She wasn't into scrapbooking. She wasn't into jotting down thoughts in fancy journals. She just wanted to find an easier way to document her three children's lives. Her extended family lived in various locations around the country, and she was struggling with ways to keep them all updated on her kiddos' exploits, their photos, and their foibles as well as hers.
So in late 2002, Mindy found her solution: She started a web log (known as a "blog"), an Internet-based personal journal of sorts, where she chronicles her life as a working mom of three kids, ranging in age from almost three to six. Visitors to her blog can chuckle at her anecdotes, like her dialogs with her six-year-old son (who has a keen taste for sushi, but once required clarification on whether a PB&J sandwich could be considered a salad), her frantic search for the perfect Christmas gift (a spear for said six-year-old) and the ups and downs of motherhood (like trying to find a moment, when not refereeing between siblings, when she could apply mascara in peace). Or you can cry with Mindy about her difficulties regarding divorce, family relationships, and work.
Make Way for Bloggers
The Mommy Blog—whose tagline, "A quasi-rational thought sandwiched between T-Ball and Happy Hour," features a boy in an old-fashioned red shorts jumper mixing martinis—reads like a sarcastic Bridget Jones-meets-real-life-motherhood in the USA, imbued with humor, love, and angst. The very personal site is popular, netting 120,000 hits between March and December 2004, peaking with 3,500 hits the day Mindy posted photos of her house. "It's like therapy for me because I get to talk," Mindy says. "I'm absolutely stunned at how much traffic [the site gets]."
Mindy is far from alone. Keeping a personal journal online, where everyone from your boss to your mother-in-law can read your one-liners or screeds on the daily inanities of parenthood circa the 21st century, is a trend that's growing exponentially. More than eight million Internet users keep a blog, according to a poll released in January 2005 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And the readership for these journals has also exploded. Some 32 million Americans counted themselves as blog readers in the Pew poll. Twenty-seven percent of Internet users indicated that they regularly view blogs, compared to just 17 percent who reported viewing blogs almost a year earlier, the poll said.
Bloggers opine about anything from politics (several political bloggers were featured in September 2004 by The New York Times Magazine as having a major impact on the presidential race), to media and sports. Mommy blogging—writing about your family and parenting—is blossoming, with parents squeezing their journaling time in between their children's naps and school pick-up traffic jams or late at night. The 2004 Best of Blogs Award for personal online diaries even gave a nod to the burgeoning group of moms who blog, adding a special category for them. Mindy's blog was a top finalist for the best overall blog.
Then there's Melissa of Suburban Bliss (whose website's tagline reads, "Birth Control Via the Written Word"), who was a finalist for the best mommy blog. Melissa, whose blog was named by The Detroit Free Press as among the Detroit-area journals with "serious buzz," professes with shock that something, which initially drew about 15 readers, now gets upward of 2,500 hits a day.
Ask this mother of a preschooler and a six-year-old what makes her Web journal an interesting read and Melissa replies that recounting her family's happenings with an ample helping of self-parody and levity helps other people relate to her blog. "I've always kind of felt really realistic about parenting, I would say, almost cynical," she says. Melissa adds that her site exhibits all facets of being a mom, not just the happy, cute parts. "Everybody knows that you love your kids. It goes without saying. I am more interested in the other part of it."
A recent visit to Suburban Bliss revealed a new tagline, "You're still itching aren't you?" featuring little bugs and bug tracks, a reference to her daughter's three week battle with lice—"Lice Fest 2004"—which Melissa wrote about in minute detail, including photos of her daughter's head covered in mayonnaise in an attempt to kill the bugs. "These are Lice of the Apocalypse and I am going to die before they ever die," Melissa wrote in one post. "One-point-five hours of nit picking (literally) and her head is clear. I swear to God there are no more nits on her head. Please let this be the end. Please. Please. Please." (Unfortunately for her, it wasn't and the Lice Fest wore on.)