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 }

    Backpacking Dad February 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    First!

    Backpacking Dad February 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Hey! I said “First!”

    Kat C February 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Awh yeah, hell yeah CC. You nailed it.

    Hollie Pollard February 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Nailed it and then some

    Karen L February 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    “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.”

    QFT

    Wench March 19, 2011 at 2:16 am

    @Karen L, Agreed. I have always found it interesting that men who have a career and a family are never accused of ‘wanting to have it all’ (as if wanting to have it all was such a bad thing) but when a woman wants the same thing she is (often) pilloried for it (or made to ‘pay’ one way or another). Why does the human race, in the opening decades of the 21st century, still think that women who chose to stay home to focus on raising their children are somehow doing a job of lesser value? The prevaling attitude in most of the world still, sadly, seems to be ‘get back in the kitchen, bitch, how dare you have an opinion’. Sorry if this post is a bit random; just some of my thoughts…..

    Shelly February 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Awesome post! I can’t believe that someone would write something so harsh. I mean, you are entitled to your own opinion, but it’s doesn’t mean you have to be a bitch to express it.
    I work at a bank as a personal lender, and when I have families come in for a loan, I always ask the mom if I’m fairly certain she is a SAHM and have to confirm if there is any other income – “Do you work OUTSIDE the home?” I think they appreciate the fact that I am acknowledging the fact that saying at home is a FULL TIME JOB.
    I only have one kid – my boyfriend, and that in itself feels like a full time job…. :)

    Hillary February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    kapow!

    kelly @kellynaturally February 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    You know… it never makes much sense to me, someone who would take their time to READ a blog they don’t like, then take MORE time to RESPOND in a distasteful manner to blog they don’t like, particularly when what said person has to say is usually about what *they* think *you* (blogger they are taking the time to read) should do with *your time*. Is trolling really that much more WORTHY of a person’s time? Ack.

    Keep blogging. About whatever the heck you choose. And like I say about many things – if you don’t like it? Turn off the TV/radio/monitor or close your eyes/book/magazine and go do something else.

    Procrastamom February 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    @kelly @kellynaturally, It makes no sense to me also. I don’t particularly care for gaming or role playing games, but I wouldn’t intentionally seek out somebody’s D&D blog, read what they have to say and then take the time to tell them in a comment how I think they’re wasting their life doing something I don’t care two wits about. Now THAT is not worthy of a person’s time.

    Alysa March 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    @kelly @kellynaturally, I totally agree. I have never understood how people who hate certain blogs take so much time to put them down. Go do something else!

    kelly @kellynaturally February 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Catherine, also wanted to mention that your blog is giving me this message when posting: “Sorry, this version of CommentLuv (v276) is no longer supported. Please update the CommentLuv plugin that is installed on this site. Click here to visit the download page or use the automatic update in the Wordpress dashboard. (If you are commenting, please tell the webmaster of this site that their CommmentLuv plugin needs updating!)”

    Ash February 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    YES YES YES! Great post! Thank you

    Alexis February 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Yes. What she said. What you said. What all the shes are saying every day.

    Virtual fist bump, high five, happy dance, squee, and crushing hug.

    Thank you.

    Kristin February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    @Alexis, Okay, I totally read that as ‘fish bump’ and I have to say it made me giggle. So a virtual ‘fish bump’ to y’all.

    Asa's Mummy February 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    “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.”

    But it’s not about us. It’s about the kids.

    Women are going to be considered public property for as long as the myth of the innocent and corruptible child continues. Because women aren’t, in that cultural understanding, individuals – or humans or even “women” per se – but guardians of innocence and the last bastion of family. Women are going to be asked “and who the hell do you think *you* are” for just as long as the religious right is going to use children as pawns in the culture wars – gay marriage! abortion! divorce! oh, but the *children*! (gasp!)

    Because with all these cultural understandings – too often unquestioned – then mom-bloggers, moms-who-claim-identity, moms-who-claim-individual-humanity are simply moms-who-don’t-protect-their-cherubs-from-this-great-big-bad-liberal-world.

    (And, on a side note: these cultural understandings, internalized, are what make us feel guilt about putting ourselves out there, about claiming our spaces and our voices and our own individual identity as Mothers.)

