I started the site over a decade ago and, in a moment of sheer brilliance, I called it "The Honea Express," never considering that most people wouldn't realize my last name rhymes with pony, hence rendering said brilliance moot.
That kind of became my theme.
The whole point was to create a space where I could chronicle the lives of my children for my family, all of whom were living in a different state(s). I wasn't alone. There were other writers out there, various parents doing the same, although it took about a year for me to find them as the Internet was still on the cusp of fertile landscape, not yet populated with the likes of mommy, daddy and coupon bloggers, respectively. We connected over comments.
It was a gentler time, when words mattered more than clicks or pageviews, and the space had yet to spawn the likes of curators over creators, hyperbolic lists and those endless slideshows. Before there was competition for attention there was community built on it. And it was good.
My kids grew, our lives changed and I chronicled every bit of it as I had set out to do. Family readership quickly gave way to dollars and strangers. I suddenly found myself writing about parenting not only because I wanted to but because people would pay me to—most of that material would live on bigger, more established sites (like this one). It was perfect. It gave me the ability to maintain my own space as a quiet little playground for mischievous words and the wonders of childhood. I became the assorted stuffs of acquired tastes.
By the time parenting became the new black, I was so firmly entrenched as the voice of the token dad that I was able to make a living from it, contributing to nearly every parenting site your Facebook friends have heard of. A book deal followed, as book deals do, and behind it talk shows and interviews, the title of "parenting expert" flung about freely like someone actually believed that it meant something.
And still, my children grew. And the stories I was telling started to feel like stories that were no longer mine to tell. The causes I covered became bigger than the context of my framing. I started to reexamine my place on the Internet, the platform I had been given and the potential power of it.
Basically, I realized that once you have reached a certain level of what passes for success you start to look at what you're doing, what you've done and where you're going next. It's a thing.
I decided to close my site. Actually, I decided that The Honea Express had run its course and that it was time to move on. I started a new site with my family, one where my wife and kids could tell their own tales rather than play the supporting characters in the stories I was spinning. I co-founded another site, Dads 4 Change, to encourage a culture of empathy and to use the Internet for good by sharing stories and connecting bloggers with the causes they care most about. I wrote my last post on The Honea Express, turned the lights off and left the blog to dust and archives.
Nobody really noticed.
What does it mean to be a parent blogger in 2015? Is it bigger than lists and headlines THAT YOU WON'T BELIEVE?
Ten years is a long time. Granted, the stories written on that site aren't going anywhere, but the idea that my creativity now goes elsewhere is both frightening and freeing. And yet, what is it all about? What does it mean to be a parent blogger in 2015? Is it bigger than lists and headlines THAT YOU WON'T BELIEVE?
I don't know. I only know that I have spent more than a decade loving my kids for the world to see, and I will continue to do so as long as they allow me. In that time, I have made a ton of mistakes and done a few things right, all of them still strung into every corner of the Internet and hopefully a bookshelf or two.
I no longer write for my family living in other states, although that situation remains the same (minus those we've unfortantely lost), as technology has made the sharing of life a real-time conversation regardless of day or distance.
Rather, I write to entertain, share and learn, adding my own experiences to the field of lessons we all sow, every click a new seed, the constant seeking of substance in the soil.
The online parenting space is changing, and it is time that I changed with it.