Go mama, go!



Lovely Rosiero has nominated me for an award.


Awards are always nice to receive, little endorsements that yes! somebody actually reads my stuff!


But this one, this award, underlined for me what blogging is fundamentally all about.


Non bloggers might recoil, gawd how cheesy they might sneer.  Or, worse, and they may snigger into cupped hands, Sad Cow, her and her imaginary friends.


And some bloggers, some who have their feet planted resolutely on terra firma and only venture into cyberspace to test its coolblue ethereal waters now and again (and don’t hang about there on an almost permanent basis, loitering, waiting for conversation and company)  might not quite comprehend the phenomenon entirely.


But for me, for me in the bush, a metaphorical million miles (though it often feels like it in reality) from most of my brood, all of my friends and a bloody good evening out, for me blogging is – predominantly – about connection, communication and, by extension, friendship.


Friendship with people you have mostly never met, never clapped eyes on, probably never will.


I can’t remember why I began to blog, cannot identify with one immediate and emphatic answer the precise reason that I dragged my personal life into the glare of the frequently unforgiving spotlight of the internet, and started to describe to invisible strangers the minutae of my days.


Perhaps it provided creative vent? Perhaps I believed it would, as one editor suggested, elevate my profile (it didn’t and it doesn’t matter). Perhaps because I had nothing better to do that day.


But I know why I continue. Because I am often lonely. Blogging has become the crutch I use to limp about the isolation of the Outpost. I cannot imagine being here without it; I’d be brought to my knees. It’s better than a diary because I observe more than just what I ate, where I didn’t go and how pissed off I might have been with Husband that day.  And it’s better than a diary because even I cannot read my own illegible scrawl were I to wish to re-read what I had written. And it’s especially better than a diary because it obliges me to rationalise the way I feel as I articualte myself, and in so doing I often unravel the confusion. Bring some tiny order to a mind strung out in frustrated reaction to trying to fill a day full of nothing with something. Anything. Often my blog. My children understand how vital this compulsion has become, how it percolates my thought processes: my son pleads ‘oh Christ mum, pleeeeeeeease don’t write about that in your blog’ but my exhibitionist daughters beg, ‘put it on your blog, ma, put me in your blog’’.


Rosanna E. Guadagno, a researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, recently published the findings of a survey: Who blogs? In her report she acknowledged ‘that women may blog as a means to cope with loneliness’.   (She also had the audacity to suggest that women who blog may be more neurotic. Qui? Moi?!)


Judith O’Reilly, brilliant and widely read blog to book Wife in the North told me when I approached her on this for a piece I was writing for The Examiner (which just goes to show what a marvellous platform for connection blogsphere is: frequently chronically shy I, emboldened by the veil of anonymity spun of ether, had the confidence to approach literary celeb) that loneliness was definitely a catalyst for her: having moved from London to the remote countryside she began to blog as she ‘’found it was a place to vent’’ at a time when she had ‘’things to say and no-one to say them to’’.


According to Technorati, which tracks 133 million blogs to which 900,000 new posts are added every 24 hours (10.4 new posts per second),  four out of five bloggers are personal bloggers.


And most of them are women.  


Most. Not to say all. Mr Sherman who has been a constant and kindly reader of this blog since its inception is obviously not a woman. Nor is Primal Sneeze, who was full of encouragement when I first began to write, even if I thought he was a she.


But predominantly, according to the research, bloggers are birds. One or two I know in reallife, like Janelle, and our mutual blogging habit has, I like to think, enhanced our friendship. Two or three I have never met in person but communicate with off-post, Iota and Potty Mummy (who invited me for coffee and cake in London; I never got there) and Good Woman (who I so wanted to meet For Real when she was briefly in north-of-the-border Kenya) and Mzungu Chick whom I might have seen in Karen Dukas when I found myself there in my bedroom slippers. She suggested a rendezvous. I declined. Afraid that my real life persona may disappoint. You might be able to brazen it out on the page but it doesn’t mean you have the verbal conversation to support the invisible poise you assume in the ether.


