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Heather Armstrong: All Hail Queen Dooce

Heather Armstrong

Is mommy blogging all it's cracked up to be? Probably, if you're Heather Armstrong.

anildash Anil Dash
Hi @dooce, I’ve got a newborn son & just read about you in the New York Times. Where are the parenting tips on your site? I can’t find them!

dooce Heather B. Armstrong
Oh hi! @anildash just go with this: 1. Mock your son endlessly! 2. Call him names you wouldn’t call your worst enemy! 3. ROLL IN THE DOUGH!

anildash Anil Dash
@dooce are racist names okay? He responds to those.

dooce Heather B. Armstrong
@anildash perfect. Also? No hugging!

That exchange from earlier today on Twitter, is, I believe, what you call mommy blogger humor. At least I’m pretty sure it is. I don’t know who Anil Dash is, but Heather Armstrong, or Dooce, is, like, the Queen Bee of Mommy Bloggers. And from what I know about her, she’s pretty funny, among other things.

I didn’t actually know who or what Heather Armstrong and Dooce.com were until earlier today when I read an article on her in the New York Times Magazine. I probably shouldn’t admit that, being that I am, in fact, mommy blogging at this very second and she is who I should be aspiring to become, apparently. But I also forgot to wear pants without a hole in the butt to a meeting this morning, so finding the time to aspire to be something other than being properly dressed was also out of the question.

I suspect that my ignorance and forgetfulness have something to do with the Mommy part of my job title. I was awoken this morning at an ungodly hour despite having turned off the baby monitor and shoved in my ear plugs as far as my head would allow — to the sounds of my 2-year-old wailing after she, I think, purposefully fell out of her bed head first just to see what would happen (she’s either going through a phase or she’s not as bright as I previously believed).

Since I’d be a bad Mommy if I ignored her cries, I got up, stuck a Dora Band-Aid on an imaginary boo-boo and went back to bed, although I never managed to fall sleep again. Hence the panty display at a business meeting because I forgot to change before getting into the car because I was just too sleepy. I’m too sleepy for a lot of things. Writing and mothering simultaneously sucks a lot out of me, but mostly just time, energy and a will to do much more than run and hide at inappropriate times.

I’m guessing, however, that Heather Armstrong would never moon anyone at an outside meeting. With her kind of success, meetings come to her, not the other way around. She started her blog as a single woman 10 years ago, and her site has morphed into a wildly popular phenomenon about her everyday family life, which includes her husband, washing machine, two kids and two dogs. She has also written two books, one of which is about her bout with postpartum depression. Her tone is irreverent, edgy and funny, and she makes you want to be friends with her. Well, at least I wouldn’t mind. Especially if it meant she’d loan me her babysitter every now and again.

She is a shining example of what many women with children aspire to be when they start writing online about potty training, preschool and bake sales. Her site attracts roughly 100,000 daily visitors, and Forbes has ranked her among the most powerful women in media. Her husband quit his job to manage the business end of Dooce.com after her advertising sales exceeded his paychecks. While she initially sold ads just to get some childcare, as a therapist suggested it would help ease her depression, the money flowed like wine, so it was too good to pass up.

She lost her day job when she first started blogging after alienating her co-workers on her site. She almost lost some family members along the way, too, and now they are left out of her writing. These days Armstrong is even writing less and less about her firstborn, who is now in elementary school, because those posts were starting to hit a little too close to, well, home for her daughter’s taste.

Armstrong writes about serious things not too seriously. Other popular mommy bloggers write about nothing seriously, and some, like Babble’s Katie Allison Granju (who has a cameo in the NYT Magazine piece) blog about deadly serious issues. The good ones, like Armstrong and Granju, are rewarded in spades with readers, and often times, detractors as well.

Blogging can be like like reality TV in print. People enjoy relating — or not — to real people, and being allowed a glimpse into someone else’s private life. Of course, like reality TV, blogging can also be scripted, or edited as the star sees fit. It’s nice to know that someone else does the crazy or stupid things you do, or it’s fun to watch people do crazy or stupid things you would never do. A good blogger probably writes about both.

Writing about family can be a touchy thing, as I can attest, and probably so can pretty much every other blogger here on Strollerderby. I’ve been writing about my family since I started my newspaper column nearly six years ago, which was about a year after I started dating my now-husband, then-boyfriend. I learned the hard way what is and is not off limits after receiving one too many cold shoulders.

My family has learned that when I write about them now, it’s a version of the truth. Like Armstrong,  I now consider some of my family members completely off limits. And funny always trumps facts, as far am I’m concerned. Which is why I now just usually write about my daughter only. At age two, she doesn’t read and can’t complain. That will change someday, but that’s what more offspring are for.

Armstrong would likely argue, too, that her blog posts are also “true enough,” as David Sedaris once said of his writing. The fact of the matter is, she can pretty much argue whatever she wants and thousands of people will hang on to her every word. And from what I can tell in the little time that I’ve known of her existence, she seems to have more than earned that power.

Are you a fan of the Dooce?

Image: Wikipedia

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