Visible M(others): Sharing the Struggles, The Blog as Support Network

I've been selected to participate in a gallery exhibition over the course of the next six weeks titled "Visible M(others): Images of Parenting in Visual Culture." The show runs March 5 - April 11, 2010 at the Boise State University Student Union Gallery and is free to the public (go see it!). I'm collaborating with Shannon Paterson over at We'll both be writing new posts on Thursday of each week for the six weeks of the exhibition, exploring the idea of how our "mommyblogs" are a sort of "digital front porch swing," a place to share information and be heard, a forum for asking questions, for showing off our skills and our kids. Mommyblogs act not only as an informational outlet, but a creative force in our contemporary maternal visual culture, as the blogs are loaded with not only verbal creativity, but photography, crafts, and other digital imagery documenting our lives as mothers. Provoking complex questions, the exhibition presents new perspectives on traditional, contemporary, alternative or imagined parenting and how they operate in a visible/invisible landscape of maternal visual culture.

I think I've been following blogs since their inception, way back in the day when they weren't all fancy and frilly and were just people, writers mainly, who found the world wide web a way to get their words out there. Blogs became an increasingly important part of my search for knowledge and companionship when I got pregnant for the first time in 2007. Those of you who have children know that there is nothing more exhilarating and absolutely terrifying than carrying a child in your womb. I was living in Minneapolis, far, far from family and had no friends at the time who were yet young parents, so I was searching for answers to questions and someone to acknowledge the craziness I was feeling. That craziness became even more powerful a force when little Lucy finally entered the world and I looked to the internet for help. Luckily for me, I found some other mothers out there who weren't afraid to write about their bleeding nipples, tears of exhaustion, and their love of their sweat pants. They made me feel less alone, less nuts, and calmed my nerves. There are inspirational blogs by tattooed mothers who got accidentally knocked up and mothers who have emotional stories of losing their young baby to illness. I cry and laugh and am amazed. When I got laid off, I felt so alone and depressed and read other peoples horror stories about the wreckage that had become their life and it made me feel better. I wasn't alone. And neither were they. Many others, including myself, left comments on their sites, sharing our stories, and ideas, and sorrow. I've always been prone to the plus-sized side of life and have found myself a little heavier after each pregnancy. Realizing I'm really rotund and accepting that fact is a journey and sometimes a struggle, and it's been reassuring to find a slew of blogs by hefty ladies who are proud of their size.

(image of The Popsycle courtesy of

It's not only the ladies that I look to in the blogosphere, however. The daddy writers are also a kick in the pants to follow and have as much wit, interest, and foul language to interest me and accurately share the joys of parenthood. One of my favorites is Sweet Juniper!, written by a husband and wife team in Detroit. Like all excellent writers, they tell ordinary tales of everyday life in extraordinary ways, like lovely little details of their daughter's birthday cake and how they built their family bicycle.

(images courtesy of

Nor do I only read blogs for all matters of sadness or struggle. Honestly, besides information gathering, I read them to laugh. And I cannot tell you how many times I've laughed till I've cried over The Bloggess' outrageous storytelling abilities and flat out bizarre sense of humor. Yes, she shares my love of taxidermy, but she also writes hilarious columns for a satirical sex site. And she's a mom. Who's cat sits on her head. And who spends a lot of time in bathrooms.

(image courtesy of

More often than anything these days, though, my blogroll consists of about twenty art and craft sites that I peruse daily for inspiration. There are moms who make the cutest recycled girly clothes I've ever seen, moms who create magazine-worthy baby nurseries, and ladies who, like the one who runs Zakka Life, come up with the best kids crafts and holiday ideas ever. And, lucky for me, one blogger links to another crafty blogger friend who links to another and suddenly I been sucked into my couch and my laptop for hours looking at other peoples great ideas. Which, ultimately, can be the biggest problem with blogs that I see - the amount of time spent reading or watching other people's lives instead of getting out and living your own. It's a danger that I'm increasingly aware of, especially as dreary winter days and the stark aloneness that can often overcome SAHMs can easily take over. There are truly blogs devoted to anything and everything and anyone and everyone can start one of their own for free. Just like me. I've gained inspiration, education, advice, companionship and more from reading them and couldn't be more thankful that the internet has become a tool for bringing people together.