“Just Jennifer” was my first (and only) foray into the world of blogging. Each week, more or less, I would write about things that were happening in my life, my kids’ lives, and try to wrap it up in a neat bow with a message of hope and inspiration. And it worked: “Just Jennifer” was the 2nd most popular column in Celebrity Parents Magazine, right after the celeb cover stories. Readers would reach out to me thanking me for sharing my stories, with that “I thought I was the only one!” shared sentiment.
While I never considered myself a blogger (and frankly, still don’t), some others did. I never liked the title, since the column was just a microcosm of what Celebrity Parents was all about. It was, in effect, an effort for readers to see the Wizard behind the curtain.
I had intended to keep the column going. After all, people liked it. It resonated with them. It drove traffic. There was no reason to stop.
And then, along came Claire.
With the birth of my third child, there was lots of blinding love, sleepless nights—and a tremendous amount of content being created organically that could be used for my “Just Jennifer” column. Having a baby in my 40s, the age difference between my first two children and my baby girl, the work-life balance issues, well, there was a never-ending list of stories to write.
Thing was, I didn’t want to share any of them. I still don’t.
I understand that the Internet is a place for people to share information and stories, feel connected and communal, but it’s also a cesspool full of snarky trolls who sit behind computers all day long with the sole purpose of being malicious for no other reason than that they can be. (Having read the horrific comments for a Mashable story that I once wrote confirmed to me that Internet commenting is truly a blood sport.) I have seen children being verbally attacked online, not by other kids, which wouldn’t make it any better, but by adults, and frankly, I find it repulsive.
I often say that when Claire came along, true to her name, a tremendous amount of clarity came into my life, too. I didn’t want to write about my children or my family anymore. In a world where every single one of us has the ability to share everything that happens to us at a moment’s notice—every emotion, every insult, every triumph, even every meal that we eat—I choose not to share that side of my life anymore.
There’s the expression that writers always write, and that’s definitely true. If you are a writer, you have to write; it’s akin to breathing. So I will continue to write about my kids, but in journals just for them. I might mention them from time to time in my Editor’s Letter, (and pics of them might pop up occasionally in the magazine), but I plan to leave the more personal parts of their lives in diaries that are for their eyes only.
As a parent in this strange social media age, I will let them choose what to share about their lives online. I will continue to remind my now-four children (Baby Andrew arrived two years after Claire) that once something is out there, it’s really out there for the world to see, including potential bosses, boyfriends/girlfriends, and us as their parents. And maybe, just maybe, they will learn that not everything you do/say/think needs to validated with likes or retweets or followers. Simply knowing it for yourself is good enough.
And that’s all that really matters.