The last page

I have sat here staring and staring at this blank screen. Trying to figure out how to begin. I guess every ending needs a beginning so it makes logical sense to just start there.

Growing up I always loved writing. I dreamed of being an author someday. I wrote stories all the time. Kept countless journals. I have always mentally been the narrator of my own life.

When I was pregnant with Kye in 2008 I had a friend who had started blogging during her pregnancy. I instantly loved the idea. I loved the idea of sharing my thoughts and feelings and experiences as I went through such a major life transition.

Blogging back then was just an online sort of journal. And that’s what my blog became for me. It was my “safe place” to share. To vent. To work through things. As a soon-to-be-mother it was my hobby. It was also a way to connect to others. A way to keep in touch with friends and family who didn’t live nearby.

My dad always instilled in me the value and importance of keeping memories. His own father died when my dad was rather young and he didn’t have many photos of him. I was raised with tons of home movies and frequent visits to the nearby Eckerds to get film developed. I had my first camera in middle school and carried it with me all the time, I joke that I was “living for the ‘gram before the ‘gram was even invented.”

The combination of my love of writing with my value in picture taking and memory keeping was the perfect blend for blogging.

Photo from my first blog post – finding out we were going to be parents!

As I became a mother it evolved from something just for myself into something FOR my children. Much like my dad who sends me photos of himself every year to ensure I have memories of him when he’s gone someday, I’ve wanted to give my children OUR memories.

I want our children to have all their photos, cute moments, trips, and their entire life stories to be able to reflect on. In addition, I loved the idea that they’d have their lives as told by me. My voice is the narrator. How neat to be able to open up a blog book and read from your mom’s point of view!

My “why” for blogging has always been about them. Preserving their memories. Printing the blog posts into hardbound blog books that fill my shelves for them to have. In many ways, this blog is my legacy for my children.

Naturally, the blogging world evolved and changed and became much more than online journalling. I didn’t know the first thing about Google searches or SEO. I didn’t realize I was getting traffic to my posts from random people finding them online through search inquiries. My blog posts were being pinned to Pinterest before I even had a Pinterest account.

As it grew, blogging became BOTH for my children as well as for the other mothers who were connecting with my content. I realized that the things I shared were helpful to other moms. Sleep tips, breastfeeding advice, but also the raw moments like struggling with postpartum depression.

I have always been a strong believer in not losing myself fully to motherhood. It’s so important to stay connected to ME. Someday my kids will be grown and I don’t want to be “that mom” who struggles to let loose of the aprons strings.

Blogging has given me a place for my children but also for myself. It’s given me a purpose and a way in which I feel like I’m making a difference. Helping other moms feel less alone in their parenting journeys. Sharing it all so those who may feel like “no one” gets what they’re experiencing realize that someone else is here experiencing it right along with them.

It’s also given me such an incredible community. A community I didn’t know how much I’d come to rely on and count on and truly consider my family.

Then came the income. I didn’t realize I could earn money from blogging. I didn’t know people did what I was already doing for a living.

Once I learned money was possible I actually put it off for years before I finally started working with an ad network. I felt icky and uncomfortable about profiting from my blog. But I also had several mommy blogger friends who encouraged me to take that step. So I did!

While I do not regret the income I’ve received from blogging over the last several years, it did change blogging for me from a hobby to a job. A “side hustle.” A “need to/should be” rather than a “get to/want to.”

Blogging became a big industry as a whole and it changed in many ways. So much to learn. So many elements that go into it beyond what anyone reading this blog would even begin to know. It’s hard to keep up. It’s often frustrating, often outside my comfort zone.

I love writing but man the tech side is way over my head which has resulted in me trusting a lot of the wrong people and a lot of wasted money and added frustration at times.

Blogging changed but so did readership. Social media took off in different directions. I made an Instagram account and Facebook page to be able to connect with my blog readers in a more current, personal way and quickly I began having people who never even heard of my blog find me and connect with me on those channels.

Less people read blogs. Less people are looking for written form as a way to connect. Blogs are more to serve a purpose, answer a question, offer tips or planning help.

Along with all the blogging and social media changes – our family has also changed. We have four kids. Writing a monthly summary for one kid every month was one thing…but writing a monthly summary for FOUR kids every month? Whew.

I take roughly 10,000 pictures every month. Yes, 10,000. Going through them all, editing them, resizing them for the blog, uploading them into the posts, then writing the content. It takes SO much time.

We travel more. We do more. It became harder and harder to keep up with the blog. I got further and further behind “real time.” Which made those personal posts become more of a stressor in my life rather than a stress reliever.

Our family changed over time, but so did I.

I started a huge journey to personal healing through therapy back in late 2018. I have learned a lot about myself and have had so much growth in so many areas.

A big struggle in my life is the fear that I’m unloveable. That I will continue to be rejected by people who “should” love me unconditionally.

That fear has played a subconscious role in all areas of my life – including my parenting with my big, underlying, fear being that my kids will grow up and stop loving me.

That once they are adults and able to “choose” whether or not to want me in their lives, that they won’t. That they won’t want me. Won’t love me.

It’s been there in everything I do. How can I insure they will still want me when they are grown? What can I do to make sure they know how loved they are so they will, in return, still love me?

One of the first things I learned in therapy was that if you love someone at a level 10 that you don’t leave ANY room for them to love you in return. And, as a parent in that role, you rob your children of the ability to know how to love others because they’ve spent their whole lives showing up at a level 0 because their parent poured in at a level 10.

I’m in no way saying I’m completely healed or that those fears aren’t still part of my subconscious. I have to remind myself of concrete evidences that I’m a good mom, that I’m giving my kids a different childhood, a healthy upbringing, that the love they feel for me really is unconditional.

