When I published my very first blog post on January 3, 2010, I had no idea what I was in for. As a mom who loved to write, I thought I’d finally use my degree in child development to offer up a few parenting ideas, start a discussion or two, and maybe even make a few friends. I must have been parenting under a rock because I had no idea that mom blogging was even a thing. Who knew? Apparently everyone.
I found mom blogging to be a comfortable place. I was welcomed with open arms, help tight, and reassured from the very beginning that I belonged. Pretty great, right? I thought so. As my writing evolved from vanilla observations to more controversial parenting topics, I began to learn fascinating things about the nature of parenting.
Take a look at 8 things I’ve learned I never knew about parenting from being a mom blogger:
1. There’s no right way to parent.
I used to think there was a definitive way to parent. I can’t tell you how much pain and personal suffering went into my failure to achieve parenting perfection. Thankfully, mom blogging saved me from the wrath of self-loathing. Reader comments, lively discussions, tapping into parenting news, and following my fellow parenting bloggers has taught me that there’s no right or wrong way to parent, there’s only what works for you and your family.
2. I don’t have all (or really any of) the answers.
I wish I had answers. If I did, I would share them here, I would share them there, I would share them everywhere. I would share them on a train. I would share them in the rain. I would share them on a bus. I would share them without fuss…but I don’t. I made a commitment a long time ago that I’d never, ever tell you or anyone how to parent. You’re smart people. You know what’s up. There’s nothing I could ever offer you that you don’t already know, aside from maybe the findings of a new parenting study or what I found to work (or not work) with my own kids.
3. I’m an idiot.
I have made some of the biggest parenting mistakes and created some of the most regrettable blog posts in my time as a mom blogger. Lucky for me, my kids won’t remember. Unlucky for me, the internet never forgets. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time in parenting, but I’m choosing to believe that trying my best and caring a whole bunch accounts for something, if not everything.
4. Blogging could screw up my kids.
It could, you guys. Think about what it would have been like if your parents blogged throughout your childhood! Would my mom have blogged about the day I started my period? Would my dad have blogged about my first boyfriend? I think about that stuff a lot. While I deeply admire mom bloggers who offer candid details of their lives and the lives of their kids, I hold back a bit out of respect for the blogging rules created by my tween. Establishing his trust was easy; holding onto it as he approaches his teen years is something else. Besides, I can’t afford his therapy bills.
5. I’m not alone.
The biggest, best, and most important lesson I’ve learned from mom blogging is that that I’m not alone. Any of us can look around and find parents as far as the eye can see, but if we don’t know that these parents are struggling with the very same doubts and fears that we do, or believe that they too experience that feeling of a love for their kids that’s so pure it hurts, we might as well be alone. I only allowed myself to see beyond the self-imposed isolation of parenting once I started reading parenting blogs and developing relationships with my fellow bloggers. Having gone from feeling completely alone to a virtual member of dozens of other families made me feel like I had a hand to hold.
6. I’m not special.
While I’ve been told as much on countless occasions by countless trolls on countless blogging platforms, there’s an element of truth in it. The challenges and triumphs I share aren’t exclusive to my family, they’re experienced by you just as often. Hey, do me a favor. If I tell you about something incredible my kid does in a blog post, won’t you leave me a comment and tell me something incredible yours did, too? I’m reading your comments and would love to know. If my kid screws up and it’s all ugly and embarrassing-like, maybe you could tell me yours did something equally horrifying once? I may not be special, but I believe our shared stories really could be.
7. Parenting is not a race.
You know when you were a new parent and were all obsessed over your baby meeting or exceeding milestones? Remember that little smug feeling you tried so hard to hide when your kid walked before your neighbor’s kid of the same age? I remember all of that like it was yesterday. No matter how hard I tried not to compare my kid’s height/potty training/behavior/reading ability with other kids, I found myself doing it all too often, feeling fearful or smug about whatever such comparison revealed to me. Mom blogging has taught me that parenting is not a race. Our kids are individuals, perfectly human and incredible in their own distinctive ways. Every child is a gift and every child has a gift.
8. Today’s parents are amazing!
I always suspected there were a lot of great parents out there, but connecting with so many wonderful parents through blogging and social media confirmed it. Not only have these parenting connections inspired me to raise my own parenting game, they gave me an incredible amount of faith in the promise of our kids. Parents today are creating a real virtual village in which to raise our collective youth and from what I’ve seen, the future looks spectacular!