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An Online Legacy, Bittersweet and Futile

Posted by Kara Baskin  October 29, 2012 07:38 PM

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I know: There are plenty of grating “Mommy Blogs” out there that are platforms for certain parenting styles, or narcissistic missives from self-satisfied Martha Stewarts, or long justifications for opting out of the work force, opting back into the work force, home-schooling, getting divorced, living in the suburbs, living in the city, or going gluten-free. (Hooray, you made a choice! Immortalizing it in custom font on a cute background doesn’t make it any better or worse.) But most blogs are more innocent than that, and more complex.

The other day, my own mom asked me why there are so many “mommy blogs” now. For the record, I loathe the condescending term “mommy blogs"—for me, it conjures images of dead-eyed Betty Crockers pushing strollers along a conveyor belt that ends in a fanged Diaper Dekkor. Anyway, I tried to explain to her that these blogs, for the most part, are just one more way for us to make sense of the world, no different than politics columns, or finance columns, or fashion columns. Because, to the extent that we can make sense of our world, we can control it and we can preserve it. Our thoughts and our opinions mark time; they’re a tiny way of remaining immortal. Parenting blogs even more so, because they’re so personal.

I try to tackle different hot-button topics here, and I don’t post about Andy’s every bowel movement and giggle. (That’s what Facebook is for! Heh.) But a lot of parenting blogs are basically Pinterest with commentary—an online, organic projection of our aspirations and what makes us tick. Marina Krim’s Wordpress site, Life With the Little Krim Kids, was an online diary like this. It was taken down after two of her three children were killed, allegedly by their nanny. But her entries have been widely excerpted and in some cases mocked as dispatches from a woman who had it good (stay-at-home mom, lived in a fancy Manhattan apartment, employed a nanny) and who gushed about it in the flushed prose peculiar to many of these grating blogs: “Lito, I must say, is a clever little boy. He is super talkative and just has a million thoughts running through his brain and can express himself amazingly well for an almost two-year-old.” Sniped a commenter on the New York Times: “It was apparently a venue for a pure display of the Upper West Side lifestyle that not only women magazine and mom blog readers tend to fantasize about.”

When the tragedy happened, these were the buzzwords that instantly emerged: Mommy blogger, executive husband, "luxury" apartment. Snippets from her blog, bittersweet and futile, hit the Internet right away, sometimes with an undercurrent of twisted schadenfreude. It later came to light that the troubled nanny was in financial distress, and some have speculated that she resented her employers. The takeaway was that Krim had chronicled a charmed life—and that yes, even charmed lives can come crashing down in one devastating, unexpected act. Her blog was typical; her fate was not.

The day after this awful news, I did something unusual: I drove to Andy’s school in the middle of the day. I figured he’d be on the playground, and I was right. I parked my car across the street and stared out the window. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon. I watched him push a Little Tikes cart back and forth with two other boys, trudging through the orange leaves in his fleece jacket and baggy sweatpants, protected behind the gates of his nursery school. And, as I sat and stared, I did what Marina Krim had tried to do with her blog, I think: simply capture a moment in time that is precious and safe. There is a difference between narcissism and simply wanting time to stand still.

Sure, we can do all we can for our kids: hire the best child care (the crime has spawned countless articles about how to make sure your child-care provider isn’t a serial killer), stay home because the idea of child care is just too scary, cook nutritious meals, hold their hands when they cross the street, buy the safest car seats on the market. But whether we live on the Upper West Side or in Peoria, our choices are no match for chance.

So I think this is why most of us take the photos and write the captions and log the posts: Because it’s not possible to live in the moment and brace for the future at the same time. It’s a tiny effort to keep the brutal chaos of life at bay, a way to preserve one magical autumn instant before it slips away forever, or before it can haunt us.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Kara Baskin (@kcbaskin) is a Boston-based writer, editor, and mom to Andy. She thinks Sriracha and garlic make everything tastier. She loves Steely Dan and "Murder, She Wrote." Her More »

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