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3/07/2007
Mommy Blogs are the New Pink
The recent brouhaha over at Pundit Mom's has made me think about a lot of things. Some are obvious if you've been following Linda Hirshman's attack on Pundit Mom and the aftermath - what I think feminism should be, of course, and combining motherhood and family. But a comment by a poster at PM's place really stopped me cold. A 25 year old, childless law student, I suppose in defense of Linda Hirshman, went after PM personally. She managed to hit below the belt, attacking a blogger I consider a "friend" and an important part of this little blogging community I've found here in cyberspace. I made the mistake of responding to her comment, which was clearly intended to provoke ire, by pointing out that it is awfully easy to judge women with children when you don't have any yourself. Only I didn't say it quite so nicely. I believe my exact words were "come back to play when you're a bit older and maybe we'll listen to you." That resulted in an interesting comment exchange on my last post, where she insulted all Mommy blogs as "creepy:"
[...]the theme on all these mommyblogs seems to be an almost creepy mantra of "mothering is the most important job." Why the need for constant restatement of your position? I don't understand it. In other words, if you (plural) knew in your heart of hearts that mothering is the most important job, or more important than lawyering, why do you (plural) need to state and restate it at every chance you get?
Yeah, I know I shouldn't have let myself get drawn into a pissing match, but I did. Live and learn. However, the whole exchange has made me think quite a bit about how my life has - no, how I have changed since having children and why it is that I, and so many others, feel the need to blog about it.

Before you have kids everyone tells you how much your life will change, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you don't get it. You can't get it. You won't get it. Until you join that sleep deprived, wondrous, frustrating, awe inspiring, hands in poo, overwhelming, beautiful, baby puke covered, life altering Mommy Club. (Or Daddy Club.) I hate to quote that corny Johnson & Johnson commercial (makes me cry every time, damn it!) but having a baby changes everything. Being responsible for this little creature not only feels like someone cracked open your chest and pulled your guts out with a pitchfork, it changes how you think and how you view the world. You start to see the world through the filter of Motherhood, with a capital M.

I watch the news or hear about a car accident, a murder, or even worse, abuse of a child and through my Mommygoggles, I picture one of my children dead on the side of the road/stabbed/battered and beaten. Having children has changed how I view war and global warming and even my job. I think very carefully about how I treat people, how I act, the example I set, all in a way I never did before. As a mother, I am motivated to truly make the world a better place in a totally different way. Welcoming a child into your world fundamentally alters everything about you in way you couldn't possibly have expected. It's the converse of a brush with death, but it alters you in a similar way - you realize that your family, the people you care about, your children, are the most important thing in the world.

And then we all step into the dark underbelly of the Mommy (or Daddy) Club.

The guilt. The judgment.

The fear.

Oh, the fear. We push it out of our minds, and move back to the guilt. And the judgment.

Nothing evokes more passionate feelings of hatred and judgment than the work versus stay-at-home debate. We're hit with it from both sides. If you stay at home, you're wasting your education and are a drain on society (ala Linda Hirshman). If you work and enjoy it, you're worse than a child abuser. (See comments). If you have to work to pay the bills or work part-time, then you're somewhere in Mommy purgatory. But really, honestly, all of us are part of that same wonderful, scary Mommy Club. We should support one another rather than tear each other apart. Deep down, I think every Mommy who lets a grenade fly knows that. They know how hard it is to make a choice.

The complaint I got from the comments of the vitriolic poster I quoted above was that we (meaning Mommy bloggers) keep repeating over and over that motherhood is the most important thing in the world unnecessarily. What she didn't understand, and I don't know how to explain, is that being a parent is the most important thing that many of us will ever do. But motherhood, and the way it elementally changes you, is scary as hell. And so we write about it. We try to make others understand how we feel, we seek others who understand, and we share all those frightening and overwhelming feelings in the way we know best. We've built our own little blogging community of people who understand exactly why it is that our families are more important than any paying job we will ever have.

The commenter above also made a valid point - that everyone can have something to say about the work versus family debate. I completely agree. I agree that everyone in our society should be able to join the discussion about combining work and family. It's an issue that concerns all of us, male and female, young and old, childless or not. But how do you explain to someone who doesn't have children, who doesn't yet know what's in store, just how hard that choice between career and family is? How do you explain how wonderful and terrifying it is to be so completely and irrevocably changed by another human being? I have absolutely no idea. But I think that all these Mommy Blogs are a damn good start to the conversation.

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51 Comments:

Thank you for tipping me off to this. I'm a mommy blogger and proud of it. Don't be silenced. What you have to say is important, does deserve a voice here in the mom blogging community. I wish I had something more intelligent to say but it is in the middle of the night. When else do moms get to troll the net?

Blogger Blue Moon Mama said...

Great post, Lawyer Mama. You moved me. You are so right about what the mama blogging community means to us moms.

I'm sure that in my kidless days, I would have thought it all sounded weird and creepy. Why read about someone else's life with kids? Haven't people been raising families for thousands of years without chattering on and on about poopy diapers? Why the need to connect with seemingly random people you don't even really "know"?

