‘Mishegas’ Welcomes Mommybloggers. Better Late Than Never.
All these years I thought I had my act together as a mom. After all, my kids appear to be clean (so what’s a little ear wax?), nourished (ketchup is a vegetable, right?), educated (thank goodness for spell check), and appropriately dressed (except for my son’s plaid boxers hanging out of his baggy jeans.)
At age 15 (Jack) and 11 (Sari), neither one has yet to flunk a class, swallow bubblegum, beat up anybody, get a tattoo (at least not that I know of), or been arrested for ding dong ditching in the neighborhood.
Somehow I’ve managed to pull this off while I cook, clean (my husband Scott does the toilets), carpool, and get them to every sporting event, activity, and haircut appointment while in my spare time I try to sneak in a movie with my spouse and keep my career alive as a professional freelance writer. Add to my parenting portfolio—I clean their retainers weekly with Efferdent; I collect glue sticks, eraser tips, and sharpies in every color for last-minute school projects; I make banana bread from scratch; I recycle; I’ve been a room mom for the past 20 years.
Lately, however, I feel like I did when I was in first grade at Weber Elementary School and was one of the last kids to be picked for Red Rover in gym class. Never mind the fact that I created a parenting humor column called “Mishegas of Motherhood” (www.mishegasofmotherhood.com), and one of my stories appeared as a webisode in the online sitcom series “In The Motherhood,” starring Leah Remini. And never mind that the largest Jewish women’s volunteer organization Hadassah booked me as their guest speaker at an upcoming dinner banquet on June 5 at Hilton St. Louis Frontenac.
Where I fall short is keeping up with the tech savvy mommybloggers. When it comes to blogging, I don’t know the difference between a podcast and a peapod.
Even though I update my Facebook page now and then so I don’t look like a total loser, I still can’t figure out how to text, twitter or operate the television remote control. But that’s all about to change. My career goal is to hyperlink at least every other word in a sentence. So much for my bachelor’s of journalism degree that I earned in 1986.
The word “blog,” by the way, is a contraction from the Internet term “web log.” Moms who blog (both a verb and a noun as if it’s not confusing enough) publish online diary entries, writings, announcements, advice, photos, images, videos, links to other blogs, and whatever else is on their minds. If they want to increase their traffic and generate enough income to pay for their daily café lattes, bloggers incorporate display and search advertisements, and include contests and giveaways, as well as microblog on Twitter and email newsletters to their subscribers.
I’ve noticed that mommybloggers, who consider what they do cheaper than therapy and carry their laptops as purses, are huge fans of initialisms, such as WOHM (work outside the home mom), WAHM (Work at Home mom), and, of course, GNO (Girl’s Night Out). They have their own lingo, too, like “mompreneur” (professional mom), “momocrat” (political-minded mom), “mamarazzi” (celebrity-obsessed mom), “mombian” (lesbian mom), and emom (mom with Internet-based home business) not to be confused with “ecomom” (environment-friendly mom). They also have “momversations” and “mommalogues” on their “vlogs” or video blogs, thanks to YouTube.
My plan is to list my favorite blogs in upcoming columns, but to get a taste of the craziness, take a look at www.themommyblog.net , www.mymommymanual.com, www.mommasaid.net., and www.mom2my6pack.blogspot.com. While your head is still spinning, check out the sharp and witty verses at www.dooce.com, www.suburbanturmoil.blogspot.com, www.momtinilounge.com, and www.mommytracked.com . And while you’re trapped into the blogosphere, don’t forget to pick up the kids at school and take the pot roast out of the oven.
The other day I was so engrossed in a mommyblog called http://thepioneerwoman.com that I actually missed a mammogram appointment. Not only that, my butt actually fell asleep from sitting at my ergonomic desk chair for so long, and I’m pretty sure I now have carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, it wasn’t a total waste of time. While I was blogging, I joined an informative digital discussion about cyber-bullies, clicked on a coupon for Arm & Hammer laundry detergent, shopped for automobile insurance, and registered my family of four to win a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise vacation—talk about multi-tasking.
If you ask me, mommybloggers are taking over the world, or at least the social media communities. At www.mombloggersclub.com, for example, more than 9,000 members converge to talk about the latest blogging trends, from RSS feeds and sidebar widgets to giveaways and parenting advice on breastfeeding. At www.momitforward.com, hundreds of mommybloggers participate in Twitter parties every Tuesday night to chitchat with women from New Zealand to New Jersey, sending 140-character messages at 1,500-plus tweets per hour.
