It is the best of worlds; it is the worst of worlds. It is sweetness and light; it is snarky and critical. It is enlightening and educational; it is pervasive and addictive.

Welcome to the blogosphere.

Almost two years ago, I jumped in with my first post and in that time I’ve embraced many blogs as frequent reads. I’ve become better at writing with any kind of frequency, but I’ve also started paying attention a little more, a bit better, to the world around me.

Blogging has made me a better person, silly as that may sound. I have befriended some folks who would remain friends even if the internet crashed tomorrow. In this age of Busy-Hustle-GO, I’ve found role models and I’ve found fellow seekers.

I’ve figured out how to make time and take time for this endeavor, and I’ve kept it, for the most part, from taking over the more important parts of my life.

So why am I writing about it now?

Well, you see, it can’t be an accident that I’ve discussed this in a couple of different email conversations recently. And it can’t be an accident that there has been some great conversation going on out there in the blogosphere about this; one of my favorites – which made me “uh-HUH!” all the way through, is over at the Bonny Glen, and here’s an excerpt that especially made me say “AMEN!”

Blogs are great in so many ways, but one way they are bad is in giving the false impression of being panoramic views of people’s lives. In reality, they offer a series of snapshots, very close up. My blog is not a diary; it’s more like a scrapbook, a collection of moments I want to remember. Funny moments, quaint kid quips, heartfelt reflections, encounters with beauty and big ideas…each post is a glimpse through a window. But there is no way any blogger can open up her life like a dollhouse, so that viewers can see into every nook and corner of every room. Much more goes unwritten than gets written into a post. Life is too big, too busy, too rich. If I blogged everything, I’d have no time for living.

People have different reasons for blogging, and different approaches. I blog to capture the moments I want to remember, to celebrate, to revisit in years to come. Very, very seldom do I blog to vent. (Doctors’ offices bring out that side of me, and the occasional newspaper op-ed piece.) When I need to blow off steam, I vent to Scott, or Alice, or other close friends. My blogging time is limited, and I don’t want to spend it on negative things.

There are some great thoughts over at Et Tu? as well, in which she compares the blogosphere to a village well, a metaphor I’m particularly fond of.

But the conversations that crop up about needing to cut back on blogging, about giving it up, about pitching it altogether? Maybe it is necessary for you. But I tend to think it’s a case of An Excuse For Guilt. Oh, I’ve heard it called “Catholic Guilt,” but I think it’s better called Universal WOMAN Guilt. Yep, that’s right. I’m not being exactly empirical here, but I feel safe saying that 99% of the women in my life suffer from this Guilt Thing.

“Oh, I can’t be home with my kids.”

“Man, I am just not a cook.”

“I’m home all day but I can’t get anything done.”

“I want to get AWAY from the kids but I feel badly that I feel that way.”

And the list goes on. I’ll bet you’re reading along and adding your own.

Where does blogging come in?

For me, it’s been almost a ministry – one I give and one I get. It works the way things work with one of my special friends, who I’ll call Marie. Every so often, I call her and tell her I’m taking Princess Punch off her hands for an afternoon at my grandma’s or some time out on the farm. And every so often, she will call me and invite me to break up my day by stopping over for lunch. I give and I get. I don’t give in order to get, of course. I give because I love her. She’s my friend. That’s how things are. If I had family in the area with little kids (I hope someday I do!), then I imagine this is how I would be with, for example, a sibling’s children.

My blogging buddies don’t pop over and take Miss Muffet off my hands for the day, but they do provide encouragement. This morning, there was an email from a blog friend who I think of as my “online Marie.” She told me I had popped into her head during her morning prayers and she was praying for me.

I didn’t think I needed prayers today.

But then I got to thinking. We were up most of the night with a Tag Team of Enormous Proportions, and I had a little road trip planned for the afternoon. Nothing crazy happened, and maybe THAT is why I needed Online Marie’s prayers.

I wouldn’t have had those prayers today if I didn’t blog.

We women need each other, whether it’s to drop by and give face-to-face encouragement or to drop by and leave a little love in the combox or inbox. We do enough, but sometimes we need more. We need someone to remind us that femininity involves things like fancy teacups and lace doilies, however much our tomboy tendencies might shrink away initially. We need the example of other women as we muddle our way through the enormous challenges we face from closet to office to freeway to kitchen every single day.

Sometimes, I just need an excuse to adopt another mother in my life or find a mother who will inspire me with adoption. The emails I exchange with The Saint (so titled by her dearly beloved), my favorite Texans, and that kindred soul in Georgia make my days brighter, better, blossominger (yes, that is a word). And what about my foray into the world of Poetry Friday, thanks to the cleverly titled lady from Out There? There are tears in my eyes and prayers ever in my heart when I think of babies who were held first by Mary and babies who will bless their families more than we can imagine. I didn’t appreciate prayer as much before I started blogging, before I started sharing in the lives of these REAL people (there is nothing virtual about our friendships, dear ones).

And, were it not for blogging, I wouldn’t be wearing an apron on May 12th. Imagine that! (Right now my mom is gagging on her drink as she reads this. And I will probably get smacked when I see her and she tells me about how she ruined her computer monitor. Ah, well. Love you, Mom!)

So I’ll keep posting. You’ll have to discern for yourself what it’s about in your life, whether it’s a village well or an outlet for those voices in your head. Maybe it’s the only way you’ll capture those kid moments or a chance to see if, in fact, there are enough words to keep you going long-term.

Whatever your reason for blogging, don’t fall into that trap (because it IS a trap) of feeling guilty for not being like someone else. We’re all different. We all have different lives and different priorities and different ways of blogging. (That’s part of the fun, remember?) And, because of that, I find myself thankful for the blessing of blogging every day (whether or not I get online to read or post).

Thanks, guys. I’m saying a Hail Mary for all of y’all.