I don’t watch morning television. But if I did, this morning I would have heard you pose this question:
I don’t know why they have to blog about everything. Why can’t they just go outside and play with their kids?
Which sounds innocuous enough. But really it’s a silencing technique, a judgemental silencing technique wrapped up in an innocent-sounding question.
How would you feel if I came up to you and said:
Why are you at work? Shouldn’t you be at home with your kids? I know they are school age but you don’t stop being a mother because they are out of the house for 6 hours of the day. Why aren’t you at home baking for them so that when they finish school you are there waiting for them with baked goods. I don’t know why you feel the need to work, anyway. You are a mother, shouldn’t you be at home doing mum stuff? What is wrong with you that you aren’t wholly fulfilled by your children and spending time with them?
Doesn’t feel very nice does it?
And you know what, I bet if you saw me at the park, outside, playing with my kids, you and a bunch of others would call me an over-protective helicopter parent. Because as far as judgement goes there are no winners.
I choose to stay at home because I like it. I like cooking with my kids, I like playing outside with my kids, and I like being with them. It doesn’t mean that all of the parts of my self and my brain that aren’t related to raising children have suddenly fallen out of my head and no longer exist anymore.
And you don’t get to assume that because I have a blog it is at the expense of my children. You don’t deserve an explanation. But if you did you would know that the vast majority of all my blogging happens when my children are asleep or out and about on adventures with other family members. And I am engaged with my children most of the time. But you wouldn’t know that because you’ve already put me in a box. But I also don’t feel the need to inject myself into their play all the time. Because independent play away from me is important too.
But I think the most offensive part of this whole thing is that even if my kids were playing outside while I was blogging or watching TV or having a quiet cup of coffee or even (god forbid) going to the toilet alone that I am somehow transgressing as a mother because for a brief moment I am no longer being a mum and I am doing something for myself. I would not feel guilty about any of those things.
I write about my children on my blog because I spend a good part of my time with them. But I’m not really writing about my children, I’m writing about me. I’m writing about the joys and frustrations of motherhood, I’m connecting with other people who understand and I’m having those moments where I think ‘I am so relieved it’s not just me!’ On my blog it gets to be all about me because in my real life it is all about everyone else, all the time. And it’s my space to be creative and foster all the things about myself that I still treasure as well as celebrate how much I enjoy being a mother.
I don’t blog instead of playing with my children. I blog as well as playing with my children. And I blog because I am a writer. It makes me a better person and a better mother.
But you wouldn’t know that because you’ve already put me in the box. The box says. Writes blog. Neglects children. It’s not a nice box. So the next time you are tempted to say something judgemental, how about you think about the box I’m making for you?
Your box says Judgemental. Silencer. Anti-Feminist.
Now how do you like your box?
It’s not a nice box.
I’ll get rid of your box, if you get rid of mine.