    MissyB March 2, 2011 at 12:10 am

    @Asa’s Mummy,
    Wow! No need to bring politics or your bias’s into it. I was thoroughly enjoying the post and the comments til yours. I am about as conservative and religious as you can get and do not agree with you at all. We, as women and moms, should stick together. I don’t care what your religious or political views are–I support any woman’s decision to work outside the home or to be a SAHM. I assume that we all are doing our best to do the right thing by our children and our communities. We “religious right” have our own blogs and want our voices to be heard, too.
    Society and the media are anti-woman and anti-family. We should be working together to see that changed. I will continue to read and enjoy this post and those like it.

    Asa's Mummy March 2, 2011 at 10:15 am

    @MissyB, I apologize for the lump comment about the “religious right”, which comes up in the wake of the incessant gay-marriage-harms-children meme. Which it doesn’t, I can say with certainty.

    As for the rest, I hope you will note that I actually didn’t say where I stood on blogging (I blog) or on working outside the home or any such thing. And I meant, even if it maybe didn’t read as well as I’d intended, to say just what you did: that our society is anti-woman – or at least, anti-woman-claiming-identity. Anti-woman-as-anything-but-virgin/whore-dichotomy. My point was that women (especially mothers) are not perceived as women per se, but as guardians of children, as though that is our one and only role; as though our identity were entirely unidimensional.

    I do not at all disagree with you, in fact. I’m just trying to point out a deeper dimension of the anti-woman bias. And, perhaps, to suggest that our children aren’t going to be as irrevocably harmed by cultural shifts (working mothers, blogging mothers, family structures) as the media (and, with apologies, but this is my experience, many (not all, you’re right) ultra-conservative religious (not just Christian) groups) too often portray.

    MissyB March 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    @Asa’s Mummy,
    Thanks for the response. I think that it is great that with a little communication, we can find common ground. It is so much more productive that exploiting our differences. Good luck to you and yours.

    Siobhan Wolf February 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Indeed! Thank you.

    Kristin February 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I love this post. Thank you for doing an excellent job of summing it up. This kind of thinking pervades all aspects of life. When my kid was still in a stroller I would regularly find myself on public transit at rush hour just trying to get home for dinner like everyone else. On two separate occasions I was told by some office guy that I shouldn’t have a stroller on the bus at rush hour. One of them had the nerve to compare my stroller with child to his bicycle.

    In both cases I called them out for the sexist idiots they were being but I think what pissed me off just as much as the attitude was that they clearly didn’t expect a mother to talk back. Fortunately, they were messing with the wrong mom.

    I hate that we get so regularly shit on when we speak up but I also hate that so few people speak up in the first place, few enough that it always comes as a surprise when someone does. It shouldn’t always be up to the ‘mouthy feminist’ in the room to speak the truth to power, we all have a voice, wouldn’t it be great if more of us would learn to use it?

    Layla February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for writing this… it is interesting to me for a few particular reasons-
    1- i try to sing and write songs, and I always feel a paranoia that people are thinking or wondering about my efforts using exactly the same phrases that people apparently really send to you! Basically, shut up, who cares, but most importantly: why would you think anyone would care??
    It’s hard to allow yourself ‘the right’ to do what you want to do sometimes.
    And secondly, i am a person who, although I love Pioneer Woman, am sometimes feeling UGH toward “mommy bloggers”- because I feel, as a non-married, non-mom, annoyed sometimes at the general feeling of moms who only talk about their kids, and those who act as you described in the part above “motherhood is a sacred calling” etc. As though to simply HAVE a child and then RAISE it is noble. Isn’t it…actually just decent, if you do have a child, to raise it well? BUT I applaud your blog, it is not about that…it’s about life, as a mom. Life being first, including motherhood. I guess I read you valuing your personhood, as a mom, too, over momhood. YAY. Thanks for pushing past the WHO CARES of the world!

    allison March 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    @Layla,
    But doesn’t this sort of speak to the ‘if you don’t like it, don’t read it’ part of the argument? If you’re not married or a mother, why would you be frequenting mommy blogs? I’m not saying some mothers don’t act like saints just for not abusing or neglecting their kids, but I think it’s probably not possible (at least it wasn’t possible for me when I didn’t have kids) to understand how, when they’re small at least, it’s impossible not to be consumed by them because the little buggers have this habit of never going away. I certainly get that it would be tedious to be reading about this a lot if you’re not in it, so…don’t?

