They Said Shut Up

February 28, 2011

Last year, I received the following Facebook message:

Catherine –

I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but I have to ask you, how did you end up a “stay at home mom” with no job after all the university you took? … I have to take you off (my Facebook) as it is such a disappointment that you never did anything with your life and you do this all day… it was not what I would have imagined for you Catherine… so sad.

That’s an awesome message to receive, obviously, and – again, obviously – I wrote about it, because when the universe hands you that kind of awesome, you blog the hell out of it. This is what I said:

So there you have it, people. I am a disappointment. I have no job. I am doing the worthless and pathetic work – wait! no! unwork – of raising two beautiful children, when instead I should be, I don’t know, out there in the world using my years of education to teach other peoples’ children about Plato or sell cola or design widgets or something really meaningful. Because raising children isn’t actually work, right? It doesn’t actually contribute to society. And, of course, the fact that I write about motherhood and children and the condition of the family in post-modernity is just, you know, pffft, whatever. Who reads that stuff? What does it actually contribute? What good am I really, people? What good are you? You should go have a good think about that.

Which is to say, I called it out as horseshit. I called it out as horseshit, and then I wiped my hands on my juice-stained yoga pants and walked away. There, I thought. You told them.

But I hadn’t, not really. Or, not enough. Because this is a message that the world – or, at least, those parts of the world that firmly believe a) that motherhood is a sacred calling and so should only ever look a certain way, which is to say, self-sacrificing and perfectly blissful, or b) that women who choose to devote their lives fully to motherhood are betrayers of the feminist cause and just, you know, shameful, but also, always, c) that whatever one’s position on how motherhood is supposed to be ‘done,’ it should always be kept private, because, seriously, UGH – just does not seem to ever get. There is, it seems, this deeply ingrained but internally contradictory cultural idea that mothers are public property whose choices should be publicly scrutinized and judged but who themselves should not be part of the discourse of the public sphere, that is to say, share their stories and experiences of motherhood and family life out in the open and seek out dialogue and community there. Because any time I say to myself, there, you told them, or see any one of my peers do the telling – whether by example, as in the case of Heather Armstrong, who was profiled by Lisa Belkin in the New York Times this weekend, or by the more conventional means of speaking truth to power by defending in written word or speech women’s right to choose and narrate and celebrate the course of their own lives – the little flame of pride that I feel is immediately doused by some chorus of asshats going who do you/does she/does any of you think you are?

Why don’t you get a real job?

Why aren’t you actually spending time with your children instead of exploiting them?

Why does anyone care about what you/she/they write/s?

Nobody cares. SHUT THE HELL UP.

Who do you think you are? Who does she think she is? WHO CARES?

Fucking mommy bloggers.

SHUT. UP.

This is an old story. Bloggers, of the quote/unquote mommy variety or otherwise, are a new species in the wild of public discourse, but the history of women, and especially mothers, being discouraged from speaking out and telling their own stories is a long one. Feminine virtue in ancient Rome – pudicitia – was actually defined, in part, by the quality of being able to keep one’s mouth shut and remain passively and modestly behind the veil of the private sphere (as opposed to male virtue, of course – the word virtue is even derived from the Latin word for male, or vir – which was defined by its public character.) Family life has, for much of human history, not been a matter for public discussion, unless that discussion was conducted by men (cf. everyone from the authors of the books of the Old Testament to Xenophon to Augustine to Rousseau to Bill Cosby) and because ‘family life’ was ‘women’s life,’ women were, for the most part, not part of public discussion. Because family life – the real, messy, lived experience of family life – was not seen as appropriate fodder for public discussion. Because women were not seen as credible or competent public storytellers or commentators. Because women were supposed to shut up.

So when Troll #637 states that no-one wants to hear about babies and diapers and playgroups and post-partum depression and what can happen to one’s nethers during childbirth – or about the politics of maternal health or what it’s like for a mother to stay at home or work at home or work outside the home – or whatever – they’re just repeating an old, misogynist story. They’re repeating an old, woman-hating, mother-hating story. They’re repeating a story that asserts that the lives of women are not only not interesting, but not even suitable for the public sphere, unless those lives look more like men’s lives, or the lives historically celebrated as the kind that are lived by men. (It is worth noting that this story is often told by women. The disdain toward ‘mommy bloggers that one sees in the cultural commentary produced by some young feminists and the antipathy toward women who leave professional career tracks to ‘just’ be mothers expressed by the Linda Hirschman’s of the world are both expressions of the biases of this story.) It’s an old story, a disempowering story, and a stupid story.

