Another Two Cents on Mommy Blogging

Based on the Twitter chatter last night, many of you have seen yesterday’s article that contemplates whether or not Mommy Blogging is exploitative, featuring Her Bad Mother and Don Mills Diva (and by extension, Dooce). And many of us have already mouthed off on it. And while I apologize for not having time to have read what I am sure are many KICK ASS responses, I feel compelled to add my big mouth to the mix.

First, when the Wall Street Journal article came out on Heather, I was thrilled for her – and I must admit, for “mommy blogging” in general, because it meant we had “arrived.” But I also winced, because I KNEW it would be the shot heard ’round the world, particularly in relation to the estimates of her ad revenue. Can I just say something? A). They are estimates from an outside source; Heather and Jon have declined to comment because it’s NONE OF OUR DAMN BUSINESS. B). If I am reading that article correctly (which is quite possible that I am wrong since I suck at numbers), the $40,000 a month number is GROSS AD REVENUE… not what Heather and Jon come home and rub all over their naked bodies every night. There ARE the plenty of other people who get paid in that food chain, most notably, her ADVERTISERS. So, for Tralee Pierce to start off the article with an explosive headline like “Writing about your daughter’s toilet-training misadventures could *NET* you $40,000 a month and a legion of fans” is downright irresponsible. C). Even if Heather does make $40,000 a month, it is NONE OF OUR DAMN BUSINESS.

Either way, though, I knew as soon as the ink was dry on those papers and the pixels left the WSJ offices, there would be a fresh round of Mommy Blog War. How dare those non-journalistic types make money on their drivel? And oh, my god! Some of them are talented! And writing books! They could take over the world! They must be stopped! And those were just the journalists.

Let’s not go into the other mommy bloggers who are just jealous. Yes, I said it. Let’s face it, ladies. Women can be catty. {I don’t know if you knew that – but it’s true.} And I heard a lot of swipes going on when that article came out, when Alltop came out, when Camp Baby came out, of “why not me!?!” Well, the blog world is vast, some get lucky, some rise to the top because they are extremely talented, some are in the right place at the right time, and mostly, the WORLD IS NOT FAIR. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the success of others among us and respect what they do.

Moving on.

Secondly, as soon as I read Catherine’s comment about her daughter being “property” – I knew exactly what she meant. Granted, I probably would not have chosen that word, and in her blog post on the subject, Catherine explains how she was searching for the right word and never found it.

The point being, at least in my case, I blog about my family experience and my son is part of that. I *do* consider his stories part of my “family property.” I just happen to be sharing them in a new medium. And making a little (emphasis on little) cash on the side. Is this any different than what writers like Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck have done for decades, to great acclaim?

And sure, as Declan grows up and talks to me about more sensitive issues, I will be more sensitive to his privacy. I am very fond of the way my friend Nutmeg describes her children on her About Page, where she recognizes and celebrates their differences. “Keira is my 9 year old first baby. She’s shy and sensitive. I don’t blog about her a lot because she has a deep need for privacy.”

That is the beauty of blogging and one of the things that fascinates me about it. Blogging evolves.

So, yes, right now I talk about Declan’s farts and I make (some) money from it. SO WHAT. People come here and read it, we have fun, we lean on each other, and catty or not, we support awesome ladies like Her Bad Mother and Don Mills Diva (and Dooce by extension) when they need it.

When Declan has his first kiss later in life, err, WAY LATER IN LIFE, and asks me not to blog about it, I won’t. Simple as that. No need for drama or making bloggers feel bad for what they do.

Because what bloggers do is awesome.

This article has 57 comments

  1. Anonymous

    right on.

  2. mothergoosemouse


    Hear, hear! Thank you for pointing that out.

    What critics fail to remember is that people *choose* to read these blogs – Dooce, HBM, Don Mills Diva, you and me and the rest of our ilk – because they dig the content, not because they want to put food on our tables. Likewise, we offer up the content – not just for their entertainment, but for our own.

    Don’t like it? Don’t read it.

  3. Sizzle

    Awesome! You done good.

  4. Christina

    Yes! I totally agree.

    I think it’s only natural to assume that most of us will blog less about our kids when they get older and desire more privacy. But for the moment, I’ll write what I want about my kids, and if people don’t like it, they can choose to not read.

    And I love your the WORLD IS NOT FAIR comment. So true. It’s OK to wish for more, maybe even be a little jealous, but we should be supporting the success of our fellow bloggers, because success begets success.

    I still want to know where the outrage is over people who put their families on reality TV? They have no control over what is shown. At least I have the ability to limit what the public sees of my family in my writing.

