in defense of 'mommyblogging'

March 15, 2010

over the weekend all the mom-o-sphere was up in arms about this article, Honey Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand, over at the NY Times.  and as inflammatory as the title is, the article was... meh.  i have no particular beef with it and in fact it makes some excellent points.  but several people on twitter linked to this comment discussion of the article and oh god, the comments.  it's as vitriolic and nasty and viperous as i've ever seen:  mommybloggers are selfish! they're neglecting their children while simultaneously writing too much about their children! they're just trying to be famous/make money! breeders are stupid!  they're insipid materialistic whores obsessed with checking their smart phones!  (i'm not doing them justice at all, go see for yourself)

my cheeks flushed, my throat constricted, my fingers spasmed.  i'm not kidding, i could only read about five of them before i X'ed the window out. bye, assholes!  it hit too close to home for me to bear.  their words made me feel small.

is it selfish of me to create a record of my life? yes! blogging is inherently selfish- but not in the slanderous way that those people meant it.  is it selfish for a mother to type away on a computer while her child is sleeping? no less selfish than me showering, doing the dishes, washing the baby clothes, or watching movies.  i don't blog when i'm with my child (and he's awake).  but i shouldn't have to defend myself because that's no one's business but mine.  and fyi, i'm not making any money.  i have one ad over there on the right.  you know how much money i've ever made from it?  zero-freaking-dollars.  and that's just fine.  i write because it's a way to process everything going on in my life and a way to connect with you.  this discussion has called into question why i have it there at all.  maybe it's time to take it down.

(and in fact, after i hit publish, the ad that was up was for GUNS.  uh, this is not your target market.  goodbye, ad!)

the rewards i've found here outweigh the time it takes me to craft posts in lieu of scrubbing my toilet.  the community of women that i've found is an invaluable resource for support in times when women (read: me myself and i) feel isolated.  the knowledge swapped between us in the form of tips and tricks and learning is beyond measure.  people regret that women today don't have a stronger family community around them when a baby comes to help nurture the new mother- this is just a 2010 means to the same end.  support.  community.  friends.  i've found smart, bold, beautiful, funny, witty women that i can relate to and who are brave enough to share a tiny piece of who they are with me.  but regardless, if no one reads a word i write these posts are still-frame shots of my life.  i can look back a year or more and know exactly what that time was like that day.  i want to actively preserve that for myself and for my child.  what i write is both entirely selfish and entirely selfless. in order to create real relationships you have to bare your soul and open yourself up to attack from faceless strangers.

i would agree that there are stupid, selfish, boring, money-making, "mommyblogs" out there.  you know why? because those moms are women.  there are a wide range of women writing about different interests, some of whom i may not share any common interests or outlooks with.  i probably don't like some of them.  being a mom is a part of who i am and what i write about, but it is not the sum of me.

if you have an issue with "mommybloggers" shouldn't you have an issue with ALL women bloggers?  we're all writing monologues with varying levels of "value".  at some point we are all just writing out own thoughts to ourselves and yes, we could probably all be doing something more useful.  do women who are mothers who are bloggers deserve extra flaming hatred? or is this really just a problem because a tiny handful of those women who are mothers who are writers have found success in this medium.  we don't have this discussion about published authors because their medium has been validated.  is it really so different from a novel other than that the writer is just a click away from hearing your opinions?  yet blogging is seen as just a wasteful hobby.

the reason those people's words have such a dramatic effect on me is the exact same reason why i think blogging is important: words have meaning.  whether we like it or not our words have an emotional impact.  if what you write is read by even one person you have the opportunity to connect with them in a society where people are held apart from each other at arms length.

i'm tired of the stigma of the word "mommyblogger."  i am a woman who writes.  i write on a website, about my child, parenting, and MOVIES, and DOGS, and secret crushes!  about CAMERAS and friends and TV and FEARS and ANXIETY!  i shouldn't need to shy away from saying that i write about my child.  i shouldn't need to add quickly at the end of that sentence, "...but i write about other things, too!"  i am a woman with a variety of interests, including parenting.

we can choose to use our words to lift each other up, to educate and inform, or to tear down a stranger half a world away.  just words, that's all it takes.  one comment to ruin someone's day or make them feel like gold.  let's use them more wisely than on one tarnished word: "mommyblogger."

14 comments:

Biscuit

Well. Frickin. Said.

I agree with you on all points. I even have a disclaimer on my blog saying "I don't do this to become famous, I do it b/c it feels good", or something like that...

I do it because if I don't I may very well implode. I can't say enough about the people I have met doing this either *cough cough YOU cough cough* I'm forever grateful to the Universe for sending you and many others my way.

Eff off haters, don't like it, click away.

Josey

Well put, Jamie, well put.

I think you're an amazing writer, and I love the stories about your child, your marriage, your movies, and your dog. Hell, when my family dog was having seizures the other week, YOU were the first person I wrote to ask for advice about what to do! The internet community is an invaluable resource to us all; I truly believe that.

Thank you for writing, and for being you.

Ky (Two Pretzels)

When I read that article this weekend I knew it was a big-ass can of worms...

I remember someone hearing that I had a blog a while back... he proceeded to tell me how I could make money on it. "There's a significant financial opportunity in mommyblogging."