But actually, I think poopy diapers and other such trivia have long been discussed, just in a different forum. Past generations enjoyed a kind of physical community that modern moms (and dads) simply don't have. Our lives are fragmented in bizarre ways (I live in PA, work in MD, have family scattered around...) that leave many of us without a strong community. And so we turn to the web, where thankfully, we find loads of other moms (and dads) struggling with the very same issues. And then it's not so lonely. We have a place to share that intense mama love that took many of us by surprise, and to share our angst about what being a mama led us to give up (is there any harder shift in identity than parenthood?).

Anyway, I enjoyed your post and will look into the exchange that prompted it.

Blogger Heather said...

Now that was a great post!

Blogger PunditMom said...

This was a wonderful post, and I'm not saying that just because you mention me or because you defended me (quite admirably, at that)!

I really think you've summed up the situation so well -- that others just can't understand parenthood even tho' they think they do. I did. Maybe you did.

"Parenting isn't going to change me or my life," I thought so stupidly and naively. Man, how wrong could one person be.

And that's why we write about it and write about the other things that impact our lives with children -- the politics, both in the White House and on the playground. As for me, I'm still trying to get my head around how my life and my identity and my career has changed. Maybe by the time R. graduates from college, I'll have it figured out!

Blogger Amy W said...

Great post! I completely agree. LIFE CHANGING.

Blogger Carrissa Larsen said...

Great post as usual! I don't think any parent blogs to taut their own importance as a parent. We do it becasue parenthood is tough, and it's nice to know there are other parents out their dealing with the same issues, and willing to offer support and a quick laugh when needed. Thank you sharing your great insight.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Good Lord! Where was I when all of this went down?! (Drowning in reports and statements!)

Look, the war between moms who work and moms who stay home has been going on since I was young and the arguments are relatively the same now as they were then. Women should make the choice that is right for them and theirs...THAT'S what feminism truly is!

BMM got it right. My generation had the Koffee Klatch, our mom's had Bridge Clubs. These social opportunities provided moms with a support network as well as useful information. Blogging and online forums fill that need now in our physically disconnected word.

As for 'ME', I agree with PM and think she is LH's daughter. Either that or just she's that annoying person in class who always wanted to outsmart the prof and show their intelligence by arguing...you know the one! I always took great delight in hearing the professor completely demolish them! (But then I'm sick that way.)

Blogger lildb said...

I really appreciate this post, both for having directed me to the LH/punditmom situation, and for reminding me again of my desire to get to work anew at attempting to make sense of just what socio-economic factors are driving women to unjustly accuse other women of making incorrect choices (which seems especially odd to me i.e. LH's stance, given that I would bet a hundred dollars she's pro-choice, emphasis on CHOICE).

and I think you're doing exactly what you should be doing. that is, making the right choices for you and your life.

nice work.

Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

Wow.

Wow.

I may have to come back later to say more than that because right now...

wow.

Blogger bubandpie said...

When "Me" alleges that it's insecurity that makes us mommy-bloggers keep repeating ourselves on the "motherhood is important" theme, she's probably right - we do need reassurance about the importance of what we're doing.

But that need does not arise from the inherent untenability of our position, but rather from the constant barrage of belittling remarks (such as hers) that mothers are bombarded with everywhere in the media and in society as a whole.

We KNOW that what we are doing is important and worthwhile - but we are also confronted constantly with the reality that the value of our work, our lives, goes unrecognized.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Thank you for all your thoughtful comments ladies. This was a hard one to write and I'm still not sure that I got all the points I wanted to make into the post, but your comments just reaffirm my wish to be a part of this community.

DS - Yes, I was trolling the net (and editing this) at 1 am last night!
BMM - You are completely right that the virtual community we've found here used to be found with our real life neighbors. We still need support, but life and connections can be so transient now.
PM - I know what you mean. Maybe I'll "grow up" and figure my life out before H&H do!
Expat - You could be right about "Me" - I wondered the same thing. She did take the LH thing awfully hard for some random blogger.
Lildb - You're right about LH being pro-choice, but I believe she calls it pro-abortion just to be controversial!
OTJ - Thank you! I'm thinking it must be good to get a "wow" reaction. LOL!
B&P - You make an excellent point about why we constantly "talk" about how important motherhood is. We face constant criticism. Plus, how can we make others understand if we don't keep saying it? It may be futile to try to explain our world to those without children, but we have to keep trying in order to fight for the recognition we deserve as caretakers.

Blogger Me said...

Well, I certainly did not mean to provoke such a discussion -- I may come on shockingly strong, but I don't mean to provoke such reactions.

In as much as I can say this, I understand what you are saying. Ultimately, I think everyone should be free to choose what they want to do -- career, stay at home, or a combination -- however, the effects individual choices have on society as a whole should not be ignored.

But here's what bothers me, and it bothers me as much as Linda Hirshman's ideas bother you. Hirshman writes that women who stay at home are betraying feminism, etc. But so many moms, working and non, chant the mantra that "being a mother is the most important job in the world," or the equivalent, and then dismiss any challenge to that position with the flip idea that we non-parents will understand "soon enough."

