Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance journalist, busy mother of two, and blogger. (That's her on the cover of this issue of Xpress). You may know her as Edgy Mama — the name of both her blog (www.edgymama.com) and her parenting column in the Mountain Xpress, which has been a weekly feature for the past two years. She'll be on three of the Type-A Mom Conference panels, including the keynote event, "Breaking the Mommy Blogging Mold," scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, at 3 p.m.
Xpress recently asked Glenn about her experience as both a mommy blogger and a parenting columnist. Below are excerpts from the conversation.
Why did you start the blog?
I started almost six years ago, when I first learned about blogs. I noticed that a couple of other writers had started blogs. One of them was Ayelet Waldman, who was blogging about being a mom and how tough it was. I thought, "I could do this." It was also a way to jump-start my writing career. My youngest was 2, and I was coming out of this intense period of mommyhood, so I thought this would be a good way to connect with other moms and be writing again.
You've covered hundreds of parenting-related topics on the blog and in your column. Which ones have generated the most readership and comments?
Circumcision. I wrote about that for the blog on several occasions before I wrote a column about it, and those posts still get hits and comments. Anything that's controversial. Breastfeeding gets a lot of hits. Any time you mention the word boobs, you get hits — though not necessarily the variety you want. Disciplining your kids — that gets a lot of feedback. The chickens got a lot of feedback — when I wrote about the chickens that Isaac Dickson Elementary uses for educational purposes. I now have an animal-rights activist jihad against me because I admitted that I eat chicken.
We're sometimes surprised to find how loved and loathed your column can be. For example, in our latest Best of WNC readers' poll, Edgy Mama was ranked the third best local blog and the fifth most-favorite feature in Xpress. At the same time, the column was voted the second least-favorite Xpress feature. Why do you think some readers dislike it so?
I think one reason is that I'm controversial, and I know that. That's not a bad thing. People who don't like what I'm writing read me as avidly as those who do, which does strike me as strange. I think that sometimes people don't realize that the column is my personal opinion, not a journalistic article. Also, a lot of people have had experience raising kids, and we don't all agree on what's the best way to do it. Which is natural. I think more people agree with me than disagree with me, but as you know, when people disagree, they're more likely to vent.
Another point is that people will say things online — when they have the cloak of anonymity — that they wouldn't say to my face. I'm all about debate — and I'm certainly not a parenting expert. I'm not telling people how to do it. All I am is a writer who's raising kids and figuring out how to do it myself.
Do you ever have a hard time coming up with new parenting topics to write about?
No. I haven't yet.
How do your kids feel about your blogging?
Initially they loved it, although my daughter has started putting boundaries on me, now that she's 11. I'm not allowed to write about our talks about her changing body and some of the pre-adolescent angst she feels sometimes. And that's fine; she comes first. But mostly it's fun for them. I let them read everything I write.