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Emily W. Jensen: The 'travails and triumphs' of Mormon mommies blogging

"'Counting to infinity: How blogging helps process the travails and triumphs of motherhood,' sounds like a therapy session," joked one Sunstone panelist, "and in a way (blogging) is." Six bloggers from the Feminist Mormon Housewives sat on a panel Thursday night to promote a more complex view of mommy blogging.As one of the largest group blogs in the Mormon Bloggernacle, Feminist Mormon Housewives has carved a niche of sorts where women of different backgrounds come together to discuss issues ranging from the political to the "poopy." And while most of the panelists defined Feminist Mormon Housewives as at least partly a Mormon mommy blog, one panelist expressed surprise, saying she "had never thought of it that way."Mormon mommy blogging follows the trends of mommy blogging in general. Women come together to discuss their experiences as mothers and to find answers to how better raise their children, help their spouses or even save their sanity. "Motherhood is learning on the job. You need community to learn how to deal with toddlers. You need adult conversations. Blogging does that by proxy," explained Rachael Lauritzen.Mommy bloggers often pepper their posts with personal narratives and photos. While Feminist Mormon Housewives seldom has photos, they do "use personal narrative to introduce issues." It's an outgrowth from journaling, explained Shelah Miner, "You can't just write 'today was a really boring day' on a blog, you have to spice it up."Mommy blogging is often stereotyped as only being about mothers who dote on their children. The Feminist Mormon Housewives panelists disputed that, explaining that "mommy-ness is only part of the bigger picture." Taryn Nelson Seawright explained, "Men and women in our church have different discourse styles, and the mommy blogs do reflect that." But that's just because she uses personal narrative to introduce issues, to not "disregard her as a serious person." Plus there are many men who come and discuss the issues advocated by Feminist Mormon Housewives.Lauritzen added: "Mommy-ness gives you perspective. It's just as valid as any other perspective."Janet Garrard-Willis said, "Taking your private life public is a political act." Mommy bloggers have a few things in common, she added, "They believe in taking motherhood seriously, and they believe in taking journaling seriously.""I was not thinking about mommy blogging when I started," Lisa Butterworth founder of Feminist Mormon Housewives, said, "I was lonely." Mormon mommy blogs can promote an online and then real-time community; the women on the panel all agreed that blogging had enhanced their lives and motherhood experiences. "When I became a mom, I realized I knew absolutely nothing," admitted Garrard-Willis."Women who are in the throes of motherhood really need community," said Melanie Franti, and she explained that the online community does not need to stop at the computer. "When I see someone who needs it (in the comments) I reach out. I give them a call or e-mail. I love to be validated so I try to validate others."Having an online community promotes honesty, explained Garrard-Willis. "Blogging forces you to be honest, forces you to be better and forces me to be honest when I'm not better."And when the community comes together to help and support one another, "you become not just a community of mommies, but a community of Saints."


E-mail: ejensen@desnews.com