It’s a stupid story because the explosion and popularity of so-called mommy blogs – of all kinds, the traditional and the contemporary, the professional and the amateur, the funny and the tragic, the literary and the visual and the performed and the journaled and the scrapbooked and every kind in between – demonstrates that there is, in fact, a deep cultural thirst for stories about life behind the veil of the private sphere. It demonstrates that, perhaps, the veil itself is something that is being torn down, for good (what is Facebook if not a public forum for the stories that used to be private? What is the mom blog space – the phenomenon of blogs more broadly – if not this?) It demonstrates that we – and others, and everyone – want to share our stories freely and openly and use those stories as the basis for connection and community-building and empowerment and changing the world for the better. That we want to hear each others’ voices. That we want to raise our own voices.

That we’re not going to shut up. So.

Get used to us.

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    { 134 comments }

    Tway March 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Motherhood is a tough job, and after getting fed up of the visiting nurses, the expert books, the pediatrician’s advice, and my mother’s well-meaning but misplaced comments, I found great solace in mommy blogs.

    When I just couldn’t listen to another person tell me to stop rocking my baby to sleep, stop boobing her when she wakes, put her down asleep, let her cry, she’s manipulating you, you’re creating bad habits, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong… I discovered other mothers, as sleepless as I. I discovered other babies who woke up a lot. I discovered A LOT of babies who woke up a lot. And I finally felt normal.

    So blog on, Mom. Cause we’re listening. And nodding. And breathign a sigh of relief.

    Lisa Napier March 1, 2011 at 12:29 am

    The lie that was told by the feminists was that somehow we were supposed to do it all AT THE SAME TIME. There is a seasonality to women’s lives. The summer of your life is the childbearing and rearing season. You will be immersed in potty training and playgroups, episiotomy and pediatric calls in the middle of the night. It is critically important, emotionally intense and one of the ways in which we define ourselves. Our embracing of that season or rejection is part of the self definition as well.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Lara David March 1, 2011 at 1:14 am

    You know, this reminds me of something that I’d love to ask you. As you may or may not remember, I’m a high school teacher. Recently, our school had “spirit week,” with different themes to wear costumes each day. One of the days was “career day,” and I dressed as a nanny (since that was my career before teaching). Many people thought I had chosen “mom” as a career, and I found out some girls actually had dressed as “mommies” as their career.

    My first reaction was that being a mom is not a “career,” per se. In fact, what I said was, “Being a mom isn’t a career – it’s a life calling.”

    I thought about it later and wasn’t sure why I think that, or whether I really do think that, and if so why others might not like that I thought that. I think moms certainly work incredibly hard, and I firmly believe there should be a program in place that pays stay-at-home moms for the work they do – starting salary of at least $100,000 a year. My biggest goal in life is to be a wife and mother, and if my future husband and I can afford it, I’d love to be a full-time stay-at-home mom.

    I just don’t think I would use the word “career” to describe motherhood. But does that make me anti-feminist? Am I offending moms? Am I being insensitive? Am I belittling the work of mothering? Will I feel differently when I am a mom?

    Just interested in your thoughts on this. (Or anyone’s thoughts, actually!)

    Bec March 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

    @Lara David, Until stay at home mothers start making a salary, it’s not a career. It’s that simple.

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

    @Lara David, I don’t know that I would call it a career, because ‘career’, to me, implies a longtime, devoted path of work that usually involves education. But, but… the OED defines it as “course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)”

    I certainly consider motherhood part of my course or progress through life. And I consider it work. And I have devoted, probably, as much or more attention to it as I did to my graduate degrees. And it certainly is lifelong. But it doesn’t define my ‘course or progress’ entirely.

    I suppose that it would depend, then, on the context in which I was using the word. I might speak of ‘my career as mother.’ But I probably wouldn’t call myself ‘a career mother.’

    SUCH an interesting question. I might put it out to other people, maybe pose it on Facebook.

