Thursday, March 01, 2012

Why I Don't Blog My Children

I've been thinking about this post for a long time.  Probably as long as I've been blogging (which is a long time now).  After being part of the "Circle of Moms" contest last month, it really hit home how much I talk about my girls - but never show you who they are.  Well, there's a reason.

We hadn't yet started a family with the release of my first cookbook (The Everyday Vegan) - but had our first baby shortly after.  By the time my second cookbook (Vive le Vegan) was published, our daughter was 2 1/2.  As many of you know, she is on the cover of that book and inside in some family photos.  So, it might seem odd that I haven't shared other photos of our girls since.

Once I started blogging and my profile as an author increased, hubby and I talked about this issue.  I decided that I didn't want to continue to show photos of our girls (as our family was expanding).  It's not that I don't want to share them with you.  I'd love to.  And, I'm not critical of other bloggers that do share their family moments.  It's just not right for me, for a few reasons....

First, and this is most unusual to say, but when I was a child we had a voyeur (or what we called a 'peeping tom') at our house, for many years.  While we joke about it at times as adults, as a kid it was no joke.  I won't go into details but it's enough to say that an experience like that doesn't ever leave you.  I never assume that a house is safe because of a particular neighbourhood, or that a blog is friendly because of the people you know reading it.  Because there are many you don't know.  Sounds paranoid, I get that.  But, it's part of the reason I keep my children largely anonymous on my blog - at least until they have grown and gained more maturity and independence.

Second, I guess I have felt that this is my journey, not theirs.  I am a cookbook author, they are kids.  I don't want their lives to be about "being on mommy's blog", or "being on the internet"... children don't understand the depth and breadth of the internet.  I know for my own daughters - they think that if they are on the internet, they are "famous".  I don't want their self-worth to be attached to my work.  And, I also want to separate my girls from my work so that my recipes stand on their own.  I started writing recipes before having children, and though I've evolved greatly due to my role as a mother, I still want my recipes to be about healthy food (whether for adults, kids, or both) that is damn delicious!

Third, I don't have everything figured out as a mother - or an individual.  I am learning along the way, like everyone else.  Yes, I'd LOVE to show you photos of my toddler in her cute pj's and mussy hair, and our middle girls with the biggest smile imaginable eating chocolate pudding, and our eldest with the biggest smile ever eating strawberries, and all the beautiful moments of joy, love, play, excitement, innocence, pure beauty in between.  How I would LOVE to share that.  But - I wouldn't also be sharing the sucky, painful, and frustrating moments.  The times I am completely and utterly overwhelmed as a mother - or feel like I am messing everything up.  The fights between the girls, the times I've shouted and screamed, or sobbed or felt enraged.  The postpartum days and months to follow that are gruelling and lonely and sometimes depressing... and for me led to lengthy bouts of insomnia.  The endless cleaning and mess - and seemingly endless bickering!  The times I think I'm royally messing everything up as a mother and screwing up my children.  The individual challenges we have with each child, and with ourselves in parenting these children.  The parts of my life as a mom that are far from perfect.  Yes, I realize we want to see the perfect, the beautiful, the fantasized family moments.  But, any mom will tell you that just isn't real life.  Yet when we look at those images elsewhere we have brief thoughts that "oh they have it figured out".  None of us do, it's only part of the picture.  I feel blessed in my life.  Blessed to have my family, my husband, and our children.  I am grateful for them everyday.  Yet, life with children isn't one-dimensional, and I don't want to present it as such.

So, there.  If you've wondered 'why doesn't Dreena show photos of her kidlets?' - there's your answer.  It's a very personal feeling; I am not judging or criticizing other moms blogging their children - just doesn't sit right for me.

If you are a mom and reading, I'd love to hear from you.  Or, if you're not a mom and reading and have thoughts on this, would love to hear form you too.

