Her Bad Mother

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Cause what's Saturday without a good game of tag?

I’ve been tagged by the totally awesome Kristen! Which is very exciting, and very timely, because my next post was shaping up to be very Deep and Pedantic and possibly Very Dull and we all really need some nonsensical blather instead, no?

To that end, then... Behold, the meme:

Accent(s): With adults – Canadian (tho’ I’ve been known to insist that there is no such thing as a Canadian accent. Who, me? Say a-boot? Eh? Never!)

With my child – Muppet or Gangsta.

Booze of Choice: Very, very dry vodka martini, shaken, with olive. But that was put to the test recently.

Chore I Hate: Every last freakin’ one of them. What chore do I not mind? Putting clothes into the wash. (Oh, the accomplishment! I have cleared the floor – yes, the floor – of laundry!) What chore do I especially hate? Taking clothes out of dryer for ironing, folding, and putting away. (Kills the aforementioned accomplishment buzz. I’m not done yet?)

Dog or Cat: Have Siamese cats, but they’re not so much cats as they are scrawny cross-eyed dogs that have Problems With Authority. Love dogs, want dog, won’t get dog anytime soon because am lazy and worried about more mess in already messy household. However, if a dog ever does join our household, she will be a bulldog and she will be named Lady Margaret Finnegan O’Flaherty of Bath.

Essential Electronics: I really want to say ‘vibrator’ to be funny, but a) I don’t have one, so that would be lying, and b) if I really did have one I’d be too embarrassed to admit it (See? I’m too much of an embarrass-aphobe to even allow myself to lie and say that I do have one. Can you say uptight?)

The truth? Digital Camera, Sony Cybershot.

Favorite perfume(s)/cologne(s): Creed's Spring Flowers. What I actually smell like, day to day? Spit up.

Gold or silver: Why? You got some?

Hometown: According to my mother: cabbage patch. According to my birth certificate: Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Insomnia: Are you kidding? Dudes. I have a four-month old baby.

Job Title(s): Handmatron to WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe; Official Companion and Playmate of SuperHusband; Keeper of the Revolutionary Siamese WonderTwins. Recreational titles? PhD (ABD) and University Instructor.

Kids: We keep no goats here. So, no.

Living Arrangements: Drafty old house that is far too small for one Future Ruler of the Universe and her entourage.

Most Admired Trait: Once upon a time – the ability to consume multiple vodka martinis while saying clever things with obscure references to, among other things, Plutarch, Nietzsche and America’s Next Top Model. Now? The ability to put on shoes with WonderBaby already strapped into the Baby Bjorn.

Are those skills rather than traits? Fine – my Most Admired Trait is that I am Clever. But note that my saying that my most admired trait is my Cleverness immediately makes me Irritating. Which cancels out the Clever as admirable.

So I’ll just refer you back to my mad skillz, noted above (Unusual Skillz to follow).

Number of Sexual Partners: See Essential Electronics, above. No, that doesn’t mean that I count vibrators as sexual partners. It means that I am an embarrass-aphobe and so do not talk about sexual activity. Well, not my own, anyway. I’m all up for talking about yours!

Overnight Hospital Stays: Two – once with pneumonia as a child, and once with birth of WonderBaby. The first time, people brought me Barbie Dolls and candy. The second time, not so much. I’m still waiting, people.

Phobia: Embarrassment (see Essential Electronics; Number of Sexual Partners, above.) Needles. Spiders. Dentists. Enclosed spaces. Being embarrassed in front of spidery dentists with needles in enclosed spaces.

Quote: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.’ Miss Piggy.

Religion: Deeply Conflicted Catholic

Siblings: One sister, much loved and much battled with.

Time(s) I Wake Up: Many. This week’s schedule - 3am, 5am and 7am.

Unusual Talent/Skill: Can change channels using remote with my toes. Also, can, like Kristen, recite names of all the books of the Bible in sequence. Am working on doing both simultaneously.

And? I can also do a mean solo re-enactment of scenes from the first season of Lost – especially ones featuring Claire (‘HE TRIED TO TAKE MY BAAAAY-BEEE!!!’) or Hurley (‘Dude. We gotta BOOK’) – but I think that only WonderBaby really appreciates this particular skill.

