1/2/15

On Weaning Myself From Mommy Blogs

I am the first to admit that I'm now considered a village elder as far as motherhood is concerned. Been there, done that, drank the vodka, if you know what I mean. Like I always remind my darling 14 year old William (the last of my four kids): "Dude, don't even try to shock me anymore. I have seen it all."

I'm not only over and done with most of the parenting bullshit, I'm also getting more and more tired of reading about it. Yes, I realize I'm no longer part of that dewy, sparkling generation of "New Mommies", but I know I'm not the only one who reads the never-ending posts and articles and manually pulls my eyeballs out of their sockets just so I can literally roll them across the floor.

Before I get a bunch of cool young moms on my old ass, listen up: I am in awe of the support that's available to parents now. When I first became a mom, I felt like I was alone. I hated it at the beginning, if we're going to be super honest here. My firstborn came out of the gate with wicked colic and it lasted almost 6 months. I remember sitting with my lactation group (oh the things you can do when you only have one kid) and describing to them how badly I wanted to hurl my squalling, pinched face demon of a baby against a wall some days. They looked at me like I had just admitted to actually doing it. I'll never, ever forget the one mom sitting across from me, her own baby suckling contentedly at her breast, and saying to me, "I think you're kind of overreacting. He's just a baby." If my stumpy leg could have managed it, I would have crotch-kicked her under that table.

What I'm saying is, I understand what you're mired in. And those of you who are relatively new to this parenting gig, consider yourselves so fortunate that you have an entire Internet full of sympathetic ears. I know you're also exposed to so much more as far as criticism and pressure goes, too, which sucks. It was hard enough being a new mom and only having the skeptical eyes of one small group of lactating women on me.

But here's the deal: I find myself groaning when certain topics are covered in parenting blogs. And no, there is nobody holding a gun to my head, hissing through clenched teeth, "READ THESE POSTS OR SWEAR TO GOD I'LL PULL THE TRIGGER". I read a lot. Not books, oh dear no. The books are stacked up on my nightstand and the coffee table like tipsy towers of papery guilt, reminding me that once upon a time I was a voracious reader. No, these days, most of my reading is done on my laptop and, when I can find my reading glasses, on my phone. And usually while I wait in the car for a kid, or when I wake up at 3 in the morning and have played all my rounds of Trivia Crack and can't fall back to sleep.

The parenting blog posts are everywhere. They pop up in my Facebook feed, they're links on Twitter and I get the e-newsletters in my email. Sometimes they reel me in and I genuinely enjoy what I've read, but like I said one long-winded paragraph ago...sometimes not so much. I've compiled a little listicle describing what I've dubbed "The Five Dead Horses Of Parenting Blogs", and I'm trying to make 2015 the year I stop clicking on links that sound even remotely close to these subjects:

1. Earnest, vaguely hipsterish Stay At Home Dads reminding us of how awesome they are.  Look, we all get it. You are part of the New Wave of Fatherhood. I love it! Time was, a dad would show up at the playground during daylight hours and it was like a Sasquatch sighting. Now, it's run of the mill. How great for your kids that they get to have a parent home with them. But guys...the world doesn't need one more tragically ironic photo of you looking all seriously serious with pony-tails in your big bushy beard, having a tea party with Hazel Louise and/or having your fingernails painted by Axl. And by the by, can people stop with the "Now THAT is a great dad!" comments? Yes, they're great. But so are the dads who are out working their asses off to provide for their families. Hell, in my humble opinion, just being a contributing father, whether you provide income or care or both, makes you a great dad.

2. Bitching about not being able to use the bathroom in peace. I kind of understand this one, up to a point. I was in that boat for a long time, where showers were done furtively and quickly, with constant peeks out of the shower curtain to make sure the baby in the car seat hadn't choked or fallen out. And I have experience in sitting on the toilet, doing my business, while breastfeeding (who knew that learning how to wipe with a baby on my lap would be great training for Future Me and my lovely panniculus? Google it, I can't be bothered to provide an explanation right now. Three c-sections, bitches!)

