Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not so light and happy...

Once upon a time, I had a friend.

I respected and admired this friend. Very much. She was a few years older than me and always seemed so together and so very wise. I truly aspired to be like her.

One memory in particular stands out to me when I remember this friend. We were both new moms and were learning to navigate our way through motherhood. John and I spent an evening in their home and I coudn't help but notice that she seemed so much more adept at mothering than I was. At one point in the evening, she looked over at me and said in her dripping-with-honey-Southern voice: "I just love everything about being a mom".

I tend to lean to the cynical side. Not too heavily, but I definitely lean.

Amazed at her statement, I asked, "Really? I mean you really love everything? You love the sleepless nights and the spit up and the crying and the colic and loading the stroller in the back of your hatchback and changing dirty diapers and diaper rash and the sheer exhaustion of it all? Really?"

And she looked at me, still smiling and nodding enthusiastically and said, "Yes, I love everything."

Wow.

I felt about as big as my baby's toenail in that moment.

Something shifted in me that evening and I realized that this friend and I were on two very different planets. I needed friends in my life who could be a little more REAL than that.

I needed friends who struggled with motherhood, friends who struggled in their marriages, friends who had a hard time navigating family relationships, friends who didn't have all the answers, friends who had doubts about their faith, friends who didn't have picture perfect lives and were honest enough to admit it.

I continued on in this particular relationship for way too long. The paths of our lives kept us in close proximity, but our hearts were miles and miles away from one another. Eventually I walked away from the friendship because I never seemed to be able to get past the hurdle of authenticity with this friend. I wish I could tell you that we wrapped things up nice and neat, but we didn't. It was very MESSY. Ugh.

So...why am I telling you this story?

Because I'm finding myself frustrated with the whole blogging thing lately. It just seems like a place that invites us to put our best face forward and mask the real stuff that's going on in our lives.

It feels like it creates an environment of artificiality.

Sure, there are bloggers out there who do an excellent job of keeping it real (and my list is highly subjective), but for every one of those there are a dozen out there that keep it happy and surface and create the appearance of an oh-so perfect life. Let me be the first to say I'm guilty.

I've talked to many women lately who tell me they read this stuff and then feel like failures because the lives they read about on other's blogs aren't anything like their own.

I've been wrestling with this lately. 

I think it's one thing to say you're real, but another thing entirely to actually BE real. 

For me, part of authenticity means that my personal life isn't always neat and tidy, and things don't always have a happy, joyful ending. (I strongly dislike the movie Facing The Giants for that reason--the Christian life is NOT a formula). Sometimes the stuff in my life gets me down. I absolutely believe that Jesus is the Lifter of my head, but sometimes that particular ending to my story takes days/weeks to write, and I desire to live honestly in the meantime.

If any of you have thoughts on blogging and authenticity, I want to hear them. Maybe you have some thoughts on what it means to be REAL. I want to hear that too. You can tell me if you think I'm off the mark on all this too. I'm turning this stuff over and over in my mind these days...and still trying to sort out what I think about it all. 

46 comments:

Casey said...

I was just having this conversation with a friend the other day. It's one of the very reasons I am blogging less- writing and reading. I strive to be real in all I do, but it's so hard. Reading blogs about others who "seem" to have it altogether just isn't helping me on my journey.

One thing I struggle with when blogging from a "real" place, is ending on a "down" note. Sometimes I am just down and there is no up lifting part to put at that time. Yet, I feel the need to somehow make the ending of the post more positive.

Your blog is one I love to read b/c I have always felt authenticity when I read about your life. I hope that others get that sense when they come to mine too. I've always tried to be honest about where I'm at... even if it's ugly.

Elizabeth said...

I've had friends like the one you described. And I've read blogs that I knew were as fake as could be. Sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes it's not.

I am definitely one of those people that often leaves blogs feeling like I'm insufficient. And I share your frustration that it seems like so many people put their best face forward without ever sharing what really goes on, and the struggles that inevitably do exist. You're right-it's a different thing to say you're real versus actually BEING real. I try so hard to be real, and I know without a doubt that you do too. You share your life-with it ups and downs-well. I struggle sometimes with just how "real" to be. I don't ever want to share too much, but I don't ever, ever want to be fake. Not for a second. It's hard to find a balance.

I'm looking forward to reading the comments on this post. I know they'll be incredible.

Cathy said...

