Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mom bloggers are raising the very status of motherhood in our society

Working three jobs simultaneously.
© Jessie Kirk Photography


In starting my blog, www.outrageousfortune.net, I've had moments of insecurity. Moments when I thought, do I really want to do this? Am I really going down this path?

This wasn't because I worried I wouldn't have readers or I would embarrass myself by putting my innermost feelings online where anyone could read them and ridicule me for them. I suppose I'm arrogant enough to think that people are interested in my life, and I'm interested enough in telling true stories that I'll risk the occasional rude commenter.

What I really worried about was that people — professional contacts and friends among them — would label me as "just another mommy blogger." The emphasis there is on "mommy," in the way that denotes unprofessionalism, self-indulgence and signing everything with little emoticon hearts. ♥♥

I know what those people think because I used to be one of them: writing about your motherhood and your kids is not "real" work, it's not important and it's not interesting.

The implication is that instead I should be writing for and about other people, people who are doing things. Well, let me tell you, I've been around those people: mayors, police officers and the like. They sure are doing things — good and bad — and people should tell their stories. But we mothers are also doing things — in some ways more important things — and there is no one to tell our stories because no one feels they are stories worth telling.

No one, but us.

But here's the funny thing about "the media." The media is just an echo chamber, amplifying stories that people are talking about everywhere. Now that mom bloggers are out there shouting their own stories into the echo chamber, the reverberations are starting to bounce around. Women like Heather Armstrong of dooce.com are making huge sums of money and attracting massive attention by simply talking about the normal ups and downs of motherhood. Traditional media outlets like the New York Times are hosting blogs like Lisa Belkin's Motherlode, lending credence to the idea that parenting is something worth talking about.

Mom bloggers are glorifying what has long been a decidedly glamour-less and thankless job. In so doing, I think they are doing more than anyone ever has to raise the status of traditionally female roles.

But while mom bloggers are pushing things in the right direction, society at-large still rolls its eyes at "woman's work" — house cleaning, child rearing, cooking. Women who aspire to traditionally male roles — C.E.O.s, doctors, lawyers — are lauded while the rare man who aspires to traditionally female roles — stay-at-home dads — are maligned.

This is the sexism that still exists in our culture. We women are either criticized for being career moms who "neglect" our children or, if we somehow find a form of employment that involves our children or allows us to care for them personally, we are slammed with the "mommy" prefix.

I've heard there is a similar debate going on in the photography community. Photography message boards are filled with angry comments about so-called MWACs (moms with a camera), who are not "real" professional photographers because they got their inspiration from taking photos of their children and parlayed that into a career.

Why is it that if the source of your inspiration is nothing less than the creation of life, your work is considered play and your business is considered a hobby?

While it's true that I make hardly any money at it and I work few and odd hours, I am not "just a mommy blogger." I am a writer. When I was in college, I wrote for my professors; when I was an intern, I wrote for my bosses; when I was a newspaper editor, I wrote for my readers. Now, I am taking some time to write for me.

Just because the subject of my writing now tends to be my children instead of city council meetings doesn't mean I am writing about issues that are not substantial. Indeed, the issues I write about go to the heart of who we are as human beings, how we got here and where we're going.

So on Mother's Day, as you pick up your bouquets and sign your cards and thank mom for all that she's done, go a step further: honor all moms.

Honor motherhood itself.

10 comments:

  1. Tell it, sister!

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  2. Well said, mom! The little ones are adorable, what a good picture! Who cares if the photographer has "proper" training?

    One of the few places (outside of the medical profession) where I consider people need proper training is in the music industry. I am so tired of hearing people screaming and ruining their voices when a few lessons on proper breathing and being in tune would make all the difference.

    Anyway, Happy Mother's Day to you!
    Faith

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  3. Amen!
    I enjoyed reading from one "mommy blogger" to another!

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  4. Thanks, Faith!
    What an interesting perspective about music. You must be in the industry somehow? Or maybe that metronome therapy is rubbing off, lol.

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  6. Shasta,

    No, not in the music industry. Just had a couple of really good choir teachers many moons ago when I was in school. Needless to say certain teen idols right now are not high on my list of favorites.

    I do think the metronome is rubbing off! In high school I was in the Flag Squad (Color Guard) and I couldn't swing the flag and keep in step at the same time. I actually got it right when I tried to help Ben learn what he was supposed to do with the metronome clapping!

    Hope your day is a happy one,
    Faith

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  7. Amen, girlfriend.
    I do admit I cringe at the "mommy blogger" label, because it just kind of narrows the description of who many of us are down to one tiny piece. What about the rest of me? Does having kids override everything else appealing or intelligent or intriguing that existed about me pre-kids?
    I like your post a lot. Ood job, and happy mothers day.
    Came from TRDC.

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  8. I never wanted to be a mommy blogger. I like to think that I at least try, when I'm writing about them, to write about more than "today we at peaches and then my big girl walked up the stairs and she is just the cutest, sweetest child on the planet and my heart bursts with love every day!" Because that is gag-inducing. Mommy bloggers can be smart and funny and important, even if it's just to let other moms out there know (in what is hopefully a funny way!) that someone has been where they are.

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  9. BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I've never heard the term MWAC. Awful.

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  10. Thank you, everybody!
    LMSBS and Amy: that's the point, we're NOT "mommy bloggers." We're just bloggers. I understand the need to categorize, but we are just writers. As long as we do a good job, (which you all do!) then people shouldn't disparage us because of our subject matter.

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