It seems to me that there are as many different blogs out there as there are people in the world, but there are a few categories that I've pinpointed in the Mommy Blogworld. I'm going to say right out that I don't like putting people in boxes and just because one person might write the sort of thing to go in one kind of blog category doesn't mean that they can't turn around and write something else. It's like trying to label homeschoolers. Are you more Charlotte Masonish or School-At-Homeish? Do you unschool or make your kids wear uniforms and start every morning with the pledge of allegiance? What if you do both? Which box do you go in? Get my drift? Nobody puts Baby in a corner and that's not what I'm trying to do here.
The major blogging categories I see in the Mommy Blogging World are these:
"Random Diary" doesn't mean that they read like "Dear Diary... blah, blah, blah". What I mean is that these are people who like to pop in every now and then and participate in a link-up or tell everyone what they've been up to. They like to record some things for posterity sake but they come and go (posting wise) based on their whim. Sometimes they might take a longer hiatus but they never usually feel the need to say, "I'm taking a blog break."When inspiration hits, they might pound out a post every day for a week or a month or longer. They write for themselves and usually not for a specific goal other than to satisfy their urge to connect with someone.
Spiritual/Inspirational blogs are ones that I can't read too many of. These are the blogs that take every walk in the park, every shopping experience, every crumb on the table and turn it into a spiritual journey. These kinds of blogs are way too romantic and poetic for my practical sensibilities but I understand how uplifting and encouraging they could be for others. It's just not my usual cup of tea. Never for a minute would I accuse them of putting on an act or a persona, of not being "real". I really do think these bloggers are the way the write. I believe that they really do stop and reflect or they really want to, maybe not every minute, but certainly at the end of the day and they write those reflections down hoping to pass along some inspiration or encouragement to someone who can't see the forest for the trees. These people might be writing for just themselves or they might be writing for their readers. I guess it depends on whether or not they are trying to sell you something. Which leads me to...
The Professional Blogger. I'm not talking about the mom who happens to pull in some extra income using affiliate links or anyone who has ever done a review in exchange for a free book or two. No, the professional blogger is the blogger who gets paid to blog either by a specific company or through sponsors or who's blog is a marketing tool for their latest product. These bloggers usually have to be conscious of readership level and click-thrus and the fact that certain topics quickly drive traffic up. Sponsors pay based on an expectation of exposure and professional bloggers have to pay attention to their traffic in order to satisfy those expectations. I always try to remind myself when reading these blogs that basically, it's a business for them and they are probably trying to sell something whether that's their latest book or their persona. Again, I'm not saying that they aren't "real" just that these people are writing not for themselves, but specifically to cultivate regular readership and satisfy expectations. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, just that I think everyone would be wise to remember these things when reading professional blogs. It always helps to keep things in perspective. Simcha herself says in response to a negative comment, "Yeah, well, the difference between this lady and me is that, when I write unpleasant, pointless stuff that nobody cares about, I get paid for it. Ha ha!" Using humor and exaggeration to make a point doesn't mean there isn't a kernel of truth and in Simcha's case, she's found a niche amongst the Nitty Gritty crowd that works for her and profits both her and her family.
Personally, I love listening to Jim Gaffigan and Tim Hawkins comment about marriage, family life and raising kids but I never think of them as being "more real" or better at baring their souls. No, they are professional comedians and quite good at what they do. That's why they are so entertaining!
And speaking of Nitty Gritty... these are also the blogs that I can only read occasionally and not regularly. Why? Because these people make their lives sound like my worst nightmare. Yes, I understand that they might be employing rhetorical devices like hyperbole and sarcasm for the purpose of humor and entertainment, but they make me... anxious. Because you never quite know just how much is real in what they say and how much is exaggerated for dramatic/comedic effect. Yet these blogs get labeled as being more down to earth and "REAL" than the "pretty blogs". I don't understand that. If your life really is that out of control, would you really revel in it? Why wouldn't you take steps, any steps no matter how small to try to help make it better. If your house really is a disaster pit of despair, start tossing things. If your dirty clothes really are lining the hallway in piles so big you can't see the carpet, why wouldn't you get some hampers. Can't afford them? How about a cardboard box? If your 2 year old keeps reenacting a Colonial Tar and Feathering with Vaseline and Cheerios, why wouldn't you put those things and anything else that tempting on a higher shelf?
I realize my reaction is really my problem, not theirs, because I am the kind of person I am. I like order. I like organization so I make it a priority. Not magazine perfection, mind you, but tidy according to my standards. My playroom is a "disaster" by my standards after one morning of Cupcake entertainment but I can ask my 9 year old to clean it up and in 10 minutes it's back to tidy because he knows where everything is supposed to go and doesn't mind putting it away for me. That's important to me. Why? Because when my house is too disordered for too long, it starts to affect my psyche. I feel disordered and I hate that. So the Nitty Grits don't appeal to me as much. I read a few and then I move on. I certainly don't think of them as liars, or accuse them of over exaggerating the ugly in order to get a few laughs. It's their way of dealing with their life. Maybe the laughter helps fights back the tears. That, I can totally understand.
Now we come to my favorite! Of course I saved the best for last! (That was humor, lighten up!) I've said it before and I'll say it again. I consider my blog primarily a Digital Scrapbook. Not all digital scrapbooks are going to be pretty. It depends on what the blogger wants to highlight. I blog for me and my family. Yes, knowing that other people besides my husband and best friends read it makes it a little more fun but I'd still scrapbook even if was just for me. I need help seeing the beautiful and, most of all, remembering. What you see is what we really do. I really do make these cakes and I really decorate like this for my kids' birthday parties and I would even if I didn't own a camera to take pictures with but nowhere do you see any kind of statement saying, "If you really loved your children, you'd do this too!"
Frankly, I'm a little tired of having to defend my creativity over and over. Yes, there will be occasional pseudo-complimentary comments about how mom's like me are gifted with certain talents that others don't have and that's why we are able to do what we do... like it's not work or anything, just the product of a talent we did nothing to cultivate, we were just given. Thanks a lot! If I were to say that someone's computer talent or writing talent was simply a gift from God and not a skill that's been honed and sharpened, I wonder how those women would feel? We all have God given talents and interests and motivations, but we all also have to work and practice and put those talents to good use. I might have been blessed with an artistic eye, but I have to develop it and work it to use it the best way I can for the glory of God.
So, ladies... let's really build each other up. Let's really celebrate each other's talents. Let's learn from each other what we can. Let's recognize that everyone has a battle to fight and it might not look like yours. Let's not just ignore those people we can't understand or dismiss them as "unreal" to make ourselves feel better. I have learned so much from so many different people I've encountered online. I like to think it's made me a better person. Don't miss out on the chance to become a better person too.