There’s lots of friends I’d like to pass this on to, I had to think hard, and simultaneously give my choice good geographical spread.


So if I may I’d like to extend this award to Pig (in France), who understands abandonment and whose site is so delicious. I urge you, if you have not been there, to visit and take a big bite. With a dearth of delectable eateries in the Outpost, Pig’s page is where I cyber-binge;


Boisterous Butterfly (in the Netherlands) because I would like to sit in a café and drink cappuccino and white wine with her for she sounds so colourful and interesting and warm and human (can I say that about an intangible entity?);


And Paradise Lost in Translation (in Sri Lanka) because on some level I suspect she might understand my loneliness.


To me blogging is the whispered rallying of a gentle sisterhood; so much of what we experience as individuals is recognised and experienced universally: marriage, motherhood, Making Jam.  There’s something enormously reassuring in that, something oddly empowering.  You really aren’t on your own. Even if it sometimes feels like it.


And talking of which, talking of marriage, motherhood, Making Jam, it’s Carnival time:  further proof, as if we needed it, that lots of us mamas are at it.


Blogging. I mean.







And a brief postscript for the eldest exhibitionist who, because she is applying for scholarship entry to a sixth form, was obliged to write a letter to the Head:


Dear Sir


I am very nice and you should totally accept me into your school. 


Personally, I don’t think it matters that I have three kids, am on forty fags a day, have an IQ of 23 and consider Heat magazine amongst  the best of Britain’s contemporary literature.  It’s what’s inside that matters, innit?


Loads luv,

Big A


Ought I urge her to have another go?










24 Responses to “Go mama, go!”

  1. Mud Says:

    I’d let her in with a letter like that – at least she has a sense of humour!

    I echo what you say about the way in which writing can unravel an occassionally Gordian knot of emotion and/or confusion inside the mind.

    I’d like to add too that loneliness doesn’t just come about in isolated places like the Outpost. It is possible to be lonely in the most hectic of places – just in a different way.

    Thanks for sharing your life in such delectable prose. May there be much more to come!

  2. nuttycow Says:

    Well done on the award – well deserved – and thanks for the new links – I will have fun catching up on your blogging friends and seeing what they’ve been up to (as if I need another excuse to procrastinate from doing actual work!)

    Mud is right though, you can get lonely in all sorts of places. I remember when I first moved to London – one of the busiest places in the world – and I felt nothing but fear because I was so lonely. Happier now, of course, but it just goes to show.

    If you ever need another friend to chat to “off line” as it were, you know where to find me. I’m always up for a bit of a chatter!

  3. Bush Mummy Says:

    So beautifully put (as usual). Couldn’t have summed up why one blogs better myself. In the crazy chaos that is bringing up small children, it brings peace to my world and gives me a warm feeling when people read it.

    Congrats on your award – v. well deserved.

    BM x

  4. Paradiselostintranslation Says:

    Thanks RM, and yes I do understand on many levels that loneliness, and not even with the excuse of an outpost posting, just ragged, raw roots from being unearthed from my well tended, flowering herbaceous border and transplanted into what seems like very barren, infertile ground most of the time.

  5. Gillian Says:

    Yes, Mem, there’s something profound here. Blogging is not trivial. It’s a deeply human activity. Like motherhood.

    There’s a kind of magical transformation that comes from saying how it is. By trying to say it, I can see it more clearly. Seeing it more clearly, I can bear it more strongly. Or know to ask for help.

    As you say, a journal can do that for you. But blogging is a conversation. Someone is listening. Do I really exist at all if no one is listening? I’m not sure I do.

    A little while ago, I realised this more clearly and I decided to be more conversational on your blog. So now I don’t lurk silently so much, instead I try to be part of the conversation offered here. Perhaps it will make all of us who participate more real.

  6. aminah Says:

    I have often asked myself why I actually started to blog…it became a sort of online outlet and then a small room of my own where I could scribble on the walls…and now…I barely have time for it!
    Thank you for that nice piece!

