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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Want to Be A Mommy-Blogger When I Grow Up

As the daughter of a mother who was overjoyed to "give up" work to be a stay-at-home mom, I am absolutely in love with mommy-bloggers. I'm serious. I. Love. Mommy-bloggers. Not because I love kids, necessarily, but because I see the mommy-blogging movement as an incredibly empowering and powerful development in the way mothers interact with their children and the world. When my mother was a new mom in the 1980s, she was living in Lubbock, Texas, far from home and without the traditional social network of sisters, aunties, and grandmas to help with her first baby. She felt alone, isolated in her experience of leaving the office to stay at home all day with a baby who demanded more of her than any paid job ever could. When I read the blogs of new mothers today, I can hear her voice, and wish that my mom could have had that outlet and network to support her.

By the time I came along, it was a different story--I was a preemie. Preemies run in my family, you see, but I took it to the extreme (don't I always?). I weighed just under two pounds at birth after 27 weeks of gestation, all wrinkly and red, and lived in a NICU incubator for three months before I could go home. Doctors gave me a 50% chance of survival, and most preemies succumb to infections or sepsis, even in incubators. I was incredibly lucky to survive with zero infections, zero disabilities (unless you count ear infections and nearsightedness), and a general joie de vivre. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of what my parents went through, holding my teensy little hand through sterile rubber gloves and hospital gowns, seeing their baby girl with tubes and monitors all over her. My mother still can't stand to hear the songs she sang to me in the hospital, let alone look at photos of that tiny wrinkly little mess.

So, as you can see, my love for mommy-bloggers comes not only from the close relationship I enjoy with my own mother, but the fears I have about my possible future children. What if I have a low-birth-weight baby, or a preemie? How are women actually able to balance careers and motherhood, when I've been told all my life that I can do and have everything? Can I succeed at preserving Japanese language and culture, plus a proud sense of identity in my inevitably mixed-race children like my parents did? I shouldn't worry about these things now, obviously. I think of reading my favorite mommy-blogs (love the Kimchi Mamas) as advance research. The first guard, the exploratory mission, if you will.

Like discovering strong female role models in your mother, your boss, your sisters, your aunts, your grandmothers, your neighbors, your teachers, and friends, the mommy-blogging community is truly a support network for the modern age, full of strong, well-spoken, sharp-witted women. Mommy-blogging is not just entertainment for idle housewives or bored mothers complaining about their rotten kids and all that damn housework, it's active, involved mothers sharing their experiences with all of us. Like Jeanne, Kati, and I, even if you aren't a mother or even thinking about having a family someday, mommy (and daddy!)-bloggers provide proof positive that raising children doesn't sap your brain power and turn you into a gurgling baby-speaking moron.

We live in exciting times these days, and especially in post-election America, it there is an electric charge in the air--change is coming. Babies born today have the best chances of survival with the most advanced medical care. We can recognize and treat post-partum depression without stigma or forced isolation. American women retain and hold dear the right to choose given to use by the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973. It's never easy being a mother, daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, granddaughter, grandmother, auntie, co-worker, fighter, leader, supporter, teacher, student, anything, but we do it all out of love and human kindness. That's what mommy-bloggers and my mother taught me, and I can only hope to pass it on to other young women.

What have you learned from the mommy-blogging movement, how do you think it will change with Gen-Yers (Jeanne informs me that WE are technically "Millenials," thank you very much) maturing into parenthood? I know my brother, a consummate Gen-Yer, is settling down and thinking about starting a family--maybe Auntie-blogging will take off soon! I can't wait.

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