The Perils of Mommy Blogging

And so it has begun.

I love sharing my life and opinions with you, but we’ve entered a new realm of the blogging world and I confess I’m having a hard time coping with the adjustment. Previously the criticisms felt easier to write off, because they were often a matter of “well that’s your opinion and this is mine, let’s agree to disagree.” Now though, the attacks are starting to revolve around my ability to properly care for my son, most certainly my second favorite person in the entire world (TH is numero uno of course).

I desperately want to be a good mother and give him the best start in life (and I know that this post and the sentence this aside is embedded in will likely prompt many to write and let me know they think I am a good mom — thanks in advance for that!)  but man, I can already tell I’m going to be making a lot of mistakes. And those mistakes are sometimes going to get posted on the blog. And unless you’ve personally make that mistake yourself, or one similar to it, it’s going to be easy for you to think to yourself If I were in her shoes I would do it so much better.

But could you? Let me tell you, this parenting thing is hard my friends. 8 weeks in and I’m just now celebrating a nighttime ritual where if I’m lucky I go to bed around 11, wake up at 2 for 30 minutes, wake up again at 5 for 30 minutes, and wake up again at 7:30 for the day. And this sleep schedule feels like a luxury! My husband is sleep deprived as well, which means more petty arguments between the two of us. I rarely can do one thing at a time for more than 2 hours. It can take 45 minutes to get everything packed up, him dressed, fed, and changed, and in the car seat so we can go somewhere (and that didn’t even count the time getting me ready). My life revolves around him, in wonderful ways of course, but he also leaves me feeling at times like screaming GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK.

And now I kind of want to yell that at some of you. And I might do it sometimes. Because I was struggling before to remain calm and not get snarky with the commenters who feel they can cancel out all tactlessness by starting out their comment with phrases like Not to be rude or anything but, (Here’s a hint: If you start out your comment with that phrase, it’s probably a rude one and you should just go along on your merry little way. Rarely do constructive additions to a dialog start with such phrase.) and now I’m feeling myself begin to overanalyze and question and wonder how much of my life I want to share and cheeky/brusque Jenna hops up on my shoulder and whispers things in my ear that I type out and then regret after the reply button is pressed. Maybe it would be easier for all of us if I carefully worded my posts and photos to make sure my life looked sparkly and happy and easy, and that I looked like A+ Super Mom on steroids, then there wouldn’t be anything for you to criticize. It is possible, you know, to present yourself that way if you really want to.

I don’t want to do that though. I like to be me, and what you see on That Wife is 100% what you would get if you met me in person (except if you met me in person I would probably get dressed, something I don’t always do when writing my posts… that’s pretty much the only difference though). As I attempt to adjust to this new stage in life, you’re often going to see a snarky defensive side come out, at least in the beginning. I see the comment trolling for replies and I tell myself to leave it alone, that they don’t deserve the attention, but sometimes my ego wins out and I have to engage in a stand-off with the often-anonymous troller. Sometimes I’ll be mistaken and think an innocent commenter is a rude one, because it’s so easy to misread tone in print. I apologize if this happens to you and I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt and come back again. Give me another try, and hopefully you’ll see some improvement over time.

It’s not going to be easy for me to adjust to this thing called Mommy Blogging though, and I hope you’ll have patience with me as I wriggle and squirm my way into this new capacity. If you stick around, you’re going to see my son go from baby to boy, and maybe, if I write that long, to man! (That’s weird to think about though.) Often, we’re going to have to agree to disagree (don’t we often do that anyway though?). And please, always keep in mind that I love my little screaming mass of terror and joy and am working to figure out what’s best for him. As my first, he’s a little guinea pig to my parenting undertakings, and it’s going to get messy at times. But hopefully he knows that is what he signed up for.

82 thoughts on “The Perils of Mommy Blogging

  1. Jenna, my gorgeous, honest, loving and gracious friend of 20+ years, if anyone gives you crap for not being a good mom or not giving T1 the attention he needs, then they have obviously not been a parent before or are one of those parents that pay so much attention to their kids they lose not only themselves but they lose their relationship with their husband, their chance at a career, and they create an overbearing mother who will be hated for many many years in their children’s life. You are doing a great job and you deserve nothing but support from your readers. Send them my way, I’ll put them in their place! Love you!

