About Me

Recalibrating

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been suffering from a bit of blog drift lately, for lack of a better term. It crystalized for  me last night as I found myself cornered at a dinner party with a social media wizard asking me about content and SEO and stats and the like, and my only explanation as to what my brand was “about” was a sort of half-ashamed (or perhaps fully ashamed) mumbling of how I wasn’t very professional or organized or monetized or anything-ized, and that I was “just a mommy blogger.”

He wasn’t very impressed.

Nor was I.

I’ve been experiencing a touch of discomfort whenever I log on lately because rather than getting right to the point and putting virtual pen to paper as I was long accustomed to, I’ve slipped into the habit of spending exponentially more time reading more and more content across a wider spectrum of all manner of digital publications.

This is not bad! This is good. It is absolutely necessary and essential and life-giving for a writer to read. And it’s best practices to read what other players in your field, so to speak, are putting out there.

But so much of what I’ve been reading has been in the pursuit of entertainment and distraction and, almost imperceptibly at first, but inarguably now, comparison.

I’m finding that many nights as I sit clicking through to “just one more” article or post or essay that I’m not actually reading to learn things, or to grow in virtue, or to experience the world from another person’s point of view; I’m reading (and I’m ashamed to admit this) to compare myself, to compare my life, to measure my abilities and my gifts and my accomplishments against a virtual composite of someone else’s highlight reel. And I generally come up short.

I’m not anti-internet. I’m not anti-social media either, though I don’t have personal accounts on Facebook or Twitter. I know myself well enough to know that I can’t be trusted with an Instagram account, either, because the temptation to capture all the moments and edit all the scenes is just too great.

In short, I’m a crappy blogger. At least in the sense of the blog as a means to connect with a broad audience across a spectrum of channels, and to facilitate interactivity within the community that forms. When I started blogging 8 years ago it was simply an outlet for an overactive and overly-analytic brain that saw patterns and deeper meanings in everyday experiences. I never foresaw the social aspect of it, but I was delighted when people actually started reading the things that I wrote.

Now that readership and interaction are so crucial to the whole blog experience, I feel kind of like a stranger in my own land. Almost every time I sit down to write these days I find myself asking not, “does this matter to me?” But rather, “will this generate page views? Will people respond to this? Is this likely to perform well?” All of which are totally stupid questions for me to be asking because this blog is not monetized, it’s not my job, and the internet isn’t a popularity contest.

What I am emphatically not saying is that monetization or sponsorship or professionalism are negative things. By no means! I’m just working through my own neurosis here, trying to understand why I get a sinking feeling in my stomach whenever I see another fellow mommy from the digital trenches has risen to the top via a book deal or a cool collaboration.

A rising tide lifts the whole harbor and all that, yes. But my broken and selfish human nature sometimes prevents me from celebrating when others accomplish what I long to do.

The blog for me was never about becoming anything else, until I started to look around and see that for some people their blogs were becoming something Else. Something bigger and better and more exciting than tap tap tapping out funny travel stories or recaps of hard days in the mother hood.

I don’t know where I’m going with this except to resolve to refocus on my original purpose for this space. Or, gosh, maybe to define that purpose, period. And maybe to clean out my feed reader from the superfluous 18 daily missives from Apartment Therapy and the likes. And to step away from the computer at a set time in the evening and just be.

I don’t know. I just don’t. But one thing is for certain; I’m so glad you’re reading. And if you’ll bear with me as this little space weathers digital menopause or whatever exactly is happing, I promise to stop making bad picture collages and trying to do design of any kind.

Except in my living room. Can’t stop, won’t stop, moving the couches.

You’re the best. Really.

29 Comments

  • Neely

    All of this is exactly why I stopped blogging. And exactly why I think you should press on. Does that make sense? Probably not. But I think your posts have some meat on their bones. I got into a downward spiral of comparativism and “oh, she just thinks she knows it ALL” thinking and I didn’t like myself in that moment. So I stopped. Instagram is good for me. Emails and facetimes with grandmas are good. Trying my hand at being a “writer” (which I think all bloggers either secretly or not-so-secretly have always wanted to be) didn’t work out for me. An English major, but not equipped for the interwebz. Go figure. But I like your blog and will continue to click away… so I guess I’m saying I’ll be here. Or something. (I ramble. Another example of why I can’t blog.)

