Someone important in my son's life felt I was compromising Noo's (as my son will now be referred to) anonymity by publishing photos of him here. It was interesting timing for this comment as I'd just written about my fear of such a challenge.
When the words were first uttered I was completely taken aback. Not even my parents had said anything so bluntly even though I know they have their own concerns about this space of mine. I was devastated but I was forced to really think about, and write down, why I risk my own privacy as well as my five year old's.
The two days that followed were surprisingly overwrought with emotion: fear, sadness, exasperation, indignation, anger. The crazy thing is, my passion for blogging has waned this year. I've wondered if I really am comfortable having all this shit on here for anyone to read. And I've been bored by my own voice and have avoided listening to it through this medium.
So why did I react the way I did?
I realise now just how sensitive I still am about my past. How desperately I still feel the need to defend it - to myself and to others. The things that have happened to me still have such an overwhelming amount of control over me. But if I shut the past out, lock it up and ignore it, I feel like I'm giving in to it. Like it will turn into the skeleton in the family closet. A dirty little secret.
I also realised how proud I am of a lot of my writing here. Before I started this blog I had no confidence in my writing ability. I'd only ever written corporate correspondence and emails home while travelling. Through writing here I found something that I love doing. I found an activity that has kept my mind going and my computer skills current while I've been off work for the last six years. There's no way I could just throw it all away based on one person's opinion.
|This is my space|
So defend my blog I did.
Here is an edited excerpt from the email I wrote:
Why I won't delete photos of my son off my blog (until of course he personally asks me to)
I’m not ashamed of my past or current struggles.
The aim of my blog is to help kill the stigma of mental illness, addiction in recovery and of being a victim of rape. I will not hide from these facts about my life. Hiding implies guilt which implies blame.
My son will be told what I've blogged about as soon as he asks or is old enough to know. He already knows about babblingbandit.me and he knows I don’t drink because it makes me go silly. When he gets bigger I will tell him of the alcoholism and depression that has plagued many members of his family.
When you google my son's name no pictures of him are found and no links to my blog are returned in the search results. However, I have completed a ‘find and replace’ to remove all instances of my son's name throughout the blog.
Please don't get overwhelmed by the “From Rock Bottom to Parenthood” story. Yes, it is graphic and confronting. But it is MY past. I own it and will not be shamed by it. And my blog is so much more than that series of posts.
Some of my favourite posts I’d like to draw your attention to:
When is the right time for kids to try alcohol?
In this post I discuss my belief, backed up by research, that children should not be encouraged to drink alcohol before the age of 18, despite many parents in our society thinking that allowing younger kids to drink at home is the way to avoid binge drinkers later in life.
Managing mental illness: Self-care
In this post I talk about my experience with mental illness and tips on how to manage it. You can see from the comments on this post that many people found it extremely helpful. I have had so many people from all different walks of life either email me or comment on my blog thanking me for my raw honesty.
Sole parenting: Mums raising boys without dad around
I discuss my fears of raising Ned without his father. I then go on to say why I believe I made the right decision nearly six years ago to not have any contact with his father, as well as delve into some referenced research as to why parenting is “not anchored in gender” and that it is possible to raise a happy and healthy boy without a dad in the picture.
The BB top 10 benefits to living sober
babblingbandit.me’s most popular blog post is The BB top 10 benefits to living sober. In this post I write a list of reasons why sobriety is awesome. I was sponsored by FebFast to write the post to inspire those taking a break from alcohol. It has been shared widely around the web.
My blog attracts approximately 900 unique views a month. In the grand scheme of things it is a tiny blog. I do however occasionally publish sponsored posts and have advertising on my blog which generate a little bit of spending money for me.
I am proud of my blog. I am proud of how far I have come as a person and as a parent. I am sure as Noo grows up he will be very proud of me as well. Everything I do, I do it for Noo. If he should get to an age where he is ready to learn about where he comes from and is unhappy with the story being online, I will remove it. But how he was conceived has nothing to do with who he is as a person and I will always reassure him of that.
I am raising my son to be a confident, happy child. I will advise him to stand up for who he is and be proud of it. I hope I will arm him with the confidence to deal with bullies should that become a problem in the future...
My email had the effect I wanted it to. Even though the whole experience was emotionally difficult, I faced my fear and won.
Now all I have to do now is get on with it and blog!
What do you think about bloggers using their kids' photos online and telling stories about them before they are old enough to consent?