Her Bad Mother

Monday, July 31, 2006

Dared to Eat a Peach

San Jose and BlogHer seem, now, a world away. Well, 24 hours away, anyway, 14 of which were spent in airports, on tarmac and in the air. You heard me. 14 hours of air travel, only 5 of which were actually spent in the air. And the last hour was spent cursing the trio of middle-aged hippies who rushed past me in their Birkenstocks and straw hats at 2 a.m. to steal the last cab in the airport taxi line-up, leaving a pungent trail of patchouli-tofu stink in their wake.

But that wasn't the best worst part. I cursed American Airlines, and the hippies, and I cursed them long and hard, but they weren't the worst part of yesterday. The worst part was leaving San Jose.

To be clear, I don't wish that BlogHer could have gone on forever. I don't wish that it had gone on for even a few more days. I was anxious to come home. I missed WonderBaby so hard that my bones ached. I needed to get home.

But I left behind something else that I think that I am going to miss almost as hard - 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?

I will miss the me that felt at home among my own kind, among a kin that I can only, for the rest of the year, carry with me virtually. I will miss being me among women who, most of them, are trying to be fearless - or at least, know how to not be cowed by fear, even as they quake with fear - in the most important moments of their lives. Among women who are, like me, trying to use found moments of lived fearlessness to navigate the murky waters, the frightening waters, of new motherhood and new 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.

Women who walk with babes in arms or babes in tummies or aches for distant babes in hearts (and some, even, without babes, happily without babes), who are fierce and indepedent and determined to carpe the diem despite their fears. Women who work a room like red-hot real estate agents in pink lace pasties. Women who stake their claims. Women who speak their claims. I love these women. I loved being one of these women.

I know, I know. I am, still, one of these women, and all of these women continue to walk with me. This is, first and foremost, a virtual community. A community of words is always virtual. I will write and read and virtually walk among these women daily. But for a few days, I walked among them for real. And I walked among them as a friend and a writer first, a mother second. The face that they saw when I approached was mine, the arms that embraced them held no child. And it felt good, powerfully good, in a funny kind of way that both held the ache of being a mother-missing-child and let that ache go.

Now, I'm curled up at home, writing these words with a WonderBaby rolling about at my feet. Her Bad Mother is most fully Her Bad Mother when she has Her clasped to her side. And I love this. I wouldn't trade this, not for anything. But I also love that, for a few moments, I was Her Bad Mother, fully Her Bad Mother, on my own, with WonderBaby clasped only in my heart, and I love that I loved that alone, that stolen slice of alone. And that I loved it, that 'alone,' without fear. I loved it without fear. For a moment.

I miss that moment already, and the women with whom I shared that moment (you know who you are), and the women with whom I did not get to share that moment. I miss it all.

So all that there is to do, now, is keep it alive, in words. Until next time, and beyond.

Mommy went to BlogHer and all she brought me was this Fussy t-shirt


All you fabulous writers who have been doing the Mupproustian Interview Experiment? I'm reading your interviews, and I'll be Muppeting you up and spreading the linky love really, really soon. Thanks for keeping the love alive out here in the blogosphere.

And, Toronto Mamas? Getting together soonest is now of paramount importance. Check our space later today.

And, all... please do keep visiting the Basement. Someone's hanging there right now, and could use the company. Bring cookies, and all of that BlogHer love.


Blogger Unknown said...

Oh. That is exactly how I feel today. And my head is spinning with ideas and thoughts that I can't even put in order just yet.

I miss you already. And didn't get to talk with you nearly enough. My oldest got sick saturday night and it put a big, wet, mommy blanket on the rest of my stay.

Next year. Chicago. NO kids coming with me this time.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Karen Bodkin said...

You amazed me with your amazingness - particularly when you spoke up in seminars and the closing ceremonies. Inspiring. You have alot to share with the world and I hope to read more and more of your writing - here at your blog, and likely beyond. You are going to do more great things. Glad to have met you, though it was fleeting.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Rock star, again? Man, this is getting tedious.

