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.
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.