Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That's Me In The Corner

Two years ago, after BlogHer '06, I wrote this:
I left behind something that I think that I am going to miss... the me who was happy and fulfilled in the absence of the loves of my life. The me who could assimilate the quiet ache that is that absence, the pressing ache of those missing limbs, into another kind of energy and move, happily, despite that ache. The me who felt both quieted and stimulated alone (sans child, sans spouse) in the company of other women, other writers, other mothers who, for a moment, put the activity of motherhood or whateverhood aside and said, now, what about me? What about us?

That experience? That was missing for me, this year. Because I did not and could not put those other parts of me aside. I did not attend BlogHer this year as the me who has a passion that extends beyond and away from her family, the writer, the friend, the woman who can compartmentalize her manifold selves and carry on, and flourish. I attended BlogHer as a mother, with babe-in-arms and lactating boobs and head fuzzy from lack of sleep and heart sore from guilt and anxiety and all that tremendous and challenging mother stuff that distracts one from the business of being anything other than a mother, full stop. And that was hard. Really hard.

And so I felt, for much of the conference, as though I was watching from the sidelines, from the other side of the curtain, from behind my locker door, my baby clutched like so many books - my vulnerability, my shield - to my chest. Which is to say that, yes, there were moments, some moments, when my experience reminded me a little bit of high school, albeit the kind of high school experience that you see in low-budget after-school specials about how having a baby at sixteen means that you'll be left out of all the parties and your cute-girl clothes won't fit and you will feel like an outsider and omg why did you not cross your legs like your mother told you?

But those were only moments, and they had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than me and my own issues and insecurities. It was hard for me to expose myself as a mother at BlogHer, because being a mother in real life is not the same thing as playing one on the Internet, and all of the vulnerabilities that roll onto the screen so easily don't play so comfortably on a real life stage. No matter how exposed we are on that screen, no matter how bravely, fiercely naked we allow ourselves to be, we are still, end of day, behind the screen, sharing fragments of our whole selves, preserving whatever other parts need to be preserved as private in order to protect our self-regard. So while it was one thing for me to bare my breast and nurse my child in front of the audience attending my panel - because, of course, I knew that everyone would be glad to see it - it was quite another to attempt and fail to soothe my child in public spaces, or succumb to a panic attack in the presence of friends and strangers, or to admit to exhaustion and frustration and sadness when everyone else was trying to party. And so I kept, mostly, to the sidelines, and observed.

And what I saw was this: friendships being formed, friendships being renewed, friendships being celebrated and revelled in and enjoyed. I saw love and tenderness and warmth; I saw women cheering each other on, and men cheering the cheering. I saw all of the things that I'd seen that first year - "women who are, like me, trying to use found moments of lived fearlessness to navigate the murky waters, the frightening waters, of womanhood and motherhood and writerhood (here be monsters, here be monsters. We know this. Still we fly our sails). Among women who are willing to say, out loud, that they don't know how to always be fearless. Among women who walk with fear, but who carry wit and intelligence and charm and strength as rods and staffs for comfort" - and more.

But I also saw insecurity and anxiety and nervousness and reserve. I saw another mom with babe-in-arms keep to the sidelines, like me. I wish that I'd done more to connect with her, beyond waggling my baby at her baby (an effort that made her baby scream, which, you know, can really make someone feel like a fuck-up), because I wanted to ask her, is this as hard for you as it is for me? I heard a woman crying in the bathroom, and another woman soothing her, and wanted to say something, but I didn't, because I was embarrassed, having been soothed myself the night before, and still feeling awkward about it. I saw, many times, women sitting by themselves, and sometimes I approached them, and sometimes I didn't, because I didn't want anyone to think that I was working the room - don't laugh, it happens - or demanding attention (oh mah gahd have you seen mah BAYBEE?!?!) or, sometimes, just because I felt stupid and awkward and who knew when the baby was going to start crying again or the front of my blouse go wet and what would I say then (oh, hai, I'm HBM, pleez to excuse the sloppy mammaries and squalling infant)?

I saw a wonderful woman, anxious and hurting, defending herself in front of a crowd of a thousand. I saw a crowd of a thousand wonder, some of them - wrongly, wrongly, so wrongly - whether it was all an act. Actually, I didn't see this, because I was on the other side of the doors, tending to my baby, my heart, wondering what was up, what was going on, what was I missing now? only hearing the details after the fact, and watching the video, and wanting to wrap virtual arms around my hurt friend, too late to help her in the moment that mattered, because my attention was divided, and while one hurt woman stood up to another (because, yes, it all had to have come from a place of hurt, it just did, and that sucks for everybody, for real) and the conference fell into a hush I was outside the room, in the corner, ruminating on being on the outside, lost in myself.