Look, babies who need constant supervision are one thing. But kids who understand words and are capable of being left in a room by themselves for four minutes have zero reasons to be in the bathroom while you take a dump or change your tampon or scream into a pillow. Are there bathroom doors without locks now? Is this something new? You are the grown up, my friends. Kids don't have to have free reign of your homes. If you don't like eyes on you while you're in there, don't allow the eyes to be there in the first place. My kids knew from the time they could walk that Mommy needed a modicum of privacy now and then. Bathroom doors were, and still are, closed while occupied. And if you are one of the "B-b-but I don't want my kids to grow up ashamed of our beautiful and amazing bodies and what they can do!!" then zip it about how you can't get two freaking seconds to yourself while your beautiful and amazing body does its job.

3. Vagina talk, and the endless euphemisms for the word "vagina". Yes, I know...I wrote an award-winning (LOL) post about this subject. But that was two years ago and it was already getting old (the subject, and also my vagina...ba dum BUM). It's wonderful that we are all confident and secure enough to talk openly...nay, BRAVELY, about these miraculous machines between our legs, and what we endure with them but can we move on? Hooha, vajayjay, lady garden (yes Anatomy Experts I know that's in reference to the pubic hair region), lady bits, meat curtains, poon/tang/poontang, coochie, cloven tuft, moose knuckle, baby cannon, tuna taco, Hairy Manilow, sperm harbor, etc. It's one thing to be loitering outside of a high school boy's locker room and hear these things, quite another to read yet another (almost) middle aged woman spouting the same hilarity ad nauseam.

4. The Mother Effing Mommy Wars. For the love of God, it has to stop. Or at least, the baiting articles and comments need to end. We have become a Harpy Nation of Screaming Sneetches with stars upon thars, desperately trying to win some imaginary competition and figuratively shitting all over anyone who doesn't parent exactly like us. This is one area where social media and mommy blogging and ALL OF THE INTERNETS has hurt. You can be as proud and as pleased with yourself all you want, just know that you can't swing your elbows without hitting someone who thinks you are a magnificent failure. Oh, you had a c-section? Poor thing, you didn't get to really give birth! Oh, you stay at home with your kids? Nice yoga pants, you lazy mooch. Oh, you don't breastfeed? Enjoy your sickly children, loser. Gah, you nursed your baby out in public? Way to expose innocent men and children to your sex-charged milk bags, slut! You work full-time? Must be nice to have someone else raise your kids, working girl. Did I miss any?

I don't know when this crap started, and who knows when it will end. But maybe, just maybe, if we stop being such bitches to each other, it will ease up a bit.

5. All of the Woe is (Mom)Me blathering. "Parenting is hard!' "This isn't what I thought it would be!" "Some days I don't like my kids!" Guess what? This is a song as old as time, my friends. Ever since the first Cave Mom watched her husband walk out at the break of dawn to join in on the mammoth hunt, looked down at her screaming Cave Baby and thought "This not what me envisioned for self", people have been discovering just how hard parenting is. But I think the point has been made. Over and over. And over again. Life changes, sometimes kids are demanding, smelly dictators and we don't get what we expect when we're expecting. That's how the mama cookie crumbles...sweep up the crumbs or let the kids eat them off the floor. It's your call.

And that's where my grumpy old blogger rants ends. I am already envisioning some of the comments: "Don't like it? Don't read it, granny!" "Kiss my shiny waxed yeast cake, Jenny!" "Who asked you, anyway?" and maybe even "You nursed your kids for so long because you felt guilt over the c-sections, didn't you, freak?"

Of course these imaginary comments are all spot-on (except for the c-section one. I loved my c-sections, ladies, mostly because my daughter almost died during the lone vaginal birth, but that story has been told).

Please know that this isn't a diss to the Mommy Bloggers out there. They are wonderful and fabulous and serve a purpose. They provide support and camaraderie and many hilarious stories about poop and wine and husbands and dirty minivans and make funny parody videos. I'm just acknowledging that there comes a day in a woman's life when it's time to say goodbye to that phase, and move on. Kind of like when you have that big garage sale where you get rid of the baby gear and maternity clothes, right? It's a bittersweet parting.

I'll list some of my favorite blogs below. Can't call them Non-Mommy Blogs because many are penned by actual parents, but they cover issues that have nothing to do with parenting (and if they do discuss parenting, it's usually not the typical mommy-blog fare). If you have any to add, please do so in the comments.

