Becoming part of the story

A good friend of mine and I recently got together with our kids. She asked if I missed blogging. Several people have asked me the same question. My response surprises me. I don’t miss it at all. I did at first, but after about 10 days I felt more at peace than I had in a long time. And it’s not because my baby boy started sleeping through the night (he didn’t). Or my reluctant potty-training preschooler stopped peeing on my floor (she didn’t). Or my mom stopped hurting (she hasn’t). Or I started easily squeezing in daily showers (I haven’t). Or life got less messy (it didn’t; my nana passed away, my little man tore his frenulum in his mouth, and I still step on Cheerios and/or Legos every day). But within days of not blogging I no longer felt as fragmented like a chunk of me was over there, another part was over here, and my body (I think) was with my kids. I had become so entrenched in the online life that I was missing out on the real one right in front of me. Far too frequently my mind was elsewhere, and my heart was pulled in too many directions. This still happens sometimes. Most busy moms – whether they engage in social media or not – are going to sometimes feel like they’re overleveraged, overextended, and on the verge of a total freak-out. For some women, blogging or popping in on Facebook might offer them a sense of calm. For me, taking a step away from the online chatter has done that.

When I was studying for my journalism degree, I took a media ethics class. One day we had a discussion about how as a journalist you had to report a story without becoming a part of it. This didn’t sit well with me then. It still doesn’t. At the time, I was a broadcast news major, and I couldn’t imagine playing the role of a talking head while amidst wreckage from some natural disaster or some human tragedy like what recently happened in Aurora, Colorado. How could I not become a part of the story? How could I not reach out to others? I could not just show their wounds and report on how they were feeling; I would want to help heal those wounds or at least give someone a hug or a reassuring smile. I’ve always hated it when a journalist – even if it’s only after a heartbreaking loss in a sporting event – asks the person standing before him or her, “How do you feel?” How do you think they feel? Sad. Shattered. Empty. Devastated.

As I’ve taken a step back from blogging and my entire online life, I realized the same to be true now. I don’t always want to be a critical observer of life; I want to be living it. I started blogging partly because I longed to document these precious years with my young children, but somehow along the way it just became too big for me. Documenting our days, my children’s milestones, my myriad emotions as a mother, and keeping it all as authentic as I possibly could had become a full-time job. Even when my computer was nowhere in sight, every minute became fraught with my attempt to capture these moments and share them with others. My motivations were noble. I wanted to give my children the gift of stories of their childhood when they were older and had forgotten. Our memories aren’t very reliable. My mom will tell a story from when I was little that I remember very differently. My husband recalls a vivid day from his childhood that apparently never happened. My children always want me to tell what they refer to as “childhood stories” – glimpses into my life when I was a little girl – and I’ve already depleted my well of memories. I thought they’d appreciate having detailed accounts of our days together and the silly things they did. I wanted to be a memory keeper in the same way a mom who scrapbooks might try to do by artfully arranging photos and embellishments.

I also wanted to give my fellow moms, sometimes dads, and others, too, encouragement. Yes, life is hard. Yes, sacrificial love cuts deeply. But life is beautiful, too. Giving, emptying yourself is what will fill you up. That sort of thing. And wouldn’t it be nice to show one of my daughters a post from a day when I was really being pushed in the trenches of motherhood and then survived and maybe even, on a really profound day, thrived once they became a mom and were wondering, “How in the world am I going to manage all of this?”

Yet, when my children, who are far from being parents themselves, and I would have a beautiful day together, I’d think, “Well, that was a blog-worthy moment!” Or, “This might help some other mom get through a rough day!” Or, when a child said something hilarious yet somehow profound at the same time like, “Being homeschooled is like being in captivity because you’re free to be a geek,” (I couldn’t help but share that), I’d want to post it right away. Or when I felt like the biggest mommy loser or I was lonely and feeling burned out, I not only wanted to use writing as catharsis, but I really and truly felt called to expose my humanness and brokenness to let others (including my children’s future adult selves) know, “Hey, you’re not alone in your feelings of hopelessness or being overwhelmed.”

