My Name Isn’t Mommy

When I get an email pitch that isn’t a good fit, most of the time I delete it. I used to try to respond to every one, until someone I respect very much pointed out that much of the time PR folks are, in effect, spamming me when they flood my inbox. They’re not doing it maliciously. They just have something to promote, along with a bunch of names and email addresses, and I happen to be one of them. My friend in PR tells me this approach is called spray and pray. Rather than spending my time composing well thought out responses to each email, now I just pass over the ones that don’t work for me.

Of course, sometimes I get fabulous emails, and that’s great. I can only be grateful that people feel that I’m someone they want to share their stories with. Not every story will be a fit, but in the end I am more flattered than annoyed by all the emails.

Once in a while, I get an email that I feel the need to respond to in a different way. Someone sends me something that pushes one of my buttons. For example, when I was contacted by someone promoting a kitty litter that I feel is harmful to cats, I felt compelled to share a link about the danger as politely as I could. I realize that the person on the other end was only doing their job, but some part of me just couldn’t let it lie.

The thing that pushes my buttons most often is when I’m referred to as a mommy blogger. Sometimes, I even get an email addressed to Dear Mommy Blogger. I realize that mommy blogger has become the de facto title for women who blog about life with children. I also realize, once again, that most of the time the person typing it out isn’t doing it maliciously. Even so, the title grates on me.

mommy blogger
These kids are the only people who are allowed to call me mommy

My first issue with the term mommy blogger is that even my own children don’t call me mommy – they go for mama or mom or even, once in a while, Amber. Why should someone to whom I did not give birth apply it to me? My second (and much bigger) issue is that the word mommy is a diminutive. It’s cutesy, and the person who carries that title is not meant to be taken seriously. This leads into the much larger question of why we need to slap mom or mommy in front of many of the things that women do – think mompreneur, mommy blogger, mommy wars, and so on. It feels like a way to diminish the work these women are doing. The truth is that mommy blogger is often used in a way that can be more than a little mocking.

Of course, some moms who blog embrace the title mommy blogger. They’re proud of their mother status, and the writing they do. That’s great. Others are trying to reclaim the title, just as they’ve reclaimed other titles. I actually think that’s even better. However, the truth is that many of us who could be called mommy bloggers dislike the term. I even found an academic abstract from a paper by Gina Masullo Chen that says the term ‘continues the culturally ingrained performance of motherhood women learned since childhood, and, in so doing, holds women captive in this subjective norm that may not fit them’. Exactly. Given the mixed feelings and negative reactions many bloggers have, it’s really safest not to use the phrase mommy blogger if you’re not sure how someone will take it.

My guess is that most people who send me an email that contains the phrase mommy blogger aren’t aware of the controversy, or the fact that many moms who blog dislike the term. This is why I often respond to those emails, with great politeness, passing along a couple of links about why it’s best to avoid calling someone you don’t know ‘mommy’. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad, but I also don’t want to the person in question to go on using the term without being aware of the possible negative associations it conjures up. I want to do my part, as a writer, mother and feminist, to say that we all deserve to be taken seriously, and we all have the right to decide how we want to be addressed.

It’s unlikely that an email from me will change the world. I know this. All the same, I feel better for having sent it.

I wonder what you think. If you’re a mom with a blog, how do you feel about the title mommy blogger? Is it so entrenched at this point that rejecting it is pointless? Or do you hate it as much as I do? Please leave a reply and let me know!

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  1. Strange, we don’t often hear “mommy” if mommy has a boss. We don’t hear “mommy dentist” or “mommy cop” or “mommy cashier.” I think motherhood status is pointed out when we are supposed to be surprised that this successful person is also a mother.
    Courtney’s last post … That Time the Aloof Sports Ignoramus Misbehaved During the Hospital TourMy Profile

  2. Ha! Amber, remember when I was presenting at Northern Voice, and referenced “Mommy Bloggers” and you corrected me?

    That’s stuck with me all this time.

    I am a mom, and I blog. But I don’t consider myself to be a “mommy blogger.” We could have this same conversation about moms who work from home. Am I that, technically? Yep, but I would never refer to myself as a WHAM (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

    I’m self-employed. And I’m a mom. A single parent, to be precise. I do fee like some of these terms are diminutive.

    So, lead the revolution, sister! I’m right here behind you. 🙂

  3. If someone is writing to “mommy blogger” they have not taken the time to address you personally which isn’t an effective pr tactic. For me, I don’t know, I am a writer, a mama and a blogger. I haven’t gotten my panties in a wad about this issue but I would prefer to be addressed by my name!
    Lori’s last post … Let the Light In: Lucy’s Infertility StoryMy Profile

  4. I agree. I don’t really like it when anyone (even friends) calls me Mommy or even Mama. It’s like someone other than my husband calling me Honey or Nena (Baby). Weird and not right.
    Betsy (Eco-novice)’s last post … Is Your Child Ready to Use the Potty?My Profile

  5. My son calls me Mama too, but the phrase mommy blogger doesn’t bother me. However, if someone addressed me Dear mommy blogger in an email, I would feel as though they haven’t taken the time to learn about WHO I am, cause my name is on my blog.

  6. I actually don’t like the words “blog” and “blogger”–they sound so stodgy and slimy, like something that would wash up on the beach. :-p But I consider that a personal quirk and not a reason to take offense.

    I don’t think anyone’s called me a “mommy blogger” that I’ve heard, possibly because my site is focused on a lot of other things, although it happens to include more parenting articles than any other main topic.

    Being addressed as Mommy by adults, though, grates on me for just the same reasons as it does on you. Ugh. It happens once in a while in person, for example a shoe salesman saying, “Mommy, would we consider a lace-up style instead of the Velcro?” Everything about that syntax rubs me the wrong way! Aargh.
    ‘Becca’s last post … Can you scramble frozen eggs?My Profile

    • I don’t love “blogger” either, but I can accept that it’s an accurate description of what I’m doing. It’s the addition of “mommy” that really puts me over the edge. Like you, I don’t like it when other adults use it in other contexts, either. This one is no different.

  7. Coreen S says:

    Great post!

    On top of the issues you mentioned, I have a problem with the dichotomy; have you ever heard a man referred to as a dadpreneur? Men are afforded separate roles, automatically. It’s an issue of respect, and gender stereotyping. It bothers me that women are automatically pigeon-holed. It’s great if that’s your choice and you are proud of the ‘mom’ titles, but it shouldn’t be automatically assumed.

    • I’ve considered the dichotomy, and the way we don’t label dads as dadpreneurs. However, I hadn’t really thought about the way we afford men separate roles. That’s an excellent point, and it really does drive home the point that women are not seen to be capable of doing more than one thing.

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