There Goes The Motherhood.

There’s the usual stink going on about mommybloggers writing about motherhood (and their children) online. Many skeptics feel writing about one’s child is damaging to them. I won’t dispute that claim at all. In fact, I consistently battle with this and have written as much before. I even vowed to quit the mommyblogging part entirely, which I haven’t done. Does this trouble me? Yes, greatly.

So why do I do it?

On the one hand, many of you saved my butt when I was going through postpartum depression (which up until fairly recently I wasn’t able to admit that that’s precisely what I was experiencing). My goal since “getting through all of that” has been to write about motherhood and reach out to others in hopes of paying it forward.

On the other hand, I’m putting my family on display without the consent of my child.

Again, why do I do it?

As silly as it may sound, it really does take a village to raise a child and in our culture that village (or lack thereof) consists of people with full time jobs, people who pay other people to watch their children (whether they want to or not) and then send spies to the playground to make sure they’re “doing it right.” (True story!) For those of us who suddenly lose our village—who can’t take their kids to the playground in winter because it’s too cold and are met with dirty looks from restaurant owners and patrons because we’re seen as a potential nuisance—the communities we discover online are (in some cases) all we have.

I choose to keep doing this—for now—because it makes me feel a little less secluded. I go days and days without using the creative part of my brain—the part I have exercised since before I can remember. I’m not complaining about my new career; I love raising my son. But transitioning from “full time creative person” to “full time mother” has taken a great deal work, work I could not have done alone.

As mothers, we are scrutinized for ignoring our children. As mothers, we are scrutinized for how they behave. We’re scrutinized if we let them watch TV. We’re scrutinized if we don’t breastfeed. We’re scrutinized if we do. We’re scrutinized if they cry in public. We’re scrutinized if they move too slowly. We’re scrutinized if we dote on them. We’re scrutinized if we stay at home. We’re scrutinized if we hire someone to care for them. We’re scrutinized if we homeschool. We’re scrutinized if we send them to private school. We’re scrutinized if we take too long lugging a stroller up the subway steps. We’re scrutinized if we write about them.

What I have come to realize is that there’s always going to be at least one person who is annoyed with how we how we perform each facet of the job.

I once compared becoming a mother with being on house arrest. It’s a drastic statement, indeed. And some people have responded by looking at me like I’m a terrible person for saying as much. But there’s a certain degree of truth to it. And my son has nothing to do with it. (Make sure you read and digest the last line.) The sentiment has everything to do with our culture, the people around me, and my inability to let the nasty looks and disparaging comments roll off my shoulders.

Is writing about our jobs online selfish? Sure. And if you suggest otherwise, I think you should sit down and give it a little more thought. But! I think it’s born out of selflessness, seclusion and frustration. We seek out community wherever we can find it. We look for comfort from other mothers, whether it be right here in our own neighborhood or online. So if you find that you have a problem with mothers writing online—and many people do—how about using that energy to come up with solutions? At the very least, the next time you see a mother dealing with her screaming child, offer her a warm smile.

Do I think writing online is the best way to handle the problem? No, I don’t. (And, yes, I do feel that we as a society have a growing problem.) Is throwing Wellbutrin, Prozac, or Zoloft at a new mother the solution to dealing with her being thrust into alienation? I really, really don’t think so. Becoming a mother shouldn’t be treated as one might treat depression or mental illness (unless, of course, it’s chemistry we’re talking about) and that seems to be the growing trend as of late.

I would much rather live in a society that’s more tolerant of its mothers (especially since we all have one) and easier on its families. And until that happens, I probably won’t be able to shut up about it.

(Murray lovers: TWM will be back either later today or next week, probably later today.)


  1. I once heard of a girl who’s mother was an author, and wrote a ‘fictitious; book about the struggles of raising a family of 3 while also being a college professor who is having an affair with one of her students. Needless to say, she had 2 siblings and her mother was also a college professor.

    I think so long as you don’t select that route, you’re going to be pretty well insulated from harming both yourself and your loved ones.

    That’s my .02¢, at least.


  2. I would have loved it if my mother blogged about me or wrote a diary about me or did anything about me… but then again, she died when I was three so how could she have.

    I think Em will love reading about your/his life when he is older.


  3. Love reading you mihow, ‘cuz it’s been that way for me too. I am not exactly sure why motherhood isn’t revered in our society as it is in others. The support structure for motherhood is relatively non-existent in our society for how many mothers are out there. I don’t get it.


  4. Hi. I’ve never commented before but have been reading your site since October 2007 when I found out I was pregnant. I was originally just searching for something on pregnancy but enjoyed your good humor and stories about your adorable little boy so much that I kept coming back each day. Well we welcomed our little boy into the world this past June and three months later when I tried to quit my job I was offered the opportunity to work from home full time. Needless to say, in this economy, this is an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up.

    So for the past 3 months I’ve been working full time AND taking care of my son full time. We have a woefully incompetent high school girl come in 2 afternoons a week, but for the most part I spend the day tending to my little guy and make up for lost work time when my husband gets home. Like you said above, I feel like I’m under house arrest. I HAVE to be available from 9 to 5 five days a week, which means we pretty much can’t even leave the house.

