Unexpectedly, I’m back. I’m writing about parenthood again and am very happy to be doing so. But I wanted to share with you a little of what happened when I signed off earlier in the year and what has changed since then.
I was tinkering on my website late one night in May when, in a tired blur, I clicked on a button by accident. It turned out that it was rather an important button because, suddenly, my website was blank – 4 years and over 100 essays gone. Yet, I felt nothing. A mysterious calm came over me as I methodically tried to restore it without success. Heading to bed, I knew that losing my website was the push I’d been needing to make a decision that had been looming for many months. Early the next morning, wrapped in my dressing gown and fueled by a large mug of coffee, I wrote a goodbye email to my subscribers and a Facebook post to my followers to let them know that I was done and they would no longer hear from me. I pushed “send” with some sadness but, mostly, relief.
I had begun writing about parenting on an ugly, self-made website in 2016. I love writing and am passionate about our children’s wellbeing so the project was a match made in heaven and seemed the perfect way to get some “me time” while my son took his afternoon naps. I enjoyed having a creative outlet and found that the process of writing helped me to figure out what my two boys really needed from me. My blog started off with the romantic title Nurturing Little Souls and later became the more practical Soulful Parenting. As I upgraded my writing skills, my website and my parenting, I started shyly mentioning it to people and sharing it on social media.
Back then, working on my blog was invigorating. But, over time, it grew heavy. Heavy with other people’s expectations. “You should monetise it”. “How many subscribers do you have?” “Make videos, no one reads blogs these days”, people would say. The message I heard was that Soulful Parenting wasn’t worthwhile if I didn’t “make it into something”. And, me being me, I internalised that to mean I wasn’t worthwhile if I couldn’t make it into “something”.
The weight of other people’s opinions slowly crushed me. My project stopped being a creative outlet & a vehicle to becoming a better parent and instead became a commodity for other people’s consumption. Trying to achieve “success” (validation), I unwittingly climbed onto the content creation treadmill, generating essays, emails and social media posts as consistently as I could. I presented myself in a more professional, credible way, leaning on my teaching experience and moving away from the regular mum who had started the blog. Gradually, I edged myself out of my own project.
As Brene Brown would say, I found myself hustling for my worth. Those who have read my work for a while will know that self worth has been a struggle for me since childhood. The trajectory of my Soulful Parenting project was symbolic of how I felt about myself and showed me that something needed to change. So, just before we went into lockdown for Covid 19, I sought therapeutic help and I experienced for the first time my own innate worth. It was finally knowing that I am worthy that made me realise I needed to put Soulful Parenting down because it was steeped in low self worth and was no longer a match to me.
When I sent the goodbye email out to my readers, I freed myself to write on any topic I wished and to write purely for myself. I started off with a few short poems and began nutting out a children’s chapter book but I also continued to write the personal essays which came most easily to me. A few months in, when I looked through all I had written, I realised that at least half of the pieces I had begun were about…parenting! Turned out I still had a lot to work through as a parent and a lot left to say. I wondered if I should resurrect my website. I didn’t want to write about discipline techniques or how to get kids to eat their veges, though. A short Google search and those kinds of ideas are readily available to anyone wanting a quick-fix to common parenting challenges. I don’t believe in parenting hacks and I wanted to write about what it means to really show up for our children and to foster a relationship with them that truly supports their flourishing. With trepidation and hope, Untangling Motherhood was born.
This new project has both similarities and differences to previous iterations of my website. Going back to my first intentions, it’s a passion project which means that I’m not going to try to post consistently or be professional or measure it with numbers. I’m going to follow my muse and may, occasionally, write on topics unrelated to motherhood. I want my words to serve other parents but I’m putting myself back into my project – it has to serve my family and I first. The purpose of Untangling Motherhood is to share my challenges, experiences and ideas, not to advise. This time, I will bring all of myself to the table, not only the parts I think others will approve of or be comfortable with. Beginning with this letter.
A short note about my new title: I’ve used the word “Motherhood” because it’s about my experience as a mother (and it sounds good in the name!) but non-Mothers of every sort are very welcome and I consider it an honour to have non-mothers amongst my readers.
I did manage to retrieve the essays I thought I had lost that night back in May, but I’ve had to rebuild the website itself. I may rework and publish my favourites of those essays on Untangling Motherhood but I’m in a different place now and have new things to say. I have always valued my readers and have never taken you for granted. It is my hope that we will both find something useful in my new work. Welcome.