Liz Jones may have nothing nice to say about Mummy Bloggers in her article in the FailWhale on Sunday; but I, along with many people, get so much out of blogs that I’d say they’ve been a sanity saver.
I’ve been blogging since 2006. It all started very inauspiciously in a quiet backwater of Livejournal; when I started to jot down what I was doing, what I was observing and how things were going in my life. I wasn’t out to set the world on fire, it was simply a way of sharing what was going on with family, friends and anyone else who wanted to read it. That was six years ago and along the way I’ve written about having emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, struggling with being massively overweight, having depression, struggling with insomnia, low self esteem and being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnoea.
While many people would view such writing as massively self-indulgent – laying your life open so that you can reap sympathy from a sycophantic army of followers – in reality, that never happened. Yes, of course people are going to say that they’re sorry you’re going through a tough time; but equally there were those voices saying ‘what are you going to do about this issue?’ ‘Are you looking at this problem objectively?‘ or even ‘Rachel, just pull yourself together woman, you’re being an arse.‘ I have no problem with any of that and especially the latter, because it would frequently come from a woman who I admire enormously.
Over the last six years I’ve developed as a writer and what I post these days has more to do with being an encouragement and a support to women rather than seeking help for my own issues. I try to post more objectively and I hope that blogs like mine can be useful, even if it’s only for someone to read what I write and say ‘I’m going through exactly the same thing.’ If I write about what I’ve been through then maybe I can help someone else to know that they’re not going through it alone or that they’re not the first person to feel like this.
For instance, I am not a ‘gushy’ Mummy. I did not enjoy being pregnant and after I gave birth I didn’t find myself spewing adjectives to suggest that I was now complete as a woman, simply because I had done this amazing, incredible thing and produced this tiny bundle of gorgeous precious life. Not that my daughter isn’t precious; but I am not one of those women who took to motherhood like a duck to water. I think the phrase you’re looking for is brick to water. I struggled and I cried – a lot. I didn’t sleep, it was a slog, it was hard and there were times when I wondered whether I wasn’t deficient in vital DNA, because I simply patched my daughter’s wounds up and sent her back out to play; I didn’t insist on bandages, cotton wool and cuddles with Mummy. It was only through reaching a wider audience through my blogs that I understood that I wasn’t the only one who felt like this. Phew, I’m not a freak! Well, not much of one.
Equally, I’m not the kind of woman who cares a toss how many children someone has, or even if couples choose to have them at all; mainly because I’ve been on the receiving end of the ‘only the one, dear?’ brigade. Yes, we only had the one; is my lack of fertility / willingness to go through all that again, somehow a crime? I’ll let you suffer with Post-Natal Depression, an ectopic pregnancy and see how you feel about just popping another one out.
Despite Liz Jones’s derision (and let’s face it who gives a stuff what she says, she writes for the Daily FailWhale, the biggest social evil in Britain today); I think bloggers have a vital role in keeping the women of the world on an even keel. Blogs can inform and they can reassure, they can be a place where you can seek help or give help and they can be an oasis of humour in a really bad day; the reassurance that your life is not as bad as the car crash in this blog post.
In 2001 I started a Yahoo email-based group called the League of Domestic Goddesses. We were an international bunch of Mums (and Moms), who all found ourselves at roughly the same stage in life. Using the system of circular emails we used to keep each other updated on how things were going and along the way share a joke or a broken heart. I’m still in touch with many of them; although these days we all hang out on Facebook and some of our little ones are now taller than us and have finished High School. When I started it, it was a reaction to feeling lonely and isolated in a part of the country that I’d just moved to. I didn’t know many people and I didn’t have much confidence to make friends. I believe that’s one of the beauties of the Internet, your friends are now totally portable. You can live in Ampthill or Angola and Amy will still be in Minnesota, Peggy will still be in Washington and Jo will have posted another kick-ass blog and brought the house down. It’s a busy world, we live busy lives and the Internet is just as much our support network as face-to-face friendships; only fools underestimate their importance. I have no idea what sort of person I’d be now if I hadn’t joined an online community; but I know that my life would be all the poorer for not having done it.
Liz Jones may not get us, but that matters not one jot. The main thing is that we get each other and through the medium of blogging we support and tow one other along in this great mad parade of life. The BEST thing about reading blogs as opposed to newspapers, is that you can read them perpetually for free and perhaps that’s what makes the likes of Jones really angry. There isn’t anyone who is going to stick a paywall down on Mother of Reinventions or demand that you subscribe. This is me. I don’t have an axe to grind, a political agenda to kowtow or a fixed number of words to stick to. I’m simply here to say I’ve been there, done that and the kid’s been sick down my t-shirt.
Long Live Women Bloggers!