Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In Which I Solve the Mystery of Mommy Blogging

I'm sitting on the bed in the clothes I've been wearing for the past thirty-six hours.  The baby in sitting on my lap with (just a little) sweet potato on his face.  He needs a clean diaper but you don't need to be seven months into the second baby to know that it's good to wait a few minutes on that one.  I have a head ache that pain killers and a sort of almost decent night of sleep barely touched.  I'm typing with one hand.

Why do I do this?  Why do I compose blog entries (in my head) while trying to get back to sleep at three in the morning or on my way home from dropping Lenny off at school?  Well besides the fact that it's pretty impossible to compose blog entries while on the way to drop him off because of all the questions and comments coming from the back seat. 

I figure a couple of different reasons work pretty well.  In more or less equal parts I....
  • want to hear my grown up voice.
  • am trying to impose some order on what otherwise feels pretty chaotic.
  • want to remember this beautiful, crazy, super-intense time.
  • like to keep in touch with family members.
  • like attention and affirmation from the folks in my digital community.
About this last point:  I'm not proud.  I'll admit that being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely and thankless.  In the midst of a day of "mommy look at this" I sometimes like other people to look at me too.

Also, this is not my main "mommy blog."  I have another one that I started way back in the days when Lenny was a baby.  It's not a "how to" or a food blog or an advice or opinion blog.  It's just the story of our family.  And I wasn't really thinking about internet security when I started it, so it has lots of personal details about our family in it.  I sort of try to keep it hidden.  I may end up needing to password protect it. This blog, that you are reading right now, is an experiment.  An attempt to see if I can write "stuff" that a broader audience will be interested in.  Also, I'm trying to see if I have a "voice" - something I really want to write about.  Or something I'm good at writing about.  So anything goes at the moment, pretty much.

Obviously I'm not alone in feeling drawn to blogging.  I've been reading "mommy blogs" lately and there are literally thousands to choose from.  Groups of moms blogging together.  Moms with famous twitter feeds.  Networks of moms who pool ideas about what to write about.  There are sentimental, humorous, practical, honest, encouraging, self deprecating, tragic and triumphant blogs.  And of course many that have various of those elements at different times.  Just lots of blogs.

So do they all have the same motive I do?  Well without asking...any of them I would like to suggest that most likely they do.  Also I think that we all share the following motive, which I hadn't really considered until I read a couple of articles pretty much back-to-back and was hit with an epiphany. 

First of all I read this article about a Danish writer who is inspired by a Swedish film maker who said that seeking out solitude is important for writers because (my summary) writing is tumultuous enough without adding a bunch of drama. He said he felt like he contained "too much humanity" and it was squeezing out of him.  But this quote at the beginning of the article really grabbed my attention:

"Conventional wisdom tells us pain is good for art. Genius, the logic goes, is best drunk, unhappy, destitute, scarred by war or parenting, buoyed by illegal drugs or Merck."

"Scarred by war or parenting"?!?  I love it.   I don't know if I would write more or better if I had solitude.  I doubt it.  I actually had a TON of solitude for several years and mostly wrote tortured journal entries that I do not want to reread myself let alone share.  At the moment the humanity doesn't have to squeeze out of me like a defective tube of toothpaste.  It's swirling around me like....water about to rush out of a toilet bowl?  No, that's not right.  Wind in a tornado?  Maybe better.  It's definitely swirling around me like something that makes a big mess and leave me feeling breathless and traumatized.  And I don't know if it's producing some kind of genius, but it does compel me to write stuff down.

But why this story of my crazy, normal, beautiful and monotonous mommy life?  Why not make something up?  Is it just because it's what I know?  Or maybe the reasons listed above are enough.  But then I found another one which is more elegant and might just go right to the heart of the matter.

I saw an interview of Jennifer Senior, the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood a few days ago.  It looked interesting.  She talks about why parenting has become such an intense emotional experience.  How we see our children as precious even as they have (historically) lost any economic "value."  Then I saw this review which had more detail and this great quote (I'm quoting the article, which quotes the book.):

Senior draws on the psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s distinction between the “experiencing self” that exists in the present moment and the “remembering self” that constructs a life’s narrative. “Our experiencing selves tell researchers that we prefer doing the dishes — or napping, or shopping, or answering emails — to spending time with our kids. . . . But our remembering selves tell researchers that no one — and nothing — provides us with so much joy as our children. It may not be the happiness we live day to day, but it’s the happiness we think about, the happiness we summon and remember, the stuff that makes up our life-tales.”
 That's it!  I write partly because the swirl of humanity compels me.  But mostly, I write - I "mommy blog" to become the "remembering self."  It's not just that I want to remember at some distant time in the future when the house is quiet and clean (ha!) and my little ones have outgrown my loving arms.  No.  I need to remember now.  I need to become the rememberer.  The one who finds joy in my children, who sees the beauty and the humor and the love in our every day crazy-making lives.  I need to find the self that is not overwhelmed, tired and just about fed up and listen to her for a little while.  I need her to tell me that the first sleepy smiles of the day, imprinted on my still-sleep-starved brain though they are, are precious.  I need her to point out the funny, ironic, and amazingly intelligent sayings of my children.  I want to see how they are sweet and compassionate and full of exciting potential.  I need, for a few moments, to become the one who sees my life that way.  As joyful, satisfying and something that I love.

Mystery solved.  That's why I do it.  And I think probably a few other "mommies" blog for that reason too.

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