Sunday, October 15, 2006

Special Request

Dear Ones,

I''m not writing to ask you to go read this, if that's what you were thinking.

I'm not even writing to tell you how Ben and Birdy were having a quiet conversation in the back of the car last night and when Birdy said, "I know Benny, it is glorious," I didn't even know what they were talking about until Ben said, "Especially when it's so bright and full like this this." I love them so desperately. Even when we got home and Birdy fell to the floor of the bathroom sobbing when I went to brush her teeth because, "Mama, your pee in the toilet is too stinky."

I'm really writing to ask a favor. I'm working on a piece for wondertime about blogging, and I was hoping to ask you a couple of questions, whether you write a blog yourself or read other people's blogs, or both:

1. Why do you keep a blog?
2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)
4. Anything else about blogging?

Those are my questions. I would need to hear back in the next day or two (I know--I'm such a procrastinator.) Please feel free to post your response here or to email it to catherineATbodiesinbalancemtDOTcom. And please indicate whether it's okay to quote you, and if you'd want to use your real name or a pseudonym.

Then you can come out here to Western Mass, and I will buy you a drink in gratitude.

66 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:30 AM

    1. Why do you keep a blog? I use it to keep in touch with friends and give updates on my kids; to make new friends with similar interests, as I have a hard time getting out to find other sock-doll making minded people; and as a place I can bitch, whine, and complain about things my husband does. It's similar to the concept of: 'Write a letter and then tear it up.', only this way I can empty out all of my backed-up spleen and keep a private record of it. Well, sometimes I let others read it, and then I can get advice/another perspective on it. ("Did he reaaly use the term annoying wench, Tracey?" "No, buyt he might as well have!")

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    Honestly? I'm sure it's part voyeurism to an extent. BUt I read my friends journals to keep up with their lives, and to keep in touch.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    It allows you to find others who are either in your shoes, or 'who've been there', because we all know that only another mom can understand what the term all night yarf-a-thon really entails.

    I'm the 'crunchy' mom of the family, versus my own Mom and Sister, and it can be hard to validate my style of parenting to them at times. ('No Mom, we don't spank him. No Mom, I don't agree with Supernanny...') Having the ability to find others online makes it easier for me to find better ways to handle my spirited boy and keep my sanity. Knowing others are dealing with the same (or worse!) reminds me that he's a normal impending-4-year old.

    4. Anything else about blogging?

    It's cheaper than therapy. :)

    (And I started reading your Ben and Birdy blog while pregnant with my first child, and thank you for your honesty about what it's like with kids. You can't laugh and cry at the same time, my Grandma would say. Thanks to reading and re-reading your blog I could stay sane on the harder days!)

    --Tracey

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  2. Anonymous8:36 AM

    p.s. My blog is over at Live Journal, userid lemmings_world.

    --Tracey

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  3. Anonymous9:08 AM

    Check out Tink's blog at blogspot titled pickledbeef - in her latest entry she is posting the results of a survey she did sort of on this topic. It might provide another insight on this, plus it's pretty good reading too :)

    Good luck on your article, and your deadline!

    ~Em

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  4. Krista9:12 AM

    I don't blog, and I only read 2 blogs... yours and my cousin's. I have tried browsing blogs and feel like one can just get sucked into a never-ending vortex of mostly uninteresting things. I read my cousin's to feel up to date and know what he is going through as a struggling novelist. I read yours because I find it touching...it reminds me to enjoy the small moments of each day, to write them down in my journal on occasion. I find that it speaks to truths about parenting, things that are hard to nail down, but that grey area where being a parent is so frustratingly difficult and blindingly beautiful, all at the same time. And so it is a reminder to me to celebrate the beautiful, and that I am not alone in the difficult.

    I do worry about bloggers... in the putting out of too much information. I know someone who eventually pulled all his stuff offline...worried that potential employers would read it. Not that it was bad, but what if someone chose to pull one bad thing he had said and use it against him. And I wonder what our children will think of it when they are teenagers... this opening up of our lives, and theirs, for public consumption. Will they some day be grateful for it, or forever hate our generation for talking so openly about our feelings and their actions. Maybe it will help them see that we are human, too. I keep a journal written TO my daughter, so that maybe some day she'll get a glimpse of who her mother was when she was growing up, as well as who she was. And that's what a blog may do for many children. But do they want to know? And do they want the world to know? Where do they get the choice of what to keep private and what to share? Certainly I tell stories to friends and family about the cute things my daughter has done, and joke about the pictures I'll show her future boyfriends. But is it fair to share so much about our children's lives with the world?
    I don't know the answer to that, and I love reading your blog, and I don't want you to stop, so maybe that's the answer. But it's something I wonder about. Surely you've wondered about it as well.

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  5. 1. I keep a blog to give my friends and family a way to see and hear about us on a regular basis, because Lord knows I would never be able to relay our life stories to every one of them individually.

    2. I read other people's blogs because either I know them and I want to know what they're up to, or, I've stumbled upon them and found them to be funny and interesting.

    3. Writing a blog gives me a chance to reflect on my family - it gives me a chance to think about things my daughter has said or done. Reading blogs gives me perspectives I wouldn't have if I didn't read them.

    4. I find that blogging can sometimes be an addiction. You could literally spend all day reading all different types of blogs, but at some point, you just have to say, "I'm going to go DO something right now, that involves physically interaction with people."

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  6. Dear Catherine,

    Thanks for asking about blogging. I do NOT blog myself, and yours is the only one I read because I'm afraid I would get sucked into reading so much I'd never get any work accomplished.

    Your blog and weekly articles at BabyCenter and now Wondertime are really wonderful. I live in Japan and have a 3 year-old son, and by reading your work I really feel like I am in better touch with not only another mindful parent, but also with American culture. Reading your blog certainly does affect the way I parent; it has made me more reflective about my own behavior toward my child, and hopefully a more present person in his life. (Not to mention that I find your writing incredibly funny! I feel like you are the Erma Bombeck for our generation. And your honesty makes me feel better about my own mistakes as a parent.)

    As for blogging in general, I think it's an amazing way for people to share opinions, experiences, advice, etc, but I'm not inclined to do it myself. It sort of scary to put yourself out there for all the world to see...something you do weekly, I know, but still.

    Anyway, thank you for your wonderful writing. Best wishes to you and your beautiful family.

    Susan

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  7. 1. I don't keep my own blog. My husband ostensibly does to chronicle a children's book he's trying to write but doesn't post much.

    2. Why do I read other people's blogs? To get information on a more human level. Yours is the only "parenting" blog I read although I will read the other Journals at BabyCenter. Otherwise I read mostly political blogs.

    Parenting books and magazines are about general experiences and may or may not apply to my children or my situation. Blogs are personal and relate specific experiences which, judging from the comments you get, seem to be pretty universal. It makes me feel connected to all the other mothers out there struggling with the same issues, laughing at the same antics, shaking their heads at their kids' weirdness.

    3. In what ways does blogging affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent?

    Reading your blog and before this, your Journal, has allowed me to relax a little. To realize that many have gone before me and many will come after me and we're all making mistakes and doubting our abilities as a parent. It's allowed me to forgive myself for letting the kids in our bed, or being short with my son when I'm pissy about something else, or having dishes in the sink and dust bunnies under the couch, or generally not being the ideal parent the media tells me I'm supposed to be.

    Your blog especially reminds me to savor those everyday moments in my family's life (whether it's because you did or regret that you didn't).

    4. Anything else?

    Keep it up.

    (quotes and name OK to use--Gina Anderson, Chicago)

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  8. busymomx311:36 AM

    Hi Catherine,

    1. I don't keep a blog because I feel that I have nothing interesting
    and/or original to say. Some writers, like you, can write about near-universal thoughts
    and feelings about parenthood, in original and thought-provoking language. Then there's the rest of us, who may try and try, but end up
    with something that reads like a sixth-grade essay on how we spent our summer vacations.

    2. The previous sentence is why I only read a very few blogs. Anyone
    can write a blog (and it seems like evryone does!). Very few people write something that really reaches me.

    3. Your blog has truly enriched my life as a parent. You've saved my
    sanity more times than I can count. You've made me cry and laugh and,
    best of all, inspired me to really enjoy my children even as I'm gritting my teeth because I just can't stand one more toothbrushing,
    shoelace-tying, dishwasher-emptying, laundry-folding, no-time-to-myself
    minute. Your writing reminds me of how much I just plain like my children. And, yes, also that I, and my husband, hold their hearts in
    our hands, which has saved me from many a thoughtless, impatient omment
    or action. And when I carelessly or impatiently bruise those precious,
    fragile handfuls, your blogs have soothed my own bruised heart and made me remember that I am not alone, that I do my best, and that tomorrow is a fresh chance to be the parent that I want to be before this time passes me by forever.

