Monday, February 7, 2011

Mormon Mommy Blogs

I am waiting for some water to boil so I can dye some yarn, and I thought I would take the time to post.
So, recently, there was an article in Salon.com about Mormon Mommy Blogs. First off, I didn't really realize that was a genre. Secondly, well, I think the author's view of Mormon Mommy Blogs is a bit, well, less than complimentary.
I think she was trying to be complimentary, but honestly, I did not like the way "we" came off. I have to include myself in the Mormon Mommy Bloggers group, because I am Mormon, and I do blog about my family. Among other things. And, I read some of the blogs she referenced. A couple of them anyway. Truthfully, the big reasons I read the two MMB's that I do is because I know the women who write them. Those being, CJane Enjoy It and The NieNie Dialogues.
Anyhow, it sort of struck me that she concluded that we are all "cute".
(Water is boiling, dye is added and yarn is in the pot, in case you wanted to know)
I am not cute. My life is not cute.
I suppose some of the things she says apply to me. My husband does look like a cute graphic designer, except he isn't one. I mean, he is cute and does have the cool glasses and wear plaid shirts, but he is a contractor. My house is cute, and I do reupholster my ottoman with thrift store fabric. Well, not quite true. I don't have any ottomans. But I do reupholster my couches and chairs. Sometimes twice a year. With cheap fabric, but that is because I am not loaded. My wardrobe wishes it were Anthropologie-esqe. And some of it is. But sadly, most of the time, I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Sometimes a sweater if I am cold.
My house is rarely clean, in fact, the only time it gets really clean is when my mom comes over and does it. She is handy that way, I am not. In fact, as I sit here typing, I am watching 3 little girls make paper dolls on the front room floor, making rather a mess. Around them are a spinning wheel that I didn't put away, some laundry that I ought to be folding but don't want to and all of the pillows off the couch. Because for some reason, pillows never manage to stay on the couch. At least I vaccuumed this morning.
If you look through the door facing me, you will encounter my studio. Which is about standard for an artistic temperament. Meaning, there are stacks and piles of things hither and yon. It's a mess, no question.
I don't have a picture perfect child. Far from it. But I love her more for being not picture perfect. Sometimes she is a perfect little wretch. Goes with the territory of being three, I think.
The author of the article also states that Utah is the state with the most anti-depressant use. That is often attributed to the cultural pressure we all seem to face to be super mommies. Clean house, perfect children, dinner on the table, etc. None of which describe me. I am more inclined to attribute it to the fact that we are all so damn inbred that we all suffer from the same mental illnesses. I kid you not, I think 75% of Utah is related to me. I do have Mormon Pioneer Ancestry, you know. It stands to reason that we would all have similar problems, exacerbated by inbreeding, right? Okay, I jest, but only a little bit.
The truth of the matter is, we may be happier than some other people. Like it or not, we believe the Gospel is the path to that happiness and if you follow it, heart and soul, you will obtain some of that happiness. Now, the problem is, we don't always follow it heart and soul. Goodness knows, sometimes I let my life get in the way of my happiness. This doesn't mean that things are going to be easy all the time. I am here to attest that they aren't. See my previous post about things sucking.
Maybe I don't read enough Mormon Mommy Blogs to have an opinion. Maybe the large majority of them are cutesy and perfect. If that is the case, I think we are doing ourselves and the rest of the world a disservice. We aren't perfect, our lives aren't perfect, but I think, for the most part, they are good. I know mine is. Despite the current suckage.
Perhaps I am different. Well, I know I am different than a lot of my contemporaries in various categories. Based on the number (1) and age (3) of my child(ren), I should be about 24. I'm definitely not. Based on my age (36) I ought to have many more children of a much higher age. Probably should live in a bigger, better house and drive a bigger, better car. I don't. I live in a lovely, very old house with a bizarre layout and unidentifiable drafts. I drive an older car (which I like very much) and my yard is utilitarian, for the most part. I am a feminist WAHM with a college degree and a lot of work experience. I got married late by Mormon cultural standards and had a kid WAY late.
I would say I can fruit and veg and make bread weekly, but that would be a lie. My husband does that stuff. I sew, I knit, I spin, I watch British programmes on Hulu and Netflix and I am a rabid reader. I think my daughter is ridiculously intelligent, and I know I am. I am, like most good Utah Mormons;), surrounded by my immediate family who may not be the friendliest folk, but are ready and willing if needed. And will talk your ear off if given the chance. Well, probably not yours, they don't like very many people. But mine, anyway.
What was the point of this post? I don't really know. Basically, that the article seems to think that we are all kind of one-dimensional people. And we aren't. But, if that is how we are presenting ourselves, perhaps we ought to change that.
But what do I know?

17 comments:

Kaytee Postma said...

The reason I love to blog is it forces me to be positive. I could really fill up my blog with boobings about my life if I let myself but I'm sure that no one would want to read about all my complaints on life. I do however fill my blog book with any thoughts I have, positive or not so that my kids will know that life was not rainbows and butterflies. Whoever wrote that article obviously doesn't know Mormon women or they would know the burdens we carry on our backs to keep all the balls in the air just like every other woman in the world.

