I spent the last day and a half feeling a bit down about blogging. Not the blog itself and not the ritual of posting. I actually love creating content and have never felt that it's a chore or a burden the way some others have at times. The problem is, I'm feeling a bit deflated about the public arena I've subjected myself to. In the four+ years I've been writing in this little corner, I never once felt anything but kindness. But the other night I fell into the dark hole of the interwebs and stumbled upon a piece of the internet that I wish I hadn't. A blog basher site. I read more "she seems" and "I bet" than I cared to. Yet I couldn't turn away.
The more I read the more disgusted I became. Because the people they were talking about are my people. They are your people. They are people. Just trying to do the best they can do. These are not the amazing and supportive and encouraging readers that I have seen show up not just here but on countless other blogs lending insight and continuing the conversation in the comments or through email. These are self-proclaimed lurkers who sit on the sidelines casting judgement. I'm more sad for them.
They will rag on one woman for having too much, another for wanting too much, and another for being happy with what she already has and offering nothing new. There is no balance in hatred. No middle ground when your heart is full of comparison. They rag about women posting too many new outfits in one feed then turn around and mock me for wearing an old dress or posting uninspiring outfits. People who want to fester in negativity will always find a way to let their hatred shine. If picking people apart makes you feel better about yourself, just for the sport of it, then go for it. I have a whole community, both on an offline, with whom I share a connection with. Others who are like minded and encouraging. If you find yourself needing a darker commonality to feel a part of things, I think I've found you a seat. Right from the comfort of your own cleverly concealed username.
Well, Get Off My Internets, this one is for you.
I honestly never really gave much thought to my "online persona" because I've always felt that who I am in real life is congruent with what I share about myself here in blogland. Because I am who I am. But I realized through some of the comments I found on the thread, dedicated to picking me apart no less, that only a piece of me is truly represented here and that can sometimes give a hazy picture. That's never been my intention. I go through phases. I tend to share things in spurts. I don't over analyze what goes up here beforehand. Perhaps I should. I doubt I'll start.
I thought it would be helpful to get all personal and address some of the biggest idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies my counterparts felt stood out to them the most. Some of which are completely accurate, others are far off the mark. Overall, the thread is a healthy dose of criticism which while I might not exactly welcome I can certainly take. I can say that it really stung to read the poster who asked to "have my "thread" moved to another forum in order to receive more traffic" because she has a hearty dislike for the way this #skinnybitch blogs."
Inconsistencies/Can't figure me out
I'm fairly confidant that there is not a single person who meets me who would say I wasn't genuinely warm and welcoming. I'm friendly and unpretentious by nature. Laid back and approachable are words I think most would use to describe me. I find it most interesting that this doesn't always come across to you online. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that there are countless people who don't like me. I'm not for everyone. I get that. But it was harsh to read that some people find me high and mighty when I consider myself quite the opposite.
I'm a real and complex person being judged by a one dimensional platform.
I like nice things and I save for them. I recently purchased three pairs of shoes at the Tory Burch sale (look, no affiliate links) but did you know that I haven't bought a pair of shoes for myself in over a year before that? And maybe one pair in the three years before that. To me, that's not inconsistent, it's saving for what I want and then splurging on it when the time is right. I treat my children's wardrobes the same. They wear the same few items over and over again. Their grandparents splurge on some bigger ticket items sometimes. That's okay. I also purchase 99% of their clothes at consignment shops, outlets, and ebay because I know the short window of wear. I also received an enormous station wagon load of hand me downs from my sister when Tagg was born. So while it may be misleading to say the sum of their entire wardrobes could be recreated with $200, to say that I have spent that on the past year for clothing for them is not false.
I have never intended to give the impression that we are financially struggling in order to gain camaraderie with certain readers only to turn around and flaunt expensive things on parade via instagram. My husband and I both previously worked in a feast or famine industry and I can assure you that we know full well what not having a sufficient cash flow means. Would it surprise you to know that I did not purchase a single item of clothes for Wells until she was one? A monogrammed tee shirt a friend was selling and a pair of pink boots. And not consistently (even including second hand items) until last fall when she started school. I'm not asking for an award. We are all in different circumstances. Many times our own circumstances change. Just because you have some nice things doesn't mean that you can't lust after more. You can't have it all. We all make budget choices and I just think it's important to remember that you can't always judge a book by it's cover.
