Thursday, 26 September 2013

Perfume blogging and parenting - a pair of 'embryonic' hypotheses...

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Ida Waugh
At the last meeting of Cake Club, it came to light that only one of the five of us had children - M (one son). That's an average of 0.2 of a child between us.  At a gathering a few weeks earlier, when my Scandal- and Fracas-loving friend Sharon came to visit with four of her friends in tow, we established that out of the six of us only one of our number had children - A (one son) - so the average fell to 0.17.  Then at a reunion of school friends in 2012, I distinctly recall that there were six women in our party and one man.  Yet again, only one had kids, albeit she had an impressive total of five - one for each of the rest of us - all fathered by the token man in our midst, her husband!  A pattern seems to be forming here, namely that by and large my circle of friends appears to include a disproportionate number of childless women.  Possibly for the very reason that the ones with children - and I do have a number of dear friends in this category - aren't free to come out as much.

And so this observation got me thinking about the perfume blogosphere, and how many female blog owners I know (or can think of) who are mothers or not.  I am curious to know whether the not inconsiderable amount of work involved in regular blogging - Gaia Fishler's comment always comes to mind at such times, namely that 'blogging is not for the fainthearted' - is difficult (though by no means impossible) to combine with being a mum.

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Giovanni Dall'Orto

The other point I would be interested to know - but which is not so easily ascertainable - is whether any of the bloggers without offspring feel that their blog is in any sense a child substitute.  I do think that might be true of me up to a point.  I guess blogging does give a focus and structure to my free time in the same way that bringing up a kid might.  Okay, not really in the same way, as child rearing is much more full-on(!), but a blog needs regular tending, say.  And the more it grows in terms of post output, the more satisfying I find the whole undertaking!  Hmm, maybe blogging is more like gardening than having children - please do let me know what you reckon, whichever side of the parenting fence you are on.

And this is by no means a scientific exercise, because in some cases I simply do not know the parental status of the blog owners in question, and there will be many others out there whom I have omitted to include or simply don't know at all.  So I will just start by tossing a few names into the arena, and see where it gets us.

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Joseph Martin Kronheim

Female perfume blog owners with known children - UPDATED

Robin of Now Smell This
Marina of Perfume Smelling Things
Patty of Perfume Posse
Elena of Perfumeshrine
Birgit of Olfactoria's Travels
Carol of Museinwoodenshoes
Carol of Bloody Frida
Sheila of The Alembicated Genie
Samantha of iscentyouaday
Lena of Olfactorialist
Sigrun of Riktig Parfym
Lavanya of Purple Paper Planes

NB Interestingly - and this may just be coincidence - some of the above currently have co-bloggers to help spread the load.  I don't know the early history of the other blogs, but I do know that Birgit started Olfactorias Travels on her own, and her prodigious output in that initial phase was matched only by her remarkable time management. Special mention should also be made of Carol of Museinwoodenshoes who manages to combine solo blogging with raising a large family of children.  And until fairly recently she used to have a day job too!  In response to my post, I also heard from Lena of Olfactorialist on the subject of blogging and motherhood: 'I have a son born in January and I have to admit that I completely underestimated what it means to be a mom.  The cuties eat up all your time.'

There are further refinements to this classification - and doubtless others I have failed to think of! - such as the age of the children and whether they are dependent and living at home, which would likely have a bearing on a blogger's free time for creative pursuits.

Female perfume blog owners with the pet equivalent of at least one or two children

Gaia of The Non-Blonde (somewhere in the realms of 10 -16 cats?  I envy her those - well, at least three, certainly)
Kafka of Kafkaesque (one large & emotionally demanding dog - the Hairy German ;-) )

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ D Lothrop Company

Female perfume blog owners with no known children - UPDATED

Victoria of Boisdejasmin
Denyse of Graindemusc
Katie of Katie Puckrik Smells
Victoria of EauMG
Ines of All I am a Redhead
Suzanne of Eiderdown Press
Lucy of Indieperfumes
Natalie of anotherperfumeblog
Carrie of Eyeliner on a Cat
Michelyn of Cafleurebon
Martha of Chicken Freak's Obsession
Ari of Scents of Self (in her defence, she is only about 22!)
Sarah of Odiferess
Olfacta of Olfactarama


And it goes without saying that there are A TON of other people who could be added to this list, and their status clarified - do please suggest other blog owners to round out and balance the picture, which I will update accordingly.

Source: Wikimedia Commons ~ Elmar Ersch


Ines said...

Bloggers with no known children?! It sounds like we're hiding them. ;)
Actually, I don't consider my blog as my surrogate baby as I still think I might actually have one for real (sometime in the future, but who knows).
I have several things outside the realm of work that take up my time so I don't consider my blog as special among them. I'd call it a natural outlet for my tendency to write in diary form (as I've been doing it for most of my life).

Carol said...

