Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


You are, all of you, every single one of you who wrote, commented or reached out in any way in response to my last two posts, the most generous human beings. Your honesty about your own experiences, your candour in sharing what has and has not worked for you in tending to your children, and the warmth of your expressions of support and solidarity have been a sanity-saver during what has been a very difficult week. I have learn so much from you all, and I have felt embraced.

Thank you. THANK YOU.

Many of you have sent me links and book recommendations: Lady M sent me a whole list of relevant links (most of which were to the blog of the incomparable Mary P., who has been sending me tremendously helpful words of advice), and some of you referred me to posts that you've written yourselves on challenges similar to mine. I'm going to pull this all together and compile them for a resource page on these issues (broadly understood), so that I have them all in one place, and so that anyone else who finds themselves struggling with the remarkable and sometimes challenging changes that occur when baby becomes a turbo-charged toddler, and/or with issues pertaining to 'disciplining' small children, and/or simply feeling like a bad mother, can benefit from all of the tremendously helpful and reassuring information that you have shared with me. You have shared gold with me, people, so it's only fitting that I share it back. If you know of further resources - posts, book recommendations, helpful blogs, sources of advice and support - please leave a note about it here and I'll include it on the resource page.

It's the least I can do.

Again, thank you. A million times over.

(WonderBaby, note, is ambivalent about whether or not to feel gratitude for the support that you have provided to her bad mother. On the one hand, the well-being of her bad mother is necessary to her continued well-being. On the other, you have been encouraging her bad mother to resist her attempts at domestic domination. This, clearly, verges on the traitorous.

WonderBaby trusts that you will, in future, resist any and all urges to foment revolution within her household.)

(Her Bad Mother, obviously, hopes that the Mommyblogger Underground Revolutionary Movement in Support of Beleaguered Mothers Everywhere stays strong. But that's between us, 'kay?)

Not seen in photo: troops of the Republican Baby Guard, standing by to free their Imperial Leader from the restraining devices and redirection strategies of Bad Mother's Opposition Force.

This mothering shit ain't easy, but you all are making it a hella lot easier than it would otherwise be.

You rock.


Blogger Jennifer said...

There was an article a couple of months ago in Cookie magazine that addressed motherhood and depression. Although it was written from more of an on-going depressive state - and boy that sums up my experience of the past two years (http://our-shady-tree.blogspot.com/2006/09/its-after-4am-i-cant-sleep-and-im.html) - there are more and more resources out there. I just finished reading The Ghost in the House by Tracy Thompson. It's good to know that you're not alone and that there are others struggling to do the best that they can even when the energy isn't there.

I wish that I was the perky, creative and fully attentive mother that I expect of myself. Judging yourself against unrealistic ideals from any source is like poison to the soul. Take a walk in the sunshine and fresh air and believe with all confidence that you are the best mother Wonderbaby could ever have. Why else would she be yours?

12:08 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Thank you for sharing all that good information back with the whole community. You've done that so many times, and I really appreciate it.

I sent the list of links to Mary P too, for when she writes her book. ;)

12:41 AM  
Blogger Cristina said...

I'm sorry I missed your last couple posts but I doubt I would have had any advice because I'm a new parent and all. However, I do greatly appreciate your posts and will read them, along with the comments, to get advice for myself in how to handle my own increasingly willful toddler. :)

1:42 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I have been out of town and since my parents don't know about my blog, there was no time/space/possibility to update or leave comments.

I am a month behind you in babydom with Monkeygirl and as a result don't have much to add in the way of advice. In the way of support, hang in there. When things have been the most challenging for me as a mom and when I question my ability to mother, I tell myself that whatever Monkeygirl is going through will pass. And it always does. The easy times don't last forever and the challenging times don't last forever either.

The advice that you have received has all been filed away (as much as possible!) in my tired little mommy brain. Monkeygirl is cut from a similar cloth as WB and the ideas will all be tried/used/relied upon at some point.

My only "amateur mom" thought is that when Monkeygirl changes her behaviour in some way, or it gets more so, I get curious about what other things have changed in her life. Sometimes it is something that has changed and she rebounds back in a short while.

This mothering thing is a challenge, she says in a huge understatement.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

I've been thinking about you and wonderbaby the whole day... First I didn't remember much from that time three years ago, when my son was about your daughter's age. Then it all came back! How we re-arranged half of everything in the house during the day, how we put everything where he couldn't reach it. The days when I was walking for exercise with a wailing banshee in the stroller (sometimes for the whole of the 45 minutes)... There is something to be said for an almost 4-year-old.

