|'Little Miss Sunshine' by Alexandra Carlton, Madison, July 2011|
God knows mums need shiny, happy beacons of hope, and quite expectantly there will be many voices to suit different female sensibilities (as well as age/lifestyle/relationship/work/economic status), but I do wonder, can this level of online hyperactivity be sustained? Are mummy bloggers burning themselves out?
Previously restricted to the corners of coffee shops and mother's groups, the discourse is now online and working overtime. Carlton sets the scene, explaining how Sullaphen penned her Sunny Mummy manifesto after collapsing in the corner of the laundry crying under the burden of being the perfect mother in response to an imperfect childhood (noting later that Sullaphen's current life is not "markedly less perfectionist than her pre-Sunny Mummy existence").
Any modern mother with a modem might be surprised to learn Sullaphen found online support so elusive. Mothers must be second only to computer programmers as one of the strongest forces on the web. Something about a silent screen glowing in the middle of the night during a lonely breastfeed or in five minutes of downtime on an exhausting morning can provide comfort in a way that well-meaning but sometimes overbearing attentions of family, friends and mothers' groups may not.
In Australia alone, sites like Essential Baby, the Bub Hub, Kidspot and Mamamia have hundreds of thousands of members sharing tips, troubles and good humour, almost entirely for free. There are blogs called Potty Mouth Mama and Mummy Mayhem, whose owners all place great store on how normal and imperfect their mothering is. At CRAP (Creative Relaxed Approach to Parenting) Mamma, the mantra is: "parenting is not about doing things the 'right way'... [but about] what suits your family at the time. Realmums.com.au claims to be 'Australia's only safe haven for mums, where you can 'rant, rave and rebel'...
Hand in hand with the confessionals are blogs devoted to positivity: the blog Seven Cherubs, to take just one example, is the home of the 'Happiness Project' where mummy bloggers share a positive sentence with each other every day for a month. Short of marching over to each other's houses, whipping each other's children away and returning them as fully-formed, functional 18-year-olds, it's hard to imagine net-savvy mothers could provide more support to each other than they already do.
I don't have children and I'm exhausted just reading the list.
They say it takes a community to raise a child: in the absence of community, together with the degradation of the traditional extended family unit, declining numbers of people attending church and more women participating in the workforce at all levels, it's little wonder comfort, knowledge, guidance and respite in managing the manifold complexities of mothering is sought through these sites: the modern equivalent of a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.
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