“So you’re a mommy blogger?”
When I started blogging a decade ago, I got this question a lot, and at times I responded with a touch of antipathy. Childless and independent, with far more interest in the latest political and theological debates than trends in cloth diapering, I, like so many others, dismissed “mommy blogging” as trivial, jejune.
It didn’t help that, back then, women writers of faith were such an underrepresented group online, several advertisers and publishers literally had no category for women like me, so they labeled me a “mommy blogger,” whether the term fit my work or not.
“I do have a blog,” I’d respond defensively, “but I’m definitely not a mommy blogger. I don’t even have kids.”
But my attitude toward “mommy blogs” changed once I actually started reading them. In between the photo dumps and product placements were some of the most honest, considered, and powerful essays I’d ever read, essays about things that really mattered: faith, doubt, feminism, race, mental health, addiction, community, friendship, mindfulness, grace and the unique joys and challenges of raising children in our highly-connected, yet increasingly isolating culture.
The women behind these blogs wrote with uncommon humor, courage and insight, often posting multiple entries a week—a schedule that would make the most seasoned professional columnist sweat. As I subscribed to more and more of their feeds, I came to realize the term “mommy blog” was insufficient to describe the breadth and depth of what these women were writing about online.
Sarah Bessey’s reflections on faith and feminism and Osheta Moore’s practical guidance on justice and peace challenged me to live as a more faithful follower of Jesus in those quiet, unpublicized moments when faithfulness really matters.
Denene Millner’s posts about parenting black boys as a black mother did far more to wake me up to realities of racial injustice in this country than my subscription to The New York Times, and Kristen Howerton’s “Rage Against the Minivan” blog introduced me to the concept of white privilege in a way that made sense and inspired change.
Glennon Melton, of course, used her disarming humor and candor to invite readers to get real about everything from addiction, to perfectionism, to bullying, to the futility of trying desperately to “seize the day” amidst the fog of parenting young children. (Glennon’s gone on to write two bestselling books and raise millions of dollars for vulnerable women and children. The term “mommy blogger” doesn’t exactly cut it.)
Though my life looked very different from the lives of these women, their work gave me permission to exhale, to relax into the spirit of “me too” that pervaded the comment sections. They taught me too that our biggest questions, our deepest desires and fears and joys, often meet us in the quotidian challenges of marriage, parenting and home life—at the 3 a.m. feeding, in the tantrum at Costco, amidst piles of dirty laundry, at the community playground, in the bouquet of weeds left carefully on your pillow.
When I clicked through images of the largest protest in U.S. history to see millions of women—old and young, married and single, parents and non-parents—marching peacefully through the streets of every major city in the U.S., I couldn’t help but smile and think, “Look: mommy bloggers.”
Never underestimate what women can do together.
Eighteen months ago, I became a mother myself. So far, parenting has been a lot like driving without a GPS. We bought the parenting books of course, and we can turn to friends and family for help and advice, but when things get especially hairy, I often find myself conjuring the wisdom of mommy bloggers, past and present, whose words guide me the way a local gives an out-of-towner directions: “Turn left at the big red barn. Go down that road a few miles, maybe three. You’ll see a tree that’s been struck by lightening. Make a right there. Watch your speed because the sheriff’s always out this time of day.”
This terrain is new, yet familiar.
The emotional ups and downs are intense, but not surprising. The hard days are hard, but not unexpected. The beautiful moments are everything they said they would be….and so much more.
Thanks to all those “mommy blogs,” I knew ahead of time that feeling guilty, exhausted, and even angry didn’t make me a bad mom, that it’s okay to ask for help, to say you’re not okay. Thanks to the courage of other moms, I knew ahead of time that pregnancy after a miscarriage would be scary, that just because breastfeeding is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s easy, that my marriage and body and worldview would inevitably change, that "sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that's okay."
...Okay, so that last one is from Daniel Tiger...I can't help it; that cat's in my head.
I wanted to write about this because the other day, my son decided to turn another diaper change into a wrestling match, and in my exhaustion, I got so frazzled and frustrated, I started shaking. I felt out of control, and that scared me. Then, from somewhere in the past, I heard the voice of a mommy blogger: Put him in his crib with some toys where he’ll be safe, and give yourself three minutes in the bathroom to cry it out. It's better for you both if you take the time to regain your calm.
I have no idea where I read that advice, but it saved my day.
So, to all the mommy bloggers—
Thanks for being brave with your words and with your lives. Thanks for telling the truth. Thanks for pushing through all the condescension and sexism and trivialization to share your point-of-view. Thanks for hitting “publish" even when it was hard.
I’m a better mom, a better Christian, and a better person because of you.