Don’t Call Me Mommy

27 07 2008

The other day, the Globe and Mail, with its well-manicured, heirloom jewelery laden finger planted firmly on the dull pulse of guffawing babyboomers nationwide, published this little blurb in its Social Studies section, under the title Word Watch:

Mommybloggers: Mothers who start online journals about their lives. A handful, Carrie Kirby writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, have taken blogging from a sanity-saving hobby to a career, and many others are collecting at least a little extra income through their blogs. A few have even landed book deals.

Which got me thinking, Christ I hate the word Mommy. Almost as much as I hate the Globe and Mail. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t still read it, but the reason why I’m forced to do so is a post for another day. Nor to say that my kids don’t call me Mommy. They do, and I’m completely okay with that. And I regularly refer to myself as Mommy when I’m talking to them. As in, “Roo, Mommy told you not to lick the peanut butter off the birdfeeder. Or “Neener, Mommy thinks it’s a better idea carry that harmonica in your pocket, instead of down the back of your underwear.” Or “Ok Squiggles, Mommy needs her boob back. Now.” But, I never refer to myself as a Mommy outside of the context of speaking directly to my kids. Ever. Why? Ummm, have you ever met women who do that? Women who giggle and chirp out phrases like “What do I do? Oh, I’m just a Mommy!” Or “Being a Mommy makes me feel soooo complete!” Or “Hey, why don’t you come to my house for a Mommy spa and scrapbooking sleepover this weekend! It’ll be just us Mommies!” And there’s not even a trace of sarcasm in their voices, or a glint of ‘wink-wink nudge-nudge we’re actually gonna do tequila shots and moon the neighbours’ in their eyes. But you just know that deep down inside, that woman who goes around calling herself a Mommy is actually a seething ball of rage. That her kids were the accidental byproduct of a dark broom closet and a bottle of lemon gin. That when she blathers on about how she loves to pamper her husband, she is actually talking about the fight they had last night during which she biffed a shitty diaper at his head. And just like you, the thought of a Mommy spa and scrapbooking sleepover weekend is enough to make her brain liquefy and drip out her ears. But Mommy is sanitized. Sugar coated. Diminutive. Non-threatening. Mommy is nice and cute and sweet, and not a force to reckoned with because she is too busy buffing the floor and making sure no one sees her dirty laundry. Figuratively or literally. Mommy can be patted on the head and told ‘There, there dear.’ In short, Mommy is just not me. The patronizing bastard who tries to pat me on the head is bound to get an arm bitten off.

So naturally, the term Mommyblogger makes me paw the ground and snort flames. In this article, Carrie Kirby talks about how an overwhelming majority of the top blogs are written by men, despite the fact that blogging is an activity pretty evenly split among men and women. Why is that? I think a lot of it has to do with what women tend to write about. We don’t often write about important things like sports, or video games, or political commentary, or porn. We tend to write about insignificant stuff. Like trying to birth and raise the next generation in a world where sports and video games and political blowhards are dictating what kind of porn we should watch. So, most women’s writing falls into the category of Mommyblogs, it seems. And maybe that’s the problem, the term mommyblog. It smacks of condescension. Of patriarchy. Like that because the focus of your writing is your experience as a mother, it need not be taken seriously, because, well, you’re just a Mommy. This little online journal about your Mommy life is just your sanity-saving Mommy hobby. The modern equivalent of making macramĂ© plant hangers, or going to tupperware parties. Nevermind the fact that, as Carrie Kirby points out, many so-called Mommybloggers are foul-mouthed, smart ass guttersnipes like myself. And some of us are even writers, not just Mommies looking for a place to gush about lil’ Jacob’s first poop on the big boy toilet, or how a warm bubble bath can wash away all your troubles, or how fulfilling it is to be just a Mommy. Mommyblog writers can be patted on the head, given a few bucks a month for having cleaning product and diet pill ads on her blog so all her Mommy friends will see them, and told ‘There, there, dear Mommyblogger. You just keep writing in your little online journal so you don’t accidentally go crazy and think you might someday be a real writer. Or try to bite my arm off.’

Semantics bitchfest and quasi-feminist haranguing aside, I realize that there really isn’t a better option in the lexicon. So, much like the movements to take back words like bitch and cunt and turn them into symbols of power and strength, maybe ‘Mommybloggers’ like me need to stick our tongues in our cheeks and embrace the term that would otherwise attempt to soften and dismiss us. Maybe we need to highlight the irony of calling professional, gritty, talented female blog writers, whose topic of expertise happens to be motherhood, by such an unprofessional, cutesy, mindless name. Maybe we should encourage cutesy mindless names for all types of blogs. Businessy Whizznessy Blogs. Sporty Guy Blogs. Polly Wolly Tickle Commentary Blogs. Or maybe it’s enough for me to take a personal stand on it. Unless I’ve given birth to you, or unless you plan on offering me one whore of a pile of money for the right to publish my writing, don’t refer to me as a Mommy anything. Ever. I’ve got a foul mouth full of sharp teeth, and I’m not afraid to use them.

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5 responses

27 07 2008
Jody

Brilliant once again!!

28 07 2008
genevievE

That was awesome, thank you for writing in a public space –
…I think I would call that a heroblOg!

28 07 2008
nanny

That’s my baby! This mamma didn’t raise any “mommy”! You go girl!

28 07 2008
lisa

You go, girl…er…woman! (That’s actually one of my pet peeves — being called a “girl” — hate it!)

You’re right, the whole MommyBlogger thing is a bit sappy and silly yet here we all are taking over the world with our “womyn-who-have-kids-and-want-to-see-them-more often-so we dream up new and better ways to make money and be creative-blogs!”

BTW, what other freelance writing do you do? You can tell me offline if you wish.

23 09 2008
tigerlily

Great new categories you’ve suggested. I’d LOVE for Businessy Whizznessy Blogs to become a catchphrase.

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