For some unexplainable reason, I woke up this morning thinking about an old blogging friend. "Friend" because we got to know each other on a personal level, "blogging" because it was through blogging, and "old" because I stopped reading her blog about two years ago. In fact, I stopped reading all my favorite blogs about two years ago.
I didn’t have that many to begin with — somewhere between five and 10 that I would check on a semi-regular basis — but like I said, I gave them up, all at once. (OK, maybe I had to slowly wean myself off a couple of them over a few months.)
But why? These were good blogs. Some of them were the extremely popular blogs everybody reads (and for good reason), and some of them were just the blogs of friends I adore. Why give them up?
Let me just say up front that it had nothing to do with them. It was me. I don’t mean this in the classic it’s not you, it’s me breakup kind of way — which really means it’s you. It really was me. Let me explain.
We’ve all heard athletes talk about focus and keeping their eye on the prize. That’s not just a figurative statement. There are myriad examples of athletes literally taking their eyes off the goal in front of them to look around and see what’s going on, and the next thing you know they’re on the ground having lost the competition.
A religious parallel can even be found in the New Testament. Upon receiving the invitation from Jesus, the apostle Peter leaves his fishing boat to try to walk on the Sea of Galilee to where Jesus is standing. After initially succeeding, he ultimately fails and begins to sink. Why? Some say it was when he feared, but more specifically, in my mind, it was when he stopped focusing on Jesus and started looking around him at the waves. Essentially, he took his eye off the prize.
In this case, the prize is my home and family, and I find that when I spend too much time reading other moms’ blogs, I end up thinking about their homes and their families instead of my own. And because I have contentment and comparison issues (despite having a pretty marvelous life), I often walk away from the computer feeling less than, wanting more, and thinking about all the things I “should” do/have/be in order to have a home and family like that. It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally learned that feelings of peace and contentment come quite naturally to me when I simply keep my eye on the prize and focus on having a family like this.
You see? It really is about me.
I understand that many moms read blogs for ideas and inspiration. I get that. I really do. Where moms used to only have Creative Memories and Pampered Chef parties to connect with each other and get ideas, now there is this great cyber sharing that happens from the living room couch while babies are napping or the palms of our hands while in the carpool lane. Technically, the Internet existed when my 15-year-old was born, but it wasn’t anything like it is today. Back then, all we had were those parties, parenting books and magazines, and the occasional park day or phone call with friends. But there was a certain comfort in my world being so small, and I think I definitely relied more heavily on my mother’s intuition back then — something we give up all too easily in this era of information overload. We’re just sure there’s a better or “right” way to be found out there in cyberspace.
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not telling anyone to stop reading mommy blogs, and I’m most definitely not suggesting that mommy blogs are bad. I’m just doing what works for me. Ironically, I have a blog of my own, primarily meant to chronicle my family’s history and entertain my mother in Iowa who suffers from separation anxiety. But since it is a public blog, I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever made anyone else feel like their life was “less than” after reading something I’ve posted. If this is the case, I sincerely apologize and hope you’ll follow my lead and stop reading because chances are you have a pretty marvelous life of your own. You’re just not focusing on it.
The thing is, as I alluded to before, in all our efforts to glean ideas from other mothers, there’s the potential to lose touch with our own intuition as well as a sense of gratitude for what is. As fantastic as it sounds, what’s great for one mom and her family may not be what is needed for your family. And if you have a personality like mine, you will want to incorporate every last great idea out there and risk not doing the most important thing for your family — whatever that is. Worse yet, you will start wishing you were living someone else’s life. And that’s so not fun.
My decision to stop reading mommy blogs was about nothing more than a need to simplify my time and my head, focus on my family instead of someone else’s, and learn how to be grateful and content with my life. I like the idea of bringing things down a notch when it comes to outside information, and I love the idea of getting to the core of what is really needed for my family by listening to my heart.
Maybe you have things in your own life you could give up or cut back on that would reap the same benefits. Mommy blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, shopping, unnecessary work or social obligations, toxic relationships, over-volunteering at the school, too much time at the gym, too much TV. There are a million ways to get distracted from living a more simple, satisfying and authentic life.
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I’m sure if I dropped an email to my old blogging friend today, we would pick up right where we left off. (I didn’t mean to make it sound like we had some sort of breakup.) The truth is, she is one of those bloggers who does a great job of keeping it real while putting an emphasis on simplifying. It really is my kind of blog.
Maybe I’ll start reading again. Maybe.
QUESTION: Do you have anything in your life that prevents you from listening to your mother’s intuition and living a more satisfying and authentic family life?
CHALLENGE: Once you identify what that is, try cutting back this next week and see how it feels. You may not miss it at all.
This article is courtesy of Power of Moms, an online gathering place for deliberate mothers.
This post is featured in the new book "Motherhood Realized."