In Response to Time

I have been quoted in this week's Time Magazine. Kinda:

In a typical hipster-parent offering, an edgy novelist, musician or feminist sex writer has a baby--Me! Who'd'a thunk it!--and wrestles to reconcile his or her sensibility with the numbing demands of the cradle. For blogger Rebecca Woolf, that moment came when her baby barfed on the Moby section at an indie record store. Mom's response: "I call that punk rock!"


The forementioned "moment" was taken from my very first GGC post, Baby Bjorn to Rock. Someone's been surfin' the archives, eh?

It wasn't that I found the piece offensive. Beyond the popular "hipster-parents are selfish loonies" psychobabble, I found the piece to be thought-provoking. The words of a man skeptical of bloggers, like me, who put our children out there.

I am aware that I write about my child pretty frequently. And without his permission. For now.

Indeed there is the possibility that Archer will resent me for publishing part of his story and mine. And maybe he'll be embarrassed of me. He'll wish that I changed our names and blurred our faces in photos.


I don't have anything to hide but what if he does?

And he might hate that I've made his life an open book as I have my own. And he will be the most private person in history. And I will feel terrible.

I am aware that that is a possibility. So why do you do it? Because I'm a writer. Because I write about, among many other things, my life. And my child happens to be a big part of that.

Because I think people want to read about what is real. I think people can relate to honesty. And truth. And stories that extend beyond the typical "today I went to the grocery store and bought bananas" blogging. I like to think that just as it's helpful for me to write about my life as a parent, it is also helpful to others to read about it. And I think that's cool.

Before starting this blog, I knew no other parents. I had no one to talk to about parenting or having a baby, besides my mother. And I found that here. And it was nice.
(Because the only local person my age who was having babies was Britney Spears.)

It
didn't matter how old I was. No one cared. And it still doesn't matter. I don't think. I know the article had nothing to do with age. But it has to do with lifestyle. I grew up with email. And reality TV. And Internet dating. I instant message my friends instead of calling them on the phone. I work as a virtual chat host by day. I have never in my life used a typewriter. I am not a "modern parent." I'm just twenty-five years old. And sometimes I act my age. I feel more comfortable writing about my life than talking about it over lunch with the girls. Or anyone else.

And so... To tell the truth or to hide it? Maybe it will come back to bite me in the ass... All of these words written about parenting, about Archer. My family life. Maybe exposing myself through scratched windows is a terrible thing. And I am hurting my family because of it. I hear the skeptics. I have read some of your comments. Your emails. Time Magazine.


But I don't think so. I really don't.

The Internet has enabled us to share our diaries. A dangerous thing. How dangerous? I don't think we can answer that yet. It's too early. I do think that even more dangerous is a world where we are told how and why we should parent, think, feel, and write. And where we are to draw the lines.

It's going to take time. For Archer to grow up and tell me off for putting our lives on display. Or maybe he won't care. Or maybe it won't even matter, because by then we will all have gone public with our lives. We will all be on myspace and youtube, yourspace and mytube, starring in reality TV, publishing web zines.

All I can do is be open and honest, and crack a joke once in a while to keep from going insane. Because although parenting should be taken seriously, we, as parents need to lighten up.

And yes, for the record, Archer did throw up on the Moby discs, and it was embarrassing. But I don't like Moby. He bothers me. So I did think it was kind of "punk rock."

And if that makes me whatever it makes me, okay then. Fine. I'm collecting labels at the door. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm going to keep blogging. And being honest. And having fun with it.

For now, all I can do is hope that, one day, when Archer's old enough he will understand why I started this blog and why I wrote the book and why I write about my life and our family.

And if he doesn't? Then I am open to any and all criticism:

From him.

And only from him.

GGC

42 comments:

Scarlett | 4:24 PM

go becca! I don't like moby either. and i LOVE your blog. And you.

metro mama | 4:52 PM

Well said!

Jill | 4:52 PM

Screw 'em. You don't publish things about Archer that would embarass him, and besides, it won't be his contemporaries who read your blog. Besides, what's so bad about a mama who loves you?

