Mommy Blogs and Meatballs: A Blogdentity Crisis

24 Aug

This week was an interesting one. A rollercoaster of emotions, if you will. It was the first week back at school with the kiddos so I was up at 6ish every morning and at work by 7ish, which meant I was gone before Siona was awake. I was exhausted but running on buckets of coffee and adrenaline. Though it’s my 3rd year in my job as a school counselor, this was my first time at the first week of school in my job. The first year I was still in my original position as Student Life Director and the second year I was on maternity leave. I was nervous and overwhelmed. I also took over as ‘senior’ school counselor in the Middle School, which didn’t help my anxiety. I was trying to train our new counselor while tending to the needs of my students and colleagues. And though this past week I survived on adrenaline, iced coffee and water, I thrived on being able to be there for my students; being able to be there for one of my new 6th graders who sobbed for over an hour in my office in fear of Middle School and my 8th graders who are already freaking out about high school and college.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students -- dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

One of the many ridiculous things I do for my students — dressing up as Effie from the Hunger Games for Color War back when I was pregnant.

While I was kicking a** and taking names in my role as school counselor, this blog wasn’t fairing so well and it was bringing me down. This summer allowed me a bit more freedom to be present for this blog, which made me really happy. I finally was able to interview my friend, Zak the Baker. I made the fried chicken recipe that had been living in my head and I finally was able to write down my own love story. It felt wonderful to have the time to do all that. But this past week brought on the realization that, once again, my free time is extremely limited. And then, on Thursday morning, I received an email in my inbox from a blog I follow (or, now, used to follow). The blogger is an incredible writer and, in my estimation, would fall into the category of ‘mommy blogger’. She writes about her adventures with her young daughters set against the back drop of Montana. Her Instagram account should be sponsored by the visitors bureau of Montana, the pictures are that incredibly beautiful. But that’s besides the point. This post was about her living her dream of quitting her job so that she could be home with her girls. As beautiful and ethereal as this post was, it also enraged me a bit. I felt badly about having these feelings of anger. And, as I like to remind my students, no one can “make” a person feel anything. Instead, we allow these feelings to occur. We give them life and this post was bringing all sorts of life to some not-so-nice feelings for me that I really needed to get to the bottom of.

I don’t know this woman in the slightest. I follow her on Instagram and read her posts but I don’t know her. I don’t know her except what she wants me and the rest of the world to know about her. And please don’t misunderstand me, she seems like a lovely person. It’s not necessarily her that I take/took issue with. I think this post came at the wrong time for me, personally. I had barely seen my daughter all week. I only saw her for an hour on Wednesday, between coming home from work and then having to go back for a parent night. One hour out of 24. And here I was, reading a post about how this woman got to leave her day job and now spends her days going on adventures with her daughters. So yes, bad timing.

She gets me.

She gets me.

I ended up writing a comment about how I thought her post was beautiful but that it was also difficult to read as I too dream of being at home with my daughter but I can’t. She wrote back because that’s the type of blogger she is; always wanting to be there for her readers. But what she wrote back enraged me even more. She responded with all the write buzz words/phrases, ‘walking in the path of your dreams’, ‘walking with your heart and soul’, like a new Oprah for the hipster mommy-set.

