Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The new mommy blogger is not the daddy blogger

Dear Readers, please accept my apology. I left you on a cliff.

Although by now you’ve certainly jumped after forgetting all about why you were hanging out there. So let me offer you a hand back up.

A lot of chatter around me lately in these first few months of 2010 (because remember my job is to help clients better market to moms) relates to the year’s HOT TRENDS! BRAND NEW! SHINY PENNIES! But while some say the “new mom blogger” (and I quote because there is frankly NO replacement for the mom blogger – she will only continue to gain steam and savvy) is the dad blogger, I will stake my claim elsewhere.

Dear Readers, allow me to shine a spotlight on the grandma blogger. The nana blogger. The grandboomer blogger. The grammy, mimi, meeha, and vavo blogger.

Internet, we are witnessing a new phenomenon. A trend gaining steam.

Need some proof? What about Mimi, or Sharon, or Nanna, or Nana, or Teresa or this one, that one and the other?

And I could go on and on…

What is fueling this fire, you ask? Remember when you heard for the first time about the Boomer? About the fact that this was the largest generation, comprised of women re-branding their 50s as “the new 30s” and not settling for stagnation in retirement? Yes, these are the women I’m talking about. They are also (gasp!) grandparents.

And guess what. The average age of the first-time grandparent today is 48. This is the new grandboomer. She is not living your grandmother’s grandmotherhood, just like you are not living your mother’s motherhood. She is more likely to help you with caregiving. She is more likely to give your children the gifts you won’t buy them. She is a key player in the village you require to accomplish your motherhood (which now more than ever includes your careerhood, and your empowerment as CHO). She’s already on Facebook, where she not only keeps up with your life and gets the latest pictures of her grandkids, but also? She connects with her girlfriends and old high school boyfriends. Why would we assume she wouldn’t be interested in social media? She’s more social than we are.

Last year the Wall Street Journal took a look at the new generation of involved grandparents, pointing out some 40% of grandparents who live within an hour’s drive of young grandchildren provide regular child care while their mothers work (per a 2008 survey of 500 grandparents by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, an Arlington, Va., nonprofit). I am a living example of this trend.

And at the 2008 M2Moms (the national marketing-to-moms conference where I spoke last year) I heard Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of Grandparents.com say grandparents spend on average $1,800 a year on their grandkids. While some of this money is spent on gifts for their children, to enable their children to cope with the needs presented by the addition of their grandkids (including cars, washer/dryers, and vacations!), the key takeaway is mom is focused on necessities of life. Grandparents often are focused on luxuries for their grandchildren.

(I’m looking at you, Mom!)

But wait -- that’s not all. One of the most important reasons the new mom blogger is not the dad blogger is one inherent issue: GENDER BEHAVIORS. Dad is a man. Research proves men just don’t communicate in the same way as women. (This is the part where my psychology minor comes out.) Gasp! I know, you’re shocked. Men don’t talk purdy like us. They also don’t share product recommendations like we do. They don’t see themselves as the resource for all their men friends to find out about what they should be buying.

But grandmothers? Women. Are you following?

And guess what other group is comprised of women – aunts. PANKS (Professional Aunt, No Kids). Aunts who blog are unique in that they love our children, and they purchase for our children. But they are not unique in that they, too, share product recommendations like women do. Have you met the lovely Savvy Auntie? If not, go now. Peruse her site. Understand why she has developed an entire community of aunts talking about their nieces, nephews, things they want to buy for them, and experiences they want to share with them.

No, the new mom blogger is not the dad blogger. There is nothing new about the fact that moms, grandmas and aunts are all women. And there is no shiny penny that will replace our inherent communicative behaviors. Sorry, dad, but you just can’t compete with that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Call me “mommy” one more time and you’re headed straight to time out!

Our children use the term and it is sweet music. In fact, I mentioned in my last post that I don’t want my 4 year-old evolve from calling me mommy to the new version with extra whine: mawm. I just want to be his mommy.

But if an adult uses it, particularly an adult writing for the New York Times (who presumably should know more, or at least do more research about this powerful group of women who self-publish online or else be prepared for the firestorm that erupted over the weekend, evidenced here) or an adult working in marketing for a major brand wanting to enter into a professional relationship with powerful consumer influencers… it stings.

Who woulda thought “mommy” would one day be lumped into the “derogatory slang” category with so many other adjectives meant to label special interest groups? You know the ones I’m talking about.

In this case, I suppose it’s not just “mommy” but more specifically, “mommy blogger.” Is it derogatory? Or is it descriptive? Isn’t it just a matter-of-fact label if you blog about your kids or your motherhood?

I blog (about my kids and my motherhood, as a matter of fact). I am a mom. Of course that doesn’t exclusively define who I am. If someone calls me a mommy blogger, should I put my dukes up? They certainly don’t mean that I am ONLY a mom who blogs... do they?