  2. Well written statement of truth Jenna. People need to lighten up. You’re doing a great job and it’s obvious how much you adore your son.

  3. Jenna, while I might disagree with you on most social issues, I think you’re doing a wonderful job as a mom. People can be so judgmental and just plain mean. Ignore them! I love reading That Wife because of your honesty. Keep it up, and don’t let the haters get you down!

  4. I don’t know that there’s any way to avoid the negative judge-y stuff people are going to say (I think I remember once the Weddingbee people saying they wouldn’t branch into Babybee because people are exactly that way about it? and I was really shocked about the comments on your buzz cut post!). and it seems like once one person does it others jump on that bandwagon. But I (and I know many others) really appreciate reading an honest viewpoint and about real life! I haven’t been lucky enough to have babies yet, but I’m always bookmarking in my mind things to come back to!

  5. I think that anyone who gives you crap about your parenting skills needs to name a handful of parents that NEVER made mistakes with their own children! (Not that I think you’re making mistakes, but you said so yourself, this is a learning process! Trial and error!). It’s easy to hide behind the anonymous label, that way the trolls can attack & don’t have to own up to their words, and it’s also easy for me to say “just ignore them” but I know that’s often easier said than done. Just know that for every troll out there, there’s at least 10 times as many of us that enjoy reading your blog & hearing about your experiences!

  6. Sadly, motherhood seems to make women even cattier. It is a sad truth and one reason a lot of mom bloggers have removed comments. A friend even had a hate site about how she was a bad mother – she’s not.

    Remember there is no gold standard to mothering, no perfect way.. it is whatever works that is in the best interest of yourself, your child and your family.

  7. Obviously I can’t speak from experience (no kids here!), but I am pretty certain that EVERY new parent (and even the majority of experienced ones) makes mistakes now and again.

    It is both disheartening and baffling that people feel the need to criticize you or condemn you. I just don’t understand it.

    So I will simply say that I am in your corner. Mistakes and snarkiness (deserved snarkiness, I might add) and all.

    You are doing a great job.

  8. I agree with what a few people have said above: motherhood encourages criticism and competition. I’ve seen it amongst my real-life friends who are mothers. They say not so nice things about each other behind their backs and criticize their parenting choices. It’s hard to witness, because we are all proof that various types of parenting can be successful and there are lots of ways to nurture happy, healthy babies. I hope that you don’t let the criticisms you may be receiving on this blog (or in real life) get you down. It’s so immediately apparent that you and TH love and care for T1 tremendously. Just keep loving him and doing your best. He’s lucky to have you as a mom.

  9. Jenna,

    As a long time reader (and sometimes commenter), I just wanted to say keep doing what you are doing. I will never understand why people cannot just accept that everyone is different and what works for one person is not going to work for another. And what happened to social etiquette? I always follow the old school rule when replying to blogs or speaking to people face to face…. if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

    I, like many of your readers, love and appreciate your honesty and openness to talk about your experiences.

  10. Seriously, people are ridiculous. You’re doing a fabulous job raising your too-cute-for-words son. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will you make decisions that other perceive as mistakes? Yes. But you know in your heart that you’re doing the best you can.

    Just because you’re an amazing writer/photographer/woman/wife/daughter/sister/mother doesn’t mean you’re perfect. But guess what…none of us are. And as much as the trolls think *they* are perfect, they, in fact, are not.

    Jenna, you’re going to be just fine. If you need to take a break, we’ll be here when you get back. If you need to get snarky, we’ll understand. If you just want to post cute pics of T1 every day for a week, well, I think we’d all be cool with that 🙂

  11. Jenna, I read your blog because of your honesty. As someone who will hopefully be a first-time mom in the next year, you (and OMG Mom) are the only ones writing realistically what it’s like. And that takes guts that most people don’t have. Keep being your awesome, honest self on your blog. Thanks for keepin it real! 🙂 Love your pictures and TH is such a cutie!!!

  12. This was wonderfully written and does an excellent job of conveying where you are in your head these days. I’m not a mother but I can only imagine what a complete change that brings about in your life, and at a time when you are needing support and encouragement it must be even more awful to receive, not constructive criticism or advice, but downright snarky and judgmental comments.