  7. Iota Says:

    I think you’ve said it all. It IS a sisterhood, isn’t it? I think that often in life people just need to tell their story (isn’t that largely what counselling and therapy uses?), and blogging has given that to hundreds of thousands of people. I like to think that women, especially, have been given a voice they have never really had, and being women, have found the most creative, clever, funny, caring and brilliant ways of using it.

  8. Iota Says:

    By the way, just so you don’t feel you missed out, Potty Mummy and I never did manage to meet up. So that’s waiting for another time – when you can be there.

  9. Millennium Housewife Says:

    What a post! An article in the Guardian about housewives past and present looked at women from the last 50 years and their lives. One woman who had been a stay at home mum in the fifties noted that for her there was a lot of tedium and boredom but “nowadays there is the internet and a gym on every corner”. She’s right of course, for me. The gym and the internet are a lifeline. As I say to Husband, the blog lets me get a little attention, a little praise that doesn’t have to come from you. Becasue who evaluates your performance? Your children, wonderful and precious as they are (or else why would you be doing this?) do not appreciate you, or realise that you had A Life Before, so when Husband comes home things like, ‘the house looks nice’ dinner was lovely, thankyou for cooking it’ or ‘I really appreciate you doing my shirts’ are manna. But really arbitrary. (although I appreciate them just the same!), instead I get to share a little community of my own while my one year old sleeps and I’m waiting to pick up my four year old from school. It really is a sanity saver. I’m always up for off blog chats if you want, millenniumhousewife@yahoo.co.uk if you contact me there I’ll reply from my ‘real’ address. No pressure at all, I just love communicating.
    Much love MH x

  10. Potty Mummy Says:

    It’s funny; you may have noticed that my sis just started blogging. This was after she put a guest post up for me and was amazed by how supportive all the comments that came back were. And when I thought about, I realised how right she is. You’ve summed it all up beautifully, and I am still hoping to have that coffee and cake when you’re next here…

  11. Primal Sneeze Says:

    I give business blogging seminars and workshops now and again. I know that all sounds clinical and coarse but, hey, it puts bread on the table and beer on the counter – having neither a bread nor beer making machine I have to buy both.

    Anyway, where was I? I always begin by getting them interested in blogging by mentioning high profile figures who use them e.g. Barack Obama, Margot Wallström – EU Commissioner, Ciarán Cuffe – Irish politician, and a number of bigwig CEOs.

    Then I introduce them to personal blogs. This one and others. I show how we have built friendships and help each other out, emotionally or otherwise. I show how personal-blog friends (no parentheses) have become business contacts and visa versa. And yet, we may never meet face to face.

    Without fail, they become interested at the mention of the high profile group, but are sold on the second. That’s what convinces them of the power of blogging.

  12. Mom de Plume Says:

    Being a work from home Mum is very isolating, during the day I am alone or interacting with children under the age of 5. Much as I adore them there’s not much stimulation there. Obviously my isolation is nothing like yours. I do stay chatting far too long with the teachers at my daughter’s creche, as if they have nothing better to do, just for some adult conversation! I almost pace the house like a caged animal shortly before Hubby gets home knowing that I will have someone to talk to. He’s usually been talking all day and just wants peace and quiet.

    I also relish the contact that blogging gives me, albeit usually through other’s blogs rather than my own (long breaks between posts seem to put people off a bit and I have no inspiration while I am writing exams). I also don’t have the courage to expose my vulnerability and so my writing is fairly shallow… hopefully amusing at times… but lacking depth nonetheless. That’s why I come here. Many other people are here too, your writing carries so much meaning to all of us and you always hit the nail on the head regarding how one might feel about any topic.

    This post is yet another perfectly written piece which has once again brought this community together… a community that I relish being part of. Thanks RM!!!!