    4. Blogs, unlike partners, friends, therapists, etc. are available
    24/7/365, assuming your power and internet connection aren't out, of
    course! Blogs are also strangely personal and impersonal at the same
    time. I know more about your failures as a parent than I do about
    anyone else's but my own and my husband's, but you don't know about
    mine. And that is immensely comforting to me in the middle of those nights when I can't sleep for thinking about what an awful day it was and how I have irreparably damaged my children by my own immature or careless actions. I can feel repentance and forgive myself but don't have to confess my sins. Kind of like the ideal confessional. Can you tell I was brought up as a Catholic!

    Good luck with your article. I look forward to reading it. Feel free to quote me and use my real name.

    Mary Gardner
    Sparta, New Jersey

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  9. Hi Catherine,

    I'm in Somerville so if you quote any of this, I might take you up on the offer. :)

    1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I started blogging because friends kept pushing me to write. Eventually I realized that I have alot to say, and wanted to reach a broader audience than the friends and family who might stop by and admire pictures of my son. Keeping a blog is good writing practice. I could never quite bring myself to 'write down the bones' in a word document or a journal, but something about the near instant feedback of blogging motivates me to keep plugging away.


    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    The main reason is a sense of community. I love stumbling upon great writing, and I love finding a piece that makes me jump out of my chair and shout: "Yes! She/he gets it!" Motherhood can be so isolating, and I have found a lot of value in sharing experiences with other mothers who blog.



    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)



    Sometimes I wonder if blogging has made me a worse parent. Not just in terms of the minutes I steal to peck away at my laptop, but in terms of making less than perfect parenting more acceptable "Oh your kids make you crazy? Mine too. The little parasites. Have a big glass of wine and let them watch Sesame Street for an hour." Much more realistic than books, but I have wondered if we all feed some cycle of negativity in the interest of bonding and being funny.

    On the flip side, blogging has also helped me understand that I personally need more than just 'mother' as my identity. I was overdosing on Dr. Sears and feeling pretty shitty about myself for not measuring up to the high standards that most parenting experts set.


    4. Anything else about blogging?

    It's highly addictive! Stop while you still can.

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  10. why blog?
    I feel like there is so much to share and its like access somehow to friends and family. Also a creative outlet for me and a chance to really get perspective and keep me mindful of what this parenting thing is really all about. I do find I carefully choose my words or I start to sound rather negative all the time because that's when I am inclined to write, when things are tough. Why is that? But with writing about a situation or thought I then can take that and find the spin I guess. And at the same time maybe it's my scandinavian, midwestern up bringing, but I don't want to sound too boastful or say too many wonderful things about my kids. And really the blog is about me as a mother and how I relate to them as a stay home mom more than it's about them

    other blogs?
    I only read yours and a couple friends' and they inspired me to try it out. Your blog to me is pure gold because I love your point of view and find your writing so honest and true. I find myself in situations with other parents that seem a little more... shall I say enchanted by this experience and then feel a little negative, but know that you would get it. Like the other day at a birthday party my kids were drinking juice boxes and another kid was very interested in my daughter's and the mom said "oh, he's never had a juice box so he's curious". Do you know this little jabbing thing we do as parents and again I thought you would have something great to say about it.

    blogging affecting my parenting?
    reading blogs and writing both make me feel connected to other parents and more of what I answered above about validation I guess.

    anything else?
    I have found it funny that some of my family and friends who seem to keep up with my blog have felt inclined to send me pep talk emails telling me that I'm doing a good job and basically telling me that I should be more enchanted. These are people who don't have children!

    You can quote me.

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  11. I've been thinking and writing about this a lot lately, so I'll just be really crass and include the links:

    Why I write: Blog Ambition

    Why I read: Lit-Crit 101

    How blogging affects my parenting: (quoted from a mostly unrelated post): There are many reasons that I love reading blogs, perhaps most of all for the new eyes they give me with which to see my children (as Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi puts it, "we’re made so that we love / First when we see them painted, things we have passed / Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see").

    Blogging sucks up a huge amount of time, but I do think it makes me a better parent: saner, and more appreciative. A week ago, I wrote a post about rage that I was afraid to publish (braced more for sympathy than criticism, but afraid nonetheless). That post was met with a flood of recognition, and several people posted their own discussions of the dark side of mothering - the stuff that doesn't really make its way onto Baby-Center.

    I know that you were peripherally involved in those discussions, Catherine, as Kristen from Home on the Fringe cited you as the parent who never loses it, a reference picked up by Karrie W. (more because you're the ideal form of parent for so many of us, not really that you refuse to acknowledge the dark side). There's a huge appetite for this kind of truth-telling; it's enormously healing, and blogging is one of the few safe places where it can happen.

    You can quote me as "bubandpie" (I tend to keep my real name out of my blog).

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  12. 1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I keep a blog to keep friends and family updated on our lives. I also keep a blog as a sort of journal. I'm a scrapbooker and generally will post pics and the stories behind them on the blog before I'll have a chance to make a page about it.

    2. Why do you read other's blogs?

    I read other's blogs for a couple of reasons. Because I'm intersted in how other people live, I also read to learn, grow, be inspired and gain a new perspective. I've learned more about autism from
    someones blog than I probably would have if I hadn't read it.

    3. In what ways does blogging- writing or reading- affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent?

    I've found through reading blogs that I'm not alone- I'm a mom and a woman and I'm struggling to balance it all and that includes just trying to savor the everyday. Finding out I'm not a terrible person because I sometimes find it difficult to muster up the required amount of patience for any given tantrum situation, is soul soothing.

    I've also found that I'm not the only one who will lie awake at night and worry about my own neurotically created burglar breaking into my house. I mean, which kid I would go to first? And how I would get them both out of the house?

    There are so many situations in life where you can second guess yourself , but it's easier to not do that when you see that you are not alone.

    As far as writing... It's been interesting to see what information I censor knowing that family is going to read my words. :o) But, it's also helped me to see that I have wonderful things in my life and we do fun things and I can enjoy it and savor it- even if it's a little after the fact. I know that sounds strange but so much with kids is about being in the moment and getting everyone there and present too that it's sometimes not until after that you realize- 'wow- that was fun' or 'oh yeah, that was funny.'

    4. Anything else?

    I wonder how others see me through my blog and wonder if I'm seeing others in their true self or their censored self.

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  13. 1 - started the blog initially as a way of extending debate started by our book, 'the madness of modern families', cos i felt that in the blogosphere, people can fess up to how they feel without fear of censure or loss of face.
    2 - started reading to see how it was done - and was gobsmacked by how clever, funny and honest some bloggers are - they're the one's i've added to my favourites list and click onto almost every day.
    3 - it confirms what i thought - that parents (particularly women) have a lot of feelings that they might not want to air publicly, but a lot of wisdom and insight that they can (and do) share. we rail against the same absurdities - it's empowering to know that so many people feel the same!
    4 - i now feel blogging to be part of the new wave of democritisation of information and of parents (and other interest groups, i'm sure) reclaiming the right to be heard. it's not huge in the uk yet - but i think it's an unstoppable juggernaut of self-expression that is making the world more of a global village by the second. it also transcends race, class, political and cultural boundaries and allows participlants to connect on the most fundamental level!
    i love it! (and you can quote any of that - if any of it makes sense!) x

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  14. I blog, but keep the information about my son fairly limited. I do worry about the potential audience of my blog.

    As a knitter, it is amazing to see what other people do, it inspires me to stretch my creative boundaries.

    I started my blog to prove to myself that I do more than I thought I did. I continually discount the number of projects I do or their difficulty. So, in part, I blog to prove to myself that, while I am not the most prolific, I am certainly quite competent. I see other knit bloggers out there complaining about the difficulty of something that I haven't had trouble with. This is not to say that I am some sort of genius, but rather there is something about knitting that just clicks in my head and comes rather easily to me.

    As knitting can be isolating - no teams involved - blogging is an easy way to plug into a large and active community that I previously did not know existed.

    Not sure if this answers your question. If you want more info, pop over and leave a comment.

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  15. Your kids are ADORABLE!!! I can't believe how grown up they are becoming. I can still remember the very first pic of little Ben on Babycenter...and the very first picture of new little Birdy...it seems like yesterday, and then when I see new pictures of them I realize it was ages ago! Actually AGES ago! *lol*

    I enjoyed the article this week a lot...it is so true. We feel so trapped by different things about our kids...and you blink at it is gone. Like those first 6 weeks, it seems like you'll die long before the baby sleeps through the night or stops squawking like a baby bird or draining you dry every 2 hours...and you blink and the baby is in PreK! Oh my!

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  16. Gah! Sorry for typos. I wish Blogger had an 'edit post' option.

