considering how best to balance writing about our private lives in the very public space that is the online world is something close to my heart. when i was invited to share my personal opinions on this topic PUBLICLY at Mumsnet’s blogfest, i jumped at the chance – it made a change from a shift down ‘ pit….
I’m not from the sort of family who frequents green rooms and hangs out with respected writers, journos and comediennes. . I’m from, well, Rotherham. So, when I got the call asking me to take my place on a panel at Mumsnet’s blogfest, I got straight on the phone to my mum.
During the phonecall mum and I chatted a lot about our thoughts on “Sharing in public the stories of our private lives”, the title of the panel I was speaking on. She was also more than happy to research the other speakers – Fi Glover, Shappi Khorsandi, Lucy Cavendish, and Robert Crampton.
Here is a text from her about Robert, with her usual astute observations:
My Mum then went on to say:
I do wish I’d mentioned this to Robert, because it would be interesting to know if his family really does feel the parallels between his writing for the Times and the endeavours of a mining family circa 1842.
Clearly I didn’t mention it. Clearly I was too busy being terrified whilst I was catapulted from my usual existence – raising a child here, tinkering with a blog there, enjoying the work of the other panelists – to actually meeting the other panellists.
I did my best to disguise the terror public speaking can invoke by hiding behind a veneer that aimed to reflect calm, serene intelligence. Looking at the Green Room selfie, though, I wonder if perhaps I failed.
Fortunately, quickly after meeting everyone I started to relax, primarily because of their warmth, generosity and kindness: Fi just before she nipped off for her green room manicure; Shappi with her gorgeous children in tow; Lucy calm and cheerful despite wrangles with the traffic; and Robert assumably after another long stint down t’ pit.
As I started to feel quite at ease in my now familiar surroundings, the inevitable happened and it came time to be whisked towards the stage.
While we were having microphones attached to us, a nice woman asked if my bra hanging out was the look I was after. We decided it was possibly best not to share my privates in public, so she patiently adjusted my clothing.
Fi navigated a roll neck top and a lapel mic. Lucy wondered if her top might be see through. Robert checked his shirt was tucked in. Shappi checked on the kids one last time. Then, in we went.
I spent the next 45 minutes having an interesting conversation with charismatic people in front of a sea of smiling faces rooting for all of us to be the best we could be. It was a joy, not a fright, however surreal it may all have been.
Although, actually, it didn’t feel that surreal at all. The Mumsnet Blogfest Panel felt like a place to enjoy myself, to think for myself, to chat, to laugh, to wonder, to avoid housework, and to do something a little different.
In essence it felt very much like my blog, if you forget my blog lives in a messy house in an unfashionable city, and instead imagine my blog is on stage in London feeling awesome.
Of course my blog doesn’t live in a messy house. It is everywhere, should anyone be arsed to look at it. It needs to be a little careful in what it puts out there, but perhaps not as careful as I originally thought when I started this hobby two years ago.
As I’ve plodded along, written a bit here, made friends a bit there, tweeted now and then, I’ve started to realise that it’s not about real life versus virtual life, or public life versus private life, or even people in the public eye versus everyone else. All of these things just are life.
Being parents, being human, we find the balance between all these parts of life best we can, whoever we happen to be.
We should approach writing publicly about our private lives the same way we should approach everything if we want achieve anything before we shuffle off this mortal coil: with bravery, without being reckless and with blessed relief that we bloody well can.
When, at the end of the panel, I was asked if I had any advice I mentioned the brave bit and the reckless bit and I also mentioned that you don’t have to disappear just because you’ve become a Mum.
Admittedly, the ‘don’t disappear’ bit was delivered with a mere hint of melodrama. Given the circumstances, I hope you can forgive me that.
If you can’t, don’t worry, Shappi can lighten the mood with a stirring rendition of ‘You Are Not Alone’ which is perhaps what had just happened here, on this photo that I might keep for myself or that I might plaster all over my blog.
Or perhaps I’ll just send it as a thank you card to my Mum for her help prior to the big day.
She’ll open that card and we’ll chat with the rest of my family about the wonderful people that I met with a mixture of bemusement and excitement.
We’ll consider what snippets of information we will keep to ourselves, and what we will share with others.
We’ll then get back to the day jobs, be that the office, or the parenting, or the writing, or the entertaining, or the 18 hours shifts digging for coal with the kids and see what next comes our way.
Like my blog posts, sometimes our days will be a bit rubbish, sometimes a bit so so, sometimes awesome. And if we choose to share our days with others, perhaps others we don’t even know yet, then that’s all good with me.
Thank you to Mummy Says, Scummy Mummies, Southwark Belle, Downssideup, Live Otherwise, Mrs Mummy Penny and The Pigeon Pair and Me for being so kind to me during the day – do check out their blogs/websites and the Scummy Mummy podcasts – fabaroony.