Or, Why My Blog Will Never Make Money
My story may be so common as to be trite. There’s nothing special about “Intelligent young woman scuppers academic career to support husband and children”. Oh, what the hey, let’s throw a “promising” in there for good measure. You can choose where.
I like to think of myself as an autonomous agent and to claim that my choices were freely made, so this turns out to be difficult for me to accept, let alone admit. I can point to each choice along the way, and each one makes a certain amount of sense. I studied engineering partly to prove that I could, and partly because people told me that I would make lots of money. I did physics and math, and then realized that the world was still not set up so that I could do nuclear science and have the family I wanted as well. (Which is a glib and superficial description of the most heart-wrenching decision I ever had to make, which was to quit my Ph.D. And there was a lot more to it than that, but we’ll leave it there for the moment.) I started climbing the corporate ladder, and had a Madagascar-penguins-in-Antarctica moment (“Well, this sucks,”) and went back to school.
So now I find myself trained in two unrelated disciplines, partially employed, not really using my skills or knowledge, still trying to find my voice and way in the world, and being continually reassured that raising and influencing the next generation is the most important work (usually by people who got to do something else).
So let me ask: Is it? Is it REALLY? Do we trumpet the names of the women who raised the brave, the selfless, the compassionate and the philosophical? Do we sing praises to the women who teach in our kindergartens, take our toddlers (or their own) to the park and cook healthy foods for their families? Or do we secretly (or not so secretly) deride their choices, blame them for the situation they find themselves in, call them dupes of the patriarchy and breeders, or act as though their ability to think died on the delivery table? Are all those people just… patting me on the head?
I am not a newbie at this feminist thing. I have been happily using the label since I was in high school, 20 years ago. But I find that I until recently, I didn’t often talk about my children on the internet, mostly to protect their privacy. But, partly, it was to avoid being labelled a “Mommy Blogger”… and by implication, “Not Important” (except maybe to Other Mommies, because heaven knows Daddies don’t need to know these things. They are out Making a Way in the World.) This bothers me. I feel like I should be stronger, louder, more confident, and happily able to talk about cute things my kids did on Wednesday, and “Big Ideas In The Abstract” on Friday. Almost as if I were a whole human being, with thoughts AND feelings. As if raising the next generation AND making sense of the world were equally important activities, to be shared in by humans.
Which is all in the way of saying, “I don’t know what my blog is about. Life, you know. The meaning thereof. And if I can’t monetize it, so what? That wasn’t the goal in the first place.”