  • mary

    digital menopause! my blog has been stuck in the big change for a long time now 🙂 i could really relate to what you said/tapped about comparison. i get a nasty case of it too much– embarrassingly jealous and all “psh, i could do better than this.” but, as is indicated by my abandoned blog, i don’t. so, i’ve just mostly stopped reading blogs, at least my trigger ones. it took a while to cut the cords and i still have to peak in every once in a while, but getting better.

    i like your voice and the simplicity of your blog. i don’t blame giveaway and sponsored posty blogs, but i don’t care for them. and how horrible is it that i kinda love when a writer that i really admire/am jealous of pulls the plug on their blog and admits that they just don’t have time for it and that family has to come first? i know, i’m wretched.

  • Micaela Darr

    Word. When I started blogging I had no idea there was even a “blog-o-sphere.” Then I made internet friends and I was all, YAY! And then the green eyed monster reared his vicious head and all my joy went down the tubes. I took a few steps back, stopped checking blog stats, and completely coincidentally, became IRL friends with a couple of those Big Name Bloggers. And I realized that their lives may be prettier, their kids may be better behaved, they may be skinnier and smarter and more popular than me, but really that’s mostly (if not exclusively) online. In actuality they’re experiencing a lot of the same things I do! So, if you’re looking for unsolicited advice (wait… what?) that’s mine. Don’t compare. Good luck with the revamp. It feels good to start fresh every once in awhile.

    • Marian Bart

      Yes.
      Plus if you just do what God wants, He will also, eventually, move your couches. No wait. He will also, eventually, let you see how successful you have been. Maybe even in this lifetime.

  • Amelia Bentrup

    Your blog is one of my favorites. You have so many worthwhile things to say, and I like your blog because it IS just a simple mommy blog. I like the way you write about food and parenting and body image and all that.

    Although I consider YOU to be one of the big names out there…but then I think I think EVERYONE is more popular than me.

  • Grace Marie

    comment part 2: (thank you waking dragon children for cutting me off in numero uno) I have to be a terrible enabler and admit I wouldn’t mind one bit if you hopped back on the gram train. I like my Jenny wit dry and hourly. But I totally get your reasoning. I should take 999 steps back myself …

  • Jacqueline

    you are such a great blogger, (hey if you wanna see a crappy blog i dare you to check mine out! *wink wink!*) you are so down to earth and authentic when you write, which is something that is hard to find these days amongst all the heavily sponsored bloggers. (not knocking sponsors at all – just lamenting the increasing lack of transparent, down-to-earth writing that used to be a lot more abundant.) where am i going with this? oh right. you are awesome. please keep writing and stay YOU! Xx

  • Kathy H

    Jenny, I love your writing-style and your wit! And the plain and simple blog, its crisp and clean 🙂 Mostly love how you keep it real every time, even if its just checking in with a hilarious toddler story or a furniture up-cycle! And your spiritual writing, whether its here or posted elsewhere, is always inspiring and thought-provoking.
    Do whatever you need to do to be fulfilled and we’ll all be happy 🙂

  • LPatter

    lol – I like your ending. Move those couches! (Lord knows I love to and can’t at 35 weeks pregnant!)

    If it makes you feel better, I love the honesty in your voice and the intellect woven into the “real” woman/mother/wife in your posts I’ve read thus far. I think I started reading you regularly after or just before Edel. I like what it seems you’ve “always done” and I think most readers on Catholic Mom Blogs are looking for authenticity, reflection on the meaning of things, both intimate and existential, maybe a weaving of what’s on the Catholic “Books” into the daily living of things, and a sense of comradery and comiseration for the hard days. Whatever that looks like to you, the Real Jenny, is what people want to read. (imho, of course.) I think if YOU know the “why” in what you’re doing, those dinner party conversations won’t come off as such an ashamed moment (own it, girl!) and the reaction won’t stay with you as long anyway – even if your content stays pretty close to what it’s always been – there is nobility in our vocations, and sharing them. Of course, maybe that’s already what you’re saying. 🙂 Anyway, I’m enjoying you even in your drift.

    Just fyi 🙂

    Good luck!

  • Melissa

    It is so easy to compare. I often find myself falling into some pretty ugly jealousy over the things other moms seem to have going on besides “just” being a mom. I am a stay at home mom, no side business, no etsy shop, no successful blog, no part time job, no ministry no nada. I can get pretty petty when I see other moms excelling in other areas while I seem to be so behind. It’s not easy to admit that. But one of the reasons I LOVE your blog, and nearly always click over to you first is because of your honesty in admitting to the not pretty, or the less an ideal. It’s a balm to my heart to read someone else’s real-ness, and I feel like you always deliver that. So thanks for writing 🙂 I’m tired, hope this comment was coherent

  • Jena

    I think BECAUSE you don’t do the “commercial” blogging things, it makes you so different, unfiltered, and refreshing. You have so much freedom to be unapologetic about your beliefs and content that it provides quality for the readers! I feel like the internet is so saturated with bloggers with the scheduled and sponsored posts (and I love many of them, don’t get me wrong!!), but it’s nice to come to a place where there isn’t any of that, too. Your serious posts are solid and thought-provoking and your fun posts are entertaining and a breath of fresh air…so balanced and I know that I will enjoy anything that pops up! Just be encouraged that many enjoy you for what you put out there and the way you do it!

