Sunday, January 30, 2005

My coworker Todd sent me an interesting article about mommy blogs, and it turned me on to the blog of Michael Chabon (famous local novelist)'s wife. I thought, let's see how the successful and brilliant live.

turns out this mommy loves the Ferber method, as in letting her kids cry themselves to sleep. but here's an account of it not working for their fourth child. (

It's now 9:45 at night. By my last count Abe has vomited 6 times. That is, he has cried hysterically, until he’s made himself throw up, six times. He's made a slow circuit around his crib, vomiting as he goes. For the first two hours he wailed, "Daddy, Daddy, no, no." Then he cried, "Mommy." Twice. And that’s all she wrote. One second of Mommy and I sent Michael in with a bottle. I couldn't hack it because I’m a big wus.

Yeah, you're a big wus. Any normal mother would enjoy ignoring every instinct in her soul and body and enjoy ignoring her child's calls for help. the image of this scene just really freaked me out. sorry to this family for plucking this out of what is probably a charming family life. but i had read about babies who cried so hard while "crying it out" that they vomited, and hadn't quite believed it. and here it is, in black and white pixels.

By the way, here is the article, which i'm not linking to because i can't get into my new york times online account this morning:

Mommy (and Me)By DAVID HOCHMANS stomach bugs go, the one that hit the Allen family of Redmond, Wash.,this month certainly got a lot of play. Barely an hour after Jaxon, 5,showed his first miserable symptoms, his mother was posting her satiricalaccount of Pukefest 2005 on her Internet blog, Catawampus. By bedtime,after the virus had clobbered Neve, 7; Veda, 3; and Luka, 18 months, Dadwas logging on to type his own send-up of the insanity in his blog, theZero Boss. And Grandma Bunny weighed in a few days later with a 1,000-wordtreatise called "The Flu From Hell" on her site, Bunny Beth's Bargains.The world's most thankless occupation, parenthood, has never inspired somuch copy. For the generation that begat reality television it seems thatthere is not a tale from the crib (no matter how mundane or scatological)that is unworthy of narration. Approximately 8,500 people are writing Weblogs about their children, said David L. Sifry, the chief executive ofTechnorati, a San Francisco company that tracks Web logs. That's more thantwice as many baby blogs as last year.While it is impossible to know if the reader of Good Housekeeping circa1955 would have been recording her children's squabbles, had the Internet arrived half a century earlier,it is hard to imagine her going head to head with Ben MacNeil, who haschronicled his year-and-a-half-old daughter's every nap, bottle feedingand diaper change (3,379, at last check) on the Trixie Update('s parents - older, more established and socialized to voicing theiremotions - may be uniquely equipped to document their children's' lives,but what they seem most likely to complain and marvel about is their own.The baby blog in many cases is an online shrine to parentalself-absorption."People who get married, especially people in their 30's, and then havekids, are used to being the center of attention," said Jennifer Weiner,whose candid, motherhood-theme Web log, Snarkspot(, led to her novel, "Little Earthquakes," atale of four new mothers. The blogs, she said, are "a primal scream thatsays, 'Hey, I may have a kid, but I'm still here, too.' "Daniel J. Siegel, a psychiatrist on the faculty of the Center for Culture,Brain and Development at the University of California, Los Angeles, andco-author of "Parenting From the Inside Out," said that what is beingexpressed in these Web sites "is the deep, evolutionarily acquired desireto rise above invisibility, something parents experience all the time." Heexplained, "You want to be seen not just by the baby whose diaper you'rechanging, but by the world."With a new blog popping up every 4.7 seconds, according to Technorati, itis no surprise that there would be parent blogs, along with those fordating, politics and office life. But what makes them interesting is theway that blogging about parenthood seems to have become part of parenthooditself.Heather B. Armstrong of Salt Lake City credits her blog,, withsaving her sanity, if not her life. When it began in February 2001, Doocewas a collection of anecdotes about Ms. Armstrong's single life in LosAngeles, with provocative entries like "The Proper Way to Hate a Job" and"Dear Cranky Old Bitch Who Cut in Front of Me at Canter's Deli." Aftersomeone sent an unsigned, untraceable e-mail message about Ms. Armstrong'sblog to her company's board in 2002, she was promptly dismissed, and"Dooced" entered as a term for "Losing your job forsomething you wrote in your online blog, journal, Web site, etc."A year later Ms. Armstrong married, moved back to Utah, gave birth to adaughter, Leta, and was soon after hospitalized for severe postpartumdepression. Her moving, confessional entries from that time generatedthousands of e-mail messages and, she said, helped speed her recovery.Now about 40,000 people log on to read about Ms. Armstrong's efforts tobreak her daughter's binky habit and of her concern about swearing infront of Leta. Like most parent bloggers, Ms. Armstrong steals time at thecomputer when the child is napping, after the baby sitter arrives and lateat night. She said she blogs at least 15 hours a week. "Dooce probablysaved my life," she said. "The writing and voice I had let me hold ontopart of the original and old Heather, something that being a mother andthe depression couldn't take away."It is a theme that recurs. Parents have never waited longer nor thoughtmore consciously about having children, yet time and again the bloggersvoice surprise