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The Kids Of Mom Bloggers Are Old Enough To Read It All Now. What Do They Think?

Five heavily documented teenagers describe mild embarrassment, a healthy fear of social media, and — get this — empathy for their parents.

The world was unprepared for the mom bloggers. With their unedited, stream-of-consciousness posts about brownies and episiotomies and how to get poop stains out of your stroller, the women writing about parenthood in the early-mid aughts — think of it as the post-LiveJournal, pre-Instagram era — not only disrupted the isolation and performance of perfect motherhood, they disrupted publishing, media, marketing, and advertising. An ex-Mormon mom blogging about her broken washing machine suddenly got more monthly readers than the New York Times’ website. Brands quickly realized that such a person could sell more Swiffers than a Super Bowl commercial — and cost them much less.

Although their spicy takes on extended breastfeeding or circumcision were traffic gold, the backlash against the “mommy bloggers,” as the Times’ Styles section and Gawker regularly referred to them, was swift. From my job as the baby editor of the now-defunct parenting site Babble (where we were instructed to call them mom bloggers, out of respect), I saw them accused of backbiting, selling out, even violating FTC regulations. Most damningly, the bloggers were said to be exploiting their kids. “The greatest threat to children’s privacy online does not come from corporations,” wrote a critic in 2013. “It comes from parents — specifically, the self-described ‘mommy bloggers’ who reveal the most personal details of their children’s lives on the internet, often using their real names and photos.”

In the almost two decades since their heyday, mom bloggers have rarely gotten credit for inventing influencer marketing. What they have done is write books, become media moguls, or simply survived their own fame. They’ve divorced; consciously uncoupled, in the parlance of Gwyneth Paltrow, who arguably stole their playbook; gotten sober; and even gotten together. If you knew them back then, none of this is surprising. Their capacity for reinvention has always been one of their notable features.

But what about their children, the kids they supposedly exploited for wealth and fame? How are they?

Through their mothers, Romper got in touch with a few of the oldest to ask them what it was actually like to grow up “on the blog” (so many pictures!) and how it affected their own relationship with the Internet. Here’s what they told us.

Harry Mayes, 16, Austin, Texas

Harry’s mom is Laura Mayes, author of the short-lived but influential Blog con Queso. Mayes, the ultimate doer and connector, co-founded Mom 2.0, a conference that catered to the mom blogger-turned-influencer, and produces her best friend Brené Brown’s two podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

What grade are you in? What do you like to do?

I am about to be a junior in high school. I like to be with my friends. I like to watch sports. My favorite sports are basketball and soccer.

How old were you when you found out your mom kept a blog… about you?

I don’t really remember the blog at all. I think she started it around 2006, before I was even 1 year old. I didn’t really care. I just thought, “Oh, you have a blog, that’s cool.” By the time I maybe would have cared, she stopped posting on it and then just took it down, around the time I was 8 years old.

“I do hate pictures, maybe because my mom used to take so many of me.”

How has all of this affected your life, if at all?

My mom being a mom blogger hasn’t really affected anything in my life because I was so little. Because my mom runs Mom 2.0, I’ve gotten to go on a lot of interesting trips and met a lot of interesting, cool people.

How has your mom’s work influenced your online presence?

I’m not really on social media. I read it, but I don’t post anything. That has nothing to do with my mom. I do hate pictures though, maybe because my mom used to take so many pictures of me. She says I’ll be glad someday that we have them. But I hate pictures.

Hailey Lawson, 17, San Antonio, Texas

Hailey’s mom is Jenny Lawson, creator of the massively popular blog The Bloggess, where Jenny relayed her mental health struggles and yard art high jinks with candor and humor. Lawson published her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, in 2012. In 2021, she opened Nowhere Bookshop, an independent bookstore in San Antonio.

What’s your school situation? What do you like to do?

I'm going into my senior year at a musical theater high school.

How old were you when you found out your mom kept a very popular blog… about you?

About 12. I went to one of my mom’s blogging conferences, and so many people wanted to talk to me.

I used to not really like the blog posts, but over time I liked them.

Do any posts particularly stand out for you?

