In the months before Benjamin turned one, I began writing. I had worked as a writer, but I had never before written in my own voice. The muse was calling me; I had but one possible subject. I wrote about parenting.
As I poured out essays, I began to look around for venues. I had read a couple of glossy parenting magazines in the OB/GYN’s waiting room (not at the reproductive endocrinologist’s, where he kept only back issues of Cigar Aficionado on the table). I knew what I was writing wasn’t for Parents, but was there a place that published essays from the front lines of parenting? A magazine where it was OK to have a sense of humor and an edge? A magazine that kept it real?
There was: Brain, Child.
And so I began to write my way towards Brain, Child. I submitted essay after essay, never quite hitting the mark, but knowing I needed to be ever better if I wanted to get an essay in there. When my issues came, they moved to the very top of the pile in the bathroom. Even above the J. Crew catalogue. I loved reading those essays and understanding other people’s parenting experiences in a deeper, more profound way. The day I had my debate published in Brain, Child, I felt like I had made my mark.
I loved the conversations blogging allowed back then, but we all know what happened to blogging. It turned into a way to cash in.
Brain, Child is folding. The editors have raised the white flag in the face of market forces far beyond their control: the death of print, the economy, and us all being too damned stupid to appreciate it.
There was a chance, not so long ago, for us to have intelligent, meaningful conversation about parenting. We sold it all for a good time and a song. And so we have what we deserve: sensationalist blog posts in which mothers declare their seven-year-olds’ homosexuality to the world in order to buy fifteen minutes of fame for themselves and an endless run-on sentence about what strollers celebrity moms are pushing these days. Flowing over it all, we have the flotsam and jetsam of Twitter.
Benjamin turns six in a few months. It’s been five years that I’ve tried to make a go of parenting writing. I won’t tell my kids’ stories for them – it’s not right and it’s ugly. I won’t post pictures or embarrassing YouTube videos. I won’t do what it takes in a market that no longer seems to care about the carefully weighed word and the well-developed thought.
I don’t know if I can survive parenting writing in a post-Brain, Child world. Nor do I really want to.