I totally agree. I know I struggle to keep it real sometimes. There were blog posts that said, "today I'm struggling with my kids",but when I look back at my blog I probably haven't kept it real enough, but sometimes it's so hard for me to articulate the struggles. I've actually been playing around, in my head, trying to think of a way to post about some current struggles we're going through and some past ones, but haven't felt God lead me in how and when I should do it. ...and so I just keep blogging about the things that keep me going in this life, the good, the positive, the blessings, becuase there ARE so many of those. ALL from the Father. Those things that keep me from total despair.

As far as my non-blogging life, the real and true friends that our family has, know all the nitty-gritty, if you know what I mean. And I would say that we really don't consider friends close, until we've gone through some tough stuff or they know a lot of our stuff and still love us just the same.

The fact is, when you read or know about people who don't talk about anything hard, that's not life. I think we need balance, though. No one wants to be around someone who's ALWAYS negative or over the top gushy, BUT if you can be REAL with people but are also able to (or eventually able to) recognize the blessings, that is good and that is authentic.

So...now I want to be able to sit down with some coffee and talk with you even more! Thanks for being one of those authentic blogs that I love to read:)

Brenda said...

To be honest, I went back to my blog for a sec and skimmed thru some of my own posts to see if I'm truly being 'real' as you say. I agree with Elizabeth about finding the balance between saying what's on your heart or just being yourself whether it's an up or down day, but at the same time knowing how much to say of one's personal life that would be appropriate for anyone to read. I guess, coming from a place this past year where confidences were broken, I've tended to shield my heart a little more.
Plus, since I have extended family who read my blog, I'm careful with sharing any personal stories or past experiences that I haven't already expressed to them in person (common sense, I know.)
I hope I haven't come across as having it all together, because I definitely don't! Please forgive me, if I have to you.
God bless

Kellie said...

I agree with you, to some extent. The blogs that are always perky, always preachy, always one-sided, or always selling a product, I tend not to read.

I love authenticity, in real life, and in the blogs that I read, so here are my first thoughts:

First, I am pretty transparent by nature. But i am aware that not all people are like that. As a matter of fact, there are people out there who cannot handle such gregarious transparency...and sometimes my ability to share the things in my life has gotten me in trouble.

Second, there are some things better served in face-to face relationships. (for example, I was really struggling with old issues right after Christmas. I needed some accountability. I needed somebody to look my in the eye and call me to the carpet. I wanted to write about it, but what I really needed was to face it IRL, not on the net...hope this makes sense!)

I guess my main issue about authenticity right now isn't really about others, but about me. I too have struggled lately with the writing of my blog. I want to write about things that are "deeper" but have found that I often don't want to have to deal with my own emotions...and I invest far too much in what others think. It makes me feel (dare I say it?), rejected (that word feels "needy" but it's true). When i go from 22 comments on a post about dog food, to 4 when i write about deeper things it takes me right back to junior high. I hate that about myself.

I do not want to write with an attitude of entitlement towards a response, but very often I have...and its not how it was when I first started.

I have considered closing up shop several times in the last 6 months because my desire to write from my heart takes time, (and, quite frankly, courage!) and I haven't been able to devote the time to good, thoughtful, writing. But when it comes down to it, I cherish the relationships i have made with other amazing bloggers (like yourself) that have truly continued to use blogging as a means of building relationships, and encouraging one another.

Sorry this is so long. Looking forward to reading what others have to say on this subject.

whimzie said...

I don't (at least I don't think I do) have a problem with putting it all out there...I try to be pretty transparent. I have noticed that when I do write about something that's not "happy" or I end on a less than an upbeat note, quite a few readers read that as a cry for help or feel they need to "fix" whatever's broken, when all I really wanted was a place to vent. I'm not saying that I don't appreciate any encouragement or advice, it just sometimes feels like my "putting it out there" is read as a request for help. Know what I'm talking about?

And now it appears that I'm getting ready (or as we Southerners say "fixin' to") to do the same thing to you, but I wanted to say that I think it takes a real maturity to walk away from relationships that make you feel like less than who you are. It's nice when they can end on a good note, but however they end, I'm at an age/point in my life where I realize that time is precious and I want to spend time with people who can be themselves around me and who let me be me. I need more "iron sharpening iron" and less "cut to the quick."

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

I think it depends on the purpose of each particular blog. If it's to share one's life story, then yes, we would expect it to be a true picture - successes, failures, struggles, and all.

If it's to make others laugh, then maybe not so much on the subjects that tend to be introspective and/or depressing.