    As you said, we are known to disagree and have passionate debates around here, and I love that about That Wife, and goodness knows I don’t always agree with you, but the nature of the “criticism” and “disagreement”- if it can even be correctly called that- on the buzz post was incredibly immature to me. A lot of us come here for your fun posts mixed in with your more serious, debate sparking posts, and its a nice corner of the internet to do that respectfully.

    One last thing, my two cents on why women snark on other women in motherhood choices- unless a father is physically abusive, doesn’t pay child support, or is absent completely, I’ve NEVER heard their parenting criticized- a father can be out in public with rag-tag dressed, dirty cheeked children that are acting up and people cluck “oh, cute, look, that poor man, trying to take care of the kids”. Now put a woman in that situation and suddenly it’s “I can’t believe she doesn’t dress her children better/wipe their nose/ get them under CONTROL” 🙁 It’s an unfair double standard, and I think women devolve into criticizing other women because parenting is usually seen as something the mother sets the tone for and is her primary responsibility, whereas people kind of think anything a man does to contribute at all is so adorable, or sweet, or whatever, that he is given a much broader margin of error. I think that places far too much responsibility on the woman, and doesn’t give men enough credit for their ability to parent, and parent well. That’s my lil’ feminist slant on it 🙂

    Notes from the Fatty File Reply:

    That is so true!! I never thought of that before but you are spot on with your assessment.

    Jenna, I have to echo other folks by saying that I think you are doing the best you can and you look like a rockstar to me! Besides the buzz cut post, I haven’t seen any negative comments on your posts lately, though, so try to focus on the people who are rooting for you and T1.

    Kayakgirl73 Reply:


  13. I would adopt this policy, which I actually adopted from Becker (the photographer). If a negative or criticizing comment doesn’t have a real name attached to it – don’t publish it. You are honest in who you are and willing to stand behind your posts – expect the same of your commenters. Anyone who prefers to hide behind the anonymity of the internet has no place on your site. Plain and simple.

    And, of course, I must remind you of that famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt : “No one can make you feel bad without your permission.”

    :0) Keep up the good work – I enjoy your blog!

  14. This blog post really touched me because I often feel the same way about food and fitness blogging.

    I always tell myself that for every 1 mean comment, there are dozens or hundreds of nice ones, and even maybe thousands of unspoken/non-typed thoughts that people have in their heads about my blog. Keep you chin up Jenna! And I’m on g-chat if you ever want to talk about it.

    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks Caitlin! Not sure why people would want to criticize someone writing about their attempts at a healthy lifestyle. You do a great job and I know you’re an inspiration to so many people!

    caitlin Reply:

    You’d be surprised what people can complain about! 🙂

    HTP Dad Reply:

    So true – the more blogs I read, the more I realize (again) how much anger people live with.

    caitlin Reply:

    thanks daddy 🙂

  15. Well put. I was stunned by the reaction to the buzz-cut post, and I realized that was what Kimberly Michelle was talking about when she said she’s trying to avoid the “mommy wars”. ‘Cause man, that was starting to feel like a war zone.

    I think Sophia’s on to something with the double-standard, too. I’ve never heard of “daddy wars”…

  16. I think a lot of the flack that you get for some of the things you write stems from the anonymity of blogging – people feel they can be mean because they can’t see you and you can’t see them. But the flack for mommy mishaps? You get that from evvvvvvvvvvvverywhere. In the mall. At the bank. Waiting in line at the grocery store. And if you blog about it, here as well.

    Just take a deep breath and remember all those people going, “Well with *my* kids…” they have mommy amnesia and totally forget how trying having an 8 week old can be sometimes. It’s a learning process. It’s a dealing process. And you’re being the best mom you can be by dealing the best you can. 🙂

  17. Well said, Jenna! I don’t know what it is about parenting and babies that brings the snark out of some people, but I think it’s pretty common across the annonymous internet, not just you! It baffles me – we should be celebrating our move into motherhood, the good & the bad. All of the ups & downs.

