on behalf of my sucky mom-blog - a response to "Dear Mommy Blogger"

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A friend of mine (also a blogger) sent me an article yesterday entitled "Dear Mommy Blogger"... naturally, as I consider myself a 'mommy blogger' of sorts, I took a read.

The just of the article is a message to all mommy bloggers "your blog SUCKS" with a number of expletives (which I'm cool with but will spare you) thrown in the mix as well as detailed sections on how and why the majority of all of our 'mom blogs' are garbage and why we should promptly throw in the towel.

Um thanks, I'm sure most of us don't have enough self-doubt and mom-guilt that we really needed this piled on top of it.

Truthfully, I think Josi (the author) had some good points that many of us need to hear and take into consideration; however, more flies with honey and all that. I highly suspect she alienated a lot of readers by the condescending tone and the irony of the multiple "sign up for my email" pop-ups was an additional level of entertainment I hadn't expected. Thanks for that. Also, the link at the bottom asking for support? Guessing all the hoards of 'sucky mom bloggers' reading this now viral post will not be clicking that link. Just a guess. Could be wrong but as my husband knows, I'm usually not.

As I formulate my thoughts about this article, I realize that to some extent this post is purely an effort in self-validation and I feel the need to refute some of the points simply to rationalize why I continue to blog. Having said that and acknowledged it, I'm still going to write and I'll try not to make it all "I'm not that bad" and 'me, me, me' because this is about all of us mommy bloggers.

I'll address this by section mostly because I like to feign organization where ever possible and also because I couldn't decide where to start.

NOTE: the section titles, besides intro, are the exact titles from Josi's original post. I didn't do this to copy, but paraphrasing just didn't seem to capture it properly.

She starts with "I am was a mommy blogger"... still a mom? check. Still writing a blog? double check. Still a mommy blogger. Check, check, check. Good start. I get that this is supposed to show us that she's coming from a good place but as she proceeds to charm us with a barrage of "you suck crap, quit NOW" it kinda takes away from any credibility, real or not, that's been shared. Moving on...

"Nobody is reading your shit"
Number-wise some people look at my blog, truth but that certainly doesn't mean all those people are actually reading what I write or care what I say. I can't help but agree with Josi on parts of this one. I absolutely get comments that were clearly someone scanning for something quick to say in an effort to have it reciprocated. If you're a dutiful blogger, you've read all the "grow your followers" posts and know that to get comments you need to leave them. So people make the rounds, they try and comment as much as possible and there isn't always time to read all the things. I have been guilty of this too. She's right. This part she nailed.
That's not all there is. There's other stuff too and not acknowledging it takes the value out of the good stuff, makes it feel cheap. To those of you who leave beautiful and thoughtful comments THANK YOU. Also, seriously, if I write a boring post (and that'll happen folks, I'm not super interesting or thoughtful ALL of the time, sorry) DON'T leave a comment if you have nothing to say, totally cool with that (bye bye comments - small tear lol). I suppose this relates to the next part about authenticity...
The lack of authenticity in blogging has been a challenge for me on the regular; however, assuming ALL mom bloggers are writing inauthentic garbage 100% of the time is beyond erroneous and kind of unfair. I have read posts/blogs that went from authentic to not-so-much and vice versa. I also, for a time, was challenged when reading my own stuff and feeling like I got lost in writing just to put stuff out. I have been guilty of being unintentionally inauthentic in those times. I've done it but reflecting on that has caused me to pause and re-evaluate my voice. I'm trying to be more conscious about what I put out there and friends, sometimes being aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it is all we can do. That's okay. If all you do is read back a post and think "does that sound like me?" than you're trying to be authentic. Let's be serious, we all know when we are not being true to ourselves and we certainly don't need a reformed mommy blogger telling us we aren't.
I can't convey how much I appreciate reading blogs, the ones where I feel like I'm having a conversation, like someone is speaking right to me in their true voice. Keep doing that and if you feel like you're not, it's NEVER too late to start.

