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The Good, The Bad, and The Mommy Blogging
There's been a bit of a discussion in the blogosphere about how we Mommy Bloggers tend to put a negative spin on our parenting experiences. Girls Gone Child asked all of us to talk about why we're good parents. Her Bad Mother has an excellent post up about it, as does Gingajoy. And they have a point. Self-deprecation is the new black, at least it is when it comes to parenting.

I think that all of this negativity is part of a backlash created in part by the unreasonable expectations thrust upon mothers over the last 30 years or so. We are, by so many people, ourselves included, expected to be perfect. As modern women, we must be able to handle a demanding full time job, juggle the complicated social and activity schedules of at least 2 children, be an amazing and supportive wife, keep the home fires burning and our kitchen floors spotlessly clean. I won't go into why exactly we buy into this crap, but the pressure is there.

There have always been some writers who are willing to bare all their flaws for an amused public. Erma Bombeck comes immediately to mind. But this bad is good thing is a relatively new phenomenon. Now, it's hip to be bad.

I don't necessarily think that all this blogging about how difficult it is to be a mother is a bad thing. We can all be the most amazing of parents, but sometimes it's just damn hard to be a mom. Parenting involves a complete identity shift. After 30 years or so, it's no longer all about "me." Now it's about "the baby." That shift can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But, if you are anything like me, you'd rather rip your nails out one by one than talk about how you yelled at your 2 year old to your co-workers around the water cooler.

For me, and I think many others, blogging about the bad parts of motherhood is cathartic. After a lifetime of striving and pushing to achieve, it's nice to finally feel confident enough to say, "Hey, look at me! I'm running around naked! And I don't give a damn what you think." (Or maybe I do give a damn, but I want to know that I'm not the only one showing off her cellulose to God and everyone.)

Let's face it, blogging about the bad is also far more entertaining than blogging about the good. No one want to listen to someone wax on and on about what a great mom she is every day. If a co-worker did that to me, I'd be tempted to sneak into her office at night and leave a nasty used diaper in a filing cabinet. We get enough competitive mothering out there in the real world. Yes, everyone loves a happy ending, but you have to have some conflict along the way or no one wants to read the story. You know what I mean?

But I do think that Girls Gone Child, and HBM, and Joy have a point. I do tend to write more about my failings as a mother than my successes.

Like, Her Bad Mother pointed out in her post, you don't see all of me on this blog. You don't see me reading book after book after book to my little guys and loving it. You don't see me playing chase with the boys for 2 hours on a rainy afternoon to keep them entertained and happy. You don't see me calmly pick up a thrashing toddler off of the floor in Target and walk with my head high to the car, leaving my unpurchased booty behind in the name of consistent discipline. You don't see me confidently questioning my child's doctor when I don't agree with a treatment, or crying with him when he gets a shot.

As a mother, I rock.

I worry, yes. I feel occasional guilt about working, second child syndrome, not keeping my scrapbooks up to date, and letting my kids eat Cheerios off of the floor. Hell, I even compared my struggle with motherhood to a near death experience.

How sad is that?

These neuroses are only part of me as a mother. But, like many introspective people, I tend to spend more time naval gazing about my flaws than my strengths. In my defense, I have written a few posts about how motherhood has changed me in a positive way. Looking back through my archives, these are some of my favorite posts. But the positive posts are far outweighed in sheer number by the negative. I would like to change that.

After all, I started this blog as a sort of record for my children. I don't record just their milestones, but how their lives affect me. I would hate for one of them, looking at my blog posts at some point in the future, to think that I regretted motherhood or that I completely f'ed up. Hell, they'll probably think that anyway from about age 10 to 20, so why help them out?

So, I'm going to try to focus on some of the positives about being a mom. After all, who wouldn't love being a mom to this:

and this:

I'm going to make a conscious effort to show you all why I am a damn good mother. Consider this my first submission.

Won't you join me?

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Blogger steph! said...

I think the reason for so many blog posts that focus on the bad/hard stuff is that we're all looking for some sort of validation that "it's not just me". That it's okay to not be perfect and to be stressed out.

But you're right, we should also ensure that we do focus on the positive. So I will definitely write a "positive mommy post" sometime in the near future.

Blogger bubandpie said...

Self-deprecation is indeed a convention of the momosphere (as it is of many all-female environments), but it only works when the subtext is clearly understood: we are free to blog about our struggles precisely because we are good mothers. Reading about others' struggles is validating ONLY because we recognize, all the time, that the writer is, in fact, a good mother. If our faith in that wavers at all, the value of the exercise is lost.

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Bubandpie hit the nail on the head - we can be self-deprecating because we're confident. This was Rebecca's point - isn't it only slender women who publicly moan about the extra weight on their hips? But where I disagree with Rebecca is on the question of whether this is a problem or not - I don't think that it is. It's one thing to moan about a non-existent muffin-top, quite another to give voice to the very real anxieties that plague even the most confident mothers. And - where moaning about one's weight can be tiresome - relating the foibles of one's adventures is usually quite the opposite - if only to other mothers.

But you're right that we should be open with OURSELVES about what good mothers we are. Cuz we live what we write, sometimes, no?

Blogger Amy W said...

