I am pro-babble. This is not a news flash for old chums and family, who have grown to tolerate (or flee! as the case may be) my propensity to lard on the words. Verbose. Prolix. Loquacious. That’s me. Why say something once when you can find two or three ways to repeat the same idea, I sez! Repeatedly!
But this week I’m pro-Babble: the capital-B kind. Two different juries of my peers gathered by that website have seen fit to honor what I’ve been doing online with recognitions. [Point of info: Babble is a widely-read resource website “for a new generation of parents.”] The honorifics (and the attendant challenge I feel to retroactively actually earn them) couldn’t have arrived at a better time, relative to the ebb and flow my work life. For the past nine months it has been gushing, rather than flowing, and dadgum it I think it’s about to ebb for the first time since I started it. Enter, stage left, in the after-work hours: much-neglected writing life!
Babble Honorific #1: I was named one (okay, 47th) among Babble’s 50 Top Twitter Moms. I wanted to turn right around and at least Tweet my thanks. But when the news hit, I was still too busy chasing around after my work with buckets and mops (c.f. recent gusher imagery). I think in actuality I was flying cross-country with some buckets and mops, and was just running out of battery juice on my laptop when I read the email. To be 47th in a group of 50 is a delightful combination of fortunate and humorous. It’s more humorous than 48th or 49th, since those numbers have some cachet. You know, one’s an even number, which is always cool, and the other’s almost-50. But forty-seven is just, well. Sitting there. Hopeful. Feeling lucky to be there.
I was also named ninth “most inspirational” Twitter Mom, which had a much greater thrill than humor value. Because contarn it half the reason I bother to put fingers to keyboard, at least in my writing life, is to inspire. Both self and other. Either to greater compassion or greater awareness or even to laughter. Needless to say, right away I wanted to Tweet nine inspirational Tweets. But first I ran out of laptop battery, and then I ran out of time. Story of my life, of late. (For a bit of analysis and critique of last year’s such list, check out Annie’s post at PhD in Parenting last year.)
Babble Honorific #2: Lesbian Dad was named among Babble’s Top 50 Dad Blogs. Holy ovaries! Especially on the heels of the Twitter Mom deal! The juxtaposition of these two honorifics – mom + dad – speaks volumes to the capacities of this imaginative, communicative space, where I’ve worked so hard to explore that very overlap. Kindred spirits and open minds can and do find each other here; a person can assay an undertaking as unlikely as define a heretofore absent parental space between two seemingly immutable, biologically-rooted “givens,” and not only find a sympathetic ear, but helping hands, even thoughtful collaboration.
I had hoped for something like this understanding from my home community – that is, other parents like me, gals not quite mother, not quite father, but a bit of both, who would find something familiar in my stories or my vantage point. I was seeking out their insight and wisdom when I had no idea what this parenting path would be like. What I didn’t expect those five or six years ago, when I started doing all this, was that my “community” would include so many allies. Or, rather, that the people I might once have thought of as allies would in actuality be my community.
I have had the good fortune not just to read, but to come to know a number of the other dad bloggers who’ve been called out as among the Babble Top 50 this year. I think of Doug French and Andy as friends as much as colleagues, and was honored to have shaken Mike Adamick’s hand in Chicago in 2009, right before he went on to read a post as one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year (for which I was a reader that year, and yes, I adamantly inked in Mike’s beautiful post “Don’t all kids play in vacant warehouses?” on my “Absolutely Must Be Recognized” list).
Thanks to blogging conferences (run by women; Doug & Andy’s is coming up!), I’ve met and have appreciated the work of Jason Mayo, Rob Rummel-Hudson, Shawn Burns, Whit Honea, John Cave Osborne, Jim Highley, Jim Lin, and Caleb Gardner, and and look forward to reading many of the others called out in the list. I think Jeremy Adam Smith has done a whole lot for contemporary understanding of 21st century parenthood, the male version, but I know the Babble list was for solo-authored blogs, so his Daddy Dialectic didn’t have the chance to be recognized. Each of these men parent in different ways; each stretches conventional understandings of masculinity and caregiving to varying degrees. No matter what, I’m glad they’re all writing about their parenthood, because it’s fertile ground much in need of tilling. For the sake of their peers who are parenting, and for folks in the generation coming up like my son, who will likely be a parent when he grows up, and my daughter, who will likely (who knows! just an educated guess!) be parenting alongside a man when she grows up.
As I was telling my Pops yesterday, when I told him the news about this recognition: I was nervous when I first staked out this blog name and this space, virtually and actually. All I could imagine, when I thought of my public reception by other straight men in particular, was indignation, based on the all-too familiar presumptions that (a) the universe is about stasis, rather than expansion, and (b) there is never enough room at the table, never a pie big enough, and so on. Usurper! Interloper! Fraud! At that time I couldn’t imagine the faces of friends, fellow parents who, not just in spite of but also because of their being men, saw we had much to offer one another. I couldn’t imagine that they saw what I saw: that when someone like me elbows more space for my parenthood, it’s not like I’m poking them in the gut. I’m making more space for them, too. We’re all helping each other, when we stretch and redefine understandings of parenthood for our generation. I’m hugely honored to be doing so as an ally to these guys.