    Bec March 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

    @Her Bad Mother, yes but the second line in the OED is this: “It is usually considered to pertain to remunerative work (and sometimes also formal education).” Let’s not kid our selves – motherhood is important work but it’s not a “career.”

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 10:47 am

    My gut agrees with you – it doesn’t feel quite right to call motherhood a career. But I wonder to what extent that’s because of deeply ingrained cultural biases? Mothering work isn’t ‘paid’ – but most thinking people agree that there’s a tremendous economic value to that work (and some argue that it should be paid), to say nothing of the fact that the very same work, if not performed by the maternal figure, usually IS paid (and often referred to as a career.) Also, people do speak of volunteer and philanthropic careers – careers that don’t involve remunerative work. So I think that it’s a complicated issue. I wouldn’t want to insist that it’s NOT a career, even though I personally wouldn’t use that word to describe it. Or at least, I don’t think that I would ;)

    Janine March 4, 2011 at 4:47 am

    @Her Bad Mother,

    I think perhaps it doesnt’ sit well in your gut for the same reason it doesn’t sit well in mine. I wouldn’t call sisterhood, daughterhood, or wifehood a career either. Fundamentally, motherhood is a relationship, and while all the primary relationships in our lives deeply influence us (maybe motherhood and daughterhood the most), they don’t define us.

    That being said, I don’t think our careers define us either (God knows mine sure as hell doesn’t, or didn’t before I blew it out of the water by becoming unexpectedly pregnant at 38 with 2 kids already in high school!), but they certainly give other people a convenient way to sort us into tidy boxes.

    Keep writing, all of you who blog, your voices are important and you’re too smart and funny and tragic and human to just sit quietly in some silly box with a “Mommy” label on it.

    Kristin March 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

    @Lara David, I wouldn’t consider it a career because it is so much more than that. A career is something you can choose to leave or change, a career is something you eventually retire from. The very distinction we make between careers and jobs tells us that a career is about some kind of outward ambition.

    Parenting, as a mother OR father, isn’t your career, it’s your life. You don’t have an existential crisis when your 40 and change kids (if you do you’re an asshole, not a self-starter) and you don’t look forward to the day when you won’t have kids anymore. They may grow up and move out but they will always be your kids and you will always be a parent. Parenting is a lot of things: a journey, a relationship, a calling, an education, a challenge and a blessing. Parenting is so much more than a career.

    Lara March 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    @Kristin, Which is why I took to responding that it’s not a career, “it’s a life calling.” I really believe it is. I just wish it could be a PAID life calling… ;)

    Jaci March 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    @Lara David,

    You were dressed as a nanny–and you considered that a career because you were taking care of OTHER PEOPLE’s children.

    I think that’s where the cultural bias comes into play. Which is silly, because child care is child care, right? The only difference between a mother and paid provider is a paycheck (obviously) and the accountability of reporting to a boss/employer/client.

    Natalia March 1, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Well said. I’ve been struggling with my current role as a SAHM. I lost my job due to the recession a while ago, so it just made sense to stay home and figure things out later. But I used to be one of those women who critiqued mommy blogger and SAHMs as people setting back the women’s movement. Even back then I knew I was being way too judgmental, but it’s hard to shake those convictions of youth.

    I know no one wishes on their deathbed that they had spent more time at the office. But I do feel sometimes that mommy-blogging, playtime, or other aspects of child rearing are not engaging those parts of the brain that went to college. And I really liked what I studied.

    Maybe its just because my daughter is still a little baby, so its all overwhelming right now. I’m hoping that as time passes, I’ll have a better handle on what it means for me to be a feminist, and define myself through my motherhood and beyond it.

    Emma March 1, 2011 at 7:38 am

    @Natalia, I felt overwhelmed too at first, and a huge loss of sense of myself because I was no longer “working”. Afterwards I likened it to culture shock, because really, that’s what it is – going from one environment to a completely different one where almost everything is different and you essentially know nothing. I still struggle to define myself through motherhood rather than my paid work, but it does get better, I promise!

