Her Bad Mother

Friday, April 21, 2006

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming...

Bland Ambition II: Ma'ambition is coming shortly. But the real world continues to spin, and as it does it kicks up a lot of note-worthy dust, and I must keep up with my note-keeping.

1.) MC Hammer has a blog. And? It is as much a dad-blog as any of our blogs are mom/mommy/dad/daddy blogs. Many, many pictures of his adorable little boy, who apparently had a difficult time of it in his early weeks, and who has just recently had another scare. I defy you to not tear up; if you do not tear up, or at least swallow hard, at the image of his sweet little boy in a hospital bed you are mean and I don't like you. I went over expecting to laugh at the bizarrocity of it all - it's Hamma! What could he possibly blog about? - but when I got to his baby photos I got all verklempt. Sucka.

Motherhood has clearly wussified me beyond all recognition. See me coming at you with the big words? Want to baton-smack me in my oh-so-sarcastic knees? Flash a baby at me. Tell me that you're a parent, and that you really love your kids. You'll stop me dead in my tracks. I will not make fun of you, and I will smack anyone who does.*

It is now my mission to somehow lure Hammer over to my blog to comment. If I can get MC Hammer to comment on my blog I will be crowned the Queen of Dubious Cool and even the Lilliputians won't be able to get me down.

*This only applies to human beings and other sentient creatures of the Planet Earth, and also, sometimes, characters of fiction. This does not apply to robots, cyborgs or uncuddly aliens from the Planet Scientology, which means that, yes, I will make fun of Tom Cruise, but not Katie Holmes, who is, obviously, an abductee and has had her cerebral cortex vacuumed, probably through an anal probe, but also human and, I hope, sentient. And the 'really love your kids' clause, I don't need to tell you, also exempts Kevin Federline, who I also reserve the right to make fun of. And David Hasselhoff, because there's also a creepy clause, and a don't-smack-your-wife clause.

NOOOOO! Scientologists killed Biccy! Oh, the humanity...!

2) This amazing fellow, Craig Kielburger, is/was one of my students. He has just won the 2006 World Children's Prize, which is also known as the Children's Nobel Prize (he has, not incidentally, also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times), for his longtime work - begun when he was, wait for it, 12 years old! - to free children from poverty and exploitation.*

I'm not taking any credit - he began his amazing journey long before he met me - but I do take special pride in knowing him, and in having contributed in some small way to his education. He was, and is, a keen and passionate student of political philosophy, and we've had many a lively conversation about whether the great philosophers really believed that the world could be made a better place. He taught me, the jaded, skeptical philosophy scholar, that it is really sometimes worth putting philosophy into action.

So join me in a big standing O for Craig! (Thunderous applause! Proud, proud teacher beams madly and wipes a stray tear!)

Seriously, this is the first time that I've gone all misty-eyed with pride about a student's accomplishments. But! He's changing the world! Helping children! (See what I said above about getting all mushy about anything to do with children.) Give him a hand!

*If you're interested in learning more about his organization, or, better, supporting it, check it out here (or, follow the link in the sidebar). Oh, and this one, too. You could also buy his book (which - personal plug - I contributed some research to), which I highly recommend. As does Oprah, and Richard Gere, but you like me more, don't you, so why don't you take my word on this?

3) If you're looking to help Save Children in other ways, don't forget to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Muscular Dystrophy Canada (also linked in sidebar). All of us who love Tanner - who I blogged about here (and if you haven't read this, go read it, not because I want you to read me, which I do, but because I want you to feel this cause. So that you'll help) - are still wishing and praying and making sacrifices to the gods for any little ray of hope in the struggle against Bad Diseases that Kill Children, Especially This One Because It is the One that is Hurting Tanner. Who Bad Mother loves very much, so she'd be very much obliged if you'd support, if only by talking it up.

(And Tanner? Here's another picture of your baby cousin to hold you until we get there! End of May!)

Playgrounds just aren't fun without Big Cool Cousins to play with...