When I was about to get a little smug about behavior in stores ("Just grab her under your arm and belt her in the stroller!"), I was reminded of the ongoing battles with my own son. He's really sweet unless you want him to eat, get dressed or undressed, use the bathroom or stop playing...

With the eating thing I can only recommend thinking, "Nobody starves in front of a full plate. Nobody starves in front of a full plate."

For parenting advice I recommend Moxie at http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/. See, you're not alone.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the one who rocks. As I said to another of my favorite writers with a child, you are blazing the trail for me.
I know what you are going through is not easy, but I have to thank you for continuing to write about it and to ask the kind of questions that inspire people to respond with such wonderful advice.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a great idea to compile everything for us - thanks so much! I agree with tb - you rock.

Wonderbaby... so adorable.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Wonder Baby, might I persuade your excellency to consider some advice from a former baby dictator*?

If you pretend to concede this battle to your mother and her resistance army, you can focus all your energies on taking over the world at age 18. With 17 years of careful planning time, your strategy will undaoubtedly be the most perfect blueprint for world domination history has ever seen. And, after your carefully cultivated public image as a sweet, polite, relatively harmless girl has lulled the populace into complacency, no one will see your conquest coming until it is too late.

(Except me, of course. But I'm willing to keep quiet as long as you guarantee my son a place in your cabinet. I'd suggest head of the World Intelligence Agency. He is an expert on sleep deprivation techniques, and can go days at a time living on crumbs with no noticeable drop in energy level, so I think you'll find him a perfect candidate.)

*According to my mother, anyway.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Mad said...

HBM, I have been meaning to comment these last few days but in some respects I am at a loss for what to say. I think our daughters came out on opposite ends of the temprament spectrum. That's not to say that Miss M is one of those happy, play-by-herself-all-day-and-all-night children. NOOOOO. Where Wonderbaby is climbing the furniture and swinging from the blinds, Miss M at 20 months is still terrified of the 2 inch dip into our kitchen.

But the worst part for me is that she is a clinger. Clingy, clingy, clinger. I have torn tricep muscles carrying her around so much (true). I can't do anything in the house without having to fend off repeated demands to be picked up. I make dinner while she clings desperately to my crotch (seriously). And don't get me started on what this means with respect to sleep. Suffice to say she spends far more nights in our bed on top of me than in her crib.

The only times that I feel she needs discipline are when she wants me too much, and how in hell do you discipline someone for loving you too much? So I don't but then the mother rage kicks in b/c you can only handle a succubus for so many hours in the day before you start to crack.

So, no advice here, but as you well know--as all we mothers know, the grass never really is greener. In your worst moments, imagine me, and I will do the same. Maybe we can find inner peace somewhere in the middle.

Caveat: my daughter is also the sweetest, most loving, and endearing child on the planet. I love her to distraction back. But I guess I don't need to say all this. You are moms; you know. You have your own best-est, best-est babes.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that The Imperial Leader of The Republican Baby Guard is a secret mantle passed along to a different dictator as each passes through this trying stage. A bit like The Dread Pirate Roberts, it ensures there will always be a terrible and adorable mastermind leading the troops.

So, take heart, WonderBaby's tenure cannot last forever!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Well, she looks perfectly content for at least the 1/8th of a second snapshot! Isn't that more than enough time for you to catch a break? :)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

Reverse thundering applause sounding your way. Truly. It's amazing, isn't it?

You are such a terrific mom, Bad.

But that face...well, yes, you are in deep shit. That face says "try me, sucka, just try me"

10:45 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

ah, Mary P is so great. I love her.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I have about six of those Avent sippies - both my girls hate them. I can't bear to pitch them, but I'm not sure how people feel about donated sippies (even those that are barely used).

Also, when shall our respective tyrants-in-training get together to squawk and hoot at one another as they divulge their secrets of parental oppression?

11:56 AM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

wonderbaby looks downright placid in her stroller! maybe the solution is a cool pink sippy cup and 5-point restraints.

(just kidding of course; glad you're feeling better)

12:13 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Placid!?! That face is all (as Jen noted) 'try me, sucka.' Although I suppose that, in that back-the-frack-off moment, she was indeed peaceful.

The sippy cup was hurled to the floor a split-second later, and WB squrimed out of her restraints and attempted to disembark her perambulator.

