Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The World According To Mom

A few months ago, my friend David asked me if I thought that it would be possible to travel around the world via blog. "Like Around The World In 80 Days," he said, "but on the Internet. Around the world in 80 clicks. 80 mom-blogger clicks!" "I don't know," I said. "But it sure sounds like a cool thing to try." "Cool. And if you could visit, virtually, moms around the world, what would you want to talk to them about?"

This was my answer (more on our "Around The World In 80 Clicks" project after the post, below)

Once, when Emilia was 8 or 9 months old and we were socializing at a local playground, another mother asked me this question: "don't you just love being a mom?" She meant it rhetorically: of course I loved being a mom. How could anyone not love being a mom? Becoming a mom means entering a state of existence wherein you are always, at some level, deeply fulfilled. It means being adored by tiny creatures who delight at the sound of your voice. It means love, giggles and ice cream and rainbows. It also means crouching in damp sand at playgrounds and wiping snotty noses and shitty bums and worrying constantly about whether or not you remembered to restock the diaper bag and, also, refill your Ativan prescription.

"Sort of," I replied. "Some of the time."

My memory on this might be fuzzy, but I think that she physically recoiled.

Of course I love being a mother. But it's complicated. I love being a mother to my children, but there's a very great difference between loving being a mother to one's own children and loving motherhood generally. I mean, I love being married to my husband, because I love him, but I can't imagine marching around saying that I love being a wife. My attachment to my married state has everything to do with him, and pretty much nothing to do with the institution of marriage itself. Motherhood is a little different, obviously: some women really do love motherhood as a practice, as a craft, as a way of life. I don't, not so much. I'm actually kind of bad at it. I struggle with the quotidien responsibilities of motherhood: I dislike cooking, I'm constantly running out of diapers, I'm terrible at managing schedules, and I regularly send my child to preschool in mismatched socks. I hate playgroups, and my house is a mess. What I am good at, as a mother: love, and good humor. I adore my children, and they delight me to no end. We have a lot of fun; we laugh a lot. Sure, the baby sometimes ends up with paper towels shoved down his pants in lieu of a diaper, but still: he's happy. We're all happy. And I'm happy with that. I love that.

So if someone were to ask me that question today - don't you just love being a mom? - I'd answer in much the same way - sort of/some of the time/some of it - but I'd also, depending upon how nervy I was feeling that day, say this: why don't I tell you, specifically, what I do love about being a mom? And then - if, that is, my inquisitor had not gathered up her children and fled my toxic presence - I would provide her with the following list:

1) I love that there are always cookies in the cupboard, and that I can claim plausible deniability if someone asks if the cookies are mine and whether I intend to eat them all myself.

2) I love that birthdays and holidays are major events involving ridiculous amounts of sugar and gift wrap.

3) I love that, for at least some months following the births of my children, I had really epic breasts. They're gone now, but still. For a while I had the bustline of a stripper, and that - feminist correctness be damned - was kind of cool.

4) I love seeing the world through her eyes:

5) And his:

There are, of course, a thousand and some other reasons that I could give, reasons that range from the poetic (the way that it feels when tiny hands get tangled in my hair) to the profane (there's always somebody on whom to blame the farts), but then this list would go on forever, and that would very probably undermine my claim to be ambivalent about the condition of motherhood.

In any case, the whole point of this exercise was this: to consider a standard entre-mamans question from my own perspective, and to invite other mothers - mothers from around the world - to do the same thing and share their answers. In part because I'm looking for some affirmation that I'm not the only mother in the world who ordinarily raises her eyebrows at such questions even as she secretly begins composing answers, but also to find out what it would be like - how the conversations would run, what we would say, whether we'd exclaim in agreement or goggle over our differences - if we hung out in the sort of fantasy playground or playgroup that included mothers from all over the world and asked each other that stuff and got to compare notes. And then maybe had a drink or something.

Which - thanks to the Internet - is possible! Maybe! Except for the drink part!

David and I - in partnership with Global Voices Online - are launching an experiment to see if we get a global conversation going between moms who blog. We want to see if it's possible to travel the world and make friends, virtually, solely on the Vernian voyage power of the momosphere. We want to see if we can pull together a global playdate in 80 clicks.

