I noticed, almost in passing, that my blog is nine years old this week.
Nine years. Imagine!
How it all Started…
Flea wasn’t quite three years old, when I started writing Who’s the Mummy. I remember taking the photo at the top of this post, at about that time.
Marriage was really the first thing I ever failed at. I took it hard. We’d left behind my home, friends, and social life in Brighton, moving North to be closer to family.
On this particular day, we’d been to a toddler activity class. I was always at some class or other, trying to meet other Mums.
After the class, I felt a bit low, so we went for a walk on the green. I lay down next to my girl, took this photo, and said to her, “Me and you against the world, Flea. We’ll be okay.”
And we were.
The house was a bomb site, I had basically no work/life balance as I raised my child and worked as a journalist, but we had a lot of fun.
Blogging is a Lifeline
At that time, blogging was a lifeline. I was self-employed, single and living in a town where I didn’t know anyone. Blogging gave me a connection to other, like-minded Mums.
Bloggers were people who worried about the same stuff I did. Who laughed at the same things. Who were on Twitter at all hours, talking nonsense.
Nine years later, I think about giving up the blog, sometimes. When your child gets older, the stories aren’t yours to tell any more. They feel more personal, more serious, sometimes.
The Tricky Years
You’ll find yourself starting about 10 times more posts than you finish, always second guessing. “Can I publish this?” “Should I?” “Best not.”
It’s a transition to a different sort of blog, I think.
Oh, and those people you chatted to on Twitter at all hours? Most of them don’t blog any more.
Blogging has changed in all sorts of positive, empowering ways over the past nine years. But it can feel a bit more like an industry than a community, sometimes. You have to dig a little harder to find those connections with people, and those real stories hidden between the commercials.
But then I’ll have one of those quiet Sunday afternoons where I browse through old posts and I think, “I love this!”
Our Family Story
I love that our story is here to be remembered. Look at the fun we had! Look at how much adventure we squeezed into our ordinary lives! See how much you were loved?
Blogging, for me, hasn’t been about big issues and moments and milestones. It’s the funny comments, the everyday disasters, the small triumphs. The perfect moments when just for a few minutes, everything is as it should be. That’s what we have in this blog. Thousands of little moments, that otherwise would almost certainly have been forgotten.
During tough times, those memories are there to remind me that this too shall pass. It always does.
Exploring the World
Of course, blogging also took us to plenty of new places. We counted up recently, and Flea’s already visited 23 countries – and I’d say about 20 of those trips were blog-related.
Without my blog, I’d never have ridden a motorcycle taxi through the streets of Bangkok, holding on to my driver so hard I couldn’t feel my fingers.
I’d never have walked through the rainforest in Colombia and got caught in a rainstorm. I’d never have realised that Dead Sea mud smells like Satan’s feet.
Even better, we’ve shared adventures together. Flea and I have climbed the world’s tallest building in Dubai, and read books to primary school kids in Jamaica.
We have walked through the ancient city of Petra, while locals clamoured to give Flea presents and take photos with her. Without Who’s the Mummy, we’d never have taken that tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, or got hopelessly lost on that hillside in Portugal.
Over time, the blog even helped to create a new career, away from journalism.
I’ve been very lucky to be able to keep this blog as a hobby (seriously, I’ve no idea how you pro-bloggers don’t go insane from the pressure). But the skills I’ve learned have allowed me to build a business that combines the best of blogging and journalism with a bit of marketing and a lot of flexibility. On a good day, it’s pretty much perfect.
Being a Better Parent
Blogging has also made me a better Mum.
No matter what I’ve worried about (and I’ve worried about a LOT) the people who read and comment on my blog have worried about it, too. It’s amazing that I’ve never felt judged or scorned, and only ever received supportive advice from parents who have been there before me, and survived.
Blogging helped me remember that sometimes it does take a village to raise a child and sometimes your village is virtual. And that’s a great thing.
Oh, and the People
Last but not least, blogging has brought me some great friendships. Heading out to PR events when Flea was very small was a nerve-wracking affair, but my virtual tribe has become a real-world network of friends. We might not see each other every week, but there are regular lunches and dinner parties, and chatting online to keep us connected.
It’s a pretty special thing to have kept some of those blogging chums for nine years – and without my blog, I’m not sure it would have worked out that way.
So, I’m not sure there’s a big lesson or point to this post. Which is quite fitting because … Welcome to the story of my blog. There is no big point. It’s just life.
But it’s pretty special.