We all feel on the outside, all of us, sometimes; even the biggest and brightest of our stars feel their distance (let's mix metaphors and wonder whether, if you prick them, stars bleed their brilliant light and burn holes in the sky. Is this what happened?) Whether we know a hundred people in the room, or one, or none, we feel, in certain moments, lonely. Misunderstood. Lost. Alone. We're women, we're human. We can be surrounded by love and still feel isolated. We can project love and still feel empty. We can be friends and make friends and still yearn for friendship. We can be inside and still feel completely outside. We're internet geeks, girly ones, some with babies, some without, most with vaginas, all with hearts. We're complicated.

I love us for that. I love this weekend for that. I love BlogHer, and BlogHers, for that. But there is still the ache. So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other, this week, next week, and in all the weeks and months to come?

Thank you.

Grover knows. He did the whole conference with a hand up his ass. He gets us.

(THE LOVE. I do not do this exclude. I really, truly, do not. But I can't and won't censor my impulse to send warm hugs to the people who really took care of me this weekend, and/or who just added a special degree of awesomeness and oh god I am going to forget somebody really important I just know it but here goes: the spectacular lady who offered the loveliest, most welcome haven from the fray, the wonderful, baby-whispery heart-breakingly sweet man who snuggled J and cuddled J and crooned him to sleep with baseball stats, the lovely, lovely guy who stretched his arm to the breaking point swinging an infant-laden car seat on multiple occasions, the gorgeous young woman who snuggled the babe until his need for boob overwhelmed my entire session, the beautiful pregnant lady who stole my son's heart - while he was still on the tit oh god - I may now have to call him Jasperalah - and who I was unable to rescue from partum faintage because I have no life skills - and who always makes me laugh even when my head is about to burst from anxiety, THIS beautiful woman whose very presence with her even-more-beautiful daughter made me cry, and the amazing, truly amazingly big-hearted woman who rescued me from my corner and insisted that it was okay for me to cry it out and OH GOD I cannot even refer to her in the third person without tearing up, and this super-smart chick who I wish I could spend way more time with in Canadaland and the amazing women that I hadn't met before but now will be stalking relentlessly and her and her and her and her and her, oh lord, my girls, my bosom buddies, my heart-friends, my (oh sob) total BFF comrades-in-arms, my hearts... *collapses in tears and smiles*)

Let's just all cling to the love, kay?

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108 Comments:

Blogger Jenifer said...

I think I might be speechless. This was brilliant and from the heart in a way that screams I get this and I want to scream right back, you are so right.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I think the fact that you, were even willing to come with a baby so small and wanting, is amazing. That extends to all the women I met there with little ones. I think I would have stayed home and pouted, were it me.

I spoke to you, ever so briefly, when Mimi was soothing young Jasper to sleep in the lobby and I asked you a stupid question, something like, "What's is like being here with a baby this year?" You responded that it wasn't like not being there with a baby, which was an apt response because, yeah, that makes perfect sense.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

You, HBM, are on of the most eloquent writers that I've ever been privileged to read. Seriously. I super heart you and I truly hope I can go to BlogHer next year and possibly meet you.

Am still jealous that you met Grover. He's my hero.

4:23 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

there are so many reasons why i love you, why i'm proud to call you one of my closest friends. in this single post you manage to crystallize so many of them, and with such grace, it leaves me speechless. awe. xoxo

4:26 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

You are the most amazing writer I've ever had the privilege of meeting and talking with.

You were grace and elegance personified this weekend.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

xxxoo

Just that.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Oh, but we wanted to sit with you. Closer, one set of pudgy legs against another (and of course I refer to Jasper and Fin, because we, we are ravishing). It was the hardest and easiest thing I have ever done, venturing out, but knowing always that I could retreat into her silky head.

I did ache to run, to laugh and cavort without worry, but I think we all did. You and I had our babies, sleeping and screaming, lovely and messy - a hot dollup of honey mustard shit literally splat on my foot during the morning keynote, you didn't see that- but we weren't alone in our aloneness.

And now I am blathering.

Just know that I saw you in a special light, before the conference and evermore. Remember, you taught me that the heart is a muscle.

Sweet feather kisses to that sweet little man of yours.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Schmutzie said...

This is an incredible piece. Thank you so much for writing it.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

This you is impossible not to love. BIG LOVE. The biggest.

xo,
J

4:29 PM  
Blogger Assertagirl said...

