Blogher 11 - Managing Expectations and the Ford Family Party
By carrien on August 08, 2011
Blogher 11 did an amazing job of making me feel special. From sponsors and vendors going out of their way to get to know me to develop a relationship and uniformed servers handing out cute little hor d'oeuvres on trays at every corner as we walked through the convention center, to over the top parties every night, to extremely thoughtful giveaway packages, everything about this conference combined to make us blogging women feel at home, and cared for and respected.
It was an incredible experience.
So I was very excited to take my family to the Ford family picnic on Sunday, even though since I had RSVP'd the church we attend had planned a big pool party for all of the families. I reasoned that this party would be so memorable they would be glad to have missed seeing friends they get to see often in order to enjoy it.
So I dismissed the quiet words of my 9 year old, "I would rather go to the pool party and see my friends."
"There are amazing parties at this conference." I told him. "I think you'll be glad you came to it in the end."
While I spent the weekend learning and meeting online friends in real life for the first time and being pampered by companies eager to make a good impression, my children were with their grandparents. They spent a few nights camping in the front field, they made plaster casts of their faces, which they then turned into Cheetah masks, they played with aunts and uncles and had a grand time.
Sunday was supposed to be about me spending time with them again. I wanted this event to be a reward of sorts for the time I spent away from them, because I know it stretched them thin in places. So I ignored what they wanted to do and dragged them off to a sponsored event. Sure it would pay off in the end.
I got that wrong.
Between the lack of any sort of directions, the confusing nature of the park layout, the parking spaces that were roped off for a different event, my husband was ready to just keep driving and go to the pool party. (This he helpfully told me afterwards.) But, he trusted in my enthusiastic reviews of the conference and was willing to continue to tag along in an effort to see what this whole thing was all about.
He dropped us off at the park and then drove to the exhibition center to pay $10 for parking. There is no hourly rate.
The kids had an ok time. The ladies coordinating the activities were obviously working on a limited budget, and they did a great job with it. In fact they were so excellent I'm going to link to them. education.com
My church is working on a limited budget too. They throw better parties, and they aren't a large corporation trying to impress potential influencers and bloggers with a voice. They at least rent a bounce house or two, sometimes they even have pony rides and a climbing wall.
We should have gone to the church party.
I should have chosen differently.
Here's where it would be momentarily satisfying to rip on Ford for not giving their blogher party the same weight that I did. After all, I was expecting their party to be so great that it would fill in the gaps my being away for the weekend caused. I hoped they would compensate for me somewhat selfishly dragging my family away from something they really wanted to do to something I wanted to do, because it fed my ego as a blogger. I'm sure Ford isn't thinking about their party as the first impression that a blogger's family receives of what it's like to be the family of a blogger courted by brands.
If we had no where else to be today, we would have had a very nice time I'm sure.
As I listened to the deep, not fake, disappointed crying for the 50 minute drive home as they realized that the other party was over and we had failed to leave the not so great one for the one they wanted in time, I wanted to blame Ford. I really did. I still do. But that wouldn't be fair because, really, it's my job to make my family feel special. It's my job to fill in those gaps again, by being present, by listening, by doing something together that they will enjoy. It's not Ford's responsibility to give my family a good day, it's mine. It's my job to make them experience how special it is to be in this blogger's family. It's my job to realize that they are reaching an age when what they want needs to be listened to.
In the Modern Martha's session this weekend we found ourselves talking of the tension we sometimes feel between our art and our family. I even said to someone that I find my art flows better when I mind my duty first and make my family my priority. I believe that.
I should have spent the day with my family on their terms, not mine. For what made it awful was not that the Ford party wasn't what I expected. It was that I ignored what my children wanted, so focussed was I on what I wanted for them. I don't think I'll be making that mistake again. At least, not for the rest of the week.
Carrien homeschools 4 kids and runs a non-profit from the kitchen counter.
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