"There's no way in hell you are actually that happy"
Alright, I can envision some of the blogs she's talking about here and WORD. Unlike those picture perfect mom-blogs, I do not have a personal photographer or Instagram husband following me around capturing and editing only the 'perfect moments' and then sharing them like it's all sunshine and rainbows 24/7. Actually, those blogs make me feel like a craptastic mom because, dude, this gig is hard. I try and be real about that and the other 'sucky mommy blogs' I read do too. So ya. In general we're fairly happy people, but some of us are also honest and real which means you're going to hear about crying (us and kids), yelling, timeouts and whatever else is going on.
On the exclamation mark use, guilty... nothing more to say about that!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Your goals are just confused as you"
Truth. I started blogging to share my journey out of yoga pants (because yoga pants at the office are discouraged apparently). Now I rant about motherhood and whatever else strikes my fancy. Sure, I want to grow my blog but mostly because that's what it seems we're supposed to do.  But for what? I have no end-game here and I doubt many of my fellow mom-blog-friends do either. I like to write so I'm doing that. That's a good enough goal for me for now. I've accepted the fact that my blog is all over the place because guess what? I am KIND of all over the place. It doesn't get much more authentic than that. I like stuff, lots of stuff including the mommy cliches of coffee and wine. Some people call that 'easy to relate to' and think it's a good thing. Just sayin'.

"You are wasting your money"
YUP! As soon as you start a blog you read ALL the ways to make it better ALL the time. Guess what? I've tried a lot of them too. No dice. Some services and apps might be worth investing in; however, this momma would rather buy shoes, kid clothes or wine than go broke on your course or tips I'll never actually get around to putting in place.  Josi, you got this part mostly right but please don't assume we're brainless mombies over here chomping the bit at each fad offering to "grow our blogs overnight". Momma didn't raise no fool.
BUT (cause who doesn't like big BUTS?)
I went to a blog conference and it was NOT cheap. The flight, conference ticket, the hotel, the food, the wine (cause, ya, wine).... cha CHING!!! But guess what? WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!! Did it change my blog and make me a millionaire? Sadly, no. But I met some AWESOME women who I am beyond pleased to call friends. Women who enrich my life regularly. So ya, go to a blog conference or take a vacay with some girlfriends, either way, money well spent. Better yet, take a vacation WITH some blog-friends, double-win!

"PR Friendly = I have no soul"
I love blanket statements... oh wait... I do not. Dislike them a bit. I sort of have a soul... I think. A soul that sometimes like free stuff. Sue me.

"Building your own prison with copycat guards"
The notion that brands see mom-bloggers as just another means to an end and that 'end' being 'sales' is not lost on me. I highly suspect it's not lost on the vast majority of other 'mom-bloggers' either. We're not idiots. When I get an email from a company wanting to work with me that says "we just LOVE your blog", I know darn well they likely haven't read a page. That doesn't mean the idea of collaboration is off the table. Maybe it's selfish but I kinda like getting free stuff that I would have bought anyways. Sure, it's in exchange for my opinion, but I'm usually all too ready to give that anyways... more on that below.

"Sunshine and F-ing daisy reviews" 
I have both seen and done this. You get a free product or service in exchange for a review OR, you even get PAID to get free stuff and review it. Cool. Then you write a post and feel some pressure to say all the good things... and all the good things ONLY. This happens A LOT. Writing these posts is hard because it's work to say things that don't come naturally. For this reason, I have changed the way I do reviews. Less formal, more me and if I have something critical, you're going to read it. Sorry, not sorry. That and I don't accept all offers, only things that appeal to me so if I'm writing about it, it's because I wanted to. Okay?

"Giveaway entries are not real fans"
NEWSFLASH. Oh wait... anyone who does Giveaways KNOWS that there are literally tens of thousands of people scouring the internet at light-speeds entering every Giveaway they can find. Whatever. I don't do a lot of giveaways but I find them fun. Who doesn't like the possibility of winning something? Sometimes people find me and stay, sometimes they run in the other direction, never looking back. Sometimes it's just a way to reward readers who choose to stay in for the long-haul and you just cross your fingers one of them wins. Clearly, I don't feel nearly as passionate about this topic as Josi. Meh.