  13. janelle Says:

    shotto! it was YOU who started me blogging..i remember sitting here one rainy sunday morning reading your blog, and when i next looked up from the computer it was nine o clock sunday night…i was HOOKED! and indeed it has enhanced our friendship…just wish i saw you more when you passed through town…NEXT TIME?? xxx j

  14. R. Sherman Says:

    Love the letter at the end.

    Blogging is one of those things which sneaked up on me. I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s the connection with people all over which intrigues me and the the separation of a computer monitor allows us to ask questions which we would never ask in person.


  15. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you, Mud and you are right – of course – as nutty observes: outpost living isn’t the only thing that precipitates loneliness; it comes in many guises and in lots of places.

    Thanks nutty! x

    Bush Mummy – thank you. or, indeed, in the silence that fills a house once those little people are all grown up and no longer need you with the same everyhour urgency that they did once …

    Paradise – that is beautifully, beautifully said. eloquent and so poignant. lovely. if, and i know how it feels, lonely. x

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    keep talking, Gillian. Keep talking … x

    aminah, i love that: i love the idea of a blog being a room of one’s own where you scribble on the walls. perfect.

    i think you’re right Iota. And they say, so i read, that it’s women of a certain age who dominate the blogging stats. probably about my age i should think … woudl that be around yours. somewhere aroundt the middle even though i still call myself a ”girl”?

  17. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    and, btw, secretly rather glad you did not have coffee and cakes without me. something to look forward to.

  18. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    MH, I think that’s exactly it: something of our own. to borrow from aminah’s comment, something of a room of ones own when the space often isn’t there. and the conversation not necessarily our own. and i will write, thank you x

    That’s just it though, Potty, it’s that incredible support. I have frequently been bowled over by it. i never anticipated that when i began to blog. yes, coffee and cakes. i hope i don’t embarrass you and iota by asking of hte menu, ”what’s that? and that? oooh and what about this?”. and staring rudely at all the other punters x

  19. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    dear, dear Primal (as in MR Primal); i have only bread and sausage making machines. i would gladly trade both for beer and wine making ones. and i’m with you: bread, beer, wine on the table is key, how it got there isn’t really here or there.

    I am fascinated by what you say. I am fascinated that those who attend a blogging seminar would be drawn to the second, humbler, more ordinary, community. and yet i should not be, for it is precisely that – that heart and soul and endlessly lively conversation amongst friends – that keeps me here.

  20. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you Mom – read Primals comment. i am learning that lots of us are here for the sense of community, the conversation despite living in cities and having a social life. there was a part of me that felt afraid writing all that down, that it might be just me that relied on all of this because of where i live, it has been enormously rewarding that my words struck a chord.

  21. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    see you next time janelle, and i am flattered that it might have been this blah blah that inspired you; ngorobobhillhouse is full of marvellous and beautifully written stories.

    Mr S: ain’t that the truth. gives us a bravado we’d never have had for real.

  22. choppysunflower Says:

    Thanks for mentioning me in your post (I am the Boisterous Butterfly too). It is good that we do have some positive effect on one another and I know you certainly do on me. I treasure the words you write, because I know they come from a good, thoughtful place and it gives them much value.

    I appreciate the fact that you manage to hang on to your sanity out there and still let us know how hard that is sometimes. Honesty is such a great thing in a blog. Personal honesty without the drama. That’s what I like about you, you’re not a drama queen. You’re a very good observer and an excellent story teller.

  23. Tracey Says:

    You hit so many nails on the head there. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now (found you through Potty!).. and I’ve always been so wowed by your writing. Really I should have commented before now, because as you say, it is the ‘conversation’ that drives our blogging. So now you know you have some random aussie mum blogger soaking up everything that you write about living where you do (something that is so vastly different to my own experience) – but also about being a mum, and wife (and it’s funny, and comforting how much we all do share on that score!).

  24. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thank you very much choppy. hanging onto my sanity is a imperative. a focus. it’s why i swim. and why i write x

    Tracey, thank you for reading. i agree: so many very different lives underlined by so much the same.

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