. . . Sticking up for Moby now. "Baby You're a Lost Cause" is a pretty good song. Makes me want to break up with someone. (Not that I begrudge Archer of his right to puke on it.)

barbara rushkoff | 4:55 PM

I think the article was more aimed at Babble than you per se. I think they didn't quote me because I have been really shy about talking about Mamie too much - I have these thoughts that the minute I write something mildly embarassing about her, I fast forward to her 12 year old friends googling her and finding out stuff that she doesn't want them to know. What, I don't know?, but it has kept me back a bit. With that said, I am glad you are writing about Archer and your life with him because you are doing it with love. And as a writer, that is all you can do - write with love.

Mrs. Davis | 4:56 PM

Interesting article in Time. I've always had very mixed feelings about parent-blogging. Some writers do it really well (like you), but others really seem to be making it into bad performance art (or parenting-as-performance as the Time writer called it). I think that's why I try to write mostly about music/media, and just slip in little tidbits about my kids when I'm inspired. I'm afraid of getting into parenting-as-performance.

Besides blogs, there are also tons of scrapbooking websites where parents post scrapbook layouts with photos and journaling about their children.....not much difference, but a mom who scrapbooks about her kids sounds so much more wholesome than a mom who blogs about her kids.

Mamma | 5:40 PM

Our kids will always be embarrassed or upset with us for "something" we do...but what you do out of love (for yourself and for him) could never be wrong. I think conversely, he'll be damn proud of his momma.

merseydotes | 6:26 PM

I kind of wish there had been some account of my mother's thoughts and feelings as a young, first-time parent. I look at pictures of us from the late 70s/early 80s and think, 'What was it like for her? What was she thinking?'

One of the reasons that I kept a journal during my pregnancy was to be able to share it with Petunia when she was older. I want her to know what I was thinking at the time; I don't want to try to remember it twenty or thirty years later, with the lens of time and experience clouding the way things really were.

You're a great writer, Rebecca (are we allowed to call you that??), and I think Archer will be proud of the way you chronicled your life together and told the world how much he meant to you.

Anonymous | 6:57 PM

Hey...delurking (again...I left a comment during delurking week) to say (again!) that I think your blog is awesome. I also think that you're an awesome mom, and that you have no reason to give a second thought to anybody who thinks otherwise.

Shannon | 7:49 PM

I actually think this blog wil be an amazing gift to Archer. Of course, at some point he will have an opinion and at that point you will have to honor it. I can imagine he won't want you blogging about puberty, but spitting up on Moby? nah

Mom101 | 7:49 PM

So why do you do it? Because I'm a writer.

Amen, woman. Amen.

Blogger - writer - journalist - memoirist. It's all the same really. And yet somehow the bloggers are put under the judgmental microscope more than their fair share of the time.

Congrats on the Time mention. Huge!

sarah | 10:54 PM

you are punk rock!

Joker The Lurcher | 1:48 AM

i think its for each person - so if this bloke doesn't like to write about his kids, he doesn't have to, or indeed read what other people write about theirs. he can just navigate to another page.

as for what our kids will make of it all, i so wish there had been the equivalent about my life for me to read. i post pics of my son on flickr and he loves it - he is always saying there are ladies in america who think he is cute! if he didn't like it i would stop. end of story.

keep up the great writing gal!

Leigh C. | 4:52 AM

Hmmm... author moms who have written about their kids:

Anne Lamott
Cynthia Heimel
Rebecca Woolf

Are their kids okay and well-adjusted?

Anne Lamott - yes
Cynthia Heimel - yes
Rebecca Woolf - doing fine so far. Will do GREAT in the future.

'Nuff said. Time can shove it up theirs sideways.

Wendy | 6:15 AM

I think the author of the article missed the point. He claims that "hipster" parents are not putting their kids in the spotlight. I disagree. I think the young parents that he described have done well to intergrate their kids into their lives.

Like your profile says, we dont all have to succumb to Elmo, Barney and Dora (okay I paraphrased) for our kids to have a good childhood. I dont listen to kids' music in my car, because I am the one driving and need to remain sane. Is it more important the kind of music we are listening to or that I spend the time dancing with them. Sometimes to cope with being a parent is to let your kids a little into the life you once had. I see nothing wrong with it and trust me your child will have his opinions soon enough. I get enough of Amber yelling at me to turn down my music.

Hell what better way to focus on your kids then to write about them.

Shannon | 6:29 AM

I think the way you write about Archer and yourself is great. I am more of a scrapbook/went to the store and bought bananas blogger myself- so I appreciate being able to read good blogs like yours!

