Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Don't Stick Me in a Box

If there's anything I hate, it's stereotypes and being labeled.

Chances are if you try to label me, I'll purposely do something absolutely opposite just to piss you off, because I'm just like that. I don't like to be limited, to be told, or for people to assume I'm a certain way.

I am surprising like that.

Anyway so awhile ago there was this article in the NY Times that talked about Mom bloggers, which has been discussed at length by numerous blogs (which I fully admit that I have not read. Or, at least not most of them. ) The consensus is that the article only perpetuated stereotypes and was, at best, dismissive of mom bloggers.

Of course being the gal I am, I couldn't help but also add my perspective.

Being one of the few Mom bloggers out of those I've met who is parenting a teenager (and one with a disability at that), I find myself in a unique position. The article clearly assumes that all Mom bloggers are those with little ones, who are being ignored while Mommy "builds her brand".

Wait there just a sec. Isn't our job to raise happy, healthy, productive, independent kids? Should mom be there at every waking second to respond to every single demand her children might have? What about when they are older? Shouldn't Mom still be there, but not be quite as involved? We've even coined a phrase for parents who are too involved in their kid's lives and criticize the Moms who can't have a life of their own. We talk about those helicopter parents and tell them they need to get a life, but then when Moms do, we say that they are neglectful?

How the hell is any Mom supposed to know what the balance is with all those mixed messages?

Parenting changes. As Jake grew, I found one day that he seriously didn't need me even remotely as much as he did when he was little, and I needed to get a life. Do something for ME.

I chose blogging because it's something I can do to flex my creative skills at home, it's free, and I can still be around to toss a load of laundry in or get dinner started. While our kids are important (obviously), Moms need to have an outlet just for them. They need connections, community, and someone to talk about this parenting gig with because sometimes it's hard, because it's a healthy thing to do.

I never hear of Dads being criticized for playing golf every Saturday, or having a guy's night out because wow, he's working so hard. He's the breadwinner, he needs a break. All you Moms that are out there have it so easy that your break should be your weekly trip to the grocery store.

I call bullshit on that one.

Well New York Times, Moms need a break too. There's many women who not only made blogging an outlet, but a creative way to help support their families. We should be celebrating their ingenuity, their creativity, their resourcefulness, not tell them they should just shut up and go back to parenting. Doing so is just sexist, plain and simple.

Then there is the subject of pitches and perks that Mom bloggers are raking in. *cough* What the article fails to mention is that for every blogger that is getting one of those all expense paid trips, there are probably hundreds who don't see a pitch at all. I've been blogging for almost 4 years, and one of the latest pitches in my in box? An offer for a free book, in exchange for a review. Does that bother me? Not really. I'm not about the whole "building my brand" thing, or looking for some self validation. I was published long before I began blogging, and the money that I do make isn't from my blog, but rather free lance writing. It's not a huge amount either, but enough to buy a week's worth of groceries. Groceries that, in turn, become meals that I write about over at Recipes From the Cookie Jar and on Everything Mom. Meals that I work damn hard to research, put together, photograph, and write about. Sometimes I'm cooking and cleaning up when it's the last thing I feel like doing, and writing into the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, I believe I should be compensated for that. Not to be would be craziness.

Blogging has been a door, a creative outlet, or a resume of sorts. I have received freelance writing offers because of my blog. Should I get a pitch that I think something would interest my readers, I'll think about it. Am I going to chase companies for it? Likely not. I'm here to entertain, not to hock laundry detergent.

I can buy my own laundry detergent, thanks.

Besides, it's obvious that companies are more about pitching to the stereo typical mom blogger with small kids and not the ones with teens or special needs children. I'm realistic, too.

My last complaint is the insinuation that all we Moms talk about is frivolous, stupid things, like tutu making, of all things.

I dare you, NY Times, to say that to Parenting Magazine, Canadian Parents, Family Fun, Today's Parent, or Canadian Living, many of whom, have articles similar to a tutu making tutorial. There are lots of magazines out there who publish things that I think are stupid (looking at YOU, tabloids), but nobody takes a shot at them. No, it's those silly Mommies that need to shut up and stay at home because they just don't know anything, anyway.

Let me tell you, there are all kinds of brilliant, capable women out there who blog and I am fiercely proud to be part of their community. Having children doesn't make them suddenly not worth listening to. A bevy of children or none, stay at home or working outside of the home, homeschooling or public school, vegetarian or not, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it doesn't matter.

We're women. We're writers.

Don't stick us in a box.

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