Blog wrap-up: The end

This is it, the end of a decade and the end of an era: I am officially closing the blog.

As ever, there are many potential words running around in my head, but none of them feel quite right.  I want to thank all of you who’ve come here, who’ve read posts, who’ve left messages, who’ve shared links.  Thank youI hope you will stay in touch, through Twitter or email.  I’m not leaving the internet—I’ll still be reading your posts, and maybe commenting from time to time—but I expect to be more of a lurker and less of a participant.

Comments here will stay open for another week or so, and then I’ll close them all.  (WordPress’s Akismet spam filter is pretty good, but I know better than to leave things unattended online!)

To those struggling with new parenthood: You are enough.

To those in graduate school: You are worthy.

To those with mental illness: You are not alone.

~The end.~

Blog wrap-up: The drafts that didn’t make it

As I close things up around here, I wanted to share some of the bits that have languished in my ‘Drafts’ folder through the years. I felt strongly enough about these topics to start writing about them, but not strongly enough (or perhaps coherently enough) to finish.


I am not my child’s best teacher, and that’s OK

This draft dates back to when Little Boy was two or maybe not even two yet.  It was about coming to terms with all the new songs and words and skills he was bringing home from daycare.

“Here is my son, so big and yet still so small, with a rich external life away from his parents.  Here he is, doing things I’ve never seen before, things that I didn’t teach him, things that he learned from someone else.”

Looking back now, I don’t remember exactly how I worked through those feelings, just that I did.  Little Boy is in kindergarten now and he has an amazing teacher and his own five-year-old social life and it feels completely right.  Younger Brother is learning two-year-old things both at home and at daycare, and I feel good about that, too.


Tell me about the books you grew up reading

Inspired by this Grumpy Rumblings post from, uh, 2017, I started musing about the books I loved as a kid.  Many of these had been passed down from my mother’s childhood.

The TL; DR version is that I read a lot of Enid Blyton.

“I came away with a picture of postwar England as a semi-idyllic place where children were sent to boarding school as a matter of course, then spent their holidays caravanning on the moors and getting up to all sorts of adventures.  I also came away with the strong impression that pre-decimalisation English money made absolutely no sense.”


These are your regular reminders

This was intended to be a multi-part post about things that people frequently get wrong, but it never got beyond me ranting that Millennials are not in high school anymore damnit!!

Like many Millennials, I’m rather tired of the parade of think pieces about the apparently awful features of my generation.  Probably every generation since the dawn of humankind has dealt with this kind of thing, but we’re the first to see it proliferate on the internet.  It was annoying enough back when the articles were mostly about actual Millennials, but half the clickbait these days isn’t even talking about the right people.


I have a wife now! Let me answer your questions

I ended up making a rather short “FYI my spouse is a woman now” post when my wife legally transitioned, but I’d originally had something longer in mind.  It petered out, though, perhaps because I didn’t actually have that much to say, or perhaps because I didn’t know how to say it.

Q. How are you doing with your wife’s transition?

A. Quite well, thanks.  There have been parts of this that have been rough on me, but they’re never the parts that people expect.

People always ask that question with certain expectations, and they’re always wrong.  I’m not an Amazing Wife and I don’t have a story of Love Triumphing Over Hardship.  I just have love.

And they all lived happily ever after?

I think it’s time to admit—to myself most of all—that I’m done with blogging.  Time to wrap things up properly and close the door.  To that end, I’ll be putting up a series of short posts this month covering my various life updates, in case anyone ever wonders how it all turned out.

Because really… it all turned out pretty darn good.  I have a wonderful wife and two bright, healthy children.  We bought a house this summer, with more space than we quite know what to do with.  I have an engaging job that never asks me to work on weekends.  They just gave me another raise.  I see the mountains every day.

Sometimes I’m not well.  Sometimes my wife isn’t well, and sometimes it’s all we can do to get through one more day.  Sometimes I’m embarrassed by our crumb-covered sofa and our un-unpacked boxes and our Target bookshelves and our dusty front door.  Sometimes I hide in my closet because there’s just too much noise.