    Grace February 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Bravo! Well said. Thank you for speaking out for all of us.

    Just curious: was the original FB-unfriender male or female?

    Grace

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 9:11 am

    @Grace, female. an old acquaintance. if you click through to the original post, you’ll see her follow-up, in which she insists that hers is a necessary ‘feminist’ position.

    Krista February 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Wow. I’m forwarding this to my mom. I graduated from a great university a year ago and am getting married in May. When my husband-to-be and I have children, whenever that ends up being, I will be staying home with our kids because that’s what feels right to me. I’ve felt pressure to change my mind, and we haven’t even gotten married yet! Thank you for such a strong and encouraging post.

    luisa February 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    You know, you have this way of insinuating yourself in every controversy that comes along. It’s tedious. It’s not that the world wants mommy bloggers to shut up…the world wants assholes like YOU to shut up. The people who have their eyes on the popularity prize, who blog condescendingly, who take offense and must blog about every slight experienced by anyone of the same gender, profession, or nationality (or any other group with which you can identify and wring a self-righteous blog post out of!). It is YOU and your use of big words to show just how vast your knowledge of obscure English words, your blathering on and on about this or that that annoys your critics. It’s your morally-superior stance on EVERY topic, the “if you were a mother, you’d feel this way” exclamations. No, YOU feel that way, so please speak only fir yourself. It’s not that you’re a MOTHER that bothers people…it’s that belief that everyone must hate you, that SOCIETY must want to silence you, because you’re a mother. That’s not it at all, at least in your case. People hate you because you’re an entitled asshole (don’t you know who I am?!) who can’t take a simple trip without turning it into calamity after catastrophe. We laugh when you dress like an idiot, child stylists be damned. We roll our eyes when you leave a coat or passport behind. We think “serves you right” when you have problems finding sympathetic ears for your idiocy. You’re a pompous, attention-hungry, look-at-ME asshole. I don’t want you speaking out on my behalf…you’re a piss-poor excuse for an adult, let alone a parent or mother. I don’t want you to be the voice of mommy bloggers. You are an embarrassment, not someone to be lauded as an example of motherhood. THAT is why people hate you, and it has nothing to do with the fact you have children.

    Anne February 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    @luisa, wow, who pissed in your cereal this morning? Are you sad because none of the attention is on you? Well, here you go…here is your 15 minutes of fame. Use it wisely because with an attitude like that you will grow old lonely and die a forgettable death. Why waste your precious, all-important, self-righteous time even reading this blog, much less writing a comment like the one above? Do you feel better now?

    Kyle Magill February 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    @luisa, I am always baffled by the hateful and hurtful things that people say while hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. I am willing to bet that you would never, ever be so critical and rude to someone if you were speaking to them face to face. Your post reads as if you were channeling all of the anger and pain of your own life at Catherine. While I am tempted to throw your own “piss-poor excuse for an adult” insult back at you, it wouldn’t make any sense, you’re not an “adult” at all.
    But you definitely are a “pompous, attention-hungry, look-at-ME asshole”. Sadly, only one so many on the internet.
    Cheers
    KM

    gigimama February 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    @luisa, who is this “we” you are invoking?

    Lemme guess: You, your shadow, your reflection in the oily water in a parking lot, the hair that falls out of your head and collects on your pillow, the Luisa in your dreams (you know, the one who runs in slow motion), the photo of yourself propped next to your computer screen, the gum you chewed and wadded in a recent Banana Republic receipt, the air you exhale, the lipstick print you leave on paper cups drained of tiresome Chai.

    Everywhere you go, Luisa, there WE are. Right? Be a lady next time and say, “I laugh when you dress like an idiot.” It will take you to a whole new level of power you haven’t felt since 5th grade and that one really poor girl in class wore a sweater from Sears with a hole in it. Hiding behind WE dilutes hatefests. Go for the gusto next time!

    Backpacking Dad February 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    @luisa,

    I love you and want to have your babies. Will you marry me? I think we could raise some pretty awesome kids together. Do you like bacon? Please tell me you like bacon. What about The Larry Sanders Show? I love that show. Do you look like any of the characters from The Larry Sanders Show?

    Don’t answer right away. It can wait until you get back from telling all your friends about how you really told Catherine off. High fives take a while, so I’ll be patient.

