According to a post on the New York Times Motherlode blog on Thursday, a new study shows that blogging might “make new moms happier.” I didn’t have to read the rest of the post to be convinced. It’s true, as researcher Brandon McDaniel has found, that by blogging, writers can “connect” with other parents and both give and receive advice in a generally supportive space. But blogging in this space for the past year has provided me with even more. By writing for Kveller, I have found a way to understand who I am as a new parent. By putting some of my experiences down on the page (or into the “machine” as my father calls the computer) I’ve found opportunities to look at those experiences and evaluate them in a way that I can’t do on a day-to-day basis.
When I wrote about disliking synagogue, I realized that there were aspects of community services I did enjoy, and comments from readers and other writers alike helped me begin to think about how my husband and I might remain Jewish-ly connected despite our (serious) aversion to prayer. By writing about my experiences as a new mother to twin girls, I found, amidst the chaos, the genuine miracle that is two babies at once. I even took the liberty of sharing that post with other twin parents, and received appreciative emails for weeks. As the research shows and the Motherlode blog explains, “Everyone has “BTDT” (been there, done that) and mostly wants to advise, support and sympathize.”
Of course, there are downsides to blogging about parenthood, just as there are to writing about anything (true). My parents didn’t appreciate my post about hating temple. They actually felt a little hurt, what with all the time they’ve spent dedicating their lives to Judaism. But the post allowed for an interesting conversation where they heard me and I heard them. We didn’t agree at the end of it, but we knew more about one another. And then there’s the touchiness of writing about your relationship—probably the thing that changes the most when you become a parent, and an area most ripe for exploration in writing. While I share my writing with my husband before its published, when I write about him I always feel a little more restrained than I’d like to—and there are certainly topics deemed off-limits. But the upside is far sweeter: Jon has been my most vocal cheerleader, eager to read each piece I write, happy to brainstorm ideas, excited to see the chronicle of our babies’ first year take shape on the Internet.
Ultimately, I have much to thank Kveller for, and not just for providing me with an excellent place to open up my brain and dump. Here, I have found a colorful, smart, eclectic and supportive community within which I can talk about parenting, and learn about parenting. And in this way, I’ve learned about myself. And I’m definitely happier for it.