This Thing They Call Mommyblogging

On January 26, 2006 by Eden M. Kennedy

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.

Comments

comments

53 Responses to “This Thing They Call Mommyblogging”

  • I was invited too (although I still have no idea why – perhaps because I live only ten minutes away?) and I got a bit worried when I registered on their site. They ask you to provide three reasons why you want to join Club Mom and one of the choices is “Because I like Meredith Vieira”.

    I think they have no clue what they’re in for. But I totally can’t wait.

  • Reporters are stupid. The Pine-Sol commercial bit was a dead-on perfect response to that question.

  • Hit the nail on it’s lonely head with that post, truly. Sending religiously
    ambiguous blessings and buckets of Immodium.

    -Lori

  • They might not be what you need, but you, on the other hand, are *exactly* what they need. Go forth and do your duty, Mrs. K. Be brave, we’ll all be here waiting when you get home.

  • I’m in it for Andrew Shue.

  • PANTYHOSEN is the best word ever. I said it with the appropriate accent. I’m assuming.

    Do you remember there used to be that German band, Die Toten Hosen? The Dead Trousers! Awesome. (I mean, THEY weren’t awesome, they kind of sucked, but the name….)

  • Anyone who needs to to have examples of negative stereotyping of moms SERVED to him on a fucking platter because he just can’t quite figure out why “all you women are so pissed off” needs to be clubbed over the head, tied up in a burlap sack and dropped off of a really high bridge into a river. I’m just sayin’.

  • Sweet. I love me some Fussy content.

  • You know, I didn’t know moms had an official club. Sounds a little freaky-deaky to me.

    (Is that how you spell the “deaky” after “freaky-”?)

  • Give em hell! Or content! Or Pine Sol!

    Seriously though, help them redefine the whole Mommy Blogger thing, please? I can’t take it anymore.

  • That was a great answer you gave the reporter. That’s exactly why I blog, to construct a pubic identity for my new self as an “empty nester” in her 50s. Something perhaps a little more original and exciting than the stereotypical member of the Hotflash Harridan Red Hat Lady Brigade.

    So is “Club Mom” supposed to make motherhood sound like an exotic tropical luxury vacation, or what?

  • And you know? As much as this blog is a mirror for you, it helps to reflect healthy self images for the rest of us too, that it’s ok to be smart, sexy, irreverent, awesome women in addition to being parents. That’s why we all keep coming back (if I may speak for the group). I’d say you’re exactly what ‘Club Mom’ (oh man, what a corporately-generated name) needs.

  • just tell it like it is, man. tell it like it is.

  • You are braver than I. Women in a group called “Club Mom” make me a wee bit nervous.

  • Cleaning ads are the worst. Don’t single guys or gay guys or just guys for that matter ever clean? Or is it just us ladies in our khaki pedal pushers who get so hopped up on dust motes that we’ve got to clean our friends’ homes, even?

    Club Mom: Two moms enter, one mom leaves.

  • I *so* relate to this post. This is exactly why I started my blog. I just had no idea there were other women who felt the same way, and already had blogs too. It was very helpful to find out.

    Plus once I started talking about how weird it was to lose your identity, give up (or curtail) your work, whether you loved it or hated it, and how once you become “mommy”, your interests, talents, occupations, passions, restoflife, whoyouare apparently disappear to the rest of the world, and what a weird freaking mild jolt that is – turned out every woman I knew could relate to it.

    Including our moms. Who knew.

    Hence the name of mine, Crib Ceiling. That’s where the real limit is in going on with your personal whatever. You really have to drop a lot to care for your kids – and of course I would do it all again in a microsecond. It’s just – it’s a weird damn deal.

  • So…you’ve got your flask packed, right?

    Just checking…

  • Krisco spoke so well for me…thank you. When I gave up my corporate career to stay at home with my son it was like I immediately disappeared into the woodwork. I suddenly no longer mattered to anyone outside of my little family. “What do you do?”…hmmm, well, how much time do you have? When I’m asked to list my occupation on forms at the dentist, doctor, wherever, I now put “domestic goddess” – and it gives me endless giggles everytime that stupid form prints out at the eye doctor with “domestic goddess” printed in Bradley Hand typeface! Thanks for your blog, Fussy, you are far braver than I to put your thoughts and feelings out into the ether for all to read.

