Musings on babies, blogging, and privacy

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Baby legs and bootsI feel like I owe y’all and apology. For those of you who got to know me via Offbeat Bride, you’re used to a certain kind of writing from me. My wedding planning process and wedding day were, quite literally, an open book. I spilled the beans about my partner, my family, our friends, my feelings, and getting baked while watching rainbows. It was fun and awesome and allowed me to get to know so many of you. Honestly, the offbeat community is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. All because I was a blabberface about my wedding!

But when it comes to my son and my new experience of motherhood, I’m finding myself clamp-mouthed with a brick wall around my stories. I have tons of baby photos posted on Flickr — but they’re all viewable to friends & family only. I have lots of videos on Vimeo — but they’re all password protected. I have stories I want to share about the five years we spent trying to conceive and my experience of childbirth, what it’s like when you baby bed gets recalled, and soooo many other things … but rather than share them on Offbeat Mama, I post them on my members-only private blog.

And for that I am sorry. I want to share these things with you, but I also need to respect that while I’ve made decisions in the past about sharing my life online, my son has not made those decisions. If he wants to be an extrovert like his big-mouth mama, he can make that choice for himself someday. I don’t want to force the decision on him by sharing his stories online before he’s even figured out how to hold up his head.

Another issue (and I’m loath to even mention this, because I strongly believe in DNFTT) is that I’ve dealt with my share of trolls over the years. One is so doggedly devoted that she’s followed my writing and photos all over the web, leaving bitchy “you’re fat/ugly/stupid/irrelevant/etc” snarks on almost every site I’ve posted on for the last four years. I’ve been online since 1992, so I’ve got a thick skin with this stuff. But my kid? I’m just not going to expose my son to that kind of petty bullshit. I’m sure he’ll deal with bullies — but it doesn’t need to start at age 1 month.

All this means that I’m dealing with serious privacy issues when it comes to writing about my son and experience of motherhood. I anticipated this early on in my pregnancy, and it’s part of why I made my personal blog private last year and was very clear when founding Offbeat Mama that it was NOT my personal mommyblog.

But I feel like I may have gone too far — I’m a little walled off, and I feel like it’s affecting the relationship I’m able to have with y’all, my beloved offbeat mamas. Where does my son’s experience end and mine begin? Which stories are mine to share, and which are his? How vulnerable do I want to be on the internet these days?

Then again, I love reading other people’s stories — is it fair that I’m greedily gobbling up all y’all’s forthcomingness while keeping my own narrative to myself?

This is all to say thanks to each of you for your patience with me as I fumble around trying to figure out the balance between doing what I love (sharing stories with my ladies) and feeling safe and like I’m respecting my son’s privacy.

Comments on Musings on babies, blogging, and privacy

  1. its so sad that there are those trolls out there and you have to be so guarded. i know we'd all love to hear SO many more stories from you, but you absolutely have to do what is best for you and yours. Being a mommy changes how you view many things and if i had a following like yours i'm not sure i would want all these people digging into my life either. We'll just all cherish these little clips into your life a little bit more 🙂
    Tavi's almost smile is freaking adorable!

  2. I… think your making a good choice, I really do. I worry about babies of bloggers I love who are all over the interwebs from day one. I don't worry about the moms, I worry about the kids. I worry about what it means to be a internet celebrity from the moment you are born. Not good, I think. Also, I think walling things off makes the special, a little bit. I shared enough about my wedding that it felt like I shared about my wedding (at least from the outside). From the inside though, I skipped most of the important bits and all of the important pictures. And that made it feel like it was still mine, not the interwebs. Fine line, but helpful. I geuss what I'm saying is that we don't tend to hear that being gaurded is good. But from my (more limited) internet experiance, it is. There is stuff that just doesn't need to be up for public debate, stuff that you don't need or want comments from the peanut gallery (us!). That said, I'm excited to hear about some of *your* stories.

