Mommy Blogging: How I've Chosen To "Have It All"Elizabeth Beller
Mommy Blogging is part of a new motherhood industrial complex and people are making a living off of it — I don’t mean all the marketers selling things to mothers, but the mothers themselves, though perhaps the fact is the lines between these two groups have become somewhat blurred. Everyone keeps wondering why mommy blogging is such an international rage. How are we supposed to do anything else?, I was thinking the other day, during one of the rare intervals when I feel entitled to both have a thought and develop it.
Motherhood used to be written about in the past tense; people wrote about their mothers. Now they write about being mothers. Case in point: The Hive, Where’d You Go Bernadette, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (book and movie) Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (book and probably movie but they’d better resurrect Mark Darcy if they want to cover production cost). But most of all the fairly modern phenomenon of mommy blogging.
I was talking to my mother the other day, bringing her up-to-date on all the things going on in my family, when I suddenly realized that I had misplaced my cell phone.
“I think I’ve lost my phone,” I said. I began to rummage around. About two minutes of increasingly distressed conversation transpired before I realized, more or less simultaneously, that we do not have a landline in our home, and that I was talking to my mother on my cell phone.
I have never been so aware of the distinction between doing and thinking as I am now, with two little children to look after, a thought that is itself very hard to sustain for reasons I will now discuss.
In motherhood, I spend my day decidedly doing, expressly not thinking, unless I stop and try. REALLY hard. The act of caring for small children requires a level of physicality (a tantruming toddler has the strength of The Hulk) that saps much thought out of a parent, not to mention that any daydreaming can be an act of negligence resulting in a 2-year-old stranded at the top of the frame of a bunk bed asking his sister to lie on the floor to break his fall. (Yes, that happened.) Evangeline was smart enough to decline the offer. Instead, she advised him to hold on and scream for me, and later chastised me later for not putting the other mattress on the top bunk.
I write from within the three hour stretch of quiet time I have each day during which my youngest is in pre-school. My husband is usually out of the house, though sometimes he is not, which is usually nice, though sometimes it is not. I don’t want to seem blasé about my gifts — the many gifts — and yet, three hours of quiet time is not a lot of time. They are in the child-herding institution we call school, but that doesn’t really constitute enough mental space to get out of the Motherland, to be both figurative and Freudian about it.
It’s difficult enough to be reflective about parenting when you are parenting, which is how we wonderfully screw up our kids, and why practices like “mindful parenting” are all the rage and, embarrassingly enough, quite helpful. Because it puts into relief just how mindless your life has become. To ask yourself to think/write/reflect about anything else feels impossible. So creative life and mother life meld. Thus: the Motherhood Industrial Creative Complex, aka MICC.
Underpinning this reality is the fact motherhood is an anxiety provoking state, and mommy blogging is a form that is consoling to both reader and writer.
I suppose I’m one of the many for whom mothering has substituted for career, which may also be why mommy-blogging has an appeal. I want to be with my children, but want to also have a semblance of life outside the MICC. I was brought up and groomed for professional life by my Baby Boomer parents whose cultural environment was the exact opposite of today’s Super-parenting, which may be why such retro shows as Mad Men have such appeal. I tell myself that when they’re older I’ll re-enter a full career, but through experience and word-of-mouth I’m realizing kids never stop needing you, and in some ways they need you even more as they maneuver through hormone-addled tweendom. Yet they also need a parent with interests and a purpose outside of diaper changing and after school chauffeuring.
Some people Lean In. Some Have It All. I just want to lean over (read: sit down). Putting words into intelligible thought is as much exertion as I am up for at this stage.