Occasionally I have to take a break from mommy-blogs.
Why? Because they make me anxious.
I know, you’re thinking, how could *I* be anxious about parenting? I’m the laziest (non-negligent) parent on the planet and my kids are disgustingly perfect (though of course you note that I would never use the adverb, “disgustingly,” I would say they’re “awesomely” perfect or something [actually I would say "amazingly," but I grant you our frequent use of "awesome"]). Both of these are true.
But mommy-blog anxiety gets even to me. Culture is *that* strong. There’s only so many blogs on having to lose the baby-weight, worrying about what/how much baby is eating or how much screen time toddler is getting or worrying about whether something is too early or too late or too long or whateverthe[expletive deleted] before even I start questioning if these are things I should be worrying about and are my kids really as wonderful as they seem [spoiler alert: they are!] and if so, what’s wrong with them [rational answer: nothing!].
Now, I’m not talking about blogs where the kids or parents have actual real problems+. [Also, I'm not singling out any one blog right now. This unnecessary anxiety seems to be a contagion that is going through a huge number of mommy blogs right now.] I’m talking about blogs where the kids are seemingly perfect, and the mom is seemingly perfect, but instead of acknowledging that fact, it’s anxiety this and worry that. If their seeming perfection is wrong, then maybe I’m wrong about mine.
Of course, I’m not. Even when the skinny girl complains about how fat she is, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my normal weight. But (just like in college with the weight thing) I can only stand so many repeated hits before it starts to get to me. The patriarchy is expert at using the virtual paper cut as a primary weapon. It perfected the ton-of-feathers attack. Any one blog or post or NYTimes article can be brushed off, or given a supportive comment in response. At some point part of me wants to say, “CALM the [expletive] down! You’re working for the patriarchy!” But that’s not supportive so I try not to, especially since it’s not any one post’s fault or even any one blogger’s fault– it’s the culmination of many posts and blogs with the same message to be more anxious. I get grumpy because the patriarchy does that to me.
And you may be thinking, “You’re grumpy because deep down you know things aren’t really that perfect.” But that’s not true. Deep down I know they really are, because I have huge trust in my family. I have trust that even if there’s bumps and growing pains, that they’ll figure things out for themselves even if I’m not doing whatever is “optimal” for them. I trust that there is no “optimal,” that there’s just “different” and “sub-optimal” is another word for “learning experience” (or, as my mom would say, “character building”). I trust that my husband and I love our kids and will always be there for them and that they know that. I don’t have to trust me to know deep down that my kids are doing great, I have to trust them and my husband and that we’ll tackle the challenges as they come.
And I’m sure there will be challenges and we’ll work through them. But if there aren’t any right now, I don’t need to @#$#@ing create any.
I could do one of three things. 1. I could comment super-supportive calming words on these blogs in an attempt to spread confidence (though of course this sometimes backfires because tone is difficult in writing among other reasons), 2. I could do lots of introspection and re-affirm my core confidence and awesomeness, or 3. I could avoid the anxiety paper-cuts by not going to those blogs. Guess which option is the least work and most conducive to getting two more papers and a grant proposal out before summer ends?++
So… currently taking a break from mommy blogs, at least until swim-suit season is over.
+And we are *certainly* not talking about things like post-partum depression.
++Also note that we are not blaming people for working through their anxieties via the media of blogging. It’s the patriarchy that is the ultimate root cause of that kind of unnecessary anxiety. But that doesn’t mean we have to read about it if it has negative effects on our own well-being.