    I think you’ve pinpointed exactly the source of the problem – child-rearing, especially for little ones, doesn’t engage the parts of the brain that are generally believed to be “worthwhile” to use, so choosing to stay at home is often seen as not using our brains/education… even if it’s what you want to do, or makes economic sense, or is making a valuable investment in the next generation. I absolutely don’t see that it’s anti-feminist to stay at home – because feminism should be about having choices and leading the lives we want to, not about rigidly following some new definition of what it means to be a woman. BUT I do see the huge problem that someone has to look after the kids, and that it’s mostly the mothers that do this, and there’s little recognition of the value of staying at home with kids when you try to get back into the workplace… or even if you stay at a certain level for a while so that you’re not spreading yourself too thin as you try to balance a career and parenting. This is what I struggle with now… I see some of my female peers with kids advancing to very good positions, and know that I probably won’t be able to do so with the choices I’ve made (working as a freelancer from home)… but at the same time I honestly don’t know how I’d raise my kids the way I want to if I wasn’t so available to them. (This is not to say I don’t support my friends with their choices, because I do, I just see it’s not for me but at the same time, I’m not necessarily liking the consequences.) I think issues such as these are where the debate should be, not on whether one should or should not stay at home, or whether one should or should not blog, or whether blogging does or does not constitute a “proper” job.

    Giliian G March 1, 2011 at 1:31 am

    There are times I wonder if bloggers jut make something controversial up in order to write about something and I have to say I wondered this about your letter from Facebook. Who would write something like that? It really makes no sense to me. Why wouldn’t they just defriend you…..

    then again I don’t have a blog. Is that kind of letter at all typical for more public people? I’ve seriously never seen anything like it.

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

    @Giliian G, ha. If I was going to go to the trouble of making something up, I’d come up with something way more interesting than ‘u r stupid for being a stay at home mum.’

    Seriously, though – go upstream in the comments to see that, yes, people do send messages/leave comments/send emails like that.

    allison March 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    @Giliian G, maybe you’re just lucky enough not to have met enough really ignorant people. Never worked retail, maybe? Because good lord, they’re definitely out there, and they would never quietly defriend someone when they could leave a self-righteous asshat parting comment instead.

    Mel Gallant March 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Right on! People are entitled to their opinion but I’ve yet to understand why they have to be so nasty about it. And really, if you don’t like mommy blogs – don’t read them!

    I heart my mommy blog community. Reading other stories of moms (the stay-at-home/work-from-home/work-out-of home variety) have validated a lot of the parenting wonders and parenting muck I’ve experienced. Plus some of it is damn funny.

    So I say removing the veil shrouding family matters is a good thing. We’re parents trying to raise our children the best we can. Let’s keep on keepin’ on!

    Kelda March 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I am a full-time stay-at-home mom of 2 toddlers, and I was a teacher before becoming a mom. I think @laradavid had it right, I would consider motherhood and being a stay at home mom a life-calling, and my teaching, my career. I went to school, got my masters, went to workshops, took tests to get my license. I worked hard and was educated for years on how to become a teacher. I got pregnant and was lucky enough to have the option to stay at home, full-time.

    Yet, other than some birthing classes and a lot of advice from friend and family (wanted or not) I was not educated to become a mother. I didn’t know how to “do it” when I got home from the hospital. But, I just knew…I figured it out, sometimes, I made the wrong decision, sometimes I made the right. It was, and still is, a trial and error experience. I wouldn’t call my full-time at home mothering my career, I like Life-Calling…it’s what I am supposed to do with my life. One day I will return to my career “full-time” (even though full-time mothering is 24/7). I will take more classes, workshops, tests. I love teaching and I worked very hard to become a successful teacher…but being a full-time Mom is something that I will always be. My career doesn’t make me who I am, what I do with my life, does.

    Truthful Mommy March 1, 2011 at 11:38 am

    AMEN! Woman. I am lovingly referred to by my husband as the most over educated housewife in the universe ( I think that’s a gross over estimation but whatever). I had my plans. I went to school. And more school. I got married. Went to more school. Had a baby and THEN I KNEW what I wanted to do. I wanted to be there..here…to raise and share in my child’s life. I don;t fault women who work outside of the house, or stay at home, work, don’t work..whatever..all children are different, all mommies are different. WE do what works best in our scope.It drives me absolutely BATSHIT crazy when people say ‘you’re a MOMMY BLOGGER” with the condescension and dismay as if they just said I was a hobo or a serial killer.I’m living the dream.I’m wiping asses and noses, getting random hugs and kisses all day long, wearing my comfortable yoga pants while sharing it with the world. People want to know my truth.Those who don’t, well, they can turn the channel.