And that’s why this is hard for me to write.

I know the personal blog posts should have stopped long ago. We have so many blog books that there is no way they will ever all be read. When the kids do look through them – they look at the pictures more than the words.

The “why” for the personal posts, I came to realize, wasn’t just about having those memories for the kids – but it was also serving my selfish need for them to have proof. Proof of the love I have for them. Proof of the great childhoods they’ve experienced. Proof that I’m a good mom, worthy of love.

They don’t need proof.

They live and breathe it every day. They know they have two parents who love each other and love them more than anything in this world.

They don’t know this because of anything I do for them or offer to them. I don’t have to prove my value in their lives. I’m valuable because I’m me. I’m their mom.

I love them just as they are for who they are because they are my children.

And they love me just as I am for who I am because I’m their mama.

Therefore, this will be the last blog entry into the last blog book.

I’m shifting my focus.

I still very much love writing. I also love helping others. I continue to love connecting to moms and pouring into them.

My “why” for blogging doesn’t have to be for my children. It can be for myself and for those moms who are searching for a real-life mom who has been there too.

But my personal content just for the sake of personal content will be no more.

To the blog reader – nothing much will really change.

I’m not going away. I’m not quitting blogging. I’m not stopping my personal sharing of our lives. I’ll just be sharing it in a different way.

My plan (because if you know me, you know I ALWAYS have a plan) is to no longer make blog books for our family but instead to begin making Chatbooks. I have a good friend who does Chatbooks and they are awesome!

I am planning to continue sharing all of our personal moments and all the details of our lives on Instagram. I have my phone set up to automatically save all of my IG Story slides onto my phone.

I plan to take those slides along with all the countless images I take and use those for creating Chatbooks for our family.

That way the kids still have all the photos to look through AND they also get to still have the written memories too. The cute thing they said or did and they get to still have it in “my voice” because it will be written on the IG Story Slides 🙂

I have also started writing a newsletter – I know many people aren’t a fan of Instagram so I hope they will choose to stay connected via my newsletter. So far I am already enjoying it so much and it gives a great place for me to share things in more of a real-time but longer form than Instagram to still give me that joy via writing!

I will also still continue blogging a lot of our personal lives.

I plan to continue blogging the birthday letters for each of the kids each year, I will also be blogging about any of our trips and experiences that may be helpful to others as well as things we may want to look back on with more detail than could be included in the Chatbooks!

And I fully intend to blog any major personal news or times when I just need to sit down and vent out things in a good blog post 🙂

I know this post wasn’t really “necessary.” It will probably sit unread in the blog book. But I wanted to write it for three reasons:

The first being to let my loyal readers know. Just as much as I struggled to let go of the purely personal content due to my subconscious fears, I also struggled to let go of it because I know for those people who enjoy personal blogs that there are just less and less of them to read.

To you, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being here and for loyally showing up and reading all the personal posts – even if they were a year behind “real life.”

“They” always say never let go of your loyal following and I hope that this news doesn’t cause you to leave me. I hope you’ll understand the reasons behind this decision and that you’ll decide to come follow along on Instagram and/or sign up for my newsletter.

I have no intention of stopping sharing our lives!

Part of my fear in changing focus is that I will lose some of the amazing community that has been built over the last 15.5 years. I truly love you all and am so incredibly blessed and thankful to have you in my life.

This has never been a one-sided relationship and I hope our bonds continue throughout the many changes in our lives. From pregnancy days to now getting closer to menopause age I love that we have each other through it all!

The second reason I’m writing this post is for myself. As an enneagram one I am a big “rule follower” and do things because I “should” do them. It’s often very, very hard for me to navigate what I WANT to do and difficult for me to change my mind on something once a decision is made.

I struggled for a LONG time over this decision. And now that it’s been made, I feel so much relief.

What I want is more TIME with my kids. Enjoying them rather than feeling this pressure of all the things I “should” be doing.

My dream job was to be a stay-at-home mom. That is where I want my main focus to be. On my family. Enjoying the NOW with them!

The solely personal posts took so, so much time and felt like such a burden and no longer brought me ANY joy.

I couldn’t even get joy thinking of the kids reading them someday because I’m so confident that they really probably won’t.

Once we started homeschooling the two older kids this year it really sunk in even further how much the time the personal posts take to write (those monthly posts can easily take me 6-8 hours) and how that time just wasn’t worth it.

I have the incredible blessing of bonus time with my older kids – I want to take full advantage of that time!

I’m excited for this next chapter. Ready to let go of what doesn’t bring happiness to my life. Ready to let go of things that take up space on my plate without value.

Ready to focus on the present with my children and family rather than spending so much of it trying to blog about things that already happened.

I wanted this to be the last picture in the blog book – I love it so much and it was taken on NYE 2022. Perfect way to end on the note of looking forward to new adventures to come!

I feel confident that this shift will bring the joy back to writing for me and will allow it to be the hobby I initially had intended for it to be!

Lastly, I’m writing this post for my children. In the off chance one of them decides to flip to the last page of the last blog book. Curious what that last post may have been.

I want you to know that each page of each of these books was written with love for you. Being your mother is the greatest gift and blessing of my entire life. Our memories together are ones I cherish.

I have made many mistakes as a mom and I know more mistakes will be made in the future too. Every memory hasn’t always been and won’t always be happy.

But no matter where life takes you, I’m never going anywhere. I’ll always be in the front row of your life. Rooting for you. Celebrating you. Comforting you when needed. No matter what. Unconditionally.

These pages have been filled with the most rewarding and fulfilling days of my life. But the journey doesn’t end here. I pray that you look back on your childhood with fondness. But most importantly that you are reading this while writing the pages of your own, amazing life. And that those pages will continue to be filled with joy, happiness, and so much love.

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