Bonks, I have a 25 year old son, and I don't think of my blog(s) as surrogate children. My husband, the Moth, on the other hand... ;)

Tara said...

The fact that there are so many bloggers without children has also occurred to me. I think time has an awful lot to do with it. I admire Birgit so much for having two young children and building up a blog on a consistent basis at the same time. I think it can be a welcome diversion but I agree that her time management skills must be outstanding.

I think you're also on to something when you say that you get a sense of satisfaction from "tending" your blog. Caring for something, be it a child, plant or blog is good for the soul.

Vanessa said...

Carol, I am so sorry, that was a senior child related moment! And I've seen his baby photos and everything! Will amend forthwith.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I realised that as I am fundamentally unsure about blog owners' parental status, I was probably going to get into even hotter water if I ventured to compile a list of all female bloggers with and without children, as I don't know them so well. I did in fact start along these lines, then got stuck quite early on, but it would be a fascinating extra layer of analysis. You and Dee did spring to mind as being in the latter camp, for example, while Dionne and Val Cookie Queen do have children, as I recall.

Yes, Birgit has built up a phenomenal archive, for a while now with your other bloggers' help, though she also had a big push on her own in the early stages. I am full of awe at her time management skills.

Interesting that we do seem to be on the same page about 'tending' or 'nurturing' something. I am also trying to coax some tomatoes into ripeness as we speak!

Olfactoria's Travels said...

I think of my blog as the "Anti-child". Hehe. Something to get away from the less intellectually challenging endeavors of being a mother of young children. As you noticed, my blogging tempo is severly reduced now, maybe that is due to the fact that my kids are bigger now and do actually have the ability to sustain a conversation. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi B,

You are a caution with your 'anti-child' rationale for blogging, hehe. Your tempo is still very regular if you ask me, and soundly beats my own blogging infrequency, so I think whatever phase of your child rearing cycle you have been in so far, you have done a blinder with OT!

Love the distinction you draw between your kids now and when they were a big younger and less able to interact. Am enjoying getting a fix (also in a thread on my Facebook wall) for what prompts people to blog in the first place, and what pressures of any kind - including children - can derail one's best laid plans. For me, last year, it was of course a break up and a move - can't use the children excuse I am afraid. ;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Haha, I do see what you mean about the word 'known' suggesting you might have secret love children....;). I guess I meant by that that I was standing by to be corrected, as I was sometimes working on a hunch - ie the blogger had made no reference to children, type of thing.

And of course you make the very good point that you are still young enough to have them, so you belong in the Ari camp really, just a 30-something equivalent. And again I am guessing!

The blogging as baby notion was mostly a bit of fun - it seemed to flow naturally from the parenting question, but I am not expecting too many people to agree.

Though I suppose a blog is a creative venture that you put a lot of yourself in, and Jean- Claude Ellena did describe his perfumes as 'children going out into the world', but mainly I am playing with ideas here. ;)

Odiferess said...

Brilliant musings, what an interesting idea Vanessa!
No children here. You can add me to your childless blogger list. At the age of 40 I think it's quite unlikely. I am more worried that my partner's teenage daughter might get pregnant as the idea of breeding is not as bad as helping out with someone else's breeding!
I'm not sure about the blog as a substitute child, maybe my perfume wardrobe receives a maternal abundance of attention. I do find it hard to get the the energy to drag some creative brilliance out of myself after a day hard at work at school (with SEN kids, so at least I do actually like children), can't imagine how people combine a blog, a job, a pet and a kid. I don't have any pets currently, but when I someday move out of my (very cool and very single person's) flat I will definitely be getting a whippet puppy and a pair of bro and sis kittens. I'm also hoping for a greenhouse. Oddly, I married and divorced young and during this time did own a pair of kittens and a greenhouse, then I travelled the world teaching and rootless in my 30s. I seem to be living a 'younger' lifestyle as I age, as if I'm going backwards.. I'm also earning less than I did at 22! When do we actually 'grow up'? x

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

Thanks for chiming in with details of your own circumstances. I have heard it said that loving your own children by no means implies that a person is a child lover generally. I do take my hat off to you for being a teacher - that is a tough job all right, increasingly so it seems. My current work project is taking me to schools in the NW and The Midlands, and I am enjoying learning about the education scene, forty years on from when I was in it! 'Learning' is very much the buzzword now I gather, with pupils rebranded first as 'students' and now as 'learners'.

Perfume collection as substitute child - now there's an interesting thought...And I am intrigued by the sound of your flat - are you an inner city dweller? Manchester is great like that. If you do get a whippet one day, I have pioneered the perfect knitted whippet jumper, so let me know if your pet gets parky.

And I know exactly what you mean about regressing. I am certainly earning less than I did at 30, if not 22. I wasn't earning anything at 22! And I have been to more gigs in my 40s and 50s than I ever did in my teens and 20s.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I write IScentYouADay- A Perfume a Day for a Year. I have two sons, aged 4 and 7. There are days that I simply cannot blog because of this. In fact I have to write a backlog of the missing days so that I can fulfil the challenge I set myself of 365 reviews in 365 days. End date is 2nd Jan 2014!

