motherhood mountaineering

Why is it that every few months someone gets it in their head to go on a rant against motherhood? It's as if these people forget that they actually have mothers and in most cases are themselves mothers too. This week's target was none other than 'the mommy blogger'. Her crime you ask? Taking feminism a step back because she has discovered a hidden talent for making crafts out of paint swatches or finding the best homemade organic baby food mix for her fussy little eater and subsequently blogging about it.

In her Huffpo piece this past week, Amana Manori of The Purple Fig says that the problem (as she sees it) is this:

"... many of these blogs perpetuate gender stereotypes and generalize female behaviour. Intentionally or unintentionally, many mommy bloggers do one of two things. First, many mommy bloggers may be living very fulfilling and well-rounded lives that you don't get to see through their blogs. However, when all they talk about is such things as making homemade organic-only baby food, they disregard these other aspects of their lives resulting in a partial portrayal of motherhood.

On the flip side, it is true that some mommy bloggers are solely occupied with such tasks as canning baby food yet; their blogs suggest their lives are deeply fulfilling and they wouldn't want to be doing anything else. This type of blog not only perpetuates the false notion that women are only happy to be in the home and would prefer to spend their days fussing over things related to the house; but also, inadvertently isolates other mothers who don't measure up."

To me this sounds like nothing more than another mom feeling some kind of inadequacy in her life and looking for someone else to blame for that. Oh and for page views, she wraps it all up with keywords like anti-feminism. Correct me if I am wrong but anyone who starts a post with the words, "I consider myself a feminist." and then proceeds to condemn other women for their choices, seems to me, decidedly NOT very feminist.

Aside from that though, let's consider her argument for a minute. Is it really so bad to fully immerse oneself into a new position or role? Would we expect anything less from someone in the workforce starting a new job, or managing a new project? Why, oh why, are mothers {and specifically the stay-at-home type} always put into a completely different (undervalued, yet overly judged) category than anyone else, male or female?

Think about it. No other group or subsection of society has so much scrutiny placed on them, so much pressure to NOT SCREW THINGS UP, than mothers. From the moment of conception, everything we eat, everything we do to ourselves is up for comment and general concern. That is a lot of pressure folks! And even if you do manage to DO everything perfectly, eat all the right foods, take all the right vitamins, rest, work out, whatever, none of that is a guarantee that something won't go wrong.

And then you give birth (in whatever way is best for you or you know the most about) to this new little human. And the pressure mounts and life as you have known it, changes forever. Having done this twice, I have this to say to Ms. Manori, YES, everything I was before that moment, the woman I was, Natasha A.B. (ante-baby), flew right out the window.

And then I became MORE.

I became a true citizen of the earth, with newfound cares and thoughts for more than just me and my life and comforts. I will be the first to admit that before I had kids I was selfish. I lived my life for me and my concern for others was not as great. I had the tunnel vision of a lot of DINC (double income no children), upwardly mobile thirty-somethings. Yes, my husband and I were planning for a family, but we had things on our bucket list to check off first and even then, we really did not think that life would be that much different once kids entered the picture. He would take a few weeks off, I would go back to work after six months and life would be peachy keen.

HA!

Having a child is akin to coming out of a very long tunnel under a mountain {pun TOTALLY intended}. One one side of the mountain, you have the hilly (pre-baby) side. Everything is nice and pretty and the trails are relatively easy to manoeuvre around. You can take long leisurely walks and picnic by the stream whenever you want. Then, one day, you decide to try going over to the other side. You get in your car, turn on your lights and enter the tunnel and drive for a while. After a bit, you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and you come out of it and...

BAM!!!

The terrain has completely changed.

Now you are faced with this jagged, wild, uncharted territory. Their are no easy trails in this side of the mountain, you have to hack through some pretty thick brush and make your own. Sometimes you are going to go the wrong way and end up at the edge of a cliff or up against a wall of rock. Other times you will blaze a new trail to the most amazing waterfall full of rainbows and find treasures you did not know existed. Either way, you learn. You learn what works, what doesn't and what it takes to keep going.

Along the way, you may also learn that you are really, really good at things that previously did not exist in your life {on the other side of the mountain}. For some that may be uncovering their inner craft-onista and getting your grandma's old sewing machine or knitting needles out. For others, like myself, it may be discovering a whole new world of parenting through babywearing and building a community around that. And yes, for some it is even about turning their kitchens into tiny testing grounds for every conceivable mix of pureed organic baby food.

And because we live in an era of online sharing and often find our parenting "villages" or community through our internet connections, some moms like to blog about these new things that they have discovered about themselves and on this new terrain. What Ms. Manori failed to recognize in her post, is that for some of these mommy bloggers, their crafting and puree-ing and babywearing and sharing of these activities through their blogs and social media, leads some of them to be incredible business women, entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities.

I don't have to look far to find the likes of such mommies in my own community. We have an organic-food-pureeing mom to thank for the wonderful, and very successful Baby Gourmet line of products that often satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. Or the ever crafty DIY Mommy, who took her craftiness and creativity to global levels with the creation of Golly Gee Baby, a kids clothing line that is now manufactured with a fair trade cooperative in Nicaragua. This list goes on and on and really, there is no shortage of "mommy bloggers" out there who are making their mark in this world and forging new trails on this side of the mountain.

So, no, I do not think that mommy bloggers are not a step back for feminism. I think they are brave mothers navigating their way across the rough terrain of the Motherhood Mountain Range.

And sometimes they leave breadcrumbs {or blog posts} for those of us following behind to help us on our own journeys across the range too.

Motherhood Mountains

The incredible Koolau Mountain Range, Oahu, Hawaii. 

Happy Trailblazing,

natasha~