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat: Eggplant. Even the name is gross.

Worst Habit(s): Making up voices for every animate and inanimate thing in our household. Insisting that the word ‘dude’ is in the lexicon of every animate and inanimate thing in the household.

Capitalizing Words that I think are Important. Being extremely wordy when filling out questionnaires.

X-rays: Couldn’t say, because x-rays are generally not memorable occasions. Vaginal ultrasounds, on the other hand, one never forgets. I’ve had three.

Yummiest Food I Make: Are vodka martinis a food?

Zodiac Sign: Taurus or Gemini, depending upon the astrologer (was born on cusp – May 21). Yes, that does make me special.


My turn to tag now! If you haven’t already been tagged, Ninepounddictator, Jezer, Christina and Scarbiedoll – you’re it!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Getting back to me

There's been some discussion in the mom/mommy/spawning women blogosphere, over the last day or two, about the personal politics of the body after children. That discussion was sparked by post by Morphing Into Mama about the obligation on the part of women to not let themselves go entirely after having children. Her original argument, as I understood it: that women have some obligation to their partners to not gain excessive amounts of weight after having children, to not allow themselves to become totally physically transformed by motherhood, because in becoming completely different physical beings they cheat (my word, I mean it in the sense of deprive) their partners of the person that their partners fell in love with/married/etc. The topic was picked up by Moxie, and others, and it very quickly developed into a full-blown debate about what is expected of mothers, and what mothers expect of themselves, with regards to their bodies. It is, obviously, a highly contentious issue, in part because it is so deeply personal. What woman is not, after having children, profoundly sensitive about her changed body? What woman does not worry about what her partner thinks of her changed self?

I'm not going to recount the debate here; you can read what was and is being said by following the links above. Again, it's a controversial topic, and so best followed in its original threads - I can't claim to have given the clearest account of MIM's argument, and I'm not interested in trying to summarize the responses.

What I want to add to the debate - and my purpose here is really to sort out my own thoughts on this issue - is this: I think that the question of how women deal with the dramatic changes that they undergo in becoming mothers runs far further and deeper than the body (although the body does, I would say, stand front and centre in that question because it becomes, for women, emblematic of the whole repertoire of changes that they undergo. And, because we are so deeply sensitive about our bodies.) This was touched upon by some contributers to the discussion, but I think that it bears further consideration. It does, at least, for me.

As I noted in a comment that I made to Moxie's contribution to the discussion, I've been very lucky in the following respect: my husband loves the physically transformed me. And not just in the 'I'll-love-you-no-matter-what' way of loving me. He tells me - and I believe him - that the physical changes I have undergone are wonderful; he tells me that he loves my new womanly, motherly form. He tells me that my motherly-ness is extremely sexy to him. He tells me that he's not interested in seeing me lose the 30-some-odd pounds that I've yet to shed from my 60-plus-pound pregnancy weight gain. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The thing is, I'm not totally blissed out by it. I am blissed out by having such an extraordinary husband, but when it comes to how I feel about my body, his feelings on the subject really only infuence maybe a third, maybe less, of those feelings. The rest is entirely about me. And I'm not 100% comfortable with my new body. Maybe it takes some getting used to - and I think that I am getting used to it, in some respects - but for the most part it still feels alien to me. Prior to pregnancy, and for all of my life leading up to motherhood, I was a skinny girl. Boyish hips, modest-ish chest, small ass. And - I know that this is an un-PC thing to say - I liked being a skinny girl. This is terrible, but when my bigger-boned sister developed an eating disorder while we were in our teens, my honest ongoing thought was 'thank god I don't have to work at being skinny.' I totally understood her compulsion to be thin. There but for the grace of the ectomorph gods, I told myself, go I. If I were ever to get big, I thought, I'd quaff the Ex-Lax too.

Then I got pregnant. And I loved the pregnancy bigness. I felt healthy, earthy, lush. I had a big, round (taut - let's not forget taut) belly, bursting with the life growing within it. I had booty. I had boobs! I ate cookies and ice cream and onion rings with abandon. But 65 pounds later, Wonderbaby arrived, and she only took about fifteen of those pounds (what with her 8 and half pound self, the placenta and other assorted ick) out with her. Even discounting the 10-odd pounds of boob, there was a lot of bigness remaining. Welcome to fat, Bad Mother!

