Last year when that reporter called to talk to me about this thing they call “mommy blogging” — a phrase that still makes my salivary glands shrivel up as though I’d just eaten a raw lemon every time it’s applied to me — he asked me what I hoped to accomplish with this Web site.
I told him that I started blogging partly out of a need to construct a new public identity for my self now that I was a mother. A blog can be like a mirror and I needed to see a reflection of a person I still recognized there after all the changes I’d been through. Because I wasn’t finding myself anywhere else. All the media representations of moms that I saw made us look like simpleminded, coupon-hoarding, minivan-driving, sexless, suburban freaks. Yet somehow I cherished a spark of hope that even if you were a white middle-class stroller pusher that didn’t mean that you were incapable of constructing a nuanced opinion on a topic focused beyond the confines of your own ass.
“Like who?” he asked. He wanted the bad examples, he wanted to know which women I reviled and rebelled against. You’d think a reporter could do his own research by watching a little bad prime-time TV? He may or may not have been setting me up to look like the catty, ungrateful wretch he needed me to be to satisfy his editor’s hatred of women who publicly admitted that they didn’t smile gratefully every time they stuffed one more Pamper into their reeking Diaper Genie, but he wanted quotes.
“Oh, fuck, I don’t know,” I said. (I did! I said “fuck” to a New York Times reporter.) “Lucy Ricardo?”
“Huh.” Not what he needed.
“Uh, Jane Kaczmarek? You know, the mom from Malcolm in the Middle? Actually, I like her, she’s pretty funny. That’s not a good example. I don’t know! You know!” I reached back into childhood, where the seeds of every unexamined opinion are sown. “Like those women you used to see in Pine-Sol commercials who got high off of mopping their kitchen floor!”
Clearly, he wasn’t all that impressed with my poorly thought-out answer to a question I probably should have been expecting, and we moved on. But to me that was and still is the crux of the biscuit. If I hadn’t found you, Internet, I think I would have killed myself out of the sheer inability to care about how fresh my carpet smells. I could not match myself up with the advertising-driven mainstream representation of who the world thought I was, and I was adrift enough emotionally, having no circle of women friends to pull my head out of the oven, that I was really scared that there was not another woman who felt the same way I did. I was mad at the media lens for its distortions, and I was frustrated by the fact that I’d internalized this lens and used it to judge every woman I saw based on terms that were not my own.
Oh, society, how I blame thee.
Well, over time I’ve managed to redefine okay, I’m not going to Easy Off myself anytime soon. (Har.)
But it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation from the people at Club Mom to go up to Menlo Park next week and do some brainstorming with them about bringing independent voices to their site and figuring out how we can all make some money with this mommy blogging thing. Their site is more Redbook than Martha Stewart Living and I am more than a little wondering if they understand who they’ve invited up there? There will be a few other likeminded bloggers at the meeting, fortunately, bloggers who will not be showing up at the conference table wearing pantyhosen (Melissa!).
So, I don’t know, wish me luck, I guess. Or not. Wish me diarrhea and a plane crash for even deigning to set foot in Club Mom HQ. We’ll see what they’ll need me to do to put some dough in the therapy jar college fund. At the very least I’ll come back with some — what do they like to call it? — content.