And please, be gentle and non-judgy if you see me reading yet another tale of potty training or how Caillou is the Antichrist and rolling my tired old eyes. This will be a gradual wean, people. *sniff*

THE BLOGS I LOVE:

A My Name is Amy: Divorce, single parenting, generally being a boss of life. Love her!
Nina Badzin: Books books and more books! Mom of four, strong voice in the Minneapolis Jewish community, all around fun and smart lady.
The More, The Messier (Suburban Correspondent): Another "seasoned" Mom! She has lots of kids! She's smart and has stayed married a long time and is one of the most down-to-earth, honest bloggers I know. (and she homeschools which I think is the bomb...lucky kids!)
Momastery: Duh. Glennon, Monkees, reality checks daily.
Bitches Gotta Eat: Just give me one Saturday with her, please. Single, no kids, living the single life without a lot of money. Samantha Irby completes me.
Abby Has Issues: I heart Abby. Single, no kids, 30-ish funny woman. She keeps it real.
The Bloggess: It's Jenny Lawson. That is all. (have I bragged about mentioned we're in a book together? We totally are.)
Mandy Fish: A gorgeous, smart Buddhist who writes like a mofo. I wish she'd hurry up and get her memoir published. I'd put that sucker on the TOP of one of my book towers.
Galit Breen, These Little Waves: One of the most genuinely beautiful people I know. She's a mommy, she's a blogger, but I don't think I've ever read the words "poop" or "vagina" on her blog. She's big into craft beer and she's a dog lover. Plus she knows the band teacher at my school so we're 6 degrees and all that.
Tracy Morrison, Sellabit Mum: I love Tracy. She's my period-spirit-animal. Also a mom, she tackles real issues like body image, health issues, marriage and the chick RUNS. Like, 26 miles at a time. A lot.
Smitten Kitchen: I got my kick ass Chicken Marsala recipe from her. And many other things I could actually make and not ruin. Great recipes, fun writing.
Chump Lady: If you've been cheated on, this is the blog for you. And don't tell her, but I have a major blog crush on the author, Tracy Schorn. In my mind she has a raspy voice and an East Coast accent. She lives in Texas.
Shannon Lell Girl is good. She's a mommy, too. But also a writer, an editor, a new divorcee and one of the strongest, smartest women I know.
Domestic Spaz: I've "known" Beth for years, from back in the old eBay chatboard days. She's funny, she's a devoted mom and loves her man fiercely. I want to go to Florida and hang out with her.
Back to Allen: My beautiful friend Lisa's blog. She's a single mom to older kids, a passionate writer and she once sent me homemade preserves. I love her.

So, so many more to add but I'm going to bed. Peace, homies. I love you all!









35 comments:

  1. Oh do I hear you on this (and also on the tower of unread books on my nightstand - as a fellow reader of Nina Badzin this gives me some guilt). One of the reasons I follow your blog is because you AREN'T that Mommy Blogger. Though the main reason is because I simply enjoy the voice and ease of your writing.

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    1. Girl! You need to update the blog! Thanks so much for reading. And YES the Badzin Reading Guilt! It's a thing! I have had a copy of "Unbroken" sitting next to me for a month and haven't managed to get more than five pages read. Maybe when I'm in the nursing home I'll have time.

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    2. I've never read Unbroken if that makes you guys feel better! ;)

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  2. I agree - I wish blogging had been around when mine was small, I certainly could have used the support. But at this point in my life, I really don't want to read about it. Thanks for sharing some of your faves, I'm off to check them out!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Gigi! I'm glad there is support for the "next generation" but aughh they are like Starbucks now. Can't go anywhere without running into one ;)

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  3. I love this post. I love love love love it.

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    1. And another blog I forgot to put in the lineup. Remedying that now. Glad you love it, Beth!

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  4. Thank you for the shout out, but I CANNOT BELIEVE you put "She homeschools!" first. It's not a homeschooling blog, people. Not at all. At this point in my life, I am too old and cynical to read those things.

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    1. HA!! Okay, okay. I'll change it! It's just that homeschooling moms have my deepest respect. I couldn't do it, not because it's an unappealing idea, but because my kids would not benefit. (I'm smart but not teachy smart). ♥

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  5. I love this post, by the way. Can't wait to check out some of the blogs on your list...