  • I’m with proud mary.

    The club mom site has a somewhat plastic flavor…it needs some fussiness.

  • I’m afraid to click on the Club Mom link. Just the name scares me. I haven’t been there, but I imagine pink. [shudder]

  • Mrs. Kennedy,
    I, too, will be at the club mom thingie. I hope it’s okay if I sit next to you and just say, “YES!! WHAT SHE SAID!”

    (I already asked GraceD if she’d cover for us in case you hyperventilate or I pee my pants.)

    Drinks monday night at the other thing?? Then we can come to club mom all hung over and impressive.

  • From one identity-challenged kick ass mom to another, go set ‘em straight…
    oh,my god! just pulled up the site…can any one say…Stepford…this is not you..this is not me…this is not my sister…this is corporate america trying to infiltrate yet again! Run away!

  • they can start by naming their site something less hokey. and if they’re running ads for playskool? stepfords aren’t exactly doing this with only pocket lint at the end of the day. i’m a bit put off by ‘club mom’ (is that supposed to be some kind of funny reference to ‘club med’? if so, strike ‘put off’ and replace it with ‘disgusted’).

  • My advice (not that you need my advice, but you know…): TOTAL HONESTY. It’s a good sign that Club Mom is even asking for bloggers’ opinions. Shake up their world!

  • a link-worthy entry.

    though i’m not a mommy — or even married, or dating, for that matter — this post reminds me of why i started this fandangled blog thing.

    writing well IS the best revenge.

  • Have to agree with mdog – this post is great. I’m not a mom, but when the time comes, I’d far rather emulate you than the sensibly clothed (and shod), mop-wielding, over-protective nuts who are forced down our throats as the paradigm of motherhood.

  • Mrs. Kennedy, if you only knew how you and your cohorts on the Internet saved me from my own severe identity crisis that we call “motherhood.” I was raised in small-town Iowa and had never heard of a mother who secretly cursed and had creative aspirations and used a cleaning service just for the hell of it. But I knew that was EXACTLY what I was becoming, and I was terrified by the spritely women at breastfeeding support group. SO NOT ONE OF THEM.

    I swear, if I hadn’t started my blog and sustained myself by reading yours and other similar hilarious, educated, well-written musings, I would’ve been convinced that I was alone until some more of my geographic friends started procreating.

    Keep up the good work, but do consider working Wicca or gay marriage into the conversation, just to see how it flies.

  • Please please don’t drink the kool-aid.

    Unless of course it’s margarita flavored in which case, partake! But I have to say– their website? caused me to reach for the EpiPen.

    ~Elizabeth
    http://bluepoppy.omworks.com

  • I used to live on a Navy base and now I just live in a Navy town and I’m SURE there are other Navy wives that are more like me and less like…..THAT (what with the stains and the shrieking and the lack of care or attention to themselves or their children). Okay, so I have yet to find one but it sounds like the same quest you’re on but with muthas.

    I guess my point is I’m glad you’re leading the pack and be brave little soldier!

  • Oh, and have you seen this?
    http://www.brainchildmag.com/

    I’m still not sure what I think of it as a whole but there are parts that show promise.

  • Yes! I actually just started subscribing.

  • So then does this make you the blog Wizardess of Menlo park? I’m sure you will have much to offer about writing in a voice that others can relate to, that is often insightful without being self-involved.

  • Shit, I registered for that too, but I thought it was Club Mon on account of all the ganja that was going to be there. Is it too late for a refund?

  • I can’t WAIT to read about it! I’m so fucking happy I found your blog because I don’t like to huff Pine Sol, either! 2 days ago I had to decide if one of the kids’ favorite books had too much pee on it for us to keep. I don’t ever remember June Cleaver struggling with this issue. xoxo,

  • It’s interesting to read that you began blogging out of a need to carve a new identity. I’d always thought you wrote just because you’re really good at it. I mean, I do it for a living, and I’m average, at best. So I guess I always saw it as some kind of “calling” that you had to follow.

