Her Bad Mother

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Un-Rant

I started this blog for the usual reasons: maintain a record of the Wonder Years with WonderBaby, share that record with farflung friends and family, keep up with the practice of writing (which, yes, could be done by finishing the last two chapters of my doctoral dissertation but whatever), etc, etc. But it also became a way of clearing my mind of the complicated muck that attends to new motherhood, that muck that pushes the brain cells aside and makes it impossible for new parents, new mothers especially, to have conversations about anything but baby. I'm not talk about our fully understandable fascination with the beauty of our children - most human beings appreciate that particular fascination - but our full distraction by the grotty, mundane, sometimes ugly details of life with messy little beings who have not yet fully developed the faculty of reason. This distracting muck was, I felt at times, threatening to smother my brain.

Yes, she's gorgeous. Adorable. Loved beyond measure. But guess what? She shits! A lot! Spits up! Forgoes sleep! Makes Mommy crazy!

But by pushing the muck out onto the screen, it became much less, well, mucky. All mushed up in my head, the details of new motherhood melted together into a sort of swampy mess - shitspitsleepshitswaddlespitshitsleep - but out on the screen, out in front of me, those details broke apart and became less like muck and more like particles of rough-grained sand, little glimmering nuggets that sparkled if I held them or looked at them at just the right angle.

And so those details became sort of fascinating to me, in a way that transcended my simple, base interest in sorting through the muck of new motherhood. The shit and sleep and swaddle, removed from the murky depths of my addled brain, could be seen and appreciated more fully, as details of a much bigger and (switching tropes here) beautiful picture. Not, I want to stress, in the banal manner of appreciating the "beauty" of a plastic bag blowing down the street. In the manner, rather, of appreciating the complexity of the details in a painting by Bosch or Bruegel, where the details themselves are absurd, appalling, mundane, or even ugly, but the larger picture is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, extraordinary, beautiful.

An important, probably crucial, part of the process of deconstructing and reconstructing the muck to better see its complexity/art/beauty has come from seeing the deconstruction/recontruction that other parents do with the wonderful muck of their lives. Watching other women and men weave the grotty details of their lives with children (the stuff that makes meanie blogtards post comments like 'zzzzzzzz') into fascinating, and sometimes magnificent, tapestries has helped this mother peer through her own grot and find the beauty there.

Why am I babbling on about all of this (apart from wanting to articulate, however convolutedly, a thanks to other blogging parents)?

Because the other day I was struck, full-on, by a shitty volley of anti-parent meanness. And I really, really wish that I could take this particular mound of shit and work it and spin it and weave it into this tapestry that I've been talking about, the one that I've been carefully deconstructing and reconstructing in the blogosphere. So that I could better understand it, and my reaction to it. See where it fits, and why it fits. Put it in its proper place. Maybe have someone come forward and share how they dealt with that particular shit (because, I fear, it's not a particularly unusual story.)

But I can't. Doing so would implicate someone who knows about this blog, who could come across the story, and get hurt. I know this much, that the meanness had something to do with hurt. I don't want to make it worse. It's killing me: telling the story, sharing the story, weaving the story into my bigger picture would go so far toward demuckifying those corners of my mind and soul that got smeared by that shit-volley of meanness. But I can't.

So I had to rant a little, or un-rant, about the benefits of creative ranting, by way of compensation. And it's helped. I feel a little bit better now.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blogger's Beautiful Baby Boy Born!

UrbanMommy's trial by pregnancy is over: UrbanBaby arrived yesterday!

And WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe would like a word...


Dear UrbanBaby,

Welcome to the world.

It's a good world. It's not as comfortable as the world that you just left, but I think that you'll like this one better. It's a bit colder here, but there are plenty of big soft arms that will wrap around you and warm you up so nicely that you'll love the cold for bringing those arms to you. The food doesn't come automatically, but when it does, it comes from the most wonderful place that is so sweet and soft and warm that you'll love the hunger for drawing you to that place. It's not as comfortably snug and dark as that other place, but in the open light you'll see beautiful and amazing things, such amazing things that you'll love the stark brightness for helping you see.

The best thing that you will see: your mom and dad. They'll be a bit blurry at first, but you'll smell them and hear them and you will know them oh so well because you knew that they were nearby even when you were in that other place. This is the best thing: they are even closer now. They will touch you and kiss you and when they bring their faces near you - and they will always always be near you - you will see their eyes and you will see that they love you. You already knew that they loved you, but now you will be able to hear and smell and taste and touch and see that love and it will sound/smell/taste/feel/look so nice oh so nice that you will never be able to bear its absence for a second. But you will never have to. They're going to make sure that your whole entire world is love.

The very best thing: you have made their whole entire world a world of love. When you feel that wetness on your head, that's the love spilling out of their eyes because they can't hold it in. You bring that love out. You were made from love, and you bring love, and you will live in love because to those two big people holding on to you, you are love. They are learning, every time that they look at you, touch you, think of you, that even though they thought they knew already, they never did really fully know what love was until the moment you arrived.

You know what love is. You're living it now, in the beautiful cold light of this amazing world. You can't speak it, but you cry it out loud. Keep crying that love. It's awesome.


WonderBaby, Ruler, etc.

