Thursday, August 5, 2010

Frosted

"...and don't make me tell you again!  Damn silly string!  What, exactly, was your plan for getting it off the ceiling fan, huh?"

Oh, hello.  Sorry about that.  Just another day in the life of Yours Truly and the 'Shoulda Gone to the Movies that Night' Dancers.  We do seven shows a week, two on Sundays if we run out of hair gel.

I'm definitely ready for summer to be over; so ready, in fact, that any sass on the subject is likely to earn you the back o' my hand, bloggily speaking.

And don't give me any crap over 'bloggily.'

Or 'crap', for that matter.  SO not in the mood.

Yes, apparently I'm a teensy bit cranky.  Which is why I responded to this post with all the pleasantness of a vampire in a raisin factory.

Here's the thing:  The older I get, the harder it is for me to get particularly jazzed about labels.  I may be your piano teacher, your neighbor, your reason for giving up fudge while there's still hope for your rear end, and hey, if that helps keep your speed dial organized, knock yourself out.

But there are really only a few actual "who I am to you"s that I'm comfortable wearing all the time.

And hard on the heels of "Wife" -- is "Mom."

I currently have 40 music students.  In my non-secular life, I teach an average of 50 people in any given class; some more, some less, hence the use of the word "average."  I speak to audiences of anywhere from 15 to 1,500 nappers.  I write to two-hundred-and-something confirmed blog followers, and a handful of people who clicked "next" on that blue bar without having any idea of what they were getting themselves into.

I have four children.

And they have exactly one mother. 

Now, I'm going to share something surprising with you:  I'm not a "cheerleader" type of writer.  You won't find a lot of "Go, Team!  Moms!  Moms!  Our lives have purpose!  Yes they do!  Don't go telling me they don't!" on my blog.

Not really my cuppa, y' know?

My message is usually along the lines of, "It's hard.  Remember that before you start fooling around."

When a member of Harry Reid's staff contacted me a few months ago and invited me to join a conference call with several other "Mommy Bloggers," she had enough sensitivity to assure me that she meant no offense.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I wondered if she had used a lowercase "N" in "DeNae."  It took me a couple of readings to figure out she was talking about "Mommy Blogger".  Why would I be offended by that label?  It's true that I haven't been called "Mommy" for a long time, but so?  I haven't been called by my maiden name for a long time, either, but that doesn't mean I'd be bugged if that was how you knew me.  (It's "Humperdink," by the way.)

So I assured her I was just fine with being called a "Mommy Blogger," just don't call me late for the Sundae Bar, ha ha, and happily joined the other bloggers and Senator Reid on the phone.

A few weeks later, I was in a focus group comprised of women bloggers, and the subject came up again.  Wha--?  What's all this fuss over "Mommy Blogger" anyway?

Yeah, I guess all this full-time parenting has just rendered me a clueless old dingbat, a change of status from 'clueless young dingbat,' which apparently was what I must have been when I decided to make my first, lifetime priority the care and rearing of the four humans I, with malice aforethought, brought onto the planet.  (It's true that my husband had to call me on 9/11 and insist I change the channel from Nickelodeon to NBC, as I had not yet heard what was happening in the real world.  But that is totally beside the point.)

I'm a dingbat because I had no idea how the smart, savvy, and sophisticated world of blogging viewed women who blog about their families, expect to be read by others who are actually interested in what they have to say, and hope to perhaps use their blogs as a means of marketing products and services to those readers.

I mean, it's one thing if you are a web designer, and you call yourself "The Web Designing Blogger," and you expect people who are interested in web design to read your blog, and maybe even hire you to design their web sites.  That's totally understandable.  Hell, that's smart marketing!  Great branding!  Know your audience!  Give 'em what they want!

But "brand" yourself a "MOTHER"?  Write a blog aimed at other mothers?  Provide ideas, products, and services to women just like you?  Pardon me while I roll my eyes and write you out of the universe.

So, while it's unlikely that you'll find many dewy-eyed comparisons of wiping snot out of your hair to the cleansing powers of repentance over here in my Backordered corner of the blogosphere, I think you should know that it's only because I'm not very good at writing stuff like that.

But I am not ashamed that I was a mother -- a Mommy -- long before I was a blogger.  I may be standing on the back row, tossing peanuts down your shirt and hiding behind the potted fern, but I want you to know, I'm right here with you.  You're doing a good thing.  You're swell gals.

And I'm proud to be one of you.

(Now, got any suggestions on how to get Silly String off a twelve-foot ceiling?)

30 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Did she delete your comment? I don't see it.

And that's funny you mentioned Harry Reid, because I was thinking, as I was reading this post, "Wow, here goes DeNae being controversial again! Hope she mentions Harry Reid, waterboarding, and Justin Beiber!"

