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Who's Watching The Kids?

There are a handful of things that mom bloggers are accused of on a regular basis. We’re exploiting our children. We’re selling out. We’re shallow, we’re catty the list goes on and on. But one of the most popular accusations is that we are so busy blogging and traveling to blog conferences that we can’t possibly be taking care of our children in the “right” way.

This came up again recently when my friend Annie asked a group of mom bloggers who attend a fair number of social media conferences, “Who watches your kids while you’re away?”

I answered the question honestly at first, saying that my husband who happens to be a full co-parent watches my daughter while I attend conferences. But the question rankled me and I kept thinking about it. Finally I asked Annie, “Would you ask men that travel for business that same question?”

Annie admitted that was a good question; she’s planning on traveling for work at least three times next year and is worrying about it. This year I personally went to eight conferences that require more than two nights away from my family, with many additional long day trips that kept me out of the house from dawn until midnight.

I am totally okay with that.

In an informal survey on Twitter, I asked if folks had husbands that traveled for work, and got about a dozen fast responses. On average, the husbands traveled about once a month, and, when I asked if anyone wonders who is watching the mens children while they travel the answer was a resounding NO.

I think there are three things going on when this question is asked of mom bloggers.

First, there is the gender bias that is still a major part of human culture. Women raise the kids, and men do the “real” work of earning an income for the family. What happens in a family like mine, then? I earn about a third more than my husband does, and some months more than that. This pervasive sexism explains the vaguely judgmental (and this is not from Annie, but from other friends and aquaintances I have in “real life”) questions and observations about how my husband is watching our daughter and how hard that must be for him.

Secondly and furthering these sexist ideals there is a VERY intense cultural idea about the nature of Motherhood, and how important Motherhood is, and how critical it is to the welfare of children that mothers set aside the idea of being anything other than Motherhood. We are not women or writers or entrepreneurs once we are mothers; at that moment all other things should be set aside as trivial, as unworthy dalliances while we do the work of Motherhood. It’s also important to note that the work of Motherhood is unpaid, unappreciated, yet still the thing we women must set everything else aside for.

Lastly, and I think this is one of the key points: there is an extremely pervasive idea that mom blogging is NOT work. That we are really just getting together to play and party at conferences, and that we just hang out on the computer all day (sounds VERY similar to the old attitude toward homemakers lying around eating bons bons all the day long). So, with that basic assumption, we mothers that travel for work specifically related to mom blogging are committing multiple sins. We’re abandoning our sacred duties of Motherhood, neglecting our children and asking too much of our poor husbands, and doing this all for the amazingly trivial reason of mom blogging.

So, basically, we’re screwed six ways to Sunday not to mention that our husbands and partners are considered both inept about raising kids and are forced into the uncomfortable role of HAVING to watch the kids by our trivial pursuits.

What do you think? Are we abandoning our children to travel for mom blogging business, or are we being savvy business professionals? One good point to mention, too, is on my Twitter survey many mom bloggers pointed out that it’s other women that ask about who is watching the kids, NOT men. So this problem starts, so to speak, in our own kitchens.

I think, personally, this tweet sums up my feelings about it perfectly.

Exactly. What say you?

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