PS: I will one day rule all of this world, so be prepared to recognize my power. I will, however, cede one or two fiefdoms to your control. You may take possession of your household immediately - consider this a hereditary principality, one that you will hold with ease. I relinquish control over your parents, although know that I will continue to charm them and that I expect some share of their affection. When the time is right, I will provide some instruction in the ways and means of rule. For now, follow your instincts. Cry and shit at will. Clutch. Spit. Stare deeply into their eyes. Cry and shit some more. They will do your bidding.

Now, go forward and dominate!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Communist Dictatorship - Sweet!

Clearly, Maoist babies are getting more than just breastmilk...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Attack of the Giant Baby

WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe has grown.

Doesn't even fit in the picture...

And as she has grown in size, so has she grown in strength, and with the increase in strength has come an intensification of Will to Power. Baby's every movement has become an affirmation and assertion of her dynamic life-force, and she is discharging her strength at every turn.

Which is to say, she has started really kicking ass and taking names.

Baby has been exercising her newfound strength day and night over the past week, testing and retesting her new powers. Leg torque? Check. Spinning action, back to front? Check. Spinning action, front to back? Check. Swaddle deconstruction? Check. X-ray vision? Check. Mind control? Check.

In the process, more than one member of Baby's court has taken a beating. Marcel had his legs gummed. Biccy was nearly (half) decapitated in a roll-by chewing. Three of Whoozit's arms were violently yanked.

But the worst beatings were reserved for Mommy.

In a seeming effort to test both Mommy's loyalty and endurance, Baby kept her up for four consecutive nights, demanding late night meals, wrestling matches, and strategy discussions. By the fifth night, Mommy was very nearly delusional, confusing wakefulness with sleep and sleep with wakefulness and mistaking cats for Baby and a pile of clothes for Daddy and just generally hovering in some terrible, purgatorial state.

Which would be fine - Mommy knows her place, after all, and that place is in the service of Baby - but that Mommy had an extra-maternal obligation the following morning in the form of a speaking engagement that had been arranged some months prior to Baby's birth (and forgotten about entirely until, just two days prior, the brochure for the speakers series fell out of its place as a bookmark in one of the many This-Parenting-Book-Will-Save-Your-Life books littering the dining table.) And Mommy - however bright and engaging on matters academic she might have been once upon a time before the rule of Baby - in her incarnation as Mommy, Keeper of WonderBaby, Ruler etc, was going to need every ounce of available strength the next morning to even pronounce the word 'academic.'

Baby, however, was unforgiving. If Baby wants Mommy awake, Mommy will stay awake. And so Mommy - and Daddy, who was unable to escape entirely unscathed - attended to Baby's demands throughout the night, fighting off exhaustion in order to gratify Baby's need for food, attention and amusement. And Baby was happy.

And although Mommy had to do a lecture in a state of near delirium... she was happy, too... Because she did that lecture and she didn't suck. And because when it was done, Baby and Daddy were waiting and Baby was smiling that big shit-eating smile. Baby had posed a challenge and Mommy met that challenge. Baby imposed her worst, and Mommy survived. A little the worse for wear, perhaps, but she survived.

****Bullshit Alert****

New parenthood, we are told, is, or should be, all about happy endings. It's going to be rough, they say, but it's all worth it. Labour will be painful, but oh! The beautiful new baby! Breastfeeding will be difficult at first, but oh! The many days thereafter of blissful, peaceful suckling! So many sleepness nights, so many shitty diapers, so much spit and poo and laundry, but oh, oh, oh! The reward, the reward!

This is all true - sort of. It's true in the way that quotations from movie critics on film posters are true. When you see "...delightful comedy..." on the poster you know that what the critic actually said was something like more like "this might have been a delightful comedy if it were 90 minutes shorter." So it is, much of the time, with new parenthood. There is beauty, bliss, and much reward. But those things come in a swamp of shit, spit and exhaustion. Utter, utter exhaustion.

So when I say, "did lecture blah blah blah... but was happy, too...," ya gotta read between the lines of the ellipses. I did the "lecture in a state of near delirium" and was fucking miserable about it and could have cried when I realized that in addition to having forgotten to put on socks I had forgotten to get Husband to wipe the giant spit streak running down the back of my shirt and could have cried even more when I got back in the car after the lecture and Baby was sleeping peacefully and Husband said that she'd been sleeping on and off the whole time all I could think was 'I'm missing this sleep window and she's going to be up all afternoon and I am never ever going to sleep again.' "But" then I looked at her peaceful little face and "was happy, too." Because I realized in that moment that she would be needing more sleep in order to fully strengthen herself in preparation for world domination and that when the next sleep moment came I would be waiting and would sieze my opportunity for sleep beautiful sleep. "And because I did that lecture and didn't suck..."

Truthfully, end of the day, it is all worth it. But it's climbing-Everest-worth-it. It's monumentally hard. You lose some fingers and toes along the way. You bitch and you curse (lord how you curse). You wonder why you started this climb in the first place. You really do.

That doesn't change how much you love your child. Because you do love your child. So much. Seeing-the-curvature-of-the-Earth-from-the-top-of-Everest-and-feeling-the-gods much.

But I'd be lying - anyone who says this is lying - if I said that that reward comes nicely and easily. It doesn't. But then great things usually don't. And having a child is a great thing - in the fullest, most body-battered, mind-snapping, shit-splattered sense.

The view from the top of my Everest...

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