On this blog, my very very tiny bit of the online world, I do not use my daughters real names. Instead opting to use their initials E & R. But why?
I have been blogging for just 6 short weeks. When I started it felt natural not to use their real names, I didn’t really know how it would work out; sure I love writing and I love recording their memories in different ways and celebrating our lives, our journey. But there was always a chance I wouldn’t like it, I wouldn’t stick to it, I wouldn’t fit in in this online world. After all I don’t really know what I am doing. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a blog so if I fell flat on my face or decided to give up after a few weeks then I could easily close it down, walk away and no-one would be any the wiser.
How was I to know that in those 6 short weeks so much would change for me, within me. I would come to love the blogging world and my little space I have created for me and my family. Don’t get me wrong I still don’t really know what I am doing! I have a lot to learn and a place to fit in but stick to it I will. It has ignited my passion and creativity again and a whole new positive zest for life and the wonderful things I have here with my Little Ladies. So would I change and use their names? I wanted to, but something was holding me back. Was there valid points there or was it just an archaic “feeling” of internet sharing from my generation? (I am 31, I am not saying I am archaic!!). It felt like such a big deal because I would be deciding for someone else, and that I can’t take it back.
A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post called “anonymity” written by the lovely Lucy over at Dear Beautiful (you should definitely go and give it a read if you haven’t already). It is a very thought provoking post about the anonymity of her children’s names on her blog. It really struck a cord with me as I too felt much the same. That night I had a lengthy conversation with my husband again about it and I just keep going back and forth. There are lots of bloggers out there that use initials, pet names, middle names, all sort of things to refer to their children on their blogs and social media channels aswell as plenty that freely use their children’s real names. I do not think there is a right or wrong choice, I think, as with most things in parenting it is a personal one and it is just a matter of finding what is the right choice for me. If only I could come to that.
Why does it make me so nervous? I am inherently private and closely guarded as a person (I know, and now I blog, go figure!), I worry far too much and may be prone to overthinking things. I also didn’t grow up in such an online world. I tussle with the decision because I do not know the future, I would never want to think that my Little Ladies wish I hadn’t made the decision for them. That in a few years time there is a situation that I am yet to realise would be an issue. That I decided to give them a digital footprint.
Yet I kind of already have, their face is part of their identity as much as, if not even more so than their names. This is the exact reason it took me 5 years to have the courage to start a blog in the first place. The unknown. The future. Would people use photos of them that I had not authorised? Speak about them as if they knew them because they had read a blog post? Would that somehow diminish real life relationships, make it less important? Would people follow us a little too closely? Or was I just being paranoid? Obviously I got over those worries or at least thought that the pros may outweigh the cons in that particular area. So was it any different using their names?
If I used their names would I find it easier, less stressful? I have photo’s, videos I made pre-blogging and posts that I cannot share and write because of the presence of their names. I worry that if more people that I know learn about the blog there may be comments on here or social media that will use them without thinking. When writing I find that I try and structure it so that I don’t actually have to use their names or their initials too frequently as it can be tricky to follow. I wonder if people that read it feel that way too? E writes alot, talks alot and most of the time she writes and says her and R’s names in practically all scenarios, I don’t want to have to tell her to stop. To make her worried about sharing this information. What do I tell her when I explain I do not use her real name? I asked her about the blog and of course she has only just turned 5 so it is difficult but she was ok with it and is excited to share it with me.
If someone really wanted to find out this information they could do that in so many different ways, less just actually talking to someone in the street and asking their name. What could you really do with that information? What is in a name? It is the first piece of information we share upon meeting, if someone asks my 5 year old her name she would not and does not bat an eyelid to say it. Should she? “Just in case?” Especially when I don’t even know what that “just in case” even is. The first information given when a baby is born, the name, even before it is born. Names are such a funny thing and a unique individual choice that we already as parents feel a burden to choose one name, the name that will serve them the rest of their lives, through baby, toddler, school, teenager, adult and later in life. As I am in a room full of Laura’s pretty much anywhere I go, I for one wanted my children’s names to be a little more unique. E’s name is actually a reasonably popular one now (although not so much at the time) but with my second her name is rather more unusual and people do ask again when we say it and it divides opinion. Though I love it and I want her to too. I truly hope I made the right choice.
In parenting we make decisions for our children all the time. I decide to sign up to a newsletter with a company with their names, their full names nonetheless. I decide to walk down the street and say their names in a crowded shopping centre without any regard to someone overhearing. And I decide to give them a sibling, to choose to work or stay at home or put them in the care of someone else or to braid their hair, I know that sounds silly and it is obviously a much bigger issue but there will always be things they look back on and not have wanted me to do. Or will that just become part of them, part of their childhood, part of our story and their part in it. Maybe this blog will bring them opportunities, maybe they will be proud and want to shout it from the rooftops, I guess my job is to equip them with the confidence and knowledge to deal with any future consequences that may come from using their names, their photos, their life on this blog. To be aware of safety without being sheltered, being scared.
I do not actually have a personal Facebook profile and haven’t since my eldest was born yet I do know that there are photo’s on there of my children and where people have mentioned their names also. Family/friends/functions and where people just don’t think anything about sharing that information or that someone might even want to opt out. There is no getting away from it.
My children are growing up in an online world and all this worry could be for nothing come the time they have their own social media channels and are sharing much more about their own lives than just a name. Who knows where technology will be in 10/15 years time but I am sure there will be more interesting things to find out about my Little Ladies than the time they went to their first musical, used to hold their Mummy’s hand until they were 5 ( add the years she is still going to – I am sure not letting go until she does). Or the way she made a pinkie promise to cuddle always, the naked – bar a nappy and a tutu – photo shoot or the fact that we sing “you are my sunshine” every night before bed. I like to think that I write with them in mind, I write positively and to document our story – no it isn’t always sunshine and tulips but I would hope it will be nothing to be ashamed of. And really in a few years time is anyone going to trawl through these posts reading them word for word even if they do happen to find them on page 10,000 of a google search!
I could go back and forth on the subject for a long time but I think think think I have decided that I am proud of their names as much as all the other information I choose to share on here. (Of course I am not saying anyone else isn’t.) I want to live in the present and not worry about the future. Although it feels very strange to even contemplate writing this I am going to start sharing their names. Along with all the other things I have still to learn about my little slice of the internet, I guess I need to learn to be more confident in saying please do not use my photos without my permission, please don’t assume you know everything because you know our names. That is no bad thing. I need to be more confident. I am polite and surely that is totally OK to do?
I do think I a have made my decision yet I feel maybe today, and in this post isn’t the right time and I need to get my head around it and indeed would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and honest opinions. Am I being naive or paranoid? I know I can be the only one to make up my mind – but who doesn’t love a little bit of help? Especially as I am so new to this blogging world.
So, What’s in a name?