I have mixed feelings about Mommy Blogger. I agree that it has a negative connotation. Love your thought provoking post.

Momza said...

I'm not sure what I am in the bloggernacle...but at home, I'm just Momza, and while I would like to be
"The Queen of Everything" most days,
there are some days I'd settle for "The Queen of Absolutely-Nothing-of Value" and just blend into the wallpaper.
Labels-shmabels. Be what you are--it's so much easier that way.

AS Amber said...

She must have deleted your comment because I didn't see it, either.

I'm trying to come up with a fantastic comment. I've backspaced a million times. I guess I just want to say I agree with you!

There. That was easy enough.

Lara said...

I don't get it, either. It's a little ridiculous. And all these people who are up in arms about mommy bloggers have obviously failed to notice how many of them there are, and that we like each other. Who cares if "they" don't like me?

That said, there is a brand of mommy blogging that I can't handle reading, which is endless pictures of the kids and posts that are pages long about every little thing the kids did today. (And yes, I realize that my blog has turned into that this summer). I don't mind when it's someone I know in real life, but I probably won't read that blog otherwise.

Kimberly said...

I find the whole label issue really tiring. I mean, why does what we're called have to matter so much...isn't it about who we are, blah blah blah.

What it comes down to for me, is that mindless judging is never cool (mindful judging, well now, that's something else altogether). The world is lazy, and labels allow people to judge without going to much effort. This, annoys me greatly.

tammy said...

I think being called a 'Mommyblogger' would depend on who was doing the calling.

I was just wondering how I was going to get the cobwebs down from my 20 ft. ceilings. I guess I won't try shooting them down with silly string.

T said...

good luck with the silly string... just be sure to get it off before it leaves a stain on your paint.

I'm not even sure what lovely title goes before "blogger" in my little universe... Mommy works, but I rarely write much about motherhood, is "random blogger" a good enough brand?

and hey, it's all good, ManOfTheHouse had to call to get me to turn away from the Disney Channel that day too.

Kazzy said...

I am a mom and I am a blogger, but I don't always mix the 2. I came into blogging when my oldest was already an adult, so I haven't used much space up talking specifics about my kids. I DO talk about my kids if it has something to do with me and my thoughts or feelings that day. Me, me, me.

I am Me Me Blogger I guess.

RevSharon said...

I loved your post about this! I'm the proud mama of a (never called her this before) mommy blogger. She is an awesome blogger at http://anktangle.blogspot.com. So, I guess that makes me a granny blogger.

Some of us bloggers are not looking for a big audience, just a place of self-expression. My daughter and her mommy friends are writing about things that are important to them and sharing that experience with each other and others who happen along. I can relate to her better as a "mommy blogger" than a "mommy shopper" or "mommy whiner"!

LKP said...

humperdink! humperdink! humperdink!

(sorry, couldn't resist. the PB enthusiast in me has been ready to explode since hitting that part in your post!)

i didn't see your comment either. huh.

as for blogging, i just blog. our blog started as a way to keep our extended family apprised of our happenings while we lived a state away. that was '05. since then it's morphed into my journal. that's it. i advertise nothing (except maybe my photog skills, and even then i don't advertise. that blog's just where i put snippets from recent shoots). i glue no popsicle sticks together. i am a mom. i am a blogger. but always a mom first, and never both together...atleast not in the way of trying to sell anything to any other moms.

if there's content about my family, so be it. count yourselves lucky, i say. simply put, it used to be soooo taboo to read anyone's diary or journal. so, if it's out there on my blog, then those who read should at pay me at least the respect of it being just that: my personal thoughts, things i'm excited about, events that have transpired, & people who matter. not everyone receives an embossed invitation into my inner-sanctum. just sayin'.

does that make as much sense out here as it did in my head?

as for silly string, yeah....don't know what to do about it THAT high up there. t's right, don't let it linger too long or it will absolutely stain.

ya know, that lady might have been so irked....because she wasn't important enough to be mentioned in these blogs she's haranguing on, so she had to go stir the pot just to get her 15 minutes!
i totally get it now. wow.

p.s.
i'm totally with ya on the name thing. i'm more worried that people say/spell my name right than what they think of me as a blogger. =)

LKP said...

p.p.s.
THAT being said, i so don't worry about my name anymore either....in fact i'll just about answer to fred.
point being, the label doesn't matter. what matters is respecting each blogger as an individual.

DeNae said...

I don't know if she deleted my comment, but in a way I hope she did. I was ticked off and I said so, which is something I am actually kind of opposed to. If you don't like what someone is writing, just move on to what you do like. So if the author of that post comes by, accept my apologies for my bad manners.

Lara, you said exactly what I'm thinking. I'll be honest: There are a number of bloggers with whom I have developed a relationship, and I'll usually pop by to see what they're blogging about. But if it's "How I found redemption in my 93rd dirty diaper", I don't finish reading.

