Her Bad Mother

Sunday, July 2, 2006

I Have Found the Village, People

Now with new editing action below!

What they don't tell you #673: that having a baby may be one of the loneliest things that you will ever do.

Sure, people come around and visit and bring you casseroles (or, in our case, ready-for-oven yummies from Pusateri's and Whole Foods) and flowers and offer to clean your kitchen (sometimes, these will be the same friends that will later abandon you because you blog). Your mother comes to town and sits in the dark with you while your ever-wakeful new baby - dubbed Baby No Sleep by the nurses at the hospital - chews away at your tattered nipples and tells you about how she gave you sedatives as an infant (formula and sedatives. Ah, the seventies...) because you too were a wakeful baby and drove her crazy. Your awesome Husband takes some time off of work to hang around home and gives you all of the love and support that is in him to give. You're not actually alone.

But you're lonely.

There's a lot to be said about why this is, and how this is. About how every time your husband walks out the front door you panic, your heart clenching with resentment as you realize that you're on your own with this strange new creature that is entirely dependent upon you and that you will always be on your own with this creature precisely because she is entirely dependent upon you. About how you think that nobody will never fully understand how it feels to know that you are, now, forever burdened, forever shackled, and that no matter how sweet those shackles, no matter how much you love the shackles, they are just that - shackles. About how you don't want to talk about the experience of new motherhood with anybody because it's impossible to talk about without falling into an incoherent rant about how hard, how very hard, how very fucking hard it all is. About how you're scared that if you talk about it people won't understand that at the same time that you are overwhelmed with anxiety and fear and frustration, you are also overwhelmed by love. About how you're scared that you are a bad mother for being so afraid. About how you're scared that everyone else is going to think that you are a bad mother for being so afraid.

So you sit in your ratty sweatpants and unlatched nursing bra in the corner of your sectional sofa, infant tucked to your breast, surrounded by bottles of water and pumping gear and dog-eared copies of What to Expect The First Year and The Baby Whisperer and the tattered bags of cookies that are the mainstay of your diet when Husband is out. And you think about how very, very alone you are.

New motherhood can be lonely. I was lonely. So when I was invited to join a mom's group-slash-baby playgroup I was thrilled. New moms! A bunch of new moms! They would know. They would understand. It didn't matter who they were, I would like them. And if I didn't like them, for some bizarre reason, I wouldn't care. They would still be moms and they would understand and I would no longer be alone. I would join them no matter what. I would embrace them no matter what. Like (spoiler alert if you have not yet seen Season I of Lost) when the Lost survivors on the raft meet up with that boat of people at sea and are delighted to see them even though they totally look like extras from Deliverance. I wouldn't care. I was adrift and alone on a spit-stained mommy life-raft. I'd take salvation in any form.

So when the mom-group boat approached, I jumped on. But although I was initially glad that I did, it wasn't too long before my grateful enthusiasm wore off. They weren't extras from Deliverance, but still, I didn't like them. I didn't dislike them, exactly. It was just that although they nodded at some of my stories and I nodded at some of theirs, we didn't really respond to each other. They didn't laugh at my jokes; I didn't laugh at theirs. They were sometimes judgmental of each other, and of me (you shouldn't do this you shouldn't do that it's too early to let her do that why on earth would you buy THAT kind of stroller?) They were sometimes nasty about their husbands. The conversation always felt strained. There was no quote-unquote connection.

I just wasn't that into them. But I stuck around. Because I was lonely. Because there was nothing better. Because sometimes you just need a baby-call and any mother will do.

But as I got more into blogging, and discovered that there were dozens of mothers and fathers out there whose jokes I could laugh at, whose stories I was interested in, I started to feel a bit ripped off. Why was I stuck with bitter, competitive mommies who knew all about Baby Einstein but cared nothing about the real Einstein or his cultural equivalents, when somewhere, out there, were hosts of crazy smart funny mamas and dads? When some of them were actually in Toronto?

So when Sunshine Scribe wrote her post about getting iced by some snotty MILPs (Mommies I'd Like to Punch), that was it. I'd had it. I came out of the closet and said publicly that I was lookin' for mama-love and did anyone care to hook up?

And they did. And we did. And it was awesome.

MotherBumper and I hooked up on our own last week and had a roll in the park. Then, on Friday, Sunshine Scribe, Kittenpie, MetroMama, BubandPie, SomethingBlue, Scarbie, Petite Gourmand, two soon-to-be-bloggers (send us your links!) and yours truly indulged in some rollicking group action. (TOMama missed us because we changed locations, and for that I am truly regretful. We'll be making reparations at the next gathering.) And later that evening, a smaller group of us convened at a bar and got drunk on liquor and good company - really, really good company - late into the night.