But it wasn’t until I took a step away from writing about my life that I realized yes, I was there with my kids, but there was often something dividing us like a scrim. I was so intent on preserving memories that I wasn’t always a fully present part of making them. Mothers are first and foremost called to be memory makers, not memory keepers. My children are keepers of their own memories, but how I engage with them can influence how they remember things.

Not only did I often feel disjointed, caught between real life and blogging life, I started to become consumed by getting it right. I’m no photographer, but I wanted to capture the perfect image of an imperfect life with my words. After I posted something, I’d wonder if I’d chosen the right words. Did I convey the moment accurately? Was I honest and real and true to life? Did I make any sleep-deprived-induced typos? Would what I write lift up others or make them feel discouraged? Was I getting positive feedback – little hugs that came in the form of comments, emails, or Facebook Shares or Likes, or Retweets?

Meanwhile, my children were growing up. There were too many days when I felt frazzled because I was doing something that I thought had to be done when it didn’t. The connection between mother and child that I have written so passionately about in the past just wasn’t there, or it wasn’t as strong as it could be. So I decided after my husband’s urging to take a break – a blogging sabbatical, I called it. But it was more than that. I drastically reduced the amount of time I spent in front of the computer or with my eyes glued to my iPhone.

While I expected this time to make me feel relaxed and refreshed, I didn’t expect to feel so free. Not being tethered to technology has made me more awake to all the joys that surround me. It’s made me see things clearly, vividly. I haven’t completely abandoned jotting down memories. I’ve still been journaling a bit here and there, and my husband and I capture everyday moments and some of the bigger events with the camera. But I also know the secret to happiness isn’t looking back on life in retrospect. Life is fleeting whether you document it or not.

Even moms who don’t blog or journal often, especially in this digital age, feel like they’ve got to memorialize every precious moment and do it perfectly since you can take as many digital photos as you want. You can click away until you get it just right. Yet, the number of photos I have archived on my computer does not correlate with my love. It’s cliche, but we have thousands of photos of our firstborn. How many photos of a sleeping baby can you take? Hundreds, I say! As for our fourth baby, my lactation consultant mother-in-law recently needed a photo of me nursing him for her upcoming World Breasteeding Week display, and I could not find a single one where it was obvious that I was nursing, partly because his siblings were always piled close to me like puppies and it looked like I was not a nursing mother but a big couch for little bums. So on this weekend’s to-do list is: “Get photo of me nursing Thomas.” Because I don’t want to forget this beautiful, simple relationship we have. But I also don’t want to feel like my life with my littles is one big blog or photo-op.

I am living an imperfect life – a dearth of blog posts won’t change that. But there are plenty of perfect moments, too – ephemeral flashes of pure joy when I experience feelings of contentment that transcend my ordinary surroundings. A child dramatically recounts a book she’s just finished as I tackle the dirty dishes. Forgiveness and reconciliation in the wake of irrational tantrums from both my children and me. Witnessing a child scale a mountain of soiled laundry and giggle when she collapses in the stinkiness. These are the important details of my life story that for far too long I wasn’t fully enjoying because I was too busy looking the other way or too intent on dissecting the moment and thus losing its heart. A sense of well-being, purpose, and joy are not found online or in my own endless navel-gazing. They are right here in front of me.

I want to be a part of this story. This lovely, messy, thrilling, exhausting, challenging, suspenseful, heartbreaking, enchanting, joyful story of motherhood.

summertime fun 2012 1024x1024 Becoming part of the story

That’s all for now.

Enter the Conversation...

20 Responses to “Becoming part of the story”
  1. Daria Sockey says:

    Makes perfect sense to me, Kate.
    Funny thing, your are the third of fourth blogger I’ve read in as many weeks who has also been cutting back. This is getting to be a trend.
    Daria Sockey recently posted..Happy St. Anne’s (and Joachim’s) Day!

  2. Jess says:

    Very wise words! So often photographers feel the same way. We live life through the view of a lens, which doesn’t allow for participation. I’ve been using my camera for a portion of our activities, but then putting it down and putting it away for the rest. Yes, sometimes I say, “Oh man… I just missed the perfect shot! I wish I had my camera in my hands!” but I’ve learned just to let that go. Another “perfect” shot will come along again.
    Jess recently posted..Six Months

  3. Tracy C. says:

    Just lovely. I have never been a truly dedicated blogger,diarist, photographer, scrapbooker etc…and I’ve so often bemoaned the lack of organized ‘documentation’ I have. But, when I start to hyperventilate and worry I reassure myself that the Lord must have a better archive in Heaven than I could ever achieve and that, God willing, I’ll have an eternity to reminisce. I do appreciate the blogs and FB for connecting me together with people and ideas I’d miss out on IRL. But, for me, reading and occasionally commenting has been just the right amount of internet interaction, at least in this stage of my life. God bless, and I’m so looking forward to next week!

