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Archive for November, 2010

Blogging honestly

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about truth in blogging. I read an interesting post on Marketing to Milk (with interesting comments too)¬†about a blog which, possibly, might contain some made-up content. I originally thought that I didn’t really mind if some funny blogs were made-up, as sometimes I’m just reading them for a laugh and if the situation’s funny, I don’t mind whether all the details are correct. However, thinking about it more, I think I would be disappointed if I found out that my favourite blogs weren’t ‘real’. As I read a blog, I build up a picture of the writer and her family. It’s not a conscious thing; I’m not keeping a spreadsheet or taking notes. But subtly, bit by bit I pick up snippets of someone’s past, so when I read something new about them the big picture starts to make a little more sense. My reading of a blog develops like a friendship, developing an understanding of a character and what makes them tick. If there are bits of the puzzle that aren’t true and don’t fit, to me that undermines the relationship a blogger builds with a reader.

And really, I don’t think you need to write about crazy, outlandish situations to be hilariously funny. Bloggers like Mammywoo or Northern Mummy are writing about the mundane day-to-day of raising kids: my son had a nosebleed, an old lady gave me daft advice – but it’s their style and comic timing that makes it so readable. Tell a true story, and tell it with flair and you’ve won my heart as a blogger.

However, don’t let stylish writing take priority over how you really feel… this week I saw a comment that my husband had written on a ‘Lurkers Delurk’ post on a blog he reads. The writer had asked for commenters to tell a little story, and he’d written about the night last May when he jumped over a big fence and shattered his ankle to pieces. He ended the story:

“How I made it to my car I will never know. How I managed to drive home I will have to put down to some kind of momentary, adrenaline fuelled super-human ability. How my wife immediately presumed I was over-exaggerating a sprain, gave me no sympathy and went back to bed, I will never forget.”

Ok, it’s a neat piece of writing. But the implication that my callous behaviour has tainted our marriage forever, well, I found that a bit upsetting. I mean, he came home and woke me up from an exhausted sleep late at night. I was breastfeeding a six week old baby at all hours of the day and night, not to mention looking after our toddler too. If, in my confused, sleep-deprived state I assumed that his ankle being ‘too painful to walk upstairs’ was some sort of crazy excuse to spend a night sleeping on the sofa away from the baby, ok, it was a mistake, but surely forgivable?

Well, it turns out he thinks so too. I asked him, was he still upset about it, would he really ‘never forget’? He didn’t know what I was talking about. He read his comment back, admitted that he wrote it that way because it sounded good. “And really, I won’t forget, I’ll probably always remember that night, won’t I?” Well, yes darling, but it’s not the nail in the coffin for our marriage that you made it sound.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Write honestly, write well, but remember that people in the real world might read it; try not to piss anyone off.

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Oh the irony. This post has seriously pissed my husband off. Perhaps I should have seen that one coming? I thought the above was a lighthearted rendering of our conversation about the whole thing; he thinks I’ve deliberately painted him in a terrible light. I don’t know… I feel like every time I have a good week with this blog and I’m pleased with how things are going, I do something to fuck it up. *sob*

To clarify, he broke his ankle when he was out late at work. He is an excellent husband and father. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

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Snowy Silent Sunday

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This post is part of Silent Sunday at Mocha Beanie Mummy

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Toddler moment

I may have mentioned before, my son is a big fan of Buzz Lightyear. For his birthday he got an all-singing, all-dancing movie-authentic Buzz. It’s a bit too big and heavy for him to comfortably play with and a lot of the snazzy things it does go right over his head, but his grandparents like to treat him to special things. Buzz talks back to you when you play with him, and if you leave him to his own devices he’ll try to get your attention. I was in the kitchen this afternoon and heard Buzz, from the toy box:

“Hey, are you still there?”

The toddler replies:

“No I’m not, my in a box Buzz Lightyear.”

I managed to get there in time to catch this.

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Striking a Balance

Yesterday I applied for a job. I started maternity leave in August 2008 and never went back. I started taking on freelance work when my son was around seven months old and have tried my hand at various things over the past two years, from search engine data evaluation to writing commissioned essays for students cheating in their university exams. Most recently I’ve been writing for websites and (if all goes to plan) I’ll soon be starting work on my first professional blogging contract. However, I’ve got problems.