  5. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    OMG!!! Christina, GOOD POINT!!!

  6. Sister Honey Bunch

    I agree with about the reality tv families. Watch Wife Swap for 2 minutes and you’ll see some serious exploitation.

  7. Her Bad Mother

    “I *do* consider his stories part of my “family property.” I just happen to be sharing them in a new medium.”

    THAT was EXACTLY what I meant. Property in the much broader (and original) sense, of those things that we hold dear as our own. Which we are entitled to share.

    Of which it is nobody else’s damn business if we share.


  8. Poppy Buxom

    Instead of calling it “property,” we could go all Marxist intellectual and call it “cultural capital.” Or Old Skool writer and call it “material.”

    It means the same thing: it’s the shit happening in your life that you, and only you, can write about. Events and feelings filtered through your brain, expressed in your words.

    What makes blogging any different from writing a memoir? It’s OK for Augusten Burroughs, but it’s not OK for me?

    Blogging = self publishing. Some people write better than others. Some have a more compelling story to tell than others. People will read it or they won’t.

    I’ll expect dooce to reveal her income when I reveal mine. And not before.

    People really need to chill.

  9. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Ditto ladies, totally ditto. You TOTALLY are getting/expressing what I was trying to say.

  10. Angella

    A big FAT amen from my corner!

  11. Don Mills Diva

    Thanks for your support. I just posted my response to the nasty comments on that article. I will continue to believe that all our blogs are, in essence, modern day love letters to our children.

  12. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Crapapple, that’s a good point.

    First, I feel like the 3 main blogs in question in the article are not the type of blogs that go over that line, IMO. But yes, there are blogs that probably share too much about their children in a public space.

    I am not sure what the answer to that one is. But personally, I think it probably gets rolled in with what Christina was saying about reality TV, our sense of voyeurism regarding the details of celebrity lives, etc – what do we as a society feel is acceptable? And why would those blogs that *are* exploitative gain readership?

    But when a journalist holds up people like Dooce and HBM and uses examples like talking about “pee pee” as exploitative, I feel she is lumping in the mass of mommy bloggers rather than the extremes who are maybe not as good at self-monitoring. Talking about body functions and silly every day live of a child is not exploitative, it’s just life, and having fun, and sharing our experience!

    And also, I think people also need to remember that blogging is a fluid medium and technology moves lightning fast. Who is to say blogs will even be around when Declan is a teenager? But if they are, and there are things that Declan is embarrassed about, I would back them up for my personal record and then *remove them from the public archive.* And while I can’t speak for everyone, my guess is many mommy bloggers would do the same. Cause we are a sarcastic sassy lot, but we really do love our kids and want what’s best for them.

    And P.S. I want to make sure you know this mammoth comment wasn’t directed as a snipe at you, Crabapple, and I know you are a regular reader and I *totally* appreciate you speaking your opinion especially when it’s a slightly opposing view. xoxox

  13. Anonymous

    totally with you guys on this.

  14. Nadine

    Amen to that!

  15. Vixen


    I caught that money thing to and thought it was extremely irresponsible and inaccurately portrayed.

    I love Donna Mills Diva’s comment about blogs being love letters to our children. If we want to share them its our right and if someone doesn’t like it they can go away. Simple as that.

  16. Mayberry

    I frankly am not worried about my kids not liking my blog posts 10 years from now (when they are teens). I already know I won’t be doing anything right (according to them) at that point. They’ll get over it, and when they’re in their 20s and 30s they will think it’s cool to have a record of things they said and did when they were little.

    Just like I am confident that my now 35-year-old brother does not care that my mother once described a 2-year-old him, in a letter to her mother, as “our chief dog pile spotter.”

  17. Megan

    Since when is it Dooce’s job to “lift up” the blogging community?

  18. Melissa

    I am not a Mommy, nor do I read a lot of Mommy blogs, but I really think this is all such crap. Blogging is such an unbelievably valuable practice on so many different levels. God forbid you actually make money from something you do well.

    They say the best jobs are doing what you know and love, and if that means writing about your family, then so be it.

    There will ALWAYS be haters. And There will always be controversy.

    Illegitimi non carborundum – WRITE ON!!!

  19. A Mom Two Boys

    Amen Sista. Amen.

  20. MB

    and duh, some of those JOURNALISTS feel threatened – or jealous. Blogging has broadened our access to points of view. It has allowed us not just to get straight news (if there is such a thing) but get perspective from people we have selected on our own. So what if people make money from it? They are pioneers – they should get money and recognition, for creating and perfecting this new medium that allows us all to connect on an even more personal level.

