Mommybloggers? And so much more.

BlogHer is growing up.  The BlogHer women held their fifth annual conference last week, and if you’ve been reading blogs since then, you’ve probably seen too much talk already about the more distasteful parts of it, and a good bit of happiness and love as well.  I firmly believe that there was more good than bad this weekend, and we really do need to talk about it.  I have a post or two brewing on the sessions that I attended, and how my life was changed by some things that I heard.  Yes, really changed.  (Two words: Own it!)

The events this weekend crystallized a realization that I’ve been slow to come to.  Yes, the conference was amazing.  Yes, meeting these women I’ve been reading and crying with and rejoicing with and walking through tough times with was, quite simply, incredible.  (We didn’t even need to talk.  A quick hug and a couple of words was enough for me in many cases — because really?  We talk every day, through our blogs, you to me and me to you.  It was in one sense far, far less than I wanted (as if one could schedule an epiphany for the five-minute window in which we talked) — but in another sense, it was enough.)  Yes, there were parties, and dinners, and marketing, and swag.  But there was something else too.

This conference was BIG.  B-I-G, big.  1500 women.  3 days.  I didn’t get to see nearly all of the women I had hoped to meet.  Heck, I didn’t even see nearly all of the women whose blogs I read weekly!  I did meet many who I had not met before, online or otherwise, and a few of them changed me, and the way I read blogs.  But I was struck over the head by something else.

The mommyblogger label?  Is not one size fits all.

I’ve heard it said that pregnancy is the great equalizer.  Whether you’re a philosopher, a marketing professional, a lawyer, a technology specialist, or a writer, the world stops on a dime the minute you have a child.  All our education, our poise, our fashion sense, and our passions are obliterated — just for a moment — when the doctor/midwife/passerby says P-U-S-H and, for those few moments that last forever, there are no other thoughts except, “Please, God, let him be okay,” and “Get this baby OUT of me!”  We are all united on the birthing table/bed/pool where we first become mothers.

But it does not last.

And in fact, even this argument falls flat.   We are not all united in how we become mothers.   So many of us become mothers through adoption, through stepparenting, through foster care, and, yes, YES, that is wonderful too.

And see what I mean?  Painting all of us with one brush does not work.

We are not all the same.  After the baby/toddler/teenager arrives, we are united temporarily as we are consumed with quandries over the most effective diaper to use, the best way to help the baby sleep, and how to get a little sleep ourselves.  We are consumed with doing the best we can for these helpless little creatures/darlings/whirling dervishes as we bustle through the days and walk the hallways sleeplessly at nights while the infants cry/toddlers wake/teenagers stay out after curfew.  After some days/weeks/years, we try to regain our sense of self and remember our passions, dipping our toes/hearts/minds back into the world of work. We stumble and fall, but after a time, we find our place.

We each find our place.  My place is not your place.  Your place wouldn’t be a good fit for me.  What unites us — motherhood, in this case — is in fact a different path for each one of us.  Babies grow and change, toddlers reveal special needs, children have different interests, and teenagers, well, I’ll just leave it at that.  This may be heresy in the united mommyblogging world, but this week’s controversies keep throwing it in my face:

We are different people.

Just as before we became mothers, we wouldn’t be best friends/hang out with/approve of everyone else’s behavior, we probably won’t now.  Were you best friends with EVERYONE in high school?  Probably  not.  I know I wasn’t.  And yet, back then, we had something in common that shaped us perhaps as much or more than having a child shapes us now: we shared the same zip code.  We went to the same grocery store, we played on the same playgrounds, we went to the same dinners, the same dances, and we had the same friends.

Mommyblogging isn’t like that.  Blogging overall isn’t like that.  With millions of bloggers, there are bound to be some with whom you connect and some with whom you have — seemingly — nothing in common.  Some people you will love.  Some people you will respect.  Some people you will … not.  Some people want to do marketing and branding and SEO and product reviewing, and some people … do not.  For some people, it’s all about the afterparties.  For others, it’s the sessions.  For some, it’s the hallway conversations.  For some, it’s fancy dinners out.  For others, it’s the swag.

Over and over, I was slapped in the face with this reality this weekend.  We are not the same people.  We will not all be friends.  But we CAN respect each other, and listen to each other, and learn from each other.

I hope.