And now I'm sitting in Palo Alto with the tears. You are such a beautiful person, Catherine, and I'm so thrilled to know you, to call you my friend. Hugs.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Maggie, Dammit said...

You know that short list of people who start to speak and the whole world goes into a hush, like, even the bunnies and they're already quiet anyway but it's like GOD, even the bunnies shut up for this, because it's so great, it's just so great?

You have been at the top of that short list for me for a long, long time.

Wonderful post.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Beautiful simply beautiful.

4:44 PM  
Blogger IRISHKAT said...

Wow! I too am left speechless and in tears and I wasn't even there. But do understand all that 'is' - when trying to be a Mom and you and they don't always fit together the way you would like. I am glad you had so many fantastic women around to luv up on you!

4:45 PM  
Blogger kerrianne.org said...

You! are the Catherine that so many over the course of the weekend talked about (in great ways!) and asked if I had met you, had I met Catherine yet? I unfortunately left without introducing myself, but I did see you, and your little one, and smiled at you from over the top of a room filled with happy McDonald's hats.

This was lovely. Thank you for it.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I don't even know what to say to all of you. *TEARS STREAMING DOWN FACE*

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Glennia said...

So, so beautiful, just like you are, my dear. Just like you.

I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to meet your baby. I only saw you in passing, and there was always a crowd of baby-adorers there (at least in my head there were, because who would not adore such a baby?).

xoxo

4:46 PM  
Blogger Immoral Matriarch said...

"So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other, this week, next week, and in all the weeks and months to come?"

Gladly.

This post brought me to tears.
It was wonderful to have met you and I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship. :)

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Wannabe Hippie said...

A seriously heart wrenchingly beautiful post. Thank you for this little gift.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

I've been toying with whether or not I even want to go to BlogHer this year and this post cinched it: OH, I DO.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

Can I tell you that I stood in a room and listened to you talk into a microphone with your baby in your arms and I was in totally awe? In awe of how you glowed with momminess, and how you beamed with passion about blogging, and how I stared at you the whole rest of the weekend? I didn't know who you were, but now I do, and yeah, I totally wanted to kiss your baby, but was too nervous to ask.

Thanks for writing this. Thanks for being there.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

"We're complicated."

Truer words have never been written.

It was a wonderful, loving, heartbreaking, fulfilling and empowering weekend, filled with both extremes of belonging and the occasional isolation, real or perceived.

At one panel I became overwhelmed at the topic, so I hurried to my room to cry. I didn't want anyone to see me cry. But my roommates were there and went above and beyond what I would expect someone to do. Everyone who saw me after that, still with my red eyes, all understood and provided so much empathy and compassion.

Wish I could have spent more time with you. Toronto-area road trip will be planned soon, I think.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

A short list of the failed comment-starts I've tried to write here today:

"If I had a uterus, I'd be pregnant now...."

"Arms are better now, but my heart is sore..."

"I have a picture of you and everyone else tweeting during a panel..."

"You inspired..."

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Katie Kat said...

WOW, I wasn't there, nor am I even a blogger (just a blog hag), and I was so moved by your post. I've read everyone's updates and so many of them express the overwhelming experience they had, but yours is soul-bearingly deep.

It sort of amazes me that all these completely awesome ladies that I read (and secretly wish I was, or at the very least had as best friends) are so anxious and insecure and feel unpopular and lost in the world. But that's how I feel! And knowing that each of us uses that to come together somehow and DEAL, or get a reminder of our own worth, or find new ways to cope and laugh and grow... that is what's so good about all this.

I commend you ladies. What you do on the internet is raw, open and brave. Getting all together and bearing your true selves is even moreso.

Thank you HBM!

5:01 PM  
Blogger Alli ~Mrs. Fussypants said...

Beautiful words. So loving. Amazingly well written as usual.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

It wasn't the interaction I'd *planned* with you, but still, there's something to be said about bonding over a dirty diaper. I hope I will always be to you the kind of friend who you know is willing to take shit for you. :)

This was lovely.

And BlogHer for me was so much on many sides of what you describe here, even though my "baby" was a loss of voice at times, but a finding of kindred spirits who could fill in my words for me.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

i've had so many thoughts about that hard moment in the center of this. i've been waiting to get quiet enough to express them in a way that is empathetic to everyone of us who is making this thing up as we go along. you may have beat me to it.

a rose at your feet.

xo.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

You are awesome.

And I so wish I had been in that session where you were nursing. Because I would have given you a standing ovation afterwards just for that.

