I didn't know what a blog was supposed to be and so I went into that safe place for parents and posted pictures of my kids along with descriptions of things we'd done that day.
It was fine, but after awhile I realized that nobody wanted to read it besides my mom. (Hi mom).
Somewhere around this time, my sister (again) introduced me to C.Jane's blog.
I found C.Jane and I said: oh. This is what a blog is meant to be.
C.Jane blogged about the kids sometimes, yes. But more importantly, what she was doing was documenting her experience. With raw honesty and a wicked sense of humor, she was putting her (emotionally) naked self out there. An act of bravery for anyone, but especially for a woman. Especially for a mother. Especially for a person from a religious culture. And I thought ok, I want to write a blog that's as true as C.Jane's.
So that's what I try to do.
It's just the truth.
Today C.Jane has a column in the Deseret News about the term "mommy blogger" and why she doesn't like it. I was thrilled to see this column, because I too strongly dislike the term mommy blogger. C.Jane's post about how she views the term as "buzz words for bloggers trying to drive traffic"is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in blogging, social media, mothering or, dare I say it, feminism.
Which brings me to why I dislike the term.
Here in 2011, we still live in a world in which men are afforded some things women aren't. One of those privileges men have is the privilege not to be identified by whether or not they have children.
There are men who blog, right? Many of those men have children and I bet sometimes they write about them. And yet, have you ever heard the term "daddy blogger"?
Tina Fey was offered the award of "Funniest Mom in America" and she turned it down. Love that woman. I haven't had the chance yet to ask Tina directly, but I'd be willing to bet it's because of this: Nobody is offering to name Will Ferrell, or John Stewart, or Steve Carell the "funniest dad in America". These men are all fathers, but nobody asks them to attach fatherhood to their public identities. It would limit them and define them in ways they probably haven't asked for. They are allowed simply to be comedians.
Men are allowed to be their profession. They are allowed to create their own identities separate from home and family roles. Women are still asked to be their profession PLUS mother. The term "mommy" is sort of like the new suffix "ess". Actress, authoress, poetess, postmistress? Now they are mommy bloggers, funny moms, powerful moms, political moms, CEO moms, doctor moms, etc.
The problem with that is that it limits women. It ties us to certain false identities, namely the stereotypical "mother" and all that identity entails.
Mothering is something that came to me unexpectedly. I've written about the months after having Ayla, the postpartum depression, how overwhelmed I was in that role. One of the things that was most difficult for me was the loss of identity. I wasn't me anymore. I was me plus baby. The buttery baby I wanted, the label I didn't. Before I'd had a chance to become any other thing I'd dreamed of--writer, world traveler, wearer of butterscotch boots--I'd had a label thrust on me. And "mother", it's a heavy label, full of societal expectations and perhaps the world's harshest judgments. Are we harder on anyone else than we are on a "bad mother"?
Mother is a weighty label and under it, I began to drown.
The thing that saved me, of course, was writing. I needed space for myself. Space where I wasn't mommy, or wife, or daughter. Space that was label and expectation free.
I couldn't have survived without that space. Which is perhaps why I balk at the term "mommy blogger". This blogging space, this writing space, is my own open range. C.Jane once quoted an author who told her children, "I will love you with all my heart but not with all my time". That resonated with my soul. We are allowed to save something just for us: a portion of the Halloween candy. An afternoon at the bookstore. The territory of our souls. More than allowed. By refusing to give our children our emptied-out everything, becoming over time dry, dusty soil unable to bear fruit, we nourish our inner landscapes enough that they may flourish. Enough that when we do give of ourselves, our offerings are nourishing and abundant.
This is what saves me. From drowning beneath the label, beneath the world's judgments, beneath my own.
To my children, I'm a mom. (Not even mommy anymore).
Here, I'm just me.