National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Stay-at-Home Bloggers

Moms online, award winners and this month’s pick

BY ERIC SCHESKE

March 26-April 1, 2006 Issue | Posted 3/27/06 at 11:00 AM

 

Women work for lots of reasons, and I’m not sure money is the primary one. Some women don’t like to stay home, others want the challenge of the workplace and a few work out of identity with the feminist ideology.

But that’s not what many of the elite women are doing. According to The New York Times, approximately half of our country’s wealthiest, most privileged, best-educated females stay home with their children rather than work.

It’s not just the wealthy and privileged, either. A lot of devout and intelligent Catholic women stay home and make sacrifices for their children, willingly surrendering their careers and cheerfully taking a pinch in the wallet.

For many, this also means taking a willing muzzle to their mental stimulation. Staying home with children and having little adult interaction can be hard on the mind. Reading Green Eggs and Ham 15 times a day is an occupational mental health hazard, no matter what anyone says.

Is there a way for a stay-at-home mother to keep the synapses firing? My wife thinks it’s nearly impossible. A mother of seven young children, she says that, for intellectual stimulation to “work,” it has to be both rigorous and eminently interruptible.

That’s a tough combination.

Enter blogging. Many stay-at-home mothers are turning to it. Writing, after all, exercises the mind — and blog writing can be done in short spurts.

Amy Welborn at Open Book (amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook) is probably the best stay-at-home Catholic blogger. For that matter, she’s probably the best blogger, period. Her blog doesn’t concentrate on motherhood issues, although domestic snippets about her children (can any mother avoid them?) are frequent and enjoyable.

For a less well-known blog, you may want to try a new one, Catholic Mom (writingup.com/blog/catholic_mom). The blogger, Dr. Denise Hunnell, is a stay-at-home mother who, in her words, “gave up her stethoscope for a keyboard” and writes for many publications, including Our Sunday Visitor, The Washington Post and The Washington Times.

Catholic Mom offers an assortment of commentary on the Catholic faith from the perspective of a wife, mother and physician. A mother of four older children, Hunnell talks about issues that interest serious Catholics with teenagers, from proper dress at Mass to molding a home that reflects the faith. Her posts are pithy and smart. I find the number of advertisements on her blog somewhat distracting, but if she’s earning money, I congratulate her: She’s one of the few.

If you’re looking for a Catholic mother’s blog that is heavily autobiographical, you may want to try Catholic Mom Moments (lisacatholicmom.blogspot.com), maintained by Lisa Hendey (who also runs the popular catholicmom.com website). I can’t say that Hendey writes the type of stuff I personally enjoy, but her writing is honest and easy, and I suspect many mothers could relate to her posts.

You might also enjoy The Lady in the Pew (pewlady.blogspot.com), another heavily autobiographical blog, but one that contains a higher percentage of general-interest posts as well.

At the other end of the stay-at-home spectrum, there’s Charmaine Yoest at Reasoned Audacity (www.yoest.com). A senior fellow at the Family Research Council, Yoest is one of my favorite bloggers. She has written for major publications, debated formidable feminists and appeared on such television shows as “Crossfire,” “ABC World News Tonight” and “The Today Show.” She’s also the mother of five children. If readers want to see an intellectual mother in action, Yoest’s blog is not to be missed.

Since my last column, the 2006 Catholic Blog Award winners were announced. Hosted by Cyber Catholics (cybercatholics.com), the awards site draws nominations from the public. Then a group of bloggers selects the finalists. The public votes for the winners in 20 categories, ranging from “Most Devotional” to “Most Humorous” to “Most Intellectual.”

Because members of the public can vote more than once, the results are questionable, but it doesn’t really matter: The page of finalists (catholicblogawards.com) offers a snapshot of some of the finest Catholic blogs. And that, ultimately, is the goal.

According to its organizer, Josh LeBlanc, “the purpose of the awards is evangelization, to expose viewers to Catholic blogs that maybe they otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.”

Many of the winning bloggers have been featured in this column already, but there are quite a few new ones that are worth mentioning, like “Julie D” at Happy Catholic (happycatholic.blogspot.com), who edged out Welborn for “Best Blog by a Woman,” the biggest upset in the CBA’s three-year history.

There’s also the Best New Blog winner, The Cafeteria Is Closed (closedcafeteria.blogspot.com), a blog by Gerald Augustinus started in April 2005 that — as the title implies — takes hard-hitting shots at cafeteria Catholics and their intellectual mentors (like Father Hans Küng) and current protectors (out of respect, I won’t mention the bishops’ names).

Reader Recommendation

This month’s Reader Recommendation is Danielle Bean (daniellebean.com). Blogger Curt Jester (splendoroftruth.com/curtjester) refers to Bean as “the Catholic Erma Bombeck.” High praise, but fair. Bean is witty, and she writes well — very well. Whereas many bloggers don’t polish their prose, she does. Her posts are more like mini-essays with literary merit. That’s rare in the blogosphere.

Bean says she views her blog as a ministry to other mothers, plus it’s a source of script for her articles (along with the Register, she has also published with Faith & Family, Our Sunday Visitor and Envoy). If you’re interested in the faith, motherhood and family life in general, you might want to make her entertaining blog a regular stop.

Until next month, enjoy the newly-emerging warmth. May your Wi-Fi connection allow you to enjoy the blogosphere and spring weather at the same time.

Eric Scheske blogs at

ericscheske.com/blog

and maintains the Register’s

Blog Watch at ncregister.com.