On motherhood and identity and generalizations and the crazy jeckyl and hyde-ness of it all
You are all too smart.
I mean, literally. Too smart.
I write some little rant (again) about how I hate a term like mommyblogger and you lead it to a conversation about motherhood and identity and fear and community, all with so much insight and self-reflection that I am staying awake at night just trying to make some sense of it all.
Now I'm tired.
You see yourselves as life bloggers or beat bloggers or diarists or humourists (she's Canadian), as parental pundits or batshit crazy bloggers or cranky wine-swilling bloggers who aren't moms at all but kinda like what some of us have to say once in a while. Not that we can expect the world at large to categorize us in these niche little ways. (Especially "batshit crazy bloggers" - sorry Mrs. Chicky.) But still, it's fun to talk about.
I'm also fascinated by this pervasive fear that so many of us have of being "just" moms. Or more specifically, being labeled "just moms." Because none of us are any single thing in life. None of us. It's also why I think it's interesting that so many comments centered around the perception that marketers think moms are one-dimensional.
Quite the hot button.
Maybe it speaks to some deep-rooted fear, latent or not-so-latent we have of giving up pieces of ourselves when we became parents?
In defense of marketers, I don't think this perception is wholly accurate. Of course there are faulty advertising executions that portray moms in painfully shallow and stereotypical ways. That's generally a failure of imagination and creativity, not necessarily a failure of understanding. If you polled the average laundry detergent account copywriter, he wouldn't say "I believe in my heart that all moms are idiots." The tough thing is, if you're selling laundry detergent, you've got to talk to moms about laundry detergent. Not about how multidimensional we are or how we might have double post-graduate degrees or Michelle Obama on speed dial. Gee it would be nice though right?
(And before we lynch all marketers, let me say I think brands have come a long way in how they talk to women.)
But I'm starting to understand that there's something profoundly personal about that same generalization when it goes right to your inbox and addresses you by name. There's something uncomfortable about an email (or a panel discussion at a conference) that deems you a mommyblogger, if that's not something you want to be called.
It's like having your art misunderstood. Even if your art equals writing haikus for your boobs, riffing on subway posters, or ranting about toys that talk to you in the middle of the night.
Okay on second thought, not art - soul. It's like having your soul misunderstood.
Our blogs are personal. We lay it all out there. We want to know that someone's listening, that someone gets us.
It's totally a woman thing.
And I fully support it.
Here, I have to share that several men (oh, you men) contacted me through the back channels or twittered stealthily in disagreement that no, actually we should be fine with the term mommyblogger. They each--by either coincidence or some odd male genetic imperative--expressed the same reaction to my post which was basically: You can't accept the perks of "mommyblogging" while rejecting the label.
Um, yeah. We can.
And we will.
And you will like it.
Communities have the right to self-define. It's the reason we don't go around talking about those Orientals anymore.
There are close to 80 eloquent commenters--from moms--on this week's post and counting, about why they don't like the term mommyblogger. It almost doesn't matter why they don't. Just that they don't.
It's hard accepting a general label of any kind when we don't feel general inside. And some of us personalize that.
(Women feel things. We just do.)
The fact is, moms who blog are complex beings. We want to be recognized for our complexity and we want to be seen as we see ourselves.
Just yesterday, the lovely guy I'm freelancing for said, "It's so funny about you - at home you manage this whole household. I know you're a mom and everything but you'd almost never know it here; you're so focused on work."
It was great. Because, well - yeah. That's what we do. We compartmentalize, and we multitask and we juggle like fucking crazy. We use the mom thing when it suits us and push it gently aside for a moment when it doesn't. Deal with it, America.
To be clear, I don't want to confuse rejecting the "mommyblogger" moniker with rejecting our roles as mommies to our children. Like so many of you said so eloquently, mommy is a term my three year-old calls me and I adore it. It's funny and sweet and earnest and in a lot of ways, ironic. (How can I be someone's mommy? I hate cooking! I have sex toys!) But mommy--and any derivative thereof-- is not what I want to be called by a peer and equal in a venue where I hope to be taken seriously.
I also don't want our expressed fear of being thought of as "just a mom" to indicate that we're not proud of our mom-ness, our motherhood, our mothering, or the community of fellow mothers that we adore.
These are, in fact, the things I think we're proud of most.