I’m terrible at charging a fair and decent rate for freelance work. My lack of confidence and inexperience means (I think) that I’m not charging enough for my time. At the rates I’m currently getting, there’s no way I could get rich doing this, or even scrape a decent living without working all hours of the day.

I had two children in two years and the eldest won’t be eligible for his free nursery place until next September. Childcare for two is prohibitively expensive, so any freelance work I do take on has to be done on evenings and weekends. I’ve tried to do the odd bit with the kids around, but personally I find it impossible. Even if I could concentrate with a toddler trying to climb onto my knee and Cbeebies blaring in the background, I don’t think I’d want to. There’s no joy in being at home with my kids if I’m going to spend half the time ignoring them, my thoughts elsewhere. I know there are women out there who work around their kids in the home; I met one today who was motivated, inspirational and totally lovely. I wish I could be like her: dedicated enough to work until 2.00 am most nights, constantly on the ball and balancing work and kids successfully. But really, I just don’t know if I have it in me. I don’t know if there’s a role or idea, at the moment, that I feel passionately enough about to find the energy needed to succeed. Maybe if the right idea came along I’d take the plunge but I don’t know – maybe I’ll always be the sort of person to choose the snuggly bed and early night over the hard slog to success and riches. And I’m far too susceptible to nagging guilt: when I’m working I feel guilty that I’m not mothering or keeping house, but if I’m not working then I have a gnawing, uncomfortable feeling that I should be.

So, given all that, I’ve decided the time is right for me to look for permanent employment. My priorities have changed since having kids: a short commute to make it home before bath time takes precedence over a fantastic salary. I’m open minded about full time or part time work, and about sector (although funnily enough, the job I applied for yesterday at the organisation I used to work for, albeit in a different department). I’m not sure how we’ll balance childcare; possibly my husband will go part time (or if I go full time, quit his job), possibly we’ll use a mix of family and childminder. Either way it’ll be big changes and big challenges. I’m looking forward to having a clear distinction between work and home, and to having some time and space to be myself. Although I would like to keep on some writing work, keep my options open – so perhaps I’ll never escape the nagging guilt, but then show me a mother who does!

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself here. The vacancy hasn’t even closed yet; it’ll be next week at the earliest before they shortlist and invite people to interview. I promise I’ll keep you posted.

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The theme for this week’s Gallery is ‘Black and White’. I looked through the photos on our computer and there were a couple of possibilities, including pictures of both my sons at about 8 weeks old in the same funky black and white baby dungarees, and a wonderful set of photos taken with the SLR on manual and proper black and white film in hospital when the toddler was one day old. But my husband took those, and one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the Gallery is being inspired to take photographs myself. Although, being at home with two kids under three, I don’t get much chance to set up photos and practice. Instead, I tried to snap some interesting shots with my iPhone at our local soft play/farm place today. For the ‘black and white’ theme, this is my favourite.

Sneaking in an extra pic, here’s another one I liked – it’s just a shame the soft play wasn’t a bit cleaner and brighter or it might have come out a little better! I was having a nightmare trying to get him to stay still, then I realised duh, sit him up. He started commando crawling last week and now he’s really on the move.

Now, time to check out the rest of the entries in this week’s Gallery

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You can see the rest of this week’s Silent Sunday here, and all about it (with some amazing photos) here.

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The toddler is a complex creature. He is compelled to impose order. Things that match are grouped together.

 

Once he decides where something must go, he’ll persevere with intense concentration until he gets there.

 

Yet sometimes, his idea of order isn’t the same as the grown-up world.

 

There’s understanding, recollection, but no impulse control and no remorse:

“What’s this?”
“Chalk!”
“Did you do this?”
“Yes!”
“What did Mummy say about drawing on walls?”
“Stop that!”
“So why did you do this?!”
“Chalk!”

Language can be imitative and repetitive:

“My want something to eat”
“How about grapes?”
“How about fig roll?”
“How about an orange?”
“How about fig roll?”
“How about blueberries?”
“How about fig roll?”
*eats blueberries*

 

The toddler can be stubborn, wilful and utterly infuriating. But bless him, he really means well.

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