on blogs and blogging
[Warning: stream-of-conscious, un-edited navel gazing ahead!]
I had one of those poor-me moments last night. Just one of your garden variety battles with pre-pubescent daughters, something I can usually handle, but last night I didn’t. We were out, running errands when it all erupted, and when I reached my limit I dropped them at home (where PJ was, working inside) and drove off in search of something to calm me down. I’m partly ashamed to confess that I went to a pub. I had one glass of very lovely New Zealand Sauv Blanc and some deep fried zucchini balls, the combination of which lowered my blood pressure almost instantly. After that, I went home, talked it over with my ever-patient husband, apologised to the kids, and got on with it.
The impulse to blog about it was restricted to 140 characters and even just that made me feel like a bit of a dill after I’d hit ‘tweet!’ Who the hell cares if I’m sitting alone in a pub, contemplating my parental ineptitude and feeling sorry for myself?
It’s finally happened… I’m over being a mummy blogger.
I used to read a lot of ‘mommy-bloggers’ who would write about the constant struggles they were having with their kids, and for a while they were very helpful to me, especially if I was having a bad day, too. It wasn’t so long ago that it was taboo, to talk about how you were failing miserably as a parent, so it was a relief to find understanding and compassion online. But over the past few years I have seen that ‘confessing-is-taboo’ attitude change dramatically and now it’s like a contest to see who has the saddest, most pathetic story to tell. As though we mums weren’t in competition enough, now we were in a race to see who could suck the most! Me! I’m the Worst Mother In The World! Me! Me!
That’s a fun game to play with your girlfriends from time to time but to be honest I’ve lost interest in reading other people’s sad stories. They just trigger bad memories for me and I start to develop hives.
At the risk of sounding as though I’m pulling statistics out of my ass, the proliferation of “I’m a mummy and I’m not coping” blogs seemed to be matched with an increase in the number of “You’ll never hear me complain about the sacred gift of motherhood” blogs. If you were doing it tough and looking for empathy, you could find it it spades, along with handy hints for getting your child to sleep and recipes for 4pm cocktails. If you couldn’t stand to hear yet another hapless mother’s whinging about how bad things were, you could load your RSS feed with blogs written by the Pollyanna-types who could find nothing but unadulterated joy and ecstasy in being a new parent.
The clue was in the taglines…
“Hello Baby! – Pass The Vodka”
“My Bonnie Baby Boy – How Motherhood Has Released My Inner Earth-Mother-Goddess”
I’ve been blogging and contributing to online parenting forums since before Madeleine was born, and I reckon I have seen and read everything there is to read about parenting. As a parent I’ve experienced the full gamut of emotions myself and although I’ve not always felt compelled to blog about it my archives are littered with tales from the frontline, some of them not particularly flattering.
I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed to mummy blogs over the years, depending on how well I can relate to the experiences of the writer or how sincere I find them; when I stumble across a blogger whose voice is particularly high-pitched or preachy I tend to keep moving. I’m no more interested in reading about somebody’s no-warts-AT ALL- love letter to their doodle-bug of a baby than I am to read about somebody who seems to be blogging purely for the sympathy or the notoriety at being a self-confessed Epic Parenting Failure. And I stay well away from those bloggers who manage to brag and martyr themselves in equal parts, lest I lose my lunch:
“Just Trying To Keep My Head Above Water – Daily Lessons In Gratitude and Meditations on Motherhood As Told By One Mother During Her Journey to Meet the Constant Demands of Her Extraordinarily Talented and Uncommonly Gifted High-Achieveing Golden Indigo Child Who Came To Her After 48 Blissful Hours of Drug Free Labour During Which She Was Still Able To Raise Money For Darfur”.
These days, I eschew the blogs written by mothers who complain constantly (hives) and by mothers who talk about how grateful and lucky they are (vomit) and instead read the blogs of women like myself, who manage to balance their good days and bad days, whose blogs are not focussed on their adventures and misadventures in parenting, and who are genuinely blogging for themselves and not for comment-love. Also, I love bloggers who have a skill to share, whether it’s writing poetry, taking photographs, creating websites, knitting cardigans, building a garden from scratch, inspiring thousands of others or cooking up a storm. These women inspire me every day.
When I write about days that end like yesterday ended, I hope that someone will read it and feel for a moment that they’re not alone in their propensity to self-medicate with the odd deep fried zucchini ball (whatever their emotional trigger – kids, work, mortgage repayments or Karl Sandilands) before quickly clicking on ‘next post’ to find a recipe for chocolate cake or a photograph of autumn leaves.
I’ll be turning 40 in a month and it feels good to have “arrived at a place” (ugh) where I no longer feel the need to be focussed on my children 100% of the time. Now I can spread myself equally between my husband, my children and all my other ‘interests’. I want my blog to reflect that, and also to reflect that even if I do have a lousy day, the other 364 are usually pretty terrific and the only tangible thing I achieve with whinging about it on my blog is putting words out there that might give someone else hives.
Today I finally took delivery of my new bike, and in the same morning I was offered a job, a few hours each week, working in a gourmet food store. I have more interesting things to write about now. My days are filled with lots of other things and I am grateful that I never allowed my bad days to make me cynical or my good days to make me smug. I guess I’m comfortably, appropriately grateful. Finding that balance, Oprah, has required constant tweaking and readjusting, but I’m there now, and I never want to feel overwhelmed – or write overwhelmingly – about just one thing, least of all being a mummy.