A while ago I decided I didn’t like Mumsnet. I thought it was just all about inane mummy-chit-chat. I was really just trying to discover what all the chat-forum hype was about when I got snarked at by some other mummies and decided they were all bogans (that’s an Australian term for which there is no accurate translation…)
The snarkery evolved like this:
First I started a thread about maternity jeans. It was a bit mundane, but it was important to me at the time, and I actually got lots of useful ideas from other happy chatters. I had my own bloggy love-fest about the lovely people on Mumsnet in my fascinating expose on the best maternity skinny-jeans on the market: Maternity jeans sorted!
Then I started another thread, this time asking, “Where is the best place to go in to labour?” I was being facetious, implying that I could camp out at Waitrose, splitting my time between the aisles, the cafe and the ladies’ loo until my waters broke, at which point they would surely be obliged to give me a year’s worth of groceries or similar. Or maybe House of Fraser would be better… Why not Harrods? Perhaps Net-a-porter would send me free stuff if I told them I was on their site when my waters broke… It was meant to be a joke. Turns out I was the only person who found it funny. There were a few ernest suggestions of who might give me some free nappies and a variety of anecdotes about massive gushes on boyfriends’ sofas (and heads!). Maybe I was being the fun sponge, but I rated it overall as humourless.
The proper snarking came after my third conversation starter. I took to a chat forum to ponder what I might expect for a “push present” upon the arrival of my sixth child. I hadn’t received one before, so maybe he’d been saving?? (Yes, sixth child. C’mon… that’s pretty funny.) But apparently one ought to expect nothing. Only “grabby”, “braggy”, “hideous”, “competitive”, “vulgar”, “American” women would even consider accepting a token of recognition from their partner. Good mothers begrudgingly grin and bear rude and dismissive partners and count themselves lucky if he even makes it to the delivery suite. Or they break into simpering tears of gratitude when their “DH” summons every resource in his skillset to arrive bedside with a cold cup of Starbucks coffee. Someone suggested maternity pads and haemorrhoid cream make a good push present… that made me laugh until I re-read their comment looking for irony and found none. Other chatters heaped a tirade of their own self-loathing and world-weariness on me. There was name calling and labelling, someone even used the term Yummy Mummy. Ouch! So I took to my blog and had a massive vent and felt much better. Here’s what I wrote…
After that I decided that mummy chat forums were no place for my sarcasm, style and wit. I deleted my cool-friendly-fabulous avatar and retired my emoticons. My days of LOLing had come to an end and in all honesty I’m more of a knowing smirk kinda girl anyway.
I got busy with my blog which was rapidly developing into a bigger website and I was lucky enough to hook up with three other bloggers who were all keen to contribute to my site. Thankfully, they seemed to share my enjoyment of silliness and sarcasm, as well as my philosophy that womanhood, parenthood and partnerhood can be fun, inspiring and satisfying, especially with a healthy dose of laughter thrown in. (Mother blogger, Sarah Baker has a particular knack of making me laugh with her wryly exasperated observations).
Against my better judgement, I dipped my toe in the Mumsnet pool again, this time skulking around in the bloggers network and keeping my smart mouth shut. I found some like minds: writers with a mission and a passion and some brains. I enjoyed a lot of the information, ideas and support which is freely available to any would-be blogger. I decided that there may be some non-bogan Mumsnetters out there after all… and maybe my comments weren’t quite as sidesplitting as I’d first thought either.
Over the next few months, Diamonds and Daisychains benefited from some front page attention and accolades including Mumsnet Blog of the day on three separate occasions. I can’t tell you what it means to realise someone else has not only read your blog, but liked it as well! Last week, Mumsnet kindly promoted Sharron Goodyear’s post How to take beautiful candid photos of your children on our new look website. It really made her day and I found myself properly warming to Mumsnet again.
I like to think that blogging is like parenting: there is enough success available for us all to have some, and the success of our peers is a reflection of our own success too. Mumsnet genuinely seems to foster this philosophy by making all sorts of resources available to the public as well as using their own popularity to shine a spotlight on smaller, well-intentioned websites. We are indeed encouraged to bask in a little of their glory.
To top it all off, I have just recently realised that Mumsnet are putting their considerable weight behind the Bounty Mutiny. They’re putting out the call and uniting the sisterhood in a completely feminine, empowered, passionate and righteous campaign! They’re reminding us we have a voice, we have influence and power – not to mention some higher order snarking skills which could be put to a far greater purpose than tearing strips off each other in chat forums! – and channeling it all towards political change.
Champion effort, Mumsnet. I’ve decided to love you again.