Monday, March 11, 2013

My Mistress

oh, hi!

*me waving wildly in a mom-you're-embarrassing-me kind of way*

It's been a while, eh? I'm like the boyfriend who said he'd call you, but then lost your number. You're left hanging like, "wait, I thought things were going well. what happened? What did I do?"

Look, I have to say it: it's not you, it's me. Can we still be friends?

I could claim my absence is a result of laziness or disinterest or busyness or other stuff... But I think it's been a subconscious choice that's manifested itself within my other daily thoughts. IT - the reason I haven't been blogging - is because I didn't want to admit that I'd fallen out of love with blogging. But really, I had. Blogging and I were ready for a breakup.

In the beginning, Blogging and I were all hot-n-heavy. It was what I thought about day and night. I spent way too many nights up late with my new lover. I couldn't get enough.

After a little while, like maybe a year, the honeymoon period was over and I started to see the not-so-pretty side of Blogging. Sometimes I didn't really want to be around the Blog at all. I needed a break! But I kept getting drawn back in... the comments. the memes. the chance to win a Starbucks giftcard if I only retweeted every day for a week and did a facebook post and left a comment and....

And finally, I saw the Blogging for what it really was: my mistress. It pulled my attention away from everything else I was before. I fought this.... was I evolving into someone new? Or was I taking on a new relationship that was unhealthy? If this new mistress was harmless, then was I growing from this relationship or was the relationship keeping me from personal growth in other ways? Bottom line: was Blogging making me a better person, or a worse one?

Then I started to consider the future: did I see myself as a lifetime committed Blogger? Did I see Blogging as something I would be doing in one year's time? Or two? Or five? While the years with Blogging slipped by quickly, I didn't know if the upcoming years would pass as such. I started to dread writing. When I once made spending time with my Blog a priority, instead I found myself doing things to avoid Blogging. And, I just don't know... was I really avoiding blogging? Or was I maybe re-centering myself back into place, understanding that... no, I can't avoid doing our taxes because I have to write a blog post; no, I can't wait until 6:45 to start dinner because I have to finish doing my Mr. Linky blog hop; no, checking my keyword analysis is not more important than playing Candyland with my child.

I realized: this Blog is not my future. This Blog is not my family. This Blog is a commitment to NO ONE. I had inflated the importance of my Blog in my own mind, and had placed its importance ahead of my own health (don't make me tell you how much weight I gained sitting in front of the laptop or how many hours of sleep I lost returning comments). I placed its importance ahead of the attention my family deserved. I placed the Blog's importance ahead of relationships, all in the name of "I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY AND I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO ME, BECAUSE THAT VALIDATES ME."

Blog, you aren't evil. You're just exactly what I created you to be. You didn't have to be an intruder in my life. You didn't have to interrupt my thoughts or sidetrack my attention. I made that choice to follow you. And I know that not all Blogs are created equal - I have read Blogs that make me cry at my own inadequacy with the English language, they are so well written. I have read Blogs that nearly make me wet my pants from laughter and, at the very least, make me forget my troubles for a few minutes and put a smile on my face where there used to be a scowl. I have read Blogs that tear me apart, wrench out my heart, and make me fall to my knees in thankfulness for how blessed I am. I have read blogs that make me think new thoughts, consider a point of view I'd never even imagined, or strengthened my resolve on issues I believe in but I'm too afraid to talk about. 

But Blogging has the best kind of fall-out that I never anticipated: the relationships. In the 45 minutes I've spent typing this post, sitting in the bedroom hallway while my kids fall asleep, I have thought about all the women (and a few men) I've met through Blogging. All the people I'd never have known if I'd not started Blogging. All the opportunities I'd never known, all the places I'd never seen, all the experiences I'd never had.

So was it a mistake to start Blogging? I don't know. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I'd never started. If I had to guess, I'd say... I probably would not be a photographer. I would likely be downstairs right now, working on a scrapbook or sewing a set of curtains for our living room. Honestly? I miss those things. It sounds silly, but I miss how simple my life was before Blogging. I miss the days when I neither knew nor cared about what SEO was, or a media kit, or a widget. I didn't know if someone's website was Wordpress or Blogger or Typepad or whatever. I didn't spend money on Blogging conferences and web design. Life "pre-Blogging" just seemed.... simpler, somehow.