But I dealt. I reconciled myself, however temporarily, to the big, and gradually trimmed up a bit (I'm still only 4 months in). No Ex-Lax was involved. And I learned to love some of the big. I think. Just a little bit. But I still feel that I'm not my old self, and I'm struggling with that.

And what I've realized, over the past months, is that that struggle actually has less to do with coming to terms with my new body than it does with coming to terms with my new self more generally. I'm not just living in a different body, I'm a different person. And my husband isn't just living with a physically transformed wife, he's living with a new wife. He'll say, of course, that he loves all that is new about me, and I'll believe him. But do I love all that is new about me? That's the tougher question. I think that I do. But it still feels so strange sometimes, and often I'm not sure whether I'm in my right mind about loving the new me. After all, didn't I say, before Baby, that I wouldn't give up my ambitions, my professional plans, my urban/academic/adventurous self? That I would never leave the house in yoga pants? That I would jump right back into lecturing and writing and Thinking Big Thoughts and that I would do it all wearing heels? That I wouldn't be happy otherwise?

So why am I happy now, with all of those things marginalized or abandoned (hello, yoga pants and running shoes!)? Who is this new person who is happy having given up - even temporarily - those things that she thought defined her and determined her happiness? Am I happy? Or am I just confused, blinded by the fog of sleep-deprivation and hormones and LOVE that is new motherhood?

There's a new girl in town - a softer, rounder, Mommyfied girl - and the Husband loves this new girl. He hasn't been cheated or deprived of anything. In fact, he'd say that he won the Lotto with all the new goodness that abounds in his life - and a bigger ass on wifey is part of that goodness. But do I love this new girl?

I don't know. I'm learning to, I think. But it's gonna take some work.

I love this new girl. No question.

Now if I could just stick to HAND sandwiches like WonderBaby, maybe there wouldn't be so, so much of the booty...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

And you thought the pimps had it rough

Apparently, it's hard out there for a baby, too.

Well, for French babies, anyway. Apparently their mamans insist that they wash their hands and keep their fingers out of their noses and go to bed when told. Such injustices have compelled some French babies to protest publicly. One baby was so outraged that he put his words of protest to music, and now his Battle Hymn for the Babies - or, Dur, dur être bébé (It's Tough to be a Baby) - has become a rallying cry for babies everywhere. (1)

The French, of course, have a long history of protest. One might go so far as to say that they invented the modern protest movement. That little demonstration way back in the late 18th Century, the French Revolution, really set the standard. Now, when the French get upset about something, they don't talk about it: they march, sing or throw things at each other. (To the best of my knowledge, the guillotine is no longer being used.)

So it really shouldn't be any surprise that French babies, getting all up about something, would start releasing records. It's not as though they can march, after all. Their little arms couldn't hold up the signs. And tossing pureed sweet potato or bottles of breastmilk at riot police doesn't have quite the same effect as, oh, say, stones and fire bombs.

I've been very careful to conceal the Babies of the World Unite movement from WonderBaby, because there's no question that she has grounds for protest. Although she enjoys numerous freedoms, some forcible confinement has been necessary for the peace and security of the household. WonderBaby has been routinely subjected to the constraint of the swaddle and the confinement of the baby jail, and while to date protest has been limited (2), we are anticipating outright rejection of these measures in the near future. Postponing this rejection, and moderating this rejection when it inevitably occurs, will be critical to the continued sanity and well-being of all members of the household.

That said, I don't know that WonderBaby, given her Nietzschean inclinations (3), would actually align herself with a protest movement. Her plans for world domination do not, so far as I understand them, involve reliance upon an underclass. She seems, rather, intent upon relying on her own arms. (4)

And when she has full and unfettered use of those arms? Watch out.

Baby on lockdown.


1) I must confess that this is old news. Jordy made his protests back in the early nineties, when it was still legal in France to put babies to work. He's now a pimply teenager, and is seeking to re-establish himself as a public figure. Expect "Dur, dur être adolescent boutonneux" to be released any time now.

