Yesterday was Mother’s Day here and naturally enough I was thinking about my mum and how I don’t tell her often enough that I love her, need her and my world would be lost without her.
I’ve also been thinking recently about what it means to be valued as a mum and where that validation comes from. As a stay at home mum I find I’m struggling with the job title.
I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in years last week and he asked if I was up to anything other than “the obvious”, as he pointed towards Ewan in the pram. I couldn’t stop spilling out words about the blog and running a small etsy shop. I felt desperate for him to know that I was doing more than “the obvious”.
My reaction has been nagging me since. I have been thinking about why I have the blog and why I have the shop. I often say that it’s so I have something happening outside of caring for Ewan. When I met him I felt it was more about having something to tell people, I haven’t gone back to work but I have a blog!!
The reality is caring for Ewan is my full time job, the rest is squeezed in. It is nearly half one o’clock on Sunday night. The house is asleep but I’m sitting up typing.
If it was only about having a something for myself outside of Ewan, I would be in bed. I would spend my spare time doing something crafty, I would read, I would exercise, I would take photographs, take a long bath, read a magazine, study something, take a class or do any of a range of “me time” things that are on offer.
One reason is probably be validation. Validation that my choices are right, validation that I’m interesting and that I can take a nice photograph occasionally.
The validation script is meant to go something like this.
The numbers on the blog are going up,so people are engaging with my writing and pictures, so I made the right choice. Someone bought something from my shop, so they like my taste, so I made the right choice. Someone has published my post, so I wrote something worthy of publishing, so I’ve made the right choice.
When your at work you’ve different sources of external validation, employers, clients and colleagues.
But for me I’ve never been very good at receiving validation no matter what form it came in. Someone once said that my boss could tell me I was a fantastic employee and the company would fall down without me but I would dismiss the compliment in a heart beat. I would query the tone in which it was said, did she mean I had been a highly valued employ until recently? Did she mean the company would fall down without me because I’m over stepping my brief?
It is similar with blogging. I dismiss numbers because they are only numbers. Many of the numbers are robots scanning the internet and so they don’t count anyway. People buy my things because every once in a while I get lucky.
What I’m having to remind myself is that none of that matters and no amount of numbers or sales will make me feel validated. If less people look at the blog on a Monday then a Tuesday (which they do) does that mean Monday I’ve made the wrong choices but Tuesday it’s all good?
When I joined twitter recently the first thing I noticed was that people unfollowed me. Regardless of the fact that the number was going up I wanted to try and figure out how many people had unfollowed me! It is absolute madness.
If I hinge my validation on numbers I’ll be a crumbling mess with repetitive strain injury in my thumbs within a few months.
Yesterday Mum made it all so much clearer.
She said “I saw Ewan painting on the blog, He looks so happy, you’re doing a wonderful job”.
And there it was, as simple as that. I’m happy, that is my validation.
I write until well after my bed time because I like doing it. I like sorting through the day, the week, in my head and sharing it with you. I take photographs in the freezing cold because I like to take up my camera. I buy vintage items because I like them and I love looking for them. I decide to make an epic mess with Ewan painting because it might be fun.
Ewan is happy. If I worked full time I bet he’d be just as happy. But I know I have made the right choice for me because I am happy. Together our family of three is happy.
Sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. Simple tasks are heart breakingly hard and those are the days that I look more and more at the numbers of the blog. How many people looked today? Did anyone like the post on facebook?
But no matter what the numbers say my day is still going to go one way or another.
All of the number checking on blogger, google analytics, instagram, facebook, twitter has nothing to do with why I started a blog but I’ve made the blog about these things in my own mind.
There is nothing wrong with looking for validation. I need people, I need feedback, I need to know that I’m not rambling in a vacuum, I like when people “like” my post. But by checking the numbers constantly I have taken the fun from something that gave me so much joy to start with.
I have tried not looking but it doesn’t work.
So I’m starting a trial.
I’m going old school. Back to my old Nokia phone and turning off my iphone for a month. I will still promote the blog on facebook and twitter but I won’t have it to hand first thing in the morning, when walking and trying to steer the pram, while the kettle boils, while my laptop starts up etc.
I will miss instagram but I can still look on the laptop I just won’t be able to post pictures.
It’s back to black for me. I’m looking forward to trying to keep my eyes and mind where I want them to be and not getting lulled towards a maze of numbers.
I’ll let you know how the dark ages goes for me. I’m excited and strangely a little nervous!