And while I appreciate the conversation, what I realized this morning, after finally getting a solid 11 hours of sleep (Gd bless Shabbat), was that not anywhere in her post or in her response did she talk about the privilege of being able to stay at home and ‘live your dreams’. And then I realized that though this blog of mine is technically a food blog, I sometimes delve into the ‘mommy blog’ world, which, I now clearly understand, is not the place for me. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, of The Joy of Caitlin, had a very sweet post published by the Huffington Post this week. She worked really hard to get it out there—posting it all over the place, and she absolutely deserved to have it posted. So I thought, why not follow her lead and try to get more stuff out there. I tried posting the only post I could find in my blog archives that I though would fit into the ‘mommy blog’ or parenting category. I took 20 minutes out of my work day on Friday to post it on various parenting/mom pages and bloggers but it just didn’t fit. Hell, one of them flagged me for spam, which I thought hilarious. But with that notification that someone thought my post was ‘spam’ came the realization of what I was doing. I was trying to fit a pentagon into a round hole. This community is not for me. I love reading my food blogs and I am so appreciative of the community of food bloggers I’ve become close to via the Kosher Connection and Instagram but the circle on mommy/parent bloggers is another realm and though a lot of them speak of light and peace, the general feeling I have is that it’s a competition of who has the most hipster dressed kids and appearance of a near-perfect life. And if you’re thinking I sound a little angry or frustrated, I am. In all my mommy/parenting blog reading, I have not once read the term ‘privilege’. Not once has one of these bloggers spoken about the privilege of staying home; the privilege of breastfeeding; the privilege of eating organic or ‘clean’. Every time one of these parent bloggers posts a meme on their Facebook page about the evils of formula or GMOs or baby cereal or the like, I wonder if they’ve ever thought about the countless moms and dads who don’t have the privilege of buying GMO-free, or organic or whose breasts didn’t quite work out as expected; much less stay at home to be with their children, and what that must feel like for that parent on the other side of their meme. Have they ever thought about privilege? Thanks to social work school, I think about it all the time. It’s a privilege I have this computer so that I can write down my thoughts. It’s a privilege that I have amazing friends and family who support me. It’s a privilege I can afford daycare and still have enough cash to pay rent and occasionally shop at Whole Foods. People don’t like thinking about privilege because they feel they have to apologize for it, but that’s not how I see it. If you can acknowledge it and not take advantage of it or acknowledge it and be self-aware enough to recognize what it means for those who don’t have it, well then, that’s a different story. That I can support.

Late-night blogging.

Late-night blogging.

And so when this particular mommy blogger’s post landed in my inbox I thought if I calmly comment, maybe I’ll get over my feelings of frustration. But I didn’t. In fact, it got a little worse for me. When the blogger responded to my comment that she advocates for the ability to ‘change our minds’, I thought to myself, ‘wow, what a privilege it is to even think that that’s always an option’. I can change my mind until I’m blue in the face but the fact of the matter is that I can’t afford to stay at home with Siona. And what would I miss if I did (besides food, shelter, health insurance and the like)? I’d miss the amazing community of people I’m surrounded by at work. I’d miss learning from them and laughing with them. I’d miss the diversity of thoughts they bring to my life. Some of these people are women with children, some of them don’t have any children. Some are married and some are not. Some of these people are men. Some of these people are white, some black, some Jewish and some Catholic. Some or straight and some are gay and the majority of all these folks are humble and self-aware. And, just like in real, I crave that diversity of mind and spirit in my online world as well. So, I’m giving up on my attempt to fit into the mommy world and instead will just be whomever it is I am . . . just like in real life. I will give time to the blog and let it develop organically (no pun intended) into whatever category it fits into, if at all. I will stop following all these other mommy’s on Instgram whom I first started following way back in the depths of post-partum depression, when I needed reminding that children do eventually sleep and that parenthood can be fun. We just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore. I will stick to food and family and see what comes.

And as for the recipe? Well, these are my most favorite meatballs. They are not gluten-free, but could be. I sometimes make them with veal and sometimes a mixture of veal and ground beef but usually with ground turkey. They are kind of like Thanksgiving all rolled into a delicious ball. I hope you enjoy and I thank you for reading.

For her.

For her.

Thanksgiving Meatballs:

What

1 package of ground turkey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 pint of button mushrooms, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
Dried bread crumbs, preferrably challah, diced into small chunks (should be bigger than store-bought bread crumbs but not bigger than croutons)
1 egg
Thyme
Sea Salt
Pepper
Rubbed Sage

For the Stove Top*

Vegetable or Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

*I go back and forth between frying and baking these meatballs . . . depending on my mood. If you do decide to bake rather than fry, bake on a greased baking sheet on 375 for roughly 20 minutes

Those Colors!

Those Colors!

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

Those Look Like Ping Pongs, right?

How:

Pour the olive oil in a deep frying pan with a flat surface. Let sit on medium heat for a few seconds. Saute the onions until transparent. Add the carrots and stir, sauteeing until carrots are golden. Add the garlic and continue sauteeing for another minute. Finally, add the mushrooms an saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the mixture with a dash or salt and pepper, stir and pour into a separate bowl and set aside.

