This book reminds me of Chelsea Handler, if only she were a mother. ... [T]his book is laugh-out-loud funny. Joanna Track, founder of Sweetmama.ca
The Mommy Mob: Inside the Outrageous World of Mommy Bloggingby Rebecca Eckler
Rebeccaéckler, famous for her frank and funny books about modern parenting, has joined the burgeoning ranks of mommy bloggers. Her posts go gamely into territory where others fear to tread. Her daughter discovers her vibrator beside the bedside table and uses it as a microphone. She argues that it's fine to take a vacation when the boy is just ten weeks old.… See more details below
Rebeccaéckler, famous for her frank and funny books about modern parenting, has joined the burgeoning ranks of mommy bloggers. Her posts go gamely into territory where others fear to tread. Her daughter discovers her vibrator beside the bedside table and uses it as a microphone. She argues that it's fine to take a vacation when the boy is just ten weeks old. She hires a pro to teach her kid to ride a bike. This book is about what happens next. The world of mommy blogging has introducedécklerto a constituency previously unknown to her: The Mommy Mob. Anytimeécklerreveals a truth too raw for her readers to stomach-which, let's face it, she does constantly-the Mommy Mob bursts out of the nursery and all hell breaks loose. This is the first look at the hidden world of mommy bloggers-4 million self-described mommy bloggers in North America alone. Some of them likeéckler'sunconventional approach. Not the Mommy Mob. Get ready for a laugh-out-loud look at the self-styled enforcers in the wild arena of online motherly advice.
There are supposedly over 40,000 mommy bloggers online these days. Most mommy bloggers write very informative, positive, life-affirming articles about relationships, pregnancies and the joys and challenges of raising children. All pretty safe and standard stuff.
Then there is Rebecca Eckler. I consider her a writer without peer in the mommy blogosphere.
Eckler writes with wit and sass. She is ribald, profane, and outrageous and always very funny. Eckler is a well-known columnist in Canada. She has written for theNational Postand theGlobe and Mail.She is also the author of nine books.
Eckler's most recent book isThe Mommy Mob, a witty expose of the cruel judgmental world of the mommy blogosphere. For several years,Ecklerwrote a twice weekly column for an online mommy blog, Mommyish.com. Eckler's book summarizes her most controversial columns and the sometimes insane vituperative reactions from her female readers.
The book is captivating. Once you get intoThe Mommy Mob, you can't get out.The Mommy Mobalso reminds me ofThe Sopranos, but with 4 inch stilettos. Bada Bling, B..tch.
In this book,Ecklerportrays herself as the victim of vicious attacks from outraged mommies for her unconventional relationships, parenting views and actions.
The blogging mommies' online criticism of Eckler is intense and nasty. What I like about Eckler is that she stubbornly marches to her own drummer. Eckler lives by her own code of conduct and behavior. And those who disagree with her, well, that's their problem. Not Eckler's.
But why is Rebecca Eckler hated by so many mommy bloggers? Why do so many seemingly sane women get their Laura Ashley knickers in a knot when it comes to Eckler?
For starters, Eckler loves sex. And she is not afraid to talk and write about the most intimate details of her sexual liaisons.
In her first book,Knocked Up,Ecklergives an hysterical account of how she and her then first fiancé, after a drunken engagement party, had wild unprotected sex. Resulting in the accidental conception that night of her first born, Rowan, aka, according to Eckler, "the best accident I ever had."
Fast forward several years later. InThe Mommy Mob, we learn that Eckler had split from her first fiancé. Her daughter Rowan, the love of Eckler's life is 10 years old. Eckler has literally hooked up with another dude, fiancé Numero Duo.
Eckler advised us that she had sex with her second fiancé on their first date.
Clearly, the sex is amazing, and the relationship is firing on all cylinders. Becauseéckleradvises that she convinces her second fiancé to reverse the vasectomy he obtained during his first marriage.
Obviously, the surgical procedure works, because Eckler is once again pregnant , within nanoseconds, with her second child.
Then Eckler goes all in and convinces the second fiancé to have sex with her daily throughout her whole pregnancy. Which apparently, they accomplish, even on those days, when Eckler confesses, she is not really in the mood. But her guy is, and Eckler, manfully womans up and as she wittily noted, "takes one for the team."
I don't know about you, women, but as a guy, this Eckler chick is a great literary character in her own right, rivalling Molly Bloom fromUlyssesand Defoe'sMoll Flanders.
And frankly, I have not read the depiction of great pregnancy sex since Updike's classicCouples.
However, according to Eckler, inThe Mommy Mob, the mommy bloggers do not share my admiration for Eckler's sexual "tell all".
