Bring on the sanctimommy gripes, the trolls, and the bullying. I just don’t care. This is my rant post today. As a mother who blogs… I dislike the momblogger moniker. Why momblogger? Why not just blogger? Anyway, I digress… I am really sick of what I have observed as some common content issues in the writing of some moms who type for webzines.
My dense but interesting (to me, anyway) academic reading has given way to reading blog posts on motherhood and parenting these days. I enjoy reading other bloggers’ narratives of their lives with children. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I get misty-eyed, and at other times I either nod my head quietly as I read, in agreement, or utter a silent thank you to the Universe that it wasn’t me or my kids in whatever situation the blogger described. No matter what my reaction is, I appreciate others’ points of views and honestly embrace the live and let live philosophy. Always have.
For those who know where to look, there exist phenomenal writers who write about motherhood and parenting in a way that absolutely touches your heart. These writers write with conviction and give a voice to the many who may not be able to express themselves as artfully or candidly. There are writers – mothers – who write about incidents from which they learned something about themselves or their kids, who share honest this-happened-to-me or my kids kinds of stories, who take us on personal journeys of motherhood to which most of us can relate or even if we can’t, at least sympathize with, merely based on the power and quality of their content and writing.
Then there are writers – also mothers – who find humor in the daily struggles of motherhood, who creatively convert tears and tantrums into laugh-out-loud scenes that seem to emerge straight out of sitcoms. This kind of writing requires a certain knack and some women have finessed into this genre of writing with ease and perfection.
My rule # 1 as a mother is to not judge other mothers or fathers. No. Matter. What (except in one case – more on that later). Lately, however, it seems that no matter how much I try, I cannot shake off some feelings of hmm…not sure what to call it – disgust, anger, annoyance, irritation… at the ways in which some mothers choose to write their stories. This is where the third kind of writers – also moms, comes in.
These are people who write for online parenting magazines or meta-blogs that privilege sardonic voices. These are posts full of expletives and caustic comebacks to those who dare comment about the use of language in the posts. It is almost as if they cannot sell a post on the merits of its content alone. Almost as if, generously spreading the F-word throughout the essay somehow makes you sound smarter, cleverer, or better than other mothers.
Admittedly, these women also express the sentiments of many, many other women in similar stilettoes and often write with just as much conviction, good grammar and vocabulary but it is the way they choose to “embellish” their content, is what bothers me. I believe that these writers write to incite, to get more eyeballs on their pages, more shares, comments, and dislikes if that were a thing. They write to deliberately create controversy or maybe that is just their style. Either way, I am not impressed. Maybe the problem is me and that I just don’t understand why the same point the writers are trying to make couldn’t have been made in other ways.
While there is a place for that in the blogosphere – because it is the Internet and starting a blog is free and pretty much everyone who can type can also blog and because websites that thrive on that kind of tone attract those kinds of writers too, I am just sick of that stuff. Just because you have a voice and you choose to exercise the will of that voice, as should be your choice, does not mean I have to listen to it or read it. With my sensibilities in tact, perhaps even bordering on prudishness, I respectfully take my readership and followership elsewhere. That is why, the more I get turned off by such articles/posts, the more I have started to unsubscribe from following these writers, unfollow them on Twitter, and unlike their Facebook pages if I even liked them in the first place.
All of the above brings me to the infamous “sanctimommy” term – something I had never heard of until recently.
The Wikipedia definition of a sanctimommy is:
Sanctimommy is a portmanteau of two words, sanctimonious and mommy. The word is a colloquialism used to refer to a person, usually a female, who has very opinionated views on child rearing and presents them upfront without any sense of humility.
I am not a sanctimommy going by the definition above but when you start to de-layer the term more, I may have some characteristics in common with those of a bona-fide sanctimommy. In other words, if being one means trying to feed my kids healthy foods, limiting screen time, keeping them clean and clothed, and most importantly, caring, then sign me up. I’ll take on a leadership role too in that sanctimomious group.
There are too many people who don’t care about their kids, who are irresponsible parents, who probably shouldn’t have had kids in the first place, and while there are names society has for them too, why should I be embarrassed of being potentially called a version of a sanctimommy when I am trying really, really hard to do right by my child. Not that I have been called one by anybody, not yet and not to my face anyway, but when I read forum discussions where some women almost seem like they are competing for who gets called the worst mother in the group, I can’t help but do a virtual roll of the eyes.
Given my live and let live, non-judgemental philosophy, I do have to admit that I respect people’s choices in how they raise their kids and completely agree that just because you feed your kid McDonald’s everyday or give the child unlimited screen time does not at all mean that you are a bad mother or parent. But the same space in which you claim to be a sanctimommy’s worst nightmare, I crave a home to say that I shouldn’t be judged for doing what I believe is right, either.
I am not going to accost you in a parking lot to tell you how to manage your kids in a grocery store. I am not going to tell you breast is best. Heck, no! I am not going to tell you to feed your kids organic foods. I am not going to extol the virtues of Ferber or Sears or any other CIO/non-CIO/co-sleeping method. I am not going to preach you about baby wearing or attachment parenting or helicopter parenting or free range parenting OR even the authoritarian, authoritative, laissez-faire styles of parenting. I am not going to condemn or support putting your child on a leash at a supermarket, at a park, at a zoo, at a theme park or at home. I am not going to tell you not to give your child formula or that starting whole milk at 11 months instead of at 13 makes you a bad mother. I am not. Just not.
Point is, I have my opinions and I may or may not do any or all of the above but I will not tell you what you should or shouldn’t do unless (a) you ask my opinion, and/or (b) you are a close friend/family member whom I think may value my opinion. Even then, what you choose to do with it, is up to you. The only place where I have the absolute and strongest opinion on is vaccinations and yes, that is one place where I do allow myself to be judgmental. After all that we now know about the benefits of vaccinations, how can you not vaccinate your child? I just don’t get it. Just. Don’t. Get. It.
I get that in trying hard to not be judgmental and in simply trying to express how I feel, I am being somewhat judgmental, definitely ironic, and well…even a little sanctimonious. Oh well…this is my blog and this is my space. That’s that. End of rant.