    By the way, my wife, who’s not a writer but is a damn great woman, is also struggling with the same issues you’ve had to deal with. She’s gone from working professional in the big city to stay-at-home suburban mother of two in about 2 1/2 years, which may seem like a long time but is actually way too quick for such a big change to happen without some kind of crash.

  • Aw, Bill, you see right through me. I can’t stop writing, it’s true. I just need a subject and you can’t stop me.

  • Don’t forget to wear your famous shirt.

  • Would you please ghostwrite my blog so that I can astound my friends and family with a newfound ability to be dead-on articulate and insightful?

    Seriously – thanks for that.

  • Wait a minute!! We can make money having all this blogging fun??? Damn!

    You mean, even if we aren’t DOOCE????

  • Club Mom is NOT ready for you. But, its readers are and that’s what is important. Don’t hold back. Keep it real like you always do. Go Mimi go!

    BTW, everyone asks me where I got my t-shirt. Thanks for the edge it provides at the park playgroup. Yeah.

  • I’m loving that you’re writing about this, because right about now, I’m struggling with the question fo whether I want to go back to work after having been a SAHM for damned near a decade. I used to think that I was dissatisfied with being “just a mom”, but now that I’ve spent some time out in the workforce (and even then only as an intern), I’m yearning for my carefree days of laundry and errand-running. It’s a tough thing to reconcile within myself – perhaps good fodder for a post of my own….

  • Oh, Mrs Kennedy, Club Mom is going to love that you are there. I mean, after they pick up their jaws from the floor with some of the things you may say to them. Shake them up. It will be fun to watch!

  • good luck! i’ll be rooting for you over here, my head out of the oven for now, my neighbors streaming in and out of their front doors still adorned with swinging skates and leaning sleds and fading greenery and a crinkling bows.

  • HA! Glad you are going. I just wish I could bring myself to care more about the fucked up way that mothers (and mommy bloggers) are viewed – care enough to try to do something about it besides write. I’m a lousy activist, so I’m glad people like you have the energy and the drive (and loads of talent, of course). Cheers!

  • I just clicked over to the Club Mom site and am thoroughly sorry. Ew. I mean, really. Ew. The giant tab that reads SHOPPING!–seriously, ew.

    And also, the name “Club Mom,” used without any hint of irony, is nauseating. Seriously, is there a handshake? Do you get a special sherbet-hued Club Mom twinset when you register, for chrissakes?

    Knock some sense into these folks with your fabulous in-your-face-ness, please.

  • Yes, the internet has kept my head about me, too. Well put.

  • As a very new mom approaching 30 in 18 days who desperately spent her twenties defining myself as the anti-automaton woman, wife, now mother, I can completely relate to why you blog.

    P.S.Before I read your mention of Pine-Sol commercials, that was exactly what I was thinking!

  • But just think, your mommy blog could lead to a book contract, writing chick lit or women’s fiction.

  • It has always bothered me how many women are susceptible to advertising pleas made to their insecurities.

    I’m glad to hear how others are sick of Madison Avenue’s idea of how clean my house/armpits/hair/teeth should be.

  • I don’t think that the reporter was lazy–he wanted your opinion, not his own. If he’d watched network TV, he might have breezed by stuff that offends you. What’s the big deal about giving an opinion? You have your own forum here, and he offered you another one.
    But all consumer magazines/networks exist to make you unsatsified with the status quo–fashion mags tell you you won’t get laid unless you use a new mascara. TV ads tell you your kids will hate you unles you bake fake cookies with them. Ads that target men do the same thing, but play on different insecurities.

  • Do you have any idea how entrenched and patriarchal the newsroom of the NY Times is?

  • Better than you do–I’m a working reporter. Patriarchal is kind of a joke, but entrenched is a safe bet.

  • Uh oh, don’t start waving your credentials around, it makes the livestock nervous.

    My main problem with the reporter was the fact that he was trying to lead me into saying negative things about mothers and motherhood in general. My positive opinions, which were articulated somewhat better, were left by the wayside. My hypoerbolic assessment of his work ethic was meant partly as a joke, but perhaps funny only to me.

    Patriarchal is no joke, from my brief time in the media factory and from what I hear from the few women I know who work in media and who pick up on that sort of thing. That’s our experience, maybe not yours.