You know, every time I saw you while we were there I tried to say hello. But you always looked so busy, and surrounded by other people, that I was afraid to try to really talk to you. I was afraid I would be interrupting something, or adding to your stress by seeming one more person you had to talk to. I just wanted to tell you that I thought it was very brave of you to come bringing Jasper, especially after all the hassle you had trying to get him permission to come here. I also wanted to offer you some help if you wanted it..

I'm sorry now that I didn't cut through the crowd and just say those things to you. But at least I can say it now. I was proud of you, and I thought you were brave. And if you ever need help, and I'm around, I'd like to help you.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anissa@Hope4Peyton said...

You have beautifully universal emotional moments and you express them with so much honesty. I have so much respect for what you set out to do, what you ended up doing and what that taught you. No shame in that.

Really thoughtful.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

(BTW everyone that was me with the deleted comment; the end of my comment got cut off for some reason so I had to retype it.)

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

Damn it Catherine.

It's becoming exceedingly more difficult to read your beautiful words because I miss you so.

You're in my heart. Wrapped up tight around it. Always.

Now I've got something in my eye and don't you have a baby to feed or something?

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Kiki said...

Wow.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Amalah said...

"So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other, this week, next week, and in all the weeks and months to come?"

GAH, yes. It's so sad, that it seems so inevitable, every year. Everybody becomes so quick to judge and think the worst, based on one encounter or something they saw from across the room, everybody blaming everybody else for their discomfort, NOBODY willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt that really, we were all flipping terrified and nervous and overwhelmed and bound to commit at least one boneheaded social faux pas, mostly likely right in front of the largest group possible.

And you! HBM! Probably one of the women I actually got to spend the most time with (which still wasn't a lot)...I had no idea about what had happened at Guy's house and had no idea you felt so alone and nervous because you were just beautiful and sweet and funny, even if your brain was telling you something very different.

I tried really hard to meet as many people as possible, to be as friendly and outgoing as I could force myself to be, until I completely wore myself out, and was forced to do the absolute hardest thing of the weekend: admit that I needed help, and wasn't doing okay, and I needed some water and someone to stay by my side and keep me from crashing into things. (And that sounds like a metaphor, but it's not.) And instantly I was surrounded by love and support and wee little cups of water and I couldn't stop laughing and thinking about what amazing friends I have.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Babybloomr said...

What a gift you are.

I sat behind you, beside BPDad as he rendered Jasper comatose with the endless swinging of the car seat. I tentatively reached out one finger and petted him, (Jasper, not BPD), but I was afraid that I would seem too forward, or too jump on the bandwagon-y or too.. something. If I had only known that inside your uber-earthmother exterior there beat the heart of a fellow trying-to-look-more-calm-and-confident-than-I'm-feeling-right-now woman, I would have kissed you and your sweet baby right on the mouth. Which would have totally blown the moment and caused you to grab Jasper and run, so it's just as well.

But next year? Bet on it.

(OK, not really, I was just channeling some Bloggess energy just then-- but I DO plan on stammering an awkward hello and handing you one of my cool-kids Moo cards.)

5:13 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

p.s. I made this my Kirtsy pick today.

HBM fans, you know what to do.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Can it be next year already so I can come to BlogHer and try to meet you?

This made me cry.

I'm pretty sure if I had come this year, I would have behaved EXACTLY the same way (even down to the small, needy person in the sling and big, sloppy boobs).

Thanks for making me feel less alone. The love is good.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

I adore the suspension of distance between your heart and your mouth. Just adore it.

I took you, Tracey, Amy, and so many others straight to my heart after this weekend. Thank you for your friendship.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

wow.
this is the best thing i've read in a long time.
thank you for this.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

One word: bravo.

(I'm so there next year.)

5:53 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

Sorry, that was me, it double posted for some reason

5:55 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Thank you for putting into words some of same feelings I experienced this past weekend. I also missed the Big Dramatic Moment this year because I was feverishly trying to get my own baby calmed down so that I could attend the book signing. *sigh*

The irony was not lost upon me that being a mother got me to where I am, in some respects. But being a mother kept me from fully enjoying the conference. Life is humbling.

6:06 PM  
Blogger maybaby said...

Gee. Now I've finally read something that makes we *want* to go to BlogHer next year.

So far I've studiously avoided it. However, if there will be even a handful of women there with this sense of community...I might go.

Thanks for a lovely post.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

I think what I was in awe of the most (other than the fact that you made the trek so bravely with Jasper, alone) was the sense of strong community -- the hands outreached when you needed them most -- running to hold the babies and tend to them (and us mothers) without any question.