    We are women, hear us roar. It always amazes me that the biggest naysayers who stand on their soap box looking down their noses at me are other women…usually the ones who have not started their family yet.I’m all about sisterhood through motherhood. Hell, sisterhood through womanhood would rock.

    I held my baby and my perspective changed forever. I love my education. I worked hard for it. I paid a lot for it. but there is no where I’d rather be right now than right here, wiping, hugging, snuggling and shaping the lives of my girls.
    Fabulous post!!!!

    Kelda March 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @Truthful Mommy,

    Have you read Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman? She does a great job at trying to figure out why we talk negatively about other mom’s and the choices they make.

    Unfortunately, you are right, women/mom’s love to belittle and judge other women/mom’s in order to make themselves feel better about the choices they have made in life.

    Truthful Mommy March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    @Kelda,
    Ill have to check that book out!I wish it weren’t the case. WE would all be so much stronger if we could support one another and join rather than divide and conquer ourselves:(

    Kelda March 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    @Truthful Mommy, It’s a great read and really opens your eyes to how women/mom’s treat one another. I will say, I have been guilty of some of what she speaks about.

    P.S., I am now your new follower on twitter, @kyliecross…

    allison March 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    @Truthful Mommy, I totally disagree with you. Serial killers get WAY more respect than Mommy Bloggers. :)

    Pam March 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Catherine,
    As an empty nest middle aged mom, I first want to commend you for finding the power in being a stay at home mom! I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom but always struggled with not being “good enough”. What I have discovered as I have got older is those people that made me feel that way (and I allowed them to make me feel that way) were jealous!

    Keep blogging (of course, I know you will)!
    Keep treasuring the time you get with your children, as I am sure you have heard….the time goes by way to fast! I grieve to have that time back with out the guilt that I allowed from those who ridiculed my choice.

    From a grieving empty nester.

    Pam

    Camesha March 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    what is wrong with people? why would you take the time to send something so rude and judgmental? when will being a mom be respected? so many questions… ugh! everybody has choices you chose to be a SAHM they chose to be a jerk.

    Agnes March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    When I was younger and in college I always thought I would never want to stay home. What a horrible waste of my education I thought. Now many years later I have 2 small children and a good career and I would give it up to stay home if I could. Unfortunately due to financial circumstances I can’t. But I think it’s great that many women have the choice to stay home and do so. Why is so horrible to devote time to raising your kids? Being a SAHM is not anti feminist, taking away the choice to do so is.

    belle vukovich kenoyer March 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I have to say i just want to hug you for this blog. I have 2.5YO triplets and just gave my notice for the job I went back to 4 months after they were born. The job was good, the money was better, and after the last nearly 3 years, i can quit and be a SAHM and FOCUS on our family, in ways that neither my husband or i can when we are both working FT. and when I say family, i mean my husband too. and (god forbid) myself.

    I regularly have mini-freakouts sicne i gave my notice: what if I can’t do this? what if it sucks? what if i love it so much i never want to go back to work? what if i love it but HAVE TO go back to work and can’t get a job b/c i’ve been out of the marketplace and can’t even get an interview so they can see i rock and they should hire me? look at me – i’m going back to work before i’ve actually quit working – what a way to focus on the family.

    And I know I have been the person that uses the one word to describe staying home with kids that immediately belittles and diminshes what raising children is: “just”. I/She am/is “just a SAHM”. puke. i am so sensitive to it since i began thinking I wanted to stay home (say an hour after leaving the hospital and leaving my 3 little ones in the NICU).

    And I worry about the complaints of “all she talks about is her kids”. yeah? well all you fucking talk about is work and that’s pretty boring to me, so YOU shut up. :) I have been the person who talks about work a lot(well, somewhat) and recognized it as boring but when i’m talking with people i don’t REALLY have much connection to, work banter is easy. and boring. :) and as a curious, EUCATED (that master’s gone to waste!) woman, i think i will still be curious and educated and have other shit to talk about. but if you (whoever i am talking to) are boring yourself or i don’t have any conenction to you, maybe I will whip out some potty training/childhood illness/pregnancy woes/ etc stories to see how quickly you find something else to do.

    thanks for a great post and even bigger thanks to GET BORN mag for introducing me to it. :) ~Belle

    Kristi March 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    {Jumping and cheering}
    SING IT, SISTER!
    Mommy blogs (Dooce, the late great Silicon Valley Moms, and Parenthacks the most notable among them) probably saved my sanity in those early years of motherhood. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling alone, but when my husband went back to work when the baby was 2 weeks old and I was home alone with a kind of creature I had never experienced before in my life, I was alone in ways I had never dreamed of. Until I got online and found community there with other mothers who were putting into words the same confusion, exhaustion, delight, and maelstrom of other emotions I was experiencing.