This undermines the whole thesis of choice feminism - that all choices should be respected - since it presumes that all women will want children at some point. I don't want children, so constantly hearing the drone of "being a mom is the most important job in the wolrd" and "may be the most important thing we do" and "a job is not more important than being a mom" is pretty demoralizing and offensive. I don't go around saying that "having a job is the most important job in the world" or "being a lawyer is the most important thing in the world."

If choice feminism is to be truly about respecting all choices, then each side should respect each other's choices, moms included. That's really all i'm trying to point out -- the hypocrisy of complaining about being criticised, and then viciously criticising right back.

PS I am not Linda Hirshman's daughter.

PPS If you think moms get criticized, try testing people's reactions by being a healthy, normal-looking woman who says "I don't want children."

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Me - I was actually wondering if you would turn up!

You make a valid point about the assumption that all women want to have children. That's another area where people just can't understand your point of view, so hopefully, if you think about it, that will give you a bit of insight into how mothers feel when their contributions to society (their CHOICES) are downplayed, ridiculed, and belittled.

For most moms (I guess I can't speak for all of them), our families are more important to us than our jobs. Now. After having had children. But I know damn well that anyone getting up on their high horse & lecturing a childless me about how much more important their childrearing job was than the career I had chosen would have pissed. me. off. So I see your point. I'm not saying that what I do is more important than what you do, I'm saying it's more important to ME. And that that's OK.

But all of this got such a strong reaction from me because of your jab at Pundit Mom. You made some comment about how what she's doing now is inferior to her position at the SEC. And then the swipe about the "creepy" mommy blogs. Sigh. I just feel like Moms are taking it unfairly from both sides. We're criticized if we choose to work and enjoy doing it. We're criticized if we don't work or don't do enough work to make people like Ms. Hirshman happy. And we're also criticized for trying to get people to see where we're coming from and for seeking support from other parents with derisive comments about Mommy blogs. (Oh wait, that's three sides.)

Luckily, the only criticism you'll have to face is from people who can't understand why you wouldn't want a family. And yes, criticism for any of the choices you've made - especially one as personal as family - is harsh.

Blogger gingajoy said...

hey lawyer mom, you made your way over to blogrhet recently, and YES you're invited!

This post is excellent on so many levels (and someone went after Bub? oh no she didn't...)

I have so much to say about this post, and am working on a megapost myself (at gingajoy) that connects to some of what you read at blogrhet and absolutely to so much of what you say here. Why what we are doing is pretty radical, really. Why this is the ultimate manifestation of personal = political, and why we might even be changing things (just a little).

(except for dumbass chicks who calls us "Creepy"; but bitch'll learn one of these days (rolls eyes))

Blogger Me said...

Lawyer mama, you write "I'm not saying that what I do is more important than what you do, I'm saying it's more important to ME. And that that's OK." That's how everyone feels about themselves, or at least their ideal selves, and if more people bothered to append "to me," there would be a lot less disagreement.

As for PunditMom, yes, I took a personal swipe at her, and that was wrong, but as I've already said, isn't putting someone on a Cringe List a personal swipe at him or her? If we go back to what she wrote about Hirshman, I feel that she mischaracterized Hirshman's arguments and views. PunditMom wants to disown it by blaming Hirshman's placement on the list on "the editors," but it was PunditMom who wrote the content, and she has made it subsequently clear that she doesn't like Hirshman's views. Let's go back to what PunditMom concluded her blurb with, "It’s disconcerting when a former professor of women’s studies seems to enjoy criticizing other women’s choices—when they presumably don’t match her own." I would argue that saying "motherhood is the most important job," as so many people DO say, is doing the same -- the criticism is implicit. If you are not a mother by choice, you ar voluntarily choosing not to do the "most important job" and whatever you are doing is not "the most important job." It antagonizes people like me to hear that said repeatedly. I think it's understandable.

One more thing: you write: "Luckily, the only criticism you'll have to face is from people who can't understand why you wouldn't want a family." You're equating family with children. I want to have a family with me and my significant other. Children are optional, and even if I wanted to have children, I have serious moral reservations about the ethics of that, but that is another can of worms.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Me - I don't want to do this again. Let. it. go. You're not going to convince me. I'm not going to convince you. The only difference is that I've been in your shoes before. You've never been in mine.

I believe I was clear when I said motherhood is the most important job that most of us will do. And by "us" I think I was pretty clear that I meant mothers. If you take that as a personal affront b/c you choose not to be a mother, I can't help that. It doesn't make motherhood any less important. Being president is also more important than my job and I, of course, am not president. (Although I think I could do a much better job than the current occupant.) I don't choose to be president (assuming I had a choice here, of course.) But I don't see how that's an implicit criticism of me. Motherhood will always be more important than MY job. Mine. Me. Get it. Me. Not you. Are we clear?

Family is whatever you choose to make it, but the dictionary definition is generally held to be people related by marriage or blood. Whether that's the way it should be is something else entirely.

And yeah, you probably don't want to get into the "moral" implications of having a child. At least not here.