As Lindsay Maines, (mama) blogger at Rock and Roll Mama, so eloquently put it: “The only folks who can call me mommy came from my naughty bits.”

But still, all those external to the momosphere (mommyosphere?) – like folks in my industry – are compelled to give this group a name. They’re grasping around to come to a consensus while those on the inside continue to build a groundswell against it.

How will it all shake out? Let’s check in on what others are saying (folks on the inside, the outside, the sideways and middle and inbetween), …

Some people make two words one (which, in my mind, is accompanied by a ‘shazam!’ sound effect): mommyblogger. Shazam! (You heard it too, didn’t you?)

And some capitalize it - a proper noun I guess: Mommy Blogger. Mommy Blogger. Jane Mommy Blogger. As in, ‘the.’

Others, myself included, have attempted to push the term towards maturity: mom blogger. Because my kids don’t call me mommy so why do my peers? ‘Could we touch base on the second quarter earnings figures, Mommy?’

While still others want to steer it away from the maternal aspect: female (or woman) blogger. I said I am woman, hear me roar. Not mommy.

And of course, the blogger part might be grating as well, so an even more PC version I’ve noticed recently is: female online writer. Because writing is so much more respectable than blogging, right New York Times?

Obviously not all moms online blog about their kids. Some bloggers have kids and you might not even know it. (What!? Doesn’t a woman with children have nothing else to talk about but her offspring and the cute things they do and say?)

If I blog about my kids sometimes and marketing other times, should I be labeled a mommy marketing blogger? (mommymarketingblogger, shazam!)

But seriously and snarklessly, can we just drop the mommy and all get along?

(On a side note, next time I’m mad at Hubby Hawks, maybe I’ll call him “daddy.” I’ll do it! Ooh, that’ll really irk him!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

He's a Kid Now

My baby turned four recently. There’s no passing him off as a toddler anymore, brutally evident last week when I picked him up from school and got to spy on him on the playground with the other boys. First, huddled in the corner around a red ball. Then, following each other to the tunnel. Laughing. I realized he was smaller than the other boys in the group.

“Get your backpack, Graham!” his teacher called, seeing me approach. Graham wasn’t fazed.

Harrison’s mom must have approached at the same time, because the teacher then called, “Harrison, get your backpack! Graham, don’t let Harrison beat you!” They both took off in a game of competitive direction following.

Harrison tossed his backpack strap over one shoulder. Graham did the same. “Bye Parrison!” Graham called in a voice reserved for buddies, not moms. As we walked out of the playground I tried to help him put the other strap over the other shoulder.“No mom!” he said, annoyed, pushing me away. “The big kids do it like this!” Gah. Geez. How embarrassing, MAWM. (Though I did bend down to pull up his droopy pants. Gotcha!)

In the car, Graham told me about Parrison and the big boys. How it was a good day because he played with the big kids. About how Parrison is five.

“I think his name is Harrison,” I said. “No, mom, it’s Parrison. It’s PARRISON!” Gah, he was so annoyed with how out of the loop I was.

And I was so annoyed with how I can’t stop time… how I’m sometimes MAWM and not always mama or mommy anymore… how conflicting it feels to want to hold on to my baby and at the same time be proud at how much he’s growing into himself. My kid.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Won Something

I don’t enter sweepstakes. I don’t play the lottery. I don’t win things.

Until this week.

This week I won something really big. Well, really big at least within the walls of my employing firm, Fleishman-Hillard.

So in this case you might be meh and I might be peeing my pants. But let me tell you why..

My third baby, the one I call FH Moms, the one I birthed at the office instead of the hospital and that requires food of the intellectual kind instead of the pureed – was named by firm leadership “Practice of the Year.”

Yes, that’s right. A little idea I had was just validated as a really really good idea by the crazysmart leaders of the 28 other global practice groups our firm maintains.

There I was, sitting in a staff meeting, listening to our regional president who was in town from Corporate to give a "State of the Firm" update (which it turns out was a guise to come to town to give me this award), and suddenly she was talking about me, about the practice I started, about the fact it was being bestowed a HUGE honor.

And I suddenly found myself in the mental states of “Oh dear God I did not wash my hair this morning” and “Did I just chew the skin off my bottom lip?” and “Speech! Speech on the spot! Quick! Be pithy!

And then someone flung the black felt draping off the beautiful glass award and someone else wheeled in a cake and… "wait, I was just home sick with a stomach bug yesterday and uh-oh, now my colleagues are giving me congratulatory hugs and am I giving them flu germs? Shirt to shirt? Is that possible?"

I won something. For being smart and working hard.

Hey mom, I won!