Perfect Blogger Life: a conversation with a reader…

This is a completely different post for me. I’ve had it in drafts for a year, fully written. I thought it was time to get it finished up and published. All photos here are very random, mostly from age 2-2.5,  and are inserted for visual interest, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t have the time to look for relevant photos.
I have never posted anything like this and I think it will be fun for my readers to get a little glimpse into it.

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Over a year ago I got a comment from a reader who was complaining about a post I wrote. That post was Letters to Lexi: 2 year old, that in essence, listed and described what she was like at 2.
It’s exactly the same as every other Letter post I’ve done.  The commenter noted that I was “bragging about Lexi and all her accomplishments“, that life with a toddler isn’t all rainbows and unicorns (my words, I’m paraphrasing) and that it sucks and it’s hard and shit happens and they throw tantrums and that  it’s difficult for her, the reader, to relate when you read a blog where everything is perfect.
So instead of replying to it, I emailed her directly- I was in the right mood and had a minute to send her a note. I responded to all the things she had a problem with and said I was sorry she was feeling that way, because it’s certainly not how it was for me.
I guess that’s a common misconception when it comes to bloggers. That everything is absolutely perfect, that they are all independently wealthy, make lots of money with the blog, live in a gorgeous mansion, dress well, make awesome meals, have perfect kids, etc etc.
Obviously, not all together, at least not for me, but parts of it.
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Not everything is perfect.

What we don’t write about are fights, break downs, financial troubles, creative dumps, messy houses, pizzas for dinner, a whole day in pjs, or anything else that is the opposite of perfect but is completely normal.
Do you know why we don’t write about it? Well, at least I don’t. Because this is our space to record events for posterity and to reminisce and to be happy. I DO NOT want negatives here, I don’t want to talk about a fight, re-live meltdowns I had, or less than stellar parenting moments. These things happen and I don’t dwell on them, I move on.That is NOT what we want to remember or recap. This is not something I feel the need to share with 100,000 of my “closest” readers. It is something I might bitch about to my best friends. Because they know me and they can give me the support I need, but it’s not something I need to put on paper to feel better.
Doesn’t that make sense? Would you want to re-tell 100,000 people in detail how you sucked today? No, of course not. How about a bad hair day? Do you want to post a picture of that? No!
Neither do we, bloggers.
This is our space, so we write about our happy moments. The moments we want to remember. Those other bad moments – we want to forget. At least I do. I quickly forget the negatives and focus on the positives. You will never see me seething from anger or jealousy. I love life too much to focus on things that don’t make me happy. And that same attitude goes into blogging.
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If  you write for journalistic purposes, then you might include the bad stuff. To entertain, shock and help readers relate. I sort of get why people want to read the negative stuff. It’s like gossiping with a girlfriend and bitching to her about your husbands or job, or life, or kids.  But this is just different for me. And for most other bloggers I know. We write because it makes us happy. And sad stuff doesn’t make us happy. Re-caping bad moments doesn’t make ME happy. I simply move on.
So when you look through a blog, resist the temptation to make judgement based on what you see. You know 2% of their life, if that. And it is just like your life, believe me. Better in some things, worse in others.
I replied to that commenter and we actually sorted it all out and walked away with good feelings, and I just wanted to share this because this is something I have wanted to say to everyone I’ve ever seen post a comment on any blog or celebrity gossip piece.
So here is what I wrote and the exchange that followed. I want  to show how easy it is to misunderstand each other, especially on the internet. How easily our different experiences and personalities put us at odds with each other. This is my space, so I generally don’t care about anyone’s opinion, but this is an AWESOME example of why there are mommy wars, how women feel coming from different places and ideas.
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(Below I was responding to each separate point/question she was making: Lexi’s lack of tantrums, me “showing off”, the reader losing interest in my blog).  This was copied and pasted from my email.
I normally wouldn’t bother, but something made me want to email you back on this… (good mood, i guess?)
1. I don’t like the term tantrum, because it shows disrespect to the child. You would never tell an adult you care about that they are throwing a tantrum. You’d say they are upset, their feelings are hurt, etc.
2. I am not trying to show off (I lol’ed at that). I am simply recording everything that she does and what she is like at this age. If that sounds like showing off to you, well then either Lexi is really advanced, if those things surprise you, or you’re reading too much into it or I am just a proud mama so I come off this way. Point a finger at a mother who isn’t proud of her child for every little thing they do.
3. I AM truly sorry you’ve lost interest. It happens, though.  I understand…people go through different paths. I’ve lost interest in certain blogs, too.
I think you might be reading into things more than you should , but I am and have always been the same here. Just honestly recapping our life and my opinions. If anything I’ve even gotten more honest, because the blog taught me to own and stand up for what I believe in. I think, maybe, if you read my posts with a different angle, not thinking that I am trying to make something out of myself or my daughter, but thinking about the fact that I am another mother who is going through raising her daughter and navigating the parenting field, then you would once again find pleasure in it. 🙂 I would hope! Cheers!

