It’s been subtle, but lately I’ve noticed a slight turn against “honest bloggers”. This time last year, they were the best thing since sliced bread – it was super cool and trendy to be brutally honest about every part of parenting, especially the tough bits. It was de rigeur to admit that sometimes you flip off your toddler behind their back, or whisper “For fuck’s sake” when the baby starts crying for the fourth time in a night.
A few weeks ago I read an opinion column in one of the baby and toddler magazines – I don’t remember which one – which said that this is unfair of parents. We should be allowing our children to grow up without mocking them, as it strips them of their dignity.
On first glance, it’s quite a reasonable opinion – but it got me wondering. As a self-professed “honest blogger”, I’ve shared everything from getting baby poo in my hair to my struggles with postnatal depression, and pretty much every grisly detail in between. Have I been inconsiderate? Have I turned my daughter into a figure of fun?
Some people will disagree, but I think the answer is no. No, because I have been honest about our lives as a family. Nothing you’ve read in the two-and-a-bit years of this blog have been fictional. It would be a much bigger disservice to my daughter if I’d pretended that parts of her life never happened – and a disservice to everyone who reads my blog in search of support for other young/student parents, if I’m not completely honest about what having a child entails.
I’d go as far as saying that presenting this perfect picture of idyllic parenthood can be harmful to struggling new parents. Obviously if it’s true, no-one is expecting you to create bad situations to put on the blog, but I can’t deny that sometimes I read blogs or see Instagrams and I think… “But where’s the poo? Where’s the drool? Where’s the exhaustion?”.
If the poo and the drool and the exhaustion genuinely isn’t there, that’s great – parents everywhere salute and envy you in equal measure. If you are drowning in drool but you simply don’t want to show that stuff on your blog, fine – that’s your choice – but think long and hard before you criticise “honest bloggers”, and ask yourself – who is really being disingenuous here?
Having this blog to rant and vent helped to slow down the progression of postnatal depression. Finding the blogging community helped to stop the isolation I felt as a young parent. Had I not felt able to be totally honest on this blog, I wouldn’t have bothered continuing with it. Lately, it feels like the community is starting to show cracks, with in-fighting and silly arguments between the “honest bloggers” and the “idyllic bloggers” (why are we splitting into factions like this?!), and that saddens me. I love reading about the arts and crafts and the fab days out and the awesome family times that so-called “idyllic bloggers” post about. I also love reading about the down-and-dirty details of parenting that the books don’t warn you about. There’s room for everyone within the parenting blogger community.
What’s more, honest bloggers are important. We’ve already established that doctors and midwives and books and TV shows don’t tell us everything we need to know about being a parent. There’s the grisly bits and the unexpected bits that no-one ever warns you about – except honest bloggers, who will tell you that it feels like shitting out your liver when they deliver the placenta, and that sometimes it’s alright to write off your toddler as having a bit of a dickhead day. These honest bloggers are stopping parents from feeling so alone – they certainly do for me.
I’ve said time and again that if my daughter grows up and dislikes this blog existing, it will vanish. If she asks me to delete certain posts, they’ll be gone. This is my hobby, and there’s no justification for it to impact on SB’s life as she grows up, or to make her uncomfortable in any way, so I will respect her wishes. Until then, however, what do we really have to be afraid about?
Do I worry that someone will come up to SB one day and say “Ha, when you were a baby you did a poo”? Of course not. I worry that she won’t turn around and say “Erm, yeah – all babies do” – that will be much more a sign that I’ve let her down than anything I’ve written about her on the blog.