With that I hit 'publish' (with some trepidation).  Thanks for understanding, and for being part of my readership.  xx's

34 comments:

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Well said Dreena.
I admit I DO love the blogs that are kid-centric and share all those fun moments (good or bad)as well as incorporating family-friendly recipes and advice. And when my kids were younger I felt I could often relate.
BUT.... that said, I don't share a lot about my kids on my blog either. For many of the same reasons (only I'm not famous or an author or any of that, heh). But I AM a bit paranoid and I don't mind admitting it.
My kids are older now, over 18, and I sometimes feel like they're the ones telling ME what's safe and what's not out there in Internet land. But I still want to shield them, at least a little, from having their every move documented for unknown readers (stalkers, lurkers, strangers too, I have had my share)
I'll definitely share recipes that are a hit with them, recipes THEY like to make and family traditions. I'll even share pictures of them cooking or eating, (or graduating high school) but I started my blog to share recipes and vegan tips and tricks, mainly; and prefer to keep the focus there.

KellyC said...

I think we all feel like we are screwing it up so don't feel alone on that. I just try to focus on doing my best. I definitely see what you wouldn't put your girls on your blog. I do put pictures of my son but we discussed it first as a family including him and decided it was okay for us right now but that can always change. I totally respect your choice though to not and love how you put it all in this post. Well said!

Heather Nauta said...

well, I'm not a mom, but I still appreciate this post!! I think your feelings apply to anyone - you just happen to be a more visible person than most. I often think the same things when I see photos shared on facebook and other places. It used to be that the pics of yourself on the toilet were only visible in your parents' old photo album, and that was embarrassing enough! I sometimes think back on things I've shared on facebook and think... hmm... I probably shouldn't have posted that so publicly! There's definitely a line between sharing with people, and giving away too much of yourself or your family. I think you've done a great job of keeping that line in place! You're so open with your own personality and life :)

Audrey said...

All of those are really good reasons, Dreena, and you explained it very well. I think it's great that you identified what works for you. Your approach makes a lot of sense to me.

Vegan Dad said...

Nicely put, Dreena. That's exactly how I feel.

Virtually Vegan Mama said...

can I just copy/paste this onto my blog because this is how I feel as well =) nicely written

xoxo

Jen

Joy said...

Thank you for this, Dreena. It's something I think about lots, since I believe featuring children so prominently can be exploitative.

I've always wanted to portray vegan pregnancy and child raising as healthy and uncomplicated, and so I've tried to display that. But I'm also (despite being a blogger) a very private person. I just made some decisions that reinforce that, and I feel really good about it.

Thank you for this perspective. I really appreciate your experience and wisdom!

Babette said...

I love to see other people's children on their blog, but if I had kids, I know I would not show their picture! Maybe if we couldn't see them clearly, but even then, I'm not so sure. So I totally understand you.

Anonymous said...

Dreena,

You list some very good reasons and they are your reasons. No need to justify to anyone. It is funny that you comment about feelings of screwing up as a mom or not having everything figured out. I feel like that so often then I look at my kids and think I must be doing something right, I am just not sure how or what.
Pictures or not, I always imagine you having this perfect little TVesque household. I picture that you are super organized and always very energetic. Laundry done, kitchen clean, beds made and healthy, well balanced meals cooking on the stove.
Funny how other people's perceptions of us are not necessarily what our reality is. Thanks for this post. Makes me feel more normal than inadequate.

Angie

Dreena said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your insights, your own experiences, and perceptions. All welcome and appreciated.

Jen, absolutely, feel free to share if you like - thank you. :)

LadyForbes said...

Exactly!! Well said , Dreena!

Donna

Jessica @Vegbooks said...

I take the same approach! I will mention my kiddo in book reviews -- because often it's her reaction I'm capturing -- but I do not share photographs of her on Vegbooks. It's my firm belief that it's not my decision to make, and that I should guard her privacy until she's old enough to make these decisions herself with an eye to the future. Youth is so short, it should be jealously guarded.

Carole said...

Good blog. You might enjoy this little poem about mothers. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2011/12/random-quotation-spot.html

Mihl said...

I've only been a mother for about five months. Right from the start I decided I would not post a picture of my child on my blog. Right now she's not in the position to tell me if she wants me to post her pictures there. So I try to be on the safe side and wait until she is old enough to decide for herself. (Although I don't think I'll still be blogging at that point...).

Meg said...

A wise choice. I always feel nervous for folks who blog with their children. I've seen the underbelly of the internet and how peoples' lives can be destroyed because of it. Thanks for looking out for your kids, and be sure to stay safe yourself.

Karen said...