It was a true reflection of how it feels to be part of the mom blog community online.

Hands outstretched and holding us up when we can all but flop down on the floor.

xo

6:40 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

"So please, can we be gentle with each other...?"

Always.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

what an amazing post. you are truly such a talented writer.
i hope to have the privilege of meeting you in person next year.
hugs.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

That was a beautiful post. I don't know if you should be so hard on yourself for not feeling on the inside. You have a new baby for crying out loud. It is the biological imperative that you prioritize that over drinking, hanging out and socializing constantly. It becomes less important and then more important again. It wanes and surges and wanes again depending on our life's circumstances. I know I had the same problem and my twins were miles away. Maybe next year...But so well said.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Karen Sugarpants said...

"So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other, this week, next week, and in all the weeks and months to come?"

So well said. Beautiful post Catherine.

7:06 PM  
Blogger capperoo said...

That was lovely. I wasn't there. I'm not in this group, but that was lovely.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

"...being a mother in real life is not the same thing as playing one on the Internet"

Man. Doesn't that sum up everything about our online/offline persona? We're on our best behavior, but we hope that the true "us" comes out. For certain, mine did. When you teared up to know that I, too, brought my child it was ever so natural to embrace and weep as mothers, friends, women. I love you FOR REALS.

Sometime this weekend when I wonder why I'm singing "Losing My Religion" and hoping for a beer bong and needing to get in touch with my college friends, I will blame you for the title of this post, Catherine. Then, I will smile again that a thought of your beauty even passed through my brain.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Wow. First reading your post, then all the comments. This stuff makes a girl a bit misty-eyed.

All the recap posts I've read until this one made me sure I didn't want to go to BlogHer because I'm so shy. This one makes me wish I could justify spending that money on me and not the rest of my family.

This year I would have been another mommy with a babe in arms (D was born May 22) and I think I'm also sort of sad that I didn't go to show her off.

But I'm not as brave as you.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Oh HBM. This was gorgeous. You have such a way with words.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Now I know why I should have gone to SF. So you would have had someone to cry with.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Lola Goetz said...

Wow, Catherine. Thanks for writing this. I think you wrote this for women like me, too. While I didn't have my son in the sessions with me, I did have to take him to the parties, and he was too big to carry around the entire time. That was me, along the wall, in the corner with a damn orange stroller. It was also me, in the back of the naked blogging session, with you, amy, and julie. and dana.

I've been thinking about how hard this year was, how I didn't get to connect in quite the same ways because I had to be mommy first and foremost. Maybe I will go ahead and write that post about how it went for me, too.

I wish I'd gotten to talk to you a bit more, seeing how we were in similar situations. Instead of connecting with others, I gave up and went back to my room, frustrated and feeling guilty.

Again, thank you for writing this.
Becky (misspriss)

7:45 PM  
Blogger Tootsie Farklepants said...

Lady, you WENT with a baby and nursed on stage. I didn't even get in my car and drive to SF from LA. You have moxie. I lurves me a girl with moxie.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous torrie said...

This post can only be called fantastic.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

This post is amazing. YOU are amazing.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

As you may or may not know, I didn't make it to Blogher this year so I don't even feel like I have any business commenting here (nothing personal...I feel that way everywhere in the bloglands this week) because what could I possibly have to say about something in which I was not even involved and didn't witness? Not much I guess... So I'll just say great post, as always (and I heard your baby was *completely* adorable).

8:23 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Izzy! How could I NOT know?! I MISSED YOU!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Phoebe's Phriends said...

I love this post (really, I love all of your posts but it would be repetitive to leave the same comment every day) - this one, in particular, struck me when you write that "We all feel on the outside, all of us, sometimes..." A-fucking-men. I have to remind myself of that when I read these brilliant blogs and think "I bet she's never lonely, she's so smart and witty, she probably has a zillion friends just like her, she rocks...I'm such a doofus."

As I get older I find it can be hard to meet people with whom I really connect, to make friends, especially those Heart-Friends (don't those H-Fs just make us feel FULL inside and make our hearts sing!). I always think it must be me - there's something wrong with me. As a new and not totally committed blogger, though a very committed blog reader, part of me loves the idea of BlogHer - all these fabulous women in one place and the chance to meet and connect and laugh and play and nourish our inner selves. And part of me is scared to death of spending a weekend with all these fabulous women who will meet and connect and laugh and play and nourish their inner selves - and I won't be able to match their fabulousness.

