Uncategorized

Mama’s Got a Brand New Blog

Sometimes the only thing I need to hear in order to drop the fear and get to sleep at night is one other voice out there that says, ‘Me too.’

By Aimee Dolich
By Aimee Dolich

I blog. This is almost an embarrassing admission. Like drinking skinny triple lattes in the 90s or getting an AIDS test in the 80s. It’s so expected. I resisted, just as I resisted cell phones and continue to resist texting. But if there’s a chance to write involved, chances are I’ll break down. And break down, I did.

 

I now have three blogs. This one (which I think of more as a prelim to a book), a small-circle blog, and, weirdest of all, a blog with an audience of one. Obviously, a big readership isn’t always the allure of a blog. Knowing others are out there is a great feeling, but sometimes just seeing my writing instantly up in a public space is sufficiently exhilarating and reassuring. After I hit “publish,” I always have the feeling that “Yes, I do exist!” It’s like the little kid’s voice at the end of every episode of thirtysomething: “I made that.”

It’s too easy during a day spent with laundry and soccer practice to forget that your art matters one little fart, so the Brights Lights, Big Computer aspect of blogging can’t be underestimated. Of course, a lot of writers would nod vigorously and say, no, that’s not writing; that’s a shortcut to instant satisfaction. (Yup!) “Good” writing is supposed to be hard and long and filled with edit after edit. But even the most neurotic blogger would consider five to be a high number of drafts for a post, and 1.5 is probably more like it. If you’re getting ideas down and possibly even sharing some dialogue with readers, is half-baked such a bad thing?

The fastest growing blogging segment are women; and among the more than 200,000 parenting blogs, I think it’s a safe guess that most are by women. There are some great dad blogs around, but they’re like the great dads on the playground: enticing in their rarity. The wild popularity of blogs among women makes total sense. Part of it is that whole women’s web of communication thing, ala Carol Gilligan. Blogs mimic the multi-thread nature of women’s conversations. We pursue several conversations at once, often with the same person—weaving in between what to make for dinner, our kids’ teacher, our mother’s stroke, work woes, and the Vice Presidential debate.

Women communicate this way in part because it’s all we have time for. The men I know (and I seem to know fewer and fewer, so correct me if I’m wrong) are good at doing one thing at a time. They do it well. They do it thoroughly. That one thing. As Catherine White, a ceramicist whose husband is also an artist told me, “I work in the teaspoon mode: a teaspoon of gardening, a teaspoon in the studio, a teaspoon with my daughter, whereas he does the dump truck mode: one thing, full on.”

 

By Aimee Dolich
By Aimee Dolich

Is it how we’re wired or the cultural demands and presumptions placed on us? Either way, it makes the blog nearly ideal for women, especially the mother whose life is already super fragmented. Rebecca Woolf, author of the blog Girl’s Gone Child and the recently published book Rockabye: From Wild to Child, which was adapted from the blog, wrote me to say that parenthood has made her more driven and creative than before: “It has given me everything I was warned it would take away. I want Archer [her son – Rebecca actually just had a baby girl on October 3rd – welcome Fable Luella!] to grow up in a household where his parents are really following their respective bliss.” And blogs have allowed Woolf to follow that bliss in a way that the time-honored but all consuming process of sending essays out to magazines and literary journals would not.

 

Most people who turn to the web are writers essentially, whether by calling or habit. Though it’s not an MFA-style workshop, blogging imparts important literary lessons. Namely, voice. Think about any blogs you read. If there’s no voice, you probably aren’t going to stick around. One of my all-time favorite blogs is Chocolate & Zucchini because Clotilde Dussolier, the Parisian pixie who writes it, has such an endearing presence. Woolf says that writing her blog helped her to find her voice as a writer and as a woman. As a relatively young, single mama who was trying to figure herself out, form a career, and learn how to take care of a baby at the same time, that’s no small lesson.