If it's a craft or cooking, sewing or knitting, or home decorating blog, obviously we wouldn't expect a lot of the author's personal life to be discussed.

I really think it's a question of boundaries. And once those boundaries have been set and the purpose for the blog laid out, then we should strive for authenticity. And if you don't see authenticity in someone's blog, you're completely free to not read! You know?!

Teri in CO said...

My take on this is probably different than most people's... What does it really matter if someone else is blogging authentically or not! If someone wants a blog that highlights only the good stuff... that's okay! It's their blog! If someone wants to present a life that doesn't resemble their real one... it's their blog! Sometimes fakeness is apparent right off the bat... other times, it isn't. If I feel like a blog is all fake, I normally don't read it... except once in a while just for a few laughs! I can't do anything about someone living an un-authentic life just like I can't do anything about someone presenting themselves in a good light all the time through their blog. That's between them and God. I feel like my blog is "authentic" (it is truly me) but I choose not to share anything "deep" and very little negative in my blog. That's reserved for a few close friends and not for the world to see. It's not that I'm trying to portray a perfect life... it's just that I want my blog to be a positive thing. If someone thinks that I'm not being authentic in it... that's there issue, not mine.

Gretchen said...

Agree. 100%

I think we can be "real" and not always be down-trodden (as is often the downside of reality--often it sucks). One of the reasons i do a weekly gratitude list is that I struggle (surprise) with anxiety and it's wicked step sister, depression. But, I also think one of my gifts is encouragement. So i guess my thing is to try to dig out of the mire in as grateful a way as possible, hopefully encouraging others along the way. And if not encouraging--at least giving a quick smile. Because as you and I know...sometimes you just need a good old fashioned belly laugh.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friendship, though, Mer. No matter whether it was good or surface, it's still hard.

Jen Medeiros said...

Meredith,

Once again you have touched on the topic of authenticity and it brings honesty to the surface. I couldn't agree more with your post today!!! I struggle with trying to have a "perfect" picture in most areas of my like. I have been trying to figure out how I want the venue of my Blog to go and it needs to be the truth. I think it is healing to share the truth because in reality, as mothers, we all struggle with issues. Doesn't it bond us as women.....when we are open and honest about our fears and failures?? Yes...it is important to cheer each other on in the good times, too. Yet...keep it REAL!!
In fact, I have stopped reading several Blogs and kept just a handful bookmarked....because I am wasting too much time trying to figure out how to keep it all looking "good." Thanks for opening your heart and allowing us readers to share our opinions.

Tiffani said...

I really want to say more on this but I'm headed out the door to basketball practice.

I am so proud of this post...I'll share my thoughts a bit later...

Just know that I love ya!! :)

Anonymous said...

Meredith! I NEVER-- I mean never comment on blogs. I am down to reading just a few blogs each week- and I usually feel horrible afterwards. I am sitting here with tears. This is the most honest thing I've read in a loooong time. You see I lost someone pretty to dear to me to the blogworld not long ago. I saw her crush friends...left behind for the new perfect world. I feel bad for her honestly- but I cannot stand the way its made people feel. I am most offended as a Christian. To tell you the truth, I am ashamed of how she's acted. I know her-- how she acts in real life-- and it is not what she puts on her blog. The sad thing is she's great. I just wish she knew that. Now nothing in her life matters unless she can "show" people. I question time she spends even with my kids-- is it just a good "blog day" excuse? This wold be a good idea for blog pictures? I have been distancing myself as well because its just too toxic. Just because you write something FABULOUS about yourself instead of saying doesn't mean its not bragging?? Anyway, I obviously needed therapy today but you've given me hope about bloggers. Although I think I've got more than I can get right to work on in the real world. But, I lOVED this blog post. Thank you Meredith. Well, well said. Oh and PS GO HOGS. :)

carpoolqueen said...

Where to start... I had an epiphany a couple of years ago when a friend asked me how I'd been doing, and instead of saying "Fine", I said "I've been stuck at home popping anti-depressants and fighting off anxiety attacks. But I'm better now, thanks for asking." The shock on her face told me that maybe I'd shared too much, but you know what? I didn't care. And the more I shared, the more I found out that LOTS of my friends were on Paxil and they struggled, too.

I want to be transparent. And I want to get to the point where I post on my blog what I really feel about stuff, but to be honest, some of it is painful to read. And I don't want my MIL or SIL to know my stuff (I have in-law issues). So for the most part, I keep it light, and every once in a while, let it rip.

