I met this woman Rebecca Woolf when we were both performing in a show called Expressing Motherhood. I was reading Aidan’s birth story and Rebecca, very pregnant with her second baby at the time, was reading from her book Rockabye about her unexpected pregnancy at 23 and subsequent launch from hipsterhood to motherhood. Rebecca and I have a few things in common: we’re published authors, we’re moms, we both cut our son’s fingertip off with a nail clipper when they were little and couldn’t bear to ever go there again. Rebecca now lets the nails grow until they break, while I bite them off, which used to make boo squirm and fight but now makes him squirm and giggle.
When I started a blog and a couple months later (like yesterday) decided to actually tell people about it, I knew I needed to link to other blogs. I mean, that’s what everyone else seems to do. I started with my faves, Gawker, the Huffington Post, which I pretty much read everyday, and some friends’ blogs—Caitlin, Jorge (not so much a blog as his awesome art site)—that I think are cool. But then I figured I should have some mommy blogs on my list (although I’ll refrain from using the term too often, as the very funny mom-101 loudly protests it).
That’s when I thought of Rebecca. Woohoo! I actually know a “mommy blogger” I can link to! So, I found her blog (This) Girl’s Gone Child. It was impressive. She’s got short, snappy posts! She’s got thoughtful longer ones! She’s got a voice and a distinct point of view! She’s got widgets! She’s got ads! And sponsors! This brand new blogger started to feel very intimidated. To make it worse, I learned that Rebecca has another blog on babble.com called Straight from the Bottle, where she wrote a hilarious piece about how to have sex when you’re cosleeping, and she contributes to other sites like the Huff Post, as well. Cut to tight chest, inability to breathe.
Then (cue Jaws music) I started going through her links. I figured if there was anything there I liked, I’d link to it, too. Well, after a few minutes I realized I’d linked to 10 or so…and I was only through the d’s. I won’t list them all here—they’re in my blogroll (how the hell do I change that to “links I like” or something less dorky?)—but basically, all the mom blogs (at least the ones in Rebecca’s links) are really good. They’re witty and smart and informed and endearing. In their own unique ways. And they’re honest, insightful, creative and clever. Their posts are clever, their husbands are clever, some of their babies are even clever.
Soon, I was feeling woozy. I had no idea how brilliant (and crowded) the mommy blogosphere was and how insignificant (and unclever) my own contribution would seem within it. I emailed my friend Carolynn, whose food blog what’s eating carolynn is one of my favorites, to tell her reading mommy blogs was giving me a headache. She immediately called me back, instead of emailing, and said, megaphone crackling, and (I assume although I couldn’t see through the phone) weapon raised: Step away from the baby blogs (crackle crackle). It’s senseless and self-sabotaging. Stop reading other people’s blogs and get back to writing your own, damn it. All paraphrased.
I took her advice, but I keep going back and peeking and it’s as intimidating now as it was then (five days ago or whenever I started). How did all these moms get so funny? How did they get so many readers? What the hell is blogher and how do you join? Most baffling of all is that thousands of readers tune in every day to read about someone else’s kid. Someone else’s thoughts on her kid’s first word and incomprehensible chatter. Someone else’s ruminations on last weekend’s trip to the zoo or fight with her husband. Someone else’s guilt for leaving the baby to go to work or guilt for staying home to take care of the baby and no longer contributing to the family income or having a life of her own.
I guess the reason all these things become cliches is because they’re so common—we all experience them—and the popular blogs, the ones with millions of hits, are the ones where the mom’s stories have a fresh twist, all the while reflecting our own.