First non-holiday-ish post of 2015 and the (nonexistent) pressure (that I put on myself for no reason) to write an interesting blog post is on.
I am not ashamed to admit to caring a lot about what I write and put out into the world, even in a blog post. Sure, there is a certain in-the-moment-ness to blogging that doesn’t always require polished, fully realized thoughts, and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it. Plus, I try to write every day, and now blogging counts toward that, so I win! Against myself!
But ok, I still want to write things that people want to read. And something I read about blogs being “critical” to writers developing “platforms” got into my head and is simmering there. I cringe at business words in art. It is an uncomfortable, unpleasant fact for me. And I’m awkward about it; sometimes I make it a joke, and sometimes it feels like it’s making me a joke. So asking myself what my “platform” is…honestly, it was less uncomfortable and unpleasant than I thought it would be because here’s what I figured out: I have no unique platform.
I called this blog “swm: single writing mom” because there are many of us, many overlapping struggles and challenges. Also, I like the idea of abbreviating the label to play off “single white male,” of which there seem to be more all the time, just like single writing moms. (Why is that? Nevermind. My current dismay at the original SWM is because, well, when you use the word “single” in your blog title, the web ether does that algorithm thing where all your sidebar ads change to singles ads, and singles sites clickbait and linkbait you, and just what exactly is it about this blog that suggests I’m desperate to change the word “single” to “sexually harassed on Tinder”? But that’s another post.)
I’m glad I titled it this way because it doesn’t make me feel like yet another hungry writer trying to squeeze onto a platform of her own creation, trying to brand herself, insist on her uniqueness. I have no beef with insisting on uniqueness. I also have no beef with observing our oneness. Sometimes, I need to quiet down a little and feel like a part of something.
That said, I don’t feel like this is a mommy blog. My focus is not solely on my son (he’s learning to say “caterpillar,” though. It’s the absolute best.). I had this other blog where my focus was just on my own writing activities and that felt too platform-y. I didn’t want to go the other way and be “just a mommy,” so I made this space to write about the push and pull of motherhood and writing on my life. It is not unique, but neither is breathing air. Both are vital to me.
I don’t know if I have a platform, let alone if I’m saying anything different or new. I know that I read blogs and writing by single moms all the time, and some of them have been abused and need a release, or are angry about misogyny and need to feel less alone in that anger, or are emboldened to start intelligent, forceful conversations about the rape crisis, racial injustice, class warfare—and they do it by crafting their own experiences and sharing them, with great bravery and I would imagine some anxiety. I’m just grateful to be among them. The very fact of our voices is revolutionary because society continues to insist that the single mother is at best a rare success story and at worst an incomplete and mutated family unit in which neither the single mother or her child will be able to function at their maximum capacities. Kids needs fathers, we are told. Single moms can’t do it all (work, parent, have a life, let alone pursue art), we are told.
But I’m doing it all. The women writing the work I’m reading are doing it all every day. They lament about their struggles and cop to an unhealthy amount of guilt, but they are “succeeding” in the sense of at least worrying about their children, which suggests conscientious parenting. They have homes with internet access. They found a chunk of time in which to write.
The intangible, impermanent blog post as evidence of the strength and stability of at least some single-mother households? I don’t know. It feels that way when I read them—that all these voices are insisting they be counted. I relate to that insistence. I’m not a brand; I’m just another single mom who wants to do a little more, wants to read and observe and think about and make things. Wants to share.