When is a Mummy Blog not a Mummy Blog?

A friend recently gave me a link to a radio conversation she’d heard and thought I might find interesting..  Among other topics for discussion was ‘mummy’ (or ‘mommy’ depending on how your English is accented) blogs.  The point was made that the title ‘mummy blog’ was used often quite disparagingly, to dismiss as trivial and unimportant the issues raised in such forums.

On some level, I was aware of this, since I’ve been blogging at livejournal for some years now, and it was in order to avoid the ‘mummy blog’ stigma that I started here at WordPress.  It’s not that my livejournal is only about my children, but they feature strongly in it, since I use it to record their — and my — milestones, and what I’m thinking at the time.  And after all, I’m a mummy, so of course my blog is a mummy blog.

Wait, really?

Why does my identity as a person have to rest on whether or not I’ve reproduced? In order to be taken seriously, should I avoid any mention of children?  Or is a passing mention acceptable, but a post all about them would have me lose my credibility?  Do we dismiss the issues in such blogs because we dismiss mothering as worthwhile?  Is it assumed that you’ll be unable to make intelligent observations once you have a child?

I think it’s hit home because I’m having my own existential crisis of sorts.  I’ve now got four young children, and most of my day is spent parenting, and I sometimes wonder about where my own personality disappeared to.  Where did that well-read, interested, eloquent woman go, and who is this rather exhausted-looking and frazzled person staring back at me in the mirror?  It’s always been important to me to read and write about international issues, world politics, social change.  I want to identify and be identified as more than just a parent.

And yet… and yet!

I love being a parent.  I love sitting down to afternoon tea with my children, or exploring in the garden with them.  I love reading to them on an evening, when they tuck themselves under my arms and lie across my legs and hang on every rhyme.  And I’m also interested in other people’s family lives.  I’m interested in how other people deal with parenting issues; I share their enthusiasm about their children’s achievements and I empathise when they’re going through difficult times.  This kind of blog serves a purpose, too: it is a sharing of information, it provides a sense of camaraderie, it helps one feel less alone in the parenting journey.  That’s what  I think of, when I hear the term ‘mummy blog’.

I realise though, that while I enjoy reading such blogs, I’m enjoying them because I’m going through similar experiences, not because they’re challenging my beliefs or asking controversial questions which give pause for thought.  Of course, some of them do just that — they place their parenting squarely in terms of the wider world.  Are they still mummy blogs?

I do wonder about the impression I’m giving, when I write about my children’s lives.  I want to portray myself as a person first.   But while it irks me that others may see me as parent first — rather than teacher or gardener or Volvo driver — I still don’t want them to dismiss the parent part. Is it too much to ask that I can lament how frustrating it is to be toilet training my toddler, and in the next breath, want to discuss the situation in North Korea?  Why does it have to be one or the other?  It’s true that there are times when I’m so sleep deprived that I can’t even string together a coherent sentence about anything, let alone a topic of international importance. But for me, on  most days, I’d at least like to try to have a conversation which revolves around something other than parenting.

There are blogs in which the author simply wants to record what is happening, to remind herself for later.  And there are others where the author wants the writing to shine as much as the content.  If we want to be taken seriously as writers, and if we want to blog about our children and their daily routines, then we need to illustrate through our writing that we are still intelligent, contemplative individuals.   That doesn’t mean we have to be discussing deep and meaningful topics everyday, because hey, sometimes you do want to just revel in the simple joy that is your baby’s first steps.   But it is a challenge to us as writers to foster our curiosity about the world, to craft our stories with care — even the ones which seem dull and ordinary.  We should strive to find profundity in mundanity.

But we should also be asking others to check their stereotypes of bloggers and parents and writers.  It should be clear that whether or not someone is a mother, whether or not she writes about what she’s cooking for tea, or whether or not she thinks about shrinking global linguistic diversity, she is sitting down at a keyboard to chronicle something important in this life, at this time.  Sometimes a mummy blog is not a mummy blog, and sometimes it simply is.

Either way, as a reader, you don’t have to agree with what she has to say.  You don’t even have to read it.  But you should at least give her the respect for taking the time to write it.

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13 thoughts on “When is a Mummy Blog not a Mummy Blog?

  1. I ended up having to friends-lock my LJ. It got old fast, having strangers complain (among other things) about how I “sure whined about my mother a lot”. It’s not my fault I didn’t have a particularly happy childhood. If I don’t/can’t have a safe place to vent, what am I supposed to do, just keep it all inside until I explode? I know that the sum total of my LJ posts probably makes it look like I’m a grumpy malcontent with serious social adjustment issues, but the thing to keep in mind is that I post relatively infrequently. I’m not the kind of blogger who writes about every scrap of belly lint I discover. I blog about major (to me)/triggering life events. And it’s not like I have a “triggering life event” every day; I’m not a “drama queen”. But I get enough crap from my so-called family about how my feelings are “wrong” or “mistaken”, I don’t need it from strangers. Hence the decision to friends-lock.

    In short (yeah, I know, my bad)…you don’t ever need to feel like you have to “apologize” for the “quality” of your blog. This is your space; use it how you see fit.

    *Hugs*

    🙂

    • I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with strangers on LJ. I’ve had a pretty good run, really, and so I probably leave at least half, if not three-quarters of the posts unlocked. It’s a sad thing when people can’t understand that it’s a *journal* and is there primarily for you to talk about things relating to you!

  2. I reject the dichotomy between “worthwhile blogs” and “mummy blogs.” I’ve read mommy blogs that are well-written and contemplative that don’t appeal to me in the slightest because their conclusions aren’t messy enough. I’ve read mommy blogs that aren’t well-written (though that’s rare) and therefore aren’t an enjoyable read. But mommy blogs in general are the most compelling blogs I read–not simply because the authors are parents, but because the authors care about how their little ones are formed. That formation is a reflection on their own participation in the world and the future civility of their offspring. Raising children isn’t for everyone, but it certainly isn’t a matter of no consequence for childless people.

    Then again, maybe there are throngs of mommy blogs that really are frivolous that I simply haven’t read (but how would frivolous blogs garner enough attention to be noticed in the first place?).

    I have two public blogs: one for my mommy reflections, and one for reflections that isn’t mommy-related. I find that most often, what I have to say falls more readily under the mommy blog. My mommying gives me a context for talking about larger issues. More people read my mommy blog entries than read my non-mommy blog entries, and not because the quality of writing is radically different or because the topics are less compelling in the latter than in the former. I suspect that reading about difficult issues through my mommy eyes is easier for folks to relate to than, say, my religious context, which few folks share.

    I do love this blog. And I love it that your parent-blogging is the subject of this ethic-al reflection. ❤

    PS: Somehow this got posted to another entry of yours. LOL. 🙂

  3. Why should there be one aspect of your life that dictates your whole personality? That would be so boring.
    So I totally agree with all that you say above and hope that people will try to look further than their first glimpse of a person.

    • It seems so odd, doesn’t it, that people want to shove you into a box when you decide you’re having children. ‘Mother’ is really not the first thing I think of if someone asks me to describe myself, but it’s the thing people latch onto most. I guess perhaps because it’s an easy thing to relate to, if they also have children? But who wants to take the easy road?!

  4. This is beautifully written. There is so much more to us than just being a Mommy. I think it’s all of the colorful characteristics we own that makes us a better, more interesting Mommy to begin with.

  5. I don’t have kids. I am not interested in reading about parenting, but I happily read my friends talking about their kids because it is important them. As I don’t have kids, I do sometimes feel a bit of a discontect with the mum crowd… in real life, more so than online, because I can choose who I read online 🙂

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