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  6. When I read this.. my immediate thought and evil grin was, little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems. Parenting doesn't stop at 18. I would take potty training over, say my husbands license being suspended because said manchild didn't pay 6 parking tickets.. potty training is much cheaper!

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    1. Omg! This is my life right now. My oldest is 23, still in college, apparently majoring in Advanced Methods In Prematurely Aging Your Mother, and Mommy Blogs sure the hell don't talk about these parenting struggles.

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    2. Exactly! I just paid for car repairs for my oldest. I never ends! And OMG, Andy! That stinker. Thanks for reading, my friend.

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    3. Bethany, I am loling at your kid's major. I agree with you, 100%. Maybe we need to coin a new term for blogs written by moms of older kids?? Mature Mommy Blog? Burned Out Mommy Blog??

      Thanks for reading :)

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  7. A.M.E.N. Pass me a martini, please...being middle aged and having kids taller than me makes me thirsty. xo

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    1. Aaand another one of my favorites that I spaced out on. That's what happens when more than one martini sounds like a good idea (spoiler alert: never a good idea).

      Love you girl.

      Signed,

      Another short mom.

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  8. Hi Jenny.... This is off topic but I have to tell you that I think it is really ironic that your ex married a woman who looks so much like you that you could be sisters and their child looks so much like your children that you could have given birth to him/her......Has to be Twilight Zone worthy for your children when visiting them. You're awesome Jenny, keep writing.

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    1. Okay anonymous...do we know each other? I asked Molly if she thinks Secretary looks like me, and she literally BALKED. "She looks NOTHING like you, mom, and Spawn looks nothing like us." I myself haven't gazed upon Secretary's mug at any great length, but I do know others have mentioned the resemblance. Apparently he liked how I looked, but now how I wifed :( Oh well. I do worry about what subconscious messages my kids get from their pairing. Do the boys think it's okay to trade in the old model for a newer one? Does Molly think that there's an expiration date on being a wife? This is a blog post waiting to happen, I think.

      Thank you for this. And the encouragement.

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  9. Aw, thanks for the shout out, and love back atcha. For the record, I do have a raspy voice (but only because I have pneumonia presently), and I'm originally from the Detroit area, so I say "okeydokey" and speak Midwestern-ish.

    LOVE the mom blogging rant there. When I started parenthood (1997) there were no mom blogs, but there was Brain, Child magazine, God love them. Who published essays of the I-want-to-throw-my-colicky-baby-out sort. I read about them in the Washington Post and was so inspired, I sent them a cartoon "Playgroup Mommies from Hell." ("Bretyenbach knows 385 vocabulary words and enjoys a good organ fugue. What does your kid do?") To my astonishment, they ran it. Now it's eons later and the world is better for all the mommy snark out there. But yeah… I remember when it was a lonelier world.

    And so COOL that you're in a book with the blogess! I'm also impressed by how many blogs you keep up with. Very honored to be on your list.

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    1. Dang girl, pneumonia SUCKS. I'm sorry you're sick! And thank you for not filing a restraining order. I LOVE, love love the Brain, Child story!

      I think my blog crush stems from being mad envious at your writing prowess. You can turn a word like a boss and reading your stuff is so easy and fun. And you touch so many people.

      Thanks for reading!

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  10. I love this! I do have little ones and I do find myself getting sucked into the blogosphere and while half the time I am nodding my head like "Yeah!" the other half, I'm like "CHRIST ANOTHER POST ABOUT GOING TO THE BATHROOM!? ENOUGH ALREADY!!!" A thousand times YES they do not have to go in there with you! And enough with the mommy wars. Enough!!! I also like Nina Badzin and I am pleased to know I'm not the only one who feels like an inferior reader because if it:) And to all the commenters who are talking about having older kids... that is the stuff of my nightmares. Yes I am exhausted and yes I dream of my kids someday wiping their own butts and cutting their own food but I feel like I'm going to suffocate when I imagine them getting in cars with people I don't even know in 15 years. That really does seem so much worse than having babies.

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    1. Oh Pam. Please don't let future worries suffocate you! These commenters will also be the first to tell you that watching your babes grow up is something indescribable and beautiful. Yes, it's scary but unbeknownst to you, while you're parenting through those little years, you get so brave and strong. By the time they are running out the front door and into some kid's car (some kid who just go their license THAT DAY) you have what you need to deal with it. I promise.