Finally, back off of PM. I don't like to delete comments b/c I enjoy debate and discussion, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with what PM wrote, editorial choice or not. Hishman certainly makes me cringe and I'm a full time working mommy putting her education to use for a paying job. She makes lots of people cringe. That's her schtick. She uses disdain and insult to create controversy and by doing so, she: (1) gets more publicity and (2) makes us talk about the issues. So LH gets exactly what she wants by writing the way that she does. I was actually shocked that she went after PM b/c I've always been under the impression that LH wants to make us cringe.

Blogger ayasud said...

Reading all these comments left me thinking, "Well, I know that for ME, being a Mommy is certainly the most important job I do and will probably be the most important thing I ever do in my life. Period. Even if I become President. Even if I cure cancer. Even if I save the planet. This is the most important thing I will ever do, TO ME." Most mommies I know feel this way. It is the same thing that drives us to throw ourselves between our children and any perceived danger regardless of the fact we may be the next rulers of the free world, save hundreds of thousands of lives and the planet- we'd sacrifice it all to save our children. And I didn't know I was going to feel that way until after I had my kids. Does it mean that it should be every woman's destiny, dream, desire to reproduce? Does it mean that a woman cannot find meaning if she does not reproduce? Absolutely. God wants you to have kids and serve your husband. Oh, wait, just kidding. No, duh, of course we are not MADE by having children- we are beings outside of our roles as mothers. Women, whether the have children or not are certainly entitled to seek their place and meaning out in the world. I'll be the first to say that you should NOT have kids if you don't WANT them. There's enough of that out there already. Maybe I'm wrong or crazy but I don't know alot of mommies who sit around and think how superior they are for having kids. If anything, motherhood is a humbling experience which brings out all our fears and insecurities. I spend a great deal more time worrying about if my kids are going to hate me just a little or a lot, not how I rewl! over all those childless feminists. Hey, want to be a good feminist? Whatever it is you do, do it well. If you want to be a mother, be a good one who raises her children to be happy individuals who in turn do whatever they do well. And if you'd rather do something else... do it well. Bring honor to us all. And don't dis your breeder sisters- that doesn't seem like women standing in solidarity at all. Sorry Lawyer Mama, didn't mean to completely spew all over your comment section. Love your blog, btw. You kick ass. *Mwah*

Blogger Blue Moon Mama said...

I think it would be unfortunate for the good issues raised by this debate to be buried under hurt feelings and personal attacks, but maybe that was inevitable when the debate was framed in such a hostile way from the start (I'm thinking of the "cringe" list, and then the subsequent personal attacks from LH.)

I'm a little surprised that anyone would assume that when mothers say that motherhood is the most important job they have, they mean that motherhood is the most important role for (all) women to take on. That interpretation casts the statement as something so...reactionary. I'm sure there are women who believe that, but you don't need to know much about the women bloggers involved in this debate to know that they are generally moderate or left-of-center. Attributing such a sentiment to them seems so nonsensical.

I also think that many moms are really bowled over by how important motherhood ends up being to them. Most professional women spend years thinking in a very different way: what do I want to major in? What kind of career do I want to have? Should I go to graduate school? What can I do to enhance my professional development?

For a long time, having children is something kind of hazy way off in the future. And so when it happens, it's surprising how much it derails one's former way of thinking. That's not to say that the former emphasis on academics and career is somehow less valuable or that it is inferior...it just suddenly seems less relevant, or even irrelevant to the new mother's own life. It's a shift in identity and purpose that leads many moms scrambling to connect with other moms as they try to re-forge a path that combines work and family in a way that reflects new and unexpected priorities.

I don't think it's insulting to say that a woman who is not a mother cannot really understand this shift in identity and purpose. I know I sure didn't understand. That doesn't mean that women who aren't mothers cannot contribute to the conversation about women's roles in the workforce in important and meaningful ways, but their perspective is neccessarily uninformed by the actual experience of motherhood.

Blogger Me said...

Lawyer Mama, I simply don't understand. You tell me "the debate is over as far as I am concerned," then surf over to my blog to leave a comment, then make a post about me on your own blog, and wonder when I'm going to show up, and then respond to my comment with "let it go." Is the debate over, or not? I don't understand.

Anyway, as to the saying "motherhood is the most important job in the world," my last post was about people who say that, not people who don't. I agreed with you about appending "to me" and how much that would help the debate. I wasn't talking necessarily about you, I was talking about the people who trumpet that idea, and believe me, there are a lot of them. Also, I think it's highly dishonest of you to pretend that there is no implied criticism of mothers in that statement (when said without "to me"). If i said, "Being a good Christian is the most important thing in the world," I think there would be an implied criticism of everyone who [doesn't convert and] follow the teachings.

As for what PM wrote about Hirshman, I think it is mischaracterization. Specifically, "Hirshman suggests that women will never wield true power unless they return to the office immediately after maternity leave," and "she claims that women today don’t like to think." I think those are blatant mischaracterizations. As Blue Moon Mama says, when you put people on the Cringe List, and mischaracterize their views, you don't start the debate off on a good foot.

