There’s nothing radical about the statement “I feel less alone.” Nothing radical about “I blog to connect with other women out there.” My God, there’s nothing new about the statement, “My blog is a running love letter to my children.” Confessing your sins, or confessing your insecurities, realizing you’re not alone, is about as old as adultery.
So what is radical about mommy blogging? “Being a mom was private, and turning it public, creating a social history, is radical,” a panelist on a mommy-blogging session at BlogHer chimed in. It seems to me that airing all our dirty nappies, confessing about the bad mothers we sometimes feel we are, is what people are drawn to. It’s what people discuss most. They talk about honesty. They cough up, “nobody ever told me it would be like this” as the end-all, be-all praise of blogging because revealing your experiences makes others feel less alone. This is about as radical as Bart Simpson quipping, “Totally rad, man.” It goes back to dirt and worms.
People reach out for honest product reviews from real moms, want to hear about the recipes that are easy, that your kids will eat, sure, but what they really want is to hear that you’re miserable, as long as you’re funny or raw about it. Misery loves company? Not quite, but almost. We relate to people not for their characteristics and quirks but because of the universal issues they face. We watch how they handle disappointment, heartbreak, rejection, and judgment. We tune in and drink our lattes while reading honest accounts about how she handles her fourth trimester love handles. What we relate to is not the life she’s loving, or the fact that she likes the same butt paste we do, but with how she navigates the terrain of motherhood and all the themes strung up in it from feeling like a failure to wondering how you’ll balance it all.
The real question, for me, is about the theme of exploitation. The side of the line you stand on, or straddle, daily is what defines you. “My kids are in the spotlight all the time. Their dad is in the news, and he uses the kids every time he needs a baby, or a teen on the show…and they don’t resent it at all.” YET, I add under my breath. “They love it," the moderator adds, "and it makes them feel special.” Yeah, now. Give it a few years. You cannot assume because your two-, twelve-, or even twenty-year-old child is okay with it today that they’ll be okay with it later, despite your best, most honorable and loving intentions. That’s the way parenting goes, though. For any of us. Your kids are going to have a problem with anything you do, at one point or another. And it’s up to you to follow your most authentic self, to draw your own guidelines of what’s appropriate, and to one day be ready to explain (not rationalize) your decisions to the people you love. And to me, that’s what’s radical. Sticking to what you believe, despite what you’re being told, even if that “telling” voice is from your own mother, from your husband, or from the stranger across the room or web.
It’s actually not all that radical to tell people to fuck off when they criticize you for writing about being a mother instead of taking the time to be a mother. I certainly caught some slack for writing about the time when my son was in the hospital for emergency brain surgery. “How can you be writing? How can you find the time to do this? Shouldn’t you be spending your time caring? In the moment?” And when my twins were in the NICU and I blogged about it to get me through it, hearing, “You’re a fucking horrible mother,” it wouldn’t have been terribly radical of me to lash back in defense, trying to explain why I do what I do, and don’t even get me started on my “breastfeeding to lose weight” posts. What is radical? Doing it anyway without always being an asshole about it in defense of your choices.Being nice is radical. Supporting other women is radical. Making other people feel good, even if you disagree with their choices is radical.