  • Mitzi

    I love your blog, too! And empathize with this post – it’s easy to fall into a funk of “everyone is HAPPIER and HOLIER and MORE-TOGETHER than I am!” Then again, I think I’d fall into that funk without social media, too, AND I’d be a lot more lonely because I work full-time and don’t have the mommy friends I did when I was a SAHM so I read Mommy Blogs to connect: today’s version of talking over the fence while hanging laundry on the line, right? Plus, the times when the Mommy Bloggers dish about the funny failures are affirming and lovely and encouraging. You do good.

  • Laura

    Oh the comparison. That’s such a problem for me. I really should stop reading so many blogs b/c it leads to judging other or putting myself down . . . or both. . . . But I think I’ll keep reading yours. You have a great “voice” Jenny. Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Meghan Coen

    Jenny, I have loved reading your blog because you are so real, unedited and just who you are! I feel the pressure too, and I’m not even blogging yet. Ha. It’s hard to see what everyone else is doing/achieving. It helped me to cleanse out blogs I read, that every time I read them I just got depressed or down on my life/family/decor etc. It also helped to realize that I blog/read for myself/family so to move on if I’m spending too much time comparing myself. Remember ‘haterz gonna hate’, just don’t be hatin on yourself and getting down on who you are. 🙂

  • Kris

    I’ll just add in because I know lots have already commented. But I’m SO grateful that you blog. And so grateful that you just put the reality out there, of being in the Mom-trenches. I know we’re in different places with our kids’ ages, but you write about the emotions of being a mom and how hard it is, and that is universal across all stages of mothering. And mostly, I’m grateful that despite the fact that we have never met in person, I know that we’ve become friends, and I value that more than you can imagine!

  • Laura Pearl

    Wow…this is totally how I’ve been feeling. I used to be an every day blogger–I couldn’t wait to get my first cup of coffee made and sit at my laptop. But I have hit a stretch of total ennui, when it comes to the old blog. And when I started out almost four years ago, I didn’t even know where to go to read other blogs (my awesome first daughter-in-law encouraged me to start one of my own, when I really didn’t even know what they heck they were). Those were simpler times, and I was a happier blogger then. If 20 people read my post, it was a good day–and I didn’t care a bit. Now, I do end up reading lots of other blogs, comparing what I’m doing on mine, and feeling as if I always come up short in comparison. And guess what, Jenny? YOUR blog is one of the awesome ones. I love coming here. So I really hope you keep on blogging!!

  • Jen

    I love reading your posts too. Dry, witty, real, sassy. You do a really wonderful job giving voice to Catholic mommy hood in a way that keeps it real, but also stays connected to the beauty of our calling. And you’re not afraid to bring on some strong arguments or language for that matter. I love it when a writer has an opinion and can actually articulate why in a logical and cogent manner. So great! I understand why some bloggers choose to monetize their blogs – the family budget needs a boost. I’m not mad at them for it. They gotta do what they gotta do. At the same time I always feel a little sad when the sponsored posts begin: like I’d feel if Downton Abbey had commercial interruptions. Anyway, whatever you decide, I’ll keep reading. Thanks!

  • Jessie Pope

    This encapsulates my blog stagnation (+ sleep deprivation I guess, but I bet you have that too.) I feel so shallow when I feel the feelings! But they’re there nonetheless and I haven’t been able to shake them. I miss blogging, and I don’t. It’s fun to see what all them other blogs have to say, and yours is a favorite stop. So don’t stop.

  • Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany

    I’ve noticed myself doing the same things and have had to take a few steps back and wonder what I’m really trying to do, should I do it differently, what the heck is my point? But I’m so glad you’re still here (I clicked over to this post from the more recent one). Your posts make me smile 🙂

  • Sally SLP

    I am sad that you are comparing yourself to other types of blogs. I have just found yours this summer and what I like is that it feels like I am sitting down with a friend to laugh/cry/vent about living the life–much like I do with one or two of my close “face to face” friends. I read other blogs with a slightly cynical or guarded attitude BeCause they are more commercial or selling the newest book etc. Both are good, but each gives us a very different attitude adjustment!! Please let yourself decide what it is that you want to be doing–sitting with friends, or hanging out at a craft show! Both are good–but are different!

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