The mommy blogosphere fills the family life and parenting section of the Internet. These mommy bloggers seem like experts. They have devoted their all to their families. These women are sacrificing time, energy and dreams to build society. Their sacrifice makes possible the continuation of the arts, the sciences, literature, philosophy, technology, governments - anything that requires responsible and intelligent people.
However, mommy blogs will not provide you with the most accurate view of family life. After reading too many mommy blogs, you might believe...
There are mothers who craft, deep clean their homes, cook three beautiful meals, spend meaningful time with each member of their family, throw beautiful birthday parties, and dress to the nines - every single day.
To quote (the 2005 movie, Pride and Prejudice) Elizabeth Bennett, "I never saw such a woman. She would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold."
This misconception is an example of what I like to call "the perfect husband" phenomenon. It goes something like this.
Four wives sit down and talk about why they love their husbands. One woman says she loves her husband's foot rubs. Another woman's husband cooks dinner every night. Another lucky wife receives love poetry from her husband, and the last appreciates that her husband goes on one-on-one outings with the kids. The first wife walks away wishing her husband would help with domestic duties, the second wishes her husband was more romantic, the third wished her husband spent more time with the kids, and the fourth wife is unhappy because she can't remember the last time her husband gave her a foot rub.
Many mommy bloggers have an expertise that is the focus of their blog. Some have cooking blogs, some have parenting blogs, some focus on household management, and some just want to share pictures and funny stories for the grandmas.
"But what about THIS blog?" you wail. "She posts pictures of delicious cupcakes, perfectly-styled children, date ideas, AND promotes her charity."
Yes, but does she do everything on the same day? On the day of the perfect cupcakes, she had a sink full of dishes. On the day of the perfectly-styled children, she didn't shower. On the day of the perfect date, her children watched hours of television.
We might be able to do it all, but not every day.
Motherhood is full of baby smiles, darling outfits and kids who never sass
You can't blame a mother for not wanting to air her dirty laundry (literally) in public. It can be much more fun to blog about the funny comment of a preschooler, or how your two-month-old just rolled over.
But, the reader might not realize the truth. There are baby smiles, but sometimes they come right after the baby spits up all over the darling outfit. The well-behaved child will do something you don't approve of. And for every cherubic photograph, there are 20 blurry pictures and 10 pictures of the little angel screaming or grimacing.
Life is hard, funny, messy, boring, exciting, long and short. Why should parenting be different?
Motherhood is an endless drudgery of dirty diapers, no sleep and tantrums in Toys R Us
In response to the picture perfect mommy blogs, the Internet has seen a movement of bloggers wanting to tell the "truth" about parenting. This can be a wonderful support group for people who already have children. A frazzled mom can sit down and read another parent's account of an eventful diaper change. Suddenly, she doesn't feel alone, and life feels manageable again.
But, parents are not the only readers, and the exaggerations that make the stories humorous are less clear to someone who hasn't been there. The reader is now ready to take drastic measures to ensure childlessness.
Toddlers are fascinated with the contents of their diapers. New babies wake up in the night. If you take a tired 5-year-old to Toys R Us and walk him past the newest Lego set, a tantrum is likely. But children do grow up.
Even in the moment, it is better than the blogs. There are experiences to which words just can't do justice. Most parents don't even try. Some parents do share these moments, but their words almost always fall flat.
In a movie called, "The Back-Up Plan," one man asks another what it's like to be a parent. The father responds that it is "awful, awful, awful" but then "something amazing" happens, and it makes everything else worth it. I don't entirely agree with this character (I don't feel the word "awful" is accurate or helpful), but there is truth in his words. Families require difficult things and gross things, big sacrifices and small ones. And then something small, simple and miraculous happens. In that moment, it is all worth it.
I'm not going to call on mommy bloggers to change. There is nothing wrong with sharing the beautiful parts of life in the spirit of preserving memories and uplifting others. There is also nothing wrong with needing a place to constructively vent and relate to other parents. There are extremes on both sides, but moderation, humility and a sense of humor can maintain balance.
I am asking that readers of mommy blogs keep perspective. These blogs can be a great resource, but they are hurtful when read with the wrong eyes. These blogs contain real stories from real people, but they are a form of fiction. The experiences become garbled, and important pieces are lost.
So read the mommy blogs. Read for the recipes. Read for the advice. Read for the cute stories and darling kids. Read for a glimpse of a different life.
Just know that the mommy blogs don't get it all right, and so, in some ways, they have it all wrong.