I was first introduced to blogging by reading Dooce (Heather Armstrong). David had returned from a web conference where she had spoken on a round table. He was impressed. He found her funny, and witty and thought I would like her. I started reading her blog in 2004. We had kids the same age and I could completely relate to her voice. My story is not unique and I’m sure many of you found Dooce early in your blogging and/or were inspired by her. Heather is HUGE in the blogging world and will always be one of the few bloggers with that level of success. So this week when she came under attack for doing what most bloggers do everyday I was offended on her behalf.
Now I realize Heather does not need me defending her, nor does she need anybody justifying her actions. However, it is easy to hit a large target and then hide behind our own tiny corner of the internet world fearless of reprisal. That doesn’t seem fair. So Heather, this one is for you.
We’ve all experienced bad customer service. We’ve all had those moments when we wish we could scream from the hilltops that so and so company has screwed us royal and the injustice of it all makes us want to commit violence. I’ve had more than my share and if pressed could recount names, companies and violations of my consumer trust. Heather’s experience with Maytag over the last couple of months was horrific and obnoxious. She was justified in her anger and you know what? Unlike the rest of us she does have a hilltop to scream from about it and she did. Now, some people were quick to call her a bully and that she was abusing her power but that is not how I see it.
Heather Armstrong always has been and always will be a mommy-blogger. Period. She is a mom writing about her life. She is one of thousands of us and yes, she is more famous than the rest of us but she is still a mommy blogger. One of the main functions of mommy-blogging and the reason why any company is interested in us is because we provide honest and trustworthy feedback about products and services that we use. I trust a fellow Mom to be honest with her experiences.
In the five years I have been reading Heather Armstrong I have always found her to be honest, and transparent in any product she has ever mentioned (which does not happen often). I have seen her be very liberal in her praise for companies that have gone above and beyond and careful with her criticism. As a result she has earned my respect and trust. So when she began to blast Maytag on Twitter I knew there had to be more to the story – that this wasn’t Heather blowing hot air for no reason. When she explained the situation it was obvious that she had given Maytag an appropriate amount of time to fix the problem and indeed they eventually provided her with proper customer service.
Would a large company respond to our blog post or Tweets? Absolutely not. However, they should respond. I agree with Heather that we all should complain as loudly as we can when a company violates our consumer trust. Perhaps we won’t get satisfaction but Maytag warranted being embarrassed publicly and they were. The truth is more companies deserve that kind of public lambasting and as mommy-bloggers I feel that is part of our responsibility.
Mommy-blogging has suddenly become over run with writers who are more interested in wooing sponsors than being truly honest about their products. When all product reviews and discussions that you see on blogs are positive, well, it sort of dilutes the purpose and value of those opinions. Heather was honest. She used her powers for good (both by getting her own problem fixed and by getting appliances donated to a woman’s shelter). And trust me, if we all had that power when somebody screwed us, we would wield it without regret.
So my mother and I are talking tonight and she says; “why haven’t you been writing on your blog? Have you lost interest?” and I instantly fell into a vat of guilt that was so deep my children had to throw me a rope ladder to climb out. No, I have not lost interest. Unfortunately things have been conspiring against me this summer and I frankly have had no time to write. Here are my list of lame excuses:
#1 A Dock
Now that both of our kids are old enough to swim somewhat on their own (and when I say “on their own” I mean neither one of them is clinging to my bathing suit in a desperate attempt at flotation) we like to spend more time at the family lake house. As a result we have been there for at least three weekends this summer and most of that time has been spent building a new dock. This is what the dock looked like during Memorial Day weekend:
This is what it looks like now.
Grant it most of the work was done by the “men-folk” but we girls provide a lot of support in the shape of swimming leisurely nearby and making sandwiches. Hey, it is a tough gig but somebody has got to do it.
#2 A wedding
No, I’m not getting married, but David’s cousin is tying the knot in about a week. Although I’m not heavily involved in the planning of the nuptials I haven’t wanted to miss one second of any of the festivities. The girl who will be joining our family – well – she rocks. She’s so awesome I’m writing a separate post just about her. She is so damn cool.
#3 A kid
This is Lucy’s last couple of months of freedom before she starts the societal demands of school. I’ve wanted to really wallow in this time. I’ve wanted to do museums and zoos and the pool and make pottery, etc. etc. My little girl is growing up and soon her life will be filled with friends and foes and a social life. No longer will Mommy be her best friend. Although on one hand I’m excited about this, on the other I’m saddened.
#4 A surprise
The biggest distraction of this summer though has been a big surprise that David and I received on June 13th. If you go back and look at my posting archives you’ll see that my writing really tapered off after that date. The surprise looked something like this:
In case you are unclear about what you are looking at – well – that is a pregnancy test and it says “Yes+”. Soak that in for a little bit and we’ll discuss more later.
#5 A Story
When I was going through Grad school I had to read so much for my degree that by the time I graduated I didn’t even want to look at another book. I can honestly say that I didn’t read a single book for two years after I graduated. I just couldn’t bear it. I resented the fact that studying the biggest passion in my life drove me to the point of almost giving it up. I promised myself that I would never let that happen again. As a result, when summers roll around and I’m not obligated to read a bunch of stuff for school I try to read things I WANT to read. To relish in the beauty of a good story. I’ve read some great books this summer, watched some fun TV shows, and lost myself in some exciting movies. I’ve gorged myself on rich characters, and wonderful stories. My appetite is well satiated and I am ready to return to school full of the love of words that makes me want to be a teacher.
I never said these excuses were good or valid or even reasonable for not writing more often, but now you have them. I will do my best to return to a more normal schedule of sorts. I’m glad you haven’t abandoned me or have you? Am I talking to myself now?
David asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day and I said “I want a new design for my blog and I want you to migrate me to Word Press”. Although he agreed to do it, I think secretly he was hoping I was going to say, “Oh honey, your love is enough gratitude for the job I do every day”. I guess this means he won’t be asking me this question in the future.
This is the problem; David is an award-winning Interactive Creative Director. David has actually been widely recognized for his creative talents designing web sites (a multiple Addy winner, multiple W3 winner, and a contender at the Cannes Ad Festival). As a result, he doesn’t have the time, energy or interest to design his wife’s blog. It is like asking Pavarotti to sing at your birthday party, not exactly the best use of his talent. However, in David’s defense he has always been 100% enthusiastically supportive of my blogging endeavors and I must say he has done a mighty fine job with the new design. I guess I’ll scratch his back later (this is the ultimate love currency in our house. David will pretty much do anything for me if I agree to scratch his back for an indefinite period of time).
Cool New Features
Take some time to look around. I’ve added some new pages about me and reorganized my blog roll. As part of this new redesign I’m also launching two new regular features on my blog. The first one is “Techn’o Beth” a regular post about the latest gadget, gizmo or technology thingy that I think women cannot live without. I love technology and have felt for a while that I haven’t spent enough time really sharing this interest of mine here on the ole blog so expect to see more of that in the future. The second new feature will be “Bullseye on the Blogger”. I will be interviewing and featuring different bloggers. I’m hoping to talk with the bloggers that have inspired me and whom I feel provide great quality content on a regular basis.
Give Away Time
Now for the fun part — in order to celebrate the redesign All Children’s Furniture has been kind enough to give me one of their great toys (A Step2 Art Easel) to raffle off here. To learn more about the contest and All Children’s Furniture go to the “contest” page or just comment here to win.
I also want to take this moment to thank my faithful readers, without whom this would be a one way conversation. I also want to welcome any new readers and let you know that this relationship works best if you have really low expectations of me – that way I can always exceed them. Make sure you leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new design and enter the give away.