I sometimes ask my 7 year old for his opinion and it's very interesting. I am either getting him into fragrance or putting him off for life.

My younger son emptied a bottle of Lush Furze over my sofa. I really didn't like it and was about to write a harsh review of it. Now my living room still has a hint of it months later.

It's not without its pitfalls but it's so important that I do one thing for myself each day or I'd go mad.

I love your blog by the way Vanessa!

best wishes

Vanessa said...

Hi Samantha,

Thanks for chiming in and for your kind comment about Bonkers! You are indeed a powerhouse of blogging, with small children to care for. That's quite a challenge you have set yourself, and I can imagine you might need to double up on some days to make up for days you couldn't help missing. I was interested too to hear your elder son's take on your venture - he won't forget this year, that's for sure, with so many perfumes around the house, being tested and whatnot - or spilt by him!

You sound like Birgit in needing a creative outlet for yourself - are you going to stop after the year is up, or drop back to a less punishing schedule?

The particular tricky aspect about being a blogger with young children, I imagine, is that while I can knock off from work in the evening or at weekends and in holidays, being a mother is a 24/7 job.

I will add you to the list. ;-)

Natalie said...

It may not be polite to say so, but I am happy to see the numbers of childless bloggers on your list. Many of my favorite blogs (non-perfume blogs) have become "mommy blogs" as the women who ran them had children. Happy for them, but don't really care about pacifiers and feeding times.

As for whether my blog is a child stand-in, I would say definitely not. It probably is an indicator of the reason I *don't* have children: have you noticed how my blog often goes dark for days, even weeks, at a time? ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

That is interesting about 'mommy blogs' - I think I have come across one or two that are along the lines you mean.

Funnily enough, just today I stumbled on a thread on mumsnet (a politically influential UK discussion board for mothers), all about niche perfume. I routinely gatecrash mumsnet for tips on paint and interior design, picking my way around the baby-related topics. It truly is a mine of information about all sorts of domestic things, from mortgages to mattresses.

I smiled at your admission to 'neglecting' your 'blog child'. That question was a very frivolous add-on to this post, and should be treated accordingly. ;-)

Lavanya said...

I had the opposite experience a couple of years ago, where everybody I knew seemed to be having babies..:D

I would add Sigrun to your list of perfume blog owners with kids..

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

It was interesting to get your take on this - I think the balance is shifting a little again, as I add more names to the list of perfume bloggers with children, Sigrun being the latest. I knew some would slip through the net - hence the reason for asking around!

flavourfanatic said...

For me, my kids are a big reason for having a perfume blog at all :)
Before I wrote about perfume, I had a food blog. As my son entered his terrible twos and would throw a fit at the thought of eating anything but per-fabricated fish sticks, food was not so fun to write about anymore. I also wanted to do a wine blog, but the amount of wine that I could possibly combine with the waking-up-at-all-hours-thing made me rethink that blog idea. Enter perfume! I probably didn't think I'd last more than 3 posts when I first set out, but I found that perfume writing was a great break from being that 24/7 service institution called motherhood. Thinking about what I feel about a certain perfume lets me reconnect with myself, which is very important to my well being. What does suffer is that I don't hate time to interact as much as I'd like with the parfumista community and I'm always ages behind in commenting on blogs or partaking in discussions. But that's just the way things are at the moment (at least I have an excuse ;) )

Vanessa said...

Hi Sigrun,

Thanks for dropping by to tell us about the genesis of your various blogs. It is a very entertaining tale in itself! ;-) And I smiled at your description of motherhood as that '24/7 service institution'. I sense that you and Birgit are very much on the same page in terms of wanting to reclaim a bit of space and creative time for yourselves through your respective perfume blogs. I am full of admiration for how you manage to combine the two things.

Martha said...

I wouldn't say that my blog is a child substitute, but I suppose I do feel juuust a little more pressure to create something, er, creative, because there are no clones of me that I can push out there to create into the future. Not that the blog is going to enchant countless generations or anything; it's just part of a stop-and-start effort to force myself to create, period.

Vanessa said...

Hi Martha,

I would agree with you there - a blog is created, a child procreated...? ;-)

Olfacta said...

Hmmm…do husbands count as children? If so, I have one of those, and one demanding Tonkinese cat. But the women I know who have children under 14 or so must be very organized to do anything else, especially if there are 2 or more kids. Hats off to them!

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfacta,

Haha - they most certainly can do! I had you down as not having children in an early draft of this post, then wavered in my view and left you off the list. So I am glad to have the point clarified and have added you back in. And I share your admiration for the time management skills of women with young kids - I have no idea how they get anything done either, especially if they are also working, which is not uncommon these days.