I think 2008 may be the Year of the Mommy Blogger.
There may be plenty of people who turn their noses down on us (which is nothing new), but these days, I think the disrespect is mixed with envy. Political and tech bloggers may get booked on TV talk shows, but the moms get free STUFF. Corporations have always known that women hold the pursestrings in most families, and they've glommed onto word-of-mouth marketing through blogs in a big way.
I saw the complaints on game boards when Nintendo launched its marketing campaign for the Wii by selecting moms in major cities to host fabulous catered parties. (Disclosure: I was one of the lucky moms selected for this a year ago and have been enjoying a relationship with them since.) I've seen grumbles that Sony didn't invite any men to a fabulous beach resort to sample electronics, or that major car companies were lavishing female bloggers with free loaners on their new vehicles. (Disclosure: I have not been invited for these programs but would be happy to participate!)
Maybe we moms are overly sensitive. I know I am. I dread going to my husband's work-related events and that inevitable moment when someone asks me, "And what do YOU do?" The only thing worse than telling them I'm a stay-at-home mom (and noting their complete disinterest) is telling them that I spend my time BLOGGING about being a stay-at-home mom. I've learned to describe BlogHer as an "annual women's WRITERS' conference." And since I've started branching out in the blogosphere, I've been emphasizing my posts for the MOMocrats over what I've been doing here for nearly five years.
So I have been thrilled this spring to see that some of my favorite mom bloggers are out there promoting BOOKS. THEIR books. After all, getting published is the standard most people use to rate your success as a writer. (Sure, you could earn $1 million for a screenplay, but nobody remembers your name. But having your photo on a book jacket from a real honest-to-God publishing house... THAT's something!)
This spring, we've seen Heather Armstrong ("dooce") on Nightline and The Today Show (impressive, even with the controversy over her encounter with Kathie Lee Gifford), promoting her new book, "Things I Learned About My Dad (in Therapy)." And later this year, BlogHer editor Rita Arens (Surrender, Dorothy) debuts her labor of love, "Sleep Is For the Weak," which consists of essays by some of my favorite mom bloggers (including several whom I count as friends).
I am delighted for these women -- and jealous as hell. Even if I were to get over my congenital insecurity (which I've now accepted as a permanent condition) and begin BELIEVING in my own worth a a writer, I would still have to deal with the attitudes of those around me: my family, who seem to think what I do is worthwhile only when someone is PAYING me to do it...
...and the rest of the unplugged-in, non-technical world, who do not buy the historic value of this movement of ordinary folks who are documenting their lives in the troubled early years of the 21st century. The problem with the Internet is that its virtual nature. Most people need to be able to touch something to believe in it; something tangible... like a book.
Still, it is nice that publishers are taking note of what is going on here in the blogosphere and giving good writers the opportunity to create that tangible product. Even Newsweek is noticing (although of course, they are not paying attention to our little mommy blogging niche, and seem snarkily amused that so many blog-to-book projects have not become best-sellers.
That is why I plan to support my blogging sistahs and buy their books, which I fully expect to find inspirational -- but probably not all that practical. For that, I'm going to refer to another book written by another of my blogging friends: The White Trash Mom Handbook by Michelle Lamar, who blogs at (of course!) White Trash Mom.
Some clarification is due here: Michelle is being ironic when she uses the term "White Trash," as in "My house doesn't look like the pages of Martha Stewart's Living -- I guess we're White Trash." Or "We were in a hurry, so the kids had a drive-thru lunch today -- I guess I'm White Trash."
In other words, if you are looking for decorating tips for your double-wide trailer, this book is not for you. But if you'd like some real advice on juggling motherhood and work, navigating the hierarchy of your kids' schools or how to deal with the PTA, you will enjoy Michelle's book. And as it's written in the same style as Michelle's very funny blog, you will probably even have a good laugh.
I'll tell you something: I wish I'd had a book like this when I first enrolled my daughter in kindergarten. I would have relaxed a lot more around the moms who claimed their kids were already reading, or at the playdates at homes that were so pristine that I was afraid to enter, lest I mess things up. (Did I ever tell you about the little girl who had two sets of toys so she wouldn't ever have to share when her friends came to play? Actually, her mom is now one of my closest friends, but at the time, I was pretty intimidated by stuff like that.)
Michelle's book is not out yet, but is available for pre-order at Amazon and Target, and I'm told she will be autographing copies at BlogHer and handing out some White Trash bling. I, for one, am looking forward to it.