5.09.2009

take it from an expert

My friend Colleen works for our local public radio station and today she interviewed me for a short little piece she is doing about moms and internet usage/addiction. Of course the moment she pulled out her cool little microphone I froze up and couldn't think for a moment of what I wanted to say.

I have a lot to say about this! This, my friends, is something I know something about!

There were several points I meant to make, but I have no clue what actually came out of my mouth.

I found the online parenting universe (is this what it's called? does it have a name?) back in 2006. I was 22 and pregnant and I wanted information. I spent the first half of my pregnancy soaking in a tub reading every book I could get my hands on, but eventually found that reading books wasn't enough. I wanted a certain kind of information.

I wanted to know what it was really going to be like to have a kid.
I wanted to know how to breastfeed.
I wanted to know every last detail about the mechanics of labor and delivery.
I wanted to know about all the tough decisions I was going to have to make.
And I wanted more than one perspective.

Through a combination of blogging and reading online forums, the fog lifted from around my head and it all started to make sense. I learned how to cloth diaper and cloth diapered my baby from birth. I learned how to breastfeed and had an entire brain full of knowledge about breastfeeding before I had ever even tried it. I felt totally confident about my ability to care for my son and I even had opinions and gut feelings about what was going to work for us, like, the day I came home from the hospital. I was armed with knowledge. Without the internet I would have been somewhat clueless.

But why else do so many moms use the internet now? Isn't there something deeper?

Well. If you want my opinion...
We are all desperate for social interaction, yes, but not just to have friends and sanity, though certainly those things are needed. We gravitate towards each other online because mingling with other mothers on Twitter is simply an extension of connecting the way women have always connected.

Never before have women all lived in isolated little bubbles, trying to do it all, and all on their own. Why should we now? Women actually used to be empowered (I used to hate the word "empowered" especially in rants like this one but it is, in fact, the right word) simply by possessing knowledge about childbirth, breastfeeding, swaddling, soothing, and cleaning toddler poop out of clothes. They were the experts. It was good, true, first-hand information, and the act of sharing it bonded them together. Something happened along the way, and a lot of that power was taken away, but I think we're getting back to it, kind of. In the weirdest and most futuristic of ways. Sitting in our isolated houses all strung up with electricity, Googling ourselves some community.

Breastfeeding, carseat safety, circumcision, food allergies, nutrition, colic, vaccines, potty training, how to swaddle, how to soothe, how to use a breast pump--these are so much more than hot button issues. These are the things that mothers Google.

And we don't want to hear about them from Good Morning America. We want to hear about them from each other.

There may be a part two to this someday. I have even more to say, if you can believe it.

Out of curiosity, how did you find the online mom blogging community? And how do you use it? I am very interested in other perspectives!

(Also, it is late and I typed this very fast. If it you notice entire paragraphs have been edited out in the morning, do not be surprised.)

11 comments:

  1. I hope it went well. She mentioned she was going to see you.

    I like your explanation written here. It makes a lot of sense.

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  2. Consider this comment my standing ovation.:)
    How did I find the online mom community? For 2 years I was the only mom I knew, and I felt alone, and my kid had health issues. I wanted info and I wanted to not be alone.

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  3. This was a fabulous post. :)
    I am living 8 hours away from my family and all the friends I grew up with, so I started blogging as a way to keep in touch everyone back home. I was also the first of my friends to get married and have kids. It was only this past January that I started to branch out and talk to people I didn't know in real life. I am so glad I did, cause I have met Lovely women like you all over the counrty that I can truly relate to. I absolutely love connecting with other mommies that share my views and interests. I am a very social person and this has been a great outlet. It also makes me less homesick. I have learned so much from you other mommies too.

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  4. Wonderful, Erin. Whenever I'm with my grandmother I realize why they have been able to be such content wives, mothers, housewives, part-time workers to pay for kids' education, cooks, laundry women etc....for year and years. They were trained how to be good at it, and they were really, really good at it. It's an art. You are totally right. We want to not be alone, and we want to be confident. Please don't edit out any paragraphs in the morning.

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  5. Amen, sista'!! You really hit the nail on the head with this one. We really do have such a need for community and "empowerment". So much so that we have found ways to accomplish it even in our isolation.
    When I was pregnant I began to get glimpses into the online mommy community. Google was and still is one of my dearest friends. Like you, Google helped me learn to cloth diaper, breastfeed, etc. I didn't know much about the blogging world until Levi was around 6 months old. The minute I found out about blogs, I signed up for one. So many of my friends and family had moved that I thought it would be a great way to keep them informed of our lives. Blogging has become so much more. By being a part of the blogging community, I have learned so much about being a mother and a woman. It is truly a blessing.

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  6. Wow, that's great you were interviewed on the radio! I like what you had to say. I agree, it's better and more relevant to hear about other moms' experiences with motherhood directly from them rather than from a reporter. And building rapport or friendships with those moms is amazing.

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  7. Oh my gosh, where would I be without this crazy (and I do mean, CRAZY) mom blogging-googling searching internet thing? I would love to know how many hours I have spent looking up things like "my baby makes grunt noises when sleeping, is that normal."

    Good post. And so cool that you could share your input on the radio!

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  8. I love this post, internet mommies keep me sane! :)

    Stacy

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  9. I started off my complicated relationship with the Internet before blogging was the thing to do--back in 1998 or so. Message boards and chat rooms were the meetups back then. I actually wrote about my compulsive Internet behavior--which got pretty out of hand for a while--at Literary Mama: http://www.literarymama.com/creativenonfiction/archives/000573.html

    It makes me smile a little now at how antiquated some of this essay is, even though I wrote it only 5 years ago!


    Anyway, like you I got on in search of information, and stayed for the community. But in many ways, I do think it was damaging to have so much of my identity and social life wrapped up online. I was bored, and lonely, and looking for an outlet, but I realized that even the strongest online community can't replace the friend you get together with in real life to keep one another company while you parent your kids. Maybe that's the Internet's limit--you can't really have a meaningful online discussion while changing a diaper or doing the dishes...the stuff of a mom's life. So you either have to put all that real-life stuff aside while you get online and/or squeeze your online time into a few quiet moments of the day. Whereas with my IRL friends, I find that I can pretty seamlessly blend parenting and conversation--with a few interruptions, of course.

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  10. I totally love this line: "And we don't want to hear about them from Good Morning America. We want to hear about them from each other."

    Hear! Hear! I agree about that.

    I don't know what moms did/do without the Internet. I love this space, this place...to meet moms, to make friends, to get info, even to win prizes. I love it all.

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  11. Well said, Erin. I'm especially loving your entries lately. You're very inspiring.

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