Thursday, October 27, 2011

Buttery Babies And Blogs about Bourbon


One day my sister aim'ed me (remember before google chat?) and said "you should start a blog". Probably because I was bored, and mostly because I had been drinking whisky in the depth of a dark November, I said ok.

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.


  1. I hope that C Jane's blog is NOT what a blog is suppose to be. I hope that blogs can be whatever we want them to be for us. It's ours, right?
    Just a thought..

  2. Found your blog from Cjanes facebook post...anyway. Your piece did make me think but I guess I am perplexed by both you and CJanes desire to not be labeled "mommy blogger". I still don't get why not? I think it is sad that Tina Fey turned down Funniest Mom. She has this amazing opportunity to say to the world..."Look, I am funny! AND I am a mom!" It was a good chance to show the world that neither are mutually exclusive. Now, my blog isn't much of anything, and never will be but I am proud to say.."Look, I am a blogger...kind of! And I am a mom!"

    Anyway, I do like your blog...mommy blog or not.

  3. I am LoW, absolutely. C.Jane's blog was a good model for what I wanted to do. Of course every blogger must forge their own ground & not follow someone's rules.

    Emily, and the emily--thanks! I really appreciate you stopping by and your thoughtful comments. To me, the term is limiting. I think you should be proud to be a mom and a blogger, too.

  4. Fantastic point. You are Mom to your children...but, to anyone else, you should be Brittany.

    The only value I can see to being a "mommy blogger" is the automatic currency that carries in some circles (though I personally think blogs should be judged on their own merit, not their label). And you're right...I don't call my blog a "man blog" or a "very available bachelor blog" (but, hello ladies) because nobody cares about that.

  5. Matthew, I'm dying here. Very Available Bachelor Blog. I think you've got a brand there.

  6. This is right on! How true that we need to nurture ourselves before we can give our best in all other aspects of our

  7. I have also wondered if men blog. I've never viewed you as a "Mommy blogger", and I too have feared my blog becoming a mommy blog after it's long, independent run. Come over at hit me with a stroller if that happens, okay?

  8. I really don't see how anyone would ever label your blog, or cJane's, or Colleens, a "mommy blog" anyway. It's clear that your focus here is writing, which is what you're so talented and passionate about. I totally get why you wouldn't want to be labeled that way, but still that feeling isn't there for everyone.

    I definitely am a "mommy blogger", and I love blogging about my experience as a mother. I never intended it to be my writing career, or a money/fame maker. I wanted it to be a sort of scrapbook or time capsule for my children and myself. And just the other night Justin and I went "back in time" on my blog, looking at photos from Eisley's first Halloween, and we got teary eyed and Justin turned to me and said, "I'm so glad you've done this." That's what my mommy blog is for. So-called "Mommy bloggers" are often criticized for posting false representations of how great their lives are. But what if those are just the bits they want to look back and remember? We don't criticize scrapbookers for not creating album pages with stickers about how much their children annoyed them on that trip to Disneyland or how they feel like a failed mother on any given day, and such.

    But you also know, I am a "craft blogger", too. I have over 250 followers there and just got paid my first $100 because of that blog. I'm proud of that, too. That's where I'm daring, where I post things I worry about people approving and commenting on. Where I put myself out there in the world.

    To me, this is as perplexing as if you told people not to call me "blonde" because it was "limiting". Even though I AM a blonde, and it's not a negative term. But because I needed to know I could go to the store and buy hair color and become a brunette or a red head if I wanted to, people shouldn't limit me this way. Honestly, that would be kinda insulting to me, to imply that I didn't KNOW I could be a blonde sometimes but also a red head, and so people shouldn't confuse me by calling me a PART what I AM. Women are smart enough to know that the term mommy is not limiting them from becoming professionals or superstars in other walks of life, also. Though some will choose to remain in that space as mommy, but if that's what they want...

    My point is, if someone WANTS to have a family-focused blog and wants to call themselves a "mommy blogger" (because that's what some of us do, even if it's not what a blog is "supposed to be", and even if the only people who read it are our mothers, we post about our life as mothers because we want to), I don't think there is any shame in that. But if someone wants to call me a "mommy crafter blogger", that's ok, too. Mommy has never been a term that I have felt limited by. I can definitely see why some people don't like it or want it. I can also see why some don't mind it and are, dare I say, even proud of that label. My concern is, that by one side saying that term is not okay or acceptable, that the other side will feel ashamed or embarrassed suddenly because of something they were (and should be) proud of. I, personally, don't think the word "mommy" can EVER degrade me. It's not a hate term. It's a badge I earned through love, pregnancy, labor, and being up at 3am holding my puking kid over a trash can. The only time I'm ever bothered by labels is when they are negative ones in MY eyes. The ones I don't want. Mommy doesn't fall under that category. It's not a shameful side that I want edited out so that I can be taken more seriously.

    Besides, people's labels don't define me. I do.

  9. Heath,the issue for me has nothing to do with female bloggers of any variety and everything to do with the way society views them. I don't like the term specifically because I don't want family-focused blogs to be belittled. Of course you should call yourself whatever you chose. The issue is when someone chooses for you.

  10. Colleen, yes, lots of men blog and lots of men read blogs. It's true. I wonder if anyone calls Matt Logelin a daddy blogger.

    Janessa, thank you.

  11. I read the term "Mommy Blogger" and a vision of an overwhelmed woman with needy pawing children comes to mind. I have never thought of your blog as a "Mommy" post decrying the tribulations of parenthood.I think of your blog as a writer's blog, as YOUR blog. And this was a very good post.

    I would like to start a blog, but by the strictures of the medium I would have to call it, "Cranky Old Bastard Blog" ---B.E.

  12. I think of your blog not as a mommy blog but a writer's blog. Yes, you talk about your kids, but when you do it's not, "Squee! Junior smiled / took first steps / lost a tooth / is learning cursive! Growing up so fast! My little buggie-boo-boo isn't a baby any more! Crying!" (See too many of these. Gag. Sorry, the only people that care to read that are grandparents.)

    You're very real and honest - and pretty darn hilarious. (So are your kids, from reading your Twitter.) There's also a certain rhythm and cadence to your words that is beautiful. It's what keeps me coming back even though I'm not a mom, nor a beer-drinker, and have only seen you once in the past ten years. :)


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