Her blog post about me coming out as queer for the first time was a big one. I actually was the one who pushed her to write about it.

I’d come out to my family, and it was weird that people on the blog would be like, “Oh, the boys will be crazy for that one.” It felt dishonest for me. Not that it’s dishonest for people to not be public[ly[ out until they feel comfortable, but it felt dishonest for me. Same thing with my pronouns. I identify as a nonbinary queer person who uses they/them pronouns. It felt wrong to have my wrong pronouns being used online, so I asked my mom to address it.

I really liked the responses it got because it was nice to hear other experiences in the comments and see that I wasn’t alone.

I was one of the first out people in my middle school, and it’s a somewhat conservative part of Texas, so I’d hear guys say, “I can change you” or nasty things like that. I was called the F slur a few times. It’s better now.

How has reading your mom’s work affected how you think about her, if at all?

I think it’s helped me to learn more about [her] and made me think of her as a real person rather than just my mom.

I’ve never read [her] books. I’m not much of a reader. Sorry, Mom.

Were you ever aware of your mom receiving any criticism for her work?

My mom is pretty active with opinions about what's right — gun control, gay rights, stuff like that — and we’ve both had to deal with criticism. Hers is online and mine is in real life. I’ve learned that some people are *ssholes.

“I get recognized even at school. ... There’s stuff from when I was super young that’s weird when people my age see, like baby photos.”

Has anyone ever recognized you in daily life?

Yes. All the time. With mom’s fanbase being so tight-knit, though, they often read the blog and the Instagram. I get recognized even at school. I’ll have other students ask me about specific stuff and I’ll be like, “I don’t know.” There’s stuff from when I was super young that’s weird when people my age see, like, baby photos.

People can look up my name and know a lot about me. Like in middle school someone looked up my mom’s blog, and the first thing that popped up was “laser vaginas.” It was a little embarrassing. But it’s not like she did it on purpose.

How has all of this affected you?

It hasn’t been bad, but it was a different type of growing up, and I’m not sure I would do that myself as a parent.

It can be difficult to separate my identity from my family and to figure out who is me rather than this version of me that’s online. It can still be hard sometimes when my mom wants me to help with the bookstore or write something with her, because I appreciate it but I want to find my own way.

Archer Isaacson, 17, and Fable Isaacson, 13, Los Angeles

Archer and Fable are the two oldest children of Rebecca Woolf, creator of the blog Girl’s Gone Child, where she was shamelessly honest about motherhood, marriage, and sex. Woolf seamlessly transitioned from blogging to Instagram, where she has amassed 32,000 followers documenting her children’s upbringing in bohemian-bourgeois L.A., as well as the loss of her husband, Hal Isaacson, to pancreatic cancer in 2018.

What was it like to discover that your mom kept a very popular blog… about you?

Archer: I feel like it’s totally normal. Most parents will post it on social media. There wasn’t really much of a difference aside from the fact that it was a job. I’m not sure I fully comprehended the scale of it. I still don’t.

Fable: This one time [when] we were at a fast food restaurant, someone went up to my mom and was like, “OMG, are you Rebecca Woolf?” They asked for a picture. I was like, “Oh, wow. She’s kind of well-known.”

Have you read the blog?

Fable: Sometimes I go to her blog for pictures of younger me for school projects, but I don’t actually read them. I just never found the time or motivation.

Archer: I’ve read a few.

What about her Instagram?

Archer: I haven’t in a little while. It’s something that kind of randomly happens. I do it more often than the blog, but I also don’t do it that often.

Fable: I don’t really like being on her Instagram because she has a big audience, and I know that they all have opinions that they’re going to write in the comment section.

Archer: Usually they’re quite positive. Even if they’re negative, I don’t really mind it because that’s just how the Internet works.

Fable: I’m not on Instagram that much anyways. I don’t think that being on social media especially at my age would affect me in a positive way, because I would keep going back and feeding off the validation.

“Sometimes I go to her blog for pictures of younger me for school projects, but I don’t actually read it. I just never found the time or motivation.”

What’s it like to read what she’s written about you?