THANK YOU!!! I really can't say that strongly enough. I often feel like I am failing as a parent or just not being the parent I want to be. Of course, it always seems like everyone else has their act completely together. Please don't think I am taking joy in the fact that you feel overwhelmed at times -- it's just good to know I am not a freak!!

Take care and hang in there!

The Whirling Dirvish said...

Hey Dreena!! I totally understand why you don't show pics of the kidlets. As you said - you are the author and the public figure - not them. And honestly, I think it's your choice and your RIGHT as a mother to protect your children. I won't say that i'm not at all curious about your beautiful kiddos eating your yummy food and the nosy nancy in me would love to know what they look like - but at the same time, as a mother myself - I respect your choice and support it completely. :)

VeganLinda said...

It is such a personal choice and we all have to do what feels right to us - just like all aspects of parenting. I have to say that my kids adore seeing your daughter on your cookbook and have for years. As vegan kids they like to see other vegan kids. It can feel isolating even in the best communities. This is part of the reason I do share pictures and stories of my kids. It was an easier choice for me as far as the crazies out there because I'm not well known and I homeschool my kids so they tend to rarely be away from me. As they have grown, they have complete say it what pictures I do or don't post. I completely understand your reasons and love your blog just as it is.

Anonymous said...

Total respect. Great post.

Whole Foods Vegan Momma said...

OH Dreena, I can totally relate! I've really gone back and forth myself, and it is such a balance.

While I'm not nearly as well-known as you, I have continued to blog and have decided to make it more of a full-time thing and I've had to decide how much I'm going to share. Since I feel like part of my purpose in blogging is to show others how being vegan and making healthy choices is completely doable with kids & a family, I've made the decision to share because that is so integral to what I do and what I feel my message is (but share with a great deal of thought and discernment).

I still don't know exactly the balance, and your words resonate with so many of my own feelings.

Thanks for your honesty and thanks for sharing. Love ya for that (and simply cannot wait to get my hands on your cookbook). And don't worry, I'm sure you are an absolutely AMAZING mother!

P.S. Every mother has their moments. Motherhood is the land of guilt, there's no end of it!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Dreena. Being a new mom myself, I do love to read stories about vegan cookbook authors/bloggers' kids because it makes them more relatable to me. But it makes me nervous for them too. And if I was a blogger/author I would try not to give up too much information about my kids, as much as I would like to.
Oh, and off the subject--you are absolutely my favorite cookbook author! I have all of your cookbooks (your new one is on the way to me as well) and I use Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan so much that I had to buy a second copy because the first one became so worn out! Thanks to your cookbooks, I would actually rather cook at home than go to my favorite vegan restaurant!
I can't wait to get Let Them Eat Vegan...!
Thank you so much,
Molly

Christine said...

I completely agree with you. Your blog is mainly about your food. You give a slight glimpse into your family life, which is natural, but I understand you wanting to keep your kids out of the "limelight".

My blog is mainly about my family. And I share it mostly with my extended family who live out of state. They want to see pictures of my boys and know what we're doing daily.

We all have those struggles with feeling guilty about mistakes we think we make when parenting. We're human. I feel the same guilt and I know my family who has kids feel the same way too. No one is perfect, and that's okay!

I think you're on the right track. You do a fabulous job with what you do and I don't think you need to change a thing. :)

Mattheworbit said...

Dreena, that's wonderful, and very sensible. Don't hesitate at all. I think you're making the best choice, and - you don't belong to anyone, despite being some level of "public figure" due to your wonderful cookbooks.

You shouldn't even have to explain your reasoning. But reasonable people will understand!

Val said...

I absolutely understand your reasons, Dreena (I don't blog or post any pics of my kids on FB either) and if possible I like you even more after sharing this post with us! ;)

xoxo

Anna said...

I was talking to my 8 yo son about this the other week. We did some testing for a cookbook (yes, we, he loves to cook!) and were talking about how we wanted to be listed on the thanks page. We decided on My Name and Sons.

I don't use my son's names on my blog and I think there are 2 pictures of them out there, one of each. The first post was about my older son having Aspergers Syndrome, I wanted to make the point that by looking at him you wouldn't be able to tell he was autistic and was asking people not to judge if they see a parent having a hard time with a kid in public. The second picture was of my younger son a few days old. I'd spoken of being pregnant on my blog and newborns change every single day so I figured one picture would be ok.

