Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mommy Blogger, Really? Between Motherhood and Science: A New Corner of the Blogosphere


I hate the term "Mommy Blogger".

It says don't waste your time reading this stuff unless you're stuck at home with the kids on a snowy day with nothing better to do. I'll be forty-three next month. I'm peri-menopausal, I think, if I could find a list of symptoms that didn't sound exactly like PMS.  Even my older kids don't call me "mommy", I'm "momma."

Honestly, when you no longer change diapers and look up peri-menopausal symptoms, should adults call you mommy?

True, this blog is "Momma Data". But I regret not going with "parents" or "children" when I gave in to the mounting mommy blogger zeitgeist. Still, I find momma infinitely better than mommy. "Mommy Data" sounds like a mind-numbing slew of recipes and craft projects.

So I grit my teeth and entered Momma Data into the Mommy Blogger contest at Babble, that newish hippish parenting mecca. Because at the end of the day, I fulfill the rather general mommy blogger criteria:

1) mothers who blog

2) women who blog about motherhood, children, or aspects of domestic life

And there are some really awesome blogs in the contest. Who doesn't love Lisa Belkin's The Motherlode? Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids. There's the best confessional, the best controversial, best written, best designed, most useful, funniest. Over 600 blogs. Something for everyone.

Something for everyone? Everyone like me?

So I looked over the list, especially the 50 chosen by Babble editors. How many devoted to children's health? There's Peaceful Parenting, at DrMomma.org. A great site if you're firmly against infant formula and male circumcision and want evidence to back your position. Hardly objective. There are some blogs on single issues that look like they sometimes might discuss research. A mom blogging about allergies, for instance. It's not like bloggers don't discuss vaccines, ADHD, eating disorders, breastfeeding, autism, formula feeding, or toxins. They do.

But are there any other blogs on the Babble list devoted to the research behind the parenting issues that so consume us? I'm not even asking about objective, balanced ones. Just any research based?

None. At least not apparent from the short descriptions. Of the 600-plus blogs, not another except for Dr.Momma, not an unbiased blog.

How is it I am the only "mommy blogger" out of 600 writing about research behind a wide selection of things we think about and argue about and that impact our daily lives?

Momma Data falls between the cracks in the blogosphere.  Somewhere between the mommy bloggers and the science/health bloggers.

In other words, a virtual no man's land. Sure, I joined BlogHer, home to women bloggers of every sort where there is a section devoted to academia and research. But that doesn't quite fit. Anyhow, there's no children's health section. Should be. It's all rolled into the mommy thing again. There's no science section.

I'm a member of a few science and health sites.  At ResearchBlogging, an invitation-only site where mostly academics from physicists to neurologists to anthropologists discuss the latest peer-reviewed scientific research, there are no Mommy Bloggers. Not officially. No mommy or family section. So Momma Data fits somewhere between the Health and Social Science sections. My posts sometimes appear wildly out of place.  While I love the expert-takes on child bi-polar disorder, pthalates or autism, ResearchBlogging is the high school chess club grown up. It doesn't exactly cater to the general parenting crowd.  Nor do other geeky havens like ScienceBlogs or ScientificBlogging.

So here I am between two worlds wondering why there isn't more interaction. It's a new genre, something a bit different than the typical mommy blog and the medicine or science blogs.

If it only had a name or better yet, a website, I'm sure we could sell it...or at least recognize it.

4 comments:

sarah said...

I agree, there's not much out there. The only blogs I can even think of operating anywhere near yours are Amy Tuteur's blog (The Skeptical OB, I know she has others); and the Skepchic blog has recently started covering pregnancy and parenting as a few of them have had their first kids. But yeah...you're kind of out there on your own. And why is that? Anyway, I'm glad you sticking to it!! Thanks!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Hi Sarah, thanks for the mention of other evidence-based sites, I know I've been to several skeptic-named ones, but have missed those. Will check them out!

Jen said...

Mainstream Parenting is another great site that tackles parenting- related issues from a research-based perspective. I check her site and your site daily, along with the Fearless Formula Feeder - who is also wonderful, too.

Also, reading Dr. Momma made me want to put bleach on my eyes. Thank you for an excellent, even-handed, informative blog. We need voices like yours out there!

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Thanks Jen, it's so good to hear about other research-based sites. Thanks for the tip, and if you find any others, please let me know! And I completely hear you on the irritating tendency of some experts to insist on one approach.