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  17. Meghan1:32 PM

    Catherine,
    I only read you blog and the other journals at babycenter. Yours is a joy! I read it because I feel a connection to you since reading the entire thing over at babycenter. I have laughed out loud and felt so sad for you and I feel like you are one of my friends. I hate to sound stalkerish. I live in Connecticut, and just vacationed in MA and was secretly hoping I'd see you on one of our outings. Anyway, now that you're scared out of your mind, I'll try to keep answering your questions.
    I read your blog to feel a connection with another parent. My kids are 3 1/2 years apart and I go through a lot of the things you go thru. It feel good to read about similar things and know that I'm not alone. Also, I love hearing about the antics of your beautiful kids.
    In answer to your 3rd question, I have to say that you have effected me a lot in my parenting. I always try to be laid back and easy going with my girls. I try to enjoy the moment.....
    But, sometimes I snap at my oldest or don't pay attention when I really should have and hurt her feelings. One time I read in your blog about how you noticed after snapping at Ben, I think, that we hold all this power and we can deflate our children with a simple word. It really struck me! I have been trying so hard since then to hold my temper and really try to put myself in their place and think, "how would I want to be treated if I were excited about something". You have helped me countless times to re-evaluate myself and keep adjusting. I thank you for that. Sorry to keep going on and on, but long story short. I love your blog and think you're doing a wonderful job with your kids and please keep it up so we can keep reading about you and your beautiful family! Thank you.
    By the way, I don't know that you'd want to, but if you do, you can quote me. :-)

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  18. 1. Why do you keep a blog?
    To keep the family updated and share pictures, share life. It's much easier to direct people to a blog spot than to e-mail out with attachments.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs? Because I am nosy and love to read how other people live and parent. I love looking at photos.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent?
    Well, the phrase, "it takes a village" is very true. When I irritated, delighted, or completely supified by my kids and their behavior I usually find some other parent out there experiencing the same thing. They don't come with manuals and by reading techniques that other parents do, it has helped a lot (plus watching Super Nanny-Joe Frost is amazing). And I love to brag about my kids and share all the embarassing, witty things they say!

    4. Anything about blogging?
    It's a sign of the times, the new in thing to do. I guess we all think we are so important we deserve a place, a website, a blog, whatever it is to express our freedom and write whatever the heck we want. It's not just for the teenagers anymore (man I feel old just typing that!).

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  19. Tina G4:03 PM

    I e-mailed you my comments- but I'd like to add one thing- I think that reading other blogs truly helps you keep your own life and worries in perspective- that instead of feeling completely overwhelmed by, let's say your child's recent stuttering, you can read something and just realize that you are lucky and blessed, no matter what happens.

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  20. I sent my response via e-mail. Drop me a line at my blog if you don't get it, and I will resend it.

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  21. I've been thinking more about your question about how blogging affects the way I parent. Karrie's right that blog-reading lowers the bar a little, so the question is what role those higher standards play to begin with. Do they actually motivate us to be better mothers, or are they just a blunt instrument we use to hit ourselves about the head? (I'll leave you to infer how I answer that question.) ;)

    When I started blogging five months ago, I was very troubled by my inability to be in the moment with my children (the theme of your Wondertime blog, I realize!). As soon as they fell asleep, I missed them - and as soon as they woke up I started counting down the seconds until it was time for them to sleep.

    Blogging helps - it's developed in me a new way of interacting with my children. I go through my day in a kind of "compose post" mode, where I'm actively selecting words to describe my children - their beauty, their quirkiness, their inner lives - and that process helps me to see them, to be mindful of who they are even when they're awake.

    And yes, reading other mom-blogs showed me how very widespread that feeling of detachment can be (especially, I think, among highly verbal mothers of non-verbal children!). But giving myself permission not to feel guilty about it actually helps me to enjoy my kids more.

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  22. BLogs....
    I have tried to write one, but it feels too exposed for me, I desire anonimity for myself and kids...but I am ok that others feel comfortable sharing their lives.
    I read them to catch up with friends and sort of discuss issues(public or personal) that come up for them. Two kids makes phone contact next to nil, so this sort of helps me feel connected to other adults.
    Blogs help me to feel that MY personal parenting trials and tribulations are not mine alone, but shared amoung other semi-sane mothers.

    I like it.

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  23. Anonymous7:27 PM

    1. I use it to post pictures for family and friends (let's face it, mostly Grandma). Also, I'm horrible at keeping a baby journal. I find that posting to the blog is 'funner' than putting pen to paper. Feels like so much of it is a blur already.
    2. There are some amazing mom-writers out there. I find the blogs more interesting than most magazines, newspapers, TV, movies etc. Seems that the entertainment industry has been reduced to the Adam Sandler's of the world. Maybe I need to get out more.
    3. I read BudandPie's comment about the blog-ranting lowering the bar. But then I think maybe we need to do just that. There's so much pressure to be the perfect parent blah blah blah. So I guess blog reading makes me feel less isolated and inept (except about blogging since everyone is so much better at it). Sometimes it's just a few good chuckles to relieve some pressure and sometimes it's amazing that the moms can put into words exactly what I'm feeling. Both reading and writing make me pause to enjoy this short time in my life.
    4. I have to admit there is the creepy-factor to having a blog. I've recently changed my blog to a private-one (a new feature with blogger). But I do feel guilty since I love reading everyone else's. I'm considering a second blog for a more public voice.

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  24. Anonymous7:31 PM

    I'm a reader of blogs, but I could never blog myself because I'm too insecure to put myself out there. I admire those with the fortitude to express something and then have others comment upon and even judge that expression. I'm no writer though, and perhaps being a writer gives one a certain stamina to withstand some of the criticisms.

    Why do I read blogs? I have to say that my initial blog reading coincided with the birth of my daughters almost three years ago. At that time we gave up our T.V. and although I felt smug about that for a while, I now realize that I used internet surfing as my replacement crutch. Your Baby Centre journal got me hooked, and through a comment someone made on your writing I checked out Dooce and then it snowballed from there!

    It has certainly made a tremendous impact on my "parent as consumer" experience. I have checked out parenting books from the library based on entries or comments I have read. I even searched for products mentioned by bloggers. Fertile ground left fallow by television's absence!

    Reading blogs has, on a more positive note, made me aspire to be a more present and loving mum, as well. I don't have a large community of like-minded mums to draw inspiration or comfort from. I am the only one I know who breastfed past a year. Reading your entries about Birdy's toddler nursing was very reassuring. Although,(and please don't take this as a complaint as I remember you shared it was too painful to write about)I am missing the story of Birdy's weaning as a context for thinking about when my girls will wean.

    Your writing in particular has been very important to me. I am so glad that you have chosen to continue to write in this forum, as I would be suffering much as I imagine Victorian readers did waiting for the next installment of Great Expectations -- books and magazines just aren't immediate enough!

    Thanks,
    Stacey

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  25. Since I'm such a big big fan (I'm the one who refers to you as Uber-Fantastique, which you so totally are!), I'd love to fill out your blogging questionaire for your article. Feel totally free to quote me...

    1. Why do you keep a blog? I keep a blog for several reasons. I've always written in journals or diaries, and having a computer makes it easier to do so. If there's a lot going on that I want to write about, its less painful on the hand than just writing free-style with a pen. Although I'm pretty open about my life and what's going on in it, I still have a "private" blog that only a few people can get access to, and it saves the time and trouble of retelling things to the nearest and dearest who I still end up calling and going on and on about whatever it is that's getting under my skin. On the blogs I post that are not private, its a place where I can get feed back from friends or random people out there who might possibly shed light on things, give advice, or just say something reassuring and kind. Having friends and family spread out all over the country and in some situations, the world, and different schedules and lifestyles, its another way for them to know what's going on in my life. Another reason is that writing and posting something sometimes is fantastic therapy. It gets it out there and out of my system.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs? In some cases, its a friend or family member's blog I'm reading, and for the same reason they read mine, its to see what's going on in their lives. As for the blogs on blogspot.com and babycenter.com, I read those as a way to touch base with other mothers and parents, or to get that feeling of "Okay, here's this other person out there in the world who understands how barfing nonstop during your first trimester can make you understand why you might not want another baby..." or "So my daughter's not the only one who uses her dinner as target practice with the cats?" It can be reassuring sometimes to read about someone else's life being similar to mine.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.) I don't know, in all honesty, if it affects the way I parent or think about parenting. Certainly, I've gotten ideas on how to deal with certain situations with my toddler from reading other people's experiences. Once again, its in its own way a nice touch stone when you read someone else's blog, and they talk about a feeling or an experience they've had as a parent or with their pregnancy. I will say this much, when I started reading blogs on a regular basis, I was about two months into my pregnancy with my daughter, and it kind of set off a light bulb that at the very least writing out a journal about being pregnant and early weeks of mother hood was a good idea. I can look back and laugh or cry or just grow nostalgic reading about what I was feeling finding out I was having a girl and my baby shower and how my labor and delivery went. There are some things I won't talk about in my public blog that I might or might not talk about in my private one. But I can remember typing a post on one of the babycenter.com bulliten boards announcing that my daughter had been born, and how touched I was so many people responded to it with well wishes and congratulations. I think in its own way, its a new method of connecting for people.

