Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's Your Secret?

Every once in a while, I'll read another blog, and follow up comments, and it'll get me thinking, and sort of riled up (can you be sort of riled up?) and I'll need to ramble about it for a while. This may not be the best piece of writing I've ever produced, but it's allowing me to figure out why I'm thinking about this blog so much.

Yesterday I read something that has stayed with me for the past day. A blogger friend of mine was given a writing challenge. She had to reveal a secret about herself that her followers wouldn't necessarily know.

She's a humor writer, and she wrote in her authentic voice. It had a funny edge to it. But her secret? It was real.

She's a mommy blogger who is happy. Who showers and gets dressed and makes dinner and is generally content with her role and her life. In the world of mommy bloggers, especially HUMOR mommy bloggers, this is a reveal. I laughed along as she shared shocking reveals, such as a turkey dinner and a minivan floor not covered in cheerios. But her post isn't what initially got me thinking. It was the response.

At first the comments were downright nasty.

That's your secret? How boring are you?

I didn't get a secret from this at all! You had a chance to be vulnerable and honest here.

I'm embarrassed that you chose this piece to represent you.

Suddenly she was feeling pretty bad about herself and her secret. She admitted that in the "mommy blogger" world, she has to exaggerate to fit in, pretend to spend her life in yoga pants, constantly inept. It's funny to poke fun at yourself, and she does that in her blog. Her secret was that, most of the time, it's an act. She came to our writing group to cry on our shoulders. She'd been proud of this piece of writing, and to hear that she'd failed in the eyes of so many was tough for her to take.

Our group is incredibly supportive of what members write, whether or not we may agree with the topic, and the more we read it, the more we found ourselves completely agreeing with her. Not just in the "mommy bloggers complain and wear yoga pants all the time" stereotype that she admitted she wasn't part of, but the general consensus that these days, it's cool to be a hot mess.

In certain circles, it is a secret that you're keeping yourself together. If you admit to showering daily, to keeping up with your laundry, to getting enough sleep, you're bragging. You're phony. Moms in these groups almost seem to want to outdo each other with stories of ineptitude.

I realize I just wrote a post recently about Facebook being a place to brag. And it is. I didn't say that was necessarily a bad thing, just something I personally needed to remember when I was tempted to compare my bad day to someone's good one. But it's also a place to whine. And some people go that route instead - and to a fault. Many bloggers, trying to make a name for themselves, are guilty of this. There's humor in it. I get that. Some do it very authentically. Some do it where it feels a little...over the top.

By fighting back against the "motherhood is rosy", in the name of honesty, some have swung too far into the "motherhood is a mess" territory.

And admitting you are a "mommy blogger" who doesn't go that way feels like a secret. A big one. One that you're terrified to reveal, because you don't want to get ousted from the popular table of funny moms and made to sit with the organizing bloggers who definitely manage to get out of their yoga pants and have perfect pantries.

There's plenty to laugh at when you're raising little ones. There are plenty of moments when you are unwashed, in yoga pants, facing kids who are fighting their nap that you need them to take because there's a mountain of laundry threatening to topple over and you were up early watching Octonauts and you just need to sit down and.... Yes, those moments happen, and it does feel better to laugh about them than to sit down and cry with the frustration of it all.

But then there are days like I had today, where you actually get up and have enough time before the kids wake up to grab a shower. And since you're going out, you wear real clothes and a touch of makeup. And you were able to get some housework done and dinner ready while the kids napped. Then you actually did pull out a fun activity for everyone to do together.

In short, you feel like you actually have a handle on your life. And no one wants to read about that, right?

So can you admit that without being accused of being fake? Of being boring?  Or do you need to keep your lack of struggle a secret so you are interesting? Focus on the negative so you fit in?

And if it is a secret, what would happen if you revealed it? Would you be mocked? Would you be belittled?

This blogger got me thinking about all of this.

Sounds like a pretty good piece to me, since, you know, she connected with a reader enough to have her thinking about it.

Eventually, more comments began to pour in, and her post did resonate with many readers who agreed with her premise. Some suggested she start her own challenge, where she asked her readers to pick one thing they'd been successful with, and give themselves a compliment.

I like that idea. Let's make being happy a lot less secretive.

So give it to me, readers. Give yourself a compliment. Reveal that scandalous secret - what is something you are good at?

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