I tend to write about the bad in hopes of getting help with dealing with it. It's interesting to think back and see how many "good mommy" posts I have written.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Steph - You're right about the validation. It may not be essential, but we like to get it.

B&P - As always, an insightful comment! You hit the nail on the head.

HBM - I don't know, I complain about the extra weight on my hips too! But I guess when I do it no one has the urge to smack me, but they probably tune out. And I agree with you about life following writing. If I'm overly negative on my blog, I tend to be in real life for a bit. It can be a bad cycle.

Amy - I was a bit shocked when I tried to think of "good" mommy posts I had written. Actually, there really weren't any but there were a few about how being a mom has changed my life in a positive way. But there are lots and lots of bad mommy posts!

I don't think I could write about what a great mom I am with a straight face more than a couple of times, but it is nice to acknowledge that we are all good mothers for once.

Blogger PunditMom said...

You are a good mom! (And thanks for the vote of confidence over at my place). It is true that we find a certain sense of community and camaraderie in sharing the harder moments. But why not be damn proud of the job we're doing, even when we're trying to keep a stiff upper lip?

Blogger Mary G said...

There's a form of inverse boasting when you're the mother of grown-ups. You still moan about them (my daughter is untidy, too tidy, too busy at work, does to much, etc. ad nauseam.) but make sure the moaning reveals what splendid people they have turned out to be. I just realized I am guilty of that, blush. But my kids are splendid. Maybe not because of my mothering, but I'll take it.

B&P, as per always, hit it dead on. In 'it takes one to know one' mode, you are a real master of the technique and I love, love your blog. Also love the pics of your little guys. Thanks for a really insightful post.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Yeah...what you said!

And what bubandpie said.


I completely agree about the bar. Parenting used to be straightforward: children were to be seen, at convenience, heard when spoken to, and spanked when out of line. (Past generations feel free to kick my rear end right now...I know it's always been hard, nothing is easy. I know.)

Now we have all these choices, extra roles, changing of roles, new techniques, etc.

It's easy to communicate about the good. And to be honest, I don't at all see a constant barrage of "I suck as a mother" posts out there. I see a mix, which is real.

I occasionally hold myself up semi-mockingly, or ironically. I think I did a top ten ways I suck list which was TOTALLY ironic.

I sometimes seek validation and support.

We need more community in bad times than in good.

I'm not going to change a thing about how I post b/c I think it's an honest mixed bag.

And to tell the truth, I think that of the blogs I regularly read and comment at. So no need for anyone to sugarcoat it.

Still, I agree with how you put it: it is good to focus on strengths too. Navel gazing is worthy. But needs balance.

I look forward to your joy posts...especially if they include more cute kid photos. :)

Blogger slouching mom said...

Here's my two cents, for what it's worth. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have quite a few 'my kids are awesome' posts.

In my opinion, the older your kids are, the freer you are to admit that. Because my kids are themselves now. They are not still so completely products of ME. I think this may be what mary g is getting at.

But in typical insecure mom fashion, all of a sudden after I read this I started freaking out that maybe I boast about the boys too much.

We can't win for losing, or lose for winning, can we?!

Blogger jen said...

the comments have already said it all, but before i read them i was thinking, yep...i never once thought any of you are bad mothers...it's our honesty about the bad that makes the good so crystal clear.

you good mom, you.

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I've been thinking about this one. Wanted to let it sink in overnight first. And I've come to the conclusion that I blog about being a "bad mommy" because frankly, that is what I feel like most of the time. Unlike my academic and professional careers, I do not automatically excel at this "job" and it kills me to admit that. And I write out my bad mommy moments for validation and for advice. So I don't think you'll see too many "good mommy" posts in my future. I need the help with my "bad mommy" moments too much.

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

I never write about being a good mother b/c duh as you say who wants a stinky diaper in her filing cabinet. Every now and then a self-described good mom comes barrelling through the blogosphere dropping "helpful" hits left, right, and centre and ends up feeling the could shoulder pretty quick.

When I talk about the good stuff b/c motherhood is maily good stuff, I talk about my daughter's beauty and her smarts and the way she has transformed the way I see the world. Ya, I'm a good mother--an excellent mother even--but it is a symbiotic relationship and I kinda like giving the credit to my girl. She deserves it.

Great post and FAB photos.

Blogger Binky said...

I'm just happy if I can find the motivation--external or internal--to blog about anything. If it was up to the core of my lazy being, I'd never write anything. So I don't think too much about the topics that do choose to spring up. I'm just happy they did.

Blogger D said...

I figure if there are more posts about the bad things that go on in your life, it's because you need that venting outlet.

Getting your negative feelings out in this way is better than keeping it all in, and/or directing it onto your family.

I think your kids will be better for it one day.


Count me in......I am going to make a concerted effort to highlight the GOOD, as well as the bad and the ugly!

LOVE THIS POST! You do rock! In so many ways!

Blogger Pendullum said...

Damn right you are...
And you write about it quite eloquently to boot!

Anonymous Momish said...

I have been out of the loop and just catching up on this thread. I totally agree that patting ourselves on the back every now and then is very important. But, like the others, I agree that we already know we are doing a good job, or at least, the best we can. Sharing our insecurities and pitfalls is cathartic and generates the support we need now and then.

Still, it easy to loose sight of the big picture, and it is nice to be reminded every now and then! Thanks!

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