    4. Anything else about blogging? Not really... lol... I think I've pretty much or less said how I feel about it.

    Hope that helps!

    ps (I also emailed it to you)

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  26. Anonymous8:22 PM

    oops, I just proofread my comment - I didn't mean to imply that the bloggin' moms are inept. Just that we're all experiencing the same frustrations, doubts, etc. Actually that's another thing about blogging - it's opened my eyes to the way that a twenty-something mom in small town Texas shares similar parenting experiences to a lesbian couple in New York City to a over-40 suburban mom in Canada (that's me).

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  27. Anonymous9:00 PM

    I post a blog so that people near and far who mean alot to me can keep up with my family without having to write or call. I know its a horrible reason - but with full time employment its hard to be on the phone and take time with my child.

    I read other blogs to find out if I am completely alone with my neurosis.

    I think reading other blogs affects my parenting because I pick up tips and ways of thinking about things in other ways. It is helpful in a weird sort of way when I read that someone else sits up all night watching the hot feverish body when the baby is sick.

    -
    Ann
    New Orleans, LA

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  28. 1. Why do you keep a blog? I keep a blog as a record of all the fun and unfun memories in my life. Some are good, some not so good. But its when we can look back at things and smile that we know we are truly alive and experiencing life. I like to read my old entries and see how my beliefs about things have changed.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs? I started reading Ben and Birdy because I love kids and plan to work with them someday. I stumbled upon Babycenter and I loved it. I read other blogs just to get that feeling of connection with another person. Ill also read sometimes, people that have nothing in common with me. Its interesting to see life from a different viewpoint.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    Reading other people's stories about kids makes me look forward to when I have my own and can write about their little lives.

    4. Anything else about blogging? I have blogged since I was 14 so about 7 years now. I always kept a journal and I really love having an outlet to vent my frustrations and share my jubilations.

    Feel free to quote me on anything all or part. :) Sara Maria from MI (Im 21 if ya wanna know lol)

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  29. 1. I keep a blog mainly to keep friends and family updated on our goings-on. I also like to write and feel that it is something creative that I can do in my free-time (what?).

    2. I read other people's blogs to know what is going on with my friends and family, or (if they are strangers) because I find them interesting, funny, or insightful.

    3. I actually love reading other blogs about moms, families, kids, etc (like yours) because it makes me feel like I'm not the only one out there. Especially as a stay-at-home mom because we seem to be a dying breed. I have also gotten advice from complete strangers when I'm dealing with a parenting issue that they have dealt with before. That kind of "been there, done that" expertise is invaluable (and way better than pediatricians or so-called experts who have never raised kids full-time).

    4. In response to Krista and her comment about how our kids would feel about putting their lives in our blogs: I do keep a separate journal for each of my kids where I record special things about them, our relationship, and my feelings about being their mom. In my blog, I mostly put funny stories about them or just basic, developmental milestones (mostly for my mom to read!).

    ReplyDelete
  30. 1. Why keep a blog?

    Mostly to keep friends and family updated on what is happening in our lives. We have two small children and relatives from Korea to Newfoundland, so I don't have to send the same pictures and stories all over the place. I also like it for our immediate family - like a family journal of all of the things that happen...funny/good/bad and sad! My 5 and 3 year old will now say, "Here Mommy get a picture of me doing this so you can put it on our blog!"

    2. Why read other blogs?

    I have found a few that are really interesting. I like reading about other Mom's (especially you!) It is great to see that there are literally Moms all over the world facing the same things that we are. I also read some friends' blogs to keep up with them, and a few non-Mom blogs, just because they are really funny.

    3. How has it affected your parenting?

    The thing I love about blogging is that it gives me another reason to stop and REALLY take in what is happening with our family. When my little boy learned to ride his bike, I wrote a whole blog about how it was like him growing up and us letting go a little bit at a time. In a way, I guess it makes me think deeper about what is happening.

    I also try to remember some of the really insightful things I have read in other blogs. One I will always remember is, with our children "we hold their hearts in our hands." (from Bringing up Ben and Birdy) If you are feeling frustrated, or having a rough day, this is such a great reminder of the "power" we have, and that we have to be so careful with these precious little ones we have.

    4. As a few others have said, blogging is addictive!

    You can quote me...Tara-Lynn from Canada

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  31. Stephanie9:41 PM

    1. Why do you keep a blog?
    I have an anonymous blog that I keep. It allows me to write publicly, yet privately, about different things that I've learned in life and different things that I am growing through. I like to write and have kept journals for years. More recently I have wondered if anyone else could benefit and learn from some of the life lessons and trials that I go through personally. So I decided to start a blog. I don't know who reads it or if they glean anything from it, but I figured that someone at some point will probably be searching for answers to one of life's many struggles, both great and small, and maybe they will come across what I've written and gain another perspective on it. Or maybe find a solution.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
    I love getting a glimpse into other people's lives. Not just the "Hi, I'm Joe. I have two kids and we camp every year." kind of details, but the point of view they live in. Life is so colorful with us all seeing different hues, and I find it lovely and inspiring to see life through someone else's eyes once in a while.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)
    When I read blog entries on parenting, I find that we all have similar struggles and experiences, but we all see them in a different light. And sometimes, all I needed was a new perspective to help me understand what is going on, or learn what I can change about me to alter the outcome. And sometimes I get creative ideas and inspiration. And sometimes I learn what NOT to do--ever! Because my natural circle of friends and family only goes so far, it's nice to have insight on parenting from other parents that I might not ever hear from in the circles I'm a part of.

    Because of my desire to be open and honest in my blog entries, I find that writing about my own parenting seems to make me think more throughly about choices that I make on a daily basis. I try to see the world of my children and my family from a more holistic perspective. It's almost like writing publicly about my parenting and my children's lives holds me accountable to do a better job than what I might do if I didn't tell the blogging world about it. So, if I had to sum it up--I think that blogging about my parenting has helped to make me a better parent.

    4. Anything else about blogging?
    It's great fun (as well as a great consumer of time) to read and write blogs! And yours, Catherine, have always been in the top of my list for regular reading. I love the way you look at life through the eyes of your kids... and let yourself learn so much from the simple, yet complex ways of your children. It's very inspiring--thank you for sharing so much!

    ::Stephanie

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  32. Stephanie9:45 PM

    Oh, by the way... permission granted for quoting. :)

    ::Stephanie Rue, South Jersey

    ReplyDelete
  33. Anonymous10:01 PM

    1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I don't. I'm barely computer literate enough to read blogs.

    2. Why do you read other's blogs?

    The good writing, funny, better than many newspaper columnists. Also the soap opera component, seeing break-ups, births, sad things, unfold before your eyes. The writers I have bookmarked write way more interesting "Xmas letter" equivilants than the real people I know who send them and theoretically I should care more about the ballet class that little Jasmin is taking.
    In a way trying to understand different cultures (although to tell the truth all I read are white, middle class, English speaking ones) or at least mothers in a few different countries. It is a recent addiction, maybe it will pass.

    3. In what ways does blogging- writing or reading- affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent?

    It's made me more confident and aware that there are different styles of parenting. Some of the comments freak me out though with their judgemental nature.
    They make me realise that the only thing one mother has in common with another is that they both have children ie before that I think I thought mothers went in unique women and were churned out mumsy, cuddly, and sugary (which I'm not really).

    4. Anything else?

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  34. Anonymous10:11 PM

    1. Why do you keep a blog?
    I don't, but wish I did!

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
    I find insight into parenting and just living life as a family. Plus, it's entertaining and usually I laugh, which is necessary as a parent of young children! I also found one that posts links to music from TV shows and other sources, which helps me feel like I'm somewhat keeping up with new music.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)
    Reading other parents' blogs reminds me that I am human and others have the same thoughts, fears, emotions as I do. It also usually refocuses me to the bigger picture of parenting - not the every day drudgery, but the entire time I have with these little beings, teaching them and learning from them. And loving them wholeheartedly. I'm usually a better parent for a while after reading one!

    4. Anything else about blogging?
    I really wish I had the time to keep one. I'm finishing a PhD, and I'm hoping to start one when the dissertation is done. Reading others' blogs makes me think more in terms of telling the stories of my kids, not just listing events that happen. But I would only allow family and friends to read it. I have many of the same concerns about publishing for others to see.

    Lynette - Shaker Heights, OH
    (you can quote me and use my name if you need)

    Thanks, Catherine, for your wonderful writing and musings on parenting.

