blogging, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, feminism, Manic Mondays, Vampire Diaries, Where the Wild Things Are, With Kids, work-life balance
So it’s a big day over here at Baby Gates Down.
Today is my one year blogaversary.
Yup! One year ago today, after mulling it over for a few weeks, once the kids were in bed, I finally landed on a blog name, found my desolate dolly banner and decided, Yes! I’m going to start a blog!
Let’s party, shall we?
Ready? Set? Go!
Wait. What? Right. I have kids.
So more like this?
Maybe we can meet in the middle with (not so) equal parts this:
But pageantry aside, it’s been a great year.
I’m so glad I decided to start blogging again. The community and creative outlet – and space for myself – that I have found through blogging, was truly something I was missing and something I needed.
And that’s what I want to focus on tonight: the space for myself that blogging has given me.
Because, for me, at this stage of life – the stage of first decade married, home-owning, parenting young kids, working full-time with a spouse that does the same – my personal space and personal time suddenly shrunk exponentially.
Where pre-kids I could generally spontaneously head out with friends if I needed to unwind, I can’t do that now. So blogging has truly become my space where I can have some fun, while also discussing and thinking through who I am and how I feel about this stage of life.
Which honestly? Is one of the most challenging stages I think I’ve faced. Raising young kids? (Kinda mostly) like New York Magazine said: All Joy, No Fun. Trying to figure out how to make everything in my life fit is, at times, honestly beyond me. Swing by my about page, or this post if you need further thoughts on this point.
And the stakes are suddenly so much higher than my twenties/pre-kid life.
Because my life isn’t just about me anymore.
It isn’t even mostly about me anymore.
And therein lies the identity struggle. The matching of expectations of what was suppose to be … with how it is.
It’s not like I didn’t consciously take every step to get here, because I did.
I just didn’t think the transition would end so … bluntly. Or traditionally (for lack of a better term).
The end of my 20s was a whirlwind of exciting beginnings: engagement, marriage, homeownership …
The first half of my 30s were basically spent pregnant, breastfeeding, or in prep for being pregnant and breastfeeding.
There was the build-up to happily ever after and then, really about eight years (from buying home – engagement/marriage – babies) of whirlwind love/new/wow/transcendence to … now.
Where … okay. Like my tagline implies: now what?
We’re here. We did it. Happily married, with kids.
What happens now that I’ve gone through the milestones of finding the love of my life; designing the perfect wedding centrepiece; tropical honeymoon; childbirth; and baby bonding?
What happens now that we’re just back into day-to-day … life?
If I have to pinpoint what motivated me starting a blog, it’s that question.
And more specifically?
How I feel about it. And where I get to be me in our life.
So while this blog is very much centred on my kids and my family and their very central role in my life and who I am….
….it’s – or I want it to be – also about me.
Where I can honestly ask questions like:
- How come the women I know now invite me to book club potlucks with three-week’s notice instead of spontaneous pub nights? When did that happen!? And why does spontaneous pubbing seem to still work – in my experience – for men with kids, but not women?
- Why, when I was pregnant, did I get multiple people asking if I’d be staying home with the kids despite the years they knew I have invested into career?
- Why are people nicer to me now that I’m 30lbs skinnier than I was between pregnancies? I have realized that I was apparently then, for all intents and purposes, basically invisible.
- How can I honestly balance work and raising my kids?
- How do I go about being a positive role model for my girls and teach them about how to be a woman in today’s world? Is it more important to show I’m successful in my job, or more important that I be present for school pick-up? While I am happy, and I know they are happy, with our daycare provider (who is truly wonderful) I know there has to be a better way to do … this stage … than the present daycare-work-daycare circuit that is our life, but I currently don’t see the solution.
- How do I go about advancing a career I’ve invested both years of education and years of career work into while balancing that with the reality of the so very finite phase with young kids? No matter what I choose, I feel like I’m shirking responsibilities on one side. I have no delusions, pragmatically, that life choices impact career advancement, and equally impact time available to spend with my kids, but I find it tough to swallow against the ’90s rhetoric I was raised on that “I can have it all.”