And as for Tagg's boots, you can rest assured that NO ONE is forcing those rubber shoes onto his sweaty little toes. He is one hundred and ten percent smitten with his blue boots and I see no reason to challenge him. I liken this to the superhero capes we see many little boys running around in by choice. For those who were so overly concerned with his feet, we have switched him to a sock-less and more appropriate shoe for summer. There are bigger battles to be won than taking away a pair of beloved boots from a two year old because the label offends some. I would make the same argument for a little girl's beloved pink dress that she picked out of her closet and put on all by herself, save for the zipper. If this makes me appear pretentious than I apologize. It was never my intent.
I don't like to cook and I don't want to learn. But my husband loves good food and I love him so I'm trying. Meal planning doesn't have to solely be for passionate chefs. I credit my husband in almost all of my food posts, noting that I am merely the photographer and happy eater.
I'm also going to address the #skinnybitch. It's in poor taste. It started off as something funny when I posted about healthy recipes that helped me lose baby weight and gain more energy and a friend hashtagged that. An inside joke between friends when I had maybe 30 instagram followers. I eat cleaner than I ever have but it's not something I intend to point out for attention or praise. I don't like the connotation that gives or the smugness so I'm going to quit using it. I hope that clears that up.
Regarding our house. Yes, a year and a half ago we were house hunting. We were quickly disappointed with what we could afford in our initial target zone. So we analyzed and re-categorized our priority list which opened up our house hunting boundaries. We were also willing to buy a hot-mess of a house with a red-flag sale attached. And yes, we ended up with a bigger and better house than we ever thought possible at that point. I feel like I was pretty open about our real estate search but perhaps I skipped that important piece of the journey.
And for inquisitive minds, yes we still own our house in Pawleys. We tried to sell it three years ago when we moved to Richmond. Nothing. Over the past three years our entire family has enjoyed this home and made the most of the situation. We decided to re list it this past spring when we were confidant the market had come back. It was under contract in three weeks. We are so sad to see this house go but are so thankful to relieve the financial burden of a home that no one really utilized.
Motherhood & My children
#allergykids was never meant to offend anyone, much less my children. They are truly gifts from God and I'm saddened that anyone infers that I feel burdened by them in any manner. Their differences and struggles and achievements could never affect my love for them. We were late in diagnosing Wells' food allergies and thankful that she quickly outgrew them, as many children do. End of story. I've never once felt burdened by the food restrictions we've faced. I actually do fine with the boundaries. I don't think you'll meet a parent of a toddler who doesn't have the occasional eye roll over trying to keep them successfully well fed. We also talk a lot with the kids about healthy and safe foods. They are so hyper aware of what they can and can't have in order to help them cope in social situations that yes, we save the ice cream for when they go to bed. We certainly never expect friends or classmates not to eat a cupcake in front of them but you will certainly not see me or my husband doing so.
Tagg was officially developmentally delayed and spent six months in physically therapy. By the end, he graduated from the program and has gone on to hit every milestone within the time frame of the AAP. God's plan is what we're working with but that doesn't make it any less frightening when things stray from the map you thought you were using. I don't regret sharing my fears regarding that delay . Not everything has to be a catastrophe to make us feel down or out of control.
I'm sorry if me posting about wanting a comfy chair in my bathroom leaves you questioning my ability to parent my children or any child who might fall into a category outside of the mainstream box. You obvious didn't witness my strength firsthand during Wells' first few weeks.
And while I have my moments, I'm not overwhelmed. Not any more than any other mother. Having two toddlers is exhausting but it's also fleeting. I do mention time and again that we rarely go anywhere that is not kid friendly. We visit the playground, have playdates, play in our play room, play in our yard, visit the trains at Barnes and Noble and Target, stroll the farmers market. We grocery shop at Kroger and Walmart. We go to Church, the mountains, the beach, the farm, and grandparents houses. We don't go to restaurants. We don't do story time at the library. We haven't started up ballet lessons or little gym. I look for every opportunity to say yes to my children. To let them play and be little. I don't feel the pressure to force my family to do things that other families find fun when we don't. I think all Mama's need to take a deep breathe and just do what works for them. That's not being overwhelmed with motherhood or pretending to be to busy to enjoy life.
As for their names. Yes, both are shortened nicknames of their given names. I did change the spelling of Tagg's name by adding the second g back in after he was a few months old. This is certainly the case of you can't please every body all of the time. They are both fully aware of their full names which are used in many circumstances out of the blog. We love our children and will support any choice they have in altering their nicknames at any point. Anne and Edward are their first names and I'm sure some will chuckle at the #classic #preppy-ness just as some don't care for our more informal Wells and Tagg. To each their own.
As for me getting a job, no I'm not selling Mary Kay or slinging wraps. Although you won't see me knock it, good for those moms for finding a way to help bring in some money for their families. Matthew did encourage me to get a job. He has bore the sole financial responsibility for our family for several years now. Do I have mixed emotions about leaving my kids to work? Of course, I think it's perfectly normal to feel nervous and unsettled about entering the office work force again after 5 years away. I'm the marketing and social media coordinator for a local real estate agent. It's not a big glamorous job. It's not changing lives. But that's not really the point.
I completely agree with mocking the picture overloads of myself recently. One or two pictures is sufficient. Noted. As for my "look", I'm working with the face I've got so I'm not entirely sure that my "uppity" look can be fixed. I currently prefer the resting bitch face over the fake laughing or the duck face but that could change and I'm happy to mix it up to keep y'all entertained. There is also the option of just posting picture with my head cut off to keep it completely neutral.
I actually thought really hard before diving into fashion blogging first hand. I've always mixed clothes in with my currently obsessed round-ups but steered away from fashion blogging because I'm not a fashionista with an unlimited budget and most of my time is spent at the playground or my back yard. But life doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. I love looking at other people's real life clothes and sometimes I like to read the obvious. I am fully aware that I did not re-invent the wheel by combining a colorful tee with shorts. But that wasn't the point.
Sponsorships and Comps
I'm really happy I have achieved a level of success with my blog where on occasion I am approached for collaborative opportunities by both large and small companies. I find this to be an exciting achievement. I am always honest and upfront with you when I am comped an item. I turn more offers down than I accept because I don't want to accept something that I feel lame or fake endorsing. I'm not trying to pull a fast one on anyone nor do I continue to blog in order to receive free things. This blog was around long before those perks existed. Many companies have found it advantageous to utilize this not so new method of product placement rather than traditional means of marketing. Do you find it more offensive that I've been paid in end tables rather than dollars?
These lurkers accused me of posting an inspiration board or list the home projects I want accomplish simply to blatantly fish for sponsors in the hopes that vendors can make an easy match to products. Nope. I've been making design boards (and sharing them for free) since the beginning of my blog. It's fun for me. I plan to do lots more in the future. I tend to use a lot of the same items in my boards because I really use them. They're not just for show. If I make a board for a room in our home I make a point to incorporate the items that we already use and own. If you took inventory of the number of items I have been comped for review or to use in a post or a giveaway you will find it to be a drastically small percentage of what we own.
My blog is dead. I'm struggling for content.
I can assure you that while this blog may no longer be interesting to the anyone, it is definitely not going anywhere. I am certainly no more busy than the next woman, but at this stage in my life home design projects are hard. I have little helpers who want to participate fully in my life. DIY projects are time consuming and I have to prioritize. I'm not going to bring my children home from the park early because I need to pick up more spray paint in order to keep up with the DIY Jones'. As for the One Room Challenge, I was not asked to participate this round. While some have been involved in each round, others are replaced to allow room for new ones. While it was something I enjoyed being a part of, I'm not going to lose sleep that I wasn't invited back. I will continue to blog at my own pace creating content that I find interesting. I often find re-doing a whole space completely overwhelming. I think baby steps are the way to go. Quit worrying about selecting fabrics to recover your chairs and go ahead and hang that painting you love on your wall. I'm not going to apologize for not having full make-over reveal new content daily. Yes, adding a fern will help your porch look nicer while you decide on door colors. Don't feel bad that a $10 update made you happy. I have spent countless hours carving this space of positivity for myself and others to enjoy. I'm not going to end that because a few people don't think I'm worthy of their internets.
Anyway, I'm damned if I do or damned if I don't. Everything I have said here only opens me up further to their snark. If I mention that I didn't write this post as a pathetic plea to have you all come to my defense then they'll call my bluff and say I'm doing just that. So please, for now just know that my only intention is to keep you all in the loop. That's always ever my only intention. I'm also going to take the rest of the week off from blogging. I know their words will be in the back of my head and I'll over think anything I want to write about. I hope y'all have a great rest of your week and I'll see you back on Monday!