Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Apply Eyeliner (But Not Really)

I know, Santa, it’s not the time of year to be bad-mouthing other writers (an activity best saved for late January), but this particular issue has been dogging me for a while. (Long before Babble unveiled its list of top 100 Mom Bloggers and none of the people I like to read the most are on it. (I learned of said list after writing the bulk of this post, in fact, so you cannot accuse me of sour grapes—at least not with any accuracy—though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be NUMBER ONE in all aspects of life. Especially the ones I’ve never even tried—like professional golf.)) This isn’t a specific dig on any one writer. It’s just that so few so-called Mommy Bloggers seem to be truly honest about the gritty, messy parts of parenting and even more so the messy parts of marriage (perhaps because our spouses and their co-workers are more likely to read our posts than our children and their peers?).

Surely I’m not the only person out there whose mate isn’t always 100% supportive (or who isn’t always 100% supportive of their mate)? Surely I’m not the only person out there who feels like her brain might explode if her toddler takes even ONE MORE SECOND to finish her mind-numbingly slow ascent up the stairs? Surely I’m not the only person out there who would rather—and, in fact, does—eat M&Ms than wheatgrass smoothies when pregnant?

Am I alone in feeling more alienated by tales of near-perfect parenting presented under the guise of “my day was sooooooooo crazy—the washing machine broke and then I tweeted about it and now I got a new one for free?” (A slight exaggeration for dramatic purposes.) Am I alone in being tired of endless streams of slow-to-load photos of adorable children behaving adorably? Am I alone in wanting my online mom-peers to dig deep and get thoughtful and maybe even really bitch about something in a well-spoken way rather than tell me how I can apply makeup in the manner of a movie star or tell me a list of your favorite songs this month or tell me where to buy, buy, buy this that or the other camera/nursing cover-up/purse/deer-antler coatrack?*

Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE TO SHOP. And god knows I like someone else to do the legwork of sifting through the internet to separate the cool, interesting products from the copious amounts of crap in the world. And god knows, too, I NEED TUTORIALS ON HOW TO APPLY MAKEUP—it’s just that as a professional writer and an avid reader, I’m actually (stupidly?) looking to the internet and its many, many blogs for GOOD WRITING that SPEAKS TO ME in that magical universal way that writers hit upon when they get good and specific about themselves—and their struggles and problems and obsessive thoughts about WHATEVER. And it would be nice SO NICE if a post occasionally broke the 1,000 word mark—hell, even the 500 word mark—and not with the inclusion of the lyrics to entire songs.

I know, I know, I’m lame. Old-fashioned. I do not tweet. I barely use Facebook. I do not use an e-reader, nor do I aspire to. After reading a thoughtful, longish essay or meditation on a sustained topic, I feel fulfilled, educated, connected. After I finish reading a blog post (let alone a status update) full of excruciatingly cute photos of strangers and cheerful tips on dog-rearing, I kind of want to kill myself.

I was happy to read this post by Alice Bradley this morning, which struck me as more honest and real than most work by the best-known “Mommy Bloggers.” I felt awash in gratitude for the realness. It's terrifying, yes, to find out that even when they're NINE, children apparently still whine and refuse to get dressed and cry at the drop of a pin and generally behave like two-year-olds, but it's also REALLY GOOD TO KNOW because it means that even if my child's obstreperous behavior is a phase, it's a RECURRING phase, so I'd better find a way to ride it out, stat.

I appreciate you women who share photos of your dog balancing your vial of antidepressants on his head (for instance), but I also want to hear about the struggle—otherwise I end up feeling more alone, like, Sure, other moms have a hard time occasionally, but then they take cute photos with their pets and they’re cured—what’s YOUR problem?

As I sit here under my crazy-bright therapist-prescribed S.A.D. lamp even though I do not have Seasonal Affective Disorder—I just live in a very dark place (literally, not figuratively— most of the time) and have a mild form of regular old depression-depression and a disinclination to take meds, especially while pregnant—I give thanks to all of you other “undiscovered” bloggers out there who are talking so thoughtfully and humorously about pee and poop and vomit and depression and sibling rivalry and sibling love and faith and writing and how to get blood out of every piece of cloth in your bathroom after unwittingly giving birth in there.

I like you.

*I’d actually really like one of these.

photo courtesy jdurham, morgueFile


  1. I don't read mom blogs. I read real-person blogs. It's really hard to find them.

  2. Have you ever read the "Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures" blog? It's humorous, and (best of all!) very real. I definitely understand how you feel about most Mommy Blogs out there - but I think Amber's blog is great, and I can usually completely relate to her stories!

  3. This is how I do my makeup and it comes out amazing