Why Catholic Women Don’t Make Good Mommy Bloggers

Up to date on the news as usual, I’m here to comment on Jen Fulwiler’s post at the Register last December, “Why are there no Catholic Mom Bloggers on this Top 100 List?” The article references Babble’s Top 100 Mommy Bloggers.

The question has been puzzling me, this long wintry month, as almost all of the blogs I read are written by Catholic women who are mothers but who elude the title  “Mommy Blogger” for a number of reasons, as Fulwiler herself does.

While several of my favorite bloggers have written books (I’m honored to have contributed to this one), none have placed buttons on their sites so that fans can shop for blog related merchandise. While many operate a business through their blogs, none of them are selling themselves. While all of them have children, they’ve long since given up justifying their reasons for doing so.

Most Catholic married women expect to be mothers, so there’s no need to fetishize their choices or even to identify with them overmuch. They are mothers, who by and large enjoy being mothers and who make great investment in their children, but “Mommy” is not their persona.

Rather, they’re talking about Brahms, they’re reading the complete works of Shakespeare, they’re writing novels, reviewing books, and blogging the Wasteland. Some love fashion, but I suspect most would have scruples with becoming a fashionista, or an anything-ista. Almost all of them reference Christ, or aspects of their faith with regularity, or if they don’t talk openly about Christ, he is the hidden center of their thought.

A few things they are not doing:

1. Taking celebrity-style portraits of themselves.

2. Live blogging their divorce.

3. Bringing their whole families into the blog business.

4. Fabricating desire for their lifestyle.

In short, they do not fetishize or commodify themselves, their lives, their families or their motherhood. And if there were anything they wanted you to get out of reading their blogs, aside from some insight into how Catholics live, it would be Christ himself. He’s always been a difficult sell.

About Elizabeth Duffy
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  • http://cause-of-our-joy.blogspot.com Leticia Velasquez

    I would add that we have more limits on our writing thanks to our Faith; no gossip, sexual secrets, whining about our husbands, or revealing overly private details of our children. We’re limited to being inspirational and just a tad snarky in an age when dirt sells. We might not win mommy blog awards, but we hope we are winning hearts and minds for Christ’s Kingdom.

  • http://www.conservativeblog.org Amy Ridenour

    Hmmm…. Mormon Mommy Blogs supposedly are getting huge traffic. I’m wondering why they would and Catholic Mommy Blogs aren’t. Are you sure they aren’t? Maybe that list you linked to is not the final word.

  • http://www.thecafeallegro.com/randomthoughts RandomThoughts

    I’m a mom. And I blog. Does that make me a “mommy blogger?” Or can I reject the appellation much as a decade or so ago I rejected being called a “soccer mom,” even though I did drive a mini van, and at least one of my children played AYSO soccer?

    If being a mommy blogger means posting ANY pictures of myself (much less a “celebrity style portrait”–that’s about as likely as putting pantyhose on my cat), live blogging about any aspect of my marriage, involving my family in my blogging efforts (the majority of my family members are happily oblivious it even exists) and fabricating anything, well, I guess I’m safely not a mommy blogger.

    As far as the Catholic mommy blogs go, I’m apt to pick Theory #2: Catholics have their own language that’s confusing to others. As a non-Catholic I find this often the case. I do very much enjoy reading Catholic blogs in general though, despite the linguistic/theological barriers that crop up.

    I must admit I have never read any of the top 100 mommy blogs on the list. I’m far more interested in learning about faith and politics and moral issues than whatever is going on in the various mommy bloggers’ personal lives.

  • Elizabeth Duffy

    I suspect there are many women in many denominations who share similar characteristics, and avoid the same temptations in blogging.

    The original question referred to Catholic women specifically–I write what I know.

  • http://www.thewinedarksea.com MelanieB

    I’ve been puzzling over Jen’s piece too. You make excellent points. Especially about Catholic bloggers not overly-identifying with and fetishizing our choices. I think most of the really big bloggers develop a cult of personality as well. You almost have to to get that big. And Catholic mommies rather eschew that kind of grandstanding. At least we try to strive for a little more humility, even if we sometimes fail to achieve it.

  • elizabethintexas

    Perhaps, it is because as Christian mothers, they are busy: raising children, caring for a home, working outside the home, and being the Proverbs 31 women God called them to be.

  • Ann

    This a tough one. Honestly, I can’t bear to read most blogs by Catholic moms who blog about mothering. [As opposed to bloggers who just happen to be Catholic moms who write about other topics]

    I’m thinking of one site in particular where almost everyone who blogs there is a Catholic mommy blogger. There seems to be a typical formula, where everyone is buried in laundry and then they find grace in the washing machine or whatever. There is one blogger whose writing drives me nuts, I guess the main one, she is seems to be the most popular one of all. I’m sure she is a great person IRL, but her blogging makes me batty. She seems to have a clique, and many bloggers seem to write the same, almost imitating her writing? Far worse than the writing are the comments. Holier-than-thou is thy name. Ugh. It’s very odd to me and I avoid the whole thing entirely because I start thinking and writing uncharitable thoughts like I am writing in this comment.