Eckler reports gleefully that these anonymous female bloggers publicly "slut shame" her and call her all kinds of horrible names like, "whore and the "c" word that rhymes with "runt".
But whenécklershares her parenting views on raising her Rowan and newborn son Holt, the mommy blogosphere fully goes ballistic.
Irate mommies chastiseécklerfor relying on nannies, encouraging Rowan to ditch school, for outsourcing Rowan's bike lessons, for avoiding changing Holt's smelly diapers for months, for over programming Rowan and spoiling her with expensive gifts. And the biggest crime, permitting Rowan to treat Eckler's vibrator and tampons as toys.
What these mommies don't get is that at the core of Eckler's unconventional parenting, is her extreme love for and devotion to her children. And that makes all the difference.
I have met the famous Rowan and she is cute, smart, talented, self-assured and adores her mom. Prada case, closed.
I believe that the insane reaction to Eckler's musings reflect a society whose conventions are under attack. These traditionalists, Eckler's antagonists, come across as jealous, insecure, weak, scared and threatened. Kudos to Rebecca Eckler for exposing the soft underbelly of conventional Toronto society.
Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada’s premier writing moms, at least, one of the top moms writing about her experiences with motherhood. With her background writing for some of Canada’s biggest newspapers and magazines it makes sense that she would delve head first into the world of mommy blogging, but the attitudes that met her in the pool are a bit surprising the antiquated image of the cookie baking Betty Crocker style mom is thrown by the wayside once you see how some of these online moms dish out (and, lets face it, Eckler is no angel herself).
“There was a time, a decade ago, when I loved reading other mothers’ comments,” says Eckler. “That was before the Mob Mommies got onto the Internet and started calling me a c*nt as often as they probably use the word hello. I really don’t want to read advice from or the opinion of a mother who uses the word c*nt, especially when she uses it to describe me. Would you? I may not always be Mother of the Yearas many, many Mob Moms have sarcastically commentedbut, sarcasm aside, what mother is perfect? Can you honestly say you’re a perfect mother?”
In typical Eckler style the author, who has two decades of experience writing for some of Canada’s top publication, takes her critics in stride with humour and irreverence as she recounts her struggles with motherhood, her family, and her often clashing ideologies with other moms online.
Consider every bad encounter cannon fodder for this funny and light hearted take on the oft serious and drudging topic of how to parent, and more importantly, how to parent better than the mommy next door or the mommy on the other side of the modem.
The mommy worry popped out like a burp.
“We’ve just had a baby,” a young man was telling me. He was a bank manager – nice suit, tailored smile – and I was his customer. Waiting for information to arrive from his staff, we were filling the silence with polite inquiries about the other person’s life.
“That’s wonderful,” I replied.
He smiled, nodding in acknowledgment.
I have three of my own and two stepchildren, I told him – all boys, all grown up, over six feet.
His eyes widened, and then he leaned in, as if hoping for perspective. “I’m worried about my wife,” he began. “It’s our first baby. And she’s very anxious.” She constantly questions her ability to care for the child, worried she might do something wrong or overlook some crucial sign, he explained. She is crippled by fear of inadequacy. “And she’s a lawyer,” he added to underscore his bewilderment.
“It’s the mommy jitters,” I said plainly. I didn’t dare mention the threat of the mommy blogosphere, “a mean girl playground” of noisy judgment that Rebecca Eckler describes in her latest book,The Mommy Mob.“If they don’t agree with something that you do as a mother, they will let you know,” she says in an interview. And no one is exempt.
No longer a simple matter of being either a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, modern motherhood has become 50 shades of pink – all of them different labels of perceived competency as a woman that you wear into the world for others to judge. Will you be a tiger mom? A slacker mom? A breast-feeding mom? An attachment-parenting mom? A helicopter mom? A green mom? A drunk mom?
“There isn’t a mother alive who hasn’t thought of herself as stationed far outside maternity’s central zone, that place we all imagine, where all the babies are cooing, the bananas are never bruised, and every woman is comfortable enough in her own skin to disregard magazine covers’ blaring provocations: Are You Mom Enough?” writes Kerry Clare in the introduction to a new anthology of essays,The M Word: Conversations about Motherhood.
And that’s too bad. What kind of parent you will be is one of the great unknowns – a discovery about self more profound than any other. Unfortunately, it has never been more difficult to allow that identity to find its voice.
“So much parenting today is out of fear and not out of faith [in your own ability],” says Robin Berman, Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, parenting group leader and author ofPermission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child with Love and Limits. “Parenting today is not child development. It is product development. It’s a race to get ahead, to get into a certain college.”