Always there’s an undercurrent of worry, the kind that keeps emergency cash with the passports and plans three alternate routes to elsewhere, just in case.  I don’t read the national news much at all anymore; instead, I laugh delightedly at Serious Town Council Drama and vote for the county to increase my property taxes.  I’m a fortunate person, all in all, and I know it.

And so life goes on.

Does it really count as a blog anniversary…

… if you’ve posted very little in the past year?

(My archives show eleven posts in twelve months, and that’s more than I thought.)

Happy “Where does the time go?” day to me!

Three years and counting

I published my first blog post three years ago today.  WordPress put a little “Happy Anniversary” badge in my notifications to celebrate.  Woo!

My kids were born almost exactly three years apart, so Younger Brother is now the age that his brother was when I first started blogging.  Little Boy goes to preschool and my spouse goes to work, so it’s just me at home with the baby most days.  I get a strong sense of déjà vu sometimes, which couples oddly with the feeling that we weren’t supposed to stay here this long, here in this lovely rented house with the bright windows and the big garage.

It’s interesting to look back on my old posts about parenting with the experience of a second-time mother.  I can think of several more things to add to the list of what not to say to new parents.  My tips for newborn sleep are still generally good advice, but I laugh a little at the confidence with which they were written.  I’ve pulled the running stroller back out; where Little Boy used to get loudly grumpy about running, Younger Brother just falls asleep.  (In related news, I’ve discovered that some newborns really do have “quiet awake” time.)  And while we’re still struggling to find the right balance of TV time for our older child, we are way more relaxed when it comes to the littler one getting the occasional glimpse a television screen.

There’s been another change to my family, one that I haven’t talked about much on the blog, that also casts some of my older posts in a new light.  More than a year ago, my spouse revealed that he wanted to be a woman, and, with my support, began the long and nonlinear process of gender transition.  I have seen how hard it is for him in the in-between times, as he deals with a deeply internalized sense that “feminine” fashion can’t be paired with “masculine” physical features.  It has reaffirmed to me the importance of making sure our boys aren’t limited to “boy” things as they grow.  My spouse’s true gender identity also makes our earlier fight against falling into traditional husband/wife roles even more striking—turns out we aren’t a traditional heterosexual couple, and yet various factors kept pushing us that way.

I don’t know what the future holds for my blog.  I’m most active on Twitter these days, enjoying its faster, more fleeting nature and greater interactivity.  I can type a tweet with one hand while nursing; a blog post, not so much.  But I’m still glad to be here—and if you’re reading this, I’m glad you’re here too.

Happy second birthday, blog!

It’s now been two years since I wrote my first post—happy birthday, little blog!  *Blows noisemakers and distributes virtual birthday cake.*  My posting frequency has been more erratic this year, but I’ve noticed something: my views-per-day never drop to zero anymore, even when it’s been weeks between new posts.  It feels like crazy grad mama has found its little niche on the internet, and that’s nice.  (Or maybe it’s just that the spambots know where to find me.  I prefer to look on the bright side.)

My biggest post this year was the one about why I hate attachment parenting.  It got shared by someone—I don’t know for sure, but I think it was the Skeptical OB—when it was posted in April, and continues to get new views nearly every day.   I like to imagine that new moms are finding it through search terms about their own frustrations with the expectations and pseudoscience of parenthood.

And speaking of traffic, a big shout-out to nicoleandmaggie, whose Saturday Link Loves have been my biggest driver of views after social media and search engines.  I was reading their blog long before I started my own, and it continues to be consistently excellent.

It’s been a big year outside of blogging, too.  I got another research paper published, and we put out a little press release that got picked up and repeated by the standard science content-reporters (IFLS, Gizmodo, etc.).  So now more people have read about my research than have read my blog, although I’m still quite sure that more people have read my blog than have read my actual research papers.

This coming year is going to be… well, it’s going to be full, and that’s about all I can predict with any accuracy.  Expect posts about pregnancy and new babies, about gender and identities and finding one’s place, and about the stress of finally finishing a PhD.  Oh gosh, what am I going to do about the blog’s name when I graduate?  Maybe it’s time to invest in a fancy header.

