As you read this, I will be sat at a glitzy award ceremony that celebrates the very best of family-friendly Dubai. I will be dressed in a navy cocktail dress with freshly done hair and nails, applauding the winners, and sipping a glass (or two) or something strong, whilst my husband sits next to me in a tuxedo.
I was shortlisted for Parenting Blog 2015, an award I won last year. And whilst I don’t expect to win it this year (genuinely), I will be sat at that table feeling incredibly grateful and touched that I am acknowledged for a blog I started 18 months ago from my sofa. In my pyjamas. With Netflix on the TV. And a newborn baby waking between each sentence I managed to type.
I feel like that little blog has come a long way. After all, there are over 40,000 people following it across my social media platforms and the traffic kind of astounds me. I make very little money from this blog of mine, but seeing that three quarters of a million pages were viewed in July alone makes me feel like I must be doing something right.
Kind of. Because I’ve been having doubts.
It’s been niggling away for a while now, because people can be very unkind and sometimes I don’t know if I’m up to it. Only yesterday I removed a link from Facebook because somebody told me that the fact I get upset when people assume I want a girl means that ‘you definitely do want a girl as you clearly aren’t satisfied with your boys’. My gorgeous boys. The boys I wanted and love so much that I created a whole blog to celebrate them.
I guess it’s better than the time someone told me that I should ‘STOP BLOGGING FOR GOD’S SAKE AND SPEND SOME TIME YOUR CHILDREN!” (capitals clearly used to convey she was shouting from behind her computer). By the way, those kids were asleep at the time, in their bed, not missing Mummy at all, as she was just in the next room on the sofa.
But seriously, I have it easy compared to some of the brilliant blogs I follow in the UK. Just yesterday I read a vile thread on the website Mumsnet about how much their users all hated mummy bloggers.
Hated those women on their sofas tapping away on their laptops while their children slept.
Just like them on Mumsnet, ironically.
But it isn’t even the abuse that bothers me – after all, I put myself out there. I didn’t expect thousands of people to be interested in what I was writing, but I guess it means a few of them aren’t going to agree with me too.
What is really making me think twice is the view that I am overexposing my children. That they didn’t consent to it. That they will grow up and read about their lives online and hate me for it when they become young men.
This is the one that really gets me – because you can tell me I’m a rubbish writer, a rubbish photographer, a rubbish blogger. But tell me I’m a rubbish mother and I want to throw in the towel immediately.
So I have been pondering long and hard about what I should do.
I wondered whether I should scrap the blog. Put my photos into lock down. Delete my social media pages. Concentrate on being a freelance journalist and stop documenting my life as a mother.
And I nearly did it.
But during the thought process, I thought back to my own childhood and the pictures my mother took of me. There was no social media back there, no digital photos, no digital clouds or hard drives to store them. But she took photos, had them printed, and stored them in albums.
For me. For the future.
And I love looking back at them.
Will my boys not enjoy looking back at their childhoods?
I hope so – and being a mother is all about making decisions we aren’t sure about, isn’t it? It’s all about hope we are doing it right.
But the thing that has swung it for me is the messages I receive.
Saying that you feel exactly the same.
Saying that you no longer feel alone.
Saying you are thankful you read that post.
Saying you cried happy tears or made a special effort to hug your children that bit tighter.
And that makes everything worthwhile – despite the narky comments and despite the doubts about my mothering skills.
So I will keep blogging for now, one footstep at a time.
In my pyjamas.
With my children sleeping in the room next door.
For now, at least.