Monday, November 24, 2014

Mommy Blogs

The Burrow is a personal blog.  That seems to be the current catch-all for those of us who don't concentrate on politics or fashion or giving advice.  I started writing in April, 2009, at the suggestion of my then 20-something son, Big Cuter.  He told me to write because he liked reading my words.  He thought others would like them too; "You are much hipper than you think you are, Mom."

That was my favorite compliment for many years. 

I write what I like to think about.  I adhere to Dooce's primary blogging rule: I don't write about anyone whose feelings would be injured by my words.  There have been some marvelously snarky unwritten posts over the years.  They rattle around in my brain, tempting me with an apt phrase or description that perfectly captures the absurdity I'm not posting for you.  There are some mournful posts which touch on the lives of others in a way that might be intrusive; those, too, live only in my brain. 

There are a few personal posts which have been written but will remain as drafts, never to see the light of day. Did you think I was kidding when I said that blogging is the cheapest form of therapy I've found? Sometimes it helps to write things down, even if I know that you'll never see them.

With all of that, you'd think that I would have managed to steer clear of disaster, wouldn't you? 

Well, you'd be wrong.

I was reminded of this by Megan's comment on Thursday's post last week.  She doesn't read Mommy Blogs.  They make her feel less than perfect.  The moms describe scenarios of preciousness and precociousness and she looks at untied shoelaces and too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time and feels like a failure.  Words have that power.  I know that is true, because I did that to someone, too.

I'm not linking to it, because I don't want the kerfuffle to begin anew.  Suffice it to say that I read a friend's post, wrote my own post responding to what I thought was a legitimate question she'd raised, linked my post to hers, and was surprised at the result.

The comments on my post were passionate, thoughtful, disturbed.  How could I judge her?  Didn't I know that she is a wonderful mother?  How dare I impugn her parenting skills?

I hadn't written it as an ad hominem attack on a woman I love.  I agreed with all the statements extolling her virtues.  She'd been there for me in the past; I was appalled that my words were being construed as vitriol by her readers.  I thought that she'd asked a question.  I, a generation or two away, had what I thought would be an interesting perspective on the issue.  I wasn't sure where I'd end up, but I thought I had shared some pertinent concerns in a thoughtful and kind manner.

Because I know that I often carry a blunderbuss when a butter knife would do, I wasn't as shocked as I might otherwise have been.  Big Cuter tells me that my apt messages are often obscured by the artlessness of my delivery.  I'm used to being looked askance at. 

This was different, though.  Rather than discussing the issue at hand, my friend's readers, Mommy Bloggers themselves for the most part, were discussing the context. 

Didn't I realize she was posing a hypothetical?  Yes I did.  I was responding to it.

Didn't I know that she tried her very best, that her kids were nearly perfect, that she'd never do anything that smacked of poor parenting?  Yes, I did.  I thought she was asking for suggestions.

Didn't my readers seem just a big smug?  Weren't we forgetting, in our dotage, how overwhelming the task of parenting might be?  Why did we think it was permissible to trash another human being who was only doing what she thought was right?  By this point, twenty or so comments into the situation (and a situation it was, indeed), I was losing sight of the point.  I'd written an answer to a serious question and, in doing so, I had sparked a confrontation.

I was forced to defend myself rather than my position.  I had to rework, rewrite, reframe my argument.  She was wondering.  From decades down the parenting path, my readers were answering.  None of them sounded particularly harsh or judgmental. To me, it seemed as if they, too, were responding to her inquiry.

Was she doing the right thing? I'd been hoping for a conversation.  What I got was an argument.  I didn't plan on being in the midst of the Mommy Wars, but I was. 

As a stay home mom, I resisted becoming annoyed when working women wondered when I'd return to the real world. I didn't remind them that my real world included an adorable infant who was infinitely more rewarding to tend than random clients had been. 

Everyone makes different choices, everyone has different resources, no one shares my priorities.  That doesn't make me right and everyone else wrong.  That's just life.  Those were the precepts I created once I began parenting, precepts born out of trying to find common ground with my own parents and in-laws, who didn't always agree with my plans.  We could differ without hostility as long as I was respectful of their perspective.  I'd tried to take that same approach with my blog post, but, apparently, I failed.

Or, perhaps, I didn't fail.  Perhaps I had wandered into a corner of the interwebs where different rules apply.  Perhaps, in Mommy Blog Land, it's safest to agree and move on.

Then, again, perhaps it's better to avoid them entirely. 

I'm just not sure, and I don't have to worry about it.  I'm not looking for advice on the subjects they are likely to be discussing.  That part of my life is over, thankfully. Now, I just have to worry about Megan and Little Cuter and The Bride and all the other young mothers in my circle.  There are apps and blogs and lists and sites and I think it all comes down to thinking that I am glad I parented my children before all this free advice was so readily available.


  1. I am glad you wrote this. I had a similar experience when I first started blogging and I have been silently and secretly nursing the hurt since then. Lesson learned, though. Save us all from indignant self-righteousness.

    1. And what a shame that you've been aching since then. It's such a hard line to walk, that between what I want to say and know will be fascinating (!) and what I ought to withhold to avoid pain.

  2. Well, I'm not certain what happened, but I most definitely would take advice from you. Your grown children are a testament to how great of a mother you are. Maybe it's because I know and love you that I find your advice and words comforting. You understand that being a parent isn't the easiest thing to do and not everyone is cut out for it. My mother was a horrible mother. I swore when I had kids I would not be like her.

    As for the SAHM and the working mother, I don't judge on this 'cause it's a personal choice. Anyone that thinks that moms who stay home are sitting around eating, hasn't got a clue. My SAHM's work just as hard and if not harder. They take on a lot of responsibilities like being a room mom or volunteering in their child's class. It's all a balancing act and the best way we can support each other as mothers is to not judge.

    Hope you are enjoying your time with Little Cuter and her family.


    Megan xxx

    1. Thanks Megan! I love you, too.

      Learning not to judge is tough, isn't it? Figuring out that we can all be "right" even though our solutions are different is one of the toughest tasks of becoming a parent.

  3. I run into this whenever I add a comment to a political article (could be anywhere but Huffington or Daily Beast are examples) and get slammed up the wahzoo for what I said and who I am thought to be based on what I had commented. I keep thinking I should not comment anywhere ever again, but then I'll read something and feel compelled to add my two cents. You'd think by now I'd be expecting the snarkiness (not saying that happened in your comment) but I always think comments will stick to the issue which as you said is whatever the original piece was about. It does not too often. :(

    1. I'm frightened to post on HuffPost or the Beast; I would need a protective shield around my heart, I fear. When I leave comments on Brenda Starr's weekly posts, I try to stay neutral and positive.... and sometimes that actually works.

      Your inability to expect the snarkiness (and yes, I didn't expect it - you were right) is one of the most wonderful things about you. You expect others to treat you as you would treat them......


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