A few years ago, I was interviewed by the Globe & Mail about ‘mommy blogging’ and the ethical issues – you know, the usual: child exploitation, child neglect, Jon & Kate Plus 8 Syndrome – that it raises. I was mildly defensive about it, but mostly amused, because, seriously, wasn’t it obvious that most mom bloggers blogged out of love? Wasn’t it obvious that the average mom blogger paid closer attention to her children that she might otherwise – after all, how else would she have all those stories, if she wasn’t fascinated by her kids, and by her own experience of motherhood?
These points of obviousness, however, are not obvious to everyone. Obviously. As the commenters to the original story pointed out, it seemed obvious to them that I was neglectful and exploitative. Was I not blogging instead of spending time with them (well, her; Jasper was at that point still a fetus)? Was I not profiting from telling stories about her? Wasn’t obvious that I was, as a blogging mom, a bad mom? I still get these questions. I don’t think that a week goes by that I don’t get these questions, or questions like them. Hell, just this week I got a lovely email demanding why I thought anyone cared about my struggle to figure out the how and why of telling personal stories, because, after all, I should have stopped telling those stupid, exploitative stories years ago. So the questions are fresh in my mind: can a blogging mom be a good mom? What is mommy blogging good for, anyway? These are stupid questions, of course. I know that.
They are, however, questions for which I once wrote an answer:
You know what’s an interesting experiment? Making a list of all the things your kids have destroyed or defaced. Although, really, you probably need to narrow it down to valuable things that your kids have destroyed, because if you included things like coffee mugs and white shirts and sofa cushions and lipsticks (to say nothing of white shirts and sofa cushions and lipsticks together), the list would become overwhelming. I’m going to further narrow down my list to technological devices that my children have destroyed, because if I kept it as broad as ‘valuable’ I’d have to go into things like furniture and Tiffany jewelry and the piano and some of the structural elements of our house, and at some point that just becomes discouraging.
So. Some technological devices that my children have destroyed or defaced or just dented up really badly:
Beneath the smudged fingerprints left by your five-year-old and the cobweb that the spider contractors erected over the winter sits the single best photographic tool you own.
Your screen door.
The fastest way to take better family shots? Position your mom/husband/small fries in front of the door on a cloudy day and take a good look at your subject. The clouds give you a giant soft light that filters through the biggest window you’ve got in the house.
I was never one of those little girls who played with dolls and dreamed of becoming a mommy. When I played with dolls, it was to concoct new adventures for Barbie, International Super Spy, or to host global summits on world peace with George, my stuffed monkey, the Bionic Woman, a clutch of plush kittens and puppies and Raggedy Ann and Andy (Barbie was never invited, of course, because she was actively working to subvert the stability of the international political system through her mercenary intrigues.) Playing ‘mommy’ never occurred to me, because I never planned on becoming a mommy. Why become a mommy when there were so many much more fun things to do? Travel! Spy! Rule a small country!