  3. Great post because it's one I often battle myself. I have a website that discusses a varying degree of life's woes but I use psuedonyms for family members and kids. I've also made a rule to myself: if any family member would be offended by what I have written (my kids down the line included) then I won't write about it. I have my own list of topics that are off the list because, as you said, while I have chosen to lose a certain degree of privacy my children are too young to make that choice.

    I've also posted to Offbeat Mama about my own experiences because I feel a sense of community on her that I don't always find in my own parenting bubble.

    When it comes to pictures, I too am careful about what I post. Pictures of the kids are usually taken in a manner where their faces are not shown or are otherwise "disguised" (say when they wear a mustache or funny mask while playing). Just my personal preference.

    I certainly, though, do not judge others who put it all out there to read. Kuddos to them for their honesty! To each his own I like to say and do my best to follow what Thumper's Mom told him in the movie Bambi: if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all. 😉

  4. …. My thought, which may be helpful, maybe not (I'm sure you have your own ideas, this is just my best thought). Maybe you protect his image specifically? No pictures, no videos, nada. That way you can tell the "you" stories, the "mom" stories, and to the extent that overlaps with "his" stories, he's still not recognizable to the outside world (unless he's in your arms, of course 😉 which is good. Somehow to me, that's a good red line. Good luck. And do what feels safe. And don't apologize.

  5. this is very smart. as a teenager my mom used a bunch of my and my friends stories (unasked!) in a big autobio art peice she did at the roma in the '90s and looking back i STILL feel violated. but her return fight is that she should get to express herself and her life and i am a big part of that. also going thru our old baby photos i saw a TON of naked bath pix and said, i am SO GLAD mom didn't have the internet! that being said i really miss reading about your life, and want to know lots about you and your son! sooo i guess i applaud using cation but not walling off. and, change the names when it's cute stories involving your kids friends…

  6. I'm sorry there are trolls so you have to be this way. I respect you for respecting and protecting Tavi and I thank you for sharing this clip. He is so sweet.

  7. I have to admit, I was disappointed when I read that you were going to be a lot more private about your life after having your son – but I COMPLETELY understand it. In your position, especially having a cyber-stalker, I'm sure I would do the same thing. I'm glad that you are still going to give us glimpses of your life with Tavi.

    As Meg said above, do what feels safe for you and your family – you NEVER need to apologize for that!

  8. I think its great you want to protect your son and that is a right on motherly instinct. Keep "mom blog" about you and your experiences as a mother in general terms and save your Tavi stories for you and your family as great memories. As for pics, I love baby pictures but likewise try to avoid putting pics up of my children on the internet too. Maybe as a compromise for those that would like to hear about him you could an annual "State of the Tavi" post. 1 pic and just a general update on how he's doing. Let's the OBM community at large know how he is without overexposing him.

  9. I don't blame you, especially considering your troll. I feel like sometimes it's hard to draw the line, with facebook, twitter, blogs, and the plethora of other ways to let everyone know about every minute of your life. It's a very personal decision, and you have to do what you feel is best for your family. Don't feel like you 'owe' us details.

    That being said, I love these little bits that we get access to, for the same reason I love offbeat mama. I don't have kids yet, but will start trying in a few years. There is a lot of pressure to do things a certain way, and this idea that after you become a parent, you have to change who you are. Seeing offbeat parents out there, kicking ass and loving their kids, is proof that you can be different and your kids won't suffer from it.

    Btw, Tavi has an awesome full name.

  10. Oh he is just the cutest little thing isn't he?

    Protective Mamas are good Mamas! If we all thought the same, Offbeat Mama would cease to exist! It is difference that makes the world so fun, exciting and interesting. Just having a site dedicated to the WORLD full of AWESOME Mamas is contribution enough, girl. Anything above that, I see, as just icing on the cake!