Thank you for sharing this in your honest and funny and poignant way. Reading this has made me feel a little ache-y so let me remember to be gentle with myself and all of you.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

That feeling of being outside the group looking in? Yeah, I feel like that almost every time I'm in any group whatsoever. It's just become much more pronounced now that I have kids. I often wonder if I 'use' my kids to put even more space between me and everyone else.

You captured those feelings so perfectly in this post. It almost makes me feel brave enough to go to BlogHer next year. And, if I go and some random woman comes up to you and gives you a hug. . .well, that may just be me.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Jessica McFadden said...

Brava babes.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous laurie said...

You really are a lovely person.

9:56 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

I wish we could have met. You are glorious.

10:26 PM  
Blogger sam said...

My God Catherine. What a STUNNING piece.

I just wanna squeeze you!

10:27 PM  
Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said...

This was the best recap I've read thus far. And I'm so pleased that you mentioned my friend Amanda (The Wink and Tumble Dry) because I can only imagine that it was the same experience for her.

Truly great post.

10:38 PM  
Blogger LetterB said...

Again you are able to put into gorgeous prose what many who had kids with this year were feeling. Having my nursling there made me feel so split as well. I wanted so badly to be alone at the conference but at the same time loved having bonding time with my daughter away from her brother. I felt bad when I had her with me (totally weird feelings of people thinking I wanted attention) and bad when she wasn't with me but off for the day with my husband. I felt so deeply for you and others with sling babies - having just been in that place myself - imagining how tough it would be to navigate with them and keep sane. You have my sincere respect and gratitude for this beautiful post.

10:55 PM  
Blogger marymurtz said...

You said it all so beautifully. I continue to be torn as to whether I want to go or not; mostly there are people I want to meet, but I don't know if I could do that social/emotional part.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

If this post convinces any one of you ladies who are expressing reservation about going to BlogHer next year to JUST GO ALREADY DAMMIT, I will be at peace.

;)

11:03 PM  
Blogger Kim/2 Kids said...

Isn't what you mentioned the most likable part of being human. If we all pretended to be perfect and have it all together than what is the point. We are all human, we are all women, we are struggling regardless if life is fair or not. I heard a great quote yesterday "life isn't about perfection but about the struggles". Now I know this quote came from Oprah XM156 but I am not sure I want to admit it. Yes, I love Oprah. I have a husband with a terminal illness but I can say I am still "rejoicing might be a strong word" in what we all have in common. People often state "how awful for you, your husband will die in the next few years and you'll be left alone" and my only statement is that we all have our own burdens. Mine might be greater than yours but we all deal with something and we all deal with it differently, is one way better than another..I don't think so. We lean on each other.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Kim/2 Kids said...

Isn't what you mentioned the most likable part of being human. If we all pretended to be perfect and have it all together than what is the point. We are all human, we are all women, we are struggling regardless if life is fair or not. I heard a great quote yesterday "life isn't about perfection but about the struggles". Now I know this quote came from Oprah XM156 but I am not sure I want to admit it. Yes, I love Oprah. I have a husband with a terminal illness but I can say I am still "rejoicing might be a strong word" in what we all have in common. People often state "how awful for you, your husband will die in the next few years and you'll be left alone" and my only statement is that we all have our own burdens. Mine might be greater than yours but we all deal with something and we all deal with it differently, is one way better than another..I don't think so. We lean on each other.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Kim/2 Kids said...

Just saying, how did I end up with two comments? Please erase one if you can. Thanks.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

i am saving up all your posts for when i become a mother. for when it's hard as shit and i'm scared and lonely and wondering if i'm the only one who's ever felt that way. and when that happens, your words will give me courage and hope. they already do, actually.

12:49 AM  
Blogger To Think is to Create said...

The few times that I ran into you this past weekend (at the Kirtsy party, in the halls, etc.), you were so warm and friendly and acted like you already knew who I was. So much so, that I don't think I even really introduced myself!

It was clear that you were working hard to be all things to all, but your mothering exuded peace even if that's not what you felt on the inside. Your gentleness with J was something I really noticed, and I don't know why I'm telling you that except to just tell you that. It was special for me to experience.

I adore this post, and the feelings you were able to pull out of me with these words. It made me want to do a big group hug with you and all those people you listed, and so so many others.

Hug.

12:53 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

So write about the alone, but also about the love. Having seen you sob before, I can only picture you sitting, alone, sobbing, and wish I really was Elastigirl in real life so I could have reached all the way there and hugged you or even now, out to your new home too far from mine. I'm glad you had all those wonderful people to make it a tiny bit easier to bear what I wouldn't even have attempted, going alone with a babe so new to a party so overwhelming.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Sandra said...