2) You thought maybe that we had bested the swaddle gods? Ha. Ha. Ha. That battle has been temporarily abandoned. There have been some experiments in swaddle-free sleeping, some of which were successful for very brief periods of time (45 minutes! Woo hoo!), but it has become clear that WonderBaby is still not prepared to rock it freestyle, at least not full-time.

3) She is aiming for control of the Known and Unknown Universe, after all.

4) See Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

when the world is puddle-wonderful

Yesterday was the first day of spring. I like spring. Which is, I suppose, nothing unusual. Everybody likes spring. What with the daffodils and tulips and morning dew and Easter Creme Eggs (sorry, Cadbury Creme Eggs) and bunnies and all.

But I don’t get completely blown over by spring. I’m not really a bunny person, and although I think that the flowers are pretty, I really don’t get moved by morning dew. Don’t get me wrong, I think bunnies are cute. I just don’t think they sell a season, is all. There’s better marketing in the Creme Eggs.

Spring is mostly for children. It’s playing in mud and splashing in puddles and delighting in bunnies and chicks and ducklings and Easter egg coloring contests. The enjoyment that adults derive from spring is, I think, largely nostalgic (oh the memories of splashing through puddles or hunting for chocolate eggs in the wet grass!) or vicarious (oh the look of delight on the face of a child who has found a shiny foil-wrapped egg!). But there’s another layer to this enjoyment – the feeling of relief. Relief at having made it through another winter. Relief that the days are getting longer and brighter. Relief that summer is around the corner. Relief at being able to step outside and take big gulps of warm, sweet air. At feeling that air on your skin.

That’s how spring has felt to me, anyway, since I passed the age of puddle-splashing. (OK, so maybe I’ve splashed a few puddles in my adulthood. But just a few. And I always felt a little bit embarrassed.) But this year is different: this year, there is Baby.

And I cannot wait to take Baby outside and lay on a blanket on the grass and watch her feel and smell and hear the earth in springtime. She was born in November, so her only experience of the outside world has been filtered through layers of wool and fleece. She’s only really seen the world through windows, only felt stray gusts of cold air while wrapped and covered in her stoller or pressed firmly against my chest. She’s never seen a flower grow straight up from the ground; never heard a bird chirp, never felt the grass or the dirt or the rain. That she will, soon, see flowers, hear birds and feel the grass, the dirt and the rain thrills me beyond measure.

I may even splash in a puddle to celebrate.


From the Not All Bunnies Are Cute files:

Let's call him P. Bunny

This one's just creepy. The pimp suit, the mustache-instead-of-whiskers, the boob-like eggs, the cracked-out look in his eyes. It's just wrong.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker

Still Life with Developmental Toys

10 things I learned this weekend:

1) Martini shakers, when filled with ice, vodka and a whisper of dry Vermouth, make awesome rattles. Cocktail hour can be fun for all ages!

2) One very, very dry vodka martini (shaken, with an olive) is the precise amount of alcohol required for getting me drunk after my 14-month pregnancy/breastfeeding paranoia hiatus from drinking (10 month hiatus, if you count virtuous nips at breastmilk-boosters like Guinness as 'drinking.' I don't.)

3) It is also the precise amount of alcohol required for a post-hiatus hangover.

4) Hangovers SUCK.

5) Hangovers suck worse when you have to wake in the middle of the night to attend to an unruly infant who was, presumably, overstimulated by all the martini shaker/rattle action earlier in the evening...

6) ...and when you have to wake again shortly before dawn...

7) ...and shortly after dawn.

8) The suckiness that is the hangover is further worsened by the presence of another adult who is not hungover and who remains oblivious to the war cries of the above-mentioned infant.

9) The suckiness that is the hangover is lessened when that other adult SUCKS IT UP and takes over care of the infant so that hungover mother can crawl back under the covers for another hour or two of blissful, blissful sleep.

10) Sleep helps the hangover. So do soft peanut butter cookies and chocolate milk. So does this:

Oh, sweetie, Mommy's a little bleary, but she sure does love you...

Now give back that martini shaker.