Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mommy Bloggers on Trial

Recently, mommy bloggers have come under an increasing amount of fire for writing publicly about their lives and their children.  It's a discussion I've been keeping an eye on, what with being a mommy blogger of sorts.  Some of the more constructive discussions have given me some food for thought, and to this end, I've started using pseudonyms for my tots as well as for L. and I.   Of course, not all of the discussions about mommy blogging have been constructive, literally putting mommy-bloggers on trial for their actions.  Here is some of what the prosecution has to say on the matter:

First Witness for the Prosecution:
And when uninteresting people try to market themselves as interesting, it's almost painful.

Second witness:
Just because children can't walk, talk, reason and say, "Hey, Mom, cut it out already," doesn't mean that it's okay to write about the most personal details of their existence. I cannot tell you how creeped out I'd be if my own mom had mommy-blogged. I'd be horrified, offended, and I highly doubt that we'd have a good relationship with each other today.
Third Witness:
Could it potentially hurt someone's chances at a job promotion if it was discovered that he/she was treated for behavior problems as a child? Who knows? I'm wondering if there could be future lawsuits brought by kids against their mom for blogging about personal issues involving the child.
It's a pretty air-tight case already, but - the prosecution calls another witness:
And with increasingly technologically-savvy children around, its surely only a matter of times before kids start getting picked on at school because their peers found their mother's blog and now know every little problem you had growing up
And another:
It's interesting parents are so concerned about their RIGHTS to have children, but then treat their children like possessions and deny them their RIGHTS to privacy just because they gave birth to them. That's messed up...
Still more:
It really is like these mommy bloggers see their kids as accessories or pets vs. living, feeling, emotional human beings.
And just when you thought I couldn't possibly get MORE evil (though I'm sure that I probably can):
It would be interesting to see a mommy bloggers response when the kid starts blogging about what a bitch mom is.
And the piece de resistance:
It's bad enough that moms are embarrassing their children on the internet, but what about other safety concerns? It's not like predators aren't out there and where better to look than a mommy blog?

So to recap, then:  I am currently on trial for being uninteresting (but pretending otherwise), guaranteeing a horrible future relationship with my progeny, hurting my children's chances of a future career, making them vulnerable to both school bullies AND sexual predators, denying their rights to privacy, treating them like possessions or pets, and last, but certainly not least, being a total and complete bitch. 

The prosecution rests its case.

And what do I, being self-represented, have to say in my defense?

(Interestingly, all of the members of the prosecution come from a website called The Childfree Life, which is a venue for folks who belong to the childfree by choice movement.  And while I do not begrudge anyone's life choices,  and think our societal pressure on folks to have children is fairly ridiculous, I do feel it necessary to point out that some of these folks don't really seem all that keen on parents in general, never mind those that choose to blog (just to use one example - there is a thread on this site discussing whether child free people are more intelligent than parents, which doesn't, you know, make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Just sayin')).  Nevertheless, these allegations of the badness of mommy bloggers are everywhere, not just on the aforementioned site (though that site does "discuss" the matter with a great deal more venom than any other I've come across while perusing the 'net and neglecting my children).

All this is discussed in the way of contextualization, not as a defense.  My defense is simple. * I don't have one.*  I am a Bad Mother.  Period.  This is not self-denigration.  This is simple fact.

We live in a culture where mothering has never been more difficult.  Mothering is a full-contact, spectator sport in our culture.  There is an increasingly persistent cultural discourse of what a "good mother" is - but it is an ever-shifting, amorphous, impossible to attain ideal.  Consequently, we are in an equally constant state of cultural bombardment by "bad mother" fingerpointing.  I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that a mother cannot do anything, make any parenting choice without hearing somewhere that what she is doing to, for, or about her children is wrong.  The threat of being called a Bad Mother always looms heavy over our heads.  We have reached a point in time in which the judgements are handed down in fevered pitch - in workplaces, in coffee clatches, in living rooms, in the media, across the internet. Everyone wants to play a round of "bad mother" here and there.  Hell, even the folks on the childfree by choice website mentioned above want to engage in armchair parenting; proving that just because you don't want to BE a parent, doesn't mean you can't judge them. ***    

And so you see, I am guilty.  It is not enough to plead that this blog is how I choose to exert some control in how I am watched and judged as a mother.  It is not enough to protest that this blog, my writing, is how I am able to continue to struggle to hang on to the pieces of myself in my slippery, clutching hands.  It is not enough to explain that this blog is what makes my existence as a queer, feminist, stay-at-home mama visible.   It is not enough to point out that as a stay-at-home mama, my children are both the greatest loves of my life and my JOB.  It is not enough to swear on my life that this sharing is meant as a way to build community, to commiserate, to celebrate the trials and tribulations of our lives; that is it written for my sanity and thus with my children's best interests at heart.

Because to be a mother in our culture is to accept the plea of guilty.  And I feel a certain amount of empowerment in accepting that plea.  I may very well never be enough.  I may very well be a Bad Mother.  But if this is indeed the case, I am a Bad Mother who loves her children more than herself.  I am a Bad Mother who very often(but not always) puts herself aside to care for her children's wants and needs and growth.  But mostly, I am a Bad Mother who isn't going to be bullied into giving up her blog, her thoughts, and her voice in the world just because someone wants to put her on trial. 

Because we live in a culture where motherhood is put on trial for one reason or another daily.  So I guess I need the practice.

*** For a particularly interesting discussion of the Bad Mother predicament, check out the essay on the subject in Ayelet Waldeman's recent book, aptly titled Bad Mother.


  1. I forgot to mention that this post goes with somewhat sheepish apologies to my lawyering loved ones :)

  2. I love your blog Tash! And your wee ones have the best possible moms I can imagine. xo Merrick

  3. Oh god the childfree forums are the devil incarnate. It's like putting a thousand of the most judgemental assholes in a room and telling them to have at it. No...wait...that's precisely what it is!!

    I'm all for people who choose to live childfree. In fact my best friend decided at the age of 18 to have a vasectomy as soon as possible because he never wanted kids. Luckily he met the perfect girl who agrees. But they do not hate people who choose to have kids (Exhibit A - Me)

    You want to really get riled up - check out the childfree forums for their views on people who have children who have died. It may well cause you to lose your mind. On second thoughts - don't!

    I actually agree to a small, tiny extent with some of those views. The people who put it ALL out there - photos, full names, DOB, address etc etc are stupid. Plain and simple. Not just mommy bloggers, but anyone. MBs in particular though are quite prone to it. I think this is dangerous. I prefer not to be "googleable" myself.

    As for being a bad mother...well dont we all have those days! I figure as long as the kidlets are alive, fed, clothed (mostly) it's been a good day :)