Her response:

Thank you for replying (: I hope I didn’t come off as being rude to you.
I guess I just feel like you always make Lexi and parenting sound so perfect. Lexis brilliant, she’s so easy, she’s the best of everything, etc. that’s certainly how it comes off. And that’s where I feel the disconnect.
Parenting is NOT easy. Toddlers are NOT perfect.  Like I said in my comment, I have my own toddler(16 months) and as much as I am admittedly obsessed with him and love him more than life, he can be difficult and he has some mannerisms that drive me nuts and he is not perfect.
Yes I brag on him constantly, but I also know that he can be a crabby patty at times and he is stubborn and hard headed and can be very difficult at times. But I know that is normal. Completely normal. Especially for a toddler.  Ugh, I feel like I’m just rambling now.
Basically it just seems that you get so caught up in Lexi’s achievements and seem to forget the fact that she is a seemingly average toddler and that it’s ok if she’s not always perfect. Nobody is.
I’m probably not even making any sense but again, thank you for writing back. (:
And I certainly could be reading too deep into things. I tend to do that from time to time!

My response that followed:

Ah! Now it makes sense! and doesn’t at the same time 🙂
I write about good things because I am a positive person, I like happy things, I focus on happy things. I started this blog like this and I don’t think I ever wrote about anything negative really. I don’t see the point- it doesn’t make me happy. Writing about good things makes me happy. In fact, if something really bad were to happen, I would be one of those bloggers who would fall off the face of the earth without a warning, rather than those that who tell their sad story to the world.
If something not so good happens, I put a positive spin on it. That’s my nature. I hate reading blogs where everyone always complains. Those are just our differences…
I have many readers write to me saying how much they love how positive I am about Lexi. So there 🙂 hahaha.
No but really, think about it. I know it seems like I write for an audience, but I really do it because it makes ME feel good. It feels good to share, I love finding amazing products no one has ever heard of (kinda my passion), I love posting pictures because pictures are visual and I am highly visual, I love recording what Lexi is like at each point of our lives.
Why would I write about the bad things that happen? The hard things? That’s not what I want to remember. And to be honest, I just don’t focus on them.
So when I write about what Lexi is like at 2, I will write about all the amazing things. Does that make sense? Or maybe it’s that I don’t see the stubbornness and emotions as a big deal.  They don’t really bother me, I see them for what they are. They come, they go – life is good again.
In all honesty, though, the reason why I write about the fact that Lexi is an easy toddler, is because she kinda is. I know it’s not what you want to hear and every child is different, but even with her whiny moments and mini-freak outs, she is a lot of freaking fun. I think the issue here is you have a 16 months old. Do you know how hard she was at 16-22 months? Really hard! Asserting her will all the time, going from thing to thing. It was frustrating. Really. But I was patient and just let her do her thing.
And now she is 2 and guess what? IT’S AHMAZING! hahaha Really! Maybe it’s the positive person in me speaking, but I am telling you compared to the age you’re at, this is a cake walk. (if you know how to approach her and her day). It’s hard to be a parent period, but this is by the far the easiest age so far ( she was pretty difficult as a newborn, I still dread those days) She loves doing everything, she gets excited about everything, she is fun, she isn’t that stubborn, she doesn’t throw tantrums, she is agreeable most of the time, you can reason with her, she can tell you what’s up and what she wants. It’s a totally different ballgame.
 Not all toddlers are a joy at 2, but I just think in comparison 2 year olds are sooooo much easier than 16 months olds. if you give them enough freedom to be their own person and make some of the choices. She still doesn’t let me do anything and it’s danger aversion every two seconds but at least she will now listen to what I say and follows it. So that makes it better. Oh and almost forgot, I also have a great support system in the form of my husband. He really helps out. Does all of this make sense? Hey, i need to publish all of this as a post… So many people just read what their emotions let them read but don’t take things at face value. maybe that will be helpful 😉