This is now turning into a blog entry and I don't know if I've shed any light on the subject. The Reader's Digest version is that most people appreciate honesty in others, most people fear being honest, and everyone wants to be known and loved.

Jacquie said...

I am a very open person in real life. Most people that know me... know all the struggles and trials I'm going through or have gone through. But, since some of those struggles deal with being a mother and wife - I would never write anything too personal that might hurt that other person. After some time has passed and I'm through a particular struggle, I might consider writing about the situation in a way that might reflect what I learned or how it's resolved itself. I'm pretty open and honest about my shortfalls... and I'm one of those that sometimes measures my life by how others' lives appear in the blog world, but then I realize... there are probably a lot of people out there like me that have difficulties and choose to not elaborate too much on them for the whole world to see. I work at a church, so my Pastor hears about the more messy stuff in my life... I don't need to vent EVERYTHING for the world to see. But, you'll never see me mention how perfect everything is in my life either!

Interesting topic, Meredith.

Julie said...

Mer,
I can only speak for myself... I write my heart... I do not divulge all of the struggles I face and have faced in my life. It's not the place for me to to that. But I do try to live authentically and honestly. I pray that it seen in my blog.

I, myself grow very weary of "religious" blogs...where I am told one more thing to do for God.... or one more thing to get onto myself because I'm not doing it. Does that make sense? I am weary of all the blogging about how to please God.... and beating yourself down because you aren't pleasing Him.

Just thought I'd throw my two cents in.

His Girl said...

Oh girlfriend, I hear ya.

I think there is this everytimeipost struggle to figure out the balance between being authentic and hanging out my dirty laundry. It's important that people know I have dirty laundry, it's important I don't pretend it doesn't exist, but I do have to remember that my dirty laundry is not my own. My teenage son, my twin daughters, my husband, my friends, my ministry... none of them signed up to be exposed, so I don't feel like I can talk about their stuff as much as I can chat about my own.
So, yes, that does limit the transparency of my blog. I paint a better picture of my mother and my husband and my children than is accurate every day. So, to make up for that, I make a special effort to show my own shortcomings and stains so that people won't think we're perfect.
It's like that scrapbooking thing we chatted on the phone about- you know?

Amber said...

Mer,

I think you and I are kindred spirits. My come-to-realness days are on me hot and heavy right now, and I have found it so refreshing to write authentically.

I'm still relatively new to blogging, but I've already developed this evil little cycle that I fell into. I would write something funny and light and a ton of people would comment or mention to me that they loved my blog. So I felt extreme pressure to keep it lighthearted and try to find something funny to approach each day. It really became a place of stress for me. It was just this past week that I decided to lay my happy-all-the-time face aside and just be real. And it has been so refreshing for me. My comments have gone way down, but I have found that I don't really even care.

You inspire me, Mer. You're genuineness has always meant something to me, and I've always felt that your blog was nothing but authentic and real. Please don't stop writing....I love my friends real.

Holly said...

Love you, Mer.

You know I live what I write and that there are no neat and tidy bows on my life, but a lot of hope mixed with a lot of face-down in the dirt.

Hope you had a fun day and enjoy the long weekend, friend.

Barb said...

We had a little email chat about this so you know how I feel, Mer. I read all the comments here and there are a lot of really valid points made.

I suppose some people need to create a world, via a blog, where life runs more smoothly than it really does, in their real world. I personally don't enjoy those blogs. I used to follow quite a few but recently just made them go away because I simply don't have time for make believe.

I decided a long time ago the only thing that will work for me is to be real. I try really hard to create a nice life but like everyone, I don't always succeed. I don't have a problem sharing my downs but I'm cautious about sharing information that's not mine to share.

I could go on forever here. I totally understand and I've seen this happen over and over again - a blogging friend admitting that she's weary of all the bloggers who live "perfect" lives.

You'll figure it out. And don't forget, it's OK to not read blogs you don't enjoy. :-)

Deidre said...

I can only speak from my personal experience with blogging ...

First of all, I post less now and I read less blogs now. Now that more and more people I know in real life read my blog, I'm having a difficult time posting. It's not that I want to appear to have it more together than I do, but I think people are actually shocked or uncomfortable to learn that I don't (my real life friends, I mean). Funny thing happens ... women either look at you shocked that your struggling or secretly content that you are) - Eric and I just talked about this last night. I am for the most part a very private person and not very trusting at that, so I have a hard time allowing people into my private thoughts and struggles. For that reason, blogging has always been a stretch for me anyway.

