Dita De Boni 's Opinion

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Bad mummies incorporated

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While many of us are busy trying to keep our kids fed, clothed and shod, a whole new breed of cyber-mommies are confessing their mommy "sins" on the internet.

The mostly American websites feature some pretty amusing - and at times - pretty ghastly - stuff. Stories that we can all relate to, like telling your child all his teeth will turn black and fall out if he eats one more candy bar, are interspersed with tales of leaving babies in their bouncers all day because "mommy" can't figure out what to do with them.

Many of these blogs now have huge followings, and their writers are making a pretty good living. Dooce, aka Heather Armstrong, makes some US$40,000 a month in her role as super naughty-mommy. She's battled post natal depression and a high-strung child. Her latest instalment sees her photographed pregnant with a beer in her pocket and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. Oooh, edgy!

Ayelet Waldman, who regularly writes for Salon.com, possibly kicked off bad-mommy mania when she wrote in the New York Times in 2005 that she loved her husband more than her kids. What followed was an avalanche of opprobrium from some columnists and cultural critics, but many women cheered.

Four years and many columns about her domestic travails later (she gave up a high flying law career to raise four children and is married to author Michael Chabon), she's written "Bad Mother: A chronicle of maternal crimes, minor calamities and occasional moments of grace".

In the book, Waldman writes about dispensing with breast feeding and the pressure she felt to continue; wishing that her son was gay so that she has someone to go clothes shopping with when he's older, and other such taboo thoughts that might occasionally flick across the mind of mothers.

See here for more information on Waldman and her ilk.

One of the biggest sites playing host to "true mommying" confessions is www.truumomconfessions.com. Some others include www.suburbanmomnotes.blogspot.com and psychosupermom.blogspot.com.

It's hard to read some of these blogs without feeling somewhat sorry for the kids of these hip mommies. Not only because some of the thoughts and actions of the mothers can be pretty extreme, but because in some cases the mothers are publicly named and in doing so, they identify their children to an audience of potentially millions.

All of us struggle with the demands of motherhood at times and the feeling that your true identity is suppressed and in danger of disappearing altogether. But does it make it better that we confess that feeling to thousands of complete strangers?

I know, I know. This blog itself has a pretty hefty share of confessional material - thoughts of multiple gins at 5 o'clock, and wanting to tear my hair out. Confessional blogs by mothers are popular, and there has to be a reason for that. We all want to know that we're not the only ones who find child raising a grind at times.

However, for me there are two reasons why Keeping Mum would never go overboard on the "true confessions". One is that I would be too embarrassed to put my darkest thoughts out there. Contrary to today's urge for people to tell-all, I simply can't believe any good comes from it. Marriage, motherhood, workplace relations, almost everything revolves around some degree of civility and white-lie telling, at times.

Secondly, members of my family including my mother-in-law often read Keeping Mum. If that's not a good enough reason to keep your worst habits and thoughts under wraps, I'm not sure what is!

Dita De Boni

Photo / Derek Flynn

Dita De Boni

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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