    But call me when you get a chance.

    Marinka February 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    @luisa, interesting that you ask Catherine to speak only for herself and yet you seem to speak for the world. And when I write “interesting” I mean “fucking annoying.”

    Issa February 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    @luisa, Actually the world would really like you to shut up. Why bother reading if you hate someoene? Why bother showing up at their PERSONAL blog and calling them names? Why exactly? For more attention? You’ve gotten it. Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

    Truly, what’s so hard about hitting the wee little red box?

    Speak for yourself, don’t speak for others. “we” don’t all agree with you.

    Julie @ The Mom Slant February 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Hey @luisa, perhaps you’re the one who ought to shut up. If you’ve been reading for more than a post or two, you should recognize that there are few people *in the world* who foster the sort of upfront genuine discussion that Catherine does. Not only does she have the courage to broach topics, but she allows and encourages thoughtful discourse in her *own personal space* – space where you chose to launch a tirade against her.

    Just something for you to consider while you’re ruminating over all the ways in which Catherine done you wrong.

    Amy February 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    @luisa, What I really want to know is how you got to this post? And how did you know that Catherine wore an outfit that looked ridiculous? And how did you know that Catherine left her passport and coat behind? And how do you know that She has a way of insinuating herself in every controversy that comes along? Is it because you come to her blog to read what she writes and check/follow her twitter to see what she has to say? Interesting that someone like yourself, who evidently hates Catherine and everything she is and stands up for and talks about would take the time to see what she writes and says every day. Interesting, no?
    I, on the other hand, find the things Catherine says and the topics she chooses to write about fantastic, well thought out and written and honest. So thanks Catherine for “wasting your life doing something so meaningless” … I appreciate it.

    Rachel February 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    @luisa, I AM GIVING YOU ATTENTION!!! Do you feel better now? Little less bitchy? Glad I could help you out there.

    Tracie February 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    @luisa, I don’t agree with much of what HerBadMother says, but I’d never tell her to “shut up.” This is her space, and she has every right to tell Her Story.

    And also, that e-mail was unbelievably rude and condescending. If you have to start something with “I probably shouldn’t say this” then you shouldn’t say it. Period.

    If you don’t like HerBadMother, DON’T READ HER. It’s that simple. There are 80 bazillion things to read on the Internet. Find something you do like instead of spending your time telling someone you don’t like them.

    If you want to contribute your opinion on things she says, that’s one thing. But there’s a way to do it in a way that is civil and promotes discussion instead of name-calling, belittlement, and hatred.

    FireMom February 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    @luisa, Assholes? I think you might be projecting. And I mean that honestly. Maybe Catherine doesn’t speak for you. Fine. Write your own post. In an intelligent manner. Without resorting to all kinds of ridiculous immaturity.

    No mommy blogger speaks for me in all regards. I am my own person. So are you. Own your own words. Don’t hide behind a linkless name/false persona. And tell us what you really mean, instead of lashing out unnecessarily.

    There’s room enough for us all in the blogosphere. Your hatred, however, makes us all look stupid. Check it at the browser and act like an adult.

    NotNeeded February 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    @luisa, lol…you are actually promoting the blog by commenting and reading it though and depending on how advertisers are set up, FUNDING it…you are so hypocritical.

    Alexandra March 2, 2011 at 12:36 am

    @luisa, Holy cow. “asshole” really? WHy an “asshole?”

    Dana Young February 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you. Your statement “They’re repeating an old, woman-hating, mother-hating story” is part of a discussion I was having with my husband the other day about the increase of misogynistic attitudes towards women. Taking back motherhood is a kind of new feminism – one that says we can be mothers and still feel complete, productive and living a meaningful life.
    You made my day.

    Sarah February 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    “I know I probably shouldn’t say this,…” then DON’T. Use your brain facebook former friend before your mouth, or hands actually. I just can’t believe how insensitive people can honestly be. Of course they feel free to do it behind the guise of email (or a shortened name in blog comments) rather than face to face. Because if they had to do it one on one in front of an audience they wouldn’t have the guts. Or if they did, they had better be prepared for the verbal pummeling from the majority. All of us know, you own your words when you blog, a very smart and sassy blogger/writer/mom/PR professional I love in NYC taught me that, and Catherine there are many of us out here who enjoy them and are putting up our fists in the air to say, YOU GO GIRL!