4) Proof positive that memes really do serve the higher purpose of keeping us all informed: Urban_Mommy (who just had her baby, the Boy Wonder, um, five and half weeks ago, and is already blogging again. I, on the other hand, at five weeks post-partum, was huddled on the corner of my sofa, clutching the wee WonderBaby, sobbing uncontrollably) took up my tag, posted it, and lo if I didn't roll back in my seat, gobsmacked, at learning new things about her. (Urban_Mommy, if you didn't already know this, is a VIP in my/WonderBaby's offline world, which is to say, I should know this shit.) Three of her six 'weird things' were things that - cannot believe this - I did not know. Can you guess what they are?

And I just have to add this: She can write backwards; I can read backwards. This used to drive my parents crazy on road-trips, because I would sit in the back seat and read every sign backwards, out loud. 'gniK regruB!' 'maerc eci!' (I was hungry) 'ckor gnillaf rof chtaw!' Drove them nuts. (Not as nuts as my random shrill shrieking did, but still.) So, UM? I now wish all the more that we'd gone to high school together. The note-exchanging would have been brilliant, and impenetrable if intercepted.

(Oh, also? I also do the talking to myself. MAD talking to myself. I note this only because the story behind the Bad Ladies moniker is a very embarassing talking-aloud-to-myself-in-public story that I will one day share with you, and, hell, I love to link back to old posts so I'm putting up a road marker here.)

5) I'm going to Blogher. Yesterday's post, and the comments, and Kristen's post on sacrificial parenting convinced me that it is just fine if I take a weekend to myself and go to a conference that is non-academic. It doesn't make me a lesser mother, and it doesn't make me a lesser scholar.

But, full disclosure: it was Kristen's promise, in yesterday's comments, of the 'I (Heart) Bulbous-headed Lilliputians' t-shirt that really did it. Kristen, I want that t-shirt. And you have to wear one, too.


Um, how does one spell 'Lilliputian'...?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Blogroll

My dusty old blogroll, which I am forever neglecting to update. If you'd like to see your blog on this list, leave me a comment here and I'll add it in! Note that it may take me some weeks to add your URL, depending upon how recently I've updated and whether or not I am suffering from PMS or some other pernicious hormone cocktail...

I don't insist upon quid pro quo (quid pro blogroll?), but reciprocation is, of course, much appreciated.

  • BlogNetLife - Parenting - Cooool....
  • Adventures in Stepford

  • Anne Nahm

  • Baby In The City

  • The Blogfathers

  • Blog Whore

  • BridgerMama

  • Bunmaster

  • Cheeky Lotus

  • Chichimama

  • Chicky Chicky Baby

  • CrankMama

  • Crib Ceiling

  • Crouton Boy

  • DadGoneMad

  • Dad2Twins

  • Don't Gel Yet (Cynthia)

  • Ewe Are Here
  • The Fashionable Housewife

  • Flexible Parenting

  • Funky Fat Girl

  • Gingajoy

  • Girl's Gone Child

  • Glennia

  • Gooby Baby

  • Queen Bad Mama

  • Grim Reality Girl

  • He Makes Me Smile

  • Horkin Ramblings

  • Homesick Home

  • I Obsess

  • Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual

  • Issa's World

  • Izzy

  • Jennster!

  • Jezewhiz

  • Karen Shanley

  • Kristi's Mess

  • Life of 'Pie

  • Life, The Ongoing Education (Lara)

  • Linkateria

  • Lion and Magic Boy

  • Madame Meow

  • Mama Tulip

  • Melanie in Orygun

  • Moxie

  • Mommybloggers

  • Mommy Needs a Martini

  • A Mommy Story

  • MotherBumper

  • MotherGooseMouse

  • Nikki


  • Martinis For Milk

  • Metro Mama

  • Mom-101

  • Mom-o-matic

  • Motherhood Uncensored

  • Mrs Fortune and her Cookie

  • Much More Than A Mom

  • Mulligan Years

  • My Momtra

  • Mystic Spiral Studio (That Puppet Lady)

  • Nine Pound Dictator

  • Oh, The Joys!