If you’re a serious blogger who wants to talk trade face to face, don’t miss the sixth-annual BlogHer conference (www.blogher.com) August 6-7 in New York City. More than 1,000 guests and corporate sponsors are expected to be there, discussing everything from fitness blogging to political blogging over cocktails, of course.
Mommyblogging actually got started around 2003, while my head must have been buried in the sandbox, and today blogging is all the buzz. In fact, mommyblogs are now tied with political sites as the fastest growing category online, according to comScore Media Metrix, which is a research company that provides marketing data and services to many of the Internet’s largest businesses. With more than 36 million women writing and reading the more than 200,000 thousands blogs on parenting and family, this growing phenomenon of female social networking has grabbed everyone’s attention, especially advertisers.
Think about it: Women now drive about 80 percent of all buying decisions, and we account for half of America’s private wealth: 13 trillion dollars. We are the largest consumer segment of the population—thank-you-very-much—and purchase the majority of household products. As we raise our growing children, our buying habits will continue for years to come. (I try to justify my shopping sprees to my husband, but to no avail). Women control 83 cents on every household dollar—talk about pulling the purse strings—and we are the best word of mouth advertisers.
Whether moms blog for a hobby or a profitable business, their ultimate goal is to build a community with other moms who have similar interests. Jewish mommybloggers are no exception. Come to think of it, our tribe doesn’t have a clever name for Jewish bloggers. How about “Joggers?” No, that reminds me too much of exercise.
Meredith Jacobs, known as the “Modern Jewish Mom,” blogs her way to success at www.modernjewishmom.com, which is one of my favorite places to visit (besides the deli) when I want a taste of any aspect of Jewish parenting. Plus, I like to watch videos of her making the perfect matzah balls for Passover. Eat your heart out Rachael Ray.
“Blogging is something that I would not have understood had I not been a part of it,” says Jacobs, whose site received more than 175,000 visitors last year with an average of 15,000 a month and a spike around the Jewish holidays. “Particularly for moms who don’t live in Jewish communities they need to feel like they are not alone. Blogging is a way for them to reach out, like their life support, and a way to connect with the Jewish community.”
Jacobs definitely has made the connection in the blogging world, going from a stay-at-home mom and synagogue volunteer to a book author and radio and television personality in only a few years. At age 42, Jacobs has penned two books: “The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate–Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal” (HarperCollins) and “Just Between Us: a no-stress, no-rules journal for girls and their moms” (Chronicle Books), which she cleverly co-wrote with her daughter Sofie (now 13 years old) and is described as a must-read for moms and their daughters who want a fun, fresh way to get to know each other through journaling. (Now why didn’t I think of that)?
“Sofie and I started sharing a journal when she was nine years old. We joke that we should keep it up because we never know when Oprah might call and ask us on her show,” says Jacobs. “Our society values the train wrecks and yucks in the world and puts them on television when it would be refreshing to have something positive on the Today Show, like an adorable teenage girl who actually has a great relationship with her mother.”
When she’s not taking care of her children (she also has a son Jules, 11), cleaning the house, and walking Mac the soft-coated wheaten terrier, this momprenuer makes my day look like a sleeper. In addition to writing a parenting column for the Baltimore Jewish Times, Jacobs stars in “Modern Jewish Mom” on the Jewish Channel ( www.tjctv.com ), plans family education classes at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in her hometown of Washington D.C., hosts the show “Connecting Family” on National Public Radio WYPR 88.1 FM in Baltimore (www.wypr.org), and joins forces with the celebrity “Kosher Sex” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on his worldwide campaign “Turn Friday Night into Family Night”(www.fridayisfamily.com). You can also catch her appearances on the online series “Faith in the Family” on www.Beliefnet.com.
For Jacobs, blogging is her business, but it’s more about building relationships.
“The only way to make real money in the blog world is to have a brand,” says Jacobs, whose name tops the Google search engine for Jewish moms. “Rachael Ray makes money with her name on pots and pans and olive oil. You don’t make money writing books and making speeches. Your name has to be big enough where people are tying it to products, and that’s harder to do in the Jewish world.”
Nevertheless, the rewards come in all shapes and sizes.
“My blog has been a gift to me because I’ve made friends with other Jewish women around the country. Sometimes I get to meet them if I’m invited to speak in their community. We are on this crazy schedule that’s unique to moms. Our lives are so busy, and the Internet becomes a very valuable vehicle to get information and build relationships. Sometimes when I’m up at 2 or 3 a.m., there’s invariably another mom emailing me back. When moms start commenting on my blog, I start to recognize the same names over and over,” she says. “You have to stay true to yourself. I have to remember those emails that I get that say, ‘I made challah on Friday because of you, and it was an amazing experience.’”