  21. Becky

    Blogging has been of the best experiences for me. I love writing my own and I love reading others. I have a select few that I read – others I don’t. And you know why? BECAUSE I HAVE THE POWER OF FREE CHOICE!
    If people don’t like Mommy Blogs, it’s quite simple. Don’t. Read. Them!
    If people don’t like Dooce (who I happen to love) don’t read her!

    UGH! Sometimes we humans drive me crazy!

    Anyway, great post. Love YOUR MOMMY BLOG!

  22. Miss Britt

    Whenever I hear this whole “exploitation” debate, I think about my own mom – and me before I blogged.

    We sit around with our girlfriends and tell them what the hell our kids pulled THIS time.

    I simply don’t see how blogging is any different.

  23. Mandy

    I think that people decide how much of their lives and details they want to expose. It’s a personal decision, and no one has to visit those sites (or watch those reality TV shows.) And frankly, good writers often adopt personas or exaggerate in order to make a story funny or to evoke a particular response. I would never presume to know a person and his/her life just because I read a slice of life on a blog.

    And thanks for the Bombeck reminder. I remember my mom laughing to split a gut when I was a little kid.

  24. crabapple

    I love blogs. I am totally pro blogging. Even though I no longer have young children, I understand the need when you do to bond with other mothers. I think it’s all great.

    Except…I have read a few mommy bogs I felt were disrespectful to the child, because the details shared were pretty extreme. I personally feel it’s inaapropriate.

    Just my opinion. And I don’t read those blogs anymore. I am curious to see what happens when all these kids go through the sometimes hellish teenage years, because believe me, any possible source of resentment will be exploied ad nauseam.

    Thats my 2 cents. Amy, I really enjoy your blog and have never felt you overshared about Declan.

  25. Sleeping Mommy

    This crap cycles constantly. Back in late 2004 or early 2005 the New York Times published a piece calling us all self absorbed among other things. I went off in a rant on my old blogspot blog about it and proceeded to add all kinds of labels to my own posts about being egocentric and self absorbed.

    Now its shifting to talk of exploitation. I know there are probably some that do actually exploit their kids–but I don’t think they realize that’s what it is. They aren’t thinking of it that way. It’s their own process and their own choices. But as you pointed out Aimee, what about Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck. How about Bill Cosby and how he shares stories about his wife and kids? Any comic for that matter that mines their families for material. How is that any different from what we do?

  26. Anonymous

    I totally agree with you guys.

  27. Sue at eLuckypacket

    Right on, Aimee!

  28. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Jet Pass, I am going to have to respectively disagree back. While I see your points, and certainly I don’t read Dooce every single day of my life, so I can’t say that *nothing* she has written won’t hurt Leta’s feelings. And of course, in Heather’s case, her blog is on a much much larger scale, so the effects are larger. But I assume that is true of anything – famous people, etc.

    However, from the other side of things – and I mean no disrespect to my mom when I say this… but my mom is not very forthcoming with her feelings. Sometimes it is like pulling teeth to find out how she sees the Big Things. (And in fact, she reads this blog and it’s been a good catalyst for discussions between us as adults!)

    But as a child, I never knew where my mom stood. On *anything.* And granted, there are things I have said about Declan here that are exaggerations of his behavior, or vents, or WHATEVER I was feeling that day. I hope that shines through, just as Heather’s sarcasm does in her writing. The point being, I like capturing a moment in time, so that my son can look back and REALLY know me. WHEN I AM READY TO LET HIM IN. There are some things on this blog I show him now. There are things I may never show him. And as I said before, who knows what will be in the archives as he grows older.

    But I like to be very honest with Declan. And I would hope the things I share here to the world will eventually lead to him having a deeper understanding of me as a person as he grows older.

    We’ll see.

  29. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And Meg, you complete me.

  30. Alison

    Very interesting points you make. When I started blogging, I steered away from writing about my kids, not because I wanted to protect their privacy so much as because I needed it to be about ME. Nowadays it’s totally a privacy thing. But they’re also older, 10 and 13. They were way beyond the baby/toddler stage when I started writing.

    As for the ad revenue/not fair thing, I agree with you. Would I love to make an income from my blog? Hell yes. Do I have ads on my blog? Hell no — I know that I simply don’t have the readership for it. Am I jealous of Heather Armstrong? A tad, but it’s not enough to make me hate her. She supports her family with her blog, but you are right, it’s nobody’s business how much money the ads bring in.

    Anyway, I’m preaching to the choir. And now I’m just babbling.