It’s all wasted energy, if you ask me. In an effort to relieve the bank manager’s anxiety, I told him a story. When I brought my firstborn home from the hospital, I was a basket case. I practically took notes in the hospital about how to swab the nub of his belly button. I worried about his pooh. I asked the baby nurse if I could pay for her to make visits. Once at home, I insisted that people wash their hands before handling the precious infant, and that included my husband at the time.
I was the poster girl for the mommy jitters. Now, nearly 29 years later, I laugh at that memory – along with the rest of my family, who won’t let me forget the washing-of-the-hands routine – because it’s like looking at yourself in the early stages of womanhood, when you thought you were cool wearing lipstick and high heels at the age of 12.
Motherhood is like being a bride. You have fantasies about that particular iteration of femininity, pictures in your head, fed by the media and your own vanity, about the kind you might be. I remember studying a photograph in an advertisement – for perfume, I think – of a Parisian woman, slim, perfectly dressed, walking along the street, holding the hand of her young daughter, who was equally well-dressed with a small school satchel on her shoulder. It was such an elegant image, so aspirational, and a far cry from the reality I often inhabited, driving my kids to school in pyjamas and bare feet.
But just as there were perfect images of motherhood I could never achieve, there were parenting styles I vowed never to adopt. One winter, on a double chairlift at a ski resort, I got into a conversation about young children with a father. He and his wife had two boys under 10. “Oh, she’s a screamer,” he said of his wife’s style of parenting. He said it in a good-natured way, but I remember thinking that I never wanted that label. So, I became known for insisting on calm voices – from myself and from my sons – when there was a disagreement. I expected them to explain the way they felt with words, which is a lot to ask from a blur of boys.
Little by little, child by child, I found my way of being a mother. In “Truth, Dare, Double Dare,” an essay inThe M Word,Heather Birrell writes that she and her husband “were filling out our mother and father shapes in the world.” I like that description, because that’s what it felt like, being a responsive, amorphous entity, sometimes large as the universe for that tiny person, encompassing all, and other times, shrinking to the size of a fly on the wall in a school auditorium, not wanting to interfere.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t sometimes suffer from crushing feelings of inadequacy. Back then, there wasn’t the same barrage of “shoulds” as there are now but still, the competition among mothers, the feminist backlash, the pendulum swing from parent-centric family structure to child-centric – all those influences were coming into play. I only managed to breast-feed for a few months while other mothers pulled out their breasts like candies from their back pocket. I stood at the side of soccer pitches, listening to mothers of kids in my sons’ classes, describing all the extracurricular activities they did. I had long given up on the idea of violin lessons, as genteel as they sounded. My idea of after-school activity was telling them they could play road hockey in the driveway so I could finish the next paragraph of a story that was due.
But I was learning to take in stride the choices I made, partly because I realized that, while I might not be the mother who baked a thousand cookies or spent her afternoons running from one activity to the next, I was the mother who had her own special practices that no one else could replicate. I would make up goofy lullabies at night. We would play a relay game of storytelling, each person having to pick up the narrative thread from the one before. Those were the acts that tied us together, not someone else’s edicts about how to fulfill this most intimate of roles, this “love affair of connection,” as Berman calls parenthood.
As my boys grew up, each so different from the other, I realized that it was delusional – and frankly, a bit narcissistic – to think that I would have that much influence over their lives. Do you really think you can engineer a soul to be what you envision? Of course, I had a hand in their development and their success as thriving young men, especially through a difficult divorce from their father (something they all tell me, unsolicited), but I see now that a lot of what I did was to file around the edges of their beings.
Sure, there were hard rules – manners, respect, loyalty, work – but much of the experience of being a parent was to be open to the wonder of what each would become. What was right for one wasn’t necessarily right for the other. There is no perfect way. It’s about listening to them and to your own voice, your own instinct of love. Which is so very simple and fun.
As popular columnist and author of nine books, Rebecca Eckler has spun a career out of writing about being Rebecca Eckler. Now, 20 years later, 10 spent chronicling the travails of parenthood, she’s ready to leave the public eye. But first, she has a few choice words for all the nasty trolls.
In 2005,National Postran the headline "Rebecca Eckler is Pregnant," effectively launching her career as a “mommy blogger.” But Eckler’s articles on motherhood tapped into a vein of angry commenters an online community of disapproving fellow moms, many of whom Eckler skewers in her latest novel, “The Mommy Mob: Inside the Outrageous World of Mommy Bloggers.”
Who are the Mommy Mob and when did you first come across them?
The Mommy Mob are mothers who transform behind a computer screen. They become judgmental, insane sometimes, and really, REALLY rude.
