Anyone who has a blog knows about it: the giddy sensation of writing for an audience. An enormous part of the appeal of blogging is what it gives us: readers – and not just hypothetical ones of the "Reader, I married him" variety – real readers who can provide instant feedback, who are giving up precious moments of their free time, totally voluntarily, just to read our blogs. It’s an intoxicating form of flattery.
My blog audience functions in many ways as a concrete manifestation of the imaginary audience I’ve carried around for years, in those moments of detachment when I examine myself and my life from the point of view of the people I’ve admired, or been rejected by, in the past: Bobby B., the boy I liked off and on throughout elementary school; Carolyn J., the friend who dumped me in grade 11; Mrs. C., the English teacher whom I injudiciously tried to convert by means of some not-very-subtle argumentation in my "reflection journal"; Robin W., a popular artsy girl from my high school. I haven’t seen most of these people for years, though I’ve heard occasional reports from mutual acquaintances of where they are and what they’re doing. For the most part these reports confirm that the passage of time has erased the differences that seemed so crucial in high school: we’re all married and raising children, with the exception of Robin, who according to Google has become a lesbian cabaret dancer.
All of which is to say: I’ve never lived my life without some consciousness of an audience. But I’ve been especially aware, lately, of how much my blogging is shaped by the imagined personality, tastes, and interests of my audience. I realize that even among the handful of people who regularly read this blog, there are significant differences: not all of you are bloggers, not all of you comment, not all of you are from Toronto or California (one visitor, at least, is from Milner Ridge, Manitoba – hi!). Nevertheless, there is that Platonic form of Mommy-Blog Reader that exists in my mind, underlying (and possibly explaining) everything I write. So here, dear reader, are the rash assumptions I’ve been making about who you are:
- You are in your thirties, married, with a baby between six months and two years old. You may be on a maternity leave, or taking a more permanent break from the workforce, or you might be mommy-tracking it in one way or another; whatever was true in the past, career is no longer the center of your world.
- The adjustment to mommy-hood has not been an easy one. If you did not experience full-blown PPD, at the very least you found yourself shocked and traumatized by the round-the-clockness of parenting, by how desperately shallow your reserves of patience and sweetness turned out to be. If I mention that I am often tormented by the urge to run away from my baby, you’ll understand.
- You may or may not be American (in most cases not, as SiteMeter informs me), but if you were, you would vote Democrat.
- You believe in God, but you didn’t attend church last Sunday morning. The word "Christian" is not one you ordinarily perceive as a compliment.
- You are a reader. If I write about a Jane Austen novel, I don’t need to attach a spoiler warning. You recognize the source of "Reader, I married him." (Or if you can’t immediately place it, at least it sounds familiar. Hint: the "him" is Mr. Rochester. No spoilers there either.)
Finally, most dauntingly –
- You are cool. One might even go so far as to say you are crazy and hip.
It is in acknowledgement of that last item that I have replaced the lengthy blurb that once appeared at the top of this blog. I’m not convinced that there is much that is witty – much less crazy or hip – about my new tagline (though anything that makes me think of Donny Osmond is a good thing), but at least it has the advantage of brevity, and it alleviates my increasing level of embarrassment over the naivete of my original blog-description, which I will preserve here for posterity:
The boy formerly known as Bub is three feet tall with blond hair and blue eyes; his interests include blocks, puzzles, and wagon rides. Favourite movie: Baby MacDonald. Favourite author: Dr. Seuss. The Pie is a little bit newer to the world, and her primary field of study is human growth and development, with a special interest in big-brother-little-sister relations. In addition to being mother and chief entertainer of Bub and Pie, I am a fan of reality TV and an avid reader of mama blogs.
Let us take a moment to grieve. Because this minor tweaking of my blog represents a greater sea change, one I’ve noticed as I’ve worked my way through more than a few archives. The early posts are not polished and urbane; they lack topicality and irony; but what they so often have in spades is a refreshing innocence, a willingness to be boring, to be obsessive, to be utterly absorbed in minutiae, as so many of us are, so much of the time. I’m not sure I ever quite had that innocent period, but when I catch myself hesitating to post about how the Bub has taken to announcing "I feel happy" after he pushes his sister over and makes her cry, hesitating because I fear that the cute-yet-disturbing-kid-saying factor on my blog is getting too high, I know that I have it now less than ever.