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. I think that the biggest mummy blogger on the block nailed it on the topic of writing about mothering on the internet.

    "And I have every reason to believe that one day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about their own children, and you’re going to be so proud that we were brave enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard, frustrating work and we’re not going to sit around on our hands waiting for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter."

    It's up to you to decide what is right to write. I trust you as a mother and will back you to the hilt in your right to blog in a safe space.

  2. As a fellow mommy blogger ( I totally understand your internal struggle. For you, though, it's even more pronounced I'm sure with your "fame" – people know who you are, and thus your children. I've been able to protect mine to a degree with public nick names (Kinder Major and Bug, amongst other things) and a minimal number of publicly identifiable details. It's a struggle and will take some time, but I'm confident that you'll find your comfort zone. 🙂

  3. I used to go back and forth about this a LOT–when I started my blog, like 5 people came a week. Then Jasper was born early, and people spread it around, and now I have WAY more visitors than I ever, ever anticipated. It's definitely a weird thing, but the community that I have found through my blog is UNMATCHED. Sean and I were beyond touched by the outreach and support we received via Jasper's NICU stay, and the fact that all these people care about Jasper…I don't know. It's amazing to me. When I write on the blog, I try not to consciously think about it–most of my posts are literally the first things that fly out of my fingertips and into the computer. I also don't really think about the people who are reading it, and..I don't know. I'm not making sense!

    Can I just say that I understand? And I get it? 🙂

    The Dooce quote is perfect, and I'm glad that Stef posted it. Because it IS true. Once Jasper was born early and diagnosed with NAIT, I knew I had the chance to be a platform of sorts for the condition, and let people know about it, especially since it's not something that is tested for before birth, and it's something you don't find out about until your baby is born. I don't give too many specific details about where we go and what we do, and I try to keep a lot of things general.

    BUT, ultimately, it's up to you–whatever you are comfortable with is what you should do. 🙂

  4. Ariel – I've respected your openness, your open-mindedness, and your fearlessness since I first found your blog. Parenting is scary shit, man. It's a great sign of what a great mom you'll be that you're considering these issues so deeply. We'll of course be thrilled to share in your enjoyment as a new mother – I bet it's been a fantastic couple of months in your family. We don't NEED to know it all, and anything you're not comfortable sharing, it should be respected 100%. I do look forward to more intimate postings from you; I always enjoy your insights because I think you kick ass.

    Also, this is irrelevant, but this is the second or third post I've clicked over to from my reader since your decision to shorten feeds. Your method shows just enough of your post in my Google Reader that I really do get enough information to know if I'm interested in reading it all – and so far, as usual, I still am. I said I'd give it a shot for a week .. I don't think it'll take that long before I'm totally used to the new way. I know you kind of got a hard time about it, so I just thought you might like to hear that.

  5. Awww he's so gorgeous! Makes me miss those baby bobblehead motions, but toddlerhood and now school-age has their ups too!
    I totally understand why you be apprehensive with the internet and sharing about your son. There are plenty of not so friendly people in the world or people with weird obsessions and we all know the dangers of the sharing information on the internet anyway. With that being said I think if you feel that you're losing that sense of community from sharing then maybe a few blogs about minor baby happenings once in a while, not full-on deep secret confessions of mommyhood, could be in order. If only to give you that sense of community that the internet also gives to many of us. I know when I felt most alone was when I was a new mother at home for the first time with a newborn and I found solace and great advice from strangers online. You'll make the best decisions for yourself and good luck with everything!

  6. Your people do miss you and your in-depth stories, but I think we all respect you as well. I don't even have children yet, but I can see your perspective on wanting privacy. Your readers aren't going to abandon you for your choices (at least the cool intelligent ones aren't), we will just gobble up all the tidbits we can get. Thanks for the apology and for sharing the video. I hope my children are as beautiful as Tavi and that I am half as cool a mom as you.

  7. First off – what an adorable baby. Seriously.

    And honestly – GO YOU. Keep your child's life private. The amount of over-sharing by mommy bloggers is reaching epic proportions. It's bad enough no one really wants to read about your baby's first poop, but worse when some go around posting about their teenager's mental health issues (true story). If you want your child to be able to read how life was when they were a baby, how you felt, and how you loved them, keep paper journals. It's more offbeat anyway.