  4. Beautifully put! Good for you! So often those of us who are writers, photographers or both see things in terms of how we can get a good post, story, or photo out of the event. It does make us more removed than when we just laugh when the kids do or say something hilarious. Snap a photo if it’s convenient, but don’t mess up the moment to grab the camera if it isn’t handy. There are so many joys right around us that we have a much easier time enjoying when we are fully present. This post also help made me feel better that I haven’t posted all that often recently as I began a new nanny job for a 2 and 1/2 year old and her 9 week old twin sisters this week and have been rather tired in the evenings. Have fun making lots of fun memories and relishing them completely! Blessings to you and your family!
    Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace recently posted..Fed by Faith

  5. Melanie B says:

    Dearest Kate, I’ve missed your posts here, of course, but I am so glad that your absence from this spot has brought you so much peace and joy. Thomas is getting so big!

  6. I’m so blessed you are a part of my IRL story. God bless you and yours!! Keep livin’!
    ViolinMama@ Rosey Outlook recently posted..Belting this song today!!!

  7. Kris says:

    I had to add a comment about the making of memories – we just got back from a 5-day camping trip with the whole family. And two extras (a nephew and a boy’s best friend). 5 whole days with no internet, no cell phone coverage at all, no nothing. Jim and kept remarking how great it felt to be completely disconnected for a few days and how we didn’t miss it at all. It was just onerous to come home and have to start checking email. In addition, we kept hearing the boys (all 6 of them, because the 2 extras are camping regulars on the annual trek) talk about this memory or that memory of past camping trips. And it was such a revelation that a) we make those memories not by “capturing” them, but by living them (says this Mom who forgot the camera, AGAIN!), and b) all the memories we make by living result in kids who actually like to be with us and with each other. THAT is what they will remember into adulthood. Miss you, my friend!!

  8. Natasha says:

    I am pleased that your family connections are being made stronger and deeper, Kate, through this decision. I used to follow your blog avidly, and what you wrote often helped me and buoyed me up. But sometimes life can get to an overwhelming point, can’t it. And need not necessarily be blogging that tips the balance. With 3 children + another on the way, I occasionally find myself floundering in a pile of paperwork, making lunches, sorting school stuff, writing thankyou notes, forgetting to post them, shoe shopping for children, and so on – struggling to come up for air and not finding time to recharge with things for me (singing group, a bubble bath, reading a novel.) Like you said, your blog started out as a family thing, and then took a life of its own. Many believe that as mothers, in order to be able to give fully to others we need to be at peace with ourselves, having something we can use as a recharge method (whether it’s running, sewing, or writing) on a regular basis. I remember reading that you journalled – I am sure as a writer you have a need to document in some medium, so would be interested to know if you are continuing this outlet, while the ‘business of blogging’ is put aside, or if you are finding another way to nourish your self, as well as rediscovering the joy in family time. All the best with everything, whichever ways you choose!
    Natasha recently posted..I did it!

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Thanks to everyone for their insightful, encouraging comments.

      Natasha, we all need to come up for air sometimes, but the way we do that varies. However, I can say with certainty that all moms need a recharge method. Writing is something I enjoy but only when it springs from a restful heart. I found that I had started blogging (writing) more words every week than I did when I was a full-time editor before I had children! Now part of this is because I have a tendency to write longer reflections rather than quick, conversational posts that a lot of talented bloggers are able to churn out. Yet, I also, as I tried to explain in the above post, started seeing too much of my life as blog fodder. Instead of writing about life writing became my life.

