In a complete surprise to me yesterday, I showed up in an infographic about mom bloggers that appeared on the website Mashable. The graphic was widely-debated, both here on Babble and elsewhere, not least of which because it featured a white mom wearing an apron. Because, as Cecily Kellogg humorously pointed out, “… all mommy bloggers are white, blonde, and wear dresses and aprons.” Not.
I was also surprised to see several people point out, in reaction to the piece, that I’m not a mom blogger. What? I write about moms. I write about having children. I write about the illnesses pregnant and new moms may get when they have children. I’ve written about my own children, on my site, at ParentDish and here on Babble. I happen to think I am a mom blogger, and also a health blogger, a social good blogger, a women’s empowerment blogger, and a parenting blogger. I had the immediate reaction that I don’t want people defining what type of blogger I’m not any more than what type of blogger I am.
I know what everyone was trying to say. Don’t minimize us by labeling us all “mommybloggers.” It led me to thinking about how all mothers get pigeonholed. You are either a stay-at-home mom OR a working mom. A breastfeeding mom OR a formula mom. A Republican mom OR a Democrat mom. An attachment mom OR a cry-it-out mom. If you blog about your kids, you’re a “mommyblogger.” It doesn’t matter if you also blog about space, or politics, or mental health, or technology. We get subtracted down into small pieces and parts and I’m not sure that makes it any easier to understand who we really are.
It’s all in an effort to make us neat, concise and measurable. We have to fit into a digestible demographic, one that advertisers understand how to pitch to. I get that. I’m not interested in being all things to all people. I do have areas in which I specialize, both in social media and in life. I’m cool with demographics and statistics, as long as you also know I’m still a mash-up (pun intended) of many ideas and stances and interests and more.
I think some of the women who commented on the Mashable story said it well:
Joanne Bamberger of PunditMom: “Women who happen to be mothers write about A LOT more than mothering on their blogs. (Like me!)”
Kelly Whalen of The Centsible Life: “While there is no doubt these WOMEN who blog are successful-please don’t call them mommy’ bloggers-their topics range from medical issues to humor and from cooking to yes, parenting.”
Karen Wilson: “For those who insist on calling bloggers who happen to be moms ‘mommy bloggers’, would you call Meg Whitman a ‘Mommy CEO’ and get away with it or Sheryl Sandberg a ‘Mommy COO’? Absolutely not. There is a level of respect for what she does that isn’t afforded to bloggers who are mothers (and fathers too).”
I love Wilson’s point. Many of the women I know in the “mom blogosphere” are powerhouses, just like Whitman and Sandberg are. They’ve created companies. They employ people. They spread ideas. They cultivate change. They don’t have a problem being mommies. They just don’t want their mommyhood constantly referred to when it comes to their value in the world of work. One of my favorite quotes on this is from Liz Gumbinner at Mom-101:
To be clear, I don’t want to confuse rejecting the “mommyblogger” moniker with rejecting our roles as mommies to our children. Like so many of you said so eloquently, mommy is a term my three year-old calls me and I adore it. It’s funny and sweet and earnest and in a lot of ways, ironic. (How can I be someone’s mommy? I hate cooking! I have sex toys!) But mommy—and any derivative thereof— is not what I want to be called by a peer and equal in a venue where I hope to be taken seriously.
Exactly. I’d like to be taken seriously. We all would.
I accept that being a mother defines me. Just not all of me. I am also partially defined by being a wife, a writer, a Christian, a Southerner, a redhead, a public speaker, a change agent and someone with a mental illness. I believe in fiscal conservatism. I also believe gay people should be able to get married. I’m terrible at math, but I also love astrophysics. I’m a great cook, but have never barbecued a thing in my life. (I’m afraid of setting myself and everything else on fire.) I’m courageous about some things and fearful of others (see also: barbecuing). I get to decide who I am and what I represent. Not anybody else.
Recognize us, yes. Thank you, Mashable and others, for pointing out the interesting influence that bloggers who mom are having these days. Just know we don’t want to be pigeonholed. In the immortal but revised words from Dirty Dancing, “No one puts mommy in a corner.”