Seriously HBM, this so sums up my experience as well. I'm sure others felt differently but you're right--as much as I couldn't wait to get back home to the bebe, it was sort of nice to be there as mothers, but to feel like women first.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got an open house to attend for a Classic Six on the Upper East Side with a wrap-around terrace and a wbfp.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it that you had a good time. That you discovered another dimension to yourself and found ways to further treasure the dimensions you DO know about. It's clearly an urban myth that adults can't make new friends after they're married and become parents. But to make new BEST friends? Miraculous!

4:21 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Dude, you were not Her Bad Mother. You were Catherine. I'm really glad I got to meet you!

4:24 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

i heart you. with the biggest red drawn heart ever.. and all colored in. you are amazing. can't say it enough. plus, you ask like THE best questions at blogher seminars. you do it on purpose.. to be cooler than the rest of us. LOL

ps- where the fuck is the other post you posted?!?! where'd it go?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even as someone who didn't go to BlogHer, but who lived it vicariously through you and the others, I felt a sense of let down today-the energy you all put out there was so intense I swear I could feel it here.

I love that you loved that alone, and were fearless enough to share it so elequently. Welcome back!

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this recap. It's the first one that didn't make me jealous as much as resolved not to let anything stand in the way of attending next year's. In other words: inspired. Thanks!

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you said about finding and being yourself - that was perfect. Such an apt description of why the trip was so lovely.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've decided to work for Century 21 - since my MIL is a Prudential Fox and Roach. I like the competition.

But seriously, I have no words because you took them right out of my mouth.

And if anything, people should get that it was inspiring. It didn't matter who knew you and who didn't - the intimate connections be it 1 or 12 made it well worth the while.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Devra said...

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah and I took the red eye out of San Fran last night. While we did not have the stinky hippies, we can tell you with certainty, we know of at least one woman who doesn't just *use* Chanel, she marinates herself in it. She stunk so badly our eyes were tearing and our noses were stuffed. We did get our seats changed, but we think she may have been basting herself during the entire flight. Best part? We got to Detroit, had a two hour layover and got right back on to Flight Chanel #5. Two hours is not enough time to fumigate! Let me tell you, I would have preferred having to sit in a plane stinking of Latkes! (and if anyone hasn't made Latkes, aka potato pancakes, let me tell you Latke stink is one of the worst stinks in the world.) We decided Spirit Airlines is named as such because you need to be drunk to enjoy flying with them.

Loved being able to meet you and we will see each other in late October when I come to Toronto for ARM!!!!

7:06 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

You can rub my arm all day long, baby.

9:23 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

We're glad to have you back, though, long-range tata posts nothwithstanding (where did that go? Were you attracting too many pervs?). So glad you had such fun, though I think you could have fun alone in a wet paper bag, personally. You bring it.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed meeting you at Blogher, and I regret not having had the chance to talk with you more. In particular, I was intrigued by your thoughts about your academic endeavors, and how becoming a mother has influenced the focus of your research. If you ever feel like posting about your process, I'd love to read about it.

You're the complete package-- brains, beauty, and pasties.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I don't know what these questions were that you asked at Blogher but everyone is talking about them so they must have been good. It doesn't really surprise me. After all you write beautiful, cut-to-the-heart-of-the-matter posts so I would expect nothing less from you.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Love you, all!

I took down the tittie post because there was a one-two punch of extreme google pervage and a snark. One-two-three punch, actually - I discovered all of the above while on a 4 hour layover at O'Hare in the middle of the night, after reading e-mails about how somebody else was snarking somebody that I adore. Get crabby, sad, freaked - hide post.

I'll put it back up, soonish. Cuz the world needs more titties, cow udders and Jennster.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, and Carmen? Dude. I have a tie-dyed onesie from you. Check back for the photo.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Juliness said...

You had to do it, huh? You had to go impress me all over again. First with the baddest pastie-wearing pic ever, next with the fabulously insightful questions in the seminars and now with this lovely piece about the whole experience. I'm so glad I got to meet you!

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you made it home safely despite the stinky hippies!!!

11:52 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

Reading this post, I am now even MORE upset that I didn't get a chance to chat with you. You are such an eloquent writer. Truly a pleasure to read.

12:39 AM  
Blogger the mystic said...

