Why I’m Sick of Mommy Writing—even by Tina Fey

It hit me suddenly on Mother’s Day. My son and husband brought me breakfast in bed and a vase of roses. My nine-year-old son made biscuits, one shaped like a heart. My husband brought me a bowl of malted milk balls with my morning coffee. On this day of days, I was allowed to loll in bed, reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

Is this not heaven? I asked myself.

Some of you may be asking why heaven involved precious moments alone with a trashy book. Most of you will know the answer. And that’s my problem: middle-class motherhood has become a cliché.

I’m sick of mommy writing. I’m not a mommy blogger, but I have on occasion perpetrated this form of writing—especially the lightweight, kids-are-so-cute-and-annoying-and-aren’t-they-the-most-precious-geniuses-that-utter-the-darnedest-math-formulas style of column that has been in vogue since Hints from Heloise,* Erma Bombeck, Dooce, and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

Caveats: I am not talking about wonderfully written literary essays that involve children. I love children, and there are many serious—and genuinely funny—things to be said about the gender wars and contemporary constructions of motherhood. What I am talking about is an argument that’s really as old as the crone hills: Are we writers or “women writers”?

Some of you may believe this rant has been brought on by reading Bossypants and eating malted milk balls all day—and I am aping Tina Fey’s style here—but you would only be partially right. It’s more about my late-to-the-table realization that the term “mommy blogging” is demeaning to women writers and yet has now become the yardstick against which all moms—including witty celebrity moms—now write about the experience of parenting.

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