      I am still writing in old-fashioned journals, and I’ve always had a document called something like “writing tidbits” or “writing inspiration” where I jot down ideas as they come to me (sometimes at very odd times!). I also still write a monthly health column, so I’m most definitely keeping my hand in weaving words togehter. I have a big, upcoming speech to write and prepare for as well. I’ve been daydreaming about my novel, too. I used to long to write a great literary work, but I’m not sure I can even begin to tackle that until getting regular shut-eye is the norm! However, I’m thinking of writing a mom/chick lit kind of book and have the story line and characters floating around in my head! I still very much see myself as a writer just not so much a blogger right now.

      As for my other recharge methods (besides prayer, which I’m still working on making more of a priority), exercise is a big one for me. In fact, I am up bright and early this morning gearing up for a morning run with a new neighbor/mom who moved down the road from me recently. We’re both looking to ease back into a running routine after having children, and I’m eager to hit the pavement and get those endorphins flowing.

      You are right on that different things for different moms tip the balance. I’d never want to imply that no mom can blog and be fully present for their family and/or be at peace. This certainly isn’t the case, and it wasn’t even always the case for me. I also have a husband who never really liked the whole public blogging thing. I had to take a look at my own family, my own personality and tendency towards compulsion, my husband’s insight, and little, divine nudges I’d been overlooking. I’ve found peace for now taking a step back. This doesn’t mean I’ll never be a regular blogger again, and it certainly isn’t a decision I expect or would even want all blogging moms to make. We need our voices out there.

      At any rate, thank you for your support!!! God bless.
      Kate Wicker recently posted..Becoming part of the story

  9. Misty says:

    Hi Kate,
    There were a few lines one here that are worthy of framing on the wall to remind myself of their truth everyday., I loved how you said moms are meant to be memory makers more than memory keepers. I have sometimes felt less than as a mom because I don’t make scrapbooks or even print out the many photos I have taken of my sons. I have been blogging for 18 months but I have let it be on the back burner and not allowed myself to get too obligated by its demands. Your post today reaffirmed my feelings and I wanted you to know that whenever you feel like posting we are blessed by your insights.
    Misty recently posted..Catholic Woman’s Almanac :: Vol. 3

  10. Katherine says:

    I thought you would find this article in USA Today pertinent to your thoughts: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-07-10/online-photos-facebook-sharing/56135292/1

  11. elizabeth says:

    Kate,
    I absolutely needed to read this. My mom barely kept photos of us growing up. She just didn’t have time. And I know it was because she was too busy living life with us and that’s how she wanted it. I believe she was purposely NOT doing things like scrapbooking because she knew she would miss something:) And now? Well, we all enjoy laughing about old memories when we’re together, which is often. (There are 22 of us in the family now so that’s a lot of laughing!)
    I think you’ve hit on something huge here, Kate. Right on.

  12. kimberlee says:

    So nice to have a little check in from you – I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you are doing. I’m so happy to hear things are going well and your time away from blogging is blessed. (and the pictures show you’re in the middle of a really great story) :-)

  13. Jenny says:

    “Mothers are first and foremost called to be memory makers, not memory keepers.”

    Thanks for the fridge quote.

  14. Sheila says:

    Oh, I will miss you! But I’m glad you’re doing what brings you peace. When I had my second child, I just didn’t have the time or brainspace to blog like before. So I just blogged a lot less often. Once a week or even less. It works for me. And I hope someday I’ll have more time and be able to blog more. I never was looking to be a celebrity blogger, and I don’t make a cent from it. It’s just something I do for me and for my readers, and I’m sure they won’t mind hearing from me a little less while I live my life.

  15. Beth says:

    Kate,

    I have had a similiar change in my life recently. There is so much wisdom in your post. Very good insight. The transformation in my life has only begun!! It was a long time coming. Your post inspired me further along the path.

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  1. […] There are some stories I’d really rather not be a part of. […]

  2. […] I decided to cut back on blogging and become more a part of the story of my family, I felt some twinges of this. Why am I content “just” being a mom? There it is again. […]

  3. […]  I once wrote about how moms are not memory-keepers, but memory-makers. We can’t control what our children will remember or what they won’t. Nor should we obsessively try to document every moment on Instagram. Sometimes we just need to live it even when it’s not so pretty and we’re afraid of what type of emotional sediment might be settling in our children. But again, isn’t real better than artificial? We want real, human memories not contrived ones. […]



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