    Colleen February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    This is exactly the thing I’ve been grappling with since we made it through the newborn stage a couple of months back. Thank you for writing what I’ve been thinking, but so much more articulately!

    karen February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Bravo!

    Issa February 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Do you ever wonder how these people treat their mothers? I feel bad for their mothers. I mean, to hate all mothers, as they commonly say they do, they have to first hate their own, right?

    Dog Mom February 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    To stay at home with your children? Yay! I think that is so awesome in today’s world when both parents work to provide so many material possessions that are unnecessary.

    Blog the crap out of the internet, woman!

    Karen L February 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    @Dog Mom, You totally missed the point. “many material possessions that are unnecessary”? You are adding to the cacophony of scrutiny and judgement aimed at mothers.

    Amanda February 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Just when it feels as if people can’t do or say something any more inappropriate a comment is posted that starts with finger pointing and ends with a shrill, vile sentence of hate.

    Damn.

    Heather @ It's Twinsanity! February 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Well said. I sometimes struggle with self-worth since becoming a stay-at-home mom and efficient baby factory. I know that there are people in my own family who only see me for what I “could have been.” It’s tough. Sometimes the greatest aknowledgement of your accomplishments comes from a 3-foot tall, sticky-fingered little person who declares that you are “the best Mommy ever.” Damn the six-figure salary… I’ll settle for being The Best Mommy Ever any day.

    Avishan February 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Love you for this. So glad i found your blog.

    Mom101 February 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Catherine, I adore your passion. I adore you schooling me on Roman history. And I think your perceptive stance that the the popularity of mommy blogs demonstrate a thirst for these stories is spot-on.

    I don’t want a great conversation to be derailed by a hateful, anonymous commenter whose opinions matter pretty much not at all. Plus, Marinka said it for me.

    Carina February 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Great post. So glad I stopped by your blog. Keep writing!

    Devan @ Unspoken Grief™ February 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I love this post – thank you.

    Kristen February 28, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    There is something so satisfying, so monumental, and even so radical about saying–no, demanding that women’s voices matter, and that mothers’ voices matter, and that the world is a better place for it. Thank you for continuing to make these demands so eloquently and so passionately. And in such a way that I now want to give you a standing ovation right here in my living room.

    Samara February 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    this is fantastic. and I can’t believe someone ACTUALLY SAID THAT. what the hell is wrong with people….

    Bella February 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I just found your blog and I will now be a follower. All I can say is WOOHOO!

    Bella February 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    BTW, your comment luv is malfunctioning. Just so you know

    corasmom February 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Awesome post – thank you for another great one. (And, personally, I LOVE it when you use big words!). ;)

    Erica @ Expatria, Baby February 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you, Catherine, for a wonderfully insightful post. I think you’re right on in your observations of societal desire to lift the veil that shadows the feminine sphere.

    Bloggers like you who are brave enough to share their stories have helped me a great deal. I’m a young mother and I live overseas in a non-English speaking country and have very few support outlets. Bloggers who share the realities of parenthood act to fill the roll of a trusted friend and mentor, at least for me, anyway. It was because of bloggers that I was aware of and, to some extent prepared for, the challenges and trials of new-motherhood. These publicly shared stories helped me to accept as normal feelings that are not part of the typical self-sacrificing / domestic bliss maternal narrative and have gone a long way towards helping me ward off feelings of isolation. For this alone, I think the work of bloggers is important.
    And now a question: it is certainly logical to examine the attacks on “mommy” bloggers from a feminist standpoint, but I’m wondering, why is it that so many of the attacks on these bloggers are women? Why are we attacking each other instead of lifting each other up? Any thoughts?

    Sue Robinson February 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I have been confronted with these people and they will all get their fair share of karma in the end. They make me so angry and then I get angry at myself because I get sucked in. Great post.

    On another note, thanks for your writing. I am working through some depression and your blog makes me smile. Thank you for your words.

    Velma February 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I really love this post, because (as usual) you nailed it.

    If what we do – mothering AND blogging – is so unimportant and trivial, then why are so many of us doing those things in tandem?!? Why are so many of us reading blogs and writing blogs and sharing big and small moments of our lives with strangers and gaining so much support from those interactions and refusing to STFU?!?