  • One Plus Two

  • Penelope and Bumblebee

  • PunditMom

  • Ravin Picture Maven

  • Red Dragons Angel

  • Redneck Mommy

  • Red Stapler

  • http://www.temporarilyme.blogspot.com

  • Something Baby Blue

  • Sunshine Scribe

  • SuperMommy

  • Sweet Juniper!

  • Sweetney

  • Three Times Three

  • Toddled Dredge

  • Troll Baby

  • White Trash Mom

  • WhyMommy

  • WordGirl
  • Labels: ,

    Bland Ambition, Part I

    WARNING: another long, confused, confessional ramble ahead. It is a Classic Bad Mother rumination complete with big, possibly made-up, words and gratuitous baby photos. Provoked, variously, by mom101's forceful statement on feminism, GGC's forceful statement on masculism, Sweet Juniper's sweet love story, and Irina Derevko's claim, during last night's episode of Alias, that one cannot be both a successful spy and a successful mother. (Oh, God, no, say it isn't true! My one clear ambition, shattered!) Oh, and Blogher decision-making. Proceed with caution.

    When I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree, I met with one of my professors to discuss the decisions that I would be making about graduate school. The specific issue under discussion that day was a scholarship to Cambridge University. I told my professor, a woman, that I was not sure that I would seriously consider going overseas to Cambridge. I had just gotten married, and had my husband's future to consider as well as my own. He had just made the frightening leap from a soul-destroying career in business to the slightly less soul-destroying world of film and television, and was just beginning to make things work for himself in the Canadian film industry. Leaving Canada - or rather, relocating ourselves to any place where cameras and klieg lights are not regular features of the landscape - would set him back considerably. He would likely become an unemployed academic widower, and I did not want that.

    What I didn't say to her that day, couldn't say to her that day, was that I simply didn't want a doctoral degree from Cambridge badly enough to risk compromising my husband's livelihood and/or happiness. He had made it clear that he would happily go wherever I wanted to go. But if I wasn't 110% committed to going (and I wasn't; far from it) was it really fair to ask him to give up what he had been working so hard for so that I could dapple in academia and decide if it was what really made me happy?

    But I didn't say this to Ms. Professor. I didn't want to reveal any ambivalence about what everyone was insisting would be an academically star-blazing future. I said: 'Going to Cambridge would be very challenging for my husband.'

    Oh, the scorn that was heaped upon me.

    That professor - who I did and still do have enormous respect for as an academic - launched into a passionate speech about the tyranny of men over women and the institutionalization of this tyranny in marriage and the responsibility of young women like myself to demand more from the world and to not let ourselves be tyrannized by men and to rage, rage against any constraints that men might impose upon us. And then she said: 'I thought more of you. I am very, very disappointed that you would let your husband hold you back.'

    Ouch. I thinked that I actually recoiled in my seat. I know that I turned beet-red, shamed.

    But that femino-defensive ass-kicking didn't sway me. I didn't go to Cambridge. Nor did I go to any other World Famous Aren't We Special University that was located off the my-marital-happiness track. I opted for a slightly-less-famous-but-respected-in-my-field graduate program, in a department that was home to a number of renowned political philosophers that I yearned to study with, in a big city with a thriving film industry.

    And my husband and I have been very, very happy here, both of us. I loved the program, and my teachers, and now they let me teach here. And Husband's career has thrived here and he really enjoys himself. We're happy as individuals, we're happy as a couple, and, now, since the arrival of WonderBaby, we're happy as a family. And that's what matters. Right?

    My old professor, when I see her at conferences, still shakes her head at me over the fact that I opted to not go the World Famous U route. As does anybody who is not in my field, including my mother, who, although she respects and undertands my decisions, still wishes that she could march around wearing a 'My Kid Went to Harvard' t-shirt (because the 'My Kid Studied With Thomas Pangle' t-shirt means nothing to anybody who doesn't follow political philosophy or obsess over Straussian conspiracy theories.) And if I ever say that my husband's interests were a factor in those decisions, I can usually expect praise or scorn about my flouting of feminist principles, depending upon whether the listener hates or loves feminism.

