Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Light and Dark

I came of age in the 90s. Sarcastic, dry humor and a general sense of negativity about the world came standard with the flannel and limp hair. While I've certainly grown out of my grunge phase, a streak of darkness remains. I'd say I'm equal parts light and dark these days, and I think my blog reflects that---looking over my posts a see a decent balance of heavy, vent-y posts with lighter,  grateful ones.

Most of the blogs I read regularly are similar, because I like reading real, and real is mixed and messy. I do, however, occasionally foray into sunshine-and-roses-land, full of precious photos and the unbridled joy of a perfect life. You know the type; recipes and crafts are often involved. Advice on being perfect may be given. I recently came to realize that some people hate on these blogs, enraged by the perfection, demanding reality and smugly gloating when some less-than-perfect detail of the blogger's life comes to public attention. I don't get this...I read these type of blogs knowing full well that I'm not reading about a person. I'm reading about a brand; a carefully cultivated image that is projecting a slice of life, but by no means the whole pie. I think its the blogger's right to write whatever she (come on, its always a she) wants to write about, as long as she isn't deliberately deceiving anyone out of money or energy (i.e. faking her child having cancer so that people will set up fund-raisers, etc...).

I like occasionally reading the light. Its fun, it encourages me to notice the good things, teaches me to be grateful (which does not come naturally to me, a complainer at heart), and sometimes the recipes are really really good. There is also the so-called "aspirational" angle...if she could sand and paint all her kitchen cabinets and replace them by herself while her four kids were home all day, I can do it too!

Then there's the other side---the seedy underbelly of life can be s&*t and I'm going to complain about it on the internet in hilarious and inappropriate ways. These can be fun, too, because...hilarious! And also validating in either an "OMG Me too, I'm not a freak!" way or a more Schadenfreude-type "OMG At least I'm not dealing with THAT!" way. Again, I've noticed that these bloggers have haters, tending towards the "you are a terrible mother" "your children will read this and hate you" type, all for such sins as declaring that 3-year-olds can be freaking annoying or that changing poopy diapers totally blows. Again, appreciating these blogs requires a little reading between the lines. CLEARLY she loves her children more than life, she's just blowing off steam (and maybe generating a modest side income) writing about their shenanigans. Mentioning the sunshine-and-roses part would ruin the vibe.  I don't buy the whole idea the complaining about motherhood is novel or stereotype-busting...not in 2013 anyways. Maybe 10 years ago it was "fresh" to talk about how hard it all can be, but these days comments (that I just saw on a "motherhood is hard"-type post yesterday) "you're so brave for putting it out there! I've never heard anyone talk about this before" are just...puzzling.

My favorites, as I mentioned, are the mix. I particularly love a surprise sappy post from a generally misanthropic grump (and I do love misanthropic grumps) or a lets-get-real heart-pouring from a typically upbeat gal. Those seeming contradictions drive home the truth that we all contain multitudes, and we all likely have a story to tell. And do I ever love to read stories.


  1. Totally agree! (Along with the oh you're so brave thing... still?)

    Here's our commentary (as misanthropic, yet perfect, grumps) on perfectionism in other online communities: .

    We've also got these ponderings on perfection h8rs IRL:

  2. I think people get their noses out of joint over the perfect princess blogs because they imagine that those people are the ones who would -- in real life -- tell them that they complain too much, are too negative, and would deny that they have any of the same problems that the more cynical people admit to. At least that's why *I* hate them. ;-)

  3. Well, isn't life a mixture of dark and light? Whoever says anything else is a liar or a fool.
    The posts reflect what the blogger chooses to share. And especially when the blog generates an income, no matter how small, then the blogger needs to mind what the readers want to hear (well, read, to be technical). Which can be limiting, but then so is life.

    You reminded me of the grunge me - I am quite fond of that awkward-ish, grunge girl. NOW. At the time, I so wanted to be someone else... Oh, youth is indeed wasted on the young, they waste so much time on silly things. Then again, they do have the time, theirs to waste, and they eventually learn something.

    Hope you're well.

  4. I just discovered your blog! I am looking forward to catching up. In the meantime, I have so many different bloggers to follow: some light..some dark. It just represents life and its myriad faces of diversity!

  5. Agreed that the how-hard-it-is posts aren't particularly brave. Sure, it's hard. But not nearly as hard as parenting in, say, a refugee camp. It's fine for sharing one's personal tales. But I don't know what larger point can be drawn from that.

    I believe the blogger doing the cabinets has children who are a wee bit older than yours :) Mine would totally put their finger prints in the paint if I tried to do that.

    1. Even without the kids, I wouldn't know where to start on a cabinet remodel...but that was just a recent example (and a good example of a "happy and light" blogger that I like to follow)

    2. We talked to my father-in-law (a former carpenter) about our cabinets. He said we should either repaint them white or hire someone if we really did want to get them back to wood-color. The process he described sounded pretty time-intensive. (I was one of the "noooo, don't paint them white naysayers"-- the previous owners painted all the wood in the house white and it is *much* harder to go back than it is to paint in the first place.)