It was a Total Mommy Hook-Up. It was knock-off BlogHer in the T-dot and It. Was. Good.

(Pause for long drag on virtual cigarette. Slow exhale. Aaah.)

Others have already run through some of the details of the events, and Sunshine Scribe did an newsfeed-worthy recap that I couldn't possibly improve upon. But I will say this: I loved it. Every minute of it.

And I hoped that they still respected me in the morning. Because I'd really, really like to see them again.

(And, FYI, all you other bloggrrls out there? I am now going to be insufferable at BlogHer, demanding that everyone be my friend. Because having tasted the sweet, sweet goodness of real life cool-girl-on-cool-girl action, I cannot get enough. I warn you now.)

I done got dressed up all purdy for the bar and Mama left me at home...


(TO blogger baby smackdown photos - evidence that the TO mama-blogger love-in is not just urban legend in the making - ARE UP at Mama Blogs Toronto)

(There's someone new in the Basement. Go, hear her. I sure did.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful to have such a lovely group of folks nearby.

I'm jealous. Truly. Totally cried tonight about no friends.


Oh well. Here's to a wonderful blogher weekend only 24 days away and counting!

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SO great for you, lady. While I'm sans children, I totally understand the need for connection and the blogworld allowing for it.

I can't wait for BlogHer. I'll give ya a big fat hug. And a shot of tequila. :)

11:48 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Hope to meet you at BlogHer!

Will you have a picture of WonderBaby with you so that we can all identify you? ;)

12:08 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

It was good for me too... *luxuriant sigh and stretch*

Now having read your postgame roundup, I'm going to roll over and go to sleep. Can't wait to see pics tomorrow! (And I will hold you to doing this again - it was so fun!)

12:39 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

Been hearing nothing but good things about your festivities.

Virtual friends are wonderful but meeting face to face is even better.

12:45 AM  
Blogger chichimama said...

I am so jealous. So, so jealous.

Also very glad you found your village. It helps so much. Now you all have to pinky swear you will never move...LOL.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

It was so wonderful to finally meet you and all the other great women in person and I too look forward to doing it again.

And, HBM, being afraid doesn't make you a bad mother. It makes you a very, very, very good mother. And a human one. And one we adore.

Oh, and that photo! It is even better than you said it would be. So purdy :)

7:19 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Wow sounds like a great time. You made me so jealous I don't live in Toronto!!!

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how much having a child can change your life. Your time is no longer yours and you can no longer go to the bathroom by yourself without some little guy wanting to join you. It's wonderful that you have found a group of friends to share the parenting frustrations with. I'm going to try to get a Michigan group together. Nothings more fun than getting drunk with other moms!

8:59 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

It was so nice meeting you.

Let's hit the town again soon.


9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, I don't care if I have to WALK to Toronto. I'm coming to the next love-in. ;)

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful time. I'm glad so many of you were able to get together, and I'll admit a twinge (more than a twinge) of envy.

What you said about the panic when your husband walks out the door - I immediately flashed back to the early days with both girls. Hell, I panicked when Kyle walked out of the ROOM.

10:55 AM  
Blogger DD said...

I swear I must be the only blogger who lives in BFE. So. Not. Fair!

11:41 AM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Oh, I'm so jealous! I knew I was going to be jealous as soon as I started reading, and nodding along--I knew there would come a point in your story where you'd found other moms to connect with. And I'm still struggling to do that. Anyway, sounds awesome!

12:23 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I can totally relate to the moms group thing. I think for everyone the lack of a fit is a little different.
For me it was all about being so much younger. I just felt so left out. It sucks to be born in a completely differet decade and be told "you're just a baby yourself".
I'm glad you found your group. I found mine too. Ironicially, I bonded with someone older than me who saw past my age. (I had my son at 25, not 10 just for the record)
I hate the mean mommies. I really do. Like, who cares that I'd never heard of a Zooper or a Bugaboo? It did not make me a bad parent. And, Baby Einstein. I thought I'd completely missed the boat and really it did nothing for us. It just reminded me of suzuki lessons.
Anyway ...
Good for you for putting yourself out there!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Gabriella said...

Once again you hit the nail on the head...loneliness is a hard thing to endure.
Next time I'll try to make it out to one of your gatherings!!!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! I can understand the lonliness - most of my local friends don't have kids, and so far any mommy groups I met up with didn't click with me. So I go back to my house and sit with my daughter and blog, because I know other moms and dads I want to talk to there.

Blogher is going to be a blast, and I can't wait to see all these people I've been chatting with for 9 months. I only wish I knew a few more local bloggers in my area.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

PS - Cute dress on WonderBaby! Where did you get it?

1:40 PM  
Blogger Cristina said...

