Monday, 12 March 2007

On Blogging (1)

This is a response to Gingajoy's Hot Blogs on Hot Action, and Her Bad Mother's I am the Cheese, I am posting this very tentative response.

In the late 1960's, when my children were born and until they were in school, we lived in a small housing development half way up the Niagara escarpment. Most of my neighbours were a lot older than I was. My community was other young wives and mothers of my husband's fellow graduate students who lived all over the city. I felt very isolated. My lifeline was the telephone, I also wrote a lot of letters and the arrival of the mail was a big event in my day. I would have killed for the 'mommy blogosphere'.

Now I live in the country at the end of eight kilometres of very bad road, a long way from anwhere else. I have good friends and great neighbours with whom I exchange news, gossip and information. But except at that level I have no one to talk with. Having written that, I realize that it sounds very strange and that I had better expand on it. I think that by 'talk with' I mean 'exchange ideas, develop concepts, explore these ideas in depth.' The sort of free-wheeling, interleaved discussion spiked with laughter that I remember from my undergraduate days and a few other happy intervals where I was with a group of people who both enjoyed and were capable of that sort of conversation. That sounds so, so snobbish but I don't mean it to be. It's the same sort of isolation that a chess player, say, would feel in a group of bridge players. Not better, but different.

I've looked on the internet before and not found the kind of interaction I wanted. News, gossip and information, lots of it. Political discussion ad nauseum. Lots of sex talk of a type that I find really boring. A lot of kids whom I find really incomprehensible. (I've got two teenaged male step grandkids; guys, I do try!) Then I found 'the mommy blogs'.
GingaJoy says " it would be very easy (and interesting) to do a content analysis of our blogs to show that we are presuming a shared knowledge among our readers (related to kids, breastfeeding, sex, etc). This will reveal a great deal about our perceived sense of audience and also our community."
Even though I'm a senior grandmother, I still feel empathy with this group. I'm a North American, university degreed, privileged woman who is awed by the eloquence, depth of knowledge and feeling in the blogs I am reading. And I'm totally fascinated by the networking.

The temptation to jump in and write comments was too much for me. That's where I started. One of you whom I know personally commented that I should start my own blog. So I did. Why I did so is outlined in my first post, Busy as a Beaver. Although I am still feeling a bit like the stranger at the wedding, I think I'm already an addict.

Especially if I have now figured out tabs AND links. And, uttering a little prayer to deus ex machina, she hit the publish button.


  1. And thank you, Mary for clicking on that Publish Button. This was wonderful. You know, my first son was born five years ago and he was very challenging (colic, 24/7) It threw me for a loop. As far as I knew there was not a "mommy" community out there to talk with even just those short years ago. I am far from home (my family lives in England) and not many of my friends had children. I'd have loved this community then.

    This is also one reason why this whole thing boggles me--it's so new and it's so *enormous.*

    Thank you for sharing your insights--it explains so eloquently what we are feeling about the connectivity so many of experience here. If you've not read Mad Hatter's two posts, you should--I see a lot of shared sentiments:

    I also began the whole blogging business when I realized I was hijacking way too many people's comments sections. Becoming a writer/blogger emerged from that engagement, I realize, and not just because I wanted to "put my writing out there." Actually, I wanted to be part of the conversation also (and I only realize this now, as I remember).

    I like this phrase: "The sort of free-wheeling, interleaved discussion spiked with laughter that I remember from my undergraduate days and a few other happy intervals where I was with a group of people who both enjoyed and were capable of that sort of conversation."

    So many of us are recapturing or discovering that right now, and I love this characterization of what we are doing.

  2. I love your writing! First week of blogging and you are a pro. Keep up the excellent work.

  3. I've been wondering lately to what extent the mommy blogsplosion is the result of pressures unique to this era: women having children comparatively late in life (and having to work out what that means to their identity), women feeling isolated from family support, women faced with a flood of contradictory and entirely unhelpful parenting advice books...

    Mostly, though, I think that blogging allows for a kind of conversation about motherhood that a certain number of women would have jumped at the chance to participate in at any time (a sense that your post confirms). There's a limit to how deep you can go at a coffee-date or a play-date - blogging allows for a social exploration of ideas that is more profound than what we can achieve in casual conversation.

  4. Thanks for the kind words.
    I see a common thread here of woman far from their former support network and looking for a conversation. There's also the 'stranger on the train' thing -- would we be going as deep with someone we know in nonblog life?

    As a quick aside, there are a lot of us who are listing L.M. Montgomery's writing as favourites and the 'kindred spirit' concept is used as a tag. Maybe that's not an aside, hmm?

  5. I think I love you.

    I am so glad someone nudged you into starting a blog. And I love what you said about wishing you had had a "mommy blog" world when your kids were small. It throws me when people dive into blogs (any of them, any subject) just rarin' to pick each other apart. I love that you can come and go as you please...find the folks who make sense and keep your spirits up and make you feel so much more MOORED and sane in this wild world.

    And thank you for your kind words over at b'eaw. So happy to have made your acquaintance, lady.

  6. Well, welcome to Bloggy Land. You're certainly off to a great start. It's both comforting and a bit sad to hear that feeling isolated as a mom is not a new issue.

    I moved to a new part of the state about a year and a half ago and have no family or close friends near by. I work full time outside the home and have therefore made a few mom friends through work, but it is awfully hard to have the kind of discussions we have online on a regular basis. The "Mommy blog" community has been such a wonderful outlet. I'm glad you've discovered it as well.