Yesterday, I found myself involved in two different conversations about blogging. In the first, I exclaimed to my friend, “do you have any idea how many things I want to blog about that I don’t?! I need a blog for, ‘the things I don’t blog about.'” In the second, some other friends said to me, “you’re just so open on your blog, I don’t think I can be that open.” We then went on to discuss the various crazy people we have known who we do not wish to have access to information about us or to know things about our lives. I’ve been writing this blog since 2007 and had another blog before that. While I have had people read and comment that I sometimes wish were not following my writing and while I’ve had a handful of negative/insulted comments, for all these years I’ve never had an actual bad experience with blogging. Sometimes I think it is the tone I maintain here—I rarely write prescriptively (i.e. here’s what YOU SHOULD DO) and I rarely write inflammatorily (i.e. why are some people such IDIOTS about this?!) and I rarely write controversially (i.e. down with circumcision!). I also consciously choose not to write in what I refer to as a “putting out fires” style. You may notice that when there is some new outrage in the birth or breastfeeding community, I rarely address it here. I’d rather focus on building something new and on what I can offer in terms of information, experience, or idea than to debunk, criticize, or expose. And, I don’t actually have time to keep up with all the drama even if I wanted to. I barely have time to keep up with my own life on my own little patch of the earth! I do occasionally reflect that this probably limits my site traffic in some ways—particularly when I choose to ignore something obnoxious that crosses my email box and later another blogger writes a witty exposé of the same subject and it goes viral throughout Facebookworldland—though I try not to compare myself to other bloggers or to have too much stats envy.
And, periodically, I get lovely emails like one from last week saying, “I love your energy and gentle voice.” 🙂 And, periodically, things happen and I see remarks on twitter referring to something I’ve written as, “I dislike the tone of it and its intention to demonise the health service.” 😦 The latter just happened last night in response to the publication of my What to Expect When You Go to the Hospital for a Natural Childbirth as an informational leaflet in conjunction with Women’s Health in Women’s Hands’ publication of Woman-Centered Childbirth in full text online. Twitter is too character limited for me to respond to the critique in full, so I said I’d write a follow-up blog post to explain. A different organization (Women’s Health in Women’s Hands) converted one of my posts into this flier and it does not include my initial disclaimer expressing my trepidation about being perceived as “hospital-bashing” (it shouldn’t include that, because it is flier now, not a rambling blog post!). The article is NOT meant to hospital bash, it is meant to prepare and plan appropriately. I wrote it because I was tired of how betrayed my clients were when they planned beautiful, natural hospital births and then experienced many things on the list in my article. There is also a companion article and series of tips (I think on the back side of the tweeted leaflet as a matter of fact) about how to cope/navigate–the information is not meant to discourage, but to realistically prepare. Have a homebirth is NOT one of the tips, because this isn’t a home vs hospital article! Whew! See…too many words for Twitter, that’s why I rarely use it except FB auto-tweeting stuff.
So, which is it? Am I authentic and open, or keeping my mouth shut all the time?! Maybe both. What I know is there is a lot I don’t write about. I don’t write because I’m too scared, or too sensitive, or too fearful, or too self-righteous, or too busy, or too annoyed, or too scattered, or too embarrassed. I don’t write things because I have relatives who read this or friends who read this and I’d rather not share some things with some people. And, which is it? Do I have nice energy and a gentle voice or am I a strident hospital-basher out to demonize and victimize?!
And, I started to reflect that I guess I am all these things and how people experience me and my writing is in part up to me and in part up to them. Just like in real life. I can be gentle, kind, and nurturing. I can be critical, judgmental, and harsh. I can be helpful and I can be selfish. I can be patient and impatient. I can be friendly, I can be preoccupied. I can be energetic and enthusiastic and upbeat and I can be exhausted and defeated. I can be a fabulous, fun mother and I can be a distracted and grouchy mother. I can be funny and I can take myself too seriously. Different people, relationships, and environments bring out different expressions of who I am. Sometimes I really like myself a lot. I like who I am, I like how I move through the world, and I’m impressed with my own capacities. I have great ideas and solid values and principles and the ability to articulate those in writing. Sometimes I actually hate myself. I see only the bad parts and I wish I could just be better. I feel hypocritical and over aware of inconsistencies in my own thoughts/beliefs and my expression of my values in the world. I often want to be better than I am, but in rare moments of grace and self-compassion, I realize that I’m pretty good already. And, in some moments of self-righteousness and superiority, I actually feel better than some people in some areas/some ways!
There are two things that I know for sure. I never wish to diminish another woman and to make her feel judged as unworthy or “less than” for her birth or mothering choices. And, at the same time, I never wish to lie to another woman either in an effort to prevent her from feeling those things…
Blogging does only convey a slice of the “real me,” but I also find it an authentic slice, an authentic form of expression, and a real experience of who I am, just not all of who I am. Ever. I can be both more and less than what speaks to you from these many, many pages of blog posts. More in that I am more complicated and think deeper and with more intensity than most people will ever know and less in that I’m multidimensional and flawed and real, not just words on a screen from one moment in time.