    Or perhaps these are just my issues. Totally possible.

    Anyhow long story long, while I peruse many Catholic blogs, I stay away from the entire Catholic mom-blogosphere entirely. It’s just better for everyone that way.

  • Ann

    I want to also say that I stay away from all mommy blogs, not just the Catholic ones. They all make me nuts, but for different reasons.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    I don’t read Mommyblogs, either. I love my sons, and treasure the memories of raising them…well, not the memories of you know, the times I screamed at them like a madwoman. Or the time I picked up the kitchen chair and threw it because it was either that or one of them would have to die. I love my kids, but I don’t “love kids” in general; I don’t dislike them, but I don’t have this category of “kids” next to which I draw hearts. Some children are little fiends. I loved being a mother to my children, but I never particularly fetishized (as Elizabeth said — the mot juste!) about my motherhood or identified first and foremost as a mother. I barely identify most days as a competent human being. My kids, thankfully, managed to turn out pretty well. I take no credit for it. They have a good father and mostly they’re the same people they were when they were born, except now they drive.

  • http://www.conservativeblog.org Amy Ridenour

    Wow, Elizabeth, I never even once thought of throwing a chair at my kids. Maybe I’m just lazy.

  • http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com MrsDarwin

    I’ve thought of throwing a chair at my kids, though I haven’t done it yet. Give it time; the oldest is only nine.

    Raising kids has its wonderful side, but it can be incredibly frustrating and unrewarding some days. I’ve had days where I feel like I’ve triumphed because, despite all provocation, I didn’t beat my kids. Children are not natural angels — they’re human and they’re sinners, and they know how to push a parent’s buttons like no one else. Any mommy blog which glosses over this side of motherhood isn’t worth the virtual ink with which it’s virtually printed.

  • Hantchu

    Elizabethintexas–”Proverbs 31 Women”? TOO funny! Traditional Jewish families sing these verses every Shabbat evening before dinner. It’s referred to as “Eishet Hayyil”, for the first 2 words, “A wonderful woman, who can find? Her worth is far from that of pearls”. And a Jewish mother’s highest praise is to be called an “Eishet Hayyil”. Tzipporah Heller, a well-known teacher and scholar, says that while the market value of pearls may go up or down according to the supply, as far as the Eishet Hayyil goes, the market is never flooded, and there can never be too many.

    I trust the same is true regarding the Catholic Eishet Hayyil as well.

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    I observe that a lot of the Catholic blogging women with children whom I “know” online — overwhelmingly Catholic homeschoolers — experience a sense of conflict between their blogging and their motherhood. Particularly they worry about the way that any computer activity draws them away from their kids (you know, you’re staring at the screen, while your child stands beside you going, “Mom? Mom? I asked if I could go outside, Mom . . . ,” kind of like what’s happening here at my kitchen table this minute), and worry that their blogging will become either too great a distraction, or an idol, or both.

    A lot of this, I think, has to do with the idea of marriage and motherhood as a vocation — not that other women don’t take their own motherhood seriously, but the idea that you’ve been given these things to do as a means of achieving holiness does seem to mitigate against putting the whole family on parade as a verbal/photographic reality show. Confession and examination of conscience also probably curtail a lot of impulses to do those “mommy blog” things: habitually complaining about the dishwasher or the laundry or whatever, or otherwise gushing over material things. If you’ve put energy into learning not to see your life as rant-worthy, or if your confessor has given you the Litany of Humility to pray, then . . . well, there go a lot of “mommy” subjects right there, not to mention the whole impulse to put yourself on display in such a way that your vices (gossip, complaining, whatever) are what make people want to read you.

    I dunno. I know an awful lot of Catholic mothers who blog, and a lot do blog about being mothers, because that’s where they are. Write what you know, right? But they’re doing it for other reasons than to attract attention, land a book contract (like that woman who wrote the Ebay “description” about taking her six kids to the grocery store), or make their blogging a business. Not that that’s not tempting. I know I’ve put ads on my own blog and taken them down again, thinking first that if I was going to devote time to this endeavor, maybe my family should see some kind of return for it; and then deciding that that wasn’t really why I was writing a blog; and then quitting for six months at a time, which pretty much deep-sixes any blog-fame fantasies I might have had. Most of the women I know are unwilling to be slaves to a blog to the degree that you have to be to make a big-time lucrative go of it — what matters, and what’s made me start writing tentatively again, after many months of silence, is the conversational community you can build around a blog. I started blog-writing again because I missed my friends.

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    Of course, I’m saying all this realizing, belatedly, that I can’t actually remember a Mommyblog that I’ve read. I’ve looked at Dooce, I think, maybe because I read something about it. And I’ve clicked on a few others. So I should probably qualify my description of what constitutes Mommy-blog subject matter by saying that I actually have no real idea what I’m talking about.

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  • nayhee

    Someone mentioned the Mormon Mommy Blogs. My favorite doesn’t even exist anymore and it wasn’t even real to begin with: seriouslysoblessed.blogspot.com
    Why don’t we Catholics have an equivalent, I want to know.