writing wednesdays: featured in article on mom bloggers

A few weeks ago, a reporter from The Forum interviewed me for an article on mom (and dad) bloggers. The article came out yesterday. With permission, I’m sharing it here for those who might otherwise miss it. Kudos to Sherri, the reporter, who is a mom blogger herself (see topmom blog link at bottom).

Blogger moms: Parents put thoughts on raising kids online
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

Najla Amundson and sons/Dave Wallis The Forum

Najla Amundson’s four sons say funny things. Sometimes about their teachers and underpants. And they do funny things. One day, one son licked oatmeal off his shirt.

So Amundson decided to start recording these moments in a blog documenting her life as the sole woman in her Fargo home.

“People say, ‘You’re so funny.’ No, I’m not. I don’t have to do anything. They say this stuff and I just write it the way they say it,” says Amundson, a former Fargo-Moorhead TV news personality. “A lot of people find it intriguing that I’m the only woman in the house. ‘Oh my, all boys.’ Like it’s a hardship, and it’s not. These boys are a joy.”

Amundson’s blog – found on blogspot.com and areavoices.com – is one of several local blogs focused on parenting.

Nationwide, “mom blogs” comprise a formidable chunk of the blogosphere. Nielsen Buzzmetrics tracks more than 10,000 mom and parenting blogs. Nielsen Online compiles Power Mom 50, a collection of leading maternal voices online.

Locally, there are several examples of mom (and dad) blogs. Their authors say they blog for various reasons – a love of writing, wanting to keep relatives updated, a need to vent or simply to chronicle the day-to-day life as a parent.

Through their writing, they’ve found community and perspective.

“I think when you read other people’s parenting blogs you find some comfort in knowing, oh my gosh, I’m not the only one who does that,” says Amundson, whose sons are ages 6, 9, 11 and 14. “Hearing what other people are going through shows you that you’re not alone in the whole journey of raising kids.”

Sharing perspective

In a way, Roxane Salonen of Fargo was a mommy blogger before blogs were popular. During her first pregnancy, nearly 15 years ago, she wrote to her unborn child.

“Diary stuff,” she says. “Some of it seemed really good. It seemed like a waste that it was only in a book, closed and put away.”

Now a mother of five, ages 4 to almost 14, Salonen posts entries like these on her “Peace Garden Mama” blog at areavoices.com. She says it’s a good place to put extra ideas that don’t fit into one of her parenting columns, which appear monthly in The Forum.

Salonen says she’s envious of younger mothers who have always had this outlet available. It’s so much easier now to exchange information and advice.

“When we kind of figure things out, there’s a natural desire to share that,” she says. “It’s very fulfilling.”

Salonen has also made real-life connections. Through another mom-focused blog, she met Marie Beckerleg, a Moorhead mother of one. Beckerleg shares tales of her 2-year-old on blogspot.com. “Murray’s Momma” gets nearly 160 hits a day, she says.

Beckerleg says through blogging, she’s been able to ask and answer parenting questions. “It’s another great way to vent and release. Say you’re having a really bad day with your kid or you feel like you’re being a bad parent, it’s a safe place. Most everyone can relate,” she says.

Casey Berberich of Grand Forks, N.D., started her blog, “Beautiful Letdown,” after she became pregnant while still nursing her older son.

“I decided I was more confident in my decision to continue nursing while pregnant and after my son was born,” Berberich says. “I just thought I would like to talk about it in a way that shows it’s a normal thing.”

As time has passed, she writes less about tandem nursing, because it’s not as much a part of her life. Now, she says, it mostly helps get her thoughts out.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m so close to the issue, if I’m really having a tough time with one of my kids, potty training or getting them to try new foods,” she says. “It’s almost easier to have a tangible thought process. Sometimes, when I write something down, I think ‘I’m this upset over that?’ It gives me a better perspective.”

Don’t forget Dad

The parenting blogosphere is dominated by women, but not exclusively. Lukas Brandon of Moorhead writes a blog called “Daddy Dispatch” from the perspective of a stay-at-home father.

“It’s kind of a message in a bottle,” Brandon says. “These things I’m writing, I’m putting it down on paper, someday we’ll have that to look back on.

“By capturing it, I think it helps lend meaning to it. Time doesn’t slip away from you as much.”

For instance, he wrote about his and his wife’s decision to have a home birth, and posted photos from the big event. Julia was born Nov. 13. His son, Dylan, is 2½. Some of his entries are works of fiction.

Brandon says it’s easier for him to write now that he doesn’t have an office job. He says parenting happens in “bursts of activity,” lending itself to writing and reflection.

“It’s a time in your life when you’re more reflective about larger issues in the world. Because you’re thinking about your own children and how they’re going to grow up and what values you’re going to pass along,” he says.

Writing rewards

Whether the parent blogger is an information provider, seeker, storyteller or is simply updating friends and family members, there is something rewarding about the process.

For some, it’s the clarification of thoughts. For others, it’s the feedback from readers.

Salonen recently attended a conference, where she heard this idea: Happiness is when we offer something of value to the world.

“I think the act of blogging does that. That’s why it’s so fulfilling to a lot of moms,” she says.

Especially moms who have worked in the corporate world, where there are tangible measures of success. “In some ways, it’s us creating our own measures of success,” Salonen says. “It’s more vital when somebody else on the other end is saying, ‘This is exactly what I needed to hear today.’ ”

But the lure of feedback and online relationships can have its drawbacks, such as spending too much time online. Salonen blogs three times a week, after the kids are in bed, to try to keep it in balance.

“You can’t forget about the real life that’s happening around you,” Salonen says. “You can’t ignore your kids to write parenting blog posts.”


Some local parenting-focused blogs include:

* http://najmania.blogspot.com

* http://murraysmomma.blogspot.com

* www.beautifulletdown.net

* http://daddydispatch.com

* www.areavoices.com/peacegarden

* www.areavoices.com/topmom

* www.areavoices.com/singledad