For the past year or so I’ve been contributing essays to a variety of parenting and relationship sites. I like it—these pieces are fun to write, and my sons give me a lot of material to work with. Also, the posts tend to be non-controversial–they don’t cause Facebook hysteria like so many other types of contemporary essays seem to.
After having several of my guest posts published, I decided that it might be a good idea to start my own parenting blog. I came up with a name for it—Mainely Fatherhood, because I live in Maine. There are a lot of Mom blogs but not many sites dedicated to a father’s point of view. I enjoy writing about my family, I seem to have a knack for it, and I thought this would be a good niche for me to explore.
I also thought of it as a good way to advertise myself. As a freelance writer, I’m frequently scanning job listings, and a good deal of these ads are looking for someone with “a strong online presence.” This always sounds amusing to me, the virtual equivalent of being muscle-bound and wearing a tight black t-shirt.
In order to have this online presence, I need a good blog. I actually have a blog already, but I didn’t put much thought into naming it and I don’t post very often. So a new blog, with a good name, featuring the type of writing I’d like to pursue, might bulk me up and squeeze me into that tight virtual t-shirt.
The new blog looks nice, I think—there’s even a page with my portfolio. The problems started when I began posting only to realize that what I wrote might make my kids uncomfortable. Not so much my oldest son—he’s 18 and loves any type of attention. He doesn’t walk around taking selfies all day long, but he’s definitely grown up in an era when the biggest stars on television are narcissistic heirs and heiresses.
No, it’s my younger son I worry about. He’s 10 and in the fifth grade, a time when kids are becoming aware of what’s cool and what isn’t. When I was in fifth grade I started wearing my shirts half unbuttoned like Lee Majors and the guys on The White Shadow. Yes, I’m that old.
It’s pretty much the same nowadays (without the unbuttoned shirts). Around this age, kids begin paying more attention to their hair and clothes, and they start becoming embarrassed more easily. In fact, a parent can often embarrass or anger a child just by saying hello. And in a couple of years, I won’t be allowed to hug or even talk to my son in public, because that would be the most humiliating thing in the world.
If a hug embarrasses my son, I imagine that a blog post about him, one that can be viewed by people all over the world, would be horrible. I recently wrote an essay titled “The Time My Son Humped a Tree.” I was trying to decide whether to submit it to a few publications or save it for my blog. That’s when I realized that something I wrote could really embarrass my son, which I do not want to do.
I never had to worry about this before—it seems like just yesterday that my son was young and excited that a story about him was appearing in the newspaper or online. I wrote about when he was a baby, but most of the focus was on me. And I wrote about our love of the old Batman TV series, but he was a little kid then. I never felt the need to ask his permission to write about his life. But now that he is older, I no longer feel comfortable just putting stories about him out there. Now I try to put myself in the shoes of a fifth grader attempting to fit in. I’m glad I don’t have to go through that again, and I don’t want to make it harder than it already is for my son.
So while it seemed like a good idea at first, my parenting blog is being put on hiatus before it really got started. And as for that story about the time my son humped a tree, I’ll probably just save it for the family reunions.
Note: The opinions expressed by guest bloggers at the Submittable blog are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Submittable.
Gary Sprague is a married father of two sons. He lives in Maine and works as a freelance writer. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, but not on his blog.