There used to be one anchor of certainty in my blogging life: I could always write about being a dad.
If all else failed, if the well of creativity ever seemed to run a little dry, if the rest of my boring life seemed just a little more boring than average and could not push my inspiration into a state of wordsmithery worth penning yet another meandering bit of blog-drivel for your reluctant enjoyment… then there was always writing about fatherhood.
The introspective father.
The posts of an anti-befuddled dad ruminating on the unexpected pains and pleasures of parenthood.
It was well-read. It made sense. It was simple.
Other parents like to read that stuff. Other parents want to know that for every kid out there there’s some parent trying to raise them in a way that makes sense to them: a billion kids and a billion parenting styles, a billion different qualities, a billion mistakes, and a billion wins so glorious that they would fill as many pages of the most uplifting book you’ll never read.
I was just one guy, writing my piece of that unpenned book.
It was well-read. It made sense. But then it stopped being simple.
I forget when exactly that fuzzy transition happened, but there was a moment of muddled disclarity when writing about parenting stopped being about that “gee whiz, kid’s say the strangest things” type blogging. Suddenly discipline wasn’t time-outs or cookie-withholding. Suddenly parenting was pop-pre-teen-pyschology, dealing with motivation and school work frustrations, minor episodes of bullying, and generally attempting an understanding of the complex inner-emotions of a young-but-independent human being.
It was well-read. But then it stopped making sense.
Privacy came into play, of course.
After all, was I blogging for her or just writing this stuff down for myself. Was I writing this stuff down to be read for any reason other than… other than what? I wasn’t making money doing this (this blog has no revenue!) I wasn’t scoring a book deal or making any contribution to any greater purpose. I was just recording our stories. Valuable to us, yes. But, there are other ways of doing that besides on a public website.
I’ve always believed in the openness of information. I tend to think there has always been more going on with this internet fad than online poker and angry twitter rants and sharing lolcat memes on facebook. Or, at least I wanted there to be. Insightful commentary. The ability for anyone and everyone to spill introspective content into the vacuum of the web and spatter it with something that was more than clickbait advertising and hate-filled politics.
So I wrote about what I could to contribute to that vision: And one of those things was what it was like being a twenty-first century father living in the suburbia of a mid-sized Canadian city. Write what you know, after all.
But the internet is filled with people, and some –maybe many– of those people could, or would take advantage of that openness, of that naive optimism for a world of shared transparency. And I was betting against that, but not just with my own wrinkled up life. And I couldn’t make sense of that.
But then people stopped reading.
If I was depending on this blog to pay my bills, the last year would have seen me bankrupt.
There is no field of dreams when it comes to blogging: if you build it does not mean people will necessarily come. I stopped promoting. I stopped pushing this out. And the hook, it seems, has always been the parenting anecdotes. No one cares about Brad the video gamer, or Brad the plodding runner. If page views were my pulse, I’d have been pronounced DOA.
I don’t care. Ultimately, this is just a vanity bucket of nothing more than me writing for the sake of a simple fact: the fact that I have an itch, an itch to write and create that needs an outlet, and this serves that itch. Nothing more. Nothing less. And if people find it useful, interesting, helpful, insightful, or whatever… all the better.
So I pretty much stopped writing.
Oh, not completely, of course. I just reduced my sharing.
My loyal readers probably noticed that when I write about fatherhood it tends to be more about family activities than anything. Allusions to fatherhood are just that: alluded wisps of feelings about the experience. Nothing is said that unravels a private frustration. Nothing is written that unmasks a pre-teen dilemma. Nothing is noted that shines a spotlight on the wavering complexities of growing up with me as her dad.
There are slips. There are moments of maybe-too-openness. But there is no more blogging strategy about my parenting progresses. There is no more easy fallback on the topic of my many years of content here: no more just writing about fatherhood when I had nothing else to say.
And some days, like today, I’m still not sure how I feel about that seemingly simple little parenting bloggers dilemma.