Oh, hey! Remember when I posted about being unfriended on Facebook for being a stay at home?
I received the following message via Facebook today. I think that it’s pretty awesome. And by awesome, I mean, so profoundly insulting and ignorant that I actually yelled out “REALLY???”
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.
The post that follows is a revised version of a post that I wrote last year. I had been considering writing a new piece about the term ‘mommy blogger’ and to what extent I see that as part of my identity, not least because Kyle and I have been having conversations – partly in jest, partly not – about him becoming a dad blogger when we complete our move to New York and he becomes, for the most part, a stay at home dad, and those conversations raised the question: why ‘dad blogger’ and not ‘daddy blogger’? And why not ‘parent blogger,’ or some other neutral term?
I haven’t sorted out my thoughts on the daddy-blogger question – stay tuned – but reflecting on that question brought me back to this post, which still stands as a pretty accurate statement of my feelings on the term ‘mommy blogger.’
Dear Internet: I am not a mommy blogger.
Yeah, I know. There’s a baby in my header. There are lots of pictures of my children here, including that one, right there, on the upper left-hand side of this post. (Aren’t they cute? I let them call me Mommy.) But still. I am not a mommy blogger.
Before I became a mom, I was an academic. During my pregnancy with Emilia, I was scrambling to finish my PhD – and teaching, and preparing papers for conferences, and applying for jobs – but even though I was acting as though I was preparing for my future as a Tenured Professor and Professional Smartypants, I was really pretty certain that once the baby came, I was going to slow my pace on that path. I was maybe going to circle right off of that path. I wasn’t sure. All I knew was, I didn’t see myself in the future that had been laid out for me at that point. I loved my research, but I didn’t see myself on departmental committees, I didn’t see myself teaching massive undergraduate seminars, I didn’t see myself dragging my husband and children around to the remote liberal arts colleges that would be the only places hiring professors of political philosophy, and probably not even tenure-track professors at that. I was headed elsewhere. I knew that much.
What I didn’t know at the time was that I was headed for social media. I was also headed for New York.
I’m generally not a fan of mashed up hybrid neologisms; you know, those words that are created out of two unrelated words, like ‘freegan’ and ‘Brangelina.’ But in some cases, they can be useful – fun, even – inasmuch as they allow us to describe something for which there hasn’t previously been a proper name. ‘Mompreneur’ is one such word. The thing about a word like ‘mompreneur’, though, is that its use needs to be appropriate and relevant to what it’s describing, otherwise it very quickly becomes ridiculous.
So when is it okay to use the word ‘mompreneur,’ and when is it not?
I’m kind of a Mother’s Day curmudgeon. I’m one of those grumpy moms who says, when asked what I’d like for Mother’s Day, ‘a day off,’ because, seriously, isn’t spending a day not being a mom the very best way to spend the day on which motherhood is celebrated? The thing is, when I say this, I don’t really mean it. I don’t actually want a day off from being a mom. Sure, I’d love to have a day or an afternoon all to myself in which I get to lay on the sofa and eat chips and watch Buffy reruns (you are shocked, shocked to hear this, I know), but I wouldn’t really want my family to disappear for that day. I’d rather that they just, you know, mostly occupy themselves in some space adjacent to my relaxation space – go to the park, play in the yard, clean their rooms, that kind of thing – and make periodic appearances to give me hugs and tell me how awesome I am as I lay there in all of my chip-munching, Buffy-watching, slothful glory. Which, okay, is kind of like taking the day off from motherhood, but not entirely, because key to this whole scenario is that I still get to enjoy all of the awesome of being a mom (toddler kisses, general adoration) with none of the work.
Last year, I received the following Facebook message:
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: