Why some feminists can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

Guest post by Stephanie Kaloi

Photo by Taza of The Rockstar Diaries.
Emily Matchar published an article at Salon about her fascination with Mormon housewife blogs.

The first two paragraphs totally sucked me in, and the article is definitely worth a read:

At first glance, Naomi and Stacie and Stephanie and Liz appear to be members of the species known as the “Hipster Mommy Blogger,” though perhaps a bit more cheerful and wholesome than most. They have bangs like Zooey Deschanel and closets full of cool vintage dresses. Their houses look like Anthropologie catalogs. Their kids look like Baby Gap models. Their husbands look like young graphic designers, all cute lumberjack shirts and square-framed glasses. They spend their days doing fun craft projects (vintage-y owl throw pillow! Recycled button earrings! Hand-stamped linen napkins!). They spend their weekends throwing big, whimsical dinner parties for their friends, all of whom have equally adorable kids and husbands.

But as you page through their blog archives, you notice certain “tells.” They’re super-young (like, four-kids-at-29 young). They mention relatives in Utah. They drink a suspicious amount of hot chocolate. Finally, you see it: a subtly placed widget with a picture of a temple, or a hyperlink on the word “faith” or “belief.” You click the link and up pops the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Read the whole post, and then lets talk:

I’ll be the first to admit it’s never occurred to me to google “Mormon housewife blog,” and until reading Matchar’s piece I had no idea they were such a cult hit.

I get it, though: as if getting a glimpse into the parenting styles of others isn’t enough, reading about a lifestyle that is in stark contrast from your own (and especially one that you may not initially think you’ll be interested in) can be totally fascinating. It’s sort of like a train wreck, but less awful and more, just … fascinating.

Now I want to know: What are your favorite parenting blogs that you didn’t think you’d like? What other gems have I overlooked?

Comments on Why some feminists can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs

  1. I love the Manic Mommies, from their podcast, and their blogs (www.manicmommies.com) even though, they are about 20 years older than me, are very “on-beat” mamas, and make about 100 times more a year than I do, you would think I wouldn’t be able to connect with their lifestyle and parenting troubles.

    It’s definitely proof that parenthood is the great equalizer – I love listening to them and their woes with being working moms (which I am, so I do relate there), even though a lot of their problems (traveling a lot, housecleaners, needing to limit their spending, 401ks) are night and day from my life, I’ve been listening/reading for about 3 years now!

  2. I am totally intrigued by the Mormon mommy blogger trend. Why are they all so pretty, and well-groomed and stylish and etc etc etc?!

    The one parenting blog that I can’t stop reading, even though the author annoys me to no end, is Marriage Confessions. Her style is derivative but I like reading her introspective posts on her relationship with her husband.

    • I just want to say that I’m so glad I’m not the only person on the planet who reads blogs even though I dislike the writer. I’ve never heard of Mormon mommy blogs (but seriously, they all look so good!) but I have other ones where I’m like, “Um, you drive me crazy, but your posts are really interesting. Damn it!”

          • I had to cut myself off from this, too! Back in the days of LiveJournal, I religiously read a journal of woman who I knew I would dislike if I knew in her in real life. But her point of view was so fascinating in her blog. It’s like reading the mind of a person you really don’t get. After awhile, it made me feel icky so I stopped.

  3. I am so on board with the mormon mommy blog obsession. It started with the Nie Nie diaries, but then I started to notice what she mentioned in the article, every one of these women is beautiful, their lives look like an anthropologie catalog (yet they DIY rather than spending a fortune at the actual store) and their husbands and children seem equally as perfect in a fun and quirky way. It can be a little…jealousy inducing? I do love the positive light these women shine on family life and domesticity, they show how fun and harmonious family life can be. For me, coming from a very un-harmonious family, and embarking on creating a family of my own now, it gives me something to look forward to and hope for!

  4. I was just telling my partner the other day how strange it is that every cool new blog I find is written by an LDS stay at home mom! I think I find them so interesting because of the fact that I’m similar to these women in lots of ways (I’m into crafting, cooking, gardening, family) – yet so very very different in others (I’m not religious and not into having a big family or quitting my job). My favorite is probably Progressive Pioneer.

  5. I had never heard of these, either, but am totally taken in by them. I visited the rural South last week and felt the same weird fascination and semi-envy with that life, too… a life I couldn’t live, and a life with some unsavory bits, but a glorious life in a lot of ways. Great article!

  6. I used to read to blog of a woman who was living together with her boyfriend across the world from her family and who had a well paid, high achieving job. I was interested, simply because her life was so different from mine. So I can definitely relate. It might even be the reason why I read OffbeatMama – although I hope to be an offbeatmama in my own style someday.

  7. well she is hardly different than me at all but I love reading Heather Cushman Dowdee at http://www.mamaiscomic.com. She is an attachment stay at home mom and cartoonist. Her cartoons of her 2 unassisted home births are awesome. Im also learning a lot about unschooling from her. I would love to see an interview with her on OBM.

  8. Try the blog The Meanest Mom, by Jana Mathews. She’s Mormon, she’s a SAHM – but there’s no perfect crafts or model-like children in her house. Her handling of her three school-aged kids and her baby is just hilarious. I don’t even know if she’d count so much as a Mormom mommy blogger as “a hilarious blogger who writes about her family, and who happens to be LDS.”

