One of the many surprises of motherhood was that in addition to being an endurance marathon, my new role provided the huge challenge of recreating my sense of identity. This turned into an exercise in finding my voice as I reinvented myself as a writer. The work that began with my book Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family (Spark Press, 2005) continues to evolve through my website MojoMom.com. With the advent of podcasting, the voice that has been represented in my writing is now freed from the page and can be broadcast anywhere in the world the internet reaches. The term "podcasting" comes from the word "iPod," but podcasting can be more accurately thought of as "internet radio" that you can download and listen to when your schedule allows.
For mothers, podcasting opens a new channel of communication on both the listening and speaking ends. I have erased some of the drudgery of my solitary everyday tasks by listening to downloaded NPR programs while I am cleaning up or walking the dog. Many established shows are now available through free podcasting directories or subscription services such as Audible.com, which also carries audio books. With my iPod fully loaded with episodes of Fresh Air and This American Life, I have turned my frequent drives across town into a continuing education workshop.
For me, life at the intersection of feminism and reality means finding ways to take care of myself in order to recharge my batteries, so that I have enough energy to keep working to make the world a better place for all women. I have spoken to many women who would buy her teenagers an iPod but would never think of buying one for herself. I argue that we need a vehicle for reclaiming our mind space even more than our kids do!
On the audio production end, podcasting is an exciting new tool that truly democratizes the broadcasting landscape. Just as computers have given everyone a printing press, and with web sites and blogs, a platform to post their thoughts to the world, podcasting brings audio broadcasting power to the masses. Instead of needing $6 million to buy a radio station, anyone with a desktop computer and a microphone can now create an audio program with instant worldwide distribution.
Podcasts come in all flavors, from homegrown audio diaries to downloads of network shows. Some are too homemade for my taste -- one woman recorded her podcast while scrubbing her toilet, which lost me immediately.
On the other hand, many shows try to sound professional by aping commercial radio, which seems to be a waste of the independent platform that podcasting offers. I wish there were more political podcasts about motherhood. Extended discussions about motherhood, culture, feminism and politics -- topics that are unlikely to make it onto a commercial morning drive-time radio show -- can now have reach a wide audience thanks to internet radio.
That is the aim of the Mojo Mom Podcast. On each weekly show, my co-host Sheryl Grant and I introduce a theme and discuss it; then in the second segment I interview a guest on the same topic. Our show has provided a great opportunity to engage in conversation with other writers, including MMO founder Judith Stadtman Tucker, Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock (Mommy Guilt), Stacy DeBroff (The Mom Book Goes to School), and Zainab Salbi (Between Two Worlds), to name a few guests. Through the podcast I've even connected with one of my favorite Australian writers, Sarah Napthali, author of Buddhism for Mothers, and I'll be bringing her voice to an American audience in March.
Blogs and podcasts allow us to turn our books into living, growing projects to share with the world. My book is a jumping off point, rather than my final word, and I can't wait to see where our ongoing conversations will lead us. I have hope that the next wave of feminism will be carried out by busy mothers with the help of online communication and organizing.
mmo : february 2006