How wonderful for you all to have found each other! Who would have thought that blogging could bring so many people together. If I weren't 40 hours away by car, I'd have totally met up for a drink.

P.S. You take the most beautiful pictures of WonderBaby.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

I love the way you can do the serious and the funny all in the same post. I have a lot of good mom friends here, but those early days with a baby are so hard and isolating. It was good, good, good to get out of the city and out of the daily grind of baby-and-blogging. (What better way to take a break and re-energize than to spend an evening with congenial friends TALKING about babies and blogging?)

3:13 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

I sit nodding... lonely, shackled with my demanding beauties. Yes, yes, exactly.

It truly rocked meeting you and WonderBaby. I look forward to more. I'm sure it will be just like my addiction to caffeine. I can't get enough.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

The dress is a hand-me-down from WonderBaby's WonderCousin. I thought that it was a fun photo-oppy dress, esp. with the hat, which is a vintage silk baby cap with ear roses (!). Discovered in an antique store near some creepy dolls.

5:57 PM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

That is wonderful! I would have loved to be there and meet you all. This was a wonderfully written piece by the way, and something I think most moms can certainly relate to.

6:11 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

ACK! I'm jealous! But, of course, extremely happy for you. What a cool group of women to hang with!

I'm just finding my village here in our new hometown, but I did meet with some Internet buds two nights ago. I, too, kept thinking, "Dang! Why can't these women all be my nieghbors?"

And have fun at Blogher! I'll be there next year, for sure. This year, I'm due to have this baby right when Blogher is happening. But I expect many cyber casseroles from y'all. ;-)

8:13 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

What a great post. I was soooo lonely at the beginning. And, like you did not connect with most in the Mummy/New Baby group, for a variety of reasons.
However, that being said, 2 women I met there are now two of my dearest friends, and the children are Very close.
I am happy for you that you have found a group...it takes a village to raise a child , and more importantly to keep a Mummy sane....

Cheers, Anne

9:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I feel everything you wrote! I really wish on a daily basis that I could find some moms in my state that I relate to as great as I do to you bloggifriends! Maybe I'll call everyone out like you did. What a great idea!

9:44 PM  
Blogger Canadian Mommy said...

Ok, now I am jelous! I wanna be close to you cool mamas! I am way over in Alberta. Anyway, love your blog, i'll be back for sure!

9:56 PM  
Blogger Mommy-Like Days said...

Hey HBM,
Thanks for the comments and the pics. As one the of newbies I felt a bit the interloper (not that B&P hadn't filled me in as much as she could on the drive there) but it was so great to meet all of you. I love mommy gatherings, but particularly those with great conversations (I hear a lot of that occured at the bar, the intoxication of the company being as strong as that of any drink. . .;). Anyway, proof is there--I'm in some of the pictures. Yay! Anyway, feel free to visit my "new" blog anytime. . .still learning the ropes. . . .still repeating the mantra "It's MY blog, there is no wrong way. . ."

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is awesome!!! I am glad you guys hooked up! Sounds like a good time!

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lovely time was had by all. Now I am looking forward to BlogHer even more!

8:44 AM  
Blogger Village Mama said...

I remember those early days and how freakin' lonely it could be. I also remember the feeling of not ever being able to go anywhere and just linger, by myself with no guilt and no other thoughts than just myself and the sheer pleasure of indulging in things I like (ed!) to do - like spending hours in the bookstore!
I don't think the fear ever goes away, I think we just learn to live with it and work through it - as Sunshine Scribe so eloquently put it, it makes us better mothers who are conscious of our babies' vulnerabilities.
BTW, thanks for the compliment on my little man. You too have an absolutely adorable little girl!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Waaaa! Nothing but big ol' Texas-sized jealousy here!

10:27 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

The first half of this post just resonates so profoundly with me. The fear, the loneliness, the let-down when you think you're going to connect with people simply because you've got that baby thing in common--but don't.

The second half, well I'm just jealous. Sounds like a wonderful time and it's good to know that the women we love online are loveable offline too.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I buy my own plane ticket can I come too? OR perhaps you can set up a video phone link?

Also, that picture makes my heart hurt it's so fabulous.

12:23 PM  
Blogger L. said...

I`ve found that if I don`t blog IMMEDIATELY about Hirshman/Flanagan-type subjects while they`re still fresh in my mind, I lose interest and don`t blog about them at all. Too many more interesting, worthwhile things keep cropping up -- which is the way it should be.

I wish blogs had been around when my oldest (now 11) was a babe, and we lived in lonely Los Angeles. I was so desperate I joined a MOPS group that met at a Southern Baptist church. I will never forget the looks I got when I told them we were raising our kids as Buddhists.