Sheri Reed, who did take the MFA route, still gets schooled in the finer parts of writing via her blogs. She started with a blog about trying to conceive after miscarriage. Once her pregnancy took off and her son was born, she continued the blog for two years before stirring it into her present project, happinest. A self-taught photographer, she also maintains a photo blog, today is pretty. “I use my blogs to work on the craft of writing and telling stories,” says Reed. Given their relative brevity, a blog entry forces a writer to think about the nuts and bolts. Do enough of it and you’ll become not only a better blogger but a better writer.

Of course, one of the primary appeals of the blogosphere (I wince just typing that word. Where are the Oompa Loompas? I’m certain they live in the Blogosphere.), is the possibility of an audience. Most writers jones for readers. As Reed puts it, “Sharing is half the glory of writing.” And what could be better for a parent, especially one of small children than adult company, even electronic, far-away adult company?

Sadly, I did my baby days pre-blogging. I think I would have felt a lot more connected to like-minded parents if I were reading some of the current slew of smart, irreverent blogs. As it was, my main emotional lifeline during my kids’ infancy was email to good friends who weren’t local. How wonderful to exponentially enlarge that group to their friends and their friends’ friends and a few veritable but kindly strangers who echo your experience.

“Sometimes the only thing I need to hear in order to drop the fear and get to sleep at night,” says Reed, “is one other voice out there that says, ‘Me too.’”

The social interaction, that lifeline in the middle of the crazy night, is a major appeal of blogs. Crystal McKee, who has written her from-the-gut blog Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper for nearly four years, says that, “Blogs appeal to me because there are so many of us who are socially amputated when we become mothers, and the connection with other parents is invaluable. I started the blog because I had so much in my head, and I needed somewhere to put it.”

Illustrator Aimee Dolich (whose lovely work appears here) also started her blog, Artsyville, as a place to play with the excess creative baggage that was stirred up after becoming a mother. She was surprised, she recalls, by how isolated she felt and needed to connect with other parts of herself, particularly her burgeoning desire to make art on a daily basis. Her blog and those she reads, says Dolich, are about motherhood only tangentially. “I am so consumed by parenting that I need to think about other things; I need to feed other parts of myself.”

For each of these women, the art comes first. McKee rails at being lumped in with the so-called “Mommy Blogs,” and Reed says, “I fight the big fight to remain a whole person who happens to be a mother, especially in my writing.”

The editor/creator of the social network The Motherhood, Emily McKahnn says that in reading literally hundreds of women’s blogs, she thinks it’s the rare one that wants to focus only on kids. “Motherhood is another part of life. It’s a rich part, and one that in inextricably linked to politics and where we live, what we eat and our work. But we want to talk about all of it.”

Me too!

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Mama’s Got a Brand New Blog”

  1. I love this entry. I completely relate to the feeling that Woolf describes (a la Joseph Campbell) about raising a little one in a household where the parents are following their bliss.

    When Jonathan and I were pregnant with Eleanor, our creativity and desire for authenticity reached a palpable peak. We felt that this little life on the way initiated a process of figuring out what were theories that we had about our life and what were the ideas and beliefs we were actually going to invoke. We had many discussions about committing to our art and artfulness as the only way we could honestly parent. After she was born and the months that followed we continued to make stronger commitments to what was really important. Our mantra was “love the baby, keep the baby safe, love each other, make art”. In that time Jonathan wrote his manuscript that landed him in the Writer’s Workshop, I trusted my intuition enough to open myself to the world of private practice and in essence we did exactly what some people say you have to let go of when you have children.

    We want our child to grow up in a context where we are living examples of how to move into the edges of life, the risky parts, the artful parts, the messy and sometimes uncomfortable parts. We couldn’t have done this without support from friends and other parents who we mainly connected with through the “blogosphere”. So thank you for continuing this Jennifer and thanks for letting me share.

  2. I decided to do the MFA route after starting a blog and learning how much I loved writing. I had never really known before. I actually really learned a lot about writing from blogging though and some of my (now) published pieces began as blog entries. Yay blogging! Yay writing!

  3. I love this article – it’s the first piece I’ve ever read that got past the novelty of blogging-as-self-promotion-isn’t-this-cute and talked about the reality of new relationships, deepened self-understanding and valuable communication found in blogging.

