"Experts" say there are 1.8 billion people with access to the internet. 1.8 billion people - that is our potential audience. I see there are three people following our 'blog'. By all standards, our penetration is atrocious. So why do we write this for all to see? Why does anyone keep a blog?
Before I go any further let me tell you how much I despise that word. It's like "Dork". Just the sound of the word is irritating. I have a friend who will not use the world "Dork" because he hates how it sounds. When "Blog" rolls off my tongue its like a half gag ending in "G". I'm going to refuse to write "Blog" from now on. It's "online journal" from here on out. Or the "B word".
These "Experts" also say there are 50 million online journals in existence. Even if 75% of them are no longer maintained, there are still millions to chose from. Up until the last 6 months, I had not read a single one, at least not intentionally. And I am not misconceived that I have anything more interesting to say than the other 10 million people vying for your attention. At least a million of those folks must have more interesting things to say.
So why do I write? I sometimes tell myself I write online to keep family and friends informed because it is so hard to keep everyone up to date. That purpose is served, but I don't think that's the "reason". I also try to convince myself that I write to have a record of these important days of our lives. While I believe we will read these words later in life and be thankful to have them, I still don't think that is the driving force that makes me get up a bit early once ever couple weeks and regurgitate such mental bile into the ethosphere. In reality, I am just hoping that someone will find our drivel interesting enough to read a single entry from start to finish. It took me a while to realize it, but that's the truth. That's why I also maintain a family web site. We have invited adventure and chaos into our lives, and sharing it online is a way to take pride in what we have worked so hard to achieve. We toss it out there for all to see. It's bragging really, but you only have to hear it if you chose to lay eyes on it. If your thinking "Oh god, what an ego", well, feel free to exit now. Go ahead, close your browser. Go check out what's on ebay instead. I'm sure you can find a nice set of used kitchen knives.
Oh shit, now no one's reading.
What I am trying to achieve is truth. To myself, and to you, and understand what motivates the other 10 million people like me. I think we are all looking for someone to take notice. It is nice to hear someone say "I read that, you guys are crazy" (we take that as a compliment), "I liked what you wrote", "You guys are doing it right". In grade school we are told "your special, you can be anything you want". Really? Are we? Can we? We're mostly just worker bees with 1 to 3 kids, trying to make ends meet. We have split-level homes and subscribe to cable. We look for kitchen knives on eBay. We stand around the water cooler to talk about the same shows that we ALL watch. We don't want to admit that we did not expect to be part of the vast sea of people all doing the same thing, all thinking we would be leading a far more interesting life. We want someone to take notice and say, "your doing it right". But really, if that were true, we would not be keeping an online journal - someone would be writing it for us, about us. That's when you know your life is interesting, when someone does your bragging for you. (That little tid-bit also comes from the same person who hates the word "Dork".) For the time being, it looks like we will have to just keep on bragging for ourselves.
But writing is also therapeutic. Taking the time to write out our lives and adventures forces me to reflect and organize my thoughts. It's like coming up for breath. Breath in - breath out. Something new happens every day and we rarely have the time to fully appreciate those moments. Writing is realizing those moments and appreciating them more completely.
What has caught me by surprise is the comfort I have gotten from reading other peoples online journals. I am not the most chatty guy on the plant. OK, I may actually be the least chatty guy on the planet. If you call me and I seem less than interested in talking, it's because I am not really interested. If I am chatting, I'm only pretending to be interested. You want to get together? Sure. Let's go biking. Let's take the kids to the playground. Chat on the phone? No thanks. So it goes - I don't have thoughtful conversations with other adoptive parents about how things are going. But there are a couple of friends keeping blogs about their adoption experiences, and it is surprisingly comforting to identify with their challenges, hesitations, fears, joys, and witty parenting anecdotes. Our adjustment to bringing Krem and Hirut into our family has been great. Many of our fears and concerns did not come true. But there are big challenges, and it helps to know we are not alone in facing them. I read the blog of a family that stayed in the same guest house in Ethiopia, and the mother accurately described Stacey's feeling of the hopeless war with the laundry. She may win a battle, but the war will definitely be lost. To know someone else feels the futility of this effort is somehow comforting. Another mother shares her fears about parenting an older child from another country before they travel. Her list of worries could be mine or Stacey's.
So in this way we are just like so many other people who have adopted a child (or two or three). Except it feels good to be just like one of the crowd. It's nice to know we are not doing it wrong or 'messing up our kids'. Or maybe we are messing them up a little, but at least we are not the only ones, and it's going to be OK. We are not going to be perfect, we will make our mistakes too. But we are doing it mostly right. Taking a peak into other peoples lives helps realize that. So if your reading this, and your one of those other "B**G" writing parents out there, maybe I read what you had to say, and it helped me a little. It was nice to hear your having your doubts too, and that things are going well for the most part, but there are moments. I'm not going to call and chat about it, but I still appreciate it. Thanks for writing. Really.