Reader’s  response:

And there is where you have pinpointed the huge difference between us! You are an optimist where I am a realist! Nothing wrong with either of those traits. Those differences is what makes this world beautiful.
I too blog. It’s for myself and my family. I literally get like 10 hits a week lol Anyways it’s where I document my son (Cooper) and our lives and I know I will always cherish it as something to look back on, as will he (hopefully).
I don’t complain constantly on my blog but I don’t write all positive things either. I write about those crappy days where he whines all day, the frustrations, the fits, the messes, the days he fights sleep, etc. he too, was an extremely difficult newborn; reflux and just really hated life until he was about 7-ish months old. And along with that, I too absolutely DREAD another newborn. We are talking about trying for another one and I am terrified to have another newborn that may be as unhappy as our Cooper was. I think it scarred me! If I could give birth to a one year old, that would be great lol!
Back to blogging though, I do write about bad stuff because it is real. I write about my feeling because they are real. Whether we had a good day or a day I want to pull my hair out! I want to remember the truth of it all 30 years down the road when I am looking back. And obviously the majority of what I write is not negative. I love writing about his personality, his current obsessions, his milestones, etc. all the stuff I want to remember when my baby is grown.
So we are both alike and different. Two moms documenting our babies lives. We just have two different ways of going about doing it. And that’s where I wasn’t seeing eye to eye with you (:
And as far as the age thing goes. The older he gets I DEFINITELY enjoy him more. I’m not a fan of the baby stage and obviously reaaaaally not a fan of newborns lol. 16 months has been fun so far and for the most part he is a really good boy. He is good with boundaries and for the most part listens and understands very well. He is slowly learning that he can exert his independence and this is where the fits are coming into play. And another frustrating thing about this age is the lack of language skills on his side. He understands almost all of what we say to him but isn’t always able to communicate his wants to us, so that frustrates him. I’m sure once he gets that language explosion (he has about 15 words right now) and starts stringing words together, we will not have as many issues with that.
He is also a very sensitive little guy so I have to work hard on the right way to correct a behavior as to not upset him too much.
So basically, I think it was a misunderstanding on my part and I apologize 😉 I should learn to read things while taking other peoples perspectives into play, as we all should. Some people thrive on being positive (you), some are more realistic (me) and there are some poor souls that always look at the negative. I’m really glad you emailed me so we could both see where each other were coming from.
And you should totally publish that as a post! I know you have a lot of readers that it would probably answer a lot of questions for.