    This is one of the most “real” blogs out there and I would hate for that to change! You are always true to your self and I really respect that 🙂

  18. From what I’ve seen, Mommy Blogging is a tough place. Hang in there! Maybe one day it can be a place with less judgement (and more rainbows and kittens, etc.). 🙂

  19. Hey Mamma –

    I frequently lurk and never post comments, but in this case I had to. I am married and planning to start a family in the next year or so, and I love your blog because I’m interested in learning as much as possible about the REAL side of having babies. I’m not LDS and sometimes I disagree with your posts, but I’m also in awe of you as a woman and a mother.

    I’m hoping that maybe there are a lot more readers like me, who enjoy your writing but just don’t post comments very often?

    And unfortunately, some people just suck. Do your best to ignore them, because the rest of us love reading about your journey.

    The funny thing is, there are several mommy blogs that I read even though I highly disagree with their parenting methods, because they crack me up or paint a good picture for what I want to try my hardest NOT to do. And I never feel the need to post nasty comments. We should just agree to disagree. I’m grateful to be able to learn from everyone’s experience and stories, even if I find them applicable to my life or not.

    You are awesome, keep it up!!!!

  20. Beautifully said! If there is one thing I have found out in my 2 plus years of parenthood (which is still short in the realm of things) that everyone is going to have an opinion on how you raise your child.

    It’s so hard at first to take it with a grain of salt, but it gets easier. Especially when you see the hard work and love you put into your children show through.

    Keep on doing what you do, you are Mom, YOU know best!

  21. Wonderfully written post. I was afraid at the beginning of this post that you were going to say you were taking That Wife down. Not that I wouldn’t understand why – you have been put through the wringer lately. But I’m glad to see that doesn’t seem to be the case. I agree with everything else – and hope you will continue to write, and love doing it. Because if you write and you don’t love it, I don’t wish that on you either. Good luck.

  22. Oooh, Jenna, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I mentioned to my mother a little while ago how baffled I was at the fact that relatives/acquaintances/strangers give me flack about my wedding choices, and she responded, “oh, just WAIT until you have kids. It only gets worse. Complete strangers feel totally free to approach you in public and give you advice or critiques on your parenting.” So, apparently, the mommy wars have been going on for a long time, and I would guess it’s only gotten worse with the advent of the Internet.

    I’ve been a big fan of yours since ALL the way back to the Avocado days. I think you’re awesome. I’ve learned quickly in my own WB blogging that haters are going to hate, but I think your fan base is far larger.

  23. Since I have been studying I haven’t got a chance to read these comments because I would have had a thing or two to say to them, because attacking a person’s parenting is completely unacceptable…with the exception of a recent picture I saw of a guy on a subway sitting on his kid, that warrants judgment!

    I think you are a good mom, and lets be real most of us in our real lives are just keeping our head above water, at least I am. It’s hard to get everything done and even more so, when you are sleep deprived.

    Don’t take what they say personally, it’s probably projection anyway.

  24. I feel sad that you are sad; that sucks pretty bad. Especially on lack of sleep. One thing I have always dreaded is the mommy advice that seems to follow new mothers even if they are just sitting there. Who likes unsolicited advice? Didn’t I just talk about this in another post? People need to chill. I realize that in public or even a social situation if someone says something, it’s easy to just smile it off and have a snarky comment in your head, or even to say something like mind your own business. But on a blog, you read the comments and so it’s visual and you can’t get it out of your head. For me, that would be hard.

    I hope you don’t stop blogging about you and your motherhood adventures. I understand if you cut back. I think you are doing a great job and that T1 will think so too. People just need to chill.

  25. I am new to your blog, but this totally hit home. I am not pregnant now, but it is definitely on my radar, and likely to be soon. My husband and I were just talking yesterday about how I will handle the critcism I will inevitably take when that day comes – both in blog life and “real” life. I blog about healthy vegetarian food, and maintaining an active lifestyle, and even now I get my fair share of criticism and hate. Once a baby is on the way, I am already aware that I’m going to get nailed from several angles:

    1. I plan to continue to run frequently throughout my pregnancy (but clearly slower and shorter distances).
    2. I will continue to be a (mostly vegan) vegetarian while pregnant.
    3. We plan to raise our kids to eat a vegetarian diet, until they are of an age where they are free to make their own food choices.

    Guess I need to just buckle up and get ready. Keep doing what you’re doing! Anonymous cowards have no power over you.

