Three years ago when I started my blog it was purely to share our memories as a family, to document our days, and to claw back a little sanity with three under three, during those crazy pre-school years when I was knee deep in nappies. And I was truly grateful to all of those who took the time to read it, to offer their support, and to leave such lovely words of encouragement.
Back then I had no idea that, if I worked hard enough, there would be opportunities to experience new and exciting things together as a family, to travel in and out of the UK, to collaborate with some of our favourite brands, and, ultimately, to make a decent living.
Over time, as offers of work began to pop up in my in-box, I realised I had a decision to make – go back to work, to a job that I hated, putting my children in nursery and missing out on all of those moments I had waited such a long time to witness, or to to make a career out of blogging, to grab every opportunity with both hands, to work around the children, and give them a life we never dreamt of as a family of six.
And to me, that choice was simple.
I won’t lie to you, I was in no way prepared for just how hard it would be to blog as a full time career. I had no idea that it would be so time consuming, or so stressful, that I would still be awake at 2, 3, 4am, working through the night to meet deadlines. I didn’t realise that I would have to become an expert in free-lance writing, marketing, social media managing, publicising, and accounting; I was utterly clueless about how difficult it would be to juggle all of that whilst parenting four children and battling chronic illness. And yet I also knew that I was incredibly lucky to be in that position, and I still am.
So I was slightly taken aback this week when, after the best summer of our lives experiencing various holidays, trips, and countless magical moments, I received a comment on a holiday review to say that “it was a shame I was doing so much paid work lately” and to inform me that they much preferred the “real stuff” I share.
And at first I felt incredibly hurt, as I do whenever I receive negative comments naturally, and I was sad that anyone, let alone another parent, would feel the need to call me out on making a living and supporting my family in such a way. But pretty quickly I just felt angry that someone would imply that I had sold out, or let my followers down, simply by receiving payment for all of my hard work. Because as much as I love to write, this is my job.
And it’s crazy because should I comment on a friends status, announcing their latest promotion or celebrating a pay rise, and say that I find it a real shame they are being paid for their 9-5 job instead of volunteering in the same position, I would be lynched. It’s like berating an actor for receiving mega bucks for appearing in the latest blockbuster instead of appearing in their local amateur dramatics production, purely for the love of it. For me, it’s unthinkable to criticise another mother, or anyone at all for that matter, for how choose to earn a living and support their family.
Because you know what, it would be amazing if I was paid to sit here and write about my family each day. How lovely it would be to be paid for the posts I write about the children’s first days at school, or raising awareness of the subjects close to my heart, or the ordinary moments we share together as a family. It would be great if I didn’t have a mortgage to pay and bills to cover, and I had the luxury of writing purely for my, and your, enjoyment; but that’s not how life works. Surely we all know that, right?
So yes perhaps we do go on press trips as a family, and yes we do write about that on the blog, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t real. The looks of happiness on my childrens faces as they flew for the first time this summer were real; the sound of their laughter as we jumped waves on Jersey beaches, that was real. The moments we share, and the memories we make, whether those experiences are paid, gifted, review opportunities or not, they are still real.
Just because something is paid does not mean that it ceases to be real.
So I want you to know that when I share a review of our holiday and I tell you it was amazing, I mean that. If I tell you about a toy, or a service, or an attraction we have visited, and I tell you we enjoyed it, you can guarantee that we did. If I say I loved it, I did. If I say I recommend it, I do. If I had an issue with it, I’ll say so. I am not paid to pretend to love these items, to write purely positive reviews or to fabricate the truth, nor does the fact that we are gifted an experience mean that we have to enjoy it.
It’s advertising people, it’s not bribery.
And so whilst I will continue to document our days, to share my little doves as they grow, and to raise awareness of baby loss, both on and off the blog, I also need to make a living here. And I would like to think that all of you, particularly those who have followed our story over the years, will be happy for us that my hard work is paying off, that I am giving my children a wonderful childhood, that I am here for them when they need me, on sick days and sports days and class assemblies, beaming with pride on the front row.
And I hope you can recognise that these opportunities don’t just land at my feet, or come for “free”, but that I have worked bloody hard for this in just the same way you all do in your own careers; and I hope you can share in my excitement that, for the first time in my life, I am doing a job I love, that I am good at, that is paving a life for the children that I never could have hoped for.
And whilst I’m sad to have to write this post, to have to explain myself to those select few who feel let down that I fail to produce “heart felt posts” each day, just know that my heart is in every single word I write on my blog. In paid posts, in reviews posts, in gifted experiences; every single word is real, and honest, and carefully considered. And just know that everything I do, be that for payment or through my love of writing, I am doing for my children, for these four little ones in my arms, and the most beautiful little boy in my heart.
Please be kind, always.