Blair Koenig does not hate babies. She just thinks that, maybe, we don't need to know absolutely everything about your baby, especially about
your baby's diaper.
This is the basic philosophy behind Koenig's hit blog, "STFU, Parents." The book based on the blog is newly released, and received its official welcome at a launch party - or book shower — at Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe Wednesday night. "It's definitely been a labor of love for a really long time," she said of the four years since she started the blog. "The growth has been very steady. It's never had a big overnight boom."
While working in marketing, the 30-year-old Atlanta native found her creative writing muscle starting to atrophy, and was on the hunt for the opportunity to exercise it. A blog seemed like the answer.
"I really wanted it to be a topical blog, something that would inspire conversation," said Koenig, who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, "I really didn't want to have another navel gazey type of blog, but I do enjoy cultural criticism."
At the same time, her friends started having babies, and overwhelming her Facebook news feed with updates about naptime, Diaper Genies and baby geniuses. And thus, STFU Parents Blog was born. Since then, Koenig said, she's received submissions every day.
In the past four years, Koenig has found her email inbox flooded with pictures of all variety of viscera, bodily fluids and the like.
"There have been submissions that have shocked me with how disgusting they are," Koenig said.
In other words, if you're going to consume your placenta in some fashion, God bless, but please don't post photos. And while birth is a beautiful experience, labor photos
are maybe not online appropriate.
"I didn't know that people posted that sort of thing," she said.
Well, now she knows.
One particularly inglorious memory is a submission called "Poop Skating," which is basically what it sounds like.
Not all submissions Koenig receives are stomach turning. Others are potentially blood boiling, such as "Quiet Rest Stop," in which a mother was shocked to learn that visitors to a rest stop ladies' room were not willing to refrain from talking, using the sink, or flushing so as to not wake her sleeping baby. The nerve of some people.
That submission goes under the heading of "Sanctimommy," which is exactly what it sounds like — santicimonious parents who denigrate non-parents, parents who raise their kids differently than they do, and ... well, basically anyone who isn't giving them a medal and a chest to pin it on daily.
"We've all met people who are like that," Koenig said, "but a lot of the parenting debate is so obviously generated and regurgitated by the media."
The sister of the Sanctimommy is the Mommyjacker, a poster who will steer any conversation on to baby highway.
"Passed my dissertation defense!" reads one post. "How exciting," a "friend" (yes, I'm using quotes because, well, you'll see) replied. "Now you need the title
'mommy.'" How supportive. While the site can get pretty bold, there are some topics
Koenig says are off limits: Posts about children harming animals, and photos of stillborn children among them.
"I have an entire folder called "Depressing," she said. "And I (get sent) so many pictures of naked children, it's making me uncomfortable." So are her friends afraid to speak to her about their children? "I don't consider what my friends do to be oversharing,"
Koening said. "They might share things that are a little monotonous, but nobody on my Facebook feed has ever taken a picture of their kid's poop and posted it."
Even if they did, however, her friends are off limits as far as the blog goes.
"It just doesn't feel right," she said.
Supporters have said they consider the site a public service, a reassurance, and a damn good laugh. Naysers can get colorful.
"One guy totally sent me a death threat," she said. "One guy sent me a picture of his penis. I think most people who blog probably get a mix of good and bad."
(Note to self: Ask Smitten Kitchen gal if she's ever received crotch shots). One thing Koenig has noticed is that many readers tend to appreciate posts in common, even if their parenting philosophies and experiences differ.
"Painting all parents or all women with a broad stroke is such a sad way of dealing with parents as a whole because there are a lot of cool parents out there and there are few that resemble the type of caricatures that I've put on the blog.They're just getting lost in this war, the mommy war, which is dumb. It's really stupid."
Photo note: The photo you see above is of a confection created by Cake Alchemy. And yes, it was as creepy in person as it is in the photo. But it tasted pretty good.