    I hate both of these reactions. I hate them because they imply that my decisions were political. Maybe they were, in the broader scheme of things: I am, end of the day, just one more woman who may have sacrificed somebody's definition of success in order to keep a man happy. But I was also keeping me happy, and, as it happens, my husband's happiness is bound up in my own and mine in his. I don't think that I compromise my sex, nor my feminist bona fides, by admitting that.

    And I hate those reactions because they raise questions that I don't like: am I disgrace to my sex for factoring my husband's happiness so heavily into my decision-making? Am I a disgrace to feminism? I know that, for me at least, the answers to those questions are no, and no. But I hate that the questions are even there, lurking in the background. And I hate that it is even open to question whether considerations concerning my husband's happiness are relevant to my own, never mind whether such considerations amount to a sort of oppression.

    I don't blame feminism for this; quite the contrary. I'm grateful that I live in a society in which I have choices, in which my happiness and fulfilment counts as much as my husband's. That women are in a position to debate questions concerning the ways and means to their happiness is tremendously important; that I am discomfited by such questions does not mean that they should not be asked.

    But it remains that I am uncomfortable. And it remains that I am sometimes afraid to admit to my choices, let alone to celebrate them. And - here's the rub - in doing so, I think, I back myself into the very corner that I rail against. Yesterday I had a meeting with The Person Who Is Guiding My Career (a man!) to discuss what I would teach next year, and he wondered aloud about finding me a job that would better the arc of my career trajectory. Tenure-track. Well-paid. I hemmed and hawed and hedged. I said, for the second time in my life, this time as I bounced WonderBaby on my lap: 'The Husband's career limits my options.'

    No hellfire and brimstone this time. TPWIGMC just nodded. But I could tell that he was thinking that such limitations might cost me a really successful career.

    I don't have a point to make here about the difference between a man's and a woman's reactions to a woman stating that her husband's interests need to be considered in any career choice that she might make; I don't think that there's a point worth making. What I'm interested in is the truth, semi-truth or falsity of my statement and the implications of this for my discomfort around possible challenges to my choices. The statement was true, as it was the first time that I said it. But what is also true - but what remained unsaid - is the fact that I'm ambivalent about my professional future. I might - gasp - lack ambition.

    I'm not 100% certain that I want to spend the rest of my life teaching, however much I might enjoy it. And now that WonderBaby is here, I'm not sure that I want to do much of anything at all beyond raising her (and writing. But just about WonderBaby? This is a whole other post.) But I can't bring myself to fully admit that, let alone celebrate it. So I hide behind certain exigencies of the household and my desire to secure my husband's happiness. All to avoid being identified as an Unambitious Woman, and so as some powerless throwback to a darker, pre-feminist time. The irony being - you've caught this already, haven't you? - that in so hiding I have invited that identity anyway.

    Bad Mother, meet Traditionalist Rock. And over here, to your left, Feminist Hard Place.

    What I want to know is, why can't I wholeheartedly claim my version of that identity - the fem-friendly, empowered mother who exercise her choice to devote her emotional, creative and intellectual energies to her family. Why am I still sheepish about it? Writing in this space is bringing me closer to understanding, and embracing. But I have miles to go, I think.

    Tomorrow, or whenever WonderBaby decides to nap: Bland Ambition, Part II. Happiness as a worthy ambition, whether mothers can be philosophers, taking my husband's name, and - having just seen Kristen's post on sacrificial motherhood - whether I am a sacrificial mother. In 350 words or less!

    ...love's function is to fabricate unknownness...

    Or: Look! Over there! Bulbous-headed Lilliputians!

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Tuesday Rambling, and a WonderBaby Hatstravaganza!

    So, I was deliberating between two Big Heavy Posts for today - hmm... shall I pontificate on Religion and Childrearing, or deliver My Big Thoughts on Judith Warner's Perfect Madness? - when, during my early morning fave blog troll, I came across Kristen's bladder-stimulating spoof of my writing:

    OK. Go on. Have a look. But come right back! I have pictures!