    I’ve also been really good at silencing myself throughout my life, and I chose not to blog (much of) my experience because I knew I couldn’t bear the abuse of those who wanted me to crawl back into my shell. Not on top of everything else that was going on at the time. But I’ve been endlessly grateful for the honesty of those with more backbone than I have.

    Thank you for not shutting up.

    Rosy March 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    YES girl! Say it loud and say it proud. Saddest thing for me is that the biggest attacks have come from other women. I mean, it’s not the men that have wanted me to work outside of my home or to shut me up about my life as a SAHM, it has been women who have found the need to put me down. It’s that ‘mean girl’ spirit that many women adopt. Why do they find the need to put other women down in order to justify their own decitions? THAT is what supresses women. Not so much men against women, but women against women which is our greatest foe.

    Jana@AnAttitudeAdjustment March 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I really respect what your’e saying here, but I do feel like we can’t fully change the society until we’re powerful in it to warrant respect. I have gone back and forth between working and staying home, and I think there are benefits to both, but I can’t help but wonder (especially as a teacher) if we do a disservice by not working, and serving as models that women are capable of working in the same high-powered jobs alongside men. I know it doesn’t make sense for women to make big, personal decisions based on this–really, we should all follow our hearts, if we can–but I do worry that we will head back to the dark ages if we are not present enough in the work force. I teach college students, used to teach high school, and I can tell you that future generations have way more traditional views of women’s roles than we ever thought. It’s scary.

    With that said, I do think blogs are really important as a way to illustrate the importance and the meaning behind women who both work and stay home. We show that we are intelligent and capable and witty, and that does have an effect on the way we are viewed and view ourselves in greater society. I still can’t help thinking though, that money and earning potential has more power than our voices at times. And while I wish that weren’t the case, it weighs on me.

    And as far as the email you got, that seems totally weird and wrong and disrespectful. That would piss me off big time, and I think you’re right to explore it here.

    Lisa b March 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    “after all the university you took? ”
    Someone who writes like that unfriended you?
    Amen Sister.

    The Domestic Goddess March 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    A FREAKING MEN, SISTAH!

    You so hit it out of the park with this one. Yes. YES! THIS!

    I’m sharing and sharing and sharing. My job is worth doing. My job is doing something important. And dammit, I’m tired of being made to feel like I’m some lazy slacker who does nothing but watch soaps, wear yoga pants and eat bon bons all day.

    Except I wear yoga pants. BUT! My job is still important. Best one there is.

    BAJo March 1, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Well said! Over at 4mothers1blog we recently each took issue with an article written in the Globe and Mail by Katrina Onstad stating that women who stay home actually put back the feminist movement and that we should “get a job”. Needless to say, interesting fodder for these 4 mommy bloggers (3 of the 4 are working outside the home in addition to mom duties). Check out what we had to say . . . http://4mothers1blog.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/women-who-opt-out-of-the-workforce-non-contributors/

    Alexandra March 2, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I may not get paid in a weekly paycheck, and so people may not think that I’m contributing to society…but I am contributing 3 happy children who have a mother who is there and they like it.

    I blog, my children know this, and are proud when I’m published elsewhere.

    They see me happy, and I am within arm’s reach.

    I am not putting down women who are not at home, I’m just saying, that we ALL work.

    Amanda March 2, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Please don’t ever shut up. I’ve just started to blog and you give me inspiration to put it all out there – the good, the bad and the ugly of being a mother.

    I am doing my best not to judge other moms or myself. I had a revelation recently that the reason I judge other moms is because of the expectations I have for myself. I’ve started to let go, stop feeling guilty, and in turn, I’ve stopped being so judgmental toward other moms. It feels good. I don’t know if you feel this way, but I think there is a freedom that comes with sharing my story and allowing others to share theirs without passing judgment.