I love how this generation of parents is opening up and sharing itself and their lives, and learning form each other. I feel a palpable difference between now and when my first son was born 10 years ago- and it is a good thing.

BlondeMom | 6:37 AM

Kudos on the TIME mention...very cool!

My 70-year-old mother reads my blog daily and is amazed by the blogging community at large. She often marvels at how she wishes she'd had such an outlet when she was a parent.

I write a lot of "cute things my girls do and say" on my blog but it's MY damn blog and I'm a mother. It's who I am and I make no apologies for it.

That said, I probably will curb the poop and the embarrassing mispronounciation stories as they get older. And you're right. The one and only critic you need to be sensitive to is your son.

Backwoodsbaby | 7:31 AM

I thought long and hard about this subject when I started using myself and my pregnancy as part of a health column I write for a newspaper. I wondered if it would be weird and sort of inviting privacy invasion into my life.
But I figured, as long as it was something I wouldnt mind sharing with anyone who asked- especially strangers- then it was ok to print. And I've found nothing but good responses from it, and conversation starters with other parents, which is awesome.
So I say, blog on. It may be the 'hip new fashion' but it is also how we connect in this day and age.
And I'm sure Archer will probably be proud to know just when he had his first punk rock moment ;)

Musing | 8:23 AM

You are not alone. Over 30 years ago, Laurel Lee was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with her third child. She kept a journal through her experience and published it. This gained her international notoriety and she travelled the world, with that child, to give inspirational talks on her experience. Her story was about her love for her child, her experience as a pregnant mother needing chemo, and making choices that potentially compromised her life to save her daughter's. Her daughter grew up in the shadow of this story, even a made-for-TV after-school movie. This experience empowered her to learn that she could do and be anything. That traditional life did not bound her. You have nothing to fear for in your child's future with you as a chronicler of his childhood. http://www.lighthousetrails.com/Laurelbio.htm

Laural Dawn | 11:42 AM

Delurking here after reading for a long time.
I agree completely with what you said about age not mattering as a blogger.
I'm fairly young too (relatively speaking) and I didn't fit into any group - the teen moms or the 30+ moms. I've found here that just doesn't matter.
And, I think you're right. My kid will tell me if he doesn't want me to write about him just as yours will. Until then, keep writing.

CrankMama | 1:31 PM

YOu're right, Rebecca, we all need more friends who are kindred, especially when mothering from an angle. Blogging is a huge blessing and an amazing way to build a community. The guy in the Times piece is full of shit, if you ask me, but then, you're much much nicer than I.

And prettier too :)
Rachael

Anne Glamore | 2:35 PM

That was an interesting article for several reasons. I write about my children also, (under pseudonyms) but as a writer, you write what you know. And what I know best NOW is stitches and broken elbows and stinky feet.

The other point was insightful also. Parenting didn't seem so shocking to OUR parents probably, because EVERYONE was doing it - they didn't have the choices we do now. So when we grew up thinking of all the wild careers we'd pursue, and then found ourselves with kids, well yeah, who woulda thunk it?

Finally, I don't think it's hipster to make my children listen to the Beatles instead of my listening to Barney. That's just good sense and a way to take care of your mental health.

toyfoto | 5:13 PM

I think the piece was thought provoking, but not terribly insightful. I might be missing something, but I don't see a huge difference between the casual observance (or blog drop quote) of a modern parent who is slipping their kids in Sex Pistols onsies and people like my parents, who dragged us to folk concerts (I still have an affinity for Joan Baez because of those early experiences).

As for people "using" their kids as muses it has happened before the hipsters and it will happen forever. Take Sally Mann, for instance. She photographed her kids nude and they are known world wide. I understand her son's none too happy about it; but that's what he got an artist for a mother who took her inspiration from he and his sisters.

We can't possibly know what is going to make our kids wish we'd drop off the face of the universe but I guarantee, no matter what we do they'll be wanting us to leave them at the corner a duck when we drive past so their friends don't see.

Some day they're going to have to make the same decisions. All we can do is love as best we can, and hope that the best intensions sorts out the rest.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 8:20 PM

All of your comments have been so insightful and wonderful, thank you. I agree with every one of you and know I'm in good company. Amazing women. Amazing writers. With stories that extend beyond the mundane. And much to share and be shared with.