(((hugs))) I only wish I'd been there by your side this year to offer my love in person.

Thanks for writing these honest, poignant, stunning words.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Jenny, the Bloggess said...

I don't even have the words. You made me cry in such a needed way. You are a healing force in my life. I will never forget that. I hope you won't either.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Wow. I can't even think of anything else.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I guess I'm going to be the sole voice of doom here, hence the anonymity ----- am I the ONLY one of your readers who did not attend BlogHer and so really have no idea what you are talking about?

Let me 'splain: what the hell happened that Jenny (who just posted above me, if I get all this down in time) had to defend herself? Your description is vague, hers is even more vague -----

I'm trying to be "gentle" and "forgiving" but seriously - I can't believe that I am the ONLY one of your mommy readers who didn't go to BlogHer - you are alluding to events without actually describing them. Which unfortunately just makes this whole BlogHer and mommy blogging thing seem like more and more like high school. I'm not one of the cool kids cause I don't know the code.

Help.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:
http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2008/07/five-star-friday-edition-16.html

11:39 AM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

I have nothing but respecful amazement regarding you and the bravery it took to bring a small baby to BlogHer. I was overwhelmed and all I had to do was think about my own needs. You...you managed to do it and look great and be everywhere and still write profound posts - I didn't post ONCE while I was there.

Hug to you and to your regions.

12:38 PM  
Blogger mek said...

Like many, I've been reading reports and reflections from BlogHer and yours is the one that made it sound the most welcoming.

Another thing you mention - the trying and failing to soothe your upset child in public...this one is always my emotional undoing, as well.

Thanks for your kind and generous posting.

2:14 PM  
Blogger A Mom Two Boys said...

Beautiful post, my lady. I accosted you at BlogHer and told you how much I loved your Sweetney post and once again, I'm telling you how much I love this one.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous lavandula said...

catherine beautifully heart felt writing yet again.i myself would never attend blogher as i never ever fit in anywhere.not even as a child did i fit in i am odd and quirky and extemely uncomfortable with crowds and strangers.so i think you are incredibly brave and super awesome.

6:32 PM  
Blogger jenB said...

I*'m trying to.

8:17 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Clinging to that love is really hard sometimes but oh my god I never want to let it go even when it tries to flip me off.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - I'm really sorry if my vagueness came off as insidery and exclusive - it wasn't meant that way. I just didn't want to engage in she said/she said. And the deets of what happened really weren't central to my point. But I hear you.

There's a live-blog account here - http://gwendomama.blogspot.com/2008/07/live-blogging-closing-keynote-blogher.html

10:29 PM  
Blogger Stefania/CityMama said...

If we could have voted on BlogHer heroes that very weekend, I would have chosen you. You and Nina of Charlie and Nina. To do what you (both) did--not just observing but participating in community-building while being so sleep deprived while having to scrape coherent thoughts together while focusing on someone else...I don't know how you did it, but I am glad you did. We all benefit from the wise words you share on your blog and in person. I really mean that.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's just all move on from BlogHer, kay?

8:59 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

*blushing at Stefania's words*

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whuh?

10:42 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

I am one of those incredibly shy, shy people who feels strangled and swallowed up at big events like these. But I'm glad I had enough courage to come say hi to you twice and some of the other bloggers that I love to read. I loved this post too, like so many above have commented.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous andi said...

Beautifully done, HBM. I'm sorry I didn't get to speak to you more at BlogHer - although we did briefly bond over our love of Grover.

For what it's worth, every time I saw you, you looked like a confident, wonderful mother. And you needn't worry about how your mothering in public looks - you were surrounded by other mothers who know what it's like to be in that situation. We support you. I thought you were so brave to even bring Jasper- I didn't attend last year because I had a wee baby.

Your kindness radiates from this post. I really enjoyed myself and it's upsetting to me that some people have been so hateful after the conference. Thanks for being so sweet. :)

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Meagan Francis said...

Okay, perception is such a funny thing. SEVERAL times, I wanted to walk up to you, HBM, and introduce myself and coo over your baby's ridiculous level of cuteness, but I felt like bringing a baby had made you super-conspicuous (kinda like how when you're pregnant everybody wants to rub your belly and after a while, the attention gets old) and that you were probably being approached by a zillion of other fans of your blog or your baby and I just didn't want to...overwhelm you. FWIW, every time I did see you, you seemed incredibly poised to me. :)

5:06 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Meagan - I so wish that you had.

5:11 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

Hey you, I love you. I'm so glad you and Jasper bit the bullet and made the trip.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous michelle lamar said...