Thanks for being here for the ride.

A note on posting frequency

When I first started this blog, I was eager to post as often as I could.  I had Things To Say and finally an outlet to say them.

But life has changed.

I’m out of the terrible awful disorientation of new motherhood, and most of the crap that seemed like it mattered when my son was little is so much more minor now.  (And the parts that still bug me, well, I’ve vented about them already.)

I’m still working on my PhD, but I’m no longer utterly unsure about how to proceed.  I’ve made a decision, and so at least for the next year, I have a plan.

I’m learning to Say Things in real life, and to only pursue the approval of people who are really my friends, and stop wasting effort on those who are not.

All of which is to say: this blog has been a really important part of figuring out my life, but maybe—just maybe—I need it a little bit less right now.

Or maybe it’s that my mind is in a different place, and needs a different kind of therapy.

Maybe I’m just busy, and tired, and lacking inspiration.

Whatever the cause, the result is that I’ve found myself wanting to blog less and less.  I’ve been self-conscious about it, because even though this blog has always been first and foremost for myself, I like having readers and visitors and commenters, and a little part of me feels like I’m letting you folks down.  I felt you deserved an explanation.

I’m not closing up shop just yet, because life continues to change and things may be very different in a few months, but writing blog posts isn’t going to be a priority for a while.  I’ll still be active on WordPress, reading other blogs and responding to comments here, and I’m around on Twitter most days, too.  (In spite of my initial anxiety about the medium, Twitter has turned out to be a mostly-good place for me.)

I hope you’ll continue to check back in once in a while.  Thanks for reading.

Holy blog stats, Batman!

Wow!  Yesterday’s post is bringing an unprecedented level of traffic to my little ol’ blog.  To those of you who shared it on social media: thank you.  I’m honored.  I’m also honored by the number of positive responses I’ve received—it seems I struck a chord with a lot of mothers.  We are not alone!

If you’re a new visitor to my site and are poking around because things look interesting: welcome!  Drop me a line about yourself in the comments; I love to hear from new people.  You can follow my blog via WordPress, or through the “subscribe by email” link in the menu on the right (or bottom if you’re on a mobile device).  I’m also on Twitter.

OK, that’s three exclamation points in two paragraphs, which is a lot even for me.  Time to spend the rest of Little Boy’s nap time knitting. 🙂

One year: blogging and finding myself

One year ago today, I published my first blog post, a short introduction to myself and to the theme of this blog.  My baby son was going on six months old, we’d just moved to a new house, and my mental health was slowly making the long climb back from the darkness of postpartum depression.  (Of all the things that signify the passage of time, the one that my mind has the most trouble wrapping itself around is the house.  We’ve been here for over a year?!?  How did that happen?!?)

My posting frequency has ebbed and flowed over that year, but I keep coming back after the gaps, because the writing helps.  I’ve often talked about this blog (and its short-form sister, my Twitter account) as the places where I can say the things that I can’t say elsewhere.  But it turns out that they’re more than that: they’re a place to discover who I am.

You see, I’ve spent my life trying to be the person other people want me to be: a good daughter, a good spouse, a good student, a good mom.  This is going to sound a bit melodramatic, but I forgot who me was.  And when I didn’t forget, I took who me was and hid it away, lest it pop out at an inopportune time and scare off other people.

It’s been a long, slow, and weird process trying to reverse that instinct to hide myself away.  It’s hard to explain, too; it’s not like there was one grand epiphany that set me on a better track.  Many things went into it: having a safe space to express myself; coping with the fact the fact that I can’t please everyone and that’s OK; treating my depression, which blogging helps with; and reading and connecting with others’ similar experience.

It’s still very much an ongoing process, too, and one that isn’t likely to end anytime soon.  Still, being able to answer a question about my hobbies with a list of some actual hobbies that I enjoy and do regularly—that’s huge for me.

So who is me, right here right now?  I think one of the best ways to answer that is to share my favorite posts from the year.  Some of these were popular at the time they were posted, others weren’t, but they were all meaningful to me.