Preparing for Frying or Baking

Preparing for Frying or Baking

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey with the vegetable saute mixture, bread crumbs, egg, a dash more salt, pepper, thyme and finally, the rubbed sage. Stir mixture until well-combined (I use my hands and really get into there). Meanwhile, pour your flour into a small bowl and set on the stove near your frying pan. Also, in preparation, set out a plate with a few layers of paper towels in order to soak up some of that yummy grease after frying. After setting up, roll your meatballs into balls the size of ping pongs and set on a plate.

Post-baking

Post-baking

Hello little friends.

Hello little friends.

Once done shaping your meatballs, place frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat and pour in enough vegetable (or frying oil of choice) oil to cover 1/2 inch of the bottom of the pan. Roll each meatball into the bowl of the all-purpose flour so that each meatball is lightly covered in a flour dusting. Place 5 – 6 meatballs in the pan for frying, making sure to cook evenly on each side, giving about 4 -5 minutes of cooking for each ball. Once done, place on paper towel for grease-soaking.

A Shabbat staple

A Shabbat staple

25 Responses to “Mommy Blogs and Meatballs: A Blogdentity Crisis”

  1. Hindy August 25, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I also get frustrated when reading many of the mom blogs. Why doesn’t my life fit in to one of those pretty instagram pictures? Where’s my story? I get it. I’ve been doing the work full time parenting thing since becoming a parent. I don’t know any different. Every summer I think about how I should have become a teacher just so I could have summers off with my kids. Whatever few hours I have with my kids when they are awake, I am forever grateful. Your writing beautiful, really. I love that you write from the heart.

    • Whitney August 25, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Hindy, thank you so much for your comment. It’s truly and forever appreciated! It’s such a tough balance to attempt and I think maybe, even impossible? But you are so right, our stories are not out there. I’m attempting to find a community of parent bloggers who are working two jobs — outside the home and inside home. Got any suggestions? xoxox

  2. Tanya August 25, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Love the recipe and am gonna try it one of these days, hopefully Mila will take a break from her food strike of anything that isn’t pasta with cheese!
    On the topic though of being an at home mom, I agree, and always admit, that I am really lucky to be home with her, however, as a result, I have sacrificed many many other privileges such as you mention above- social interaction, diversity in your daily life, shopping at whole foods, health insurance, child care, the occasional (very much needed) mani-pedi, unrestricted use of utilities like heat and A/C, any groceries that are not truly necessary, buying new things, etc. I cannot afford to put Mila into any day care for even a couple of hours a week – which would be an incredibly welcome break for my nine month preggo body, mind and soul- but it would also be super beneficial for her to have that interaction and diversity a couple of times a week.
    So I think that while it is true that many at home mothers tend to preach about their situations, it is also important to remember that we also sacrifice a lot of our own personal wants, and sanity, in order to be the main stable pillar in our childrens’ lives, to be able to know exactly how our children are being molded in every situation, what they are being fed, who they are interacting with, what they are seeing, or that they are safe (crazy upper west side nanny totally freaked me out!) etc..
    I’ll also admit that this too is a preference, and not a “better way”. My personal belief is that a stable and well balanced family/home environment is the most important element in raising healthy and well balanced children, whether that means mom at home, dad at home, grandma, daycare, nanny, whatever works to keep a healthy home environment, every family is unique.
    I hope this comment can shed a little light onto the fact that while many moms at home are “privileged” in the way of being financially able to “have their cake and eat it too” I believe that a great many of us choose to give up certain “privileges” for others.
    Lots of love to your beautiful family and I hope to see that little ray of sunshine sometime soon 🙂

    • Whitney August 25, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Hey love, thanks for reading. I assumed this post would probably get misinterpreted so I’m glad you wrote your comment. Please don’t misunderstand me and assume that I think all stay-at-home moms are privileged people. I’m pretty sure I tried really hard not to make that assumption. I have two incredibly awesome sister-in-laws who are stay at home moms and they do that because of what they want for their families, not because they want to push their lifestyle choices as THE lifestyle choice, you know? My beef, and my only beef with this particular community, and only a few within it, comes when folks start pushing or advocating for a lifestyle that is just not attainable for the masses. Like the only reason I’m not staying at home with Siona isbecause I haven’t changed my mind or made it my commitment. Or, the opposite. Like the only reason you’re not out at work is because you don’t want to be. It absolutely goes both ways. I just think it’s time to think about what messages we are putting out there and the privilege of being able to even put out a message. That’s all.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your amazing comment. Jessi and I are always talking about how incredibly amazing you are. And also, simply stunning. xoxox