With that said, being 'real' doesn't always have to mean sharing the negative. Most days, I have to focus on the positive to keep myself from caving and falling into a pit. I've always said my day is 'won or lost' in my mind and I do all that I can to stay afloat. It's a personal thing, but posting about my 'happy experiences' with my children or stories about them is the reason I started blogging in the first place. I'm not really considering my audience, but choosing to focus on joyful parts of my life. I have a private journal that exposes it all, that no doubt will shock everyone when I'm dead and gone :)

I guess it depends on each individual blog and what the objective is for each person writing. It's our decision whether we choose to read or not. I admit I am deeply moved when women share a struggle they are going through, and that part of blogging has encouraged me because I can relate, but I tend to steer clear of those blogs that are often negative and full of complaints.

I know I'm rambling and probably not making any sense. I'm also not a serious blogger, I guess because after 3 years, I still get very minimal comments. I don't think I've ever fully appealed to anyone and I'm okay with that. My blog is for me anyway.

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Wow -- there are some excellent points in the comments above. It's very interesting to read everyone's perspective.

I think it comes down to "why do you blog?" Do you blog for validation and approval of others? Do you blog because you love to write? Do you blog because you want to chronicle your family life. If you're blogging for others (or get sucked into blogging for comments), I think posts will end up coming off as un-authentic.

For me, I blog because I love to write, and I love the friendships I create through blogging. I try to keep my posts somewhat upbeat, but that's not to say I don't take the time to expose my faults. I prefer to keep it real.

I have tackled some deeper issues in a few posts, but a lot of the struggles I face are often relationship oriented (with certain people in my life). I don't feel comfortable blogging much about that. Written words are very powerful. Once they're out there, you can't take them back. So, you won't find me blogging about issues I might have with my extended family, for example, unless it's sharing a valuable lesson that I learned in retrospect.

Hope that makes some sense. My mind is swirling with so many thoughts around this issue, it's hard to make my ideas sound coherent.

And just for the record, I think you do a good job of keeping it real. Your blog is one of my favorites. :)

Aspiemom said...

James Dobson used to talk about this. About mom's getting together with other mom's and the worst thing you can do is put on a perfect life portrayal. He said to let others see your house a mess, see your kids a mess and acting up. Otherwise you go away from their home feeling like a failure.

I feel kind of like the opposite on my blog, like I let it all hang out too much and that it isn't uplifting, just depresses people who visit!

I appreciate what you're saying, tho!

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

Beautifully expressed Meredith. When I started blogging, my mission was to be real. And I frequently do post about my shortcomings and failures. And once I was so taken aback because someone commented and told me that she was glad that I posted about having a horrible day because she felt intimidated by me. And I could not understand why...because think everyone can see that I'm often on the verge of unraveling...What I do though is pray about my posts and really try to let God lead me about what to share. I'm pretty much an open book and transparency is my passion, but I want to be transparent in a healthy way...does that make sense?

Rae said...

Ah! A topic we all can relate to!! I should put a disclaimer or some type of explanation on my blog. If you find that I am not posting as frequently as I normally do it is because I am in a DEPRESSED FUNK and I do not want to spread the depression or funkiness to others! When I get down I think of things I would like to blog about but decide against it. First I cannot stand whininess! Not a bit! I don't want to come across as whiny and second I really don't want to get anyone else down! So in a way I am not as real as I could be. I go and hide away until I'm feeling better and then my chipper self returns to blogland.

Also, I was just saying the other day, "I wish my real life friends didn't read my blog!" I had a few things I wanted to air out on my blog but couldn't because I knew things would get back around. I'm not talking about anything serious or gossipy. I'm just talking about a situation in which I would have lOVED some outside advice! Again, keeping things hidden away!!

BTW I fed my children cookies for dinner tonight! How's that for real? :)

Betsy said...

I think I totally agree with Moriah. It depends on the purpose of the blog. And, for me, I don't want to be superficial and fake. I hope I come across as honest. But at the same time, I may choose to leave out certain details because I want to protect people's confidentiality and I don't want to be a downer.

One of the things I like about blogging is that it helps me focus on the positive aspects of my life. When I look back through my posts, I feel so blessed because I chose to write about the good things in my life instead of focusing on the negatives (and there are certainly things in my life that are negative...as in everyone's life!)

