I’ve tried to write my “About” page over and over, and keep getting stuck on what I want to say, with the result that it has been as lame as a two-legged dog for months now. What, exactly, is this page for? Should I be trying try to define what my blog is ABOUT (what is this about, anyway?? Can someone tell me?), or trying to draw in legions of loyal readers with my charm (SHUT IT) and wit? Should it be serious, cutesy, or humorous? And do I explain who the main players are in my life, give a rough idea of location, and provide other contextual details? And should I give the people I talk about fake names, identities, etc., to protect the innocent? I have no idea. So, like any good plagiarist, I started checking out other blogs’ “About” pages and one style appealed to me more than others – the photo-essay. That’s right, my dears, I’ve updated my “About” page to include visual illustrations rather than going to the trouble of explaining much. Also, for those of you who like trivialities (come on, raise your hand, mine’s up), I’ve included some fast biographical facts. I like to think the page now captures the “flavour” of the blog, while not actually imparting anything useful to you. You’re welcome.
So now on to the topic of tonight’s post:
Blogging – the reading of them and writing of one – is fairly new to me. I started reading blogs after being turned on to Dooce by a friend last winter, and from there I discovered the wide world of blogs, and the fact that if there’s something you’re interested in, there’s someone blogging about it. It can be overwhelming, and there’ a lot of crap out there. Because I was on maternity leave when I started reading personal blogs, I was drawn to blogs written by women, usually mothers, who talked about their everyday lives. I like the women who seemed the most honest – those ladies who talked about how there are moments of greatness and moments that righteously suck when you are at home with a baby, trying to manage a life that has been absolutely, irrevocably changed. This wasn’t an intentional choice, and there are certainly “mommybloggers” that I’ve read and didn’t like, usually because their stories were too saccharine, or didn’t contain the right amount or type of humour (I like mine irreverent and sometimes dirty), or were just plain uninteresting, but overall I read the stories of women whose lives bear at least a passing resemblance to mine. My “blogroll” (shift your gaze a little to the right…yep, that’s it right over there) links to some of the ones I’m currently reading, although this list changes periodically, and I’m open to suggestions so if you know of someone good leave the website in the comments.
Because I’ve always enjoyed writing I thought that starting a blog would be a good creative outlet for me. And since any idiot can have a blog, it was fairly easily accomplished. But since starting this blog I’ve run into a number of situations and faced questions about what I’m comfortable sharing with the entire world (or the few people who seem to read me regularly). Work is off limits except in the most general sense, as we all learned from Dooce. I didn’t want my kid to be the sole topic of conversation here at mindyourknitting (because I might alienate people who don’t like babies? I’m more well-rounded than that? I don’t know…there was some rationale there), but since she forms so much of my universe, it is what it is. Do I talk about my relationship? Sure, and there are a million good bits to share, although I don’t think I’d write about any fight or disagreement I was having with the Mr. until maybe after the fact, because I’d like to stay married. And I wouldn’t use this blog as a forum to complain about him in a serious way – even though he doesn’t know how to fold a hand towel to save his life, and STILL throws his clothes on the floor we don’t live in a frat house you know. Is extended family fair game? Again, only if the discussion is very general and positive (and this probably goes for friends as well), and I wouldn’t name names without express consent (or maybe I’ve already done this and forgot to check, oops). Problems with friends and family are probably off limits, unless I want to drop a nuclear weapon on those relationships permanently. So what can I talk about without risking alienating people who are important to me? I’m not afraid of a little controversy or debate, but blabbing to the entire world about something that’s upset or pissed me off doesn’t seem worth the risk of damaging real-life relationships, especially when those things (husband, can you PLEASE move your D&D figurines out of the basement window-well? It’s dark enough down here without having a dragon-figured shadow cast on the wall, thankyouverymuch) are small potatoes. If you have a blog, what are your limits?
And gods forbid I talk about having a social life apart from my child that involves the DEMON DRINK, because better bloggers than me have been flayed for just that. Lately there have been a few cases of women, no, MOTHERS *gasp*, who got drunk or high and got into a car and proceeded to kill people, many of them their own children. I understand that a mother who got drunk and killed children in a car crash is sensational and awful, but I’m not sure that the fact that she’s a mother should be the most emphasized part of the story. The issue of alcoholic mothers is not one to be taken lightly, but the media has taken the opportunity to turn us ladies into fragile beings who can’t be trusted to parent and drink socially/occasionally/appropriately, as, according to various news outlets, these women clearly prove. I’ve made the occasional crack about needing a drink to deal with my life at times, but most people would understand that this is a joke. It’s jokes, people. And this blanket characterization also generalizes the problem to women and mothers as a group, rather than identifying individuals who have genuine problems (and I’m not even going to discuss the dads in all this). There are moms who have trouble with booze, and moms who are smart enough to realize it and do something about it, and then there are the rest of us who like a nice glass of Merlot now and then, and sometimes a pre-dinner cocktail at a fancy restaurant. But to actually say that is verboten, even if you’re exaggerating. I think we all understand that women who drink/do drugs/whatever and drive are not to be emulated. Because we are not idiots.
There has also been a lot written lately on various blogs about the concept of a “Bad Mother” and what exactly it means. Several “mommybloggers” (Her Bad Mother, Attack of the Redneck Mommy, Mommy Wants Vodka, among others) have attempted to reclaim this term, with their efforts focused on thwarting what is sometimes seen as society’s expectations that a woman who has had a child must be a perfect mother and never do anything irresponsible and never cut a single corner when it comes to the care of her child and her home (and, some would argue, her husband, blargh). These women have had to defend themselves against charges of irresponsibility because they have been accused of promoting the “bad mother” as an ideal or example to be followed. Firstly, people making such accusations have no sense of humour or the tongue-in-cheek and misunderstand what is meant when these woman talk about “bad mothers,” and secondly none of the blogs in question have ever promoted being a bad parent. There are two concepts being confused here. The refutation of an apron-strings bound 1950s-housewife ideal of the wife and mother is not the same thing as being dangerously negligent in the care of your children. I do a lot of things that conform to the “wife and mother” ideal, but I probably do more things that don’t. Because I am a REAL person with real demands and responsibilities, and because I have a partner who can can wear the apron too.
This blogging business is more political than I thought possible. I’m sure that anyone who writes regularly about personal things has gotten their hand slapped at some point because of what they wrote. And there is a certain amount of attraction in the idea of making blog entries as funny/touching/outrageous/whatever you think people want to read, because every blogger wants an audience (don’t they?), and an audience that comments regularly is even better. So there is some literary license taken in my writing – there are jokes and exaggerations, but at the core what I write is true. I had hoped to start a “conversation” with my readers through my blog posts, and I’ve been encouraged by the comments I’ve received so far (even some from strangers!) but would love more feedback. Blogging is navel-gazing in its most extreme form, and I would love to know what you think about my navel. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Ultimately this is a hobby for me, a lark that I’ve discovered I enjoy immensely, but I’m still trying to figure out what this blog is “About.” I don’t know what the “hook” of this blog is, since it’s really just my story, and I tell the stories I feel like telling on any given day. And I hope that’s okay, since I think people’s stories, big and small, are important.