    ReplyDelete
  35. HI, Catherine...
    I don't ever blog here because I blog at myspace...If you want to read any of my blogs, I'm at www.myspace.com/babsiegirl...
    1.) I keep a blog for a lot of reasons. One is that I have a major tendency towards being a type A personality, and creativity comes hard for me. I need to give myself an outlet to create, so I don't implode! Also, I like to chronicle the adorable things my 2 and 4 year old do or say (hmmm, where did I get that idea from? Catherine maybe?). Also I don't like to complain too much out loud, so it's a great place to kvetch, and I can delete it later. Mostly, though, I just always have a lot of thoughts inside me, and if I don't blog them, I forget them.
    2.) I read other people's blogs because I'm just such a busybody!
    No, like many of your readers, your blog at babycenter was the first blog I ever read, while I was pregnant for the first time with my son. We have a lot in common...I was 31 when I had Jacob, and already very established in a marriage and career. My life was going to change so drastically and wonderfully and I just wanted to absorb everyone's experiences who walked this path before me.
    3.) My own writing makes me realize how unfair or thoughtless I was as a parent in this or that situation. It also helps me stop and appreciate the little miracles that happen everyday with my kids. There's something about stopping to write down their adventures,that makes me really appreciate these little wonders. As for reading, I feel like it gives me a window into the rest of the world. Being a stay-at-home parent can seem very isolating at times, and I need to see the perspectives of mom's with different lifestyles to remember what unites all of us mommies.
    If you ever do check out my blog at myspace, I'd reccomend that you read 2 that are especially about my kids.
    The first one is entitled "Chubby little fingers grasp your heart forever" and it is about my son. I know it sounds really sappy, but I bet you'll relate when you see that it is about how quickly they grow. The blog about my daughter is in a similar vein, and it has a really simple title: "I wrote this right after Sarah turned one (she's two now)"
    Good luck with your article; I thoroughly enjoy them each week!

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  36. Catherine,
    In answer to your questions I guess it all boils down to you! As a devoted Baby Center reader (our kids as mentioned before are similar ages) I have parented along with you for years. I commented once in a while, bought your book and basically life was good.

    Then you decided to leave and after much panic I found you again at Wondertime and found your blog. I had never ever read a blog in my life. So to answer your questions...

    1. I have just started my blog (2 posts so far) so "keep" may be ambitious at this point. I started it to keep a living history of our family where everything feels so endless and fleeting all at once. I was completely inspired by your postings at Baby Center and your new blog. I used to write journals but now I find this so much easier (mentally and physically). On a side note my sister recently left for South Korea to teach English to Kindergarten kids so this will allow her to keep up with us.

    2. This is a slippery slope I have discovered. After reading only your postings for so many years I feel a bit like I overate at the buffet by the glutony of posts I am trying to read now. I read them because it is so personal and anonymous at the same time. I learn things, relate to people and generally take comfort in the fact that while we may not all be the same we all love our kids to death, are terrified daily of losing them, and generally can't even imagine life before them.

    3. Reading great blogs like yours (another favourite is fellow Canadian Bub and Pie) I constantly nod in agreement and say to myself I so hear you. Your blog/postings have always reasonated with me in a way that nothing else ever did - kind of a kindred spirits thing without ever having met. I know you have heard this countless times but it is true. You put into words my feelings of deepest love, silliest worries, darkest thoughts and make it all seem so effortless. I would feel a genuine loss if I could not read about Ben and Birdy and you and Michael.

    So I guess the answer lies herein, blogs give you a sense of comfort that there are parents all over the planet going through the exact same thing you are going through. Reading and writing blogs heals your soul and is like a nice cool washcloth on your forehead all at the same time.

    I KNOW I am a better and more mindful parent for having known you and your family. I try very consciously to be more mindful and to remember we really do hold their hearts in our hands one of the most memorable lines you wrote- and their have been many.

    4. Anything else? Well, let's see. I am trying not to stuff my face with every blog I come across - Bub and Pie has about a 100 on her list alone! I am trying to focus on a handful that really move me or inspire me. This can easily become a serious addiction and I have no ambition to become a "popular" blogger with hundreds of hits or whatever the correct terminology is here in blog world. I do this for me and my family. Would I love one day for another blogger to visit and comment (hint hint - just kidding I would probably pass out if I saw BenBirdy1 show up!) of course I would but that is not my motivation. Up until now no one knows about my blog and that is ok since it is not about that. Some of the blogs I have seen (mostly the Toronto area Moms) are slick machines with all kinds of links, ads, lists, counters, etc. that I frankly don't think I could keep up with (though I do enjoy reading many of them). The fact that they write about blog burnout tells me it really can become too overwhelming - at least from my perspective. It has to be pleasurable or else why do it?

    I like the idea of preserving a living history, saving on therapist bills and the feeling I get from reading something so familiar I feel like the words have been pulled right out of my brain.

    Too much info? I hope not. I feel like the eager pupil who has finally been called on by the teacher. Good luck with the artcle. You can quote me as Jen.

    Best wishes Catherine.
    Jen

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  37. 1. I keep a blog (I don't actually do one here, though I am signed up--I do it at myspace) because I love to write at the spur of the moment, and it's just easy to do in blog form. There's not so much pressure about it being perfect or even good. I just barf up my thoughts onto the screen in whatever form they leave my brain, and it's good enough. I like how easy it is to go back and reminisce, reading my previous blogs.

    2. I read other people's blogs if I find them interesting or funny. I guess there's some sort of strange feeling of comraderie (have no clue if I spelled that right) that comes with sharing blogs. I'm also nosy.

    3. I think blogging affects the way I parent in that I'm writing out my thoughts and feelings, and it forces me to thing about things, like whether I did the right thing taking my son's toy away when he got mouthy with me, or whether I should re-think getting so upset with him for being so sad that daddy's birthday cake did not get done baking early enough for him to have any (that actually happened the other night, and it's definitely not his fault that it wasn't done baking until midnight. I won't say whose fault it is, but you can guess). Anyway, it just helps me to re-assess things, and also to vent.

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  38. Me again. No idea why the little trash can icon came up at the end of my comments...bad thoughts maybe. Not sure how to get rid of it either as it keeps asking me if I want to delete my comments. I don't so please excuse it!
    Jen

    PS If it happens again I do apologize, it is not on the preview screen-so sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Um..I am so bad...I have no intention of commenting on blogs, but I did want to comment on how grown up Ben looked in the wondertime photo. He looked like a mini Calvin Klein guy with the long longs and far away expression. And Birdy was sweet too : )

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  40. oops...I meant long locks...and after I re-read it it seemed snotty...but what I meant to say is that he is such a handsome boy!

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  41. 1. Why do you keep a blog?
    I actually don't -- I keep a picture blog of sorts, but no writing yet, probably because I figure it wouldn't measure up...

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
    Well, yours is the only one I read; I've been reading your columns for years, but I love your blog -- it's more the real you. However, and you've always done this well in your writing, I love the voice that comes through in people's blogs -- I feel like their true personalities show.
    I used to teach and when I was teaching writing I would stress the importance of being able to have your "voice" come through in what you are writing (funny, since I've never been very good at it). Blogs are a perfect example.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    I like to think it helps me to be a better parent -- reading your writing inspires me to try to do better. At the very least, it reminds me that not being perfect (or even very nice sometimes) is okay, and it helps keep me sane. There are so many people going through the same experience that I am right now, and that makes me feel better about the whole experience somedays...

    You can quote me -- Jen Watkins
    Asheville, NC

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  42. Anonymous7:46 AM

    1. I live overseas and kept a website/blog before the birth of my son to keep in touch with family and friends. Blogging also helped to kill time when I was alone in a new place without a job, but with some interesting experiences to share (was living in Uganda.)
    2. Various reasons. One blog I read is a former boyfriend's - pure voyeurism (omygod he's still such a loser.) I dabble in political blogs and vlogs. But I'm a regular reader of a few blogs about children (you really started that addiction...) It has been an enormous help for making the adjustment to stay-at-home mom after having worked. I'm still overseas (now Germany,) and the first year with the first baby I felt very isolated. Helped to know that more or less that's generally true.
    3. Reading blogs about parenting is a way of validating some of the unbelievably strong feelings parenting brings about - tenderness, joy, sadness, frustration, etc. But it's also about simply enjoying a good laugh at a well-written description of a humorous incident involving kids who are about the same age as mine. It helps to keep things in perspective.
    4. If there aren't any sociology studies yet on this topic, you might have PhD material...

