Nicole Leigh Shaw is perfectly aware of how babies are made, thank you very much. But based on some of the reactions she gets about her four children – which include a child after a multiple birth – she wonders if some might doubt her knowledge about the birds and the bees.
When she was a mom of three – an older daughter and twin girls, people greeted her sympathetically, she says.
Boy, you have your hands full, she would hear with enough sincerity that Shaw never doubted the truth in the speaker’s words.
When she had her fourth child, a boy, that line took on a different tone. It was less, You have your hands full, and more, What the heck were you thinking?
Shaw, from Fort Wayne, took that observation and turned it into The Other Mommy War, a personal essay included in the compilation, I Just Want to Pee Alone. The self-published book was compiled by a blogger who goes simply by Jen. In its first week, the book hit No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list of humor essays – coming in ahead of authors such as Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Handler – and No. 181 in books overall.
The book is another example of the changing tide in motherhood that Shaw estimates started to show itself about 10 years ago. Sure, there are still those moms who capture every lost tooth, every first word, every dirty diaper as though they were the first to exist, but they’re being crowded out by moms like Shaw, 36, who is more likely to lament on the naughty words her daughter learned from Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (the word being pervert).
The shift to honesty comes largely with the increased popularity in blogging, Shaw says. She pens The Ninja Mom, which regales her truthful tales of motherhood.
Shaw believes that blogs by mothers about their children and families – called mommy blogs in the industry – really kicked off about 10 years ago, when they were essentially the essence of a blog, or an online journal.
And like any good diaries, they were honest. I think (mommy bloggers) were pioneers in honesty, Shaw says of these women. Mommy bloggers saw that it paid to be honest.
A simple look at a variety of mom-blog mission statements proves Shaw’s point: In the about section on the blog Honest Mom, she writes, I detest working out, bad coffee, whining, close-minded political nut jobs, catty women, and people who stand too close to me and have no concept of personal space. Which means I guess my kids are in trouble because they are always thisclose to me; the blog Scary Mommy calls itself a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect; The Mommy Blog, credited with being one of the first mom blogs, started in 2002, once asked of her kids, Can’t they run their own freaking baths?
Alison Gerardot of Fort Wayne appreciates the honesty she can find on mommy blogs. She’s a lover of Babble.com, a Disney website that serves as a one-stop shop for parents, and it’s full of honest moms. A trending story on it last week was, This Mom Regrets Her Children. Do You Hate Her For It?
But for her, most of that honesty comes though Facebook.
I have a couple friends on Facebook that just put it all out there and talk about how their kid colored on all the walls in the bathroom and the other kid ripped all the toilet paper out and clogged the toilet, says Gerardot, 31. For me, the keys are just, I’m doing OK. I’m doing a fine job. Everybody else is experiencing the same things I’m experiencing, whether they’re saying it out loud or not.
Not to imply that it’s all honest on these platforms.
Gerardot points to those who appear to feel as though they have to portray this perfect fantasy to the world, where a child is always smiling, always perfectly dressed, never puking in the back seat of the car.
This shift in perspective is reassuring to Gerardot as a mother. It makes her feel like she’s not alone.
It’s nice to know that people are going through the same (thing), she says. It’s reassuring to know people are in the same boat as you.