    I started writing to process a divorce and my new life as a single mother of five, working full-time and trying desperately to keep it together. In the process, I’ve found my voice – and an immensely fulfilling job, great joy in my children, and – to a large degree – my SELF. Now blogging for my employer’s site, my own professional/family site and a private blog that continues to provide an outlet for self-revelation and therapy.

    Great article. Looking forward to seeing what else develops!

    Got here, by the way, via Crystal’s blog.

  4. Thanks, Beth. I’ve been to your blog before, btw. Can’t recall how I got there…but I did! And I enjoyed it. Mothers of Invention is a 2xmonth deal, so sign up for the rss if it appeals and you won’t be bombarded. Given your entry into blogging via divorce, you might find my other one of interest too: http://aurevoirgoodbyesolong.wordpress.com/. Now that’s MY therapy!

  5. Janelle – check out this old MOI about creative couples. Some of your comments about authenticity reminded me of Carla and her husband (editors of Craft and Make, respectively), who decided to move to a tiny S. Pacific island after baby #2 arrived.

    Thanks for reading. My calves have recovered, by the way.

  6. I too resisted and resisted and resisted the blog thing. Especially because I’m a mother. But, in the end, the writer won. She always does.
    Glad to have found you here. Thanks for the good read.

  7. Great post. Lovely blog. I, too have been “socially amputated” a several times over the past4 years by moving around between a handful of states. It’s very comforting that I can be known through my blog–even if my parents are the only ones who read it and even if I’m just posting about what we fixed for dinner last night. Thanks for posting!

  8. this is a FABULOUS article, jennifer! i love how you’re able to pull people together from different backgrounds and experiences and life approaches and find the element of common ground among us: the need to communicate. it’s human nature. most people need to connect with others – even if it’s just an audience of one – and a blog fills that void perfectly.

    thank you SO much for including me and my artwork in this article. it was an honor! xoxo A

  9. Hi, Jennifer. I came here by way of Artsyville, and I must say I’m grateful that Aimee posted about your blog. This article speaks to me at so many levels — as a woman, a mother, a homemaker, a creative soul searching for an outlet, and as a psychologist. When I read your article, it was like a light was turned on. It’s ok to blog. In fact, it’s darn right good for your mental health! It’s not just a self-indulgent fancy.

    I started blogging primarily to participate in Illustration Friday, never ever imagining how emotionally and socially rewarding it could be. I’ve gained a lot of friends through their blogs. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know what they look like or that they live across oceans and continents. I feel better about the world and myself because of these new social connections.

    Thank you for your words. I look forward to reading more of your insights.

  10. Me Too. But I am a mere male and have trouble walking and scratching at the same time. Sigh.
    To answer “Where are the Oompa Loompas?” I can point out that they were last seen camped out near the Luddites. (I know that because I, too, resist the evil cell phone.) To the death. Or some such thing.
    Really like your book/blog. Go girl.

  11. Jennifer,

    Let the cheers continue. Your writing is so refreshing and easy-going. It’s clear you’re doing the “work” of writing, but there’s an authentic presence in all you say.

    I am a beginner blogger. I didn’t just resist blogging–I had about a 10 year blackout in all forms of writing, something that had once been a medium I couldn’t avoid filling. Friends and family had been encouraging me for a long time to start writing again, but I was just stuck.

    When I started a blog for my business, the floodgates opened for some strange reason. I sit down to write a new post on my blog and the thoughts become focused and the words pour out. I give myself permission to edit only for grammar, but to allow the content to be perfect as I spew it. Getting it out is the critical goal for me now.

    Writing/blogging (and reading the lovely words of others, like you, who make a craft of it) allows me to feel totally present in a moment, and very connected to the online community out there.

    I’ll sign up for your RSS… Looking forward to more. Best wishes on your book trek!

  12. What a fantastic post. I am so glad I came here on Bella’s recommendation. I always liked blogging. I am proud to tell people I blog. I also had an AIDS test in the 80’s! (I was an ER nurse and got stuck by a needle used on a patient who died of AIDS). I met so many wonderful female artist/bloggers and have enjoyed sharing art with them online. I have gotten to know some and met several of them. There is an incredible sisterhood in the blogs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s