My husband just walked by my computer and asked, "Umm... WHY are you looking at boobs on the internet???

I'm glad everyone had a great time and wish I would have been there too!

1:53 AM  
Blogger the mystic said...

My husband just walked by my computer and asked, "Umm... WHY are you looking at boobs on the internet???

I'm glad everyone had a great time and wish I would have been there too!

1:53 AM  
Blogger Mary Tsao said...

Okay. So, like, one day if I ever go to grad school I will come back to your blog and peruse the archives for possible thesis topics.

Great post. This morning I was thinking something along these lines when my kids were whining and crying and I was trying to get both of them dressed and out of the house and we were late for playgroup. I wondered if I could return to BlogHer, but I knew I couldn't. For one thing, it was over. For another, it was these kids who became my muses with their births.

It was amazing to talk to you and to other women about being a mother (and a blogger and a writer and a shoe slut and oh, a person with an identity even when her kids aren't with her) without our kids taking up all of our attention. Seriously, what a treat.

2:19 AM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

ohmigod, are you the most eloquent, sensitive, poetic woman in the world? methinks yes.
i wasn't at blogher, but what you wrote was so beautifully indicative of one of the universal truths of motherhood that i must now go hug bumblebee and perhaps, finally, say yes to that weekend away - IN DECEMBER - that i had been dreading.
damn skippy.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is an excellent wrap up - I love reading entries on how it made the attendees feel rather than a big list of who they met (not that that is bad either and I'll probably post one).

It was lovely meeting you, your hair? It's amazing.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i seriously can't wait to meet you bitchez next year--and i am SO glad you got that alone and rode it hard. (with pasties on, no less).

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post was exactly everything I have been feeling since I got home. Blogher was the first time since my oldest son was born that I have been able to remember who I am as a woman.

And thank you for being so nice to me, even though you didn't know me at all. Everytime we ended up in the same group you were so friendly. I hope we meet up again next year!

9:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just doing the BlogHer walk: linking from site to site, reading about those who, for some reason, chose to party with the girls instead of staying home and giving birth like me. Go figure....

10:16 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Your blog touched me and probably any woman reading it. Your writing reminds us that we really are women outside of being mother's and that it is the essence of what makes us who we are. Thank you.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

OK, weeping now. Thank you for this, and for your questions, and for your always so thoughtful writings. I'll be back again and again. And not just to find out which Muppet I am.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

sorry, that was me deleting a duplicate post. blame the happy trigger finger.

11:15 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

You rocked BlogHer hard and now you're back to rocking as a blogger. This post is fabu.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

HBM - that was beautiful.

SwingDaddy and I were a teaching team (for dance) for a long time, and I spent years introducing myself as "Lady M of SwingDaddy and Lady M." More recently, I've just started getting used to saying "Q's Mom" when I call the pediatrician. Identifying oneself is an interesting and ever-changing thing.

It was wonderful to meet you!

1:08 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

next year, lady momma. next year.

and then we'll see about how easy it is to be green. or not. or, um, huh. I was trying to be funny, and. well.


1:16 AM  
Blogger Jezer said...

I will SO be your annoying tag-along in Chicago!

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes and yes. And as I said to you on Saturday night, I can appreciate your amazing writing and the fact that you also happen to be a mother. Personally I would never take anything away from both of those labels because I think one begins where the other ends. I hope I can do it as well when the time comes.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Karl said...

Very cool to meet you and get to know you a little, though I wish I'd been present for all the pastieness. :)

My brain is still reeling from the conference. And I'm not even done processing all the business cards and blogs and posts and...ugh, I gotta go.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writer first, mother second. Yes. And friend -- yes, a friend -- that was the most amazing part of the week. I honestly feel changed, like there's a peace in me that I haven't experienced since having a group of girlfriends in college.

It was so awesome meeting you. I look forward to reading the Toronto blogger interviews (once I get caught up on all this craziness back-blogging and commenting). And you are right, the bloggers that could not join us in San Jose were certainly with us in spirit.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

That post was fabulous. I am still overcome with jealousy for missing out but at least the coolest and most eloquent of all the BlogHer attendees is a real life friend right here in TO so we get you alllll year long :)

7:45 AM  

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