    • ZMW August 25, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      I have to agree with the above comment: yes, I am absolutely privileged to be able to spend my days lounging in the pool with my children eating organic homemade coconut-water popsicles. But! In order to earn that “priviledge”, I gave up a career in an industry that is rapidly changing, I gave up a city and country that matched my value system, I gave up the daily support of friends and family. I blog about my parenting life in Miami so I have something to show for these years, as I do not get a paycheck or praise from a job. And I do not think that I should blog about anything other than what I know about – which for me, is the life of a stay-at-home mom. Wouldn’t it be presumptuous of me to blog about my sister-in-law’s choice to give her kids ketchup with every meal because she doesn’t want to fight with them about food, because she wants her two hours a day with them to go smoothly? I acknowledge that I have the privilege of time – but does that mean I should use that time to reflect on how crappy it is that she doesn’t have time?

      My sister-in-law also has to work for financial reasons – because she and her husband made the choice to buy a house and get degrees. I know she resents me for my “clean eating” and my ketchup-avoiding ways – but I resent being resented, you know?

      • Whitney August 25, 2013 at 11:40 am #

        Hi Zinta, I do know! Which is why I replied to Tanya that my beef, and my only beef with a few in this community is not acknowledging the privilege of choice. Some have the choice of organic, some don’t. Some have the choice of staying at home and some don’t. I expected that confusing and hurt feelings would come up if I posted this reflection but, like I said in my reponse to Tanya, this isn’t a reflection in ALL stay-at-home moms, which I tried very hard to make clear and I apologize if it wasn’t. Like I said to Tanya, I have two incredibly awesome sister-in-laws who are stay at home moms and they do that because of what they want for their families, not because they want to push their lifestyle choices as THE lifestyle choice, you know? To clarify, my ‘beef’ is one with bloggers who push anything as the only way to what? To self-healing, to a sleeping baby, to a well-adjusted baby, to a well-adjusted you! If folks simply state, “Hey friends, I found this to work but maybe it won’t for you”. Or, “I eat Paleo because it’s a privilege and thank Gd, that privilege allowed me to lose weight”, etc. maybe I’d be a little less frustrated.

  3. Hayley August 25, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Thank you. Seriously. I read a some of the momblogs and some food blogs, and some food blogs that became mom blogs and EVERYTIME this issue comes up I cringe. It’s not the choice to stay home, or “choice” to be a WAHM, but it is the glorification of that choice that is so incredibly offensive. I am a single mom, who works, so I can support my daughter and myself. There is no choice really. I could “choose” to live in a shelter, or go on food stamps to “not let her be raised by someone else” but that’s not an option. I’ve been able to send her to an amazing Jewish daycare (as you know- not cheap!!!) with a bit of financial aid, for the last 5 years and her experience, and mine, was incredible. Glorifying the stay at home choice feels like an attempt to make me feel bad- for not “being a constant pillar” or whatever. Or that “letting someone else raise her”. But in reality, my child gets an stable home, love, an experience of a lifetime at preschool, routine, love, and a ton of weekend and evening quality time with her parents. There is zero sacrifice. And it is a privilege to work, and for my daughter to be raised by a mom who works. So cheers to you and THANK YOU for saying it.

  4. Alessandra (DinnerinVenice) August 25, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    These look delicious, and I love your stories behind your posts! Keep them coming, and your baby is so adorable!

  5. ZMW August 25, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    May I respectfully suggest, that as one of your sister-in-laws has a mom blog, blogs and facebooks about dietary choices she makes for her family, and instagrams her life, that this post could easily be misunderstood?