For it is only in this strange rabbit hole we call blogging that we can all interact — marketing bloggers, science bloggers, health bloggers, garden bloggers, fitness bloggers, political bloggers, fashion bloggers, photo bloggers, life bloggers — on a relatively equal field, and see what life is like in someone else’s world.

Mommybloggers are united by the fact that we have had children, but we are all individuals, and we collectively bring amazing talents and passions to the table.

I’ll be returning for BlogHer 2010.  But I will try harder to appreciate each blogger for who she is … and remember that my expectations are not your expectations, and my choices are not yours.

It was wonderful to meet you all.

30 Responses to Mommybloggers? And so much more.

  1. Great post. I remember being in a “new mom” group way back in the day and complaining to my husband about some of the adolescent behavior that was going on based on who lived where or how they dressed (or fed!) their kids. “All you have in common with some of these women is that you gave birth to your first children within 6 weeks of each other.” Yep.

    He was right. So are you, my dear.

    • whymommy says:

      And yet it’s so hard to remember, isn’t it? I mean, we bonded in bleary-eyed days when we were all reaching out — and amazed that someone was there. I almost expected us to write together about sending the kids to college.

      But even if we don’t, it’s okay.

      It was SO great to see you again, Kim — I’ll never forget the care package you sent me from BlogHer07.

  2. Florinda says:

    As one who has felt like the “misfit mom” for 25 years (and the “misfit mom blogger” for two), I just want to tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve said here.

    I’m glad I had the chance to meet you, and hope to see you again next year in NYC!

  3. slouchy says:

    Sing it, Susan.

    (And — see you in 2010!)

  4. JavaMom says:

    I remember agonizing about naming my blog (it took me MONTHS) because I had read advice from one of my favorite bloggers “you may not want to tie it too closely to being a mom — you may not always want to blog about being a mom.” And gosh, at BlogHer, not everyone was a mom, so that was a lesson I had to remember as well. They weren’t even all “hers.” And even one of them wasn’t a blogger, yet! LOL! But yes, we all blog for different reasons and even ourselves may have started blogging for one reason and then continue blogging for entirely different reasons. And that’s okay. There’s room for all of us.

  5. Wait – you AND my pal Sarah (Slouching Mom) are going next year? Then so will I🙂

    (I’m not just saying that!)

  6. Amazing post! I think that “remember that my expectations are not your expectations, and my choices are not yours” will be my mantra for BlogHer 2010!

  7. upsidebackwards says:

    Hear hear! You say it so well. Not that I’ve ever met any other bloggers in real life… There are lessons here for people we encounter every day as well.

  8. Fantastic post Susan!

    and I am really bummed I did not get a chance to say hi and hug you this year. I was lost in that crazy sea of people.

  9. kelly says:

    Wow. This is so true. And, it is definitely something I struggle with. I want to be supportive. I want to be pro-woman, but I don’t always agree with the behavior of the women around me. I have to learn when to just turn my head and walk away. I have to learn to be more compassionate. We are not all the same, but that does not mean we have to be enemies. I loved this. Awesome writing.

  10. mary says:

    Great Post — and thanks so much for recognizing that there are so many ways of becoming a mother but that even if your child does not come from your body, that once he/she is placed in your arms you are a mother with all the hopes and fears that every mother has.

  11. Alice C says:

    I start from the basis that the only thing we have in common is that we choose to use blogs as a publishing format. It brings us together across the world and enables us to appreciate difference and share experiences. Writing about aspects of motherhood is only a part of the dialogue between bloggers and readers and I am glad of that because it could be a very exclusive club otherwise.

  12. kgirl says:

    I must roll in the right circles, because I’ve heard nothing but great things about the conference, as I do every year.

  13. How did I not meet you??

  14. Stimey says:

    This post is perfect.

  15. amy says:

    Love it. You are one cool cat, Susan. I’m so glad we’re pals. Hope to catch you soon locally–hugs.

  16. You nailed this! Absolutely. Nailed it.

    (It was great to see you again, I only wish we’d had more time to talk!)

  17. Marcie says:

    Oh PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop talking about blogher. Couldn’t you maybe start a blogher blog? You used to write such interesting posts but lately all you write about is blog her. Those of us who weren’t there – don’t care. In fact you’ve even made it so I wouldn’t even want to go (not that I really would have before). Going to blogher. At blogher. After blogher. When will you start talking about next year’s blogher? I know I should just not read if I don’t find your blog intersting anymore but you used to write such insightful posts. I miss them. Sorry but all this blogher talk is akin to talking to the entire 6th grade class about a party only your 6 bestest friends were invited to (and that no one else wanted to go to anyway). I’m not jealous. I’m just bored.

