Decisions, Decisions…

25 Sep

When I began to blog, almost a year and a half ago, I didn’t have a clear audience in mind. I was torn between several. I could not decide so I kind of…didn’t. I just started blogging and hoped that everyone would like it.

This is not the best way to proceed with anything in life, really. I mean, specifics make for happier audiences, happier students, happier parishioners, friends, directors. This was especially not the best way to proceed with something where one goal was to find lots of people who like reading my stuff!

I began the blog for several reasons, one of which was that I wanted to WRITE – to exercise that need – and to see if people actually liked what I wrote. It appears that people do, which is gratifying. But now I am faced with a focus issue…which is – even after 17 months – still not a decision I want to make.

You see, I’m a people pleaser. I like making everyone happy even though I know, intellectually, that this is impossible. I wanted my blog to make everyone happy. I wanted men, women, writers, moms, grandmas, aunts, uncles and cousins to find my posts irresistible. I wanted travelers, photographers, locals, internationals, liberals, conservatives, sports fanatics (okay, I knew I’d never please the sports fanatics!), dreamers, friends, theologians, to like me.

Yes. I ought to have known better.

I think that my resistance to “box myself in” to one particular audience all boils down to this: I am 42 years old, the holder of a master’s degree, the dreamer of extravagant dreams…and I am a stay-at-home mom.

Don’t get me wrong: I honestly love my life. I do not regret my decisions, I love my children, I do not WANT a 9-5 job.

It’s just that I don’t enjoy washing laundry and dusting. I do not embrace the house-wifely things that I feel like I ought to embrace. I don’t get all hot and bothered over sentimental mommy things. Yes, I keep tons of their drawings and I write down all the cute things they say.

But that doesn’t mean I adore the PTA.

It is hard for me to JUST be a mom.

And so I began writing a book.

I always imagined that I’d be a writer.

And yet, the things that I know, the things that I, apparently, write about the best, are mom things. But I fight tooth and nail against writing a Mommy Blog. WHY? Because I always thought I’d be more than that. And, to claim that title makes me feel like I’m giving up. Giving up on all of the potential – and real – audience members out there who don’t fit that category.

And yet, I’ve been told – by a person who knows this stuff – that I write a good “mommy blog”. And, I admit, the most feedback I get is from moms and grandmas who can relate to the things I post. And this is not a bad thing – I mean, I LOVE THAT FEEDBACK, AND I LOVE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GIVEN IT TO ME.

So why is it so hard to admit that that is where I belong? Because I don’t want to lose readers. I don’t want to displease anyone. UGH. Just make a decision already.

I envy those of you who have strong, focused blogs – cooking blogs, sewing blogs, travel blogs, local blogs – I envy your ability to be specific, your readers who look to you BECAUSE they want those specifics. I also admire the hard work you’ve done to gather those readers. And it is work, I know.

So why am I writing about this? What is my purpose? Well, I suppose that I’m alerting you that there may be a few changes around here. Not huge changes, but, as I learn to accept this role in my life, I probably will write about it more.

However, in this process, I have discovered something that I didn’t realize before: it appears that, as a mom of elementary and middle-school aged children, it is impossible for me to ignore that in my blogging. I hadn’t thought about the fact that writing a post about walking with the Girl Scouts in a local parade was a mommy post – I just thought it was something kinda fun to write about. But, it turns out, the very fact that I was in the parade at all is because I’m a Girl Scout leader, which I wouldn’t be if I wasn’t a mommy trying to help out with something my daughter loves. So, what I took to be just a random post…is actually a mommy post.

This is actually encouraging to me because it means that I don’t have to change my posts all that much! I suppose what it proves is that I’ve been writing a mommy blog all along even if I didn’t realize it. That I can’t escape who I am, where my focus is in life. I am not a reluctant mommy, per se…even if I’m a reluctant mommy blogger.

So what does this all come down to? I guess it means that I need to accept who and where I am in life. I need to be okay with the fact that I don’t have some marvelous job that defines me. Yes…I know what some of you are thinking: “Being a mother is the most wonderful and fulfilling job you will ever have.” Or, similarly, “Mommies don’t get paid in money, they get paid in kisses and hugs.” Okay, whatever. I’m not schmaltzy. And, while I may agree in principle with those ideas, I’m not going to start being all sentimental and adoring diaper bags.

Because, after all, I may be a mommy…

…but I’m still me.

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16 Responses to “Decisions, Decisions…”

  1. hotlyspiced September 25, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Well, I had always thought of you as a mummy blogger and I had no idea you didn’t realise you were one. I know how you feel because I started a blog without a genre in mind also and people started telling me I was a food blogger. I was shocked. I didn’t realise that’s what I was. But I do like to swing over to the mummy bloggers from time to time. Looking forward to seeing your blog evolve xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      Thanks, Charlie! Isn’t it funny how we view ourselves…or don’t! I enjoy your blog for the recipes for sure, but your stories are more what bring me back time after time just because they’re so wild/funny/amazing! Isn’t it good to stretch ourselves? Oh, and I love being called a “mummy” – perhaps I could live with that term instead of “mommy”…!!