As for LH wanting to make people cringe, I really don't think that she's Ann Coulter. I think she is sincere, and I think it's hard to argue with her premise, which is that individual choices are all fine and good, but if women make up 50% of the population, and then a much larger percentage of them than men chooses to stay at home, or work part time, it will be hard to achieve equality in the upper echelons of power, to have 50% women senators, 50% women law firm partners, etc. I think the logic of that is unassailable, ceteris paribus. And those things are necessary to be truly equal, in her opinion and in mine. Maybe people think, "someone else will do it," but that someone else is everyone.

Asayud, I thought your post was very interesting and informative. You write "I'll be the first to say that you should NOT have kids if you don't WANT them. There's enough of that out there already." An interesting corollary, if you want kids, should you necessarily have them?

Blue moom mama, yes my experience is necessarily uninformed by not being a mother, but is that the only relevant experience? I really don't think so.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Wow, this is turning into an amazing discussion. You ladies rock!

Ayasud, BMM & Me - Thank you all for your insightful comments. I'll have to address them in more detail when I have a bit more time.

Me - I'm sorry that I don't have time to fully discuss this with you (actually this might be a good conversation for an email exchange some time.) The debate was honestly over for me & I simply cut & pasted my comment from here on your blog after I was informed that you had posted only a portion of my thoughts on your blog w/o a link to the full discussion. And I didn't wonder "when" you were going to show up, but "if" you were. I don't think that personal attacks are ever a good idea, but aside from that I've enjoyed our exchange. It has made me think a great deal, hence this post. If we could all take a step back and look at the issue from another perspective, we gain a great deal.

OK - this comment is already way longer than I intended, so enough for now. I promise to return later this evening.

Blogger Blue Moon Mama said...

"Me" said: "Blue moom mama, yes my experience is necessarily uninformed by not being a mother, but is that the only relevant experience? I really don't think so."

Um...nor do I. That's why I said: "That doesn't mean that women who aren't mothers cannot contribute to the conversation about women's roles in the workforce in important and meaningful ways."

Do you really feel criticized when people say things like "The most important thing is being a good Christian"? Do you think there's inherent criticism in people having different priorities and values than you do?

If so, I think that's hypersensitive. Certainly you can disagree with someone else's values and priorities, but to take them as an insult must mean that you are always smarting about something.

Blogger Me said...

Blue Moom Mama,

No, i'm not "always smarting about something." Like any person, there are some topics that bother me more than others. The sentence "The most important thing is being a good Christian" has implicit value judgments in it, implicit criticism of those who do not comply with its instruction. The difference is that it doesn't really bother me that much because I don't feel threatened by it.

However, considering how prevalent mommy and baby culture is in our society, how we have not moved beyond, not even close, the link between women's personhood and children, people saying "motherhood is the most important job" is much more jarring than the Christian comment. I don't feel like i constantly have to defend my views about my religious choices, but I do feel like, outside of the blogosphere, I do have to constantly defend my views from the women=children (an oversimplication) contingent of society, and that is a large contingent.

It's just like how strongly some women react to people like Hirshman, it's for the same reasons. I could say that the people who criticize LH are just hypersensitive and "always smarting about something."

Blogger Blue Moon Mama said...

"Me" - Actually, I do think people who feel personally insulted by LH's views are hypersensitive. (However, LH's apparent personal attacks are another matter.)

I just can't imagine going through life feeling insulted by every person who holds and expresses a different value system. There are plenty of "values" I find objectionable, but I don't generally see them as personally insulting. Even if one interprets an expression of values as implied criticism of different values, I can't imagine taking it very seriously. So someone else thinks my choices aren't as good as theirs. So what? Why elevate their opinion to such importance? that's why I figure you must be smarting a lot.

Blogger Me said...

Blue Moon Mama,

Don't worry about me, I'm doing okay. Like I said in my previous posts, it's not every statement of different values that I find bothersome. It's only some, on issues that I am sensetive on. Surely you have some issues you are sensetive about.

You write "So someone else thinks my choices aren't as good as theirs. So what? Why elevate their opinion to such importance?"

Indeed. Why put him or her on a Cringe List? Why criticize him or her for "criticizing other women’s choices—when they presumably don’t match her own"? That's what started all this :-)

Blogger Blue Moon Mama said...

"Me" - I didn't see the original "cringe" list, so I don't know the context of the original comments.

But there's a difference between disagreeing about ideas and being insulted by them. Lots of people have values that make me "cringe," because I disagree strongly with them. I think some of these values are potentially harmful to others, and I think it's great to object to them. Criticism of ideas is healthy and good, and doesn't need to leave anyone nursing hurt feelings.

I can't imagine the substance of my objection to someone else's values being "You've insulted me by feeling that way!" I don't see anything constructive in that. There are ways to express objections without making things so personal.

Blogger Me said...

Blue Moon Mama,

I think you would agree that some views are offensive and insulting. People have a right to those views, sure, but I don't think you should go around telling people not to feel insulted, and that anyone who is offended by something, whether they express it or not, is being "hypersensetive."