"You are wasting your time"
"Quit before you feel like a failure instead of finding the intersection of happy and fulfilled.
Quit because your mommy blog fucking sucks. And it’s not going to get better. There are probably a dozen things you are actually good at." source
At first read, this seemed harsh. I was taken back and offended. Why? Because this hits the heart of every mom-blogger's biggest battle: am I doing all of this for nothing???
GUYS I tackle this on the regular. ALL bloggers do. I know, because I actually talk to a lot of bloggers. You know, make connections and stuff.
If you read Josi's post and took offence, I'm right there with ya, but stop for a second and ask yourself if part, even a small part, the reason for that is because you've wrestled (like me) with a lot of the things she talks about. You might find that what is most frustrating about the whole piece is her ability to hit you where you're vulnerable, in the place you take solace, where you share you soul (or, lack there of, for those 'PR friendly' folk like myself).

Before you go and take Miss quit your blog NOW literally, I want you to ask yourselves the same questions I routinely ask myself (and the ones that keep me here):

WHY did I start this blog? I didn't start a blog to become rich or famous (good thing because: FAIL) I started because I had a desire to write and to document my transition back to work and to find some sense of style. I needed style inspiration and wanted to show moms you don't have to be frumpy to be comfortable. I still do some style stuff but that's not all there is because that's not all I am. I won't apologize for the mixed bag here because honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

What keeps me blogging? First is ALWAYS the relationships. Sure, there are people that stop by dutifully and probably don't give two shits about what I have to say BUT there are others, others who keep coming back, who care and who I am blessed to call friends so that alone is good enough for me. The support I have experienced, provided and witnessed because of blogging is amazing. AH-MAZING! Josi's post and a few others aside, I have never experienced a group of women so readily willing to build each other up, offer encouragement and have such genuine empathy for each other. Second, the idea of quitting makes me feel like I'd be missing something that I find so much pleasure in. I like to write but I like writing most when I'm being true to myself. It is those posts that I hope my kids read one day and feel like they have a sense of this women, this lady they call momma. It's those posts that someone reads, even if it's my one reader, and says "YES, you nailed that, I couldn't have said it better"... that's why I'm here, that's why I stay. If I have written something that has made someone feel better, feel supported, feel inspired, smile or cry tears of relief then it's not all for not.

What would I do if I didn't blog? Sleep? Learn to knit? Nah. I've learned I can function on very little sleep and knitting isn't really my bag so blogging it is. Who needs clean floors anyways?? I STRONGLY disliked the implication that mommy bloggers are somehow neglecting out children or family's while blogging. This was a low-blow to all moms and given that the writer is a mom... well, the assumption that she's somehow an exception to her very own point... ya, enough said. Blogging is one of the things that preserves my sense of self which was very much altered when I became a mother. Yes, I still talk about parenting but not as though I'm talking to a toddler. I need this place and trust me when I say I'm a better mother because I have this outlet.

Is this blog impeding my happiness or contributing to it? THIS is the big question. This is where you NEED to weigh the pros and cons. Any blogger will tell you that this is A LOT of work. A LOT. Even if you're writing authentically, it's still a lot of work. It's exhausting, it's emotionally taxing at times and it often causes a lot of self-doubt and creates insecurities where none previously existed. You know what else does those things? Parenting. I haven't decided to give up that gig either. Ya know why? Because, like my super cute children, this blog also brings me happiness and joy. It offers some fulfillment in parts of my soul where holes had been. So, like my sometimes sucky kids, I'll also be keeping my sometimes sucky mom blog.

My bottom-line: if you're getting something out of blogging, something that makes YOU happy, then you are NOT wasting your time.

On behalf of my sucky mom-blog, thanks Josi, I honestly appreciated some of your sentiments, albeit harsh, and you made me ask myself some hard questions but ultimately, me and my sucky mom blog are gonna be sticking around a while. Best of luck with yours and all those emails from pissed off blogger!!!!!!!!!! (yes, that exclamation mark use is deliberate, or I'm just excited to be done writing this MONSTER of a post). Your error was shaming and criticizing people you could have been giving some helpful advice to and, I don't know, offering some words of encouragement from someone who has also struggled.

To my mom-blogger friends: if you love blogging, don't for a second think of quitting. Instead, use this post as a challenge to be truer to yourself, to be a starting point for where you want to go and the beginning of your plan to get there. Also, in case anyone hasn't told you, you're AWESOME. Anyone who doesn't think so can just move along.

The end.... (but not the literal end, I'm not actually quitting, I'm just tired of typing now).

PS (because I can NEVER stop talking) if you liked this and want more read:
Your Mommy Blog DOESN'T suck and here's why
Someone tried to throw us under the bus (and blew it)