    I’m telling you all of this because I hope you’ll continue writing about your life here. I was never a fan of the internet until I found myself in this situation. And while I only read a couple of these types of websites regularly, I’ve found them to be a wonderful reminder that I’m not alone in feeling so isolated. I love my son beyond words, and I would do this again in a heartbeat. But you are right—motherhood can be a very lonely experience (ESPECIALLY in our society) even while being an amazing one.

    I also think that you are doing nothing but good for your son by writing about your experiences. If you don’t continue to do this online, I hope you will on paper. I would LOVE it if I had something like that from my mother.

    Sorry this is so long.


  5. I started reading blogs looking for my ‘village.’ Three and a half years ago you didn’t have Em yet, but you were like a window to the interesting, urban world that I had left behind. Your photos and writings kept me from feeling completely isolated as a mom of 2 under 3. I like your house arrest analogy, especially at this time of year with an infant or toddler. We don’t know how the children who are growing up on the internet will react about it later, but it will probably be unique to each individual. I think that if the internet kept their parents sane during the rough patches then everyone will be the better for reaching out in the end. Having an isolated, depressed, lonely parent without many external resources is no way to grow up.


  6. Writing about your job is probably selfish, but it is probably necessary as well. Some of what you write will probably embarrass your son…. and he’ll return the favor when he starts writing as well. By definition, writing honestly and openly is an invasion of privacy, but it seems to be one that humans, in general, and writers, in specific, are driven to do.

    I’m not suggesting that you abandon your concerns about your son’s privacy, but I am suggesting that you give yourself a break on those concerns. You’ll adopt some rules and later find that some of those rules were way too stringent and others way too relaxed. You’ll make mistakes, but we all make mistakes when it comes to our families. We all hope to raise our children in an atmosphere of love that allows them to forgive our mistakes in the same manner that we forgive their errors. The biggest error, in my opinion, would be for you to abandon your writing. It seems to do you great good and it certainly serves your community well. In addition, it is a delight to those of us who just like good writers.


  7. My husband and I argue (if you can call it arguing) over this a bit. He is a very private person. I am not. So I don’t write much about him.

    I don’t want to say that your son (or my own, my boy is 7 months old) are not unique and fascinating individuals. And I eat up what you write about Em and Murray and the other cast of characters of your life – know that this comes from a big fan. But what I tell my husband is this: listen. Our beautiful wonderful unique and interesting son is JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER 7 MONTH OLD IN THE WORLD. Me complaining about him not sleeping and Oh Woe Is Me What Do I Do is not going to be this stunning revelation, this huge invasion of his privacy that he will be angry with me over one day. Even amalah (do you read her?) fretting over her son’s speech and sensation issues is not talking about a unique problem. One day when Noah is grown, he will read LOVE in her words, love and concern, not shame. That’s the delight of blogging for me – we splash this stuff out there and find a ton of people just like us, going through what we’re going through. A virtual support group.

    And,in fine – this writing and connecting is for you. Not for Emory. And it’s ok, and I think valuable, to sometimes do things for yourself that have nothing to do with your kid. I like that you worry about the impact on him in the future. But I think the impact of a crazy housebound mommy with no creative outlet might be a way bigger deal NOW than the invasions of privacy could be in the future.


  8. I am lucky in that I have a small but supportive readership that never shows me the bad side of blogging about kids. That, and my oldest (13) likes my blog. It makes him laugh. So I don’t have the typical stimuli that make me want to stop talking about my kids.

    And – like you mention – the village. I can not tell you how many times in the past 5 years my commenters/readers have helped me in some way. With real advice and support. I often feel like I’m a better Mom because of my blog. So, for now? The Pros outweigh the Cons for me.


  9. As a non-mom and non-blogger, I probably don’t have a whole lot to offer here…

    But I have to say… Every time you post a pic of Emory, I always think he looks so happy and well-adjusted. And stimulated – like he’s got lots of great thoughts going on in his wee head.

    That is all. :)


  10. Hey guys. Thanks for writing. It’s funny, my intentions going into this post wasn’t to make it about me and my life but focus more on the problems we face as a society when it comes to our mothers. Why do women feel the need to medicate after giving birth? Why do women feel the need to talk to like-minded individuals they haven’t ever met face to face? Why does motherhood come with so many hidden sacrifices beyond what’s clearly known?

    There is a huge part of me who feels that I could have been more prepared about what was ahead. I really had no idea, no matter how much i read and researched, I really didn’t realize how difficult/trying motherhood was going to be. Are there classes, groups, communities we can come up with that might help new mothers? I definitely feel there’s room for such programs.

    I keep coming back to the fact that there are teenagers going through this. If I find it hard for me to do, someone in her thirties, how hard must it be for teenagers?

    It needs to be easier to get around, meet people, buy what’s necessary. And I know I live in NY, where life is harder even for the single person, but that’s no excuse. I know far too many people who “gave up” (for lack of a better term) and moved out of the city because they just couldn’t raise their kids here. While I am happy for them and know that I will eventually do that for myself (because I want to) it shouldn’t have to be that way. People shouldn’t have to leave just because they have kids. That troubles me.