  9. obsessed and definitely a little jealous. but i’d also like to think that my life is similar. (give me attention! I’m cute! I craft! Look at meeee!!!) but really, they are interesting, I love the pictures.

  10. This is very interesting. I’ve gone through phases reading posts on the ‘Gentle Christain Mothering’ site, and while it’s a network rather than one woman’s blog, reading about life styles different to my own is fascinating. And for a ‘conservative’ group, they are all about things I had always considered ‘liberal’ like attachment parenting, ‘unschooling’, vegan/vegetarianism, and green living. So definitely a challenge to my preconceived notions! I admit I also love reading about the Duggar family and large families in general, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish!

  11. I’m totally in love with Jordan Ferney’s blog, Oh Happy Day. “They spend their weekends throwing big, whimsical dinner parties for their friends, all of whom have equally adorable kids and husbands” couldn’t be more true! I love love love her kid toy recommendations and her art projects!

  12. From the ages of 14 to 17, LDS was the flavor of the week in my house. (My mother was a religion hopper of sorts) I met mothers who are just like the ones being described here, but also other very different women who were interesting in thier own light. It was interesting to see how they integrated thier identity as an individual with their identity as a member of the church. Not all of them were the immaculate, untouchable supermommies we see in these blogs and even the ones who did seem that way, once you got to know them, you’d find that they were human with faults just like the rest of us. Even though thier dogma of choice is definately not for me, I would recommend visiting a Mormon church to anyone. Knowing these people in real life is even more interesting than reading about them.

  13. I have to admit that my guilty pleasures include the blog Raising Olives, written by a quiverfull mum of 10, and Aspiring Homemaker, written by a girl who has chosen staying home over college. I would never swap places with these women in a million years, but damn they’re interesting to read about during downtime at work!

  14. I was actually discussing this phenomenon with my husband the other day. I was noticing that pretty much ALL of the blogs I follow were pretty much stay at home, christian moms of some sort (and an unfortunate number are white, so sad). And usually of the Mormon or Southern Baptist variety. Do they just have more time on their hands? Is this just their way to connect to the secular world? Because gosh, I have problems finding time to brush my teeth in the morning, much less blog about the gorgeous wind chime I just made from popsicle sticks and fabric scraps.

  15. I think one thing to remember is that in the LDS community, motherhood is viewed as….sacred, I think. So, they may have more time to do all these adorable cute Anthropologie mommy things because they’re respected in their community for doing it, and their husbands view it as their calling in life. (I have some LDS friends and this is the vibe I get from them regarding the matter — I’m not LDS personally so I can’t say for sure I’m correct.) It’s awesome for those who feel motherhood is their “calling” to have that kind of community support (though perhaps on the flip-side it’s difficult to *not* want children if one is in that same community? Just wondering).

    As for how everything looks so perfect…it does, it’s true, and it’s easy to be jealous of their perfect-ness and blog popularity. However, blogs (like TV) are editable, and I’m sure we’re only seeing what they want us to see (which I’m totally fine with — I read Nat The Fat Rat because dangit, what she wants me to see is so darn sweet).

    • Yeah, this is something touched on in the linked article:

      “It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it’s treated with a lot of respect,” says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat.

  16. Oooo, validation! 😛 I read the article when it first came out, but didn’t go back to re-read to remember that was indeed something that had been touched on. Perhaps I subconsciously remembered it!

    I think part of why I read Nat et al is that I know I will never get to be a stay-at-home mommy blogger. I’m going to grad school, while my husband is happy with a BS (and his field just…pays less). I already make 10k more than he does — if one of us is ever going to stay at home, it’ll be him. Sometimes I get grumpy and wish I could just transfer my future degree to him when the time comes (and I know it will) when I want to be the one at home, and can’t. So I read the blogs to see a glimpse of a life I know…won’t be mine, I guess.

    (Erm, tried to reply to the above comment, but it seems it created its own comment instead of a thread.)

  17. Hum. So as someone who shares an office with one of the women mentioned in the article, I’m pretty uncomfortable with the tone of the piece on Salon, and the use of the word housewife. I mean, if these women are housewives, then I’m a housewife and Ariel is a housewife. These are professional bloggers who have time to write about lifestyle and crafting because it’s their full time job. They make a living as bloggers and they write about what they enjoy… just like Offbeat Mama, or my site, or any number of blogs.

    We all know that blogging has had a hard slog to get taken seriously as a profession – it’s new, it’s full of women writing about things women are interested in. It’s often dismissed as not-a-real-job, no matter how much we make. But it’s a new low to dismiss women who write about their kids and crafting as housewives. They are businesswomen, with offices, and accountants, and business cards… just like the rest of us.

    And their lives ARE a lot like mine. We have different faiths, but live blocks away from each other, work in the same career, share offices, go to lunches together, decorate our houses similarly. Heck, we even vote for the same people (Mormon’s are not all conservatives, not to state the obvious here…). There is much more that unifies us then divides us, and that’s always important to remember.

  18. Funny, I relate to this a lot. I’m a conservative Catholic, part of a community of a lot of conservative Catholics, most of whom practice attachment parenting and agree with me on most things — and yet I love reading blogs of pagans and atheists, and I get a guilty sort of enjoyment from reading about same-sex parents. But I don’t think this is necessarily negative — it’s probably good for all of us to get a good long look at how different people live. I wouldn’t trade my life for the world (like the Mormon moms, I am tremendously respected and supported in what I do) but I like to see those who are different. I can learn something from everyone.

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