    Don'tcha all be slammin' on my ma, yo. She be teaching me MAD words. Check it:

    Jack and Jill ascended the acclivity
    To retrieve a brazier of the liquid that descends from the clouds as rain and is the major constituent of all living matter.
    Jack toppled bottomward
    And fractured his cranium
    And Jill came plummeting post-hence.

    Back now? Good. So, as I was saying, I was going to devote today's post to the further enlightenment of the blogosphere, until I realized that a) I couldn't possibly do so without coming off as a spoof of myself, b) to do so would risk revealing to new readers that I am not as smart as Kristen might think I am, and c) the coffee that I made this morning is CRAP and undrinkable and I cannot spin the big words unless I am caffeinated.

    So what y'all get instead? Random nonsense! And hats!

    What Bad Mother has been thinking about today:

    1) Kevin Federline. Apparently, the media is to blame for his foray into, um, musical performance. 'Cause, really, what other choice did he have? What kind of role model to his children - the new one and the old ones that were left with the (pregnant at the time) wife he abandoned - would he be if he went and got a real job instead of whoring off of his baby-dropping celebrity wife?

    Why do I waste brain cells on this sort of thing? Because I have an obsessive interest in the decline of Western Civilization. Whether it's K-Fed ('but you can call me daddy' ew ew ew), or David Hasselhoff (yes, I have a grim fascination with David Hassehoff. I just don't understand. K-fed, sadly, I understand: untold numbers of greasy slacker losers look at him and think Yes, DUDE and similar numbers of girls with low self-esteem think he's hot. So, sad, but, sadly, understandable. David Hasselhoff? Just do not get it. Just don't. Have you seen his work? Yeah, I know, Baywatch was the Miami Vice of the nineties and so apparently there's some pop cultural import there, tho' I don't see it, and apparently it can be read as a family ensemble in the tradition of the Waltons so maybe it's just good wholesome fun. But this? Please), or the fact that somebody, somewhere, thinks that Sharon Stone is still a sex symbol - it's all evidence that we're all going to hell in a cultural handbasket. And I'm taking notes.

    2) What to name WonderBaby's new playmate. She looks pretty gothy and I-see-dead-peopleish, which is why I like her, and so I thought about naming her Siouxsie. Or maybe Miss Jessel, from The Turn of the Screw... Any suggestions?

    3) How and why it is that I am turning into a beer pig. I used to be the martiniest girl around (shaken, so dry as to be parched, with olive), when I wasn't appreciating the finer Bordeaux varietals, preferably those with philosophic provenance. Which is to say, liquor snob. But now that one martini gets me sloppy drunk and gives me a Gulliverian hangover (those bulbous-headed Lilliputians that Kristen had me imagining? Hangover midgets banging on my head. In fact, that whole paragraph was a description of my martini hangover) and wine can compromise milk supply. But beer... ah, beer. Sweet, dark nectar of the gods. Can increase milk supply, and one pint glass of a rich creamy dark can last an hour or more and so hangover risk is minimal. And I've developed a taste for it. Guinness, Kilkenny, Belgian Lambecs brewed by Trappist monks... yum. Love it. But am struggling with transformation of my drinker identity: beer is for frat boys, pool players and aficionados of team sports, is it not? And I am none of these. I am a lactating mother. I am drinking a Fuller's London Porter right now. Bring on the beer!

    4) Whether or not to go to Blogher. I would love to, I really would - learn more about this writing medium that I have become addicted to! Meet cool, literate, funny moms! Weekend vacation! - and Husband is saying go for it, but... still ambivalent. I'm new at this, for one, so it seems ambitious. Also? I'm not very good at conferences where I don't deliver a paper (if you plug 'Machiavelli' into the subject search here, you'll find HBM's alter academic ego), thereby establishing my membership in The Group and so minimizing imposter syndrome.) I've been known to hug the odd corner with tongue in throat when in rooms with people that I don't know (OK, I'm exaggerating. I know how work a room. But my inner shy girl hugs the corners and then obsesses about what people in the room thought of me.) And? I won't be attending an academic conference this year, and I already have issues about eschewing academic writing in favour of blogging, so to head off to a blogging conference while skipping APSA (which I swore swore swore that I would attend, even if I didn't present a paper) seems irresponsible. And, perhaps, like a detour that will take me an even greater distance from the work that I 'should' be doing. But! So tempting...

