The inaugural Mumsnet Blogfest was my first foray into engaging with other bloggers face to face. My own blog is in its infancy and I have only recently become a regular blog reader. I had a lot to learn both about and from blogging.
Before arriving, I had already recognised a great benefit of the blogging community; there is no need to come to these events feeling like a complete stranger, even if you are. Having already joined a dedicated Twitter list and read the blogs of fellow delegates, it felt like I knew one or two people already and had some means of striking up conversation.
One of the key things that became clear, was that the Mumsnet blogosphere is hugely diverse and cannot be corralled neatly into the kids and cupcakes stereotype. Particularly impressive was the 'Blogging can change the world' session, where the panel of campaigning women impressively outlined how blogging can be an effective tool in achieving political and social change on our doorstep and in distant countries. The day's speeches and discussions offered up relentless proof that blogging is far from being the vacuous naval gazing enterprise some would have us believe. How can it be derided as such when it has been used to help refugee women, to raise awareness of rape, to help miscarriage care, to aid Amnesty International and to further the feminist cause?
Aside from accelerating my appreciation of blogging generally, it was also heartening to realise that motherhood is a great leveller, beautifully summed up by Miriam Gonzalez Durantes's anecdote, describing how she had discovered that she shared much common ground with a mother of boys in Africa, despite being worlds apart in terms of life experience. Her denigration of spurious labels that expose non equivalence between mothers and fathers such as part time or working mum, was equally welcome. It was also good to hear that even women of her position and esteem have an equally turbulent time wrangling with their children through the morning routine and are sometimes glad to shut the door behind them for a while and escape into another world.
Our lives as mothers have become very complicated jigsaw puzzles with ever more pieces vying for a place to fit in. As Justine Roberts said in her opening speech, blogging suits mothers because it is something that can fit around life's other demands. Technology has been a liberating force for women in that it has helped us make our jigsaw more flexible. Blogging, tweeting and social networking are a kind of interstitial writing we can squeeze into gaps that would not admit traditional pen and paper and, like interstitial fluid, works to lubricate the frustrations and problems we all experience, through writing and sharing publicly and receiving feedback from people our own mothers would not have had the opportunity to connect with. Mumsnet Blogfest was a great vindication of this.
The day itself was, as the lives of busy women everywhere, a feat of considerable multi tasking. Where else would you find a programme so diverse, encompassing technical help, social networking expertise, advice from successful journalists, novelists, bloggers, editors, psychologists and a chance to browse clothing, design cars, try out video games and taste cheese? The list seems endless and I know I have missed some things out. So thanks to the Mumsnet team who put on such a fabulous event, all the hard work that must have gone into the planning paid off in ways that will continue to be realised, as all the good ideas and advice sink in and weave their way into the myriad blogs that will be influenced by discussions sparked by this inspiring day.