Hmmm...

Here's an idea: I blog because it's mine. It's my soapbox. It's my venue. It's mine to share and I love it. I blog to meet people (hello grumbles!), I blog to have my history recorded.

I'm proud of what I blog.

In fact, I cannot WAIT for the day when Lila says, "Mommy, I want to start a blog."

:)

Little does she know that her URL is purchased and ready to go.

Keep writin', g.

Alicia

I wrote a similar post a few months ago. Most of the blogs I read aren't written to make money. I know that's not why I write mine. I get irked when I hear people going on and on about "these horrible mommybloggers neglecting their kids to make a buck". Shut up!

People will always need to complain about something, even something as innocent as a woman chronicling her day-to-day life for a few friends to read about. Ooooh, it's so controversial!

Sarah

I think you hit it on the head when you said that blogging has not been "justified" yet - like printed words - books, etc.

What a joke.

Of all the "mommybloggers" I know - both personally and just through all the internet stuff - I pretty strongly believe that these moms give more to their kids than some of the "non-mommybloggers" I know.

Blogging about your baby takes time. It means you're reflecting on what they've done, what you've done and how your life is revolving around them...to me, it's a pretty great way to take a step back and look at the decisions you've made as a parent.

losers...

Bradshaw

I don't even have a kid and that bugged me. Blog = journal. And people don't get up in arms about mothers having journals. Or scrapbooks. Or baby books. Judgmental people piss me off.

I am glad for who I've found on the interwebs though. And I have no intention of stopping any time soon. None whatsoever.

Dionna @Code Name: Mama

I love this post! Well said. I can't even begin to read the comments, because vitriolic comments always make me see red.

I love what Sarah said too. Thoughtful posts about parenting DO show a concerned, involved parent. The fact that a parent blogs doesn't mean that they are neglecting their child.
I'm sure that there are those people out there - but there are also people who play too many video games or watch too much TV or lose themselves in alcohol or or or. Blogging is not an evil in itself.

Jessica

Brilliantly put! I find it so disingenuous to tack on any disclaimer to what I do, "Oh, but I only ever blog during naps!" or WHATEVER, because sometimes I don't.

Sometimes I race to the computer and knock one out in 10 minutes while my son is playing in his room. Or sometimes he's sitting behind me watching a movie. It's my prerogative as to how I manage my time. JUST LIKE IT'S ANY ADULT'S PREROGATIVE TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH THEIR DAY AND THEIR TIME.

I wish less effort would be spent on bashing women who are mothers who write about that experience and more spent on highlighting the less than engaged spouses and/or partners, the stigma of SAHMs, the horrible state of our mat-leave system here because if any, and or all, of these things were more supportive, more encompassing, more enlightening, many MANY women wouldn't NEED to turn to the blogosphere for support in the first place. Get what I'm saying?

I dunno... there are always assholes out there looking for something to hate on.

Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

So well put.

I've always thought the fact that people choose to attack MOMMYBLOGGERS vs all bloggers to be a tad off base.

Why is a mother writing about her life, and possibly making some money (if she's seriously lucky and sold her soul to the devil. no really how do they make money?) any different than me writing about my childless life?

Are we not all women writing publicly? All a group of women or maybe even men looking for some connection?

And what about male writers? Humor writers? Photography blogs? Why are the photography blogs of this world not as equally 'evil' for displaying pictures of their families, pets, and possibly unsuspecting strangers?

*taking a deep breath*

I love the way you framed this argument. I shall now back away from the comment section of that article.

Amie aka MammaLoves

Right on sister!!!

The community that we have here. It is exactly why I'm still blogging four years later (and I've never written in a journal for more than a week consistently).

I hope you rethink the term mom blogger (my preference), because I want to wear it like a freaking badge.

This will be our credo:

I'm a mom blogger. I'm raising the next generation of humans AND I blog! And what is it you do?

Betsy B. Honest

I know, right? Why is everybody so quick to get mad at mommies? Like of all the people spewing EVIL into cyberspace, how do MOMMIES even rate? I don't get it.

AthenaBee

I am with Athena 24 hours a day. I'm the last thing she sees at night and the first thing she sees in the morning.

I cook all her meals and we eat together, I am her preschool teacher, her mommy, her playmate, etc. She needs a few minutes to herself (or so I keep telling her) and so she does some independent play and I play online.

I don't see how any of those yahoos could find anything wrong with that.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama

Those comments were ... agh. There's so much hatred of women, of mothers, of successful women, of women trying to make money, of women succeeding at making money (or giving that impression) — just so much hatred in general. It's pukey.

I'm with Jessica. Sometimes I do let blogging get in the way of my parenting, but sometimes it's playing the Sims, or eating a meal while it's hot. I don't think the critics can have it both ways: Either we're obsessed with our children because we can't stop writing about them, or we're not obsessed enough because we can't stop writing. Bleh. I'm allowed to both like my child and my status as a mother and have a life and interests beyond that.

I like how you've written about this. Your defense is sound.

Anonymous

I had been arguing with my close friend on this issue for quite a while, base on your ideas prove that I am right, let me show him your webpage then I am sure it must make him buy me a drink, lol, thanks.

- Kris

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