    5) How many hats a baby should have. We're at about 14 right now. But people, she's bald. OK, fuzzy. Pale, yellow Easter chick fuzz. So we rock the hats.

    Don'tcha be funnin' at my head, yo. Gots me some BRAINS.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Bad Mother auf Naxos

    So, some of you, it seems, would like to hear more about the soap operatic drama that was the Incident in Greece.

    But first!


    Back to the story. It's not a story that I particularly enjoy telling. For one, it's not the most pleasant thing to re-live. For another, it tends to provoke one of two reactions: that it can't possibly be true (var., that I've undoubtedly exaggerated the story), or that it had to have been brought about by my own actions. So I tend to begin from a defensive position in relating the story, which makes me uncomfortable.

    But my defensiveness is not just indignation at being doubted. I'm defensive about the story because the suggestions that the story might be exaggerated, or that it was somehow my fault that the incident occured, touch a nerve. Because I've asked myself those same questions over and over since it happened. From the moment I got on the plane out of Athens I've been asking myself whether what happened really happened, and whether I understood correctly what happened.

    The rough details, as outlined in the comment that I appended to that post:

    It's really not all that interesting - I wasn't snatched off the street or anything. It was just the result of some bad decisions. I'd met Creepy Creepopolous on a flight to Europe from Vancouver - tho' he didn't seem remotely creepy and anyway, I thought he was *gay,* I really did - and we hung out in Amsterdam for a while and then kept in touch over the following year. When I ended up between paying gigs the next summer, he said that he could get me a job on Naxos (where his family lived and ran a number of businesses, incuding the island radio station). When I got there, there was no job, my passport was taken from me and locked away in the same room as the telephone, and I acquired a thuggy Greek 'bodyguard' who got between me and any and all English-speaking persons. Creepy declared his love and spent days insisting that I would really be happy living on Naxos rather than in Barcelona and that I just needed to give it a chance and refused to let me a) contact anybody, and b) leave. The lock-picking, window-leaping escape I noted in the post; I'll save the descriptives for another day. Nothing happened to Creepy that I know of: the Greek authorities weren't interested in anything other than ensuring that a 'tourist' be able to get off the island; Interpol couldn't really do anything without the co-operation of the Greeks. I was told that it was almost certainly a sex-trade slavery thing, but I really think that Creepy was just that - creepy. And lonely.

    The facts are what they are - the false pretenses concerning the job (which were admitted to shortly after I arrived), the withholding of the passport and travellers checks and any and all means of communication with the off-island world, the bodyguard, etc. - and they all add up to BAD. I absolutely was held against my will. But it seems so fantastic and weird and unlikely that anytime I think of the story, I have to go through the facts like a checklist, just to make sure that it really happened the way that I thought it did.

    The second issue - was it somehow my fault? - is trickier. This is, I'm told, a totally normal response to certain kinds of trauma. But still: I was barely 20 years old, trotting alone around Europe, heading off to the Greek islands for a phantom job on the word of some guy that I barely knew. (One note in my defence - I let everyone know where I was going and, on the advice of my parents, who were not at all keen on my adventures, I checked in at the Canadian consulate in Athens when I arrived to inform them that I was there. These actions later proved crucial.) But, again, I might have exercised more prudence. I know that I didn't 'ask for it,' but didn't I expose myself to the risk?

    And. I suggested in my comments to the post that if Creepy really was infatuated with me in the creepiest way, I had no idea. But this is another thing that I have interrogated and re-interrogated over the years. Did I know? 'Cause if I did, wasn't it irresponsible of me to treat that so lightly? I've said that I thought that he was gay, and this is true: when we met - well before the age of the metrosexual - he was all 'girl, I love your clothes!' and 'is that a BCBG skirt?' and full of stories about how he had been working in a hair salon on Robson Street in Vancouver and full of compliments about the style of my hair (which, yes, still had the bangs, but this was the early nineties, people, so sue me.) No straight male of my acquaintance at that time could tell BCBG from GWG, nor would they ever say anything more about my hair than 'grr, argh, pretty:' noting that the BCBG skirt was really an Azzedine Alaia knock-off and that my hair had razored layers would have been unthinkable. So, I identified him as Safe Male. No Sexual Threat was virtually stamped across his forehead.