But I have enough sensitivity to realize that my choosing not to read isn't HER problem; it's her blog, and she has every right to put what she feels is important into it.

What I resent about this "Mommy Blogger" attitude is that it seems to be the only "brand" that isn't allowed the same field as all the other brands. If I had an etsy shop that sold children's clothing, or baby blankets, I'd set up a blog and join a community that wants what I have to offer. That it would be a Mommy Blogging community is no different than if I were selling hammers and nails to a community of Handyman Bloggers.

Shayna said...

Hi --- I'm "that blogger" who questioned the value of the term Mommy Blogger, and I'm proud to say that I did not delete your comment --- if it did not show up that may be due to loading issues, or an over-enthusiastic spam filter... but not an inability on my part to listen to viewpoints different than my own.

And while I have considered what you said, I still think that using the term "Mommy" connotes a fixation on small children - and if that's not your focus, then there are more accurate, appropriate, and inviting labels. But hey, like I said, that's just my viewpoint.

Thanks for stopping by Life: Forward and leaving such a thoughtful comment!

Marianne said...

Silly string on a twelve foot ceiling? Sounds to me like you need a teenager with some mild dish soap solution and a really tall ladder!

(LOVE your blog)

Cheeseboy said...

Dang, I was so hoping to see that comment. Any chance you could rephrase here?

Where is the backlash against daddy bloggers? Oh yeah. There's only me.

I've thought about writing about being a dad and dad related BS, but really I don't find it all that interesting to write about. However, that does not stop me from peddling daddy related gear like a paddle for spanking or a copy of "How to be an Great Dad while Playing Golf with your Buddies."

DeNae said...

Shayna, welcome, and thank you for defending your position so kindly. Despite what Kristina says, I really don't go looking for controversy. And believe it or not, I agree with maybe 50% of what you say. I absolutely do not agree with the idea that women who make no secret of their full-time mother status are somehow an embarrassment to other women, or that they somehow make it harder for women to climb the corporate ladder or have a career in public service. It's not my job to make it easier for some anonymous woman to get elected to the Senate, or be promoted in her profession. That's HER job.

And CB, this post is essentially what I wrote in my comment, but, you know, stretched out.

Shayna said...

DeNae - My issue is with those who look down on those women who have opted for a variety of reasons to work while being parents... unfortunately judgment cuts both ways.

As far as Mommy Blogger goes, as I have said in my blog, "Mommy" is a nickname, a casual term of affection used among family members. How many parents introduce themselves as "Joey's Mommy" instead of "Joey's Mom" or "Joey's Mother"? It would be the equivalent of my calling my blog a "girly blog" instead of one that focuses on women's issues. Perhaps I am more formal than most, but I read so many blogs by women who in one breath call themselves "Mommy Bloggers" and in the next wonder why no one is reading them exclusively for their beautiful photography or something else unrelated to the title they are using.

Kristina P. said...

Well, I do think that Shayna is a class act, so good for her.

Are you sure you don't want to tackle the immigration law, Prop 8, "The Real Housewives of Name That City?"

Love you!

DeNae said...

Shayna, I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment. I was raised by a working mother - and she was a damn good mother, I might add. And I have a number of friends who are professionals of all sorts, from teachers to attorneys to doctors. And they also are doing a great job raising their kids. So when I hear (or read) comments about working women somehow failing in their duties as mothers, it really ticks me off on a very personal level.

And you're right: I introduce myself as a teacher, or as a writer, or as "that lady you invited to speak to your women's group", depending on the nature of the encounter. I'm really only likely to introduce myself as "Vanessa's mother" to people who know her, like her friends or her parole officer.

And maybe that's what we're really talking about here. In life, we wear a lot of hats, and labels don't really do 'who we are' justice. But in any environment where you are looking for a 'niche', you need to be sure to identify yourself accurately.

(Would now be a good time to mention that my kids are 23, 20, 17, and 14, and that I almost never write about, read, or spend time in the 'mommy blogging' world? I just don't want to see those women who choose to identify themselves in this way - and who are prepared to live with both the opportunities and limitations that a single label have to offer - told that somehow that choice doesn't deserve respect. What does NOT deserve respect is, as you point out, the whining that comes when they call themselves one thing and then try to market themselves as something else. But then, I've never had much patience with whining, anyway.)

JBSquared said...