I don't know where I'm going from here. But since I've gotten this far I will tell you what's happening now: my Peanuts are all growing up fast. Peppermint Patty is 13 and taller than me and gorgeous. Charlie Brown is almost 12 and almost as tall as me and an absolute gentleman. Linus is still a total firecracker and keeps life interesting every day. He's 10. Sally is 5 and she's in Pre-K this year and she loves having friends and a great teacher. And Violet. She's 3 and a half. She's gotten "home haircuts" twice now (once courtesy of Sally, once her own doing). She's so smart and funny and sweet and every bit the baby of the family.
(I took this photo of the Peanuts last fall)

I don't even live in Texas anymore so I feel sorta disconnected from the name of the blog. Even though I think I say it every time I write a post, I feel like I need to say it again. I'm not really a Texan Mama anymore. I'm a Wisconsin Mama now. But that just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well.

I started, then stopped, and now have started again with a photography business. Photography is my new mistress. And every single doubt I have about what Blogging meant to me.... that's what I feel about Photography as well. Only, like, times a million because the equipment is unbelievably expensive. What I said, three years ago, "A camera lens costs WHAT???  Hell no, I'll never spend that kind of money on a LENS." I laugh at that now. The amount of money I've invested into photography makes me blush. It brings me great joy but it also makes me feel that I owe it to my family to be good at this. I can't sink thousands of dollars and just as many hours into a "hobby" and not make something of it. Yes, it makes me happy. But it also makes me sad. And frustrated, and joyful, and intelligent, and stupid, and tired. Like every new relationship, it has its ups and its downs. The question is: will I be in this one for the long haul?

And so, dear friends, where does this leave us? Will we part ways? Will we hang on to the last thread of hope for the relationship to continue? Well, I can't say what my part will be. I want to honor my commitment to Blogging. At the same time, I recognize that other priorities IRL - in. real. life. - do need to take precedence. Blogging is not my real life. If I closed my blog today, it would not change who I am, it would not change who anyone else is, it would not make me richer or poorer or hungrier or smarter. It would not save a life nor condemn it. However, it might cause me to get a little more sleep. Or, it might cause me to lose ties with some of the amazing people I've had the privilege to know, meet, and truly call "friend". It's the last part there - the possibility that I could cut ties with the VERY THING that got me started in Blogging in the first place... the RELATIONSHIPS - that will always keep a place in my heart for this blog. If there's a chance that I could lose that, then I will risk a few sleepless nights or a few late dinners to keep it in my life.

Like you never forget your first love, I think this blog will always be a part of me.

Until next time...


Texan Mama

5 comments:

leslie@gleaninggrace said...

Gretchen~
I was just thinking about you this week and I have missed you so much!
It's just good to "hear your voice" again!
{{HUGS}}
~Leslie~

P.S. You could also think of blogging like a friend: some come to us for a season, some come to us for a reason, and some come to us for a lifetime. You may not know now which this is, but you will eventually :-)

Tara R. said...

It was good to see your name pop up in my Reader.

Just do what you're comfortable with, if it's posting once a week, once a month, or not at all. It's your choice.

Jennifer said...

We're here when you need us.

Anna See said...

Hey Girl, so true about the relationships. So glad to have connected w/ you through blogging. I'm here for you. BTW, I have no idea what SEO means. xo

Gigi said...

I read this (and your email) this morning - but then Real Life quickly got in the way before I could respond....

I am so happy to see that you are following through with the photography - SO happy - because I know that is something you love. I am also glad to hear the quick update on your life (and your children are beautiful and growing like weeds!).

I think the most important thing I've gotten from blogging is the relationships and "meeting" people; like you!

So whether you quit completely or not - keep in touch every once in while because you have touched so many people and those people (me) want to know that you are okay and happy.

xoxo