Today my baby is 9! Happy Birthday, Miles! I can honestly say that 9 years ago I never DREAMED motherhood would be this great. Or this hard. But mostly, this great. The sweet-smelling little bundle of baldness I gave birth to after many, many hours of labor has grown into a smart, sweet but not in the smells department, hilarious human being with an impressive head of hair. And get this: we now wear the SAME SIZE SHOES. I know. Mind-blowing, isn’t it?
I felt a little bit guilty about missing his pre-birthday weekend to go to a blog conference. But then I told myself, Um, hello? You baked 3 dozen Pokeball cookies for his class on Friday and he’s having a sleepover with his best friend on Saturday. And last year you did this. Missing the day before your kid’s birthday is not a crime. The mom guilt never ends, I tell you. But at least I recognize it now, 9 years in.
The blog conference actually came at the perfect time. I started blogging 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Miles. 10 years ago!! That makes me absolutely ANCIENT in the blog world. My first blog was called Diary of a New Mom and it was hosted on Blogspot and featured amateurish header art and had maybe a dozen readers and IT WAS AWESOME.
I blogged anonymously and I grew my traffic organically. This means that, being pre-Facebook, I actually had to attract readers WITH MY WRITING, if you can imagine. I can’t fully express the thrill I felt when I got my first comments from strangers. I connected with a whole group of other new moms all over the world. We read each others’ blogs and commented on them regularly. I loved it.
But back then blogging was like this secret life that was, in a way, tinged with a hint of shame. It’s how I imagine Bronies feel. (To save you the
horror trouble of Googling that, let me explain: Bronies are the adult male fans of My Little Pony. They had a convention in Baltimore a while back and my neighbor went with her daughter and it was a freakishly wonderful train wreck, from what I hear.)
See, I was, and still am, a professional writer. A journalist, you could even say. And at that time blogging was looked down upon in my crowd. Writing for free on the internet? Um, I don’t know you. (Mind you, these are the same people who are now clamoring to write for the Huffington Post. Which, last time I checked, doesn’t pay writers.)
Obviously, times have changed. I came out of the anonymous-blogger closet and now blog proudly under my own name. With pictures of my actual face, even! Through blogging, I have gotten many paid writing assignments, free stuff including Dr. Seuss decals and a Fitbit, new friends, new opportunities, and countless other benefits. I now get paid to write blog posts for companies, I published an ebook that people who aren’t related to me buy, and I have a written record of my kids’ lives since birth. I am living the blogger’s dream. MY dream, anyway.
And yet. This conference taught me that I still have so much to learn. The internet changes at the speed of, well, the internet, and it’s impossible to stay on top of all the changes all the time. My first love will always be writing; I will never be the social media maven with a million Instagram followers. (OK, never say never. Maybe if I wrote a sponsored post for the Bronies?) While it’s changed dramatically in the past 10 years, blogging is still not that recognized or respected in some circles. (My dad: “They have conferences for blogging?” Me: “Yes, so you can learn about the industry.” My dad: “It’s an industry?”)
Anyway, back to my birthday boy. I started Diary of a New Mom to chronicle his first year of life. I continued because I loved blogging. I switched to this blog because at some point it was embarrassing to call myself a “new mom” when my baby, and second baby, were out of diapers. At the conference someone said something to me that was both amazing and horrifying: “You’re the mom of a tween now. You should really highlight that. It’s a big demographic.” What the WHAT?! A TWEEN?!
As if to prove the point, as soon as I got home and let the kids paw through my swag – that’s the other perk of blog conferences: awesome freebies – Miles grabbed the selfie stick I got from Nickelodeon, one of the sponsors. His eyes lit up. “Can I have this?” Sure, happy birthday! Within minutes he figured the thing out and was taking funny selfies and videos on his iPhone. (See photo above.) Which he will no doubt upload to YouTube and have 742 likes before I’ve even unpacked. These tweens and their technology, I tell you!
Kids and blogs have some things in common. They’re always changing. There’s always more to learn. Just when you think you’ve figured them out, they throw a new algorithm at you. They can burn you out. Frustrate you to tears. Make you scream, Forget it! What’s the point? I quit! But you can’t really quit them. They’re in your blood. They bring you far more joy than pain. And they allow you to look back with pride and wonder and think, wow. I created that. Amazing.
SHOUT OUT O’ THE DAY: A big thank you to the team at Blog U for organizing such a great conference on the beautiful campus of Notre Dame of Maryland University, right here in my own town. I had a blast and learned a bunch!