I noticed yesterday that my blog was receiving three times the usual number of visitors and because my inquiring mind wanted to know, I did a little investigating to find out where the traffic was coming from. I was led to a French website and a blog post containing a couple of my photographs (taken without my knowledge) along with what I think was meant to be a review of sorts. Being curious, I copied and pasted the text into google translate. The translation wasn’t great, but enough for me to get the impression that the words were meant to be flattering, but flattering in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. The article had been shared numerous times on facebook, and then there were comments as well. I should have just closed the site at this point, but instead I started copying and pasting comments into the translator, afraid of what I might read, but wanting to know. Most people commenting were not reading my words here because my blog is in English (although I did add a button in my sidebar today so that it can be translated now.) They were simply looking at my photographs, and forming opinions about me and my family which feels terribly unfair whatever the opinion formed is. Again, the translations that I obtained weren’t perfect, but I think I was able to get what people were saying. Many had nice things to say, although false assumptions based on my photographs were numerous and made me feel like a fraud. I do enjoy photography and of course my favorite subject is anything surrounding my family and nature, not because I want to “show them off” but because I love them. However, “Lovely and inspiring” photographs do not translate to the perfect life being lived by the “perfect mother” on the other side of the lens. I’ve made my share of apologies to my children during this week alone. One commenter noted that I obviously have a very large home amongst other luxuries (there are eight of us in 1500 square feet, and to get a needed second vehicle my husband is trading labor for a car because we can’t afford a car payment. We’re pretty ordinary.)
There were lots of negative comments criticizing me for painting my life as perfect, for sharing what is unattainable by most, and refusing to show the “runny noses.” I was accused of staging my life for this blog (Precisely what I enjoy taking photos of and sharing here are the real moments that make up a day. I am just good at grabbing the camera. This is why I could never be a portrait photographer. I am not inspired by staged photography. Although I do specifically take somewhat staged photos of finished objects of course.) One woman compared my family to the family of one of her neighbors: people who homeschool seven children, keep horses, and somehow drop horse dung on her property while simultaneously waking her up too early in the morning. I am not upset by these judgements because I too have been guilty of making my own judgements based on the surface, or what I choose to see. And I should add that some of the women commenting left completely non judgemental comments appreciating what this blog is meant to be and defending that. What upset me is that I could only be a spectator of this running commentary about me and my family. I couldn’t say, “But wait, we’re not all that different!” You must be registered on this site to leave a comment, and of course I don’t speak French.
I didn’t get to look any of these women in the eye and say, “Please don’t compare yourself or your life to mine. I am just a mom, like you. I am always a sinner, rarely a saint. We’ve made many a sacrifice to live the life we do, and while it may look different than yours, it is neither inferior nor superior. We are simply living our calling to the best of our ability and only by the Grace of God. I carry joy through both my good days and my bad because I know the love of my Creator, and I can literally see His love all around me: in the faces of my children, in the flowers that grow on the side of the road, in the bees flying to and from their hives. Please understand that I take and share my photos because they reflect for me the Author of life, and His gifts to me (and to you!) I share them here to hopefully make you smile, to share my joy with you, not to fill your heart with comparisons or shame.”
But you know, then there would be those who would simply discount me as a religious lunatic. That’s okay with me. I don’t come here to preach, but when things get personal, I can’t remove my faith from my response.
I accept that keeping a public journal opens me up to judgement of all sorts. I have to either be okay with that or quit sharing here. I hate the thought of someone visiting this place and walking away discouraged or angry. My purpose in writing this is not to say, “Poor me, I was judged.” My concern is for the mom who saw a handful of pretty photographs and looked around her and saw the laundry piled up, the kids still in their pajamas, and the handprints on the windows and made a comparison. I have those things as well. But, I am not going to start documenting runny noses, or messy rooms in my photographs. We’d all get tired of that quickly. But sometimes it’s good I think, in this strange world of blogging and online sharing, that we remind ourselves that behind the screens we are all human: flawed and frail and with feelings. We are meant to try and love each other despite our shortcomings and our failings. We’ve all got dirty laundry.
I must add that Jonny was greatly amused by all the bad translations spit out by Google Translate. While he wasn’t bothered by the comments themselves, he feels slighted that the words, “handsome husband” never appeared. “That’s just low.” “It’s mean,” he says.
updated to add: The author of the original post on the French blog contacted me with an apology for taking my photos without permission and also for the way the comments turned, which obviously was out of her control. She was very kind and offered to make amends in whatever way I chose. (Her kind words were enough.)
Anyway…Do you want to see what we’ve been working on around here? Okay.
The bathroom has moved from the being ripped out phase to the being rebuilt phase. This could take awhile.
I am almost finished with Larkspur’s Bulle.
I am on track with my Winterwoods Sampler.
And, I made Silas some new pants. I’ve got a second pair cut out as well.
(The fabric is from the Moda Kasuri line. The pattern is from Handmade Beginnings.)
It’s amazing what having a house in chaos can do for my crafty productivity. While I am not about to show off our messy house, here’s what our front porch looks like right now.
And now I will close this “too serious for my taste post on what is supposed to be my lots of fun blog.”
Thank you, all of you who are able to visit this place and appreciate what I share here. I appreciate you all more than I can say.