So where should Baby Gates Down be, at a year?
Well, like with every baby milestone, I suggest we turn to BabyCentre.ca to give us guidance:
And a happy birthday to your baby! Can you believe a whole year has gone by since you gave birth? A lot has happened, in his life and yours. If only you had a dollar for every
dirty diaper like, every juice-stained shirt follow, and every precious baby smile comment, you’d be able to buy yourself that great big bunch of flowers that every parent blogger deserves! Your little one is probably toddling around now, or on the verge of that crucial physical milestone. The next step is independent walking, talking and curious toddlerhood. You’ll love seeing his growing sociability and vocabulary but prepare yourself — his budding independence goes hand-in-hand with those first temper tantrums.
Aside from making my blog a boy – when she’s so obviously not – I’d say otherwise, it isn’t too far off. For what it’s worth? I’ll try to do my terrible twos justice. But I was never very good at following along with that sort of template. Let’s just say I was a temperate teen and a late bloomer. I like to be comfortable in my space before I start questioning my surroundings.
I wrote a post back in January of this year titled Be the Blog You Want to Be where I listed my blog goals for the year.
At that time they were:
- Comment more and focus on community.
- Get 100 followers (and if I was being honest? 200).
- Figure out how to incorporate gifs into posts (that was foreign to me six months ago).
- Successfully post independent of blog hops and link ups.
- Make it to my one-year blogaversary in June.
So, how am I doing?
Well, I hit 200 followers on May 27th. I like to think I’m a “good” commenter. And today is my blogaversary. With gifs. So, all told? I’m pretty happy with the state of affairs at Baby Gates Down.
As far as posting independently of linking up to, well, any sort of link up or prompt? I do sometimes, but I still enjoy the (toddler?) security of comments back from a group.
Perhaps it speaks to where I am, developmentally, as a blogger. Maybe babycentre can weigh in?
It’s Monday! So I’m joining in with Meredith’s Manic Monday Parenting Blog Hop.
Developmentally read into that what you will.
On that, and cake, and all things deep, interesting or even spurious, funny or just generally self-validating (for either one of us), I forever welcome your comments!
You hardly ever comment on my blog *sob*. 😛
I kid. Happy anniversary on your blog! (I’m not good with word mashes…)
I like to think I’m a sporatic well-intentioned commenter! Life doesn’t allow me to do this all daily – but I’m kinda thrilled I lasted the year. To Infinity and Beyond! And all that ….
And what are word mashes?
Word mashes are went you take two words and mash them together (blog & anniversary)
Ah! And I learnt something tonight! Thank you!
No. WAY! Gosh, I am always SO confused and surprised and amazed when somewhere I think is a really, thoroughly established blog, with a blogger who appears so competent, turns out to ONLY JUST TURN ONE!
Happy Blogaversary 🙂
And I think that’s the first time I’ve seen your face. Which is probably crap of me – I daresay you’ve posted photos before now, and I’ve just missed them. But I like it here. I like how your brain works, and I shall enjoy seeing what happens with you and that “Now what…?”
LikeLiked by 1 person
Okay – I’m blushing. All sorts of happy with that comment. I’m honoured to have such high praise from you – who I very bloggy much admire.
As for my face – yeah – that’s me. But now that you are on WordPress – I think my comments should come with my pic of me with kid eldest on a boat. I should probably update it soon – but I really like the pic. And, well. I’M ON A BOAT!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well okay, I’ve seen THAT pic forever but it’s, what, five pixels high? Can’t really make you out very well in it :p
Glad you like the comment. It was sincerely meant 😀
Happy blogaversay & for reaching your followers goal recently 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much! And I’ve enjoyed “meeting you” through your blog and comments as well!
You’re welcome & same Louise 🙂
Ana Lynn Amelio said:
Happy blogaversary and for achieving your goals!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks very much!
