled with this.  But I don't think so.  Because I've read comments sections on blogs where a negative voice gets dismissed as a "hater," when really, I think it's a person who just can't swallow all that pretty because she has so much ugly going on in her own life.  If you struggle with this, then I challenge you to cut-cut-cut.  Just don't listen or pay attention or tune in.  If what you're reading doesn't seem to ring true or feel balanced, then it's probably not good for you, and may even be toxic.  Wish the perfect mommy bloggers well and say Adieu.  And find blog(ger)s -- and people -- that are real, through good times and bad. 

My best friend challenged me to do this last week as I shared with her (for the umpteenth time) my frustration with a blog(ger).  She finally just said, "Stop reading it already!"  So I'm passing the challenge along.  Stop reading it already -- just say "no."

*My Link list is undergoing a massive overhaul due to this challenge.  I'm seeking out real mommies, real ladies who are going through real things and what?  Being *real* about them.  Be sure to visit my Link list in the coming days and weeks to find some new friends!


Stefanie said...

Love this and it is all so true! I think we all do it to an extent... at least I know I do!

Joette said...

Good idea! I torture myself reading blogs about "perfect" lives that are so different than my own. Of course, I find that the imperfections, and being open about them, is what makes life interesting. I used to have another blog that I was too honest and open on and received some backlash from family members. At the sake of not embarrassing my family, I created a "do-over" blog. But I hope that I in some way "keep it real" without dragging my family through the mud.