I've been thinking about blogging a lot lately. I've been considering what I choose to share and what I don't. I've been assessing what this blog gives me and what it takes away. I've been pondering why I continue to write it even when I'm at my most 'time poor'.
I started writing The Beetle Shack two and a half years ago, when our little Pip was about 4 months old. She was a darling baby, easy and content. A good feeder and sleeper and the perfect accompaniment to our larger than life, spirited, strong willed boy.
I'd spent the year prior to her birth at home with Zeph, pottering about with sewing and craft projects, constantly making a mess and cleaning it back up again. I sold my designer clothing to fund the purchase of a sewing machine and embraced the role of 'stay at home mum' the best I could. I went to work outside of the home (in the Visual Arts Classroom, to be precise) one day a week to help with the finances. I also spent quite a bit of time reading blogs. Blogs about craft and cooking, and blogs about parenting.
I found myself in a position where I would compare myself to the women on the virtual pages ofblogland. Their lives seems so perfect - their children were cute, clean and well dressed. They loved the art of mothering and felt completely fulfilled in the home. They would spend their time in the kitchen whipping up organic oaty flap jacks for their kids, serving them on perfect vintage platters. They would walk gently on the earth, be gentle on themselves and completely in tune with the seasons and their loved ones. They would co-sleep, baby wear and never smack (gasp, did she just say smack?).
Meanwhile, I was sitting on the couch staring at the neon glow of my computer screen, filth surrounding me, with a cup of non-organic tea and a block of non-organic chocolate.
I felt like a dead set failure. My house was a mess, I was unmotivated, isolated and lonely. I was deeply in love with my child but deeply unsatisfied with my new found role as home maker. I was bored.
For some reason, with the birth of little Pip I felt liberated from my perceived failings. All of a sudden I was at ease with my inadequacies and my disinterest in keeping a tidy home. I realised that my firstborn’s fiery temperament was not the result of his Caesarian birth (don't you know that baby's born via c-secion are far more likely to be unsettled?), nor was it the outcome of my poor parenting. He was who God made him - determined, driven, spirited and stubborn. In the same way that my placid little Pip was exactly as God intended her to be - the polar opposite of her brother - born of the same parents in the same way under the same circumstances.
Two years ago I decided that surely there were other women who felt like me. Surely not every mother enjoyed wholeheartedly the monotony of stay at home parenting and the endless self-sacrifice it requires. Maybe i'm digging on myself but I thought perhaps I could lend my voice to this online world as a form of therapy and mental stimulation for myself; a little escape from the home, if you will.
In short, I started this blog for myself. It was a platform for sharing my successes and failures as a parent. A place to explore various interests, a place to vent, to journey, to create and to exhale.
I am far richer as a parent as a result of this blog. The community, the solidarity, the creativity and the conversation. The connection.
Since The Beetle Shack began I have covered many topics but mostly, I've uncovered bits about myself that I never knew existed. Who knew this girl who was asked to leave her extension english class could actually write a little story and have someone read it? Who knew this girl who could barely work a computer would be able to connect with women the wold over via the inter webs?
But with all of this 'good stuff' there has also been a pinch of bad. There've been anonymous negative comments on blog posts and there've been merciless slagging on other forums. I've been called fat and ugly, a try hard, annoyingly self deprecating, a sell out and so on. I've been asked to explain my position on Sponsored Posts (rightly so) and it's been suggested that my 'finding our way to ethical eating' series was false and flailing, as I also do some work for mainstream brands.
For a while now I've been conflicted about what areas of my life I should continue to write about here at The Beetle Shack. Do I continue to write about our kitchen garden and our small collection of animals if I'm also going to declare that I shop at woolies? Do I continue to share my thoughts on living a more sustainable life if I'm going to take my kids to the Macca's drive through every never? Do I not explore ethical clothing brands if I am to continue buying some of my kids clothing from Target?
For a while there I decided that I wouldn't, and you may have noticed an absence of The Beetle Shack Gardening Column and the abandonment of the 'Finding Our Way to Ethical Consumption' series. I can see the perceived conflict and how it could send a confusing message if I wasn't clear about my intentions.
But you know, if I refer back to the reason that I first started writing this blog, it was for me. A slice of the internet, just for me. When I first began I wrote about making our own hand crafted chocolate, I wrote about our River Cottage Nights with our favourite friends and our desire to produce our own food, I shared recipes, craft tutorials and dirty rotten consumer driven online shopping expeditions - all in the first month of The Beetle Shack's existence.
Isn't it funny that the content of this blog is largely the same as it's always been. Not much has changed, I still want to write about my garden, it's a part of our life here at home. I want to write about raising animals for meat, tending to the soil and planting seeds. I want to share how and most importantly why we do things the way we do here at this little Beetle Shack. And guess what, I also welcome the challenge of working with brands, both big and small. It's something I enjoy. I like getting a brief, using my brain and my camera and earning a bit of pocket money in the process.
I want to do both. Life is not black and white - there is always, always a grey area.
I'm not a brand and I'm not creating one here with this blog. I am a person. One little small town girl with a grubby 1970's cottage, three children who usually have snot on their faces, a 1/2 acre plot of sloping land, a handsome husband and the most supportive parents in the southern hemisphere.
One little small town girl with one little small time blog (too self deprecating?) and I'm going to continue to write it the way I always have. I'll write it for me as an outlet, a hobby and maybe if i'm lucky, a job.
* I'm happy to accept criticism over this blog, I've come to see that it's par for the course and I totally respect, appreciate and even expect that The Beetle Shack is not for every one. I'm happy to engage in conversation about my choices and decisions regarding what and who I choose to write about and will do so with no offence taken.