      Each phase has it's good and bad. The one thing that's hardest about the older kids is that SO MUCH of it is beyond our control. But in a way, that's better because we don't blame ourselves quite so harshly when things get a little mucked up.

      Hang in there girl. Love those babies! Thank you for reading :)

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  11. That was the funniest thing I've read in days. No joke. I read it slowly, re-read sentences, laughing again... seriously savored it like my fine boxed wine. You are so funny I can't even take it.

    Thanks for the mention... truly... it kinda makes my shiney, waxed, yeast cake a little tingly.

    And I totally spit out my drink at "This not what me envisioned for self." Holy hell... still laughing at that...

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    1. And this is why I love you. The Cave Woman line made me guffaw as I was writing it. In fact I'm smiling right now, ha!

      I'm glad your yeast cake is tingling. My work here is done.

      Love you to the moon and back, lady.

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  12. I have just one five year old so I've been reading mommy blogs a lot but already feel like I've read too more than enough sometimes. I've really enjoyed your blog and am so glad you'll be writing regular posts! I shared it with a friend going through a terrible divorce, so she can see there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to reading some of the blogs you mentioned.

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    1. Aww Melissa, thanks for the love! I hope your friend finds some comfort here. She can email me too, if she wants!

      Hug that five year old!!

      Thanks a bunch for reading :)

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  13. Some things come to mind after another excellent blog post; I openly said out loud (to anyone who would listen) about the first six months of my oldest's life, "I want to throw him down the stairs". I didn't give a shit what anyone thought. I sucked at the early stages. I said it almost every day.
    I'm glad you wrote about the pannis as Reuben and I are constantly running ours into each other and then laughing. It's so funny, it's real, it's life. In fact if you don't have one you don't know what you are missing.

    Then lastly, I appreciate that you turned me on to some of these blogs, especially Nina's. She's got a Jewish voice and personality that resonates with mine. Even though I only read a book or 2 a year, some day I'll read again. Any time you call out one of your blogger friend's postings I read it. That's how much I trust and admire your sense of knowing which stuff to read, and which to look away from. Thankfully I rarely look at mommy blogs because that early time in a child's life I couldn't get into. This 5-15 yo stuff, or even older, that's where I'm at.

    Weren't you the one to coin the phrase 'hot box" back in the 80's?

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    1. Ha! Thanks Gail! LOL@ the banging pannises.

      And I might have been the one to coin that phrase. I don't remember though, ha!!

      Thanks for reading!

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  14. Jenny, I am so honored to be included on your list on bloggers who don't make you crazy. And I agree, be the mom and close the door to keep the kids out of your bathroom business and please don't overshare about your vajayjay. Yikes. Love you, your blog, your writing and especially when you channel your inner cave woman. Seriously, I laughed my ass off at that one. xo

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    1. Love back at ya! Thanks a bunch for reading :)

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  15. I haven't dropped by the Happy Hausfrau for awhile & did just now with my happy glass of shiraz on this miserably miserable evening. I am laughing my butt off at this beautifully penned piece. Thank you, my friend. You're just what I needed after this long & challenging day. You got it girl!

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    1. Ha! Glad I could help :) Thanks for reading!

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  16. I get sick of the mommy blogs too because lets face it, I am more than a mommy . I love other things as well and my life doesn't revolve around my kids 24/7.
    And in order to poop in peace, I give my 3 year old my tablet (I am waiting for the but that will rot her brain comments). She gets to learn about letters and numbers and I get 5 minutes peace and quiet.
    I really like reading your blog and keep it up!

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  17. Ha ha ha ha!!! I feel better now (and more at home) being here, reading in not the only one who feels this way. I have 19 & 16yo boys then my 22month little girl and jumping into the mommy blog world (love the snark, but hell I didn't know there were so many ways to ruin my child! How my children are living, walking and functional is beyond me according to the "new rules" which change every day anyhow...) made me laugh and slap my forehead. You'd think we hadn't been reproducing before the Internet. Love some of it but at this stage, just don't feel "at home" in most. Thanks for the new blogs to check out!... You had me at craft beer!

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