My son understood, from lessons they've had at school in Internet Safety, that you don't tell people who you are on the internet and that I didn't want people to know his real name (he was happy that I'd not used his real name on the blog). He said it wasn't safe for people to know who he was and where he lived or what he looked like.

My failings as a mother go in emails to my mother friends or in phone conversations with my family (or round and round in my head as I berate myself for not doing things right!), they are not for public consumption and I can't stand blogs that present the happy wonderful lovely bright and shiny family life post after post, it's just not real and not helpful to anyone who does struggle (and I don't think there are many parents who don't at times).

Long ramble, not sure if it helped the discussion!

Steph said...

I agree with you about kids in your blog. And also that it's everyone's own choice.

I was also considering starting a birth-related business, and immediately felt like using pictures of my kids on the website would be like using them for marketing and it gave me such an ugly feeling. I just couldn't do it. It's not what my kids are for, and I didn't want it to be a part of our relationship.

Roxanne said...

This blog isn't about your kids, husband, nephews, aunts (you get the picture)so that is the correct choice.
And there are always risks on showing your kids online along with being a famous cookbook author.
The world doesn't need to know who they are until THEY decide to become famous themselves... if they ever do...

Dreena said...

I so value hearing your thoughts on this, and what your own experiences are. We don't all have blogs for the same reasons too, so there are definitely different considerations for me compared to other bloggers. Really respect your views and the discussion. thank you.

The Full Plate Blog said...

I understand your reasoning 100%. You do what works for you, this is your space. The way I have negotiated this is to include photos of my children in action, when something pertains to them (ie: a cooking activity) and I want my friends who are reading to have a visual. But, they are only photographed neck down or from the back. So, you get the gist of interaction with them.

April Groves said...

Dreena,

I am the mother of four beautiful daughters - and I blog the hell out of them because you just can't make that kind of crazy up :)

But you, with your beautiful soul, did a fantastic job of reaching your own decision with your own children while graciously placing zero judgement on the choices of any other mommy out there. It is the exact thing that we as mommy kindred must strive for - support on this whacked out journey and love in the midst of differing tactics.

Your children are blessed indeed to have you. So are we.

Sincerely,
April

Gena said...

I love this post, Dreena. I don't have children, but if I did, I have to imagine I'd feel similarly. If for no other reason than they're too young to know whether or not being made public on a blog is something they'll *want* and be happy about in 1, 2, 10 years. It would be too bad if a child grew up and realized that she had had her childhood documented publicly, and she didn't like it.

Anyway, the thing I actually love most here is your constant ability to be so honest about the tough stuff, the down days, the little moments of chaos. I think we share similar candor there, and I have to hope it makes our readers feel closer to us. <3 xoxo

Lindsay said...

For me personally, I feel like anyone could see my kids when I am out and about in public. I don't have control over that. And I say this as someone who has experienced both a peeping tom and even more serious sexual abuse. I feel that showing (appropriate) photos of my children is ok. Short of living in a cave, I can't prevent people from seeing my kids. That's just my thoughts on it, personally. Not saying anyone has to agree.

I'm also not a published author, and my tiny little blogs don't get a lot of hits, so I'm sure that's a factor, too.

Becky said...

This is perhaps my favorite post on your entire blog. It just made me feel so much better to read that you, someone that I admire and respect, sometimes feel like you are messing things up as a mom. I thought I was the only one! Raising kids is such a gargantuan responsibility...trying to teach them to be kind, decent, moral human beings. And when they don't portray the above qualities...man, is it frustrating, and so easy for a mom to blame herself!

I very much respect your decision to keep your children out of the limelight. I think some day they may just thank you for that!

Carrie said...

I totally understand what you are saying! While I love seeing bloggers sweet little ones and following along who family posts because I can relate. Children are such a joy! That said, since I've become a mother I am much more paranoid than I have ever been. I can't help but be a little weary of strangers.. Even ones that look nice. I know a blogger who had to shut down her blog bc of getting stalked. So scary and such a shame! :( It's a personal decision and good for you for doing what you feel is best in your situation. :)