I also agree with Moriah that if there is a blog out there that seems too chipper and not authentic, I probably won't stay interested long. I'll just move on to other blogs that I connect with more. Yours is one of those!! :)

I have been praying for you. How are you feeling, by the way??

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Meredith, I have struggled with this so much myself. I am an extremely private person in real life, and so on my blog I struggle with how much to put out there. I know that I am drawn to the more authentic blogs, and I am striving to find that balance between authenticity and sharing too much. You know? But I am slowly getting to the place where I am caring less and less what people think, and I'm trying to just be real. So hard sometimes.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I thought I left a comment earlier but I guess I didn't, oops.

I agree with so many of the comments about it isn't always our own lives we have to consider when we blog. I have to keep private the struggles I face if I feel it would in any way embarass my family or friends or if I would be writing about something that is a confidence- whether spoken or understood. This alone, keeps me from posting on some things I go through.

The reason I started blogging was to keep our family and close friends informed about our lives and what the kids were up to. We live away from everybody and it's important to me to keep them connected. I try to keep that in mind.

Good post Mer!!

Mollie said...

I have just started into the world of blogging and was thinking of starting my own. I have enjoyed your "true life" moments. Reading over your last few years that I have missed out on it is a journey of life that you can share with others who are far away and who have lost touch. I have read a few others that are a little fake- and I just choose not to go there again.
I am thinking myself to do one- of days with the boys and crazy days or staying at home...but also things from the past and lessons I have learned. In this day and age we all need a good laugh. It is depressing when all you hear is negetive news. And reading a great story about Will's b-day and lifting a sprirt is what I would like to do if I had a blog.
My Friend I would love to live closer to you so we could go get some "sonic ice" together. But since that is not so....you can always take a break every so often if you feel it overwhelming.
This is my new moto... Live today like you will never live another, because you will never get today back!

chickadee@afamiliarpath said...

when a friend who knows me in real life first started reading my blog she said to me that she wanted my life, that it sounded so perfect on my blog. it made me take a look at what i was writing and see if i was being real, but what i said to her at the time was that i didn't want to blog about the bad stuff all the time.

i don't want to moan on my blog about when it's hard to pay the bills. i don't want to whine about how my husband isn't helping out as much as i think he should and i certainly don't want to air all the troubles i have with my kids on the blog. i don't even burden my friends with most of that stuff because it passes.

it's taken me a while to find a balance between what i can let out there in public and what i have to keep hidden. because imagine the one person you would never want to read your blog (the friend you just talked about maybe) and that person will find it.

but sometimes i find i can write stuff that i can't say outloud to anyone. like the post i did at 3 weeks postpartum.

(this is more of a discussion with myself than a coherent comment.)

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Great thought-provoking post. I could almost ditto His Girl's comment (except for the teenage son & twin girls thing). I try to be real...to share some struggles, while being careful to honor my husband and our family.

My prayer is that people who know me in real life & read my blog feel I am authentic in both worlds.

Still, there's something about putting EVERYTHING out there for the entire web to read, you know? I believe there are people who are called to do that, to encourage others. I know Holly @ Crown Laid Down is doing that right now - being transparent and letting Jesus shine through. I know her walk right now is a ministry to others.

I agree with Moriah, too. The purpose of the blog makes a big difference in my approach to it. I tend to read blogs of women who do share what they're learning and the struggles they're overcoming with God's help, as well as a few "home making" blogs. I don't mind feeling convicted, but I quit reading if I feel the writer isn't genuine or is just trying to make me feel bad.

You, friend, are genuine and an encouragement to me.

Ali said...

I can totally relate to having a friend in "real" life that is not real and not honest because everything is perfect according to her! It is very fake and annoying! Plus, that type is tough to get to really know because they never let you in with the real issues of their hearts! I tend to move on from that type of friendship too. I just can't relate to those type people!

But, in the blog world I think people have different purposes and boundaries about what they put on their blogs. I blog mostly to record cute things my kids do or recently the projects we have been accomplishing on our old home. I know it bores most people but, the aunts and uncles and grandparents love it!

I think it is wise to have boundaries about what things you will share and what things you won't share on a blog! I'm not a daily blogger so the daily issues of my life and heart aren't posted on my blog. That's just my preference at this point with being a busy mom of 2 almost 3 little ones.