Here's how it's going to work: this post that you're reading? Is the departure lounge. I'm going to link to a couple of other mom bloggers here in Canada, and to a couple of mom bloggers from other countries around the world, and they'll write their posts, sharing 5 things that they love (or maybe what they don't so much love - this playground doesn't force conformity) about being a mom, and then they'll tag a few more bloggers from their own country and from other countries, and so on. And you're more than welcome to join: just write a post of your own (5 things that you love about being a mom) and find someone to link to and tag - someone from your own country, if you like, but definitely someone from another country (Google is a good resource if you don't know any; google any country name and 'mom' in their blog search function) (be sure to let them know that you've tagged them!) - and link back here and leave a comment and we'll add you to the 'itinerary,' which David will compile and post and update as the tour proceeds.

Are you in? I hope you're in. This is going to be fun. No passport necessary.

So, to get started, why not see a little more of Canada by visiting Redneck Mommy in Alberta, or Sherina from Chaos Theory in Quebec. Then, travel a little further and visit Chocoholic Madness, a soon-to-be mom in the United Arab Emirates, and Fine Little Day in Sweden, and Indian Mommies (there's a tremendous blogroll of Indian moms here!) in India, and, also, Beth, who used to live in Burkina Faso but now lives in France.

(What are you waiting for? GO!)

(Oh, and? If you don't plan to blog it - or even if you do, and just want to run some ideas through the mill here - what do you love about being a mom?)



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Blogger magicalsummer said...

would love to see how far around the world this goes. here's my post


5:04 PM  
Anonymous honeypiehorse said...

Excellent idea. I'm from LA living in Munich. http://honeypiehorse.blogspot.com

4:08 AM  
Blogger Jessica McFadden said...

Here's my post, from Silver Spring, MD right outside Washington DC:


11:28 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Great idea! Mine is up.


8:27 PM  
Anonymous Cristie said...

This is such a great idea and boy did I need to do it today! Here are my five and those I tagged. http://www.thetravelingcircus.com/2009/05/top-five-things-about-being-mom.html
Can't wait to travel with you.

8:29 AM  
Blogger MrsVladdevlor said...

I decided to join this project and add my post from Australia! :)


Thanks for creating this wonderful project!

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Kate from Charm City Moms said...

Here's my list:

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Tanya said...

I was tagged by Mom Zombie (Detroit) and wrote a post (Vancouver Canada) - I tagged another mom in Canada but also put a call out to my subscribers and a tweet out. My post: http://www.ishouldbenapping.com/being-a-mom-rocks-and-sucks-mostly-rocks/

11:45 AM  
Blogger sofiascomments said...

Hello from Greece!
My dear friend ASPA ON LINE, introduced your movement to us,so I wrote my poem.
It is such a good idea, not only because we find a common communication ground, but also, because we are given the chance to visit people all over the world and share ideas and feelings.
In our cruel world this is a gentle gesture.
Have a nice day!

1:37 AM  
Blogger Julie Alvarez said...

I am in!

10:41 AM  
Blogger {sue} said...

I love this post. And your analogy about being a wife. Exactly!

From Washington, DC

11:18 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

thank you for saying this:
"I mean, I love being married to my husband, because I love him, but I can't imagine marching around saying that I love being a wife. My attachment to my married state has everything to do with him, and pretty much nothing to do with the institution of marriage itself."

that is exactly how i feel. i love mothering my kids, but i'm not all about kids, i don't feel like motherhood in general is the end all to be all. and this is the perfect analogy!!! thank you!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Sumana said...

I am from bangalore, India and here is mine:

2:24 AM  
Blogger ~ said...

I jumped on the band wagon! What a terrific idea! I am a Mom from Northern Virginia : ) God bless!

9:23 AM  
Anonymous toni said...

I loved this post. Loved it. So, now, let's see if I can figure this out. Here's my link:

I'm hoping it works!

8:56 AM  
Anonymous honeypiehorse said...

Here's my post: http://honeypiehorse.blogspot.com/2009/05/mothers-day-to-max.html

6:09 AM  
Blogger Indrani said...

I was tagged with this wonderful meme and i did it.It was so much fun doing this, lovely idea. Here is the link : http://indranid.blogspot.com/2009/05/5-things-i-love-about-being-mom-meme.html

6:38 AM  
Blogger mummyjaan said...

Here's my take on it - from Ireland.

What I love about being a mom to Apya and Bubbu

7:49 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Hiya! Just stopping by to let you know I've taken this tag challenge. Thanks for coming up with it. Angel in South Africa tagged me! Great fun! Thanks again.

12:23 PM  
Blogger AngelConradie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:10 PM  
Blogger AngelConradie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:10 PM  
Blogger AngelConradie said...

I was tagged too- you can find my post here.

2:10 PM  
Blogger AngelConradie said...

I was tagged too, you can find my post here.

2:13 PM  
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