  8. So….
    I just moved to Oregon from Ohio. Until I start back at college (since I won't be due until well after summer semester) I will be bored. Or knitting. Or scrap booking. If it shant be too childish, I would be thrilled to bully the bully. 🙂 Just comment back and I will give you my e-mail. Maybe a taste of their own medicine will make whoever it is stop.

  9. Immaturity in adults ticks me off.

    You do what you think is best. Honestly, who cares what others think of it. You caring just shows how sweet and considerate you probably are (I just found this blog 🙂 )

    Very, very cute, adorable baby!!!

  10. Melting! He's so adorable Ariel! I don't comment often, but am always around sending positive vibes your way.

  11. I completely understand. I know I was amazed at how instantly protective I felt about my daughter – before she was born and definitely after! I call it Mama Bear – it's the whole "would you stand in front of a speeding train to protect your child" question and the answer is a resounding 'Yes'! – If I happen to put pictures on fb I have them visible to a very few – and these are people I know! So yep – I get your hesitation.

    I couldn't get the video to work on my slow old computer, but from the still – it looks like you have an adorable son, and thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Your child is entitled to his privacy, no matter what anyone says, or thinks. The tidbits we get are nice. But, you can't take things back once they are one the internet, you can try and delete something, all it takes is someone saving it to their computer. Oh, and sorry for my run on sentences.

  13. I can not believe a person would go to that much effort to stalk you out and try to insult you. Lameeee person!

    Back to the subject, I totally understand where you're coming from – You just can never be too careful online which is why I don't use our real names or use personal photos. It's sad we have to go to these extremes but what can you do?

    Well done to you Mama

  14. He's too adorable! Thank you for the tidbit, and like everyone's been saying, don't feel like you NEED to share everything about him with us. I love that Offbeat Mama is a collaboration of many mamas (and dads), it doesn't have to be your personal mommyblog.

  15. Completely understood. I don't post photos with my step daughters in them. Anywhere. Ever. And with very few exceptions I don't refer to them by name. They are Troll #1 & Troll #2 (so named for their eating habits not their internet stalker tendancies).

    Having had "real life" as well as cyber stalkers I sympathize. And you have my (and a lot of other folks) utmost support in doing whatever you need to do both to express yourself and to protect yourself (and Tavi… who is ADORABLE btw).


  16. Tavi is adorable and you are more than entitled to your privacy with him! We love the little peeks that we get of him when you feel comfortable posting and that's enough for this offbeatmama! Thank you for creating such a great blog and congratulations again on your bundle of joy.

  17. I don't blame you for feeling that way at all! I'm protective of my little off springs' privacy before they are even out of the womb! I think it's that mothering instinct to protect your little one, and if you feel/have felt threatened, then of course you want to protect your son.
    I love off beat mama! But, I respect your privacy and decisions for your family.
    All the best in your adventures of Momma-ing 🙂

  18. I don't blame you for feeling that way at all! I'm protective of my little off springs' privacy before they are even out of the womb! I think it's that mothering instinct to protect your little one, and if you feel/have felt threatened, then of course you want to protect your son.
    I love off beat mama! But, I respect your privacy and decisions for your family.
    All the best in your adventures of Momma-ing 🙂

  19. Can I just say thank you for being a good step-mom? Kinder Major's step mother just… didn't get it… and slathered the internet in photos of my child including naked bath/pool photos and vids, her real name, the playground we used to frequent… Yeah. Thank you for being considerate of your stepdaughters!

  20. I am shocked to find out that you have an online stalker. How crazy that person must be! I completely understand why you keep Tavi as private as you do. I have lots of pictures of my daughter on FB, but I made sure only friends could see them. I do hope you let us in a little bit, but of course it's completely at your discretion. And there is no need to apologize. It's your life and you need to feel safe. By the way, he is ADORABLE!!! congratz again on a beautiful son!

    P.S. Everytime I try to log in with FB it takes me too offbeat bride. prbly just my damn firewall. 🙁

  21. Like many have already said, I was really sad when you announced your new privacy policies. I feel like I got to know you through Offbeat Bride and had been looking forward to seeing baby pics, videos, etc.

    But, having said that, I TOTALLY understand. The internetz can be a not so nice place, and I don't necessarily think that the entire world should have access to Tavi's babyhood.

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