and sometimes resentment about the unglamorous reality ofbringing up baby."Honestly I had a lot of illusions about motherhood," said Eden MarriottKennedy, who was 37 when she had her first child and now writes about himat "You get settled in your ways. Until it's here, you reallydon't know how dehumanizing and ugly parenting can be sometimes. Theblog's a place where all that stuff can go."Exposing the dark underbelly of parenthood is not exactly new. Books likeAnne Lamott's "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year"and Andrea J. Buchanan's "Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It"have made it clear that raising children is not all sunshine and sippycups. What is remarkable is that being a parent has inspired so much textand that so many people seem eager to read it."If there's a parenting issue out there, somebody's blogging about it,"said Julia M. Moos, a managing editor at the Poynter Institute, ajournalism education organization in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the editorof Dot Moms (, an online collective formothers that blog. Her Web site has links to more than 500 mom blogs andabout 100 dad blogs.Mr. MacNeil, of the Trixie Update, said he doesn't understand why morethan 1,000 people a day visit his Web site ("I was even recognized at themall once," he said), but his own motives are clear. "Parents have beenparenting for hundreds of thousands of years, but this is the first timeI've ever done it," he said. "In its simplest form, the blog lets me chartthe void."And this being an age in which publicizing the private has never been morerewarded, a fair number of parents are hoping their blogs will attract theattention of book publishers. Mr. Allen said he hopes the Zero Boss( will help him sell a manuscript he has written aboutbeing a father, which is perhaps not too far-fetched.Early next year HarperCollins is planning to publish "The World Accordingto Mimi Smartypants" (already available in Britain), a compilation ofposts by the popular blogger who writes at "Ifyou only went by what the magazines and parenting books said or what yourrelatives told you, you'd think you were a neurotic freak who was doingeverything wrong," Ms. Smartypants said. (She declined to reveal her realname.) "Blogging makes parents more relaxed."But the question is, at who's expense? How will the bloggee feel, say, 16years from now, when her prom date Googles her entire existence?"Fundamentally children resent being placed at the heart of their parents'expression, and yet I still do it," said Ayelet Waldman, whose blog, BadMother (, describes life at home with her fouryoung children and her husband, Michael Chabon, the novelist. Ms. Waldman,a novelist herself, has blogged about her baby Abie's recessive chin andgimpy hip and the thrill of the children's going back to school afterwinter break."A blog like this is narcissism in its most obscene flowering," she said."But it's necessary. As a parent your days are consumed by other people'sneeds. This is payback for driving back and forth to gymnastics all weeklong."At some point, however, parents may find themselves at a crossroads. MollyJong-Fast, who has been a frequent subject for her mother, Erica Jong,said, "There comes that inevitable moment when parents who write abouttheir children need to choose between their writing and their children'sprivacy and honor." Ms. Jong based a children's book on her daughter aswell as a pilot for a Fox sitcom. "There's no compassionate way to doboth, so either the parent or the child will end up feeling resentful."Incidentally, Ms. Waldman's mother, Ricki Waldman, 64, a hospitaladministrator in Paterson, N.J., said she does not quite understand allthis blogging business. "I think parents today know so much about all thethings that might conceivably go wrong that they overreact and can't stoptalking about them," she said. "We didn't know what we were doing either,but look, our kids survived."The anxiety and uncertainty so commonly expressed in the baby blogsdefinitely make for good reading. ("He likes cars and tutus with equalpassion," Melissa Summers writes of her 2-year-old, Max, "I think he might be gay.") But it also shines aspotlight on a generation of parents ever more in need of validation, aninsecurity that doesn't necessarily serve the cause.What the blogs show is that "parents today are focused on taking theirchildren's emotional, social and academic temperature every four or fiveseconds," said Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of "TheBlessing of a Skinned Knee." "It deprives us of having a long view ofdevelopment. Kids do fine. The paradox is that the way to have them not dofine is to worry about them too much."Maybe that is so. But perhaps all the online venting and hand-wringing isactually helping the bloggers become better parents and better humanbeings. Perhaps what these diaries provide is "a way of establishing analternate identity that makes parenting more palatable," said Meredith W.Michaels, a philosophy professor at Smith College and the co-author of"The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has UnderminedAll Women." "You're turning your life into a story that helps answer thequestion, 'Why on earth am I doing this?' "As Alice Brady, who writes the popular baby blog "Finslippy"( out of her Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, apartment,put it, "I'd be a lot angrier if I didn't do this."And of course the more parents blog, the less likely they are to get theattention and validation they seem to crave. "If every parent in the worldhas a blog, then maybe it really will be about the child rather than theparent," Ms. Waldman said. "Because at that point the child is the onlyone who's going to read it."

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