1:45 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

that's it, i'm quitting work. i want mat-leave and leisurely hours spent hangin' with the other mamas again. bumblebee can come too - she's used to the Cakes' take down.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

I. Am. Insanely. Jealous.

Damn, even the doomed duck probably had a good time. I mean, what a way to go...done in by Wonderbaby!

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I relate? Oh, yes I do.
And SNAP!: "Why was I stuck with bitter, competitive mommies who knew all about Baby Einstein but cared nothing about the real Einstein or his cultural equivalents."
Some lame mom just trashed me in front of a couple of friends of mine for having a "3-point carseat" (vs. a 5-pt, who knew?)She said (with a heavy southern US accent) "Oh, I can't even STAND to look at a baby in a 3-point carseat!"
Here's what I've got for her:
I can't even STAND looking at woman with a 5-point vagina!

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DD your not the only blogger who lives in BFe ... I live there as well.

Totally jelous.. *sigh*.. totally thinking of moving:)

Very very happy for you finding some real life friends to help ease the loneliness.. Can you send some my way;)

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahh and I forgot to say how adorable wonderbaby was in the pic... bad on me... wonderbaby is adorable cut and wow..:)

8:52 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

That first part, oh that first part. I can relate to that right down to the mommy group.

Congratulations to all the TO bloggers on a succesful first outing. You all make me want to move to Canada!

8:53 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:02 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Geez, the various roundups on this are getting a lot of comments about wanting to move to Canada... maybe we can buy up a neighbourhood and stock it with all our favourites, including ourselves!

We could put a big park in the middle, ring our houses around it with wide front porches facing in, and then sit and talk while our babies play. Sunshine could be the senior of this generation, babysitting, walking the herd to school, and rounding up and coaching a little soccer team of his own. The girls could trade clothes and toys at will, skip rope together, and jump through a sprinkler in the summer. We could have an outbuilding with a library stocked with kids' books for any of them to borrow.

It would be... blogtopia! *a beam from heaven and choirs of angels singing*

9:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Blogtopia! Yes! Who's in?

(And - step off on the Jonestown jokes. Any KoolAid 'round Mamabloggerlandia is gonna be spiked with gin or vodka - nothing else.)

9:10 PM  
Blogger susan said...

So glad to hear that you were able to make the hook up! There's nothing worse than trying to fit in with a group of people who JUST DON'T FIT!!! Sorta like trying to squeeze into the latest trendy jeans... you may get 'em buttoned, but eventually you'll have to bend over giving everything you've been holding in the chance to come popping out! I'll take the comfort of old sweat pants and low-maintenance, sister-in-spirit friends anyday!!

9:33 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I beg to differ with my learned friend, here.

You have not found the village... You have found the hut. That fabled place where one woman will hold anothers baby so she can have a shower. A space where mothers collaborate to raise legions of blessed children.. The hut that when one good friend of mine brought it up in a Mommy Group got her tossed!

I think the hut has real potential.. be it synchronous or asynchronos.

But seriously -- glad you guys had a good time and that's saying a LOT coming from me

11:08 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I have known the splendor of the real life blog friends, and completely agree about its wonderfulness. I'm so glad you all get to do this, and am only a little jealous that I can't simultaneously live in Portland and Toronto.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly Wolfe said...

Oh, man. Your description of the loneliness was sooooooooooo true. That's exactly how I felt and sometimes still do with my two year old. Though since he can talk a lot now, it doesn't feel as lonely. I feel the same way about mom groups. Just because someone has also procreated doesn't mean I have a lot in common with them. The blogging is a lifesaver.


1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a great time was had by all!
And yeah, it's hard to find 'cool' Mommy friends. I stay FAR away from the ones at school. FAR!

10:37 AM  
Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

Same thing happened to me. I did the playgroup thing, the new mommmy drop in thing.....left everytime with a bad taste in my mouth and wondering what in tarnation was wrong with me.

I just did not fit in.
I didn't have anything to say to these people.

I met some cool moms at my 'Nobody's Perfect' and 'Life as a Parent' groups..but no lasting friends.

It was online that I met moms and turned some of them into IRL friends for me and for my kids to hang with and feel truly welcome and comfortable.

I say thank christ for technology.

Otherwise I would have gone mad or fallen into a deep deep depression wondering where I was going wrong and was I really such a mutant mother??

11:52 PM  
Blogger Mom O Matic said...

Thank goodness I found you! What a perfect post, it's like you were in my head after my babies were born. Blogging has been a lifeline for me. I've finally met some "cool" mommies to talk with.

9:40 AM  
Blogger scarbie doll said...

Thanks for organizing! I wish I had more time with y'all. Hope we do it again soon.

12:46 AM  

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