Keeping it Real. Mostly.

Last week my friend Christie wrote a post she called Putting the trash out (a.k.a: Keeping it real) where she posted a picture of herself “in all her grainy, un-photoshoppped, un-made up, bags-under-the-eyes glory” and then shared a bit of dirt on herself — a list of shortcomings that she thought her readers may not know.

She urged her readers to show their reality with a photo sans makeup or photo editing.  As I said to her in her comments, once many eons ago I posted a picture of myself sans makeup.  It’s probably buried in the vast wasteland that is my old Typepad blog, and once is enough for me.  So don’t worry, you can read on without fear of finding a photo of me sans makeup at the end of this post.

Christie was inspired by this thought-provoking post by Travelin’ Oma, who challenged her readers to take a look at their blogs with objective eyes and consider what others see.  Ideally it will be homey and welcoming — not overly piled up with trash, but not pristine and artificial either.  (She expresses it with a beautiful analogy; you really should just go read it.)  I think Shelly found that balance admirably in this post, by the way.

Balancing authenticity and my family’s right to privacy is something I think about a lot.  Sometimes I wish my blog were anonymous so that I could let it all hang out, but everyone I know including my mother and my pastor know about my blog.  Let’s just say I won’t be letting it ALL hang out.  And yet, if I were being fake, I wouldn’t be able to get away with that either.

Then today when I saw Alli’s post, I knew I had to chime in.  I think she makes excellent points about the reasons many of us choose to highlight the sunshine and rainbows.  I think I’m usually pretty open about my shortcomings, but there is certainly plenty of dirt that I don’t share.  Some of it would make excellent blog fodder and I’d share it if I could, and some of it I wouldn’t tell you if you had me interrogated by Jack Bauer.  But out of respect to my family, I do hold back.  Probably not enough, according to some.

I like Travelin’ Oma’s analogy of the home.  That’s what I want my blog to feel like.  When people visit my blog, I want them to feel like they are coming into my home.  When friends and neighbors stop by my house, they often find a sink piled with dishes, crumbs on my counter, toys scattered on the floor, and sometimes I’m still in my pjs.  I don’t try to hide the mess, although I admit I do wish I could be one of “those moms” who has it all together all the time.  (“Those moms” exist, right?  Ha.)

I feel that I am a part of a great community of bloggers who strive to “keep it real” while also respecting their friends and family, and it’s always a joy to read a post like Shelly’s and be reassured that I’m not alone in my struggles and also encouraged in my role as a mother.

Alli put it much better here:

As more and more women tell their stories, we see we are not alone. We share moments and experiences, and in doing so, we are creating works of art and archiving our legacy.

I just love that — archiving our legacy.  I recently installed the Link Within plugin that suggests similar posts at the bottom of each post, and this week I’ve enjoyed clicking on some of those and reading my stories.  I hope that one day my children will do the same, and I hope they get a laugh or two at my expense, and at theirs.

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Meanwhile, Kristy asked a great question over at our Savvy Source group:

Kristy said:

Okay, thankfully this has not happened to us on either side yet but I was thinking about it yesterday as my kids had friends over and they let them play with their DSi’s. If your child were playing with an expensive toy at their friends house and broke it, would you replace it or would you feel like the Mom should have stepped in and said something like, “sorry sally we have a rule that no one plays with our expensive toys” or something like that?

Click over and weigh in!

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And one more thing. My other blog, Chic Critique is getting a makeover, and we are having a tagline contest.  I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Join The Conversation

13 Responses

  1. I try to keep it real too – but not TOO real – for my kids’ sake, my dh, and as my blog readers include my church minister and my Dad, there is such a thing as too much information!

    There are definitely some things we have chosen as a family to keep private, but I do sometimes wish I could share them too, as I know I would receive great support.

    As for a photo of me – I hate having my photo taken, and unfortunately (unlike some lovely bloggers I know) have no-one taking professional pics! So there will probably be pigs in the sky before I put another photo of me on my blog – with or without makeup!!!

  2. Thanks for the “shout out” I feel like a celebrity now! I’ll be sure to wear my dark sunglasses and baseball hat to pick up the kids at school so I don’t get mobbed by fans wanting an autograph…hehehe.

  3. Goodness, that makes me cringe a bit to think that you have been accused of painting a more favorable view of your life on your blog. I think it just depends on what you want your focus and purpose to be. Does letting the bad stuff hang out help you process? Then go there. Does focusing on the positive inspire? Then go there.

