I’ve taken a step back from blogging.
When Cee’s flare started to ramp up in October and then through the beginning of November, it didn’t get as depths-of-despair as it has in the past in our house. Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten used to how life looks in a flare. Maybe it’s because we’re all a little older. I think it’s because I had an outlet. Something creative. Something that didn’t have to do with calling insurance companies or talking about options with a rheumatologist. Writing.
The first step back was intentional.
I knew I wanted to get a lot done before Advent. As November came to a close, I focused all my noncritical home-maintaining time on Christmas cards, planning gifts, and wrapping our Advent books. There wasn’t a lot of wiggle room for writing.
Last summer I signed up to take a fall continuing education class in order to renew my teaching license. Although the course was interesting, it suffered from a severe case of back-burner-itis. When I realized the deadline was days, just days away, it got cured pretty quick. And everything else in the world caught back-burner-itis while I finished up.
After my class and most the Advent preparations, I planned to jump back into blogging. There are several “communities” I participate in regularly: a library haul link up, Just Enough Info, Seven Quick Takes, and My Sunday Best. I looked forward to writing more consistently after the flurry of late nights working.
Then, as Advent kicked off, I came across a post by Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee. Titled “Connected to What’s Real,” she reflects on social media and missing out on real life. It’s an inward focused post; Jenny is assessing her presence online vs. presence in real life.
“But overall, when I asses my own usage of it and my endless appetite for more!clicks! I have to be honest with myself and admit that 90% of the time, I am not being enriched by it. And not just in a “you could be using your time better” sense, but on a deeper level.
I am not enriched by the hours I spend distracted and separate from my actual life.
I would venture to say that you are not, either.”
Even though I started blog with the goal that it could at least be self-sufficient (thanks Amazon shoppers for using our links!), I knew that actually making money blogging takes way more effort than I’m willing to put in. The goal of blogging was to find a hobby after 8 years of being hobby-less while taking part in the online Catholic mom community.
I enjoy being a part of that community! I certainly don’t participate in My Sunday Best because I think my style is going to be the new it thing. (Ha! Double ha!) I participate in My Sunday Best so other moms online can feel less badly about how their kids are behaving at Mass. So they can see that other people only have a handful of Mass clothes that work– and it’s okay.
“Sometimes I’ve joked in the past that I’m going to have to answer to God one day for every hour spent on Facebook. And while it was said tongue in cheek, that’s actually a terrifying prospect. Not that I used social media, per se, but how much time was spent there, and doing what.
The tools are neutral. Our actions with them are not. I don’t want to get busted having buried the talent.”
I only just dipped my toes into social media by getting a facebook account a few months ago. Started as an experiment, I thought it could help readers stay connected. Not everyone uses bloglovin or email subscription to read blogs, after all.
Although most my new readers have come from facebook interaction, facebook is really just a big time suck. Letting facebook go seems like an easy first step in unplugging, but to do so means to embrace my destiny as a blog with only 3 readers.
Struggling with how Jenny’s post applies to my life, my time, and my blog, I’ve stepped back again.
Jenny’s previous quote has me bunking at Camp Discernment. I don’t want to neglect my kids for the sake of selfish pursuits. I don’t want to call my writing a “ministry” when only a handful of people ever read it. I am not the only Catholic mom blogger out there. (Though I maintain that most my old favorites, the ones who helped me delve into liturgical living, have super-slowed down their posting, creating an opening for newbies like me.)
Please know that I am neither fishing to be begged to keep blogging nor condemning anyone for their life choices. I can’t handle facebook and a blog, but you might be able to juggle a job, Twitter, Instagram, a blog, and a second part time job all while cooking completely from scratch. Good for you! It’s just not my story.
If you’ve read for long, you know this blog certainly isn’t a lifestyle blog, full of white, white, white, everything white perfect pictures. It isn’t a braggy showcase of my great momming. (Ha!) It’s a peek into a real Catholic family, warts and all. We’re a mess, but we manage. Those are the kinds of blogs I like to read, the ones that aren’t perfect. I like the idea of contributing to the honest movement.We just colored in our St. Nicholas coloring pages yesterday. Moe thinks that the Eucharist involves cheese. We’re just doing our best. That’s my story.
The third step back was accidental. Moe the happy button pusher took it too far with our TV. It gave up the will to live after exhaustive button pushing torture. That means I’ve lost my after lunch “mom time” when Ms. Frizzle or Mister Rogers would take over for a little while. (Okay, okay. Or Timon and Pumbaa. We have standards, but we’re not purists.) No “mom time” means no blogging.
The kids can still watch some Wild Kratts on the laptop, so don’t feel bad for them. Plus, our friends offered one of their extra TVs. In addition to wondering about Sweeping Up Joy’s future, I’m still trying to decide whether replacing the old girthy TV is prudent.
I’m not that great at discernment. I’m a rule follower and a people pleaser. From speed limits to wedding registries I’m happy to oblige whenever there are clear guidelines. Throw me into a sea of gray, though, and I flounder.
So here I am, stepped back and uncomfortably floundering in my gray sea of discernment, waiting for a sign, a calling, a strong feeling, about how I’m supposed to move forward. What is worthy of my time? How do I balance my duties as a wife/mother with pursuing personal growth? Is “personal growth” just a modern feel-good construct, or does it somehow play into living out a vocation?
My inclination is to completely withdraw from facebook, get a TV, and keep blogging, but that would mean giving up my connections with The Zelie Group, since that’s where the communication happens. Facebook is where people are, so the blog is almost guaranteed not to grow without it. Is that okay?
Another option is to go cold turkey with all the internets. No blogging. No outlet. Is that an admirable sacrifice? Or some sort of false martyrdom? I don’t want to be part of the “oversharing problem,” but I also don’t want to hide our feeble attempts at being a Catholic family in the modern world.
I’d love any advice, article or book suggestions, or prayers. How do you decide where to spend your time? How do you maintain the line between self-care and being selfish? What tips do you have for discernment?
Thanks for reading: in the past, now, and hopefully in the future. I miss blogging. But it’ll take some time to figure out if that’s enough of a reason to return.