Archer: It’s interesting to look at where I was in the past and where my mom was in the past. It can help me understand a little more about myself now. As you get older you start to disassociate [from] who you were in the past. If I’m going through a specific issue, I can see that I’ve gone through it before, and it can provide some insight.

Fable: Actually seeing how she felt and what she went through while I was growing up was really like whoa — a whole new perspective I never even thought of.

Were you ever aware of her receiving any criticism for writing about you?

Fable: I knew she got hate comments [on] posts because it was her her truth, and a lot of people hadn’t actually seen someone speak their truth before.

Archer: Every now and then, she would ask if we were upset about her blogging or if that was just something people were saying. That was a lot of it, that people thought it was being done against our will. I don’t think it was. It wasn’t against my will.

How has reading your mom’s work affected how you think about her, if at all?

Fable: I’ve always thought she was really brave because I know how much of a risk it is to put yourself out there, especially with all the trolls today. She’s setting a really good example for people to talk about their life and how they feel, unfiltered.

Archer: A lot of people, when it comes to their parents, there isn’t much of a connection. They’re basically living in two different worlds.

[Her writing is] relatable, which I guess is why she became so successful in the first place. When I go through similar situations — not like being a mother, but when I’m frustrated and don’t have things figured out — [I realize] that’s pretty much everyone.

Does your mom being so online affect your online presence?

Fable: I think I’m a lot more cautious about what I post and what I say. I’m not dumb on social media. I know what will happen if I post certain things because she’s warned me.

Archer: Definitely, in that I don’t post very often on social media or message much or really interact as often as most of my friends do. Beyond social media, I don’t really take too many pictures on my phone. I guess I felt like I didn’t need to. Other people would have that covered.

Alex Jennings, 18, Houston, Texas

Alex’s mom is Karen Walrond, creator of Chookooloonks. An attorney by training and one of the very few women of color in the mom blogosphere, Walrond went on to become a public speaker, leadership coach, and author of The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy.

What’s your school situation? What do you like to do?

So I just graduated from a very small teeny-tiny private school. I am working this summer at an internship job — a paid position, which is very exciting — and then in the fall, I will be attending the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

How old were you when you found out your mom kept a popular blog… about you?

I was probably 8 or 9. I thought [the blog] was to keep family and friends updated on how my life was going.

I came home one day from school and I looked up my mom’s blog and [saw] the comments people left. I remember I was like, “Mom, who are all these people?” My mom was like, “Oh, they read my blog.” I think that’s when it hit me that my mom was more popular than I realized.

How did it feel to discover that?

I’ve always thought that it’s pretty cool that she was able to share part of my life with the Internet. It’s like having a big family of people who’ve been watching me grow up. I think it’s really sweet.

Sometimes I’m like, “My mom, she's kind of cool. She’s got a following, some might say.” I think I like having my mom be a blogger and out there in the world.

“When she was writing this blog post, she wasn’t much older than I [am]. I’m like, ‘Wow, she had the same emotions that I do.’”

Do you ever go back and read the blog?

I do from time to time, actually. I’ll go snooping on the Internet — “Chookooloonks alex archives 2002.” I’ll read really old articles about me. I think it’s interesting. I’ll see people [left] comments on my mom’s old [posts] and see those same people still commenting on my mom’s Instagram. People have been following this for a really long time.

How has reading your mom’s work affected how you think about her, if at all?

It surprised me. I was reading about the first time they were taking me home from the hospital and how scared she was to be a parent.

I've always seen her — I still see her — as this supermom. She’s not afraid of anything.

But when she was writing this blog post, she wasn’t much older than I [am]. I’m like, ‘Wow, she ha[d] the same emotions that I do.’ I have to remember that. She [was] scared of things, too, especially becoming a mother, not knowing what’s to come or if she’s going to do a good job of raising me.

If I do say so, she did an amazing job.

How has your mom’s writing about parenting impacted your feelings about motherhood for yourself, if at all?

I was adopted, right? So she took a different route, I suppose, to having a child. I think that really made me reflect about the different ways that motherhood can look. When I was little, I’m like, ‘Oh, I want to get married. I want to have kids.’ [I’ve] realized that there are so many different ways to approach motherhood, and that’s something that she’s taught me.