Why blog about motherhood? And why so sceptical?
Where in the past the likes of Samuel Pepys kept detailed memoirs of historic events, the rarity of which captured the imaginations of generations to come, these days any Tom, Dick or Harry can write a blog and publish any random thought for all the world to see.
Parent blogging in particular is huge. Or should I say “mummy blogging”?
In the early days of parenthood I found myself living in a new house, in a new area where I didn’t know anyone, and where the TV hadn’t yet been hooked up. Thank god for the radio and the internet!
I soon discovered that the answer to any question can be found on the internet. Problems with feeding? There are hundreds of forum posts about it. Wondering where to meet other parents? There’ll probably be a specific website just for your street. And blogs? Hundreds and hundreds of them; scores of parents desperate to share their thoughts and experiences with the rest of the world.
The problem is…who cares? I love my son, and I know the rest of our family can’t get enough of hearing about him, but I’m well aware that to a stranger, the fact that the ins and outs of a toddler’s life are less than enthralling. So why do so many parents think that strangers do care?
Search the term ‘mum blog’ on Google and there are thousands of websites where parents are doing just that, telling you every intimate detail of their children’s lives: what they ate for lunch; what they did at school; how well they sleep; even how many times a day they poo! Really? REALLY? You think people want to know these things?
Some of these blogs read like high-tech family diaries – every moment recorded with notes, photos, and comments. We have one of those, but it’s exactly that, a FAMILY diary: a blog with pictures for the family members to see, at a web address only given to family members. I assume no one else would be interested, but there must be an audience. Many of these ‘mum blogs’ have advertising, and these ‘mummies’ must be making money from them, so presumably someone out there wants to read these things.
God only knows why. Just reading the titles of some of these blogs makes me want to stock up on tinned food, bolt the doors and wait inside until The Revolution is complete and the next phase of civilisation has begun.
These seemingly innocuous, yet highly disturbing blogs seem to fall into one of three categories.
- There are those to which I can see some merit – ones with a specific angle: single parents, parents of children with disabilities, mothers suffering PND. These can at times provide an easily accessible online support system for parents facing particular challenges.
- There are those which are just plain boring. “Today was so exciting. Little baby girl ate her first banana. She had some then some fell on the floor. It was so amazing!” No it wasn’t! It was a baby eating banana! It was clearly a major milestone for you and your family but that’s it. Would you call the BBC news desk to announce that you finished the washing up only to find your husband had absent-mindedly left a half drunk cup of tea in the under-stairs cupboard last week which has now grown a tiny film of mould meaning you’re going to have to fill the whole washing up bowl again? Actually, some of these people probably would!
- Finally, there are my least favourite: the cutesy ones; the insipid ones; the ones which make me want to vomit on my keyboard while simultaneously smashing it with a giant hammer. These are the ones where women refer to their children as “My little prince and my magical princesses” while describing in detail the wonderful afternoon they spent steaming organic carrots to feed as snacks at little Timmy’s birthday party.
I don’t mean to sounds judgemental (though clearly I do), but nowhere in this vast world of “mummy blogging” (and don’t get me started on the way women refer to themselves in the third person as ‘mummy’ even when their children aren’t even around!) did I found anyone who represented me. I’m pretty sure I’m a good mum. I’ve always known I wanted to be one and people aren’t lying when they say it’s one of the most meaningful things you’ll ever do with your life. But it’s not the ONLY thing I’ll ever do with my life. For 30 years I existed without being a mum. Just because I spent 22 agonising hours in labour, does that mean I have to abandon everything about who I was before? Because that’s what these mum blogs seem to imply. Some of these women had previously held serious professions, spent years proving their skill and intelligence to others, only to get married, pop out a few sprogs and spend 12 hours a day bibbling on about crocheting and cupcakes. Again, I don’t mean to judge – each to their own – but surely there are other options…
Surely there are other people like me who not only have to go back to work full-time, but want to go back to work? Surely there are other parents out there who see through the BS of so many modern parenting theories? Surely there are other mums who cringe at the twee, cutesy nonsense attached to babyhood and can see that wiping faeces off a baby’s backside is a necessity – at times disgusting, at times strangely hilarious – but very much a necessity and not part of a miraculous, beautiful fairytale.
So, as much as I realise it’s hugely hypocritical to slag off blogs and then start your own, and much as I fear I may well accidentally offend other parents I know, Sceptical Mum is my response. A realistic, cynical, at times frivolous and at times serious, look at modern parenting.
I hope you enjoy it.