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  43. 1. Why do you keep a blog? I blog so long-distance family can keep up with the lives of my kids. I generally write like the whole world is reading, but usually it just fulfills a need of my husband and I to chronicle every spec of our kids lives for an eternity of looking back fondly.....we hope!
    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
    I feel like most people are a little more loose because of the protection of anonymity. People, especially parents, can be more honest and open about their experiences.
    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)
    You blog is really the only one have have read for so long. Since the beginning at Baby Center you have given me the freedom to be myself and parent at the same time. Your humorous descriptions about life have made me feel normal. I am a more laid back parent thanks to your blog!
    4. Anything else about blogging?
    It may just be me, but I have this great fear that one day all of my thoughts and memories of this day or that will go sprialing down some cyber-potty, never to be read or seen again. This is my fear of blogging.

    I don't care if you quote me. My name is Rachel White. My blog is ourmunchkins.blogspot.com

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  44. I'm an artist so I like to look at other artists websites and blogs. (shameless link to my website: http:www.brendysart.com) There is a group of artists that paint a painting every day and post them to their blogs. Very cool. Some day I hope to do this.

    I also love to read your blog and a couple other mom blogs. Your honesty has made me feel not alone more times than I can recall.

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  45. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Oh, and permission granted if you want to use any of my babbles from earlier. :)

    --Tracey

    ReplyDelete
  46. I started keeping a blog because I've always enjoyed writing, and I can do that without having to find an agent or deal with rejection and pesky deadlines. Unlike being a professional writer with an actual paycheck, if I go days or weeks without writing, I don't get nasty calls or witheld monies. It's also an outlet so I don't barrage my husband with the day's inanities--they number in the hundreds over the course of my day, and there's only so many hours after work and before bed--time enough for recounting about 450. Writing them helps me pare down the list.

    I read several blogs for amusement and/or reassurance. Other people have messy homes, insecurities about their parenting skills, and crazy families and they get through the day, so why can't I? Not all the blogs I read are parent-centric, though. Some just make me laugh. Rather like the guys I dated when I was younger--sometimes I went for the nice-looking ones, but the only ones that lasted longer than a few dates were the ones that made me laugh (and were also nice-looking, like my husband. I felt I needed a little qualifier there). After nearly ten years together, I can honestly say that the most important thing in my marriage is a sense of humor. Everything else seems to stem from that, at least for us.

    Reading and writing a blog doesn't necessarily affect the way I parent. Every so often I read something that might give me pause or lend clarity to a vague idea, but for the most part I'm confident in my parenting style, and something I read won't drastically change it. Unless someone writes that it's wrong to consider my child's face clean if it's been spit-shined (my own or the dog's) or to use sarcasm as a primary means of communication. Then I would totally change my ways. Really I would.

    The only other comment I have about blogging is that it's easy to get caught up in someone's opinion as the Final Word. Seeing something in print does not necessarily mean it's true or correct. The best attitude I bring to reading and writing blogs is that the internet is a valuable means for an open exchange of ideas; opinions can and do vary. I never slam people for writing something I disagree with, I just simply disagree and move on. Everyone's entitled to his or her own ideas, and having the freedom to express them is a powerful thing.

    Unless they're just being a jerk, in which case, they totally asked for it.

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  47. Dear Catherine,

    I have read and loved your column for a couple of years now but never posted any comments before. However, as we have the same name and similar age children, and furthermore once published poems in the same edition of literary mama ezine, I feel we have a lot in common!

    1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I started to write a blog because I thought it would motivate me to write on a regular basis. We live in China and there is so much I want to write about raising a family here and our interactions with this culture. However I can claim to have the least-trafficked blog on the internet, both by myself and others. This is because after I started it last May I found that I could not access the site from China. I could post but could not visit the site or read comments. This took the wind out of my sails and I only started posting again in the past few weeks when for some unknown reason the block was lifted. I think this says something about the process of blogging, at least for me. It is as much about creating a window onto your own life for yourself, as it is about sharing your life with others, and if the window only works one way, the fire goes out of it somehow. That is what I found anyway: if I could not see my blog and read what others might have to say about it, then it felt like it was just going out into the void and I didn't have the urge to write it.

    But I must be a fairly constipated blogger anyway because even now that that block is lifted, I am very cautious about what I put out there and I have hardly even told anyone that I write the darn thing! Perhaps I am too exacting, or I am used to reading such high-quality writing in blogs like yours, that I feel reluctant to just blurb about my life. Probably I need to just relax and get on with it.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    I don't read many because they are a black hole for time and those few precious free hours can be so easily squandered reading them. The ones I do read: yours, my friend Sophia Raday's columns in Literary Mama and a couple of others are all ones that I can identify with personally and that inspire me to write because they are so well-written.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    This touches on another reason why I am such a reluctant blogger. I don't know if other people find this but, if am thinking about something I want to write about, on my blog or in the newsletters I write to friends and family from China, it totally distracts me from the business of everyday life. In particular from the business of being a Mother. So I will be walking down the street with my sons, or sitting at the table with them, a glazed expression on my face and my mind busy mulling over how to describe some cute thing they have done, when suddenly I realise there is food all over the room or my oldest is waving his hands in my face and shouting, "Mummy, hello, are you listening?" and I realize I am not fully with my kids because I am too busy thinking about writing about being with them. Does that make any sense?

    The upside for me is that blogging enables me to step back a little from my daily life and the repetetive, draining side of parenting to reflect on what it all means. Trying to record the best and worst and most meaningful moments reminds me how wonderful so much of it is and how lucky we are.

    So that is the bad and the good, but I suspect there is also the plain blog-ugly. That's harder to pin down but is something to do with ego and the process of self-representation, how blogging makes me think too much about how my life and family appear to others rather than working on the actual substance of it myself. But I don't feel qualified to unpack that one fully. I clearly have a way to go to be a real blogger but in the meantime, thank goodness for people like you who are less inhibited and more creative than I am!

    Fine to use my name: Catherine from the UK but living in Sichuan Province China

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  48. ps-it's okay to quote me on the above- Carolyn from Connecticut. I know my comments are exactly what you're looking for, and have given you that EUREKA! moment you've been seeking. So, yeah, go for it.

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  49. Hi Catherine, since you are always so helpful in sharing with us, it is great to be able to help you! Answers to your questions:

    1. I do not keep a blog but am thinking about it.
    2. I like to read them because I feel so much in common with many blog writers. I think I have a hard time finding women who will share so openly about the triumphs and struggles of motherhood in person. I hear a lot of triumphs but not many struggles and since I experience both myself, it is so comforting to hear from other people who go through both as well. Plus, it is neat because they are written by women from all parts of the country, yet the experiences are very similar. Not to mention, most of them are just very funny. There are some women out there with great senses of humor.
    3. Similar answer to number 2, but in addition, there are great parenting ideas in the blogs. Mostly though, there is a great sense of commaraderie (spell?) - people seem more willing to share the hard times and less judgemental in "cyberspace". I read these blogs and the subsequent comments and I see so much support. I am wondering why it is less so when I meet women in person?

    4. Yours was the first blog I ever read, and I was hooked immediately. From there, I have begun reading others and it is just nice to see so many funny, worrisome, smart, talented, crazy Moms out there. It actually inspires me to try and be the best Mom I can be.

    Hope that helps!

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  50. Good luck with your article. Here are some thoughts. Hope it helps.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?
    The main reason is because I'm very (too) serious about parenting, always worrying. Reading the other mother's blogs makes me laugh about parenting, makes me take it with "un grain de sel". And laughing is so precious. The friend who made me laugh the most went to Swiss two years ago to commit a legal suicide.(She was extremely sick and courageous) Some mother's blogs have replaced her, in a way, in part.
    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)
    This morning, from another room, I heard Leonard, 3 years old, commenting about an Halloween "vitrail" (stained glass?) in the living room window. He was discovering it and he said to his sister : "Regarde le beau vitraux, c'est merveilleux !!!" ("Look at the stained glasses, it's marvelous!!!".And really, it's in plastic, a pumpkin that is cracked and a bit old.)
    Blogs from other mothers, and your blog and columns in particular, has allowed me to hear that comment from my son(and comments of that sort, or phases, or fears, or loves from both my children) to appreciate it and to stop and be happy about it. THAT is "merveilleux". Reading other mother's experiences makes me feel like I exist, like my experience as a mother is significant, important, and that feeling is increased if the blogger is an artist, a real writer. Reading mother's blogs has allowed me to see my children from a distance, as persons of their own(in my best moments, I must precise, which are not so frequent, but maybe would be inexistant, maybe, if not for the blogs and the psychotherapy...)
    4. Anything else about blogging?
    I don't understand why yet, but I have trouble writing my blog in French, my language. I only have written three posts, and two are in English. I am not sure if I will continue blogging at all, because I seem to want to write about silly things, like, for example, my wondering if a BBQ chips stained paper (my fault) I had to mark would end an already frail intellectual job.