(And? Jaelithe? LMFAO.)

12:30 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, and Madge, too - Dread Pirate Roberts? - LMFAO.

All the more appropriate for the fact that HBM dwells at the Cliffs of Insanity.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Mad said...

Perhaps our children are just "Rodents of unusually small size"?

Yours from the fire swamp,

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a pretty baby right there. Dangerous. But cute.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Hahaha, you chained her in. Good for you. One point HBM, Zero points WonderBaby.

I have learned you have to look at things in a different way with spirited kids. Parent to them instead of how you thought you would parent. You'll get there. Just know that when you have a bad day, tomorrow is a fresh start.

2:51 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

oh dear, i was just joking about the placid part. i'm totally serious about the 5-point restraints.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Got the joke, Pen. It's the five-point restraints that FORCE the placidity. Just in case anyone is confused. CHAIN'EM DOWN.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

I am anxious to see that list...so get to it lady...;)

3:27 PM  
Blogger moplans said...

great idea organising the suggestions. truly I have found more hope and help through mommy bloggers than all the books lining my shelves and the lying little beotches in my mommies groups.
Oppression of the small people is the only way to mommy survivial. Wish it was otherwise but most days it ain't.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly suggest checking out Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. His thoughts are very different than most books you will find on parenting and discipline and far more child-centered. Definitely not up Mary P and MIM's alley, but way better for kids, I think.

4:57 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

Lets all cast our minds forward. Forward to the teen years......sweet merciful mother, Help Us.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog and I am amazed that you have put down in.. well..ether what I have been feeling!

Thanks so much for offering me a place to read and laugh and realize I'M NOT ALONE!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just learning myself as my baby is only 8 months old. This reminds me I have to cherish the remaining infant months!

8:51 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Glad you're dusting yourself off again HBM. Good to have you back...or at least well on your way. Whenever you're ready. No pressure.

And are those....are those...HAIRS I see on Wonderbaby? Could it be? For real?

9:11 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

Yup, the MURMSBME will stay super duper strong. We'll be able to defeat any toddler when we get our powers up to maximum strength, mwahahaha ...

Seriously, while I have no time honored bits of wisdom to share, I will say that that's one good lookin' little girl.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Bobita said...

Your past several posts (actually, ALL of your posts) have been raw, honest and courageous. You are a magnificent leader in addressing both the sunshine and the dark shadows of motherhood.

I am certain that there are many people out there that would (and have) happily and gratefully offer you the same heartfelt thanks that you expressed to your readers and commenters. THANK YOU, HBM! Thank you for your unwavering commitment to truth. We, your readers, are better people because of you.

I will be one of the first to print off that list you are compiling...and post it on my fridge!

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No problem! Raising kids isn't for the faint of heart and--if we all stick together--we can be source of strength for each other.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Isn't that the truth! NOT for the faint of heart!! If anything I wrote in my post to you was any help - even if all I can do is commiserate - then it's a good thing. Can't wait to see the list of links! I know I can use all the help I can get!!!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Namito said...

Back at ya, HBM. Your posts have made it a hell of a lot easier as well!

BTW, I've seen that expression on the Impling on more than one occasion. Her caption for the Mommy-impaired goes something like this:

"You think I'm happy here? I don't THINK so. Let me give you a clue..."

Followed by...well, you know.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your resources page: Child of Mine:Feeding with Love and Good Sense, by Ellyn Satter, is a wonderful book that was recommended to me by a friend of a friend who had a 2 yr old who simply decided she didn't want to eat anymore. (Ok, just about) The focus of the book is on putting the responsibility of deciding how much to eat into your child's hands, even as young as 8 months, when they start to be able to feed themselves.

My Amelia is 10 and a half months too and doesn't get spoon fed anything anymore. Breakfast cereal simply gets made thick enough for her to pick up and although yes, it's a mess, she's getting really good at it and it's not nearly as messy as it used to be. I've discovered too that even at this age, they know damn well what is good food and what isn't. If you think it tastes terrible, chances are they do too. I know of someone who told my friend that "No, our daughter doesn't like pasta." Then he gave her fresh ravioli (I think?) stuffed with cheese and artichoke hearts. She couldn't get enough of it- duh.

It took me a while to switch into the mindset of being merely the food provider and not the feeder. Amelia eats so well that it's hard not to credit the ideas I was given from this book. Hopefully it helps.

Roz (I don't blog, but I do love to read 'em!)

11:36 PM  

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