I’ve been thinking about mommyblogging ever since I read this post on Mom-101. She’d just returned from the BlogHer conference and felt a division between women who blog and women who mommyblog. She writes it best herself:
I still have a knee-jerk response to allign myself with the one gal in the circle not able to contribute an opinion about the Wiggles or a light little anecdote about mucus plugs….
I often feel the need to offer a disclaimer. “I have a parenting blog, but…”
But…I can also discuss Bush’s heinous disregard for the Kyoto treaty and the potential impact for generations to come.
But…hey, do you like Journey? Wait til you hear my new ringtone!
Saying “while I write about my child, I think really what I do is look at social issues, politics, pop culture, and my own feelings about work and the world through the eyes of a new mother” is a wee bit verbose in most contexts. Mommyblogger it is. Blech.
It’s not that blogging about our children is such a horrible thing. I mean, Dooce can make washing a bottle more interesting than most women could make a menage-a-trois with George Clooney and Johnny Depp. But in my opinion, the diminutive, mommy, automatically demeans whatever it is the author has to say. That no matter how many degrees she holds, how many times she uses words like ostensibly and onomatopoeia, she’s still writing something trivial.
Mom-101 concludes that she thinks of herself as a writer first, not a mommy. She wants to be a blogger, not a mommyblogger. She wants the widest possible audience, and now she’s got me thinking.
I think this helps me figure out some of my own issues with mommying in general. The very word “mommy” implies triviality, as Mom-101 points out. “Mom jeans” means “uncool jeans.” Mom characters are never the heroes of movies – unless they’re moms who are insane & acting out, like Thelma & Louise, or Elaine in The Graduate or I guess the Stepford Wives: hardly heroes, really. These moms always seem far older than I feel. Moms in pop-culture are self-sacrificing and a bit clueless, fading nobly into the background, always shutting the kids’ bedroom door and disappearing, oblivious to what the kids are really up to. If they have interests of their own, their hobbies are mocked.
I don’t know how to be a mom, I realized, let alone a mommyblogger. I don’t have any cultural models that don’t trivialize the role — even while sometimes putting it on a pedestal, if that makes any sense. Up on a pedestal, there’s no room to move around, to be human, you know?
Long ago, in college, I loved Carolyn Heilbrun’s Writing a Woman’s Life, where she argues that we write our lives before living them. We write our lives in our minds, planning out possible narratives — and so it’s very dangerous to read stories that consistently end, “And then they got married and lived happily ever after.”
Life doesn’t end at the altar. There’s a whole lot of stories to tell about the choices women make after they turn 30, altar or no altar. There’s choices about careers and love and community and solitude and exploration and nesting and aging and, yes, mommying.
So I read mommyblogs. I read Dooce and ponder what to think of her bossiness. I read Girl in a Party Hat even though I don’t have a five-year-old with Down Syndrome, or a seven-year-old, or a career as a journalist: I just like her attitude and admire her choices. I read the blog of a former friend I haven’t spoken to in years because I love these stories, and need them. And I suspect I might be a better mommy, or just a better 30-something-year-old, if I had discovered these mommyblogs earler. Because we’re all writing a woman’s life.