The sun comes up in barrio San José somewhere in Puerto Rico and Mamá Boricua, on vacation with her family, wakes up with the noisy resonance of a rooster, makes some coffee and sits down at her computer to write about the day before. She composes a piece about her visit to the beach with her two children, counting hermit crabs and building a sand Morro Castle.
In Connecticut Divina Rodríguez, another mom, packs two pieces of luggage for all four members of her clan to spend some time at a Miami resort where a conference on social-media moms will be held over the weekend. There, she’ll meet some other virtual friends with their families. Among them are Yadira Ambert and Melanie Edwards from Florida, who are looking forward to getting together with their virtual friends from Chicago and Houston, and with Migdalia Rivera, who is flying in from New York.
Later on, another mother, Mayra Rodríguez, is starting her homeschool day with her two boys in California. She is not going to the meet up this year but is planning a collaborative campaign with Mamá Boricua to raise awareness on education.
Migdalia, Divina, Yadira, Melanie and Mayra, and I (I’m Mamá Boricua) are all mom bloggers and we know each other thanks to sharing common interests through our blogs. We write about holding on to our Puerto Rican heritage, also about beauty products, gadgets, events and books. We educate, empower and inspire. We write in Spanish, in English and in Spanglish. We are mom bloggers raising our children with Puerto Rican culture and pride while inspiring other moms to grow and share.
But who are these mom bloggers and what do we do? Migdalia Rivera, founder of Latina On a Mission, created her blog in 2009 to “fill a need within the blogosphere for Latinas who have acclimated to the United States culture yet still hold onto their Latino heritage.” As a single mother, Migdalia is part of one of the largest subgroups within the Latina community. This New Yorker from Hell’s Kitchen wanted to show that single mothers can, and do, thrive and excel; as a result, she shares how she lives frugally while raising two boys on her own. She calls her life “Latinalicious” because she lives it to the fullest, without going into debt. “On this mission, I have also met an interesting array of people, worked with some wonderful organizations and learned some useful secrets My hope is that my mission to [achieve] financial security and empowerment will inspire others to have their own “Latinalicious” life, because if I can do it, so can you!”
Family bloggers Divina and Eddy Rodríguez publish reviews about an assortment of entertainment and family interests that readers value. “Eddy and I started this website because of our shared love of movies and it developed into so much more. Dancinghotdogs.com is my virtual playground where I share my opinions on NYC tri-state events, entertainment, technology, family travel, bilingual living and everything in between. I live my life like it’s an adventure and I bring my wonderful husband, sons and pups along for the ride.”
Mom blogger Yadira Ambert said “I know what I do is important. I saw a need for information, especially on the health issues. I love the fact that I can connect with readers. I do a lot of product reviews, and I know my opinion counts.” She noted, “Several times, I have recommended beauty products and the readers try the products. It is great to receive a reply from them saying they work” Ambert said. But besides being “beauty experts,” mom bloggers are also influencers in areas such as finances, education and personal issues. Their opinions and expertise count for readers throughout Latin countries worldwide, on the island, and particularly in the large Latino communities of New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and California.
Sharing examples of the positive impact she has had on her readers, Rivera said, “Over the years I have been contacted by a variety of women, one was a soon to be divorced mother of one. She was very depressed about her situation and asked for advice. She wanted to know how I could be filled with so much joy after a divorce. Her email touched me because I had once been there. With support, I was able to continue—obtain my bachelors, raise two sons and stay upbeat. I gave her hope she said. And she gave me a reason to continue blogging.” Rivera also advises readers about scholarships and education. Coming from a family where women were destined to work on the farm in Puerto Rico and from the idea that education would not benefit girls, she tells us about her mom: “…she came to the United States with two young children, learned to read and write in English and Spanish, obtained her GED and later went on to complete her bachelor’s. She did not let others impose their ideas on her of what a woman could or could not accomplish. She knew her worth and taught me mine. Education was the key that opened her world and ours. On Latina On a Mission I share educational opportunities so that others can reach their potential as well.”
A mom blogger is a writer, and she writes mostly for the love of it, although many also manage to receive an income writing sponsored posts on their blogs and/or collaborating with brands. For some, like Tampa blogger Melanie Edwards, it was motherhood that inspired them to become writers and share their experiences. “Motherhood most definitely increased and fostered the urge to write and document moments,” she said. “I used to write personal journals,” said Ambert “but as a mom, I feel obligated to share my experiences with other moms who are going through the same situations as I do.” Blogging is also a form of un-censored self-publishing that is used to fulfill different necessities. As Rodríguez said “I did not realize the power of storytelling and how important having a creative outlet is to the soul.”
A creative outlet or a channel for empathy, blogs are powerful tools. “As a single mother I wrote to save memories” said Rivera. “I could not share those memories with a spouse, but I knew I could share them with my children. Now I write of my triumphs and failures. I write about our daily life - the good, the bad and the gross. I write about the people I met in our journeys—on my blog and elsewhere. I know that words could change worlds and so I did. I write to encourage Latinas to live healthier, to voice my opinion, and to inspire self-love. I write about the Dreamers, the trailblazers and the outspoken, bossy ones. They shape our world in so many ways.”
Writing and publishing our work on a blog also helps empower ourselves as parents, educators and transmitters of culture. “As a mom I try to do the best, but sometimes it’s so hard and I have a lot of questions. Writing helps me analyze the situation from another perspective. The process of writing helps me clarify my doubts, problems, situations, and when I am done writing I might have an answer or at least I [get to] vent” said Mayra Rodríguez, the homeschooler mom blogger living in Los Angeles. “One of my goals as a homeschool mom,’’ she added, “is to live our culture, teach it and help [my children] understand who we are based on our culture.” Edwards, who also considers education one of her main objectives in blogging, said “It's extremely important that my children know their heritage and history of their family roots. It's challenging to raise multicultural children, but I believe knowing their family's heritage will help them in shaping their personal identity.”
Mom bloggers are everywhere. According to Cristy Clavijo-Kish, co-CEO and co-founder of Latina Mom Bloggers (LMB), one of the premiere Hispanic blogging community organizations in the country, Latina mom bloggers represent an influential force in the new economy. Clavijo-Kish’s company alone has a network of over 600 carefully vetted Latina bloggers.
They are reviewing products, partnering with companies and causes, making their voices heard. They are also shaping lives and educating their children, and telling the world about it. Puerto Rican moms everywhere are connecting, sharing, helping each other and inspiring others to raise awareness on what being Puerto Rican is today.
Mayra Rodríguez homeschools her two boys ages 10 and 11. In addition to her blog estilofamiliar.com//, she also writes recipes for Cocina Latina y Caribeña on About.com/. Find her also on Facebook and Twitter.
© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published 17 September 2014.