Ten years ago, when I had Rowan, I felt that mothers weremuchmore compassionate. When I started blogging about motherhood and parenting, they were really happy to hear my thoughts. It's very isolating in the first year. And people were very supportive, especially when I admitted to Post Partum and The C-Section.
Then, slowly, over the years and especially in the last couple years with so many mommy bloggers and commenters, it was like watching "When Animals Attack!"
We need better etiquette, and with this book I'm hoping that mothers can see that there's no right or wrong way to be a parent. Unfortunately the Mommy Mobdoesbelieve there is only one right way: their way!
Do you think your experience is different because you’ve made yourself into a media personality? Wouldn’t it be different if you were just some random mom typing away on a personal Wordpress blog?
I think [I get a strong reaction] because I focus on little things, or things people think but don't have the platform to write. Many mothers, obviously, aren't writers. But Ido know for a factthat when I talk to my girlfriends, we all laugh at everything that is in the book, and all the topics. They are not media people.
It would be a sweeping generalization to say ALL mothers are judgmental and maniacal. But with the Internet, it's like they are two people: In real life, and behind the screen. I think, also, in this day and age, everyone wants their '15 minutes of fame.' For some, that’s commenting on a mommy blog.
I'm sure most mommy bloggersdowant an audience. They just have to work it! Or why else put it up on the Internet? Keep a journal!
But when you make yourself the subject, you are asking for personal feedback, right?
Feedback, yes. Conversation, yes. Disagree? Fine. But to go out and call me a 'slut' because I'm not married, or that my daughter is going to FAIL at life, because I help her out with homework? It's just not nice. It's not common courtesy. And that is what amazes me. There's a way to disagree without attacking.
People are just awful on the internet. Someone actually commented that my son should be eaten by an alligator because I took a vacation.
That vacation story was interesting because you seemed to be writing it because youknewthat leaving your 10 week-old to go to Mexico for a few days would be controversial.
Actually, it's really interesting. I didn't mean to cause so much controversy. And the truth is, I wasalready backfrom my vacation when that was posted. A lot of people don't understand the media as well. So I had to laugh, because I had been back for almost a week, and then the sh*tstorm came. But I was already home. Baby was still a lovely blob.
But you sound so surprised when people react that way aren't you trying to start a debate with your pieces?
Of course I want responses, I suppose. What's the point of writing if no one is reading, if you are a writer? But I really only want tostartconversations, not roll with the trolls!
Also, I just want to point out that the Mommy Mob, or a lot of moms these days, think they are experts...just because they had children. No two children are alike, just like snowflakes. What works for you may not work for me. What works for me, may not work for your children.
You write a lot about outsourcing parenting or doing things that have a significant price tag such as trips to sunny resorts etc. How much of the reaction to you is the GOOP-effect readers feeling like you are describing privilege as though it's commonplace?
Yes, I do write about trips. But, hey, I don't tell others how to spend their money. And, as we all know, money really only buys things, not happiness. I amso farfrom GOOP. I don't have personal chefs etc. But I have to say I did love "consciously uncoupling!"
Also, I do outsource, as you say. But I do not believe, as The Mommy Mob does, that diaper changing is a 'bonding experience' nor do I think my daughter is going to need therapy because someone else taught her how to ride a bike!
Do you think your daughter is going to be mad that you write about her?
I've been asking Rowan for a year, every time I write about her, if it's okay. She LOVES it.Iactually have a very hard time being 'public.' People think I like it. I hate it.
But you seem toown it!
In fact, I am dropping out of public life very soon. Time to move on! I'm of the firm belief that if something doesn't make you happy, or you're not that passionate about it, the party is over.
You have always excelled at telling your story, pushing buttons, getting a rise out of people, making them laugh. It's not making you happy?
Its not making meunhappybut I've now been writing for 20 years. I feel good about what I've done/accomplished.
I could write about parenting forever, I guess. But really the arguments/debates are always the same, just like Halloween comes every year. Also, I don't know what social media holds in the future. So I do have to think aboutthe safety/comfort of my children
Also, I'm not sure what else I have to say! I don't want to be 75, either, and writing about my 45 year-old daughter...although that would be kind of funny!
She'll probably write a book about you!
She probably could. I pray daily that she doesn't become a writer, only because it's a hard life.
What do you think future Rowan would call her book about you?
Let me think...."My Mother is Awesome!" ??? Sheloveswhen I read to her from my books. She thinks it's hilarious. Or maybe the book will be called, "Can Someone Get My Mother Out ofMyHouse?"Ha!
It's a new world in parenting. I actually say to Rowan, "Now I am your mother." Then, "Now I can be your friend." Then, "Now I'm your mother." On and on....
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