MY RESPONSE:

Well, that was a very positive post – it put a smile on my face! I am too glad that we got a chance to talk. Which is really really really not a normal occurrence, because I am too busy to respond to negativity (see, the positive person in me talking again. well that and the busy person), so I am not even sure why I felt inclined to email you. People misread me all the time (how could they not? I am a blogger!) and I rarely care to explain things to them 🙂 So glad we got that straightened out.  (…)
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We exchanged a few more pleasantries and in the end both walked away feeling good and understood.
This was a good conversation and it’s always great to clear the air. People are so different, people’s experiences, environments, situations and upbringing are so different. I don’t know why we continue EXPECTING to understand each other, or relate to each other. The chances that another person has the exact same experience as you is slim.
Instead we should accept the fact that we won’t relate to everyone, that people will NOT do or  say things we agree with and be ok with that.
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As far as me and writing about Lexi ( which I know I haven’t in so long, it’s way overdue), I do think Lexi is pretty terrific. Of course, I’m her mom. But I am also the kind of person who accepts annoying kid things for what they are. Again, the optimist in me?
I don’t see ANYTHING bad about her. I love how sweet and sharing she is. How loving and compassionate. How excited and energetic. How smart and hard working. How her brain works. How much she loves mommy and how much she needs nursing to help control her emotions.  I love how talented she is at many things and how easily things come to her. I love how adventurous she is and how she is open to new experiences. I love how she rarely cries unless there is really a reason for it. I love how she talks and walks and jumps and runs. She is my daughter, therefore she is perfect to me.
And this is not me NOT writing about the bad stuff. There are challenges, of course, there are difficult times, when I am ready to tear my hair out or at least have a cup of tea in some cave, but it has nothing to do with her personality but just with the fact that it’s just dang hard to be a parent. And with the fact that I AM NOT PERFECT.
Lexi is, because she is a child. But I am not.
So me bitching about how hard it is to parent a toddler would simply be me bitching at myself and telling myself how I am not keeping up, or staying in control of my own emotions . And I don’t see point in self-deprecating. I see the point in self-improvement based on the mistakes you make. Period.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Helen Simmons
    September 29, 2015 at 4:55 AM

    I really love your blog because of awesome pictures!

  • Reply
    Shannon
    September 29, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    When a person is in a “bad” place within themselves (not feeling well physically, struggling with a “hard” child, stressed from work, etc.) it’s easy to interpret those “eternally optimistic” posts as FAKE. In ALWAYS highlighting the good (maybe even exaggerating it) and ALWAYS downplaying the bad, the person can come across as not being genuine, truthful, or “real.” When I was struggling to survive an abusive marriage living 3,000 miles away (across an ocean) from all my friends and family, I used to cry (yes literally, CRY) over “everything is perfect” posts, mostly because they made me feel so bad about my life. It wasn’t really jealousy for me, but I was in such a bad place within myself that it literally felt like those posts were written for the sole purpose of shoving in my face all the “perfectness” I didn’t have (this is a normal feeling when you’re depressed). I never did it myself but there were many times that I wanted to lash out to those bloggers, to just scream “YOUR LIFE IS NOT THIS PERFECT.” Without knowing the person you were interacting with, this is the type of situation it sounds like she was/is in (otherwise, why comment at all? why not just unfollow the blog and never read it again and move on with your life? – she felt compelled to “call you out” though).

    Over time, I changed my life circumstances and eventually I drastically, drastically changed my attitude. Now, like you, I chose to focus on the good and the positive and the happy – and I try not to dwell on the negatives. However, I do still chose to share some of the “relatable” hard times because I hope that some mother out there somewhere who is struggling through a bad day/month/year can read it and know that she is not alone, that even though I chose to focus on the good rather than the bad, that things AREN’T always perfect, that even us optimist have bad days. I would never share intimate details of a marital argument or anything of that nature, but I have shared some information about my post-partum depression, life with a hormonal preteen (!!!), my youngest’s colic and severe food allergies and inability to sleep, and I will mention when I’m just feeling exhausted or burned out or overwhelmed with a busy life. The difference for me is that I DO want to remember some of those hard times. It was only because of overcoming some really, really difficult struggles that I was able to learn and grow and evolve into the person I am today. Again, I don’t dwell on them but I will say things like, “Our little peach is absolutely perfect. Now if only she would learn how to sleep through the night!”