My favorite posts about being crazy:

My favorite posts about being a grad student:

My favorite posts about being a mama:

Enjoy!

And now a pause to reflect on blogging

The delightful Zeyna from Mummy On My Mind has tagged me in to answer some questions regarding how I feel about blogging.  (I highly recommend clicking over to Zeyna’s blog when you’re done here—she writes beautifully about motherhood and her life as a British expat in Dubai.)  So here goes:

How did you get into blogging?

I started mulling over the idea of blogging a few years ago, when my motivation for working on my PhD really hit rock bottom.  I’d finished all my qualifying exams, which is a common time to feel burnt out in graduate school.  There were some complicating factors that made my burn-out particularly bad: I’d been working with an utterly incompetent advisor on a directionless research project, and my department as a whole was having some very serious and semi-public issues about workload expectations for grad students.  I spent a lot of time on the internet when I was supposed to be working, bored and aimless and reading blogs that talked about quitting academia and criticized the graduate-school status quo.  It occurred to me that blogging myself might be a good outlet.

But I’m a nervous person—I don’t leap into new ventures.  I worry that starting something enthusiastically, then losing interest, will lead to judgment from others.  So it took a couple of years of thinking, plus a battle with postpartum depression and a venture into the utter insanity of mommy forums to get me to the point of actually starting to blog.  The final push came from another mother in my support group, who spoke positively of her experiences blogging.

What advice would you give to another blogger starting out?

I’m going to quote Mummy On My Mind on this one, because she says it beautifully:

Blog because you want to. Blog because you love to write. Write, write and write to your heart’s content.

On a more practical note, I’d say: do give a little thought to what your blogging goals are.  Do you just want a venue to write?  Are you looking to be popular on social media?  Are you interested in sharing sewing tips or deep, dark secrets (or both)?  I’m partial to using a pseudonym online and I’d recommend it for anyone who’s not completely sure about using their real name—you can always choose to reveal your identity later.

Also, don’t be afraid to play around with formatting and widgets and stuff.  Experiment.  Have fun.  WordPress regularly hosts Blogging 101 and other free mini-courses, which can also be a good way to meet fellow bloggers.

How has your blog changed since you started writing it?

Well, I post a bit less often—a few times a week is more sustainable than nearly every day.  And I learned the difference between a hyphen (-) and an em dash(—)!

The content is still more or less what I had in mind when I started, because it’s been influenced by two competing factors.  On the one hand, the longer I blog, the more I worry about whether certain topics are interesting and think about reader-attracting stuff like titles.  On the other hand, the longer I blog, the more courage I get to post about stuff that really matters to me.  It’s a balance.

What would be your dream campaign? & What advice would you give to PR’s wanting to approach you for a campaign?

I grouped these two questions together because I’m not completely sure whether “campaign” means “me advertising something” or “someone promoting my blog.”  For the latter: it would be really nice to have someone selecting photos to accompany my posts.  I don’t have time for that myself, but posts with photos do look nicer on social media and might attract more readers.

For the former: Baby gear, I guess.  I’d be happy to write honest reviews in exchange for free stuff.  Not constantly—that would make blogging super-boring—but, you know, once in a while.

Do you have a plan for your blog?

Uh… try to keep writing regularly, and work my way through my list of post ideas?  I have imaginary pipe dreams about going viral overnight, but those of course don’t involve an actionable plan.  In reality, I’d like to continue to slowly build followers through posting and interacting with other folks on the internet.

What do you think about rankings?

I have no idea where my blog would be ranked in any list, except to say “low.”  I see my WordPress view statistics every time I log in, and so have to have the “number of views doesn’t matter” talk to myself on a routine basis.  In the end, I’m unwilling to do anything clickbait-y, so it is what it is.

 

Part of the fun of these sorts of things is passing it on.  I’d like to highlight two blogs today:

  1. Unbeaten Mommy—Another mother coping with the madness of parenthood through blogging.
  2. Welcome to My Little Piece of Quiet—My daily dose of introvert inspiration.

Have at it!