Love to all of you.

mothergoosemouse | 8:35 PM

Collecting labels at the door - loved that line. Because you know how I feel about labels.

I think I know why Moby bothers you: Because he takes himself so seriously and really ought to lighten up and crack a joke.

Molly Chase | 6:31 AM

Moby makes me want to throw up too.

gingajoy | 10:29 AM

this topic is close to my heart right now--it's one i've been thnking about as someone who does not put pics of her kids online. i also think that one of the benefits of sharing photos in this way--and something the author missed in the article--is that by sharing images we can strengthen a sense of community and shared experience. images are powerful in that way. it's for this reason that i often wish i was a photo-sharer (and the reason i am not is mainly because it's the one thing that makes my husband--who supports my writing--very squeamish).

i think gender is a factor here too--perhaps men don't get how women can connect through gestures like these? (because it's more than a journal--it's a community, right?)
another way this is about gender--bashing women's writing--especially writing about mothering as not "proper writing"--centuries and centuries old.

what i love about blogging is that in centuries to come all the domestic voices of women that have been repressed in the past will be represented--loudly.

gingajoy | 10:30 AM

and by "domestic" I mean "punk rock cool" of course. (heh!)

Lisse | 10:34 AM

It was Anne Lamott that I was thinking of when I was reading the Time piece. What would be the difference?

The "passing the torch" line really bugged me. If there is a torch to be passed it is done when our children reach adulthood. Until then, prostrating ourselves at the altar of their childhood, isn't healthy for anyone involved.

What I can't figure out is whether the author is threatened by bloggers or just by mothers who don't fit the mold.

gingajoy | 10:52 AM

hijacking your blog again..
reading the piece a little further, i think i was too quick to say that the author did not think about gender/community--he does talk about how women are historically isolated. but overall he is still cautionary and squeamish.

MrsFortune | 2:04 PM

Was it throw up filled with meat? Cuz that would REALLY burn Moby up, and therefore be all the more punk rock.

My word verificationis "odpea". Yes, Rebecca, you are an "odpea" and I'm really mad at you that you've never used a typewriter. you should. The sound the letters make is super fun.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:27 PM

I know. I'm totally appalled by the typewriter fact but it's true. So unromantic.

The Mad Momma | 3:09 AM

repeating what others said, but our kids will always find something to be embarassed about. and makig a journal or a baby book was somthing our motehrs did for us so i can see the tendency to write and file away your baby's childhood has always been around. also, there are so many of us blogging about our kids .. their poop, the barf, their failings.. our failings as mothers... that even if they do find something offensive 10 years from now, chances are, most of their classmates are in the same boat with equally embarassing blogging mothers!!!! dont stop writing.

Emily | 7:34 AM

I have never commented before,( I feel as if I have been reading since the begining) and not that you havent received enough encouragement already. However, with that said, I dont think that you could give Archer a better gift in life. To KNOW that your mother loved so much and enjoyed the ups and downs of motherhood enough to want to put it down for all to see. This is what makes you a great mother. What a proclimation of an amazing mother, one he will know beyond a shadow of a doubt. He will never have to say about you "what is she thinking?!?!?!" He will always know. Its truly not that different than showing your modern style baby book, with all your commentary... I think that we are all secretly jealous that you have the courage to follow your heart, and love your child so well. I know that concept is a struggle for many mothers, not being sure that we can do both well, with out cheating our child or ourselves at the same time. Be prud that you have found a balance. I am still looking for mine. Just know that you have at least touched my life... all the way in TN. and as a side note, my 2 year old loves to look at pictures of Archer, she even knows here by name. So at least he is getting good cosmic vibes from a peer.
may you be blessed,
Emily

Kell | 11:47 AM

It wasn't until I read a blog that had psuedo-names (Sorry for bad spelling) for every member of the family that the woman was writing about and gave her reason as that she didn't want to endanger her children that I even thought about how open and revealing my blog is. If someone did read it and decide to seek me out they would have no problem whatsoever!

I did once have a guy turn up pre-Jim days as a 'suprise' with his 7yr old in tow who erfused to get out of the car and when he did, never revealed his face, hiding it under his top. maybe his dad had done this before. It was totally freaky. He knew the town I lived in, drove here, went to the local florest and asked if they knew where I loved. They did and BAM! SUPRISE!!!!

