Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why Moms Blog (TEJd)

This is not as fluffy a topic as it sounds. Perhaps it is simply my own apologia. But, if you’ll bear with me for a bit, let me know what you think.

My friend, Grace, just started a blog. Grace is one of my brilliant mommy friends, one of the core group of brilliant ladies I’ve spoken of before, so I’m looking forward to reading her posts regularly. I have mixed feelings about blogging, just as I have mixed feelings about the internet. Both have an extraordinary potential to connect thinking minds together in a profound manner, unique to human history. In many ways, the internet and blogging are the new printing press, opening up a multi-dimensional dialogue in public debate which has been missing in our culture for generations. Most of us have lived our lives seeing only “one way” communication through the media; this Important Person (or Politician or Corporation) wants you to know this is how it is, and you really need not comment, just accept. Well, with the internet that is changing. We may not necessarily be able to have our voices heard by Important People or Politicians or Corporations (yet), but we Little People certainly are talking to one another, and the volume is increasing. The tide is rising, and pity the Important Person or Politician or Corporation that doesn’t at least make a show of acknowledging that We Are Out There.

The downside of the internet is Too Much Stuff. Anyone with access to a computer can put their Stuff out there, whether it’s worth putting out there or not, and this leaves most of us with a sense that some important voices may be drowned out in the overwhelming volume. It also leaves us with the question “Do I have anything to contribute?” What I love about Grace’s first blog post is that it pretty nicely encapsulates the most apparent questions, doubts, and ultimate reasons why many moms participate in blogging. Here are Grace's words:

Is Blogging the Epitome of Narcissim?

When I first heard about blogging I thought... how self centered can you be? Who wants to hear about the minutiae of your life? How impudent must you be to write day after day about your life and your family? After years of reading blogs I realized that I enjoy reading about all the treacherous, uplifting, mundane or hilarious elements of peoples lives. I have gotten some wonderful craft ideas, good homeschool references, great book suggestions, toy ideas, recipes, found links to other blogs and websites and more. In addition, it makes it easier to keep up with friends that live far afield.

Creative writing was a favorite subject in my undergraduate studies but years of technical writing, editing, and formatting sucked the life out of my creativity. So, maybe I can get a little of that back in this process. So, here goes. I am officially a narcissist.

So, why do moms blog? There are a thousand answers to that question, but I think a big part of it for many moms may be that it is a personal yet powerful form of expression during a period of her life when intelligent expression has been largely placed on hold. “I used to read great books and have great conversations with friends before I had kids”. “I used to have great troubleshooting sessions with colleagues in my field and write papers and wrangle with ideas before I had kids”. “I used to talk about something other than poopie diapers, picky eaters, and the consistency of spit up before I had kids”. So, I think there is an element of having a blank canvas and a full pallet of paint with paintbrush poised, a unique opportunity to express whatever is most important to her at this point in her life, with no restrictions on content.

Possibly even more primary, I think, it’s often the only time she feels like she can get a complete thought expressed in the way she means it to be expressed. In direct contrast with the rest of her existence wherein she can’t finish a sentence without being interrupted, can only dedicate about 50% of her communication capacity to speaking because her brain is working on several other things at the same time, or, best of all, fumbling for the correct word, missing, and being corrected by her precocious 4-year old (yes, I’m talking about me).

If, on the other hand, she is blogging, even if she is interrupted a dozen times (which she usually is), she can still go back, review her thought, fix it, continue it (usually), and get it “out there” in a way that pleases her (most of the time). And, by the way, thank goodness for the Thesaurus; without it I would never have pulled out the term "precocious". If she’s really lucky, her blogging time is “her” time, a quiet respite during which she can collect herself and do some reflection on life…mostly hers and her family's, but sometimes about larger matters as well. It helps her remember that she is an intelligent, eloquent and powerful woman, and offers up the opportunity to prove that to herself. "Others" don't necessarily matter in terms of proving.

But beyond the element of expression, and possibly even more primary, it is a way of marking the little milestones of her family and her Self, remembering to take photos when she might otherwise not, remembering to share something the kids did or made, noticing those things which might otherwise get missed. In my family, the women are the historians, writing the genealogies, collecting and caring for the family treasures, and passing on the family stories. At a time when multi-generational families are no longer the norm, and most kids are not being raised with their elders, there may be a sense that we need to preserve our daily lives in some significant way, lest something important in the next generation’s history be lost, or worse, overlooked in the haste of the moment.

When our days are so often so full and so chaotic and so frustrating and so dedicated to caring for others that we can’t get a firm grip on our own thoughts, sitting down at the computer and writing for a bit can be a much-needed balm for the spirit. And, in the process, we may end up leaving something that may one day be cherished by at least one child-now-grown. I think that’s why many moms blog, and maybe dads, too. Maybe we haven’t reached the pinnacle of our educations, we’re not yet stateswomen or the leaders we hope to someday be, and we’re not yet changing the world. But, we each have something significant to contribute, and this is one small way of doing that, from where we are sitting right now.

Okay, that may have been a little fluffy, but please pardon me my sense of satisfaction at writing something close to my heart. And, because I told myself I could only pick one (other than Grace), here is the most brilliant mom blogger I know. Kitmamma’s Pensieve. Okay, I'm probably biased because she happens to be a friend, but check out her piece called “My Broken Window” and see if it doesn’t stir your soul.

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