I was going to post something entirely different today, but I started reading before I posted this morning and my head got filled with ideas.
Now, I'm not a hipster parent. I'm probably too old, for one thing, and I have this thing about how kids should be dressed, but it's my thing and I no longer care how other people dress their kids unless it's overly suggestive.
But I do understand the urge to resist conformity. Who says you have to move to some Camazotz -like suburb or rush out and buy the minivan just because you have kids (that's what I was going to write about, but I'll save it)? Who says your life ends because a new one has begun?
Reading David Brooks' column on Sunday, I couldn't escape the image of the old man rocking on the porch, shaking his fist and saying "These kids today, I tell ya...."
Both the article and the column are full of complaint about parent-bloggers not growing up, sharing too much, and foisting their own tastes on their children.
Excuse me, but don't we all do this to some degree? If I chose to dress my kids from Talbots wouldn't that be foisting my tastes on them? If I give my sons Red Sox shirts before they are old enough to understand baseball, or my husband teaches our kids to skate because he once loved playing hockey, isn't that the same thing?
And sharing too much? Well, hey, if I never hear another conversation about the contents of diapers it will be too soon. Thankfully my boys and their peers are well beyond that stage, as are most of their friends' parents. But there was a period there where that's all the women around me talked about and it did drive me nuts. Yet, I can handle reading about it, because I can skip over it if I want to and nobody will know, and there is evidence in their blogs that mothers do think and write about much more than poop.
Wait, you mean I'm not a grown up because I'd rather bond with my kids over the Beatles or B. B. King rather than Barney? I don't see how driving myself insane with music a step above The Chipmunks makes me a better parent. And you know what? I'm not entirely convinced that toys and entertainment and things that are tested and focus-grouped and marketed for children are all that good for them. Too many of the characters of children's TV are grammatically lazy or don't speak in full sentences. In my house that's a bad thing.
Or maybe I'm not a grown up because I miss my old life, or because I think parenting is hard, harder than it used to be, and I'm not hesitant to say so. and I will also not be ending every sentence with "but it's all worth it."
When I talk to mothers in the real world, no matter how positive their words, 90 percent of the time, I would describe their tone as wistful. Wistful about the loss of their old selves, whether it be their career, their friends, or their body type; wistful about the fact that their husbands frequently reside in different worlds than they do because of their jobs; wistful that their kids are growing up so fast, or the fact that they are not where so many of their peers are developmentally. Wistful perhaps, that no matter what anyone told them before they had their first child, motherhood was not what they expected.
Women kept journals and diaries for centuries. In addition to recording the major events of their lives, they recorded mundane things like the weather, their monthly cycles, their children's accomplishments and the latest round of social obligations. Most of their journals were never intended for publication, but what they wrote tells us how they lived.
I think that blogging affords parents an outlet that we don't have in real life. I'm amazed at how much more communal it can be than the neighborhood playground. It allows us, for reasons I don't yet understand, to be more accepting and supportive of parents who seem different from us than we would be in the real world.
But maybe it's the fact that these conversations are taking place in what is essentially a public space that disturbs some. I'm still new to this whole Mama Media thing, and I'm just starting to take notice of blogging's collisions with mainstream media, yet I can't help but think that traditionalists have some kind of interest in silencing mother's voices. Oh, but it's not just mainstream media, My Space, the leader in inappropriate online behavior, is banning photos of breastfeeding as sexually suggestive.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get weirded out here. Motherhood can be isolating, but are people saying that it should be so? I didn't become a mother to give up my life, but to expand it. Are people who complain about parenting bloggers, children in public spaces, and mothers who don't fit the norm saying not just "suck it up," but "go away?" I may work at home, but I don't want to feel sequestered there. Most of us who choose to be parents do not want to be put upon a pedestal and sainted for our so-called sacrifices, but many of us do want family life not to be excluded from real life.