I love reading all types of blogs! Some are transparent,some are more "how to", some on decorating, some on cooking, some on being a christian Mommy, some on infertility, some write about the loss of a child, some write about marriage. I find that some blogs I connect with and some I don't. I keep coming back to read on the blogs that I connect with!

I think we all have different purposes in blogging. Some people want community and friendship. Some people just want "creative ideas". Some people want a laugh! Some read blogs for their godly insights and some write about their faith! I guess blogs vary and deeply as we each do individually!

All that said, I totally understand that some people use their blogs to brag and toot their own horns! They use their blogs to make them feel better about their own lives and draw attention to themselves or become popular and well liked. But, I guess that happens in real life and in the blog realm! We are complicated people!

Fun post! I like the way you write and think! That's why I keep coming back to read your blog!

~ Ali

Gina said...

Just because we chose to edit the ugly (Which I do in my real life, too- go read my comment on Trish's blog) doesn't mean that it's not real. The problem comes when we compare ourselves with others.

I will be the first to admit that I hate certain things about life. That being a mother is HARD. That being married leaves me cold sometimes.

But I DO NOT air my dirty laundry for others to see. Either on my blog or in real life. It's not helpful for me to say that Hubbs did XYZ and I am so mad at him. It doesn't help you, it doesn't help me, and it certainly doesn't help marriage.

I have learned to be very careful about what I reveal- especially about those who are intimately involved in my life- because people tend to have a long memory about the bad stuff. I may have vented to someone about my husband, forgiven him and moved on. Then, MONTHS later someone will bring up the incident in question and I can tell that I have colored their perception in a negative way.

I didn't realize that this was a hot spot with me until my cdomment became a novella. OK, I'll get off my soap box now.

Mama Voss said...

Wow... another email in your 'in box'... sorry. I just have to comment... you just made it real! You put it out there... and I love that. My life gets messy, friendships I keep for the sake of keeping them, kids that I love, but that can be disappointing, a husband I admire and love, but can bug... you get the point. I have heard the struggle in your voice for awhile... just be you... I'd rather hear about the real in everyone's life and learn from it then only the great points.

I think you need a cup of coffee... you deserve it!

Jennifer said...

I read your post last night but was so drained from making 75 heart shaped brownies, getting the kid's cards/pencils ready for today, and finishing the pen roses for the teachers that I couldn't keep my peepers open any longer. So today I re-read it along with the comments and I've got to say there is a lot of thought provoking comments out there. I love it!

I agree with a little from everyone's thoughts. I don't put 'everything out there' on my blog but that's more of a way to keep boundries for my family. I also have family and friends that read my blog so there are times that I put the 'kabosh' on really saying what I want for the mere reason of keeping peace.

I totally agree that many people have different reasons for blogging. I think there are great blogs out there and then there are some not so great. I have managed to steer myself away from those that I feel are not in tune to my thoughts/beliefs.

I do think it's hard sometimes on blogs because you really don't know the people on the other end. I can say that there are blogs that I have read in the past that I knew I wouldn't be 'friends' with in real life so I stopped reading them. I think that if we were neighbors we'd be friends in real life........same types of thoughts, struggles, faith, etc.

Not sure if I answered exactly what you were asking, but know that in this blog of blogs I do care about you! Virtual hugs and a virtual Starbucks to you! :)

Anonymous said...

I thought this was really interesting. I can see your point of desiring to be real. One blog I read is by a girl who seems to have her life too together. I've told my husband about her and he nicknamed her "Perfect _____" Once he even asked me, "are her children real or is she just playing with dolls?"

I love to read about real life because it encourages me. I know that my life isn't perfect and I can't meet all of my own expectations for myself. It helps to know that others are in the same boat.

Thanks for you insight!
Deena
Amarillo, TX

Margo said...

I think this is the first time I have left a post on your blog, but I just had to this time! I really do understand what you're talking about. I have to tell you though, I am one of those "real" moms! I pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve and will write about it! Check out this post http://my5blessings.blogspot.com/2008/09/journal-entry.html (if you want to :) and even read the comments. I didn't realize how honest I was until this post! I realized I write more openly than others when so many thanked me for my honesty! Let me tell you, I definitely need to hear others say this mommy stuff is TOUGH! Only by God's grace and strength can I be a mommy to 4 boys so close in age! Keep on blogging, girl...I enjoy reading your blog!

janice said...