  26. Pshaw, this internet fad will be over by the time T1 is a man! Clearly it’s a passing phenomenon.

    I think it may be a good time for you to take a break from Formspring. Or at least officially make it un-anonymous like Christiana did. You’ve said before it’s a timesuck, and it’s a really good way for people to offer a ton of criticism and snark. Every once in awhile, you could do a “FAQ” post and we could leave questions in the comments.

    And of course you want a break. I’m not a mom, but I can tell you that doing anything for 12 hours a day will make you need a break!

  27. Well said, dear. I was hoping you’d do a post like this. As long as you’re making the choice to present yourself like this, the trolls will always be there. I say this in the nicest way possible… the attacks are awful, and I kind of want to punch people on your behalf, but I don’t feel sorry for you, because it’s a choice you’re making to put yourself out there.
    I know you can totally handle it. T1 is just fine, and he’ll be all the better for having been raised in a household where people didn’t walk on eggshells around him. Someday, he’s going to love to read all this. Every mom makes mistakes. I know I have, both times around, and my kids are doing fine, too. 😉
    Praying for you daily, e-friend, as you traverse these crazy MomBlog waters!

  28. I’m glad you are still up for honest, open blogging. It is so refreshing and helpful and you have a ton of fans who feel that way.

    I also have to say that I like your occasional sarcasm in responding to silly criticisms, and I also like your honest responses to (sometimes silly or mean and sometimes well-meaning or helpful or interesting) criticisms. I hope you are still able to do both of those sometimes without it crossing the line into really pulling you down.

  29. People will always have opinions, and there are always loudmouths who just looove attention and drama. Or there are the ones who will consider it their DUTY to set you (and the other commenters) straight. Some of the things they say might be true, but you can’t hear it for the angry tone. You have to live YOUR life by the standards and decisions that you and your hubs make, and stand by those in the face of adversity… and that will make you stronger. Don’t be closed-minded to others’ opposing thoughts and ideas, that’s how we grow… but don’t let the angry tones and rudeness get to you. Live strong, make mistakes, and be open to growth and learning. And blog about it. 🙂

    I have a 9-month old son, and I can say with certainty (so far!) that the learning curve never ends. No one is ever an “expert” at mothering, because each new stage brings about new challenges. As I recall, the hardest stage for me so far was from his birth to about 3 months or so. Everything was so new and such a HUGE adjustment. All my selfishness came out in full force, and I was so sleep-deprived it was insane. My husband and I were snappy with each other over the littlest things, and every little trip out of the house was an all-day ordeal. Just give yourself lots and lots of grace to make mistakes and take your time learning your new role. Hang in there!

  30. Booo, people are nastaay sometimes. Don’t let them bother you. Anyways, those kids who come from spoiling, judging parents? Well, I get them when they hit middle school and let me tell you…they’re AWFUL. 😉

  31. i think people would still leave snarky comments even if you were A+ Super Mom. i don’t understand using precious energy to be nasty to people on the internet. personally i think it is just easier to navigate to another website. apparently i have few peers who feel the same.

  32. This is the second post I’ve read today about trolling and harsh comments, and it makes me sad, but both posts are so right-on.

    I love that your husband is still your number one. I’ve always heard that your relationship with your spouse should always be more important than your relationship with your children (though I think if it’s a step-parent your first obligation is to your children), the best gift you can give your child is a healthy relationship with his/her mom/dad. (i think a college education debt-free is right up there with that though!) kudos, jenna. i hope the adjustment from here on out goes a little more smoothly.

  33. T1 is happy and healthy – clearly the “mistakes” you’ve made are minor! I and put mistakes in quotes on purpose – did you get a manual with T1? If you mis-measured or went the wrong way according to your manual, that would be a mistake. But im pretty sure the afterbirth wasnt a baby manual – in which case, hello learning process! You’re fine, T1 is fine, its all good.

    As for the petty fights, I dont have a kids but when my husbands allergies get out of control – i know the sleep deprivation feeling! Just make sure that yall are talking about it to so that you recognize the sleepy snipes and dont actually take them to heart.