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots September 25, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    I, too, have been a stay-at-home mom/writer, so I totally understand where you are coming from with this post. Unfortunately, when my kids were growing up, mommy blogs didn’t exist, at least not in my world, and I didn’t even own a computer. For years my writing was set aside. I could easily have become a mommy blogger, though, had I had the opportunity.

    My post today likely falls into the mommy blog category.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that your blog is working as is and now you realize that. You are a gifted writer, Gretchen. Gifted.

    BTW, I don’t love cooking or cleaning or such duties either (except hanging out laundry).

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Yes, and bet you’ll be hanging out that laundry (though the loads are smaller these days for you, yes) for many weeks to come! Thanks for your encouragement, Audrey. I so appreciate you! I think that I’ll probably have a few more “mommy-focused” posts…but I can’t just stop with the others. It’s me! I think it’s been good to think about, though…

  3. Laurie (Morrill) French September 25, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Hi Gretchen. I actually enjoy your blogs, no matter what the subject. I read them just to find out what’s on your mind this week. You have so much to share because you are a Mom and you’ve travelled. I have done neither of those things so I do them through your blogs. It’s always a new adventure for me, And I absolutely LOVE the pictures that you include, You inherited your camera “eye” from your Dad!! Keep those blogs and pictures coming. I look forward to them each week!! Thank you~~

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      You are so kind, Laurie, thank you. It’s been great to be in touch with you! My dad and I haven’t talked a lot about the photos but I am loving kind of being able to relate to him more through the lens of the camera! I am so glad that you’re enjoying what you’re finding here – and that it’s valuable to you. Thank you so much for your encouragement!

  4. Cameron Yee September 25, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    It’s a credit to your talent as a writer that even though I’m not a mommy, don’t collect egg cups, and aren’t working on a novel that I enjoy reading your blog. It’s how you write, and the personality you bring to your life experiences, that makes your blog an entertaining read, regardless of the subject. If you choose to make this a mommy-focused endeavor, most likely I’ll still read it because of your approach to the matter, but as a less-than-focused person myself, I also enjoy the fact I never know what you’re going to write about next.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      Oh, Cameron, you are so encouraging! Thank you for commenting and for your kind words. I know that there are guys out there who read this and it’s great to have your feedback. I do not intend to totally write “as a mommy” – there’s too much I have to say! But I may have a few more posts that are mommyish…but I dearly hope they’ll still appeal to a wide audience. It’s so good to know you’re out there! You made my day! (P.S. – Go Ducks!)

  5. Carol Owens September 25, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    …and you have the most important job in the world. You are feeding, educating, disciplining, laughing with, the next generation…who will be the ones in charge soon. Moms like you are the reason the national IQ jumps 30 points a decade; the reason America is still an exemplary nation. So write away, it helps me stay in touch with a younger generation…and you write well and from your soul. Lovin’ it.
    here on Orcas,
    Carol O

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Carol, thank you. I am sorry that we didn’t get to connect last time I was on the island. My kids really want me to return for Kindlingsfest next summer, but not sure we’ll swing that, we’ll have to see, but if I do I’ll let you know ahead of time and maybe we could have coffee. I’m so glad that you’re along for this blogging ride! Thank you so much for your kind words and your presence!

  6. gardenfreshtomatoes September 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    It’s not the subject you’re objecting to, Sweetie, it’s the TITLE…You’re not a “Mommy Blogger” any more than I’m a “Grandmom Blogger”. We write about our lives, and the kids are a part of that, but not all of who we are, or what we write. “Mommy Blogger” is a term that puts you into a box, and it truly doesn’t fit. Carol (above) says, “you write from your soul.” You do, and the only way that works is if you write about the things closest and best-loved…like your cherished memories…your home…and your family.
    Please don’t stop…whatever you decide to call yourself 😉

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 25, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      You are delightful. Thank you. Yes. I am worried about semantics! I had another friend e-mail me today and say that she thinks it’s the lens I’m looking through at whatever particular time that more or less “defines” a posting. My lens may be mommy-focused more often…but it’s okay for it to be focused elsewhere, too. Horray! Thank you.

  7. Tami Scott September 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I have to tell you, I think that my most favorite of your blogs are about your stories growing up, travel stories, etc…I enjoy the mommy posts also, but I think that you do an interesting variety and I enjoy them all!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      THANK YOU! I love hearing from you! Even far away we’re connected! I like variety, too…that won’t stop!

  8. ljhlaura September 29, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I simply enjoy your writing … and your enthusiasm … and I love the beautiful nature photos you post. People write best when they write what they know and love. You are a mommy … but you are also lots of other things, no doubt. I understand the desire for focus — I share it — but I will probably keep checking in on your blog whether it’s “themed” or not! 🙂

  9. Alice September 29, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    The tiny moments of everydayness will help you write the novel. They grow like children.

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