Boy, I just love me some polite, rational, mature debating. :) DeNae, I think both you and Shayna have definitely made some valid points. I've been intrigued by this discussion of something that I didn't even realize was an issue. For my money, I think the only reason the term "Mommy Blogger" might be looked down on is because, unfortunately in our society motherhood is often looked down on. But when I, a stay-at-home mom of 3 year old twins whose day really is filled with macaroni crafts and sandbox digging, want to read about other women out there who might have something in common with me and be able to share my pains and celebrate my successes on a personal level (not to mention offer helpful solutions to my everyday issues) then by all means, call it what it is - a MOMMY BLOG! Because that's exactly what I'm looking for. It shouldn't matter if you're called Mommy, Mom, Mama, Mo, Yo, Hey You, or Where's My Lunch? So long as what you're writing is insightful and helpful to your audience, it should be respected as such. And some of those Mommy's are darn good writers. I guess I just don't see why a person can't be both (a mommy and a good writer). Like you said, DeNae, any label only defines part of who we are.

Baby Sister said...

Wow...her post was just...wow...

NatureGirl said...

You do all Mommy Bloggers proud. I loved what you said to her. I wanna punch her in the face.

Jessica said...

Who knew there were so many issues with the blogging world. I must be so out of it...wouldn't be the first time. I just blog to keep my mom, grandma and a deployed husband happy and filled with usless information and pictures about the kids they never see.

You're hysterical that's why I read your blog, not what label you attach to yourself.

Marian said...

Thanks for the post. I clicked on the link you had and it took me right to your comment, so I don't know why it didn't work for the other readers. I actually also left a comment because of my feelings after reading the original post. I pretty much agreed with you. I am a "mommy." It is a very important, critical role in society. There should be no disrespect at all for that title! I blog about my life and raising my sweet little boy. If you don't like it, don't read it. But don't disrespect it, either!

Rebecca said...

Oooh, you controversial woman, you!

I love it.

I don't brand myself as a mommy blogger, because like another commenter, I don't post lots of pictures and write solely about my kids. I do write about them sometimes, but I've been trying to find other things to write about.

They haven't been doing that many funny things lately--unless you count my just-turned-one-year-old learning to stick his hand into his poopy diaper today.

Nope, I chose to write about old crushes.

I've missed your blog! Now give me some more of that hilarious DeNae humor. I need it.

Braden said...

Just for the record, I saw your post over at Shayna's site. It's there for all to see.

I have a lot of thoughts, many of which are probably of no interest to anyone but myself. But my main thought is this: ultimately, don't we all blog for ourselves? Yes, it's great to get lots of comments or links or followers, but blogs are as popular as they are because they are ultimatley as indvidual as the blogger. If I (or anyone else) were to blog in a way that brought lots of hits but wasn't fulfilling or honest or interesting to myself, it would be shallow success.

I blog because I want to record my thoughts. I hope someone else might be inspired or amused or intrigued or something by them. But that's just icing.

DeNae said...

Yay. Isn't it great that my comment is over there, all grumpy and - at one point - so badly written I marvel that my keyboard didn't disintegrate under my fingers as I typed it?

Shayna, I really wish I hadn't been so grouchy. Regardless of where we stand on this subject, I showed no class when I spouted off like that.

InkMom said...

Late again!

I was even late to the whole blog thing in the first place . . . and by the time I arrived here, the Mommy blogger as a pejorative was already in full force. And it was clear that, whether I agreed with the popular perception of the term or not, if I called myself a Mommy blogger, I would be limiting the scope of my blog. And let's be honest here. My blog is so incredibly awesome that EVERYONE should be reading it, mommy or not.

I think all this says about me is that I'm not willing to stand up for principles if it means my audience might be smaller. Hmmm. Not so good, I think.

And here's one thing Shayna missed: she calls the mommy blogger tack "narrow" -- but, really, how narrow can it be? It's the second (after daughters, of course) largest female demographic in the world. It encompasses a gig that lasts for at least 18 years. It covers the most broad set of methods, experiences, and skill sets of any other occupation I could ever fathom. Narrow? I don't think so. And if you fail to read my blog, which may or may not contain the occasional photo of my children or musing about my experiences raising them but also might not, because you are too narrow in your focus to include what I have to say in your scope, it's your loss.

(If I knew how to write a raspberry, here is where I would put it.)

Anna said...

Oh. Really? Most of the article didn't bother me- perhaps the term Mommy doesn't inspire non-mommies to respect us. Big Deal. Titles, labels, non-important things. But to imply that the role of Mommy is secondary in respectability to the title of person in office???? You go DeNae. Good luck with the string.

Rebecca said...

I like what Kazzy said...I think I am a "me" blogger. I started the blog as a way for family to see the kids, but it has ended up being more of a way for me to take others with me on this crazy life. An online journal with the names and places changed to protect the not-so-innocent. I didn't know it was a bad thing to be called a mommy blogger. That being said, I like to read blogs that give me a look into my friends' lives, letting me see their hopes and dreams and special things about them that go beyond their kids.
Thanks for the post...good as always!