  34. And now you are finding out what no one tells you about motherhood. First the guilt starts the moment they are born. No one can do it perfect and right all the time but they sure do act like they can. No one explains that there are times that you look at your little baby and think “How can I love you so much but just want a break from you right now?” No on prepares you for the huge adjustment in your marriage. The petty fights, the resentments, this is all part of it and no one tells you! And perfect strangers feel they have the right to judge you and let you know what you are doing wrong. Which is just awesome right? Don’t listen to them. Easy for me to say because I don’t have your followers and they aren’t judging me. But try really, really hard. No one is going to agree with you all the time but who cares. You are his mommy. And you are making the very best decisions you can for him. And that’s all that can be hoped for. I don’t know about you but I didn’t get a manual when I left the hospital so I’m just winging it here and doing the best that I can. Chin up. You are a good mommy.

  35. Jenna!
    I don’t like commenting on the posts where there are so many people jumping on you anymore. Really- People can spin how you are raising your child from different perspectives. But I think we all have to remember this is just one person who is raising one child one way and it’s neither wrong nor right it simply is just living.

    I am sure you read this blog post at some point. But in case not and since I don’t see anyone else really citing it- I am linking it here. I think Kimberly wrote it VERY well. Wherever she is because I know she was a fellow bee blogger like yourself.

    I especially love the last paragraph. Let’s just pull up a chair and share some milk with cookies!

  36. Not to be rude, but I think you are amazing. 😉

    You rock my socks. You make me smile, and I love leaving comments in green.

    You’re a super talented photog with the courage to put it all out there.

    Haters can go where the sun don’t shine. Stick up some google ads and thank them for the page views.

    Jenna Reply:

    Haha! That first line made me laugh.

  37. I’ve been a long time reader of your blog but never posted. Just wanted to reach out with some kind words 🙂 I don’t have kids yet but I love reading your blog and your experiences as a mother. I know that when the time comes, your blog is going to be such a useful resource. Keep rocking it and forget about the nasties!

  38. Jenna, I just wanted to give you my support. You’re a very brave woman for putting it all out there and that’s why I read your blog.

    I consider parenting advice/criticism (and most other advice come to think of it) as something one shouldn’t offer up unless asked specifically.

    The only people I allow to give me unwanted critiques are my mother and my husband.

    Everyone else can stuff it.

  39. Hi, I haven’t commented before, but I wanted to say welcome to motherhood and the “mommy wars”! Unfortunately, the snarkiness doesn’t get much better as our kids get older. They just find different stuff to judge. What schools your kids go to, how many goals they get in soccer, what grade level they read at. (and my oldest is just starting kindergarten in the fall!) I don’t blog so can’t imagine all the unsolicited feedback you must get! I wish as mothers we could band together not tear eachother down!
    Even though my 4-year-old only wants to eat peanut butter and my 3-year-old wore a bucket on his head everyday for a month, they are healthy, happy, kind, and smart kids. That is what matters! Don’t worry about the haters.

  40. I agree with everyone who thanks you for your honesty. I think that honest mommy bloggers are forging the way for more open and honest conversations about what it is like to have children, and more importantly, that really hard time when they are brand new and need your constant attention and you get no sleep whatsoever. I know i will feel better if i’m going through a hard time with my birth plans or future little ones if i can think “it’s normal, Jenna went through this too, you can get past it”

  41. Well said. The main thing that I don’t get about the Mommy wars is the unspoken assumption that there is only one right way to do things, and everything else must be attacked for the good of the child. Some decisions, like haircuts, barely matter. And most of the others vary so much based on individual needs and circumstances that I can’t imagine one true way to parent.

    Even believing that, I’m sure I’ll raise an eyebrow at many things you write about on here. I’ve done so in the past, I’m naturally judgmental and I have no perspective on the reality of parenthood to ground myself in. I’m still learning the difference between discussing something as an abstract idea and personally attacking someone.

    But all in all, I think you are a great person and a great parent. Especially, a great blogger. I always love the reality you show so well and so openly. Thanks for doing so continually, even when the responses can be painful.

    I think many readers are in this boat with me, generally thinking well of you, but occasionally just not thinking things through. Thanks for doing what you do so well and letting us in on where you’re standing. I hope all my comments can stay the line on being respectful.

    Best of luck navigating all these new changes, I’m sure you’ll do so wonderfully.

Comments are closed.