Friday, March 09, 2007

Well, since you asked ...

Bub and Pie tagged me with the question, 'Why do you blog?', to be answered with five reasons.

I don't imagine my reasons are all that unusal: I like to write (as Beck would say, "I know! I'm a delicate, unique snowflake!"); I appreciate the chance to have some human contact beyond people I pushed into the world through my girl parts (this was especially true of the six months of my maternity leave); I wasn't getting my bloggy-fix from simply reading and commenting; and I wanted a written record of this time in my life.

That's four. The fifth reason? Let me tell you a story.

In September 2005, a friend from my grad school days got in touch with me. She was going to be visiting family in my new town, and wondered if I might like to meet up with her and her husband (also a friend of mine) and their baby, to catch up. And so my friend, M, and her husband, and Baby M came over to visit. We exchanged pleasantries. We talked of mutual acquaintances. M kindly let me play with Baby M, while she hovered around and did a complicated routine with bottles and the fridge and hot water, and she seemed a little frazzled. I sort of got that they were bottles of breastmilk, maybe, but I couldn't figure out the bottle aspect; I didn't ask. I was about three weeks pregnant; I didn't say. We smiled and hugged and went on about our lives, having mostly exchanged pleasantries about new motherhood and new home ownership and life in the academy.

Time passed.

In June 2006, I gave birth to Miss Baby. I was tired and overwhelmed and nothing was like I imagined, and I found myself all alone, all day, and many evenings. With a wailing infant. Desperately googling about green poops, about projectile vomiting, about sleep--always sleep. I began to read a lot of blogs, and, as happens, was drawn into writing my own.

In early December, a blogger called 'Mad Hatter' left me a comment that she was pretty sure she knew me in real life. I went to her blog, and, of course! how could I not know it was M! I began to read. And read, and read, and read. Here was an M I never knew, even though I had known her well enough to have her on speed dial for a time in my life. And, among many other things, I learned all about Miss M's eating troubles, and Mad's heartaches with breastfeeding. And their visit at my house made a lot more sense. And simply reading her site made me more and more consicous of the gulf between us when we met face to face, observing the niceties of the friendly visit. Safe. Conservative. Pleasant. And really? Kinda shallow.

M, as 'Mad Hatter', compiled an awe-inspiring, nuanced, laugh-out-loud and burst-into-tears chronicle of her life as a mother. I was blown away. I recognized myself in some of here experiences, learned from others, and was able to share my own perspectives on yet more. And this is how we got to know one another again--through these typographical selves, this intimacy of text, the trust-building exercise of being brave and honest and out there. Blogging. Somehow, 'Mimi' and 'Mad Hatter' were able to communicate more empathetically, more uproariously, and more thoughtfully, than our offline selves had managed, despite the fact that we really were friends as best as we were able 'in real life.'*

So this is the fifth reason I blog, and probably the most important one: in my blog, I feel safe to be honest about the full range of my experience as a mother, and as a woman who is a mother as well as her own self; reading your blogs, I am grateful for your honesty, your intensity, your joy. I blog because so much of what we say here about our lives is a lot more real than what I manage in many, many of my 'real' interactions, at least wandering dazed through these conversational minefields of parenting and womanhood.

I'd like to tag three of you who have been kind enough to start visiting me recently: I'd like to know more about you, Em, Melanie, and Jennifer (ponderosa).

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* thanks to Mad, for letting me tell this story here.

16 comments:

Beck said...

Very good post. I have found out that TWO of my real life friends are bloggers (with private blogs) since I started blogging, which is always a bit unnerving. They lurk, silently, on mine.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

First, thanks for tagging me... Also. I mentioned at Mad's that blogging for me is comparable to playgroup. But you are so right -- in playgroup (or otherwise IRL) one is rarely able or willing to be as honest as on a blog.

Mimi said...

Jennifer--I remembered that comment, and sort of had it in mind when I was thinking about this post and why blogging instead of, say, mommy-baby swim classes as a way to meet other moms. You got me thinking.

NotSoSage said...

That's such a nice story. It is weird, in some cases, to try to reconnect with friends when one has kids (present) and the other doesn't. Although I know that not all of my friends plan to or will have kids, it's nice as some of them go through the experience and understand where I was/am coming from.

Em said...

That's an amazing story. I'm yet to bump into anyone I know in "real life" in the blogging world... but it sounds like an amazing experience for Mad and you.

Thanks for tagging me!

Mad Hatter said...

Yes, Em, it was. My jaw dropped to the floor when I first discovered Mimi online. And, of course, we both use aliaes but I knew who she was right away.

Lovely post, Mimi. And yes, it was formula in those bottles which you now know and understand.

jen said...

that is such a terrific story. and am, of course, jealous that you and mad live so close to each other...

bubandpie said...

Yes. Yes.

I have never bought into the idea that our online selves are constructed and fictionalized in a way that is somehow not true of our "real life" selves. We create a persona when we write, of course - but that persona can cut quite close to the bone out here in the ether.

I tagged you for this one because I wanted to know what you would say - and you captured it all so perfectly.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh and, you salty dog! I have been trying to do the mental math on that visit and Miss Baby's arrival. So you were preggers at the time. At three weeks, it's no wonder you didn't tell me but still it is very nice to know now.

cinnamon gurl said...

Great story. None of my real life friends have a blog, but some of them read my blog, and an acquaintance found my blog too. Sometimes I wonder if I'm exposing myself too much, but then I just keep writing.

Melanie said...

Gee, thanks. I'm a meme virgin. I'll do my best this weekend to put something together. I really liked your story - what an awesome story! I've read Mad Hatter's blog too and really like what she says. How that must have felt, to find an old friend like that. I think the biggest challenge will be keeping it to 5, but I'll try! Great post - thanks for sharing. I'll start putting my thoughts this afternoon - when the kiddos are napping (I hope).

Jenifer G. said...

How cool is that! I can imagine your shock when Mad found you.

Makes the blogging world just a bit smaller I would think.

kittenpie said...

I can't believe you know the real live Mad! That is really, very cool. I love being able to open up about some stuff too - it's been a relief at times, a challenge to my introverted self, a way to push myself into examining things and to opening up a bit and pushing my comfort zone. I think it's been a growth, in some ways, and I am so happy for it. Not to mention - I've met some great women!

Sandra said...

You know the real mad?!?! Wow.

I think you are very right about the honesty thing. I am as honest offline as I am on my blog. But when I write I do it with more rawness and less conscious of people's reactions and more about my own need to communicate.

I am so glad to have blogging in my world.

Mad Hatter said...

Wow, I can't believe I know the real, live Mimi. Now that is cool.

nomotherearth said...

Very cool story. I often wonder if I know some people because some people sound so very familiar. Maybe it's just that I've been reading their blogs for so long...;-)