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.)