I think it's appropriate to respond to these views not only with reasoned arguments, but with an emotion-related response as well, as in, "What you've said is really hurtful." It may seem whimpy and whiny, but it may be a lot more powerful than a reasoned argument.

I don't think it's wise to completely dismiss someone's views simply because they are insulting, but I don't think that it's okay to dismiss someone's views because you think the person expressing them is "hypersensetive" is wise either. Both are easy ways to avoid addressing the substance and validity of the actual views expressed.

Blogger Mom101 said...

This is a really wonderful post. ( and I swear, I was going to write as much before I even realized you linked to me - thank you for that!)

It's funny, people have hardly even mentioned the fact that LInda's attempt to demean Joanna by referring to her as a "mommyblogger" not only demeans motherhood as a whole - but shows no familiarity with PunditMom, which is hardly a blog about motherhood. If anything it's, as you describe, the world and politics at large from the point of view of a mother, however explicit or implicit that perspective may appear.

And "ME" -

I understand you in that for 35 years of my life I didn't know that I wanted to have children either. I certainly hear and relate to both sides. I can now tell you that when people refer to motherhood as "the" most important job it's not to compare it with those that others hold. No one would argue that it's not important that we also have doctors and teachers and congressmen and airplane pilots in the world. It's simply a (perhaps imperfect) way of articulating that it's important for mothers to raise their children relative to other things they might be doing with their time. If you look closely when you notice that sort of remark, I think you'll find the context is in no way an attack on those who choose to remain childless.

And I'm a die-hard professionally employed mom, if that matters--one who still has trouble calling herself a mom (whatever my blog moniker may bve).

Blogger PunditMom said...

ME, I know for some reason you don't beleive this, but the decision to put LH on the list came from the editors, not from me.

I can't believe that there has been so much argument over why she should be on any list ... freelance writers write what editors want -- so that's why she is there.

Blogger Me said...

moms101 -- I think you're right about some people, maybe even "most" people. But then there's Caitlin Flanigan, her followers, and women with similar attitudes, who aren't friendly and reasonable.

PunditMom -- First, I didn't even see that post where you accused me of being LH's daughter and not really being a law student. For someone who is so offended by personal attacks, you sure don't seem to have any reservations about engaging in some yourself.

Well, anyway, even if the editors told you to put Hirshman on the list, and I understand that you don't want to refuse assignments, you wrote the blurb, right? And the blurb is, as I said, micharacterizes Hirshman's views, and attacks her personally, criticizing her for criticizing people who "made different choices from her." I think she criticizes people who make what is according to her the "wrong" choice, if your goal is gender parity. I don't think it has anything to do with her personal choices. To say that belittles her work, because it implies that it's not based on any academic or philosophical principles and reasearch, but simply on petty attacks on women who made different choices from Hirshman.

PS Maybe you guys think i'm some hopelessly confused ultraliberal NYC urbanite not in touch with any reality -- well, I've never taken a women's studies course in my life. I've read about feminism a lot, but i'm not some birkenstock wearing eat-village-dwelling vegan with dreadlocks who burns bras for fun. My thoughts may be unoriginal, but they are not the result of women's studies brainwashing.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Well, what a shock when I checked back here for comments! Intense, to say the least.

ME, I get the impression that you believe at some point one of these ladies is going to say, 'OMG, we've been so unfair to you, ME. You are right!' Well, darlin', not gonna happen! We are, for the most part, mothers here who all firmly believe that THE most important job in the world IS having and raising our children. It is unrealistic of you to expect us to constantly amend that statement with 'the most important job I will ever have'.

Unless you are a real-life Jack Bauer of 24 (and even then I'm not sure), it is unlikely that we will concede that anything you will ever do will be as important as being the mommy of our own precious offspring. Because, you see, anyone can be a lawyer, a doctor, a president, a police officer, or a counter-terrorist spy but no one else can be the mommy of my daughter who, without me, would not even exist.

I'm not saying that what you do is unimportant or valueless.

What I'm saying is that until you have a child who is completely and totally dependent on you for their very survival, you cannot begin to imagine the depths of what mothers feel every waking moment of their child's life/lives. I'm fifty years old, my daughter is twenty-six and pregnant with her first, and I still feel it every blessed moment of every day!

As a child protection social worker I see the effects every single day on children whose parents don't embrace this sentiment. It's heartbreaking, to say the least. Given the increasingly alarming number of abused, battered, and exploited children in the world, why would any thinking person BASH mothers who express such sentiments as we do?!

Blogger Me said...

Expatsw,

Though I find most of your post objectionable, I'm going to have to point this out especially:

"Because, you see, anyone can be a lawyer, a doctor, a president, a police officer, or a counter-terrorist spy but no one else can be the mommy of my daughter who, without me, would not even exist."

I think you know what i'm going to say. Anyone, as long as she is fertile, can reproduce and have a child, but not everyone can be a counter-terrorist spy, a doctor, a lawyer, a president, or a police officer. There is nothing remarkable in reproducing. Sorry. I may not be a remarkable lawyer, but there are some remarkable ones out there. Remarkable writers, physicists, doctors, peace negotiators, judges, whatever.

