March 18, 2010

I Can Bring Up the Babies & Blog About Them, Too

On March 12, the New York Times ran an article by Jennifer Mendelsohn titled, "Honey, Don't Bother Mommy. I'm Too Busy Building My Brand." While the headline accuses blogging mothers of neglecting their children in order to write, I know that journalists don't often create their own headlines and decided to overlook it.

While the article was snarky and condescending, it wasn't evil. Writing about a blogging seminar she attended, Mendelsohn writes, "[Organizer Tiffany Romero] steered the proceedings with the good-natured sass of a sorority social chairwoman and the enthusiasm of a, well, summer-camp director. (She went barefoot for much of the day and said 'You guys!' a lot.)"

I can't say the same for the follow-up comments, however. For example, #21, Dee of Western New York, writes: "Nature abhors a vacuum, so these people fill up their lives with each other- telling each other how special their everyday thoughts and actions - and kids - are. And they are lonely at home with the kiddies? So rather than making actual flesh and blood friends and getting out of their cocoon they gravitate to an electronic network of others just like them. There is something pathetic about the clingy, needy plea for attention and affirmation. God help the teachers when the offspring of these bloggers get to school."

I wish I could say that was the only nasty comment, but there were many more.

I am always fascinated by the way people treat each other in online forums. Would people say these wretched things if they were sitting across a table from one another? Would Dee call me clingy and pathetic if she had to look me in the eye? Maybe. Obviously, I don't know her, so she may really be that dreadful, but I doubt it.

Online hostility is a little like road rage. People feel comfortable to scream at each other and make rude gestures as long as the other drivers aren't visible, but I know from experience how it feels when the other driver turns out to be a familiar face, one's 86-year-old grandmother, for example.

So, Dee from Western New York, and all of the others who wrote vile things about blogging mothers, I'd like you to know me a little better.

My name is Tricia, I have children, and I have a blog. Sometimes I blog about my children because I think they are very special. Wouldn't you be more concerned if I didn't? I hope so. I write because I enjoy writing, not because I have something to sell, and I've been doing it since I was nine years old. Should I have given up my passion because I gave birth? Perhaps gone on Prozac instead? Would you ask that my husband give up playing golf or watching football on Sunday afternoons?

My husband doesn't actually do those things, but I'm sure somebody's husband does, and it probably makes him happy, too.

I have a group of real-life mom friends, and I spend a lot of time with them in the real world. As it happens I met many of them online. I am thankful every day for their friendship. We go to music class together, to play trains at the bookstore, to storytime at the library, and nearly every sunny day, to the park.

My son goes to preschool once a week for two and a half hours, and every other week one of the moms I met online takes him home afterward for a playdate with her son, so every two weeks I have five hours of free writing time, and that happened to be today, so today I wrote a post for my blog, and it made me really happy.

When my son came home we went for a walk, and he splashed in the puddles. When my daughter came home from school and my husband finished work we walked up the road to feed carrots to the neighbor's horses. At dinner, which I made, we said what we were thankful for today. After dinner I read Mendelsohn's article while my husband cleaned up, my daughter did her homework, and my son watched an episode of Max and Ruby.

At bedtime, I sang my daughter a song, as I do most nights. Tonight was my rendition of "Happy Together" by The Turtles. (Did I mention my daughter is a beautiful, straight A student? Yeah, I'm really proud of her.) Next, my husband and I took turns reading to our son. I read Elizabeth Jane Gets Dressed with an English accent, and then I lay down with him, and he asked for a story about at pig with no name, so I made one up. I'll spare you that bit. When he fell asleep I came back to my computer to write, which is what I do most nights instead of watching TV.

Are my children neglected? No. Is my house a mess? Yes, but luckily I have a husband who helps with the children and the tidying. Anyway, don't worry, I won't invite you over any time soon.


LeMeesh said...

Hey! I was directed to your site from SheWrites. I just want to say...Get it, girl.

People like that can talk about how pathetic it is that you talk about your life online, forgetting that they themselves are online saying these things.

At least you're making connections and not burning bridges.

P.S. You - and your children, sound wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a letter to the NYT but I like your take even better. Very nice post and terrific blog. Nice to "virtually" meet you. Found you on She Writes. Guess we're all pathetic together, but at least we're pathetic and articulate. :)

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how people can judge others' lives. I'm so fortunate to be able to read your blog and have away to keep my family close to me. Since the big move, reading your posts are a blessing. Love, your California Mom XOXOXO