Meredith
I really like your thoughts on this subject. I often feel the same way about scrapbookers. Yes I know that many people are into it and do a good balance. However, I sometimes found myself wondering why I couldn't find the time or energy to make amazing creations of my own. Then I thought about the time that it would take away from my kids to do it. That was when I decided the blog was a way to sort of "scrapbook" our lives that does not take nearly as much time. Just one perspective.

Lauren said...

I found your blog through Lauren Kelly's...

I agree with you wholeheartedly.

I started blogging to keep a sort of record of my baby's milestones, and so family who live away can look at pictures and read about what we're up to.

However? I totally feel like it's almost a competition sometimes. Who can accomplish more, whose kid is cuter, smarter...other bloggers have actually said to me "Why don't more people comment on my blog?" As if comments should be the reason that they're on here!

Listen, if men blogged, they would so not care. It's a woman thing - it's especially a mom thing. An overachiever-mom thing.

And I'm just as guilty as the next person out there.

Thanks for being real! :)

Shanda said...

I've always appreciated how authentic both you & John are on your blogs. It is refreshing and lends itself to genuine friendships.

I think everyone's definition of "being real" can be slightly different based on their own life, perspective and how they communicate on a regular basis. People seem more "real" when they share similarities to the person who is reading.

I also really loved what Moriah at "Please Pass the Salt" had to say.

virginia said...

I think the lady you described is a GRANDMOTHER!

Becca said...

What a great post - I enjoyed reading it and all the comments too! This is my first time commenting on your blog but I just wanted to say "amen!" :-) I'm a new mom and can I just tell you that there's nothing that makes me feel more sick to my stomach that my friends who act like parenting is easy or they "love everything about it' -- I guess my point is that I dont ever want to be un-authentic to make MYSELF feel better at the expense of others! I'm not naturally a super-open person so I know its hard for me to find a balance on my own blog -- but I do try to "keep it real," even if that doesn't mean I share everything . . .

anyways, sorry if this doesn't make much sense - I'm typing one-handed holding a fussy baby as we speak! haha :-)

Leah Belle said...

Mer, I didn't read everyone else's comments..so don't know if I am repeating anyone, but here is my opinion.

I started my blog so friends and family who live all over the U.S. could see what we are doing. It is not my journal, nor does it act as my friend.

I have close friends that I share my struggles with either in person or by email. Since a blog is so public, I don't feel comfortable sharing my heart...it's a privacy issue for me.

I don't think I claim to be perfect or always happy on my blog...I just report the things I think Grandma and my friends in NC and other places would be interested in. If I need to share my heart, I call Grandma or my friends and do that.

This is an interesting post and good to think about. I plan to go back and read everyone else's thoughts.

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Great post, Mer. This is one of the reasons I no longer read blogs daily. I've cut my reader WAY back, and I usually check in on people once a week. But I'm discovering that this really makes me not so much a part of the blogging community, and I am now trying to decide what will become of my blog.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I think blogging is kind of like a teeter totter. On one side is the people who are TOO real. They air all their dirty laundry, annoyances with their husbands and fights with their boss. On the other end is the syrupy sweet women whose homes never get dirty, whose children never disobey, who cook gourmet meals from scratch 3 times a day 365 days a year. Somewhere in the middle is most of the rest of us.

I don't need or want friends who are perfect (they aren't!) nor do I need/want friends that are complete basket cases with major boundary issues. I don't have the emotional energy or time for either right now.

I think you do a good job of striking the balance, Mer. I try to do the same. I don't talk about all the negatives in my life because they might wound people I care about. I hope folks understand I don't think I'm perfect. In fact, it's 11:45 pm, I have dirty laundry that was supposed to be washed to day, the baby hasn't had a bath in a week, my fridge needs to be emptied of a few science projects, AND I am still in my pjs from last night. See?

Not perfect. Just called to follow the One Who Is Perfection.

Leigh Ann said...

I totally understand what you mean! In a way blogging is an outlet for me, and I want it to be fun, so sometimes I leave out certain things that aren't pleasant. BUT, what I don't leave out...things like autism...are real and it's just our life. I try to write about how it rolls around here. Sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it's not. Thanks for keeping it real, Mer.

Kelly said...

I try to be as open as I can. I wrote pretty raw about my struggle with infertility and as much of our life as I can. I'm a pretty optimistic person so I try to look at the world through rose colored glasses anyway.
There are days that (especially lately) that I want to say more about how being a new mom is HARD but I also don't want to say a word of complaint after all it took to get me here.
I'm glad you are a very authentic person - that's one reason I love your blog.