Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day (or, Mom 2.0)

Since I've been writing this blog, I've connected with lots of mothers who use blogs to write truthfully about parenting. They've inspired me and made me laugh and often made me feel a lot less crazy.

Blogs and other "Web 2.0" tools that allow individuals to easily author, not just consume, on-line content have given voice to thousands of parents who are compelled to record and reflect on their experience, to publish what they write, and to reach out to others and build their own communities.

Some might dismiss this phenomenon or bemoan it as a poor substitute for the days when we didn't need to build our own communities because they existed all around us. Mothers used to just gather at the playground and share all this stuff with each other, the nostalgic argument goes, before we all went to work and started watching too much TV and lost our sense of community.

But I'm not so sure this is the same thing. First of all, have you EVER finished a sentence with another parent when your kid is around?

And writing is a different act than talking. It's creative and reflective, but it also allows you to put an analytical distance from the emotion of a particular moment, get unhooked, and see things in a different light.

Back when everyone knew everyone else on the block and mothers gathered in real rather than virtual spaces did mothers still feel, at times, isolated? Most definitely.

I publish what I write because when I first heard the word "Hyperlexia" I could find few books to help me, and most of what I found on-line was clinical and cursory. I wanted to read stories. I wanted to read about what day-to-day living looks like with a child like this: at 5, at 10 at 15. And I guess more than anything, I wanted to feel connected with other parents, who like me, found this experience fascinating and gratifying and often hilarious.

So I wrote it down and shared it with you hoping that some of you would stumble across it when you first heard the word "Hyperlexia." Some of you did, and when you let me know that it helped you I could not have been happier.

In her latest letter to her daughter, blogger and mother Heather Armstrong responds to critics that say that what mothers do when we write about our children is narcissistic or even exploitative.

Will you resent me for this website? Absolutely. And I have spent hours and days and months of my life considering this, weighing your resentment against the good that can come from being open and honest about what it's like to be your mother, the good for you, the good for me, and the good for other women who read what I write here and walk away feeling less alone. And I have every reason to believe that one day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about their own children, and you're going to be so proud that we were brave enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard, frustrating work and we're not going to sit around on our hands waiting for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter.

I can't possibly add anything more eloquent than that.

So Happy Mother's Day to all the blogging moms and the reading moms and all the moms everywhere. Let's keep telling our stories to each other and to anyone who will listen.


jaki said...

Well said, Christa and I envy you this forum to express yourself. There "weren't nothing" like this when I was raising my six kids and it sure would have helped! Keep up the good (and often GREAT) work.

Howard Bannister said...

Happy Mother's Day!

You know, the internet is supremely and spectacularly self-indulgent. But a blog that is sincere and well-meaning and not at all snarky and ... well ... helpful to people--that's a rare thing on the intermanet.

Ben is very lucky, indeed to have such awesome parents.

Sarah said...

Some of the things/ideas, etc. I find on these blogs by moms with ASD kids I can't find anywhere else. My friends don't have these same issues . . . should we float along with no one to understand us? Bravo to all who take the time to promote communication and empathy.