  11. I started my own blog about mental illness a few months ago, and I expected to have some negative reactions. I did NOT expect to have a troll who writes on my blog 4-5 times a day and attacks myself daily (it's someone I know, I haven't 100% figured it out, but I believe it's someone who I used to be friends with and we had a falling out). I can just imagine what it would be like to have someone trolling you for that long. People think because the internet is faceless they can write whatever they wish. People like that are weak, and low. I think you are smart and courageous to carry on, and to protect yourself and your family. I hope you continue to be as open as you can be (since I love reading), but I can most certainly understand your need to protect yourself and your new son. Congrats by the way! 😀 Tavi is the cutest lil' guy!!!!

  12. In you're situation, we all would do the same thing. In fact, I think I would have filed some kind of restraining order a long time ago against . We all love reading your stories and taking a peek at your pics about you're life, but when it comes to Tavi, its different. He's a little individual who can't make his own decisions short of when he wants to have a snack or sleep, so its up to you to make them for him, and I think you are making the best ones. Protection of the little man is way more important than us ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his videos, pics and stories. However, I'm thrilled we're going to gradually get to know him. And I'm already in-frickin-love with his little half-smile!!

  13. I just don't understand trolls! What would possess a person to be so negative and mean to someone they don't even know. Ariel you are always so positive and uplifting and encouraging to everyone in the community, it just doesn't seem right. I fully respect your decision to keep this new chapter of your life private but I loved the video of Tavi, he is SO cute!

    Best of luck as you continue to navigate these new waters and hopefully you will be able to find a happy medium that protects Tavi's privacy but feeds your soul.

  14. First of all, Tavi is so cute I almost peed, and I think he has your eyes.

    Second, we're all kind of learning what we are comfortable with as new mamas together. You have been the leader and torch bearer of the offbeat brigade, but you are still as entitled to protect your children as anyone else. And unfortunately, nothing's sacred on the world wide web. Ariel, we're lucky to have you, and I hope you are able to find a balance that feels good for you and your family. I have nothing but respect and admiration for you!

  15. I totally agree with this! That is why I post under either a nickname or "anon" if I'm feeling uncreative. I'm a super-private person, but still want to be able to comment on things, or post things on fbook…but where to draw the line?? How to create a sense of community, without being taken advantage of? Mostly I just live vicariously by reading other ppl's comments on boards/websites I like 😉 , but, that doesn't really solve the issue. And so many great boards have been taken over by snarks….sigh, I don't have the answers.

    I thank you for your honesty though – and please don't feel obligated to share things with us! We have no "right" to know about your personal bsns.

    But, having said that – Tavi is soooo cuuute! 🙂

  16. He is super cute! And I completely, absolutely agree with what you are doing 100%
    I am sort of new to OBB and have loved OBM since you first announced it was open – being a mom and gal planning her first wedding at the same time 🙂
    But I feel you have put enough content on OBM that it is fabulous even without the "ohmygosh my kid did the darndest thing today!" gushings. It is Tavi's life, not your own that you'd be writing about and it is a fine line on what is his and what is yours. And when the line is blurry – it's best to assume it's his.
    Thanks for the video post tho – it's good to see the little one in action!

  17. ….and how much have we learned about YOU Ariel….by accident….through these same protective omissions??!! Hmmm… I have learnt that even bigmouths are entitled to secrets and alone moments and quiet time….and that you are a real gem for 'thinking' for your new boy. Ta, as always blabberpants x x x p.s. married now, aiming for honeymoon babies FTW!!!!!

  18. He is so precious! You do what you need to do for your family- no hard feelings. I always feel blessed whenever someone I would have never met on terra firma allows me to look into their life. Thank-you.

  19. He is so precious! You do what you need to do for your family- no hard feelings. I always feel blessed whenever someone I would have never met on terra firma allows me to look into their life. Thank-you.

  20. I have to say I've been really curious about what you would and wouldn't speak about.

    I think there are certain things that you can speak about – two things you mentioned being his birth and trying to conceive – that relate to your child without necessarily being about him i.e.: they are about getting him here, not about who he is when he got here. Hope that makes sense.

    By all means err on the side of caution and obey your instincts, but maybe there is wiggle room for you.

    PS: his socks are gorgeously cute, and I kinda want some now…

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