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  51. Anonymous11:08 AM

    1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I don't. Partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I value my privacy, especially if letting people into my world would reveal to them how much I suck.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    Because they are funny and heartwarming and reassuring.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    A big chunk of my parenting depends on plagiarism--I see how other people do things, and I think "Oooh, good one! I should try that." I will occasionally read something knowing full well that it is going to make me crazy, but for the most part I want to know that I'm not in this alone and that while I may be losing my mind, there are enough kindred spirits out there that we have simply redefined what counts as sane. There's no way they can condemn everyone who broods about the advisability of letting my kids eat nonorganic hotdogs, can they? Wait, is that just me? Am I really alone?

    4. Anything else about blogging?

    I want to thank all the parents who are brave enough -- and energetic enough-- to put their lives out there. I feel sort of like a dead weight in cyberspace, benefitting from others' creative efforts while I contribute nothing other than the odd comment.

    Slim
    carrots,breathof@hotmail.com

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  52. 1. Why do you keep a blog? Well, I've always loved writing, and this is a way to kind of keep that writing muscle in shape. I do keep a journal for my daughter as well, but blogging lets me feel sort of in touch with the grown up world even when I'm stuck (but not unhappily or resentfully so!) at home with a baby. And it's therapeutic, of course, to put your feelings into words. It kind of allows you to analyze and get a new perspective on the situation you're blogging about.
    2. Why do you read other people's blogs? I pretty much just read yours, my sister in laws, and of course the parenting journals at BabyCenter. As a couple other people have mentioned, a lot of blogs (mine included, I'm sure) can be boring and obvious and just kind of a waste of time, much like watching your average reality TV program. They're fun, but they can be addictive, and before I know it I've spent two hours solid staring at the computer. But the select few I do read I read because I come away with something-from yours, for instance, I come away with a good laugh and a refreshed outlook on spending another day being the best parent I can be.
    3. In what ways does blogging-writing or reading- affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? It makes me a little more mindful, because I know I might be writing about any given situation at some point, and it kind of gives me a feeling of accountability to know that a lot of my friends and family are keeping up on all my little mommy dramas.
    I don't know that it affects the way I feel about my daughter as much as it reminds me of how I feel about my daughter, you know what I mean? I can sit down to complain about an awful day, but in the end I always come back to the conclusion that I have the sweetest baby in the world and I wouldn't trade lives with anyone!

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  53. 1. Why do you keep a blog?

    Therapy... I have good intentions to blog regularly, but they fall by the wayside more often than not... usually when I do post there is something driving it.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    Validation, as one blogger put it, I am the crunchy mom too... so my style, while I wouldn't say it conflicts with the rest of my families styles, is different...

    (Example, My daughter is 2 and a half and still sleeps in our room, usually in her crib but sometimes in our bed, and honestly, I don't mind... and neither does my husband.)

    I loved reading Ben and Birdy because for the first time there was someone who felt the way I did much of the time... what really hit me was the comment you made at the preschool about the real parents being there, cause you didn't feel like the real grown-up.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    Again validation, since I am the only person I know in my circle of family and friends who allows her child to sleep with her, it is hard, most people think you are nuts or something. We don't watch regular TV when she is awake... although we don't stop others from watching it when she is in their homes... although we do suggest Katie friendly shows and she does watch dora videos and disney rated G movies... she doesn't get many sweets at home, etc. etc.

    So our philosophy is very different and much of the time I feel very "out-there", reading that there is someone else doing what I am doing helps... I do have kindred spirits out there, even if I don't know them personally.

    4. Anything else about blogging?

    No one but my husband knows which blog is mine... I blog and I don't think anyone ever reads my blogs, but really I don't care, I like going back and reading some of the stuff and it bring a smile or a sigh and well generally a warm fuzzy...

    You can use my blogger.com id... and quote me if you wish!

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  54. I live in Greenfield, so I may just take you up on that drink offer. ;)

    1. I keep a blog to keep in touch with family and friends. I like to discuss politics and hope to keep people informed about current events. I like to point out interesting products and ideas so that I can find them later and also because maybe someone else is interested. I also keep a blog to keep memories alive.

    2. I read other people's blogs to keep in touch, to enjoy great writing and to be pointed in directions I might not otherwise take.

    3. Blogging, both writing and reading, is affecting the way I parent by first allowing me to affirm that I'm normal and I'm doing a good job, and second, by allowing me to voice my opinions and fears and questions and to get responses to those posts. I've met so many people by having a blog.

    4. My world has become bigger by having a blog and by reading others. I have so many friends whom I've never met in "real life".

    On a side note, all the women in my family have read your book. You are a great writer and I want to thank you for your honesty.

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  55. Sharie11:56 AM

    Confessions of a blog stalker.

    First, Thankyou! Thanks for sharing your life with the world, even the grimy details that are hard to share, even if it means you will be criticezed viscously for your decisions. Thanks for sharing your life with such honestly and openess, barely a filter applied to what you write. Thanks for being an example for me, an example of someone trying to mother in the best way they know how.

    I have to confess. I’ve been reading your blog and baby center for nearly two years. I found you while I was pregnant with my first, and just enjoyed reading about your life – raising a kid. Something I was about to embark on. Now we are working on number 2, something I’m not really sure how we are going to be able to handle. So I read aboout how you did it – and still are with such grace!

    I’ve been addicted to Mondays, when I get to read a new post. When I get to here the resolution to last weeks saga’s and an introduciton to this weeks. I quote you far to often, and a friend responded by asking meone day, “Have you ever even talked to her?” “Um….no.” I quietly reply. “Doesn’t that kind of make you a stalker?” Really extended pause, “No! She posts it out there for all the world to read!” My friend, with a skeptical look on his face, “I think you really might be a stalker.”

    So, here I am… A stalker – confessing for all the world to see. I never thought it would happen to me! My husband refers to you by name and often asks, “So what did Catherine do about swearing?” Or “Do you think Cather drank this much while she was breastfeeding?” Weird….

    So what brought on this confession? I’ve been planning it for months now, why today. You asked a question I needed to answer – more for myself than for you!

    So here goes…

    Why do you keep a blog?

    I keep a blog for a lot of reasons.
    I keep one to remember. I so quickly forget all the little day-to-day occurances that are so big to me as a mom.
    I keep one so my duaghter will know. She will know when she hit certain milestones, experienced new things.
    I keep one to let our friends and family know how we are doing and what’s happening in our boring little lives. As a working mom, I don’t find the time to keep touch with our friends on a regular basis. Blogging helps us feel like we are keeping in touch, even though we haven’t spoken in ages.
    I keep a blog to confess my sins and be absolved (so to speak). It takes the weight off my chest if something is bothering me, like how I handled that really whiny sleepless night last night.
    I keep a blog to sort out questions I have. Something about putting my thoughts downs helps me sort out my thoughts on tough decisions. It also helps me feel better aobut the decisions I make raising my daughter.
    I keep a blog as a release. Being a parent is so much more intense than I had ever anticipated. I will lay in bed at night, my mind in a spin, unable to sleep. I’ll hop up and write it all down. It calms my nerves and let’s me sleep.



    Why do you read other people's blogs?

    I have my circle of friends, they are all really great people. We share information about our lives as parents, but with a filter. We are not really close. We all are here for work, for most of us, this isn’t where we want to stay. We all live in an area with a really high percent of people of a specific religion and political leaning (Think Utah). I live in a community of members and non-memebers (me). The non-members flock together, even though we are oh so different in how we parent. These differences make us all shy away from really openeing up about how we choose to live day to day.
    I read other people’s blogs to hear what other parents have to say that have the same values and beliefs that I do. Someone I can realate to. In blog-land I can find people that support the same parenting decisions I am making. I makes me feel more secure in my decisions. I don’t have these friends in the “real world” so I read about them online. (Oh I’m such a nerd!!!!)
    There’s something about the anynomity about it. There is a name, or psuedonym, who you are the parents of, some obscure number, maybe even a picture to go along with it, but we are all just people in writing. We don’t have to suffer the repercussions of our neighbors, co-workers, or familiy finding out what was said or done, so the honesty seems to go up. The filter comes off. It seems more real here than in the “real world.”


    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    It no doubt makes me a better parent. In writing it helps me put life into perspective and deal with things as they happen one thing at a time. I tend to get worked-up, too worried, too out-of control. Writing gives me a chance to lay it all out, organize, take a few breaths and move on.

    Reading reminds me to keep trying to be my best (Catherine hasn’t given up yet, I can keep trying too). It gives me ideas and solutions for parenting, from how to handle meltdowns and potty training to breastfeeding and improving my sexlife.
    It’s a reminder to take things one day at a time (or one week in the case of most blogger’s), all these people out here are doing just that, and I can too.

    I could go on and on, but my break is loooooong over and I must get back to work.
    Thanks for listening, and my spell check’s broken, sorry!