It’s sobering, isn’t it, when we realize that we cannot, indeed, “have it all”? For the record, the 90s had nothin’ on the 70s. My role models were women storming The Oak Room and demanding to be served lunch, women burning their bras, folks (men and women) campaigning for the ERA amendment, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, essays like “I Need a Wife” — published, I believe, by Ms. Magazine, written by a heterosexual woman, BTW. It’s actually shocking to me that young women who came of age in the 90s still believed they could “have it all”. God bless them — and you!
What I’ve discovered — and this is purely anecdotal — is that you can “have it all”, just not at the same time. If I’m being honest, if I had it to do again, I would not have spent my life waitressing/bartending. I have a degree. I had other options. I opted for the flexibility of working nights and being available for my daughter during the day. I thought, at the time that I made this decision, that it would be better for her not to be in daycare/after school care. I never gave much thought to what would be better for me.
My advice is that you do what is best for you and that will have to be enough for your children. It will be their normal and they will adjust accordingly. Really. It’s true. Having a miserable mother because she worked or because she stayed at home is no good for anyone. It’s an unbalanced equation.
Happy Blogaversary! I’m so glad that we “met”! 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
I took a feminist politics class in grad school (did my MA in Political Science) and almost ended up writing my research paper on gender issues and the portrayal of the mother in French Canadian Literature (there’s a future blog post there, which will likely garner crickets – but it really is, IMO, fascinating).
All that to say – I’ve been “officially” schooled in the various waves of feminism and continued to read up after that one, very memorable, course.
I can’t imagine what it must have felt like in the 70s. For what it’s worth, I could still use a “wife” in the “traditional” sense of the term. And struggle daily with the assumption that I’m somehow to fit that mold while also “being all I can be” professionally.
As for having it all – I know I can’t have it all at once. My challenge now – as its happening – is trying to figure out the right balance of work/kids both for short term and with an eye to longer term when their older.
As to your choice – I completely get why you chose as you did and applaud it, while also understanding your desire to have chosen differently. I imagine that must have been difficult and probably lonely/alienating at times. For what it’s worth, six months ago, as I considered taking a job that – while career advancing – would have realistically required nanny care and at least 60 hour weeks – I had a conversation with a previous director who was near retirement with teenage daughters. She told me she regretted focussing on career and that – while I should do what’s right for me – a job is only a job and your kids will remember that you were frequently “not there” if you are frequently “not there” (because of work).
All that to say? I think neither choice is perfect, and I suspect both come, like every life choice, with their own bunch of regrets. So I suspect regardless of path taken, women get to the end and question if they did the right thing. I tend to currently lean towards finding something that makes me happy, because then I’ll be happy for my kids. But within limits (ie: I didn’t pursue the job that would have required extra hours away from my kids that I’m not willing to take – even though I’m frustrated that I don’t have the time to do it within my current realities) and therein lies the huge caveat and the basis of my current struggles with making it all fit..
I’m so glad we “met” too.
Okay, first just let me say that I am aware that what I am about to say will mark me as the atypical “ugly American”, in that, I cannot even think of a single example of French Canadian Literature, let alone come up with how mothers are portrayed in such — mine would be a very short thesis, LOL! On some level it feels strange to know that there is a whole genre of writing out there that I (and, I suspect, many others) know so little about!
How we choose to balance those things that matter to us is, at the end of the day, is what is most important in our lives, whether we have children or not. I’ll say this, too — men of my generation have also struggled with the work/family question. Not as much as women, but moreso than their fathers did. I would imagine that your male contemporaries consider the home/family balance when plotting their career paths, as well.
Still, it’s a good bet that more women make career decisions based on what is best for their children. Yours are still young yet (and so are you), there will be other opportunities for you to have the job you’ve always wanted. Hell, I feel like there is still time for me to have the one I’ve always wanted — of course, I would have to know what that is, exactly, in order to pursue it, LOL!