  4. I left a comment – not sure why it’s not showing up. I’ll try again and hopefully you’re not inundated with comments from me!

    Thanks for the link – loved every point you made. My rule of thumb has always been this: Would I be embarrassed to know that my father-in-law read this post? If the answer is yes, it doesn’t get written. Has helped keep my blogging integrity.

  5. Hm. I think letting-it-all-hang-out is over-rated. Some things are private and meant to remain so. Keeping private things private is NOT being a hypocrite, or unauthentic. My blog is my blog, and it’s meant to be creative — it is what I intend it to be. I prefer to present order and beauty.

    To me, it’s rather like readers complaining to Victoria Magazine that it presents an unrealistic view of life. Of course it does! It’s supposed to! It’s presenting a beautiful life that we aspire to. Some women want realistic blogs with warts, so they can think, “Ah a woman like me. I feel better. Misery loves company. I’m not weird.” Other women look for beauty in a blog. They think, “Ah, this is relief from the drudgery of the day. Maybe I could make something this beautiful, if I try.”

    Both are valid.

  6. Well said Mary Kathryn!
    Just remember Jo-Lynne there will always be people in all areas of your life (including church!) who spend their life looking for flaws in others—at the root of that, just as it was in high school, is jealousy. You share just enough—you have a right to be proud of your family and the gifts God has given you. By posting your less than perfect moments, you are an encouragement to others. The only time I ever considered really dislking you was when you posted your “around the house” Christmas pictures. But then I realized that your garland and decorations would stay just so for a milli-second–enough to take a picture, before one of your children mussed it up and returned your house to looking normal! Here’s something my husband taught me about running my mouth (and no, I don’t always follow it) but I think it would apply to blogging as well. “When in doubt don’t.” There’s your deep thought for the day.

  7. I just tell people as they enter my home (family included) that anything they do or say may end up on my blog! LOL! 🙂

  8. Just checking in after a long day to find such nice words about me here. Thank you. I am truly humbled because all I wrote about was my ugly heart. But thanks anyway. 🙂

    I like honesty and “realness,” but honestly, I don’t really like to read other people’s really heavy “stuff” like about their marriages falling apart or things that belong in a counselor’s office. Do you know what I mean? Those posts make me uncomfortable.

    There are a couple of people in my house who like their privacy, so I don’t post about them much. I think I try to focus on how events in my life affect ME. Make sense?

  9. My best friend and I had a conversation about this type of thing – except not in blogging, just in conversing and we mutually agreed that if something really stinky is going on in our life it’s ok to talk about it if we must – but we won’t allow our conversation to focus on that. It means that when I call her and we have a conversation if I have a really stinky thing in my life that I need to get off my chest I can, but it won’t be the only thing or the last thing we talk about – because we want to leave our conversations with each other encouraged, uplifted, inspired… we know life isn’t perfect, but we choose not to dwell on that and instead to dwell on what is good.

    I feel like I’m talking in circles but – there are things I would love to blog about, in order to “let it all hang out” but in the same breath I would never consider blogging about those issues because I don’t want to drag other people down, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of the stinky in my life, I want to overcome. I like to write about the good and pray about the bad. Sometimes that means that my blogging isn’t reflective of what my heart is feeling, but is instead a conscious decision to lay aside the negative in order to focus on the positive.

    OK… I’m still talking in circles so I’ll stop now and just say I hope this ramble made sense 🙂

  10. I know I have often felt intimidated reading blogs and thinking that the mum-bloggers “have it all together”. The funny thing is that sometimes I find the “let it all out” posts even MORE intimidating because I think (a) is this the worst that ever happens? and (b) I wish I could handle a situation like that with such dignity and grace!

    Another thought is that even if bloggers aren’t trying to come across as “having it all together”, because we are writing about our passions and things we enjoy, in our posts we often sound thoughtful and knowledgable. I, for example would not even be trying to write about sports, building, business, geography etc, etc because I don’t think about and don’t know much about these topics. If I tried to post about these thinggs, I would come across as ignorant… just a thought.

  11. I can’t keep it too real in regard to family stuff since they all read (darn!). But, I try to keep it real with myself as much as possible. For instance, today I showed the uncropped version of a home photo to display the mess left over from Christmas!

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