I'm not holding my breath for any of you to say that I was right -- it is a rare occassion when someone changes their mind. But that's not my goal. It's only to point out a different way of thinking about things.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Wow! And the comments keep coming...

Me - I had to laugh at you thinking that we're going to think of you as some "ultraliberal New Yorker!" LOL! I realize you can't possibly know much about my politics or the politics of many of the ladies who post here, but you're definitely off base there. I think politically you probably have far more in common with many of us than you know. Hell, Expat (who happens to be my aunt) left the US because (among other things) she was so disgusted with the way things have been marching to the right in this country.

You're right that there is nothing remarkable in reproducing, but there is in raising a wonderful child and a productive member of society.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Hmmm, ME, I think you misunderstood the thrust of my post. There is an enormous difference between reproducing and having a child, and being a parent. The mothers who have been posting here take tremendous pride in being the best mothers possible in a world that more often than not undervalues and even criticizes our contributions to society. I see the effects of bad and/or poor parenting daily as well as the resultant effects on society. Please understand that having a child is a far cry from raising a child.

I am sorry that you found my post objectionable but as you were not specific about your objections, I can not address them. LM has enlightened you as to the political leanings of most on this board. Although I am left-of-center, I am likely not the most liberal on here.

You post that it's not your goal to change our minds, only to point out a different way of thinking. Thank you, you have done so. Why keep arguing?

Blogger Velma said...

This is a great discussion, and I just wanted to thank everyone who has taken part in it for giving me some intellectual stimulation this weekend.

Blogger karrie said...

I think LH is creepy, but I do understand where "ME" is coming from with regards to feeling as though there is a cult of motherhood. I remember having a similar reaction when the flood of "momoirs" and "mommy lit" started to hit the shelves a few years before my son was born. I thought it was bizarre.

Obviously, now I feel differently. But....I'm still not 100% comfortable with the idea that being a mother is the most important thing I'll ever do. It may well be, and that's fine, but I don't feel a need to shout it from rooftops.

I *do* feel a need to read and talk with others who are at a similar stage in life, which for me does include motherhood. But I can't deal with "all mommy, all the time." I've personally moved beyond the chatter about poopy diapers.I don't think I was ever really into that aspect of parenting. :)

Blogger Girl con Queso said...

Wow. I am loving reading this discussion. My hats off to everyone for sharing your thoughts, inputs and viewpoints. All points, all sides. So very intersting and insightful and honest. Thanks.

Blogger Queen Heather said...

What a great post. I missed some mama drama? Darn! I've allowed myself to get in a pissing match every now and then too. it's ok!

Maybe we state the importance of motherhood over and over because on some level we still feel society doesn't give it the recognition it deserves?

I dunno...could just be psychobabble!

Anonymous MerrieB said...

My husband and I are trying for our first child, and it has already changed my outlook. I couldn't have cared less about the environment or a few other issues before. But lately I keep thinking about what I can do to make the planet a better place before our child arrives. I'm already seeing things differently regarding the food we eat and living greener.

Blogger Slackermommy said...

Excellent post! Why has being a mom or a "mommy blogger" become a dirty word? Raising future generations seems like an important job to me.

Here via sk*rt.

So glad I found you and this post! So well stated.

There is NO way for someone to understand what one feels as a parent. You said it so eloquently.

Anonymous crunchy carpets said...

Awesome post and interesting discussion...

you can see my long winded take on it here..

http://crunchycarpets.com/archives/239

Blogger RockStories said...

LawyerMama, I think your original post is great, and I'm glad you made it. It brought to mind a great column I read some time ago, and when I went back looking for it, I was surprised to discover that it was six years old already--I guess some things truly do never change!

http://www.sothethingis.com/6%20mom%20blues.htm

Re your comment to "me" above, though...don't you think that "I've been in your shoes and you've never been in mine" is just an extension of the same kind of presumption you've been talking about? You may have been in the "childless professional" shoes, but that's a far cry from standing exactly where another woman stands. Even in virtually identical circumstances, we aren't all necessary going to make the same choices (nor should we). After all, we're different people, and our families are different people.

Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

You know what I find creepy? People like that commenter who get all worked up over what a particular community of women are doing or saying when she obviously can't relate (and what's more, she doesn't care to try).

I love how you articulated the sliding scale of mommy judgment as it pertains to the work-or-not-to-work debate. I've occupied all those niches, and there's no way to make all the people happy all the time. The best we can do is to make ourselves happy.

Blogger Lara said...

hi there - i came via sk*rt.

mostly, i just want to say this is a great post and great discussion in the comments. it's interesting to see all the different opinions here. i've felt judged from both sides as well: my (now ex-) fiance's mother used to accuse me of putting the feminist movement back twenty years when i would express a desire to be a stay-at-home mom someday. she was always saying that with my education and skills it was a disservice to society for me to stay home. i tried to point out that i thought by weighing my options and choosing what i felt was best for me, regardless of others, that i was furthering feminism. but she disagreed.

i have also, however, felt judged by mothers when expressing my opinions on various topics, such as this one. (and no, not you or PM or any of the others here. i'm talking generally of other experiences.) i realize that i don't truly understand what motherhood will be like yet - i never will until i'm there. but sometimes, when moms throw that out in a condescending tone of voice, just to end a discussion they don't like, it's offensive. because in those situations, it is serving the purpose of "you don't know what you're talking about so just stop talking." i believe - like others of you have stated - that those of us who don't have children yet can still offer valuable contributions to the discussions.

those were my two main thoughts, but i'm grateful for all the deep thinking i got from this. so thanks. :)

Blogger Laurie said...

