Ellen: One of the best parts about blogging is the opportunity for self-reflection…
Erin: …with an audience and a spotlight.
Ellen: So let it be known that these Sensible Moms recognize the irony…
Erin: …or, at the very least, the contradiction that while we have a “Love Our Nikons” category in our sidebar, the gorgeous pictures of our kids stay safely nestled on our hard drives.
Ellen: We could give you a little song and dance about the reasons why, but it’s summer—who has the time? And precious really does make us gag. The simple reason why our kids’ names are changed and their faces are veiled? They asked us to do it.
Erin: This decision to keep the kids anonymous definitely sparks some eye rolls and brings on some “tsk, tsk-ing” from those we know in our real lives as well as those we know on the interwebz.
There seems to be two camps on this issue of privacy. In one camp, there are the completely transparent, totally honest bloggers. You get it all and prettier pictures too. In the other camp, there are the rest of us, who think we are presenting it “real enough”. You can just thank us now for setting up camp where we did because if Ellen and I were in the first camp, you would be reading actual transcripts of our conversations.
Ellen: And trust us, you don’t want that.
Ellen: We are not so naive as to think that someone couldn’t find us if they had enough gumption to execute five mouse clicks, but dang it, our blog is not going to pop up when future employers Google our kids’ names.
We’re just not going to lay out SEO terms for them; they’re going to have to work for it.
Erin: This decision for anonymity also stems from the fact that we didn’t start our blog until many of our peeps were fully formed people (albeit small people) with ideas of their own (Oh, the joy of the self-actualized child!!). We didn’t have to imagine what it would be like for them to have opinions about what we wrote, because they gave it to us. By the bucketfuls.
Ellen: Quite frankly, their mothers could have taught them to use a little more tact, but we get it. Some of our kids already have their own Facebook pages and therefore their own online identities. We are dancing, if not in the same ballroom, in the same hotel.
Erin: One of our parenting principles is to respect our kids by respecting their boundaries. Our job is to guide ‘em and grow ‘em, not take their mess viral. Occasionally, they even thank us for this!
Ellen: It stems from the understanding that our kids, while ours, don’t really belong to us and that includes their identities and their stories. They are people first and blog material second.
I still wince when I remember what I overheard my mom share about my life over the phone. I thank the Guardian Angels of Adolescence that she did not have access to the internet.
Erin: Dooce, the “Queen of Mommy Bloggers”, who makes millions, gets 100,000 hits a day, and has been blogging since 2002 said this to her family:
“I will never write anything that I wouldn’t say to your face, with 50 people watching.”
Ellen: Um, ditto. If it’s good enough for Dooce, then it’s good enough for us. She had to learn the hard way. We’re going to learn from her missteps.
Erin: The only thing I would add in regards to our kids is this: “I will never tell your story without your approval.” The people who know us best aren’t fooled by our thin aliases. They know EXACTLY who we are offering up on a platter.
Ellen: The veto stamp has already altered our writing. We wrote an article about setting boundaries with your kids and how “No” is your friend. It had great balance between the girl and boy perspective.
Erin: But in the end, my son Ace (15), just didn’t want us to share his anecdote.
Ellen: It was an anecdote that complemented the story I shared about Coco (13), but since he didn’t want it told, we cut it.
Erin: And it changed the flavor of the post. People still responded to the piece in the ways we had hoped they would, but it missed out in one big way: we lost the point that these issues affect boys too.
Ellen: So now some poor souls are wandering around thinking they are off the drama hook, because they only have sons.
Erin: I almost feel guilty.
Ellen: We may have done the blogosphere a disservice with that one, but we did our kids a righteous.
Erin: Another big reason we don’t show our kids’ faces is that although we are moms who blog—our blog itself is not primarily about our children. It is, at its heart, about the great human experience of parenting, about friendship as the salve that makes this experience a whole lot easier, and even a little about being a woman in the world today.
Ellen: So I MIGHT have just felt my gag reflex tickled, but really, it’s true.
Erin: Whatever. We sensible girls really dig trying to find the humor in the mundane and familiar. Fourteen years at home with your kids will really do that to you.
Ellen: In fact, when we came up with our idea to start a blog, we batted around a couple of different ideas, but they all boiled down to this one: the idea that funny and sensible are not mutually exclusive.
Erin: So our goal is to share our sensibility and to entertain with our humor. We crack each other up constantly. It’s time the rest of you got in on the fun. We are just not going to do it at the expense of our kids.
Ellen: Or our relationships with them. We can always decide to share more, but we can never erase what is released. Because even more so than diamonds, the internet is forever.
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski