A very public separation: Mom blogger tells all

The Globe and Mail

The announcement rippled across the blogosphere: Heather Armstrong, queen of mom bloggers, has separated from her husband, Jon, the partner who worked closely with her, elevating Dooce.com to a powerhouse of the genre.

In a Tuesday post called Lying Here with My Head on the Phone, Ms. Armstrong sets herself up to answer an aching question from one of her daughters: “‘Mom?’ she asks. She doesn't wait for me to answer. ‘Why does Dad not sleep here any more?’”

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Ms. Armstrong shares the gentle answer, and breezes through a sad memory of her parents’ divorce, plus a recent moment in which she considered suicide. She wraps up with a request for her readers to bear with her.

(Mr. Armstrong also addressed the split on his blog, Blurbomat.com in a piece called Yes, I’m Currently in a Trial Separation.)

But the pair are not alone. Bloggers Magda Pecsenye and Doug French have also been there. Well known for their individual blogs ( Ask Moxie and Laid off Dad), the pair actually started a blog about co-parenting after divorce, When The Flames Go Up. Ms. Pecsenye and Mr. French avoided writing about their split for several months in part because of the risk of demonizing one another.

“Obviously, in blogging, you are not writing every thought you have, or every action you do, but it can seem like you do,” she writes in an e-mail. “So when it turns out that there have been all sorts of things going on in the background that didn't make it onto the blog, readers can feel shocked.” She says it’s one thing if it’s a pregnancy you couldn’t announce, “but if it's something bad like a divorce, they feel betrayed.”

Mr. French, who is friends with the Armstrongs and doesn’t want to comment specifically, sees their separation as much more public due to their fame.

While he doesn’t expect either party to air grievances online, he points out, “I felt my path was trickier to navigate because it's more acceptable (for lack of a better word) for a woman to speak ill about her husband than vice versa.”

But readers of Dooce and Blurbomat don’t seem to mind the openness of the divorce. Both Ms. Armstrong and Mr. Armstrong have posted a thank you to their readers for their support.

And a tweet from Ms. Armstrong hints at the humour ahead. “Hey guys, my therapist wants you to know that I'm okay and that I'm only going to need about two exorcisms.”

In an age of Facebook status updates and endless Tweets, is blogging about your marital breakdown a virtual faux-pas or a new social norm?

Follow on Twitter: @traleepearce

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