    What also troubles me is how many people shake their heads at mothers who have a community base online. I guess that’s what I was trying to say. Naturally, I made it all about ME ME ME! :]



  11. I think what you’re doing is great. I think it is good for you and good for Emory.

    The reality is that kids of Emory’s generation will live their lives in the online world and that can be good and bad, but it is a reality nonetheless. How is it materially different from scrapbooking or sitting around the table with a bunch of other mothers in your neighborhood talking about yourself and each other and everyone knowing everyone else’s business? That’s the way it was in this country until about 40 years ago. I think the baby boomers changed that forever, but the drive to connect and share is still there, it is just different. We all lead such different lives today and there isn’t as much commonality as there once was, so we seek connections in the larger online world that we’re missing in our neighborhoods. I don’t connect with a lot of other mothers in my neighborhood. My kid has autism and she doesn’t fit in. I’m kind of anti-social and I have juggled these weird work-at home, freelance and part-time jobs so I don’t fit in with all the stay-at-home moms who don’t work. So I find the online communities to be more diverse and more open and that’s a good thing.

    We all need to connect. Keep doing it. It is good for your soul and ours too. And Emory is so damn cute, what would we do without his adorable pictures all the time???


  12. You know, your posts like this one are my favorite, mostly because they help me understand that I’m not alone in feeling so isolated. On good days, like today, my daughter and I can move fairly easily through most of the day (except the nap part). On days like yesterday, when she woke up at 4:15 and then wouldn’t go back to sleep unless she was in my arms either walking or in the really uncomfortable rocking chair, I go through the day exhausted, needing a break, and feeling really alone. She was tired and cranky, I was tired and cranky, and because I was so exhausted I didn’t have the energy or imagination to come up with anything creative or fun to do. Luckily, my mom lives close by, so we can go over to her house for a change in scenery.

    It would be wonderful to know more local moms. Most of my friends with kids work outside the home, or have older kids and very busy schedules. I’ve tried to get out to meet other moms, but one thing I find is that many of us seem a little closed off. I don’t know why this is, but I wonder if some of it has to do with how we moms judge each other (some of the scrutiny you mentioned above). I know I’m a bit of an introvert myself, and I’m a pretty guarded person, so even if I do meet and get along with another mom, I never seem to make a follow-up plan. Somehow, for folks like me the Internet is a great place. We can find a community we fit into, with supportive and accepting people. We can come here anytime of the day, and read posts like this one and comments like all of those above that help us to feel not so alone in the world. The Internet seems to be redefining the way we see community.

    I love your blog, and I know you’ve mentioned this before, but your readers are great. And if you do decide someday to change focus, I agree with the commenter who said to keep writing for Emory. He will love reading all of this one day. I wish I knew what my mom’s day-to-day experiences were when she was a new mom. She remembers most of that time as a blur, and while we have a new connection now that we are both mothers, I would love to see how things have changed, how they’ve stayed the same, what we were like as babies, how she went about her day, even details like how she managed to get dinner made.

    Enough rambling. I’m still trying to catch up on sleep from the early wake-up yesterday.

    Lovely photo, by the way. Emory is such a cute, happy, and clearly beloved little guy.


  13. OK, you closed comments for the Murray piece this week, but I just wanted to say . . . Bow-chicka-meow-meow.



  14. I felt very alienated in the beginning. Then I became a member of the La Leche League which meets once a month and from that a bunch of local mothers started trying to meet in the park once a month and now we have a social networking group at and take turns hosting play dates at each others houses each Tuesday, posting up questions asking for advice and bartering baby items between one another. It is absolutely wonderful and I don’t want to leave the area for fear I won’t have this support somewhere else- even though leaving the area would mean far more money/job opportunities for our rather destitute family!

    I’ve never been very social until I had my son. I think that without this support, I’d be depressed.

    Maybe you can create a social network for local mothers? It made it much easier for people in my local area to find out about play dates, where they were and say if they were going to attend.


  15. Mihow – I’ve just started reading after being turned on by a non-mom friend who enjoys your posts. I could have written this myself (if I could write as eloquently as you do.) I don’t think there is any way to prepare for the “house arrest” feeling no matter how much we think we know what we are getting into. I don’t know if there is a chapter in your area, but I’ve joined Mothers and More. It’s a national organization that is “mom focused.” It has given me the pleasure of getting to know some amazing women who are understanding and non-judgmental.


  16. I think Caite’s response summed it up well. I have found it so important to know that other people are going through similar things as I am as a new mom. To know that other people have the same thoughts and problems really makes you feel like, if they can get through it, so can I.

    I also believe that our kids will enjoy having these times documented so that they can know what life was like when they were little. I would have loved to know what my mom went through when I was young – the good and the bad.

    Personally, I enjoy reading this site when I can, and it gives me ideas, things to think about, and if nothing else, a break in my day. Thanks for writing and letting us know we’re not alone!


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