    • whymommy says:

      Then please come back next week. I happen to think there are some real issues — and some feminist issues — that surfaced at that conference last week, and it’s worth talking about. So I’m talking about them, here and in other places. If you’re looking for cancer stories, you can always go to http://motherswithcancer.com. If you’re looking for life as a woman in planetary science, there are posts at http://womeninplanetaryscience.com. Otherwise, this blog is and will be a mash-up of what I’m thinking about and what the blogosphere is talking about, if I have something to add. This week, it happened to be BlogHer. Next week, I’m sure we’ll be on to something else.

    • marty says:

      Susan is far too polite sometimes. A wonderful example of her post. She and I are both mothers, but different people. She invited you to come back next week, and I’m telling you to piss off and go away.

      So sorry that she has bored you. Perhaps you hope for more cancer? That her dog die again? Way to be a jackhole. Personally, I’m really glad she doesn’t have a reason to write whatever you deem “insightful” at the moment.

  18. Mom101 says:

    This is an exquisite post that absolutely nails a topic that’s been on my mind but I never could have articulated as graciously. We can’t all be best friends, of course, I love having some friends who I can call on in an emergency, some who get huge hugs at conferences once a year, and still others who get cordial handshakes at cocktail parties. Don’t we all need those levels of relationships within our rolodexes.

    Jamie, I’m sorry you didn’t get past the first paragraph. Because it’s actually not a post about BlogHer at all. And it’s just lovely.

    Your loss.

    • Mom101 says:

      Oops I meant Marcie. No idea who Jamie is. But I’m sure she’s not asking for post requests like a chick at the deejay booth.

  19. Beautifully stated. An excellent reminder for all of us about expectations, relationships, and individuality. I enjoy every post you write. Ignore the disgruntled who find a need to criticize. As you said: OWN IT. Including YOUR blog. Write about what you want to write about because, to hearken back to “Field of Dreams,” if you write it, we (the collective “we”) will come read it. ‘Nuff said.

  20. E... says:

    I am so glad that I got the opportunity to meet you at BlogHer, and that I’m finally getting the chance to visit you here, as this was so insightful. I’ve yet to get the opportunity to really process the last couple of weeks in my life, including the conference, so it’s been wonderful to be able to read the accounts of those who have. Yours is one of the most powerful I’ve read so far.
    Thank you for being so kind and welcoming in person.

  21. Terrific post. And I’m happy to see that “mommybloggers” has become “BlogHer” – which strikes me as a much more open and inclusive naming convention – despite the fact that there are mommies, mamas, moms, mothers, mothers-in-law, step moms, teen-age moms, single moms, new moms, older moms (and more) – and what unites us as much as anything is that we are FEMALE. That’s a lot, and not much. All women are not created equal, and as you said, we live many different lives – our own chapters – and different lives from each other.

    (You may note my recent dissent with the tagline on Alltop over “mommy” versus “mom,” and their resolution.)

    Ironically – for women who are blogging on a variety of subjects (as am I), we don’t categorize well in the blogosphere, which is, after all, reflective of “reality.” Hybrids don’t slot neatly anywhere, least of all in the real world.

    Some of us write about whatever strikes us, outrages us, warms us, amuses, bewilders, emboldens. We write from our individual experiences, our separate cultures and stages in life, our preferences, our professions, our moods and many motivations.

    It’s no surprise to hear about the differences in so diverse a community of blogging women. As you said, it reflects the wonderful diversity that we can now express in an interconnected world.

    I love the idea of “BlogHer” actually. (I admit to a marketing background, and branding/naming really does matter – like a first impression, with all its reverberations.)

    I applaud the pioneering efforts of your group, the lucidity of your post, and the happy conclusion, ultimately, that we’re all better off with the ability to communicate – to speak, to speak out, and to listen. It’s what we try to teach our children. Best they learn by example.

  22. I am totally late with my comment (out of the country for the last month – that’s my excuse anyway!), but I just wanted to say that your post was beautifully written. I have never been to BlogHer, however I do notice the commonalities and the differences between all mothers, and women. Your post expressed this perfectly. Thank you!

%d bloggers like this: