Dear Mommy Bloggers,
I have come to the conclusion that some of you apparently don't think your children are ever going to grow up.
Let me assure you, it will happen.
I have come to this conclusion because sometimes some of you post things about your children that will someday be humiliating and infuriating... to some of them. I add the caveat because for some of your kids, writing about their worst moments -- complete with ugly cry photos -- won't be a problem. For some kids, it will be an amusing footnote to their online presence -- which, by the time your kids are grown, will be, possibly, their every waking moment.
I recently read a post -- complete with a series of photos -- about a child's temper tantrum. It was written by a popular Mommy Blogger (I will not use names), and I was horrified. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but it's upsetting to me, as a mother, to see images of a small child in the midst of a very ugly cry.
Quite possibly, some day, when this girl is 11 or 12 or so, in the midst of adolescent angst and social insecurity, one of the mean girls at school (and you know there will be mean girls) will find those photos and show them to other mean girls. This child will be upset and angry to have her little kid ugly-cry-face shared around school. And guess who will be the focus of her anger? Not those nasty tweens.
You. Yes Mommy, she'll be seriously pissed off at you. You, who are supposed to be her safe haven and her protector, will have unwittingly exposed her to the world in ways she may not want the world to see her.
You see, your little kids, whose little lives you use to create content on your blogs, are going to grow up and have identities separate from you, and you don't know for sure yet what they're going to be like. Their personalities might be quirky or odd. Your children might be shy or circumspect. They might be very private. They might look at the years and years of posts you've written and resent that their childhoods have been co-opted for Google ad clicks and free Pampers. They might not. But they might.
I do think if you're writing funny, loving and entertaining stories about them they'll appreciate the historical documentation of their lives, much like my kids' baby books and childhood photos -- the paper versions, not the digital. The ones I keep in a closet in my home.
But be careful about those posts that make them look bratty, stupid, spoiled, klutzy, ungrateful or out of control. No one wants to be reminded of their worst days, even from when they were tiny kids. And if you're putting those days out there on your blogs, lots and lots of people will see. And if they're Mommy Bloggers too, they might think:
"Well hey, she's getting a lot of views on this ugly cry tantrum post, I'm going to do one!"
I am so grateful that I was never a Mommy Blogger. I have never written a post about or shared a photo of either of my grown kids without asking their permission. You who are Mommy Bloggers with itty-bitty kids can't really ask for permission, so you go with your instincts and write about them in a way that you feel is appropriate, which is what you should do. And for some of you, writing about their (and your) worst days is cathartic and liberating. Lots of writers have done that, long before the internet. Erma Bombeck or Anne Lamott, for example. And most of you write about those miserable days with respect, love, and a wink and a smile.
What your kids may really, really not like are the photos. If little Madison is having a temper tantrum about wanting to wear her princess slippers to pre-school, please don't take photos and put them on your blog. It's just not right. Imagine how you would feel if someone shared images of you during a particularly bad PMS episode. Or when you dropped a carton of eggs on the floor. Or got fired from your job. Or when you were fighting with your husband. Or worse.
As Mommy Bloggers 1.0 you are trailblazers and example-setters for those who will follow you, both literally and generationally. You are doing something revolutionary -- living your lives online. But please be careful with your children while you build your brand and attract sponsors.
Having raised my kids to adulthood, one thing I can guarantee -- your kids will remember the wonderful moments and the horrible moments. If you're doing the parenting thing right, most of their days will be blissfully ordinary, which is why those exceptionally good and bad days will stand out in their hearts and minds. They don't need a photographic reminder of the worst of them. Sometimes they don't even need a reminder of the best of them. And believe me when I tell you -- they will remind you of those bad moments when they're grown. And that can be painful for both you and your kids. Even without pictures.
Your children are small for a very brief time. Let them be all the things they will be -- happy, sad, angry, tantrumy, loving, poopy, adorable, annoying, smelly, dirty, wet, sleepy, hungry, clingy, whiny, sniffly, huggy and kissy -- without taking photos of every moment and sharing them all with the world. Keep some of it for yourself -- and for them. Especially the worst moments. Especially those.
Thank you for listening.
This post previously published on Midlife Boulevard