I started reading Heather Armstrong’s blog, dooce, when my daughter was about 18 months old. I liked her writing and was intrigued by her references to postpartum depression, so I started reading her archives, beginning with the birth of her daughter, Leta, who is now four years old. How I wish I had been reading dooce when Samantha was born! I was floored by the similarity in our experiences, and the popularity of her blog indicates I’m not the only one who feels that way.
It’s almost a cliché that new moms need to know that they are “not alone” – that other moms have been through the same things, and that we all get through it. Since I have so few friends with kids, I read dozens of crappy magazines and internet articles looking for that kind of support, but they all left me cold. I didn’t need to read about why I should make play dates or what to ask the pediatrician at the 3 month checkup. Reading other moms whine about their problems just increased my tendency to think of myself as a martyr. I needed more data and fewer conclusions. I needed to read about the minutia of day-to-day life. One article could never capture the essence of it: the frustration, the uncertainty, and the helplessness you feel while simultaneously experiencing a level of joy, love, and attachment you never thought possible. The whole experience is shattering, but it happens a bit at a time. Reading a blog like Heather’s, where you get one day at a time, would have given me what I craved.
In my reading, Leta is now 23 months old, just like Sam. There is a photo of Leta in the shopping cart with the little car on the front, just like Sam rides in now. There are stories of food battles and, yes, there is still the occasional poop post. The thread that means the most to me, though, is Leta’s struggle and ultimate success with walking. Sam doesn’t have any specific problems, but she is a late bloomer and some of the concerns are the same. I can’t count the number of places I’ve read about how kids develop at different rates, and how one shouldn’t get too caught up in milestones, etc., etc. But nothing helps me cope more than observing Heather do it day by day. The difference between a book and a blog is that the author of the blog doesn’t know the ending yet. And isn’t that exactly what we’re dealing with as parents? The uncertainty, the flailing about, the learning as we go. There is just no substitute for watching someone else do it right along with you.
Sometimes I read Heather’s current stuff, but I can’t relate. I can’t even imagine Sam at four. But I know she’ll get there, and I know I’ll be reading dooce and other mommy bloggers out there who are laying it all out there for us. Thank you, ladies!
(By the way, that photo is not a set up. I was reading dooce while Sam was watching Sesame Street. I was only about three entries past that post when REM showed up on my TV too.)