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A Mommy Blogger By Any Other Name (Would Still Blog About Motherhood)

20100910-PMN-Proudfoot-Vanier0020.JPGThe post that follows is a revised version of a post that I wrote last year, and one that I just reposted on my own blog (in part because I’ve been interrogating my own identity as a ‘mommy blogger’, what with the move to working outside the home, etc, etc, and in part because Kyle and I have been having conversations – partly in jest, partly not – about him becoming a dad blogger when we complete our move to New York and we’ve been stumbling over terms like ‘dad blogger’ and ‘daddy blogger.’ Why is it, do you think, that we almost never hear the term ‘daddy blogger’?)

But it’s relevant here, too, not least because there’s been some discussion here of late about what we call ourselves, and why calling ourselves ‘mommy bloggers’ doesn’t sit well with everyone. As I discuss below, I’ve struggled with this, a lot, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I am, in fact, perfectly happy to be called a mommy blogger. Read on – past the first line that seems to assert the contrary – to find out why…

Dear Internet: I am not a mommy blogger

I am mother, yes. I blog about my children, sometimes, and about motherhood, frequently, and about other things here and there, and I do have the word ‘mother’ in the title of my blog. But I am not a mommy blogger. You can call me one, if you want, and I won’t mind, not really. I will mind, a little bit, though, and I’ll maybe say something like, oh, but I blog about more than just motherhood. I’m not just a mom.

And it makes me sad to say that, because you know what? I’m proud of being – yes – a Mommy. And I’m proud of being a blogger – a writer – who has made a career out of reflecting upon the condition of her ‘mommy-ness’ and who has contributed to the tremendous and – yes – revolutionary movement that is mothers seizing the opportunity to own their stories and to create discursive space with those stories. I’m proud to be part of a community of women who work to lift the veil on the lifeworld that is motherhood, the lifeworld that has for the entirety of human history been kept hidden behind the walls of privacy and modesty and decorum, the lifeworld that has so long been kept at a remove from the public sphere and from public discourse. And if that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about mommy-blogging – if by mommy-blogging we refer to what the very wise Alice once, and rightly, called a radical act – then yes, I really do want to claim the mantle mommy blogger and own it and wave it proudly. But that’s not what most people are thinking of when they use the term mommy blogger. That’s not what they’re thinking of at all.

They’re thinking, vapid diaries about shit and binkies. They’re thinking, mindless prattle about playdates and sippy cups. They’re thinking, glorified scrapbooks and virtual coffee klatches and dear GOD won’t someone shut them up already? They use the term condescendingly, as shorthand for women you probably shouldn’t bother listening to, because, you know: MOMMY = SILLY. MOMMY = RIDICULOUS. MOMMY = WOMAN WHO IS DISEMPOWERED AND ALSO MINDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH DIAPER BAGS. A mommy, in the estimation of those who look down their noses at ‘mommies’, is a woman who couldn’t possibly have anything serious or interesting to say. And a mommy blogger? Is a woman who makes a daily practice of forcing her unseriousness and uninterestingness upon the world.

But why? Even the person who is most clueless about how diverse and complicated is the mad, mad world of the Internets should know that a) the community (broadly speaking) of women who are mothers and who blog is vast and heterogeneous, and it is reductive and misleading to collapse them all into one category, and b) even if someone does identify themselves as a ‘mommy blogger,’ that identity isn’t necessarily relevant to everything that they do or say, online or off. But even setting those things aside, why on earth should it be a matter of ridicule or condescension if a woman blogs about her motherhood and/or children, qua mommy blogger or not qua mommy blogger? What the hell does everyone have against mommies and moms and mothers, anyway? Unless you sprung fully formed from the forehead of your father, you probably have one yourself.

This bothers me, in part, because it seems to be part of a broader and deeper social inclination to dismiss and disparage mothers and motherhood; to compartmentalize mothers, to set them apart and ignore their discourse and, basically, just shove them back behind the veil – the wall of the private sphere – where, it seems, some people think they probably belong. There’s a long and fascinating history to that whole social impulse. The ancient Romans, for example, codified it and wove into the very fabric of their understanding of morality. Public virtue was for men (hence the very meaning of the term virtue, which holds the root vir, or man, such that virtu, in Latin, means manly); the honor of women, on the other hand, was modesty (pudicitia), defined almost entirely by their ability and willingness to respect the barriers of their gilded cage, the domain of family, the private sphere. That was millenia ago, but still: every time someone makes fun of ‘moms’ for discussing the work of motherhood in public, or for simply daring to live and breathe and flaunt their motherhood publicly, they give us all a little shove back toward that cage. That women participate in this appalls me. That self-described feminists do it makes me crazy.

And that any of this makes me, even for a second, recoil at the term ‘mommy blogger’ makes me want to punch the very mirror that I’m looking in, because recoiling from the term ‘mommy blogger’ is part of the problem. It’s conceding the point; it’s a move backwards, an acknowledgment that okay, yeah, maybe I should be embarrassed by my own ‘mommy blogging’ impulses. Maybe I shouldn’t write so much about my kids! Maybe mommy blogging isn’t a radical act. Ceding that ground is ceding the argument that there is something unseemly about flaunting one’s motherhood in public. It’s letting the terrorists win.

So forget that. I’m loud, I’m proud, I’m a mommy and I BLOG. SO THERE.

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