I did sen him packing and his poor, POOR child and maybe I should have learned from that mistake but I was in regular contact with that man. We had a cyber-flirting thing going on but in reality he had TOTALLY lied about his age/weight/personality!!!! Deary me.

I do write my blog as a diary. For something my family and friends to read and know more about me because I am not the best verbal communicator. I have received lovely emails and texts of my in-laws after they have read certain posts. I also love that I get total strangers reading it and making new friends like you. I do find it weird that local people I know read it and know more about me that maybe I'd like so now I have a Vox thingy so I want a proper rant or to write something very private I can do so.

Good post Bec. Miss you loads and trying to keep up with yours musings. Much love xxxx

Paige | 7:00 AM

I agree with you that the article was thought provoking. I just wish we could all drop the labels and get along. At the end of the day, I'm not sure where I fit into the what-type-of-parent-are-you spectrum, but I would hope that I could learn as much from a hipster parent as I could from a sexpot parent, a goober parent or a rocket scientist parent. As for whether my daughter will be upset by what I write someday? I'm from Louisiana, where we don't take ourselves all that seriously. If she chooses to waste her time on my blog, then I would hope she'd have a sense of humor about what I wrote, most of which is pretty benign stuff...

Life is too short. Period.

Karen | 5:31 PM

Thanks for this post, you and BubandPie and HBM and Andre inspired me this week and I wrote about somethings on my blog cause of this article...also am annoyed by Moby, babies are so intuitive.

PunditMom | 7:44 PM

Congrats on the Time Magazine piece! I was waiting for R. to come out of her piano lesson this week as I was reading the piece and saw your NAME! I was so excited -- a blogger groupie -- "I sort of know her!"

I, too, struggle with the "my story" vs. "R's story" aspect of blogging. I hope she will understand when she is older and appreciate it when she's even older than that.

Andrea | 7:40 AM

You know, I started my blog specifically to write about Gabe. I did it to keep family up to date, to put up recent pictures, and to keep it as a reminder of what Gabe's life started out like.

But it honestly never occurred to me that he would someday be embarrassed by what I've written. Well, I guess it occurred to me, but I've always just been so sure that Gabe would find the archives of our lives to be a good thing. Definitely food for thought.

But the more I think about it, the more I want Gabe to someday read about his childhood through my eyes. I want there to be things written about me that he wouldn't have known simply in our relationship as parent/child. I want him to know that I am a person too, one with feelings that I took the time to write down for him to get to know me better when he's at an age to do so. I hope I haven't embarrassed him by what I've written. But I think it's important to leave my blog to him as a bit of a legacy to the person I am.

MommyWithAttitude | 9:40 AM

<<<<< I am not a "modern parent." I'm just twenty-five years old. >>>>>

Perfect line! I think maybe old people like me, who didn't know what e-mail was until they were 25, probably stress out more about this topic. It's humbling to watch your 3 year old weild a computer with more skill than you do, because you didn't really grow up with the technology!

But the world, life and everything changes and some people really want to resist that change -- and take it out on the next generation and the older people who aren't afraid to move forward.

Great post!

Jaelithe | 3:07 PM

Heh, heh. When I read that Time piece, and saw you mentioned, all I could think was, "Hey, Rebecca's being criticized by the notoriously blog-unfriendly national media establishment just for being herself! Now she's REALLY made it. Kudos." And then I thought (see Punditmom's reaction): "And I totally read her blog before Time thought she was famous."

I have seen a lot of great responses to this around the parentblogosphere, but yours is one of the best.

I spend a lot of time, probably too much time, pondering just how, somehow, just being an ordinary twenty-something person became so totally irreconcileable in so many people's minds with motherhood. After all, many of our generation were born to parents who started having kids in their twenties.

mo-wo | 11:19 PM

Mom 101

is 100%... there is a little - ahem- tension between traditional MEDIA and blogging.

traditional parenting is an f'ing myth.

HoorayForSaturday | 12:11 PM

I don't consider myself a hipster parent, but I do blog about my kids.
I just think people should stop judging parents as a whole. The mommy wars, stay at home vs. working, whatever.
I do know one thing for sure...with that mention in Time, you will have more people coming to see your passion as a parent.
Please, continue on.
Cheers!