Wednesday, April 4, 2007

On motherhood?

So, when I'm bored at work (which seems to be happening a lot recently... I get the impression that when I take the next two weeks off, absolutely nothing will happen in my absence, and yet there will be very little for me to catch up on when I return), I often browse a series of blogs, starting with those that I actually like and ending with those that are interesting, if horrifying. One such horrifying blog is called I Saw Your Nanny, which is basically the Community Nanny Police, otherwise known as the Human Nanny Cam. The idea is that people send in "nanny sightings," which can technically be good or bad but nine times out of ten are bad. Every now and then there will be a sighting of something that is legimitately worrying and specific enough to actually be useful, but most of the posts seem to run to a vague description of a nanny, usually not anywhere near specific enough to be recognizable ("black nanny, medium build, 20 to 30 years old"), and an explanation of how she seemed inattentive to her charges. The most interesting part of the site is the comments on the blog, which tend to be vitriolic, often racist, and written by people who seem to hold personal grudges against either nannies, stay-at-home-mothers, working mothers, rich people, poor people, or some combination thereof.

Reading that site usually makes me feel like less of a person, but sometimes I'm bored enough to stoop to it. I'm glad I did, though, because when I couldn't take any more of the nasty nanny flame wars, I clicked on one of the links to another blog, and from there to another blog. And that's where I found a blog called Purple is a Fruit. It's a motherhood blog, written by a married woman with a 19-month-old child living with her husband near Seattle. It's part of a website called ClubMom, which I think is kind of a neat, if yuppie-ish concept. It's amazing, as I read this blog and its comments, to see how many times we reinvent the wheel when it comes to parenting. It seems like millions of children encounter the same issues every day, but because many of their mothers have never been mothers before, and they don't have much in the way of a support system, they have no idea that the behaviour their child is exhibiting is normal, and they become scared. These things like ClubMom are in some ways too cutesy for my taste (see the daily cutest-baby-photo competition, not to mention the excess exclamation points scattered throughout the site) and the focus is decidedly narrow (lots of talk of playgroups, diapers, and the best way to handle a toddler tantrum in public). But the thing is that such narrow and dull-seeming topics are really important issues to parents. How do you teach your child not to be a selfish brat who thinks that pounding his head on the floor and disturbing 100 otherwise-peaceful shoppers is an appropriate way to get what he wants? And how do you make sure your kid has friends so that he doesn't grow up socially awkward, while at the same time keeping the parents from going nuts spending their days cooped up with a child who can barely talk? Sites for moms, especially young and/or new moms, are really useful sources of information, and they have a friendly community feel to them that I really like.

Maybe it's scary that I find all this stuff so interesting, or that I can totally see myself turning to a site like this for advice when my future child goes on a hunger strike, starts preferring his father to me, or otherwise does something that I think is horrifying but that many children have successfully weathered before. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I was a nanny for an eight-month-old boy in 2005, and a lot of these issues actually came up for me, and I loved that child intensely. And it scares me to imagine that supposedly I will feel so much stronger about my own child, because I already really cared about this baby that I only saw three times a week.

Anyway, Purple is a Fruit is a great blog because it deals with all these issues, but it's also witty and intelligent and very well-written (and exhibits a distinct lack of gratuitous exclamation points). So even though I'm barely 23, and don't plan on having children anytime soon, and should be way too hip and urban to even bother with a blog like that, I am going to defy convention and add it to the links section of my own blog. Because I think it's a great blog, and that's really the only criterion I have for my links. And who knows, maybe if I maintain this blog for long enough, one day it will turn into a mom-blog too. Isn't that an alarming thought?

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