  31. Kathy

    Alltop came out

    I was critical of Alltop when it first hit, not because of who was included, or who wasn’t but what wasn’t. At the time there was (granted, there is now) no category for personal blogs of the non-mommy or daddy variety. I don’t expect to be listed on any of these top blog sites, because frankly, I don’t put in enough effort to be a top blogger, but I’d like others like me with an amorphous blob of a site to still have a chance at recognition.

  32. Blog Starr

    I love it that we are having these discussions. The newness of the media does mean that we don’t know what our children will think about their parents blogs. If or when you have teenagers, you also know there is flip-side—your kids can broadcast tons of info and opinions that used to be considered private to the world. I know several moms going through this in ways that have entirely changed one’s career reputation and one’s marriage. It’s a brave new world for personal media, not just mothers who blog.

    I think so many people struggle with Dooce within the blogging community because Dooce so often is the only personal/mommy blog given media attention, and Heather doesn’t seem to be too generous with that spotlight. If she shared better with the community (and not just her handful of friends)–spotlight,revenue networking, yes-income info, charity power, anything really–she would be appreciated more universally.

    I don’t think people would begrudge Heather her success if they felt like blogging as a whole was uplifted by it. Leaders have to give back proportionate to their pedestal, not just cash the checks that arrive because of their stature.

  33. painted maypole

    i have not seen this article. must go read…

  34. Emily

    Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times, yes, and I completely agree with you. And, sidenote, this? “Women can be catty. {I don’t know if you knew that – but it’s true.}” IS MY FAVORITE LINE EVER!

  35. Anonymous

    Way to go Aim!!!.

  36. Marketing Mama

    I agree about the reality TV. Let’s think about Super Nanny for a minute. Bad parents (mostly) ask for help with their maladjusted kids.

    Kids act out even more, because hello, there is a camera crew in their living room. Can you imagine how much teasing those kids get at school? And then the local news picks up on the story and makes sure everyone in your county watches the show. Then said parents complain that the show made them look bad. Geesh.

    On a personal, mommy-blogging note – I try not to write anything embarassing or negative about my kids or my husband. Takes away a hella lot of material, but that’s how I do it.

    I did unsubscribe from someone’s feed recently when they posted a close up of their kids poop on the floor. Just not really what I’m tuning in for, ya know?

  37. Lara

    i’m thinking of becoming a single mom after reading that article, just for the exploitation potential. what do you think?

    (and for anyone reading who doesn’t know me, i’m totally kidding. i’ll make sure i have a daddy before exploiting my mini-me’s.)

  38. Jet Pass

    I read both articles but sorry I disagree with you all. I think if the writers and I’m really pointing at Dooce here, I think if they wrote things like; Jon pisses me off he disappoints me, he walks like Frankenstein, he poops still at 38 in his underwear at times and leaves meat streaks, holds me back, and I gave him an enema on his birthday. Jon is bad in bed, he lies, he smells, he takes long poops etc. Okay you get the point. If she wrote as openly about her marriage and her feelings about Jon on her blog as she does about how her daughter is a disappointment at times amongst other things she’s so unloving shared they’d be divorced. She doesn’t because Jon is an adult and has a say with what is shared, Leta doesn’t so it makes it okay? Is sharing intimate details really the best interest of the child?

    I have a son, and like to share things, but there’s a limit too. I also like to read about other people’s children as well. What I cannot connect with is parents who don’t like or want to be around their kids. I understand a little time off, but not half your life in a bourbon bottle or flying all over the world without my child. Sorry, that’s not parenting. It’s called having a pet.

    Someday when Leta is older and her peers can read Dooce’s archives it will be a sad, a very sad time for her—and then it will be too late.

  39. nathan

    aren’t you supposed to “write about what you know”?

    plus, i have inside information that ‘some’ of these bloggers do this and never try to make a dime at it. how dare they? (why dare they?).

    but… women can be catty?
    i must say, i don’t think that’s my experience at all.

    ps. hi, gbm

  40. nutmeg

    Anything to put beautiful women down! I make a buck three eighty five off my property every month and you can take that to the New York Times. Sometimes I pay my kids to say funny things just so I can blog about it. I’m also hoping for a teenage pregnancy just for the fodder.

    Nathan just farted.

  41. jenB

    another well put post. This kerfuffle is making me think we all RULE frankly.

  42. Anonymous

    I agree with Mothergoosemouse. Don’t like it, don’t read it.

  43. Blog Starr

    I don’t think it’s Heather’s job to do anything she doesn’t want to do. It was suggested that the way she has many detractors was because of jealousy–which is so often thrown out as female cattiness, sexism’s answer to the power of women making discerning decisions that aren’t “nice”. I was simply offering another reason for some bloggers’ disappointment that Heather is what the world thinks of when they hear the world “mommyblogger.”