    Sharie Williamson
    Oh ya, you can quote, but I can’t imagine why you would want to…
    Name listed above.

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  56. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Why do you blog?
    I don't.
    Why do you read other's blogs?
    I only regularly read your blog, your web/magazine journal entries, and Psycho Kitty's blog (thanks for introducing me in your last BabyCenter posting! Love her!)
    In both these cases, the writing is very good. I enjoy the insights and the humor. Also, like others have said, reading the blog lends a sense of community,identity and comfort. I've seen other parenting blogs/journals and don't go back to them because they aren't written well and have that 'mommy's kveching at the playground' tone. Your entries (I tend to think of your journal entries as blog-like) are brutally honest AND wholeheartedly tender. For example, when you talk about some of the tedium of daily like with kids, it's with refreshing candor. Others have that smarmy, slightly sarcastic, 'oh, I'm so above all this, but since I'm in it, I might as well be witty' air about their writing that makes me cringe. But, when a blog is well written--it keeps you coming back. You can't wait for the next installment. There's also a sense that you're being permitted to read someone's diary. It's intriguing.
    In what ways does it affect the way you parent, etc.
    Provides a framework for thinking about/discussing a parenting issue. You can gather information and start to see themes emerge. For example, the great sleep debate. Nervous new parent reads everything she can get her hands on. The books and articles all basically say the same things about the strikingly different approaches. New parent feels like a failure because, despite all these materials, she can't figure it all out and pick a clear course of action to solve the issue. Then she starts reading journal entries/blogs and the comments to those blogs. Before she may have thoughts "I can't believe I have to lay down with my toddler to put her to sleep, sneak out of the room only to be back in her bed a few hours later. I must be doing something freakishly wrong and setting in motion a terrible pattern that will never get resolved." After reading the journals/blogs/comments, things are put into better perspective. I don't feel that the way I put my kids to bed is 'wrong' or even that different from many parents' experiences. It lets me take a deep breath and not worry so much. That's my specific example. I can't imagine anything is quotable, but if so--feel free, and you can call me Cathy.

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  57. KiraKay12:25 PM

    I don't keep a blog, and don't read many, but reading Catherine's journal about Ben and Birdy the last three years has provided one gift in particular - relief. I have made a lot of mom friends since my daughter was born 3 years ago, but Catherine's thoughts on being a mom really resonate with me more than many friends; how she worries too much, her guilt when she's not her best self, even her fear of 'barfing flu'. It gives me a sense of relief to know that I'm not always entirely 'alone in a cave of fear' (to quote Catherine). Checking in with her writing has been my deep breath that I take that re-centers me and makes me feel better. Plus, she's totally funny - and that can also be the best medicine!

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  58. I have a 16 mos. old thumbsucker, and honestly, the minute he puts that thumb in and let's out a big sigh, I sigh, too, and my stress level goes down a notch. Plus his stuffed bear's ear in the other hand with the bear face buried in his is also quite endearing and right now I couldn't imagine wishing it away ever.

    Thank ye.

    I started a blog but I think I'm going to try to make it a journal and not care who else is reading it. I'm just too caught up in that so thus, I never write. Stage fright.

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  59. 1. Why do you keep a blog?

    I started my blog as a way to keep my family, who all live in the US (we're in Canada), updated on the antics of my kids. I still use it mainly for that purpose (sometimes to bitch about things I don't want to bore my husband or friends with), but through blogging I've found a level of comfort in talking about my daily life that I frequently don't achieve in person. I can be a little awkward and shy in real life until I get to know somebody.

    I also love that I'm building a journal for the future for myself and for my little family. I don't enjoy writing by hand, but I love typing, and sitting in front of the computer seems like real "me" time.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs?

    I read other blogs to feel connected when it's not possible to visit in person or too expensive to make a phone call. I don't really "blog surf" - I have a little set that I visit regularly that include friends and people who make me laugh even though I've never met them.

    3. In what ways does blogging--writing or reading--affect the way you parent or think about parenting, or how you feel about your kids or being a parent? (Please be both general and specific, if you can.)

    In short, it makes me feel like I, my kids, my marriage, are normal. Of course, that doesn't mean we are! Only that we're not alone.

    4. Anything else about blogging?

    I would like to add that my appreciation for community has increased through blogging / forum-posting, despite the fact that some of my very closest friends are people I have never met in person. For those who find that strange, I compare it to Ye Olde Pen Pals of Yesteryeare. It feels good to make connections with people who share the same values/humour/experiences/failures, etc. without having to put pants on to do it. Nyuck! ;-)

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  60. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Katherine,

    The only parenting blogs I read are yours and SBFH (at your suggestion), but I do read other blogs related to politics and entertainment. I found many parenting blogs are just accounts of daily life that aren't all that interesting. What sets you apart is that you are a writer - someone who knows how to tell a story and it makes all the difference. Not everyone has your gift of writing an interesting turn of phrase or a great sense of humor.

    I like reading blogs for other views and also finding people who feel the same way I do. But like anything else, you can drown in the information/opinion. It's like when you're pregnant and you read everything all the time. The second pregnancy, I was much choosier about what I read online and found I was happier and less obsessive about whether I was doing the right thing. Besides, there are some wacko opinions out there! But it is nice to know you can go seek someone else out - like yourself - if you want to.

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  61. Oh my! Somehow I missed this. How interesting to read these comments.

    You can quote me if you'd like. If you do, use my pseudonym.

    Or what about Bambi? No one's ever called me Bambi before. ; )

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  62. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Hi Catherine,

    Actually this is the very first blog I have read. I hadn't read your column on babycenter.com for awhile, because, well, I had a baby. I feel like all I have time to do is feed the baby and toddler and do laundry. I did reread Waiting for Birdy since it's much easier to read while nursing than using the computer :). By the way I had a " Putting on the oxygen mask" experience yesterday. I was stuffing my face quickly before I had to go feed the baby and that just poppped into my head and made me laugh. Back to the topic though - I was excited to find your blog because your style of parenting really appeals to me- you are mushy about the important stuff and you laugh ( sometimes after cringing) about the mistakes you make along the way. Sometimes the other mom websites or books make you feel like you're doing it all wrong and how dare you mess up this perfectly wonderful baby, when really you're just doing the very best you can.

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  63. This is completely off topic, but I just reread your version of Birdy's birth story...and I was laughing so hard I think soda came close to coming out my nose. BubTar was sitting at the table and he heard me and asked why I was laughing and I explained I was reading something funny. As I kept reading, he joined in on my laughter every bit as heartily as if he was in on the joke. I just wanted to say thanks for filling my home with laughter this evening.

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  64. Perhaps I'm too late for this particular bandwagon, but these are questions I think about periodically, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

    1. Why do you keep a blog? I started my blog a few years ago when I was feeling particularly schizophrenic about my Ph.D. work and my parenting life. I felt like I need to write about both at once as a way of feeling more cohesive. But it's turned into a pathology all its own. I blog because I can't not blog. I'm addicted.

    2. Why do you read other people's blogs? It depends on the blog. Some I read because they're in a similar situation, fellow mother/academics usually. But the blogs I read most often are usually people with whom I have some kind of relationship, friends either online or offline or both. I'm living in a place where I feel very isolated from others doing what I'm doing. The communication fostered through blogging has helped me feel more connected. I read your blog because I love the way you write about your children -- it inspires my own writing. And also because I used to live a few miles from where you are and I miss it very much. Vicarious enjoyment is another reason I read blogs, I think. Also the chance to step into someone else's shoes.

    3. Blogging has given me a lot more information and feedback about parenting, which sometimes makes me feel less crazy and sometimes more so. It depends. Writing also often gives me some much-needed perspective. Those daily dramas that seem so important often become merely humorous when you try to write them down.

    4. Blogging helped me regain my sense of self after wrapping myself up a little too tightly in the baby. As someone else has said here, it's cheaper than therapy. And probably more productive, at least for me.

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  65. tracey mcnamara2:23 PM

    Hi Catherine,
    Thank God for you! You put into words all the stuff I can't seem to verbalize in my own brain or otherwise... I first read your stuff on Baby Center when my now 5 1/2 year old son was born. Then, I lost track for a few years when my daughter, almost four now, came along. Just started getting Wondertime and what a thrill to check in with you again! So many parallels with yours and mine. As another mom said, your are the Erma Bombeck of our generation. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for sharing.

    Okay, answers now:
    1. I don't keep a blog
    2. I read only yours and Ali Edward's - both to have that validation of what I'm feeling on this motherhood adventure. Not to mention how entertaining a writer you are. Brilliant.
    3. It's all about being mindful - so we don't "miss" it, as well as the "we're in this togetherness"
    4. about blogging, I wish our moms and their moms, and so on had this available to them!!!

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