    But, but... I knew that he was a big fan of mine and I liked that. His letters were always full of praise for how smart and cool and funny I was. I liked that because, hell, who wouldn't, but I also liked that because I was really quite miserable at the time. I was infatuated with a beautiful Catalan boy who I knew, knew, was chronically unfaithful, but I couldn't quite bring myself to end that relationship for once and for all. So, so banal, in retrospect, but at the time, so, so painful: there were countless lamentations - written and sobbed - of 'why why why can't he love only me?' I knew that I should pack it in and move back to Canada and go back to school but I just couldn't do it: my parents had just divorced and I was confused about what I wanted to do with my life and the only things defining me at that moment in time were my (crap crappy angsty) writing and that god-forsaken relationship (which was fueling the crap crappy writing. If Simone de Beauvoir could be all existential about love, then so could I.) So when this other person, Creepy-who-was-not-yet-creepy, this person who thought that I was fan-fucking-tastic and super-cool and just the smartest girl ever offered me an out - come to Greece! work on an island! make new friends! - I thought, yes. (And also? I'll show that cheating lying boyfriend. Eat. my. dust.)

    So I went. And when Creepy declared his love - confessing that he regularly laid roses on the westward point of the Temple that was said to be the place where Ariadne had, according to local mythology, committed suicide over the faithlessness of Theseus, and that he had placed them there, facing Spain, for me (ew, ew) - my thoughts were, in this exact order, complete with curses: you're fucking kidding me; ew, lame; seriously?; ew, ew, ew. And then: well, at least someone fucking loves me. And finally: figures that it would be a psycho freak. (He'd already started being weird: I didn't have the bodyguard yet, but he had already taken my passport, etc, and had locked the phone away. So we skipped the whole, um, that's sweet, but I'm just not into you that way thing and went straight to are you fucking serious? and that's when things got bad.)

    Years later, I saw Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the Met, and when Zerbinetta performed her coloratura about how the only way to get over a man is to fall in love with another, I shuddered. I did go to Greece to get over Catalan Boy; did some inner part of me seek out being adored, to make that process easier? And if it did, did that put me at fault, in part, for the incident?

    So it is that the whole thing came to represent a whole host of insecurities and issues that I wish I'd never had. Had I been a more together, self-assured girl, I used to tell myself, I would never have gone to Greece. Nor, not incidentally, would I have languished in that miserable relationship in Spain and tormented myself about perceived deficiencies in my lovability. And so it is that I don't much like talking about it, and that I have never considered 'writing' about it in anything other than a personal journal. (Because, too, hello? Banal. The torments of romantic youth leading to High Drama? Been done.)

    My prevailing thoughts about the whole thing now tend, not surprisingly, to the maternal. How do I spare my daughter from the insecurities that sometimes lead women to do silly things? Can I spare my daughter from those insecurities? My parents raised me well, and loved me well. A surplus of love throughout my life to that point was not enough to provided me with a bullet-proof self-esteem. I know, I know - no self-esteem is bullet-proof, nor should it be. Humility, fragility and vulnerability are necessary parts of a good person, and I want my daughter to be that. But I want to protect her, too, and provide her with the means to protect herself: there's a part of me that wants to ensure that she has the toughest outer shell, so that she'll never get her heart broken, get hurt, or - god forbid - feel unloved or unloveable. Again, however, I know that that's not possible, nor really desirable.

    So that, I suppose, will be the test of my motherhood, and, of course, of Husband's fatherhood: providing all the love and nurture that are necessary to build a resilient shell; to create every opportunity for our daughter to be both soft and strong (gah, tissue commercial cueing up here...), for her to be both fully secure in love and yet open to the storm that love can be.

    And to keep her off Naxos.

    Love and be loved well, WonderBaby.

    And kick the asses of all others.