Having a kid changes everything. Sure, people have been doing it for eons, but when it happens to you, it’s like it’s happening for the very first time.
And when it happens to you — and you live in Brooklyn — everybody needs to hear about it.
While most new parents are content to capture every moment of junior’s life on film or video, in Brooklyn, there are almost as many writers as there are Bugaboos — but book contracts don’t grow on trees, so many moms are discussing their children, marriages and lives on their own blogs.
With hundreds of mommy Web logs in Brooklyn alone, you have to wonder how healthy it is for parents to tell-all on the Internet. How will it be for the kids when they discover that mom’s been sharing their secrets with the world?
Then again, given that we live in a media-driven world, they probably won’t care.
“That’s where we are right now with everything,” observed Judy Antell, an editor at Brooklyn Parent. “The whole celebrity culture we have now, where you know everything about everyone, has moved on to parents.”
Mary MacRae Warren is a single mother who lives with her 9-year-old son in a cluttered East New York apartment from which she has run the blog, “Mrs. Cleavage’s Diary,” since January. A self-described smarty-pants, the saucy and opinionated former Park Sloper Warren uses the blog as a creative outlet, as well as a way to deal with the highs and lows of parenting.
Like many bloggers, Warren likes to live her life out loud. “My family was always appalled at how open I was about everything,” said Warren. “My parents argued all the time and I was the blabbermouth who told the whole neighborhood.”
She still loves to have an audience. And telling stories is a way to get in touch with how she is feeling.
“In a way, the blog is a homage to my mom,” Warren said this week over coffee in Park Slope. “It’s a way to sort out what it means to be a parent.”
Warren, a tall, busty blonde with a penchant for colorful clothes and bright red lipstick, grew up in North Carolina with a mother who stayed at home. “She was an artist and a really creative person, but she was stifled by her kids.”
Still, she managed to be quite a multi-tasker. “She gardened, she cooked, she painted, she made cupcakes,” Warren recalled. “It was like I had June Cleaver to live up to, which is a high standard to meet as a parent.”
After her divorce in 2005, Warren started her blog as a way to kick and scream about her life as a sole breadwinner and parent — a far cry from the model she grew up with.
“I don’t pretend to be super mommy,” she said. “I let it all hang out: the good, the bad and the ugly. There are some nice moments with my son and some really crappy ones, too.”
Another Brooklyn blogger, Sophia Romero, is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, “Always Hiding,” about a family of illegal immigrants from the Philippines. On her blog, “the Shiksa From Manila,” Romero has created an online persona who explores the inter-faith, inter-ethnic identity of her family, and does so with humor and verve.
Not all blogs, however, are light-hearted, some deal with challenging aspects of parenting. For example, Special Focus, a blog written anonymously by a Brooklyn mom, chronicles the life of the writer, her twelve-year-old daughter who has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD and her son who has central auditory processing difficulties and, like his sister, distraction and focus issues. Special Focus takes the reader on a journey through the maze of special education and medication, as well as the ups and downs of family life with special needs children.
“As with most kids with special needs, my child’s constellation of idiosyncrasies fall sloppily inside and outside of all the boxes of possible diagnoses,” she wrote.
And it’s not just moms turning to their keyboard for a little relief.
The Blog Fathers, a group site of some of the best dad bloggers around, including Laid Off Dad, Adventure Dad, Because I’m Your Father and Mr. Nice Guy, provides a compelling, funny and uncensored look into life as a modern dad.
Brooklyn’s Mr. Nice Guy has been blogging since he found out that his wife was having morning sickness and, even though now his daughter is nearly three, he’s still going. His funny, snarky posts cover everything from kiddie bathroom habits to caregivers, the Brooklyn Target and beyond.
With interest in blogging, and the popularity of “mom lit” books, on the rise, Families First, a parent-run, non-profit organization in Carroll Gardens has started offering a class called “Memoirs for Moms.” Teaching local ladies how to start writing their own stories of motherhood, instructor Mary Harmon, helps mothers reach more deeply into “the day-to-day joys and emotional turning points of motherhood,” according to the course description.
Harmon’s writing exercises are designed to stimulate self-discovery, helping students create a “meaningful” snapshot of motherhood.
While meaningful sounds nice, it’s clear that plenty of moms are finding their own meaning in blowing off steam for a community of concurring readers.
Though sometimes it seems that the blogging can go too far. As Mrs. Cleavage wrote on a recent post: “I took the kids ice skating one afternoon and filled page after page of my journal with my cramped scrawl. The children were blessedly occupied, and I was also.”
She blogged about how she keeps a journal? If that isn’t meta, what is?
“Mrs. Cleavage’s Diary” can be found at www.nymetroparents.c....
“The Shiksa From Manila” can be found at www.shiksafrommanila. blogspot.com.
“Special Focus” can be found at www.specialfocusblog.blogspot.com.
“The Blog Fathers” can be found at www.theblogfathers.com.
“Memoirs for Moms” is held at at Family First Brooklyn (250 Baltic St. between Clinton and Court streets in Cobble Hill). For information call (718) 237-1862.