Katya said...

The original Salon.com post doesn't even stand on its own merits. (Is Stephanie Nielson's life cute and fluffy? Not hardly.)

lillysmum said...

You know, Kjerste, I thought exactly the same thing. Also, Cjane's blog was started based on her trials with infertility...is that fluffy?

Katya said...

Exactly.

I think the real draw of MMBs is that the modern American woman finds herself pulled in a half dozen different directions (education, career, marriage, family) and doesn't know how to reconcile all of those expectations, while the stereotypical MMB-er presents herself as being pretty secure and happy in the choices she's made.

Of course, the reality behind the jello curtain is that Mormon moms still have difficult choices to make and don't always get the life they wanted or expected, but that kind of nuanced treatment of a topic doesn't get much online attention. ;)

lillysmum said...

I think you are right. Because, honestly, when I read Cjane and NieNie, I don't get the impression that everything is unicorns and rainbows. The impression I get is that, for the most part, despite the trials, they are mostly happy with the life they have chosen.
And did you like all the qualifiers I put in there?

Katya said...

Ha! I do like the qualifiers. (Three commas worth, even!)

Linda Sappington said...

Through it all, KNOWING you are a cherished daughter of a loving Heavenly Father will get you through anything. Life is hard . . . for all of us, so it's soooooo nice to be able to lean on Him!!!

Linda Sappington said...

PS: In our world, it seems everyone wants to share everything in their life to everybody. It's sad that, as women, we feel the need to unload our most personal problems. I read blogs by Mormon women (and others) because I want to see how my friends and family are still standing up and moving forward. Go get um, girls and keep up the "happy" blogging because I KNOW what some of you are dealing with day-to-day!!!

lillysmum said...

I sort of get your point, Linda, but I think the thing is, we are doing ourselves a disservice by seeming to be cute and perfect. Like we have no depth, like we can't acknowledge our trials. Sometimes, life sucks and writing about it can be cathartic. Hiding it doesn't help.
I still the article was stupid, though.

lillysmum said...

Think. I still THINK the article was stupid. Word fail.

Katya said...

I don't read many blogs by people I don't know in RL (at least a little), but one of my favorites is by a woman who has gone through hell in the past 18 months in the form of the breakup of her 10(?) year marriage, losing her house, going back to school, and trying to make ends meet financially so she can support her three kids as a single mom.

I love her blog because she doesn't shy away from the pain and grief that she's feeling, but she also writes more eloquently about grace and hope than almost anyone else I can think of.

The two go hand in hand, for me. If I didn't know what she'd been through, I wouldn't find such comfort in the moments of peace and happiness she describes. I can't put much stock in someone who talks about how they are "seriously, so blessed" (to coin a phrase), if I don't think they've ever experienced true sorrow or loss.

lillysmum said...

Yes, KJ, I agree with you. I think that is why CJane's and NieNie's blogs are so readable. Goodness knows Stephanie doesn't shy away from the pain and sorrow she has felt and still feels. But she also doesn't shy away from her joy.
No, we don't want to read an incessant thread of complaints, but knowing that someone can retain their faith in the midst of trial, well, that is hopeful. For me, anyway. Which I is why I don't read the fluffy blogs.

Kaytee Postma said...

So do you not read mine then? cause I tend not to complain on my blog cause I figure no one wants to read about my complaints in life. I don't even want to read about them! (my complaints in life I mean) I don't think by being "fluffy" makes the blog boring or whatever, I think it means the writer wants to focus on something other than thier trials. Or maybe I don't understand what "fluffy" means

lillysmum said...

Kaytee, I do read yours, because you are my SIL and I like to know what is going on in your life. Your blog has a specific audience, your friends and family and no one else, it is meant to show off your beautiful daughters. And, if people want to write fluffy blogs, that is their prerogative. I prefer a little more substance, but some people like fluff!
Curiously, I complain on mine and I still have readers!
My only issue is if we as Mormon women present ourselves as one dimensional, we give the wrong impression.
Again, this is my opinion. YMMV.

DeGrey Family said...

I need a nap after that post. Love ya Tara.

Rachel Ann said...

I don't think we're 1-dimensional, but I DO think that all mmb blogs (or Christian Mommy Blogs, or Catholic Mommy Blogs, or any others) begin to sound the same after a while, because life is...the same. For everyone, basically. Get married. Raise kids. Find things like crafting or cooking or writing to occupy your time. This is life, and this is what our American Idol culture has a hard time accepting. It's not one-dimensional, it's not everyone being the same, it's...life.

And I'm not Mormon or a mommy, but I read a lot of religious-mommy type blogs cause those are my friends and that is their life. And reupholstering your furniture is FREAKING AWESOME.

MarĂ­lia said...

Very good and realistic text. Thank you so much ;)