Amazing post. Thank you for the reminder to be a lover not a hater. I wanted to come over and talk to you more at Blogher but you were taking care of the baby or you had a crowd of adoring people around you----if I saw you alone or relaxing, I honestly did not want to ruin the moment for you. You are a rockstar in my book, page 204. Thanks for reminding all of us to play nice.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Every time I saw you with your little Jasper I thought about this. How hard it would be for me to be in your situation. It made me think of times I've brought my children to office picnics, etc... But then I thought "But HBM looks so calm and collected." Now I am kicking myself for not plopping down beside you and spilling my guts.

xoxo

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

I could have written huge portions of this post (well, who am I kidding, I would have done so far less eloquently!). I felt THE SAME. Exact same. Except I missed so much more. I was actually in AWE of you for being there, for pushing through and going to all the sessions and parties and not letting the "having a baby" keep you from it, like I did. Still, I walked away from BlogHer feeling the same, like I was on the outside looking in. But yet, also loving everyone in the community and my buds best of all.

BlogHer rocks.

(WHY didn't I say hi?? I'm still kicking myself.)

1:23 AM  
Blogger JCK said...

This was just an exquisite post.

I wish that I had stopped to speak with you during the conference. I remember you so well with your baby boy draped across your shoulder. I kept wanting to say BRAVO for you coming with your child - albeit a very different experience from your last BlogHer conference.

3:43 AM  
Blogger excavator said...

Great post. How do you write with such power? ("Being a mother in real life is not the same thing as playing one one the internet" and "all of the vulnerabilities that roll onto the screen so easily don't play so comfortably on a real life stage."

Your voice is so true, and dead-on-target.

I think going to Blogher really is an act of courage in a way, for just the reasons you mentioned. And going with a newborn, after traveling with one, well that makes me quail just to think of it.

Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable, and then to write the truth about it.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Blogversary said...

I feel like for the next few weeks, I have to qualify my comments for blogHer-relate posts, by saying I was not there. :)

Nonetheless, I have been in the same situation at a conference for my career-field, which is all women (Deaconesses). And, I felt most if not all the emotions you did. You words ring true.

I appreciate your candor and your son is blessed to have you as his mommy.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I found your blog because of the NYT photo (Maria from Immoral Matriarch posted it the other day). I gasped when I saw it, because I have vowed not to miss BlogHer next year, even though I will be swinging a 7-month-old from my boob in many public places.

Thanks for capturing the magical and less-than-perfect moments of BlogHer. They remind me a lot of the magical and less-than-perfect aspects of blogging, motherhood and life, in general.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

I'm wishing I had not pushed my own insecurities on my own conversations with you remembering my own transition to two babies. I'm wishing I was just able to say all those things, you're beautiful, you're amazing and oh my hell what a wonderful job you are doing because I mean all of it. I wish I was able to say those things to you without feeling my own guilt of people long long ago that I got upset with and I'm wishing I could sit at the pool with you because sometimes It's ok to not say anything at all but hug.

You're awesome and even if I ever so briefly and ever so awkwardly was able to meet you, I'm thankful for it.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Owlhaven said...

Wish I would have come and said Hi to you.

Mary, mom to 10

11:14 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

Your post has me realizing how dumb it is that I didn't approach you. Every time I saw you, you looked absorbed in discussion, and I wasn't sure how to break in to what I was sure was a deep and meaningful encounter. Next year I hope to do better, not just with you, but with anyone who looks too busy to be bothered.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Man I go away for week and miss the best post ever.

I heart-love you back.

And as I told you, I was int he same baby boat last year, only with a mama to help me out so I can only imagine how sidelined you felt. If it's any consolation, you seemed perfectly present and attentive and wonderful. It's only on looking back that you think shit, I was totally out of it wasn't I.

Motherhood. Bitch that she is.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous GraceD said...

Thank you for this post. I was getting all worked up about the BlogHerDrama, then your Balm of Gilead writing put me gently, softly, quietly at rest.

Having said all that, there are not enough serotonin-reuptake-inhibitors in the world that would have helped me cope with the intensity of BlogHerDrama. As I mentioned on Jennster's, perhaps we need another natural disaster to blog about so we can get our stuff in perspective.

(And HAVING SAID THAT that natural disaster will probably be an earthquake in my neighborhood. So, everyone outside Northern California, start setting up a disaster blog for me so I can maintain my daily piece of anti-oxidant in the form of chocolate. We will need many bars of those - along with diapers, drinking water and ice for medicine and cold beer - when we head into the shelters)

Peace love and respect to you HBM
xo

2:40 PM  

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