You certainly don’t sound miserable, that’s for sure. You sound like a woman, a person, who has made the right choices, the best choices, at this time in her life — for herself and for her family. While it wasn’t my experience, I know from plenty of other women, that when they had jobs that were inflexible, when they couldn’t duck out at lunch time to participate in a school function, for example, their kids noticed — and so did they. Ultimately, for the most part, those jobs went by the wayside.
As long as there is some flexibility in your daily life — and sometimes it’s your family that has to be flexible. They, too, have to realize that now and then it’s just not possible for Mommy, no matter how much she wants to, to attend brown bag lunch day or some other such thing. I’m confident that you’ll figure it all out.
You’ll strike the balance that works for you. You’ll do the very best that you can. And you know what? If you try, if you do your best, your family will know. They won’t remember that you missed one stinking brown bag lunch. Really, they won’t.
On French Canadian literature – I wouldn’t lose any sleep over not knowing about it. I wrote about it in University because we’d read a bunch of it in French Immersion in high school and I was forever curious about the … similar female plot-line in all the stories … so I figured there was a gender paper in there – and there was!
And on men making choices based on family – certainly – and I think it’s more true still of my generation – ie: fathers are taking on more and more in the house in many families; primary breadwinners are more female now than ever; families everywhere are finding new “models” to suit them. My husband took parental leave with both our kids. That said, work is still so very much about 9-5 in an office + overtime that it’s still a struggle. I remember reading a family balance/issues study recently which found that fathers are struggling/stressing more about family issues in this generation than before – and that’s because they are increasingly involved on the home front and so in the … details … of day to day home life in ways they weren’t before. And the punchline there, so to speak? The researcher found that didn’t make things better for women, it made them worse for men. Sigh.
That said, agreed re: need for flexibility and finding balance. Thanks for the incredibly thoughtful and “make me think” comment!
I love talking to you 🙂
❤ Happy Blogaversary!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Perfection Pending said:
You are an amazing commenter on my blog!! I always look forward to them. Happy Blogaversary. I’m coming up on 7 years blogging. Hmmmm….that’s a long, freaking time. I still have so many goals yet to meet. So, keep up the good work!! 🙂 I hope you can reach even more goals of yours in the next year!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much for the kind words (and awesome tweet!) . Despite my vague questioning of link ups, I really do enjoy this one.
And seven years – wow. I bow to your staying power. I have come and gone a few times since early 2000s, but have never stayed the course. Well done! And I love so much of what you do on your blog – you’ve obviously got much of it figured out by this stage.
Perfection Pending said:
Not really. I mean, I know how to blog, but I’m still looking for that loyal group of followers….and stats. I still look at my stats and feel a little loser-ish, but oh well. It’s still fun and it’s what I love…so I’ll keep it up.
Not sure how I’ll feel at 7 years – but I can certainly look at blogs that have exploded with success that are younger than mine and feel … loser-ish, or I can do with it what I want to do with it and let it be that. Sure, I aim to build it, but mostly for now, I’m happy with my spot of cyberspace. And as for followers – for what it’s worth, you got me 😉 And I like what you’re doing!
Perfection Pending said:
Awww. You’re the best. Yes, I try not to compare anymore either.
Nicola Young said:
Very deep and profound. You must be exhausted after writing this post! You have created an amazing space for yourself and you should be proud of what you have achieved in just one year.
Thanks so much for this! It’s been a great year – and an interesting exercise in figuring out what to share, what to not, and what the right balance is online. As for being exhausted – there are so many contributing factors to my tired, it’s hard to know which piece to focus on – and I think sometimes when I’m busiest I get my better thoughts out. But yes, it’s always a challenge to try and figure out how to put all the thoughts swirling in my head to page – so I’m glad this sort of “hit” right 😉
Fabulous! Thank you for helping me define my vision for my one year blogoversary (100 days away) but still, good to have a plan.
Thanks for sharing how you got here and why you do what you do, so fabulously I might add!
I’ve missed you! Thanks so much for the kind comment – I was thrilled to make it to a year blogging as I honestly wasn’t sure that I would.
All the best as you near your one year anniversary!