  44. carrie

    I am so out of the loop.

    But I agree with what you said. What people do on their own blogs is their business and if we don’t like it we can hit that little “x” in the right hand corner and move along.

    Celebrating successes is hard for people who find it impossible to be happy for others, no matter what the setting (online or IRL). These people exist everywhere and we can’t let their bitterness infiltrate the goodness that abounds in our little blogging world.

    I’m off to read up on what’s going on! Thanks Aimee. 🙂

  45. Sleeping Mommy

    Aimee, one other thing, after reading your last comment. THAT is exactly why I am as open on my blog as I am. I back up my blog and I plan on sharing copies of it with my kids, when they are old enough, so that they can understand more fully why their mom was/is the way she was/is. I wish I had that about my parents. But I don’t.

    Not only is my blog a love letter to my children it will serve as giving the gift of the real person their mother was. Warts and all.

  46. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Blog Starr, I also respectively disagree, and not meaning this post to turn into a “Defend Dooce Rally” – but I come back to what Mothergoosemouse and I have talked about *many* times in person with each other and online. Blogging is a personal expression, and people can do whatever they want with it. If others don’t like it, they shouldn’t read it. Heather does her blog the way she wants and clearly people love it (or love to hate it, it seems) and that’s her prerogative. JMHO.

  47. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Also, Kathy, re Alltop… Guy Kawasaki was very upfront that he had tremendous support from the Mom Blog community, which is why O am sure they were featured prominently right away. My understanding is that Alltop was, and always will be a virtual dashboard that evolves to suit the current temperament of the net. So ebb and flow of types of sections, who is in each sections etc, can certainly be expected.

  48. Lauren

    Just wanted to add, that the Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck and Bill Cosby comments are EXCELLENT POINTS!!!

  49. Liz

    Just piping in to say I DO think there are bloggers out there who cross the line.



    Well done. I think publicity in this “genre” of blogging is a good thing. Now if ony there could be a “Daddy blog War.”

    There are some security issues when it comes to revealing too much about children though.

  51. MB

    Jet Pass, I was just telling a friend last night “wouldn’t it be great if we had videos of our own childhood? Our kids will have that!!!” And some of them will have a detailed chronicle of childhood – an insight to their soul when they were little. What I wouldn’t give to know an ounce of what was going on inside my mom’s head when she was raising me!!! Talk about being authentic and open!

    And really, who is ANYONE to judge someone else’s parenting? I am SO not perfect as a parent and one of the best, most supportive things another mom can do for me is tell me that she has similar feelings of inadequacy. I guess for me it boils down to this: if you don’t like a blog, don’t visit it! Apparently, lots of people DO like it or Dooce wouldn’t be kicking ass like she is!

  52. J at

    Very well said. I don’t make money on my blog, but I suspect I couldn’t anyway, since the traffic is so light. Doesn’t mean I resent those who do. Do I wish I could quit my job and work full time at my blog? Not sure. Seems like a lot of work, and I don’t mean the writing. The promoting, the traveling, etc. Not sure that’s for me. But for those who can make good money at it? Go for it.

  53. Phil

    Well said, Aimee! As someone who’s worked in schools quite a bit, I have to say that there are far worse things parents could be doing regarding their children. But as someone who’s not himself a parent, I feel that it would be hypocritical of me to even have an opinion of this issue. But I do support the right to free speech; everyone has their own boundaries, and I respect everyone’s decisions and, like you, support my fellow bloggers.

  54. Tootsie Farklepants

    It’s a damn shame that people feel the need to attack. The comments in that article were nasty and vicious. This is a great rebuttal.

  55. Fi

    When I read my old entries about what my (now 7 yr old) daughter said and did three or more years ago it’s hilarious, and also a little sad – they grow up so very very quickly – blogging is a fabulous medium to record a very special time.

    What is with people moaning about MommyBlogs – as if they haven’t got the basic motor funtions to simply not click on an URL they don’t want to view? Have some responsibility for your own actions!

  56. Redneck Mommy

    Fabulous post and I love the discussion in the comments.

    I have tremendous admiration for you for discussing this heated topic.

    As a parent to older children I have always had to take great pains as to what I write and protecting my children’s privacy. I have granted them some means of editorial control over the content when it comes to the stories I choose to share with the world.

    Recently my daughter has asked that I stop posting her pictures. Done. No problem.

    But the thought that I am exploiting my children and profiting over their loss of privacy is ludicrous.

    Like MotherGooseMouse said, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

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