    Lisa February 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I needed this right now! Thank you! I just got called out on my own Facebook wall for not sharing enough articles outlining the other side of what is going on in Wisconsin. Of course this person completely disagrees with me on what I think. Sigh.

    I did want to respond “shut up” but I didn’t. Though reading this, I should have :)

    Cathy February 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I love this post! Every time someone says, “Why did you even go to school’,” I just stand there slack jawed, like the moron they think that I have become. What could I possibly say that would change the way they clearly feel about parenting.

    JenE February 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Right on! I became a mom at 43, now home w/ daughter 2 1/2 and son, 9 months. It has taken me a long time to find my groove and own my own style of mom-ness. My computer is my link to the outside world most days and folks like you are my trusted friends. Truly, truly you have given me the courage and the “OK” to just be me and know that “just me” is the very best mom my kids could ever have. You’ve made me confident that I’m doing the most important work I could ever do. And you’ve made it possible to just relax and enjoy that work, rather than constantly worrying about whether I’m doing it right. Bravo, sistah.
    J.

    Elizabeth Flora Ross February 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Bravo! This? Is an awesome post! The reason for it, and the comment stream I have just read though, are exactly why I have submitted this presentation proposal for BlogHer ’11:

    http://www.blogher.com/cease-fire-call-end-war-between-women

    You’d be a great person to have on the panel. I hope you’ll consider it…

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 9:12 am

    @Elizabeth Flora Ross, that sounds like a great – and necessary – panel. I’d be happy to join in :)

    Elizabeth Flora Ross March 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    @Her Bad Mother, Fantastic! I sent you a message through FB. If my presentation is selected by BlogHer, I will be in touch. Also going to do a Linky on my blog later this month for posts on this subject. Hope you will stop by an include this one. It’s awesomesauce!

    Bec February 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I have to ask, was the Facebook comment from a friend? An old friend? Someone you didn’t know but you had accepted the invite? I’m guessing someone you know because of the “it’s not what I imagined for you” line, but seriously? I cannot imagine anyone who knows you personally saying this. It’s so fucking rude.

    Her Bad Mother March 1, 2011 at 9:13 am

    @Bec, it was from an old acquaintance. someone I’d known in my early twenties. someone a little bit batshit.

    Muskrat February 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I now really regret that whole Facebook message thing. I thought you were my wife (with her 4 degrees and 4 kids)!

    Bobbie February 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Good for you!!! Shocking that you’d take your education and educate your own children!! How selfish of you!! LOL… what morons. Loved this post. You keep rockin it and to heck with the village idiots!

    Frelle February 28, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Love.

    FireMom February 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Hot damn, lady. You nailed it.

    Mrs. Wilson February 28, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    AMEN!

    If nobody wants to read “mommy blogs”, then WHY ARE THEY DO POPULAR???

    Your writing is brilliant.

    Angie - Pebblekeeper March 1, 2011 at 12:16 am

    You Go Girl! When I started staying home, I got the questions/response alot.I’d say I was staying home, they’d give me a list of corporations recruiting. But I had a Job. I’d explain. They’d sigh. Mentions of “it is a phase” They thought I’d send the boys to preschool at age 2 and get “back to work”. Ya. 2 year old care is a real vacation . . . . Now they are 13 and 10 and I LOVE my job of raising them. ;)

    Karen Sugarpants March 1, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I’ve been tossing this post around my skull all evening.

    I continue to be blown away by the utter trash thrown at mothers, in the media, online, and even on the playground. I, like you, will not stand for it. I stand up for my motherhood all the time.

    I’ve been a working mother (and called selfish for not staying home), a stay-at-home-mother (and called selfish for not earning a living alongside my husband), a work-at-home-mother (and called selfish for working too much), and now I am a student mother (at this stage of the game, I DARE anyone to call me selfish – though don’t think I haven’t thought it myself, despite this being an investment FOR our family. Mom guilt still creeps up on me.)

    I live in an era (and a country) that affords me those choices, and I am grateful for those choices.

    Raising a family IS messy. There are millions of mothers who are lucky enough to find other mothers that they can relate to, support, and find friendship with. As for those who find joy in tearing others down (mothers or otherwise)?
    Fuck ‘em. If they are so darn quick to judge, what are they teaching their children?
    Great post, Catherine.

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