    Thanks again, HBM!

    Rebekah March 2, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Amen. The smart educated women should be training up the children (*cough* future politicians, business people and contributors to society), not leaving the job to the minimum-waged high school students who babysit 40 kids at once. I thank God my son has a mommy who is willing to stay home with him and *waste* her biology degree and half a masters on him. Lucky kid. Lucky future scientist kid.

    Confounded Woman March 2, 2011 at 4:18 am

    And. Then. Some. Loved your post, didn’t love the F-bomb. To each her own. I’m a mom of 6 with a Master’s degree, and I stay at home with my kids with the exception of my 6-hour work week. I’ve worked full-time, part-time, and no time outside the home. To quote my boss, “Why would you want to leave to stay home with your kids? You could really make a name for yourself here.” To quote me, “I have made a name for myself. It’s ‘Mommy.’”
    The best part about that experience for me was recognizing my CHOICE in the kind of life I was creating for myself and my family. What good is education if it limits our choices as women by insisting that we “do” something with it that is recognized only by the people who are least affected by our choices?

    Tecris (aka Cheri) March 2, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Thank you for this post. That Facebook message could be sent to me by myself at times like this when I doubt if I should even continue to blog.

    I am a stay at home mom who’s blog is yet to become something… whatever it is becoming. In last paragraph what I love most are: “a deep cultural thirst for stories…” and that “perhaps, the veil itself is something that we want to tear down and trample for good”.

    You are so right.

    Vanilla Rose March 2, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Wow, your ex-Friend is clearly a bit of a b*tch. How dare she make such sweeping assumptions? Would she de-Friend someone for being made redundant or becoming too ill to work? Actually, she probably would.

    In her head, anything that people aren’t getting paid to do isn’t really happening. Such a capitalist and sexist way to see the world!

    (I’m not a mother.)

    Kristen March 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Perfectly said!

    D Brady March 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I haven’t stopped thinking about this post, along with The Bad Mother Manifesto and 10 Things, since I read them Monday. I was feeling guilty for making the same mistakes repeatedly, tired from fighting like hell to be everything I think I need to be to everyone I love, and a little lost from giving up most of my identity for my babies. When I read these posts I sobbed, laughed, and then did both at the same time. Thank you for helping me rekindle feelings of accomplishment, strength and pride. You are greatly appreciated. :)

    Lindsay Dianne March 3, 2011 at 1:00 am

    I was amazed how… as soon as I had a baby… everyone and their dog was weighing in on my choices.
    and I, like you, have a hard time just shutting up and taking it.
    At the end of the day, I have to go to bed with myself. I have to live with the person I see in the mirror. At current, I know that person is a hell of a mother, if nothing else to no one else.
    Being a mother is SOMETHING.
    And it’s something AMAZING.

    Varda (SquashedMom) March 3, 2011 at 2:24 am

    I know I am about the millionth comment here, but just wanted to add my sincere and hearty YES! to the chorus.

    Some friends of mine do not understand why I blog. But the other day an acquaintance (whose child also goes to one of my son’s school) came up to me and told me how much reading my blog has meant to her lately. Her increasingly fading mother had just died, and reading about how I have been mourning and processing my grief all this past year since my elderly father’s death had really helped her connect with and manage her own. It made her feel significantly less alone.

    And that, my friends, is enough to keep me blogging forever. Never shut up. YES.

    Ahdra March 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Brilliant. Damn well said. As always.

    It boggles my mind that otherwise, probably, normal people would say such terrible things to other people online. That the Mom thing seems to bring it out even more makes my blood boil.

    Thank you for your “unworkingness”. Please never quit.