    So this unexpectedly turned into a novel but I thought I would offer a pretty unique perspective, having been a person on BOTH sides of the situation you described above. I often say “life is just about perfect” and it’s not because life IS perfect (there are days I want to run and hide in the forest!) but because my perspective of life is so, so much better than ever before.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 29, 2015 at 12:17 PM

      I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I don’t downplay the bad parts of life. They simply don’t bother me.

      And obviously I’m not referring to anything truly bad. Im talking about little daily stuff.

      Like you brought up the sleeping through the night. It wasn’t something that bothered me. Toddler whininess- fine with that.

      Of course I would discuss it with friends when I felt compelled to. And then I would move on and forget. I usually focus on other things. Creating something, working on my projects, photographing- that is what drives me. Not recapping some annoying event that I already forgot about.
      I try to take life one step at a time and as a result, daily struggles don’t get much of my attention.

      So I’m not being insincere when I blog about happy stuff. I’m just not thinking about the struggles because I don’t see them as struggles.

      Now granted, I haven’t had anything happen that would warrant me to be upset about it on a deeper level and write about it.
      I’ve had hard times with parenting (difficult breastfeeding, baby who wouldn’t sleep or be away from me for a second, I struggled with time management in the beginning) but I just don’t see them as things to complain about. I’ll write about that if I have found a solution. But otherwise it is what it is- I don’t dwell, it doesn’t bother me and hence I don’t write.

      I guess I’m not really a “complain”-y type of blogger. I’ll write about my story, I’ll write about solutions I found. But just writing about how things are frustrating, I seriously don’t have the need for it. Despite the fact that people like to read it.
      It does not inspire me. Why focus on something I can’t change? And if I can change it, then I’ll write about how I did. 🙂

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      September 29, 2015 at 12:26 PM

      So what I’m trying to say is that I understand what you’re saying but that isn’t who I am. If someone is in a bad place and that makes them hate what I write, that’s fine with me and I’m sorry for them. But if someone else is inspired by my attitude, that’s what makes it worth it.

      Why would I want to change how I approach life just so that I could become “relatable”? It’s just not me. Those who can relate, will relate. Those who feel the need to focus on the difficult times, can find other blogs.

      What’s also interesting is that this is how I approach what I read myself as well. I find it very unpleasant reading blogs or posts about how hard it is or the bad days. I just don’t know why people would want to inject negativity in their lives by reading that. What I ENJOY reading is about the “perfect” people that inspire me. Those who seemingly have it figured out because that helps me get more motivation to strive to be better and better. I know there are things I’ll never have perfect and I don’t care enough about. But seeing someone succeed at something only inspires me to work harder. Reading about someone’s hard days is a waste of time to me. If I’m not somehow bettering myself and my life with my actions, I just don’t have time for it. (Trying to think about what my reading habits were before I got this busy and I don’t remember a single blog I read that didn’t exude positivity and offered some type of inspiration or learning experience.

  • Reply
    Laura
    September 29, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    The problem with popular blogs is that a lot of readers feel entitled to know all about your personal moments just because you chose to create this blog and write about PART of your life. When you don’t “deliver” they feel cheated. They don’t realize that the blog is just your self expression and that they have no right to know any more about your personal life then you want to share with them. Whether you make money from your blog or not, it’s just personal essays at the end of the day and people need to accept that for what it is.
    I would like to also point out that what people don’t realize is that something that might bother them as a parent might not bother you. Like Lexi’s sleeping patterns. It’s like people can’t accept that you would be OK with something just because they aren’t. Putting a positive spin on something challenging isn’t a bad thing.
    Personally, I don’t like reading blogs about how depressing or hard motherhood is. I don’t relate to them.

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