    • Whitney August 25, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      You may, as any post is bound to be misinterpreted! As I also do both of those things, have a blog/facebook page about dietary choices (kosher) and instagram my life, I guess I would have assumed I would have been given the benefit of the doubt that it wouldn’t be, at least from folks I know 🙂

  6. thejoyofcaitlin August 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    I think it is a slippery slope to start analyzing anyone else’s privileges, choices, and the interaction of the two that creates our lives. When my son was born, I was 23 and I felt like my dream of a Masters degree and career had been dashed. Sometimes I felt alone and misunderstood. Instead of feeling bitter about my lack of educational privilege, I have decided to throw my heart and soul into making the best of my situation. Now I have made the choice and been given the fantastic privilege to have two beautiful children, whom I do my best to care for with whatever resources I have. The choices and privileges that lead to each family’s working and childcare situations are complicated, nuanced, and certainly not able to be understood from a blog. You say that your situation is not based in choice, that no matter how you slice it you can’t stay home with Siona. Your situation has been created through a combination of privilege and choices made by you and your husband. These choices are personal and I don’t presume to know the past present and future of your life. You say that you have no problem with what others do, just with the lack of acknowledgement of the privilege that precludes the choices, the portrayal of fake perfection, and the pushing of values as right for everyone. I agree, and an insincere mommy blog is no fun to read. The reason I reach out to the world with my story is to hopefully find some connections and offer my experience to others who may find it interesting or inspiring. The bottom line is, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why worry what anyone else does, or says, or is trying to push on anyone else? You had an awesome accomplishment with your post published on Kveller.com, which was both well received, and absolutely about parenting. Keep doing what you do, no matter what category it fits into, because you have so much to share, and someone needs to hear exactly what you have to say!

    • ZMW August 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

      I’m clearly still in PTSD mode from my recent interaction with my own sister-in-law, who is prickly and defensive about her working and my staying home. I will shut up now.

      • thejoyofcaitlin August 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

        Dude, we all have sensitive subjects and baggage. This is sensitive for every single mom out there and we all have our opinions.

    • Whitney August 26, 2013 at 2:30 am #

      Shake off what you think I mean about privilege. I’m not talking about the privilege of lounging by a pool or not. I’m talking about the privileges that come from being born white, female, upper middle to middle class, developmentally and physically healthy. All those things established by the institution of the majority that gives us options of choice.

      • ZMW August 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

        Would you like me to respond to that, or should I stop hijacking your blog? Lol

      • thejoyofcaitlin August 28, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Don’t worry, I understand what you mean by privilege. I stand by what I said about choice, privilege, and the interaction that creates our lives.

  7. Misty D August 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I. LOVE. these. meatballs.

  8. Jennifer August 28, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    When I was pregnant with my first child and panicking about not being ready for his birth the week before he was due – I was a resident and required to be out if town at an “away” rotation for the last two months of my pregnancy- I had the good fortune of finding a doula at a birthing class who gave me some great advice- for those of you who feel like less of a mom because things aren’t as perfect as someone else’s life- I say don’t worry about it! You will do the best you can do most of the time. You can’t do it all – and this is what the doula said: “unless you are a crack smoking mother leaving her child alone to go out and party – and by the way-even their children love them- you are likely a terrific mother by virtue of the fact that you care – and what ever you do will be good enough.” Since then, I strive to be a “good enough” mother. I can’t be perfect. Nor will my children be. We all make mistakes and learn as we go. Privileged or not, if you simply do the best that you can – it will be good enough!! Your children will love you and probably still need therapy when they are grown. So get over it and do your best and enjoy them every moment that you can.

    I recently told my 11 year old son that he will soon have hair growing in his armpits and he will have to be aware that he will need deodorant. He wanted to know how he would know that. I responded by telling him that he has descended from two gorillas and basically would wake up one morning with his arms stuck up in the air because he had so much underarm hair. Then he’d know it was time for deodorant !;-). I’m sure that’ll be good for a year of therapy when he’s grown. ;-). Anyway always try to have fun! Best to all you “good enough” mothers.

  9. jamiegeller September 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    its hard to read this post, i miss my kids so much even when I am with them, even after i just put them to bed… i work so much, what feels like all the time, sometimes the guilt can be debilitating…i work both because I have to and because I want to…coming from a family where my mother never had to lift a finger it’s been a hard transition (mentally and emotionally) to say the least

  10. Chanie@BusyInBrooklyn September 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    You sound like a great mom, and a great teacher.

    On a side note, love the pic of the diced veggies. The meatballs sound delicious!

  11. Alison@AliBabka September 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Super mom! These meatballs are great…maybe instead of a turkey this year?

  12. Sarah Klinkowitz September 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Those meatballs look so tasty! It is not easy being a woman today – we do so much! But we must recognize that we are doing the best we can. Deep breath and keep on keepin’ on.

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