    Brooke March 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I find so many aspects of this note demeaning — the fact that someone would say that mothering isn’t work or worth your time. But it’s also frustrating that a person wouldn’t consider a blog a serious form of writing. I’m a print media journalist/editor turned online editor and blogger, and I will say that I value the voices and opinions of online writers as much as I do journalists’. A blogger’s writing is often vulnerable and naked, and many bloggers I read are really talented writers. And this particular blog is a good read because of your background, experiences and education — those things brought to you to this moment.

    bluziggy March 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    @Brooke, isn’t it fascinating that pretty women who are educated, married, successful and fertile cause such fury in some women? Just ask Sarah Palin…

    Sara D March 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Education isn’t just about “getting a job” but about furthering oneself, in whatever means one wants. It has always bothered me that an education has so many expectaions attached to the end of it. Why can’t we just learn for learning’s sake? People learn things every day, sometimes we pay to hear a really smart person share their knowledge with us, sometimes we get it from TV, sometimes we learn it from our children. Education is never a waste, ever ever ever.

    bluziggy March 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    @Sara D, brava!

    Kristi March 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Ah-freakin-men. I’m a stay at home mom who wastes her education and creativity by raising three small,funny,brilliant, amazing 6 and under girls. I completely disregard values, morals and common sense as I teach my kids cooking and wood working, manage their OWN money (my six year old saved 20 dollars to buy her own bike AND gave 2 dollars to charity! Whoo-hoo!) take care of our home and community. I ignore all my schooling and no one benefits at all as I play with my kids on fun letter games and maps, as we go hiking, play sports and work together to achieve a goal. My poor husband has to put up with someone questioning his politics, encouraging us to travel and show the kids more about the world than just our neighborhood, our state, our country. Wow. I’ll go call my parents and tell them its okay to weep openly rather than taking the kids out with them and showing them off to their friends.

    So sad.

    Carla March 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    This quote just hit the nail on the head, and totally resonated with my experience as a Mommy and a blogger…

    “It’s a stupid story because the explosion and popularity of so-called mommy blogs… demonstrates that there is, in fact, a deep cultural thirst for stories about life behind the veil of the private sphere”

    Thank you!!

    Jennifer James March 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    That just made my head hurt — but in a good way. I love thinking about these things. Thank you for taking the time and energy to put your points down so eloquently.

    jennyonthespot March 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Brilliant. And AMEN. You know, I was heading to a conference a few months back, and was engaged in a conversation with a charming woman who was curious about “this blogging thing”… we were specifically speaking about mommy blogs. A man, apparently listened in, spouted, “THOSE are not legitimate.” But before I could go all-hashtag on his tiny brain… he slithered into the crowd.

    Jules from A Little Bite of Life March 8, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Standing ovation-we are NOT going anywhere!

    Candy Cohn March 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    You Go Girl! I think Mommy Bloggers are awesome. My kids are grown now, but I would have loved to have this forum and community when they were young. Your ex-facebook friend clearly needs to get a life!

    Christine @ Coffees & Commutes March 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    No matter how mothers choose to say it, whether like you do here or how so many of us do on our own blogs, in playgroups, at coffee shops and countless other places, this stuff needs to be talked about so much more. Because when I read this, I’m reminded of how important our shared stories are, no matter what they are. For me and for so many others.

    Lisa March 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Every celebrity gets hate mail. Every celebrity. Any person who puts herself out there for public consumption. I’m sure Mother Theresa had people saying, “And you think you’re so great.”

    Just like the TSA guy who couldn’t believe mommy blogging was a job. Do you know if he even had a home computer? If he read any blogs that aren’t on ESPN? Actually, it reminded of ESPN because they live in an insular world, too, and forget that not everyone knows who Vince Carter is and how much he made last year.

    Even those adored jocks get hate mail. I bet LOL Cats gets hate mail. It happens. You aren’t immune. It’s the price of admission. Try not to let it get to you, and please don’t amplify the anger by sending it back out in the universe.

    Lisa March 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    And what would you (do you?) say to your kids if someone tells them to shut up? A long, angry, declaration, of trying to convince them (or themselves) how yes, they do have a right to say what they want to say? Or just to ignore them? Maybe a brief, wry, “Wow, the turkeys are in season, aren’t they?” and go about their business?

    bluziggy March 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Now you know how the soldiers fighting in Iraq felt when John Kerry said something like: if you don’t get an education, you just may wind up stuck in Iraq. (code for ewww, soldiers are belly-slithering, mud caked freaks who love to shoot things) Soldiers who were in the twenty-something range who hadn’t had a chance at a college career. However, their commanding officers who fought/fight beside them are well educated. Your tweeter is an academic slob…oops…snob. She’s another “troll” who practices the “women-eat-their-own” motto. Just “twit” her out of your consciousness…

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