So we were in Philadelphia for a couple of days, and Sean was working so I had the girls at the zoo, and there in the children's zoo, itself crammed with school groups and every kind of stroller you could imagine and about seven zillion pushy ducks, was a lady with a stack of flyers, handing them out to passing mothers.
"It's for a blog? You know, just a place where women can go to be women and talk about parenting and things like that." And indeed the flyer promised me a community of like-minded mothers talking together about the important blah blah blah crumple toss. It had a lot of corporate sponsors, this blog.
Now, longtime readers may recall that I myself have a 'blog, you know, short for "web log." As a member of the great eruption of blogs and bloggers and internets, I'm no purist when it comes to media; I accept the constant shifting of form and function inherent in a world where we all run around with tricorders and laser eyes and whatever the hell you kids are up to these days. But something in my heart collapsed like a perturbed cake upon receipt of that flyer. That's it, then, I thought. I'm done.
Big things have happened to the internet since I started keeping the Leery Polyp back in ought-four. The first is that the internet sort of blew its load all over the world, and a field that was once relatively sparsely populated became a reflection of the heaving sea of humanity that is the whole world. Everybody and his camera and her uterus and their urban farm and homeschooling operation and political viewpoint and cupcake bakery and twee little children's room furnished with hand-sewn mushrooms and actual living faeries* went out and started a blog. Which, you know, fine. It was bound to happen. It was actually very freeing to realize that I was not the only Underutilized Writer floating around in the world. For a long while it was a lot of fun, like a virtual city block populated with interesting people who sat out on their front porches and chatted with each other. Unlike message boards, more akin to a bustling market, blogs belonged to individuals -- you could decorate your front porch. You could dictate the terms of discourse to a point, and you were free to carve your own niche. (My own particular niche, people without children who desperately wanted them but were encountering an assortment of roadblocks, meant a lot to me. These people understood, they wrote eloquently about the dark times, but they were funny as hell too. It was a way to wrest meaning and comfort and community from baffling times. I still keep in touch with lots of folks from those days, and I will always be grateful for commenters, readers, and other bloggers.)
And then things started to get really commodified.
A lot of us, and by "us" I mean those bloggers who had acquired children by some means or another, got slapped with the label "mommyblogger." I don't know where it came from; some people started out blogging that way, as mothers looking for community, and maybe that's how it came to be applied to pretty much any female blogger who ever mentioned her children. There's a whole dissertation about divisions in the blog world, and how the term "mommyblogger" infantilizes and segregates women writers (OH GOD MY BIAS IS SHOWING), but not too long after mommyblogging became a thing, corporate reps started pelting mommybloggers with "opportunities" to provide free advertising in exchange for, I don't know, a coupon? Or better still a coupon to give to a reader! At the same time blogging was becoming legitimized as a business...thingy, and conferences popped up and there was advertising and professionalism and all those things I just do not do well. And I kind of watched from the sidelines as the indie zine-y world of blogs turned into a different place entirely, for better and for worse.
Meanwhile, all my dreams came true.
No, no, I know it sounds flip. But for me the jumping-off place for writing this blog was the shock and grief I felt at my subfertility (can't rightly call it infertility, now, can I?). And then the astonishing transformation into a mother with a baby and a serious case of OCD, and then a mother of two, now with less OCD, and then someone whose focus was obviously shifting away from the blog that she abandoned like a pickup truck full of construction debris on the side of the road and goddamnit I have been calling the city about this for weeks and WHEN is somebody going to tow that thing away?
What the blog world needed from me is over; what I needed from the blog world is past. I have so many friends because of blogs -- I can't imagine what it would be like without everyone! And then there's the drug of approval, of instant feedback. It is a heady, intoxicating thing -- but I'm finding I need to be doing the actual work of human give-and-take. It's harder but more fulfilling, and I only got to this point because of everyone who ever commented on a post and made me feel important and like what I said mattered.
So. Now. I'm not going to take the blog down. I intend to archive it better, put a page up with links to posts and the whole story. I don't know that I'll start any new projects any time soon -- it turns out that school and the ongoing art installation that is my house eat up a lot of time and energy -- but if I do I'll put them up here. In the meantime, do feel free to friend me on Facebook; just drop me a note telling me who you are when you send the request. Thank you so much for everything. You guys are the best.
*If I knew how to get these I would order some.