Excellent post, LM. I share your concerns and hopes-- I intended to blog about this very subject myself, but I doubt I could have done it the justice you have.

LH comments in her article are SO offensive-- but I appreicate you taking on her arrogance (and that of others) in an honest, direct way. And, thanks especially for articulating what so many of us feel.

Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I agree that you just can't know how it will feel to see things in this new way. I am sure it is annoying to people without kids because they think we are saying we see and feel things more fully, but I think we just see things differently. Not better, but different. Would I go back? No, but I don't think we assume that others should follow our path, either. I think it is hard for childless women to know that when we say we see things differently now. People assume there is an implied judgement on themselves that is (usually) not intended.

Blogger Dana said...

it will be hard to achieve equality in the upper echelons of power, to have 50% women senators, 50% women law firm partners, etc. I think the logic of that is unassailable, ceteris paribus. And those things are necessary to be truly equal...

What exactly is equal about that? If not as many women want to be lawyers, senators, etc., then the statistics shouldn't be the same. Those who want to stay home are not betraying women by choosing to stay home, or by taking part time jobs or by choosing to be the one who leaves her job when her husband is promoted or whatever. She is making decisions for her family that are best for her family. And for her.

I have no desire to return to working outside the home. And I'm certainly not feeling the urge based on some strange definition that has more to do with equity than real equality.

Blogger Pavlina said...

You said in your post "But how do you explain to someone who doesn't have children, who doesn't yet know what's in store, just how hard that choice between career and family is? How do you explain how wonderful and terrifying it is to be so completely and irrevocably changed by another human being? I have absolutely no idea. But I think that all these Mommy Blogs are a damn good start to the conversation. "

You know, I think the real point is that is is impossible to make another person feel what you are feelings without that person having been through it themselves. It is impossible to make a woman who has never had children understand what it is like to have children. You just cannot. Like you said in your post about how life changing it is, having a child changed everything. Before children you have different priorities and different outlook on life. After children, that all changes. You can't possibly illustrate all that to someone who has not experienced it.

This desire to make others see it from your (royal "you") point is behind much. Like the abortion issue, or gun control, etc. The saying of "until you walk a mile in my shoes" is so appropriate.

Instead of convincing young women of what it is like to have children and how their life will change, just say it from your end. Tell how your life has changed and leave the preachiness out of it. I think this is what offends the most. Saying it like, "Well IF you had kids you would know..." No one wants to hear that, they just shut down and stop listening. Tell your stories your way and commiserate with the other mommies, period. When you do get attacked by someone, then it really will be just another issue they have with your blog, and it will be less of you (royal "you") attacking them for a belief they hold. One thing we all know is that it is next to impossible to change a belief a person holds, they must change the belief themselves.

I truly believe that when women realize this they will stop the constant harassing on both sides and they will realize you can't change a leopards spots abut as a tiger you can revel in your own stripes.

Blogger Not that crazy... said...

This was the first post I've read of yours and man, it's a doozie.
The point (to me) is that if you're a Mom and you write, there will come a point when you will write about your kids. It just happens. When Cara was having sleep issues, I thought about other things, but our struggles with trying to get her to sleep longer than an hour at night was what I ended up writing about. Is that really such a bad thing?
I agree with Bubandpie when she writes, “we do need reassurance about the importance of what we're doing”.
For years, our mothers and grandmothers fought for our right to choose if we wanted to have kids and then to have the choice of being able to stay at home with them or to work. Those are HUGE, scary choices that affect not only you, but also your husband and your kids. I don’t think that anyone makes those choices lightly and no matter what your choice is, you need to be told once in a while that you chose correctly.
I think that Mom Blogs provide a place for us to not only share what we’re going through, but also a way for us to help people in similar circumstances.
Obviously there is a niche for “blogging mommies”. If there wasn’t a desire to read about dirty diapers, teething and sleep problems then such blogs would die off.
Great post and great discussion

http://TastesLikeCrazy.blogspot.com

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These blogs are also a way to connect to others. Being a mother can be so isolating. Blogs provide a connection so that we all don't have to do this alone. Another great resource is opmom.com

**opmom.com
From your Command Center you can organize your family’s medical information & create wellness reminders, find & rate local service providers, plan & book the perfect vacation, get a handle on your photos, create & plan events and parties, stay in touch with your community using the innovative “HeadsUp” local broadcast feature, plus find inspiration for tonight’s dinner.

Blogger My Trendy Tykes said...

Excellent post.....Of course I have no clue as to what went down to cause a post like this. (Maybe I was too busy being Creepy?!) LOL!

Well said!

I will be back.

Linda

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