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Disney and Babble – The Not-So-Odd Couple

Just in case you didn’t already hear the big news yesterday — Babble Media has been acquired by Disney!  {For some great perspective on the journey Babble has made thus far, read the articles today on the acquisition at the new Babble Bugle}

When I first heard the news, I admit my jaw was just a skosh on the floor. Ok, A LOT on the floor. At first glance, it seems as though Disney and Babble are something of an odd couple, right? However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that no — Babble and Disney actually have so much in common. Why?

Disney is known for innovation. It changed the face of animated movies when Pixar was born, and it’s the same company that brought us TV watersheds like Lost and Modern Family. To me, Disney has combined the genius of being both unpredictable and a voice that we can count on to make us feel.

Whether or not you always agree with what Babble writers have to say — Babble has changed the face of parent blogging. Babble is both unpredictable and yet has a voice we can count on for honesty. This matters. Why?

My mom raised me on a steady diet of Erma Bombeck quotes. She taught me that no one talked about the realness of motherhood — how hard it was, how different it was from what was portrayed on TV. How so not perfect real families can be.  Except for maybe the Roseanne show, I never saw families struggling with the issues we had because no one was talking about them. If I hadn’t been told that — yeah, other people do this they just don’t admit it — I would have felt like such a freak. I admit I felt like a bit of a freak anyway, but that was for other reasons…

The playgroups and church mom groups were keeping their voices and their real stories under wraps, usually because of some obsession with perfection that was ingrained by culture and religion. Erma’s writing made my mom feel less alone — but she never had conversations with Erma or Erma’s readers. She never had a place to share her own stories or find support beyond the local community that had already made a silent vow to keep up the image that “everything was fine“.

I became a mother in 2002 after a year of finding community in a Yahoo group where we shared our real stories about infertility.  These were issues and heartaches I couldn’t share with people locally — it’s a little awkward to get into deep conversation about cervical fluid when you run into someone you know at Starbucks. Once I did get pregnant the Yahoo groups were once again a place to find other moms sharing their stories, and a place where I could share mine and know that, if nothing else, people were listening.

So when I started blogging back in the ancient times of 2004, it seemed like a movement. It was still tiny Live Journal and Blogspot in it’s infancy {remember when Google didn’t own everything?}, but blogging was my “Erma.” The stories, the community, the interaction, the ability to share my voice and to see parenting exposed for the real deal. That same real deal that I experienced, highs, lows, and in-betweens. But it was still new. Not even close to mainstream. And the audience, even for “big” bloggers, was limited.

Babble has found a way to bring together an army of parent bloggers armed with honesty and a penchant for avoiding the pastel blandness that encircled all the parent-related sites before it, and taken that limited audience and expanded it exponentially.  Babble has done what Disney did to a lesser degree — and that same pushing of innovation, sharing stories and creating a new culture is the reason why these two media companies are well suited to join forces and forge ahead to the next big thing. A dream is a wish your heart makes, and all that jazz.

So yesterday we celebrated here at home. We put on a Disney movie of the pirate variety and turned off the lights and melted organic butter over organic popcorn {which makes me a hipster Babble writer, apparently}. I told my family the good news and spread the word via social media and started imagining what Erma would think about all of it.

I think she’d be proud of the moms like me who are sharing stories and keeping it real, I think she’d be excited about Babble and Disney coming together, and I know for certain she’d blog about it.

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