Her Bad Mother

Saturday, May 6, 2006

You're so vain

*Edited below. I know; this is becoming a bad habit. But I am, after all, a Bad Mother, and I come as advertised...

In the frenzy of all the recent blogtardage, it was suggested to me that you can know that you've made it as a blogger when someone starts their own blog because of you and devotes part of that blog to talking about you. (And that's my last word on it. The topic of blogtards and their exploits is officially over. And no, no linkage. Ov-aaah.)

Maybe that's making it. Or not.

Maybe it was just your bad luck that week to have attracted the most attention-hungry blogtard. Could happen to anyone.

Better measures of 'making it' in the blogosphere are to have your own entry in Urban Dictionary, to be named the Mom-Blog Round-Up Queen of Everything, to be paid to blog, or to be named an honorary Mommyblogger. (So if anyone is looking for the real High Priestesses of the KoolAid cult, look to these eminent figures. I'm way down the ladder. Waaaay down. Don't even know the secret handshake.)

(Is there a handshake?)

So, despite what you may have heard, you won't find any blog'n'roll superstars here. Sorry. The blogosphere Star Maps are notoriously unreliable. This is home to WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe, aka Imperial Leader. If you're looking for Amalah, Queen of Everything Including All Media Not Controlled By Dooce, you're in the wrong 'hood. The absence of security guards, paparazzi and screaming fans should have tipped you off.

But before you walk away, angrily stuffing that virtual Star Map back into your virtual fanny pack, lookie here.

We have a t-shirt. WE HAVE A T-SHIRT.

So we're not entirely lacking in glitter and stardust chez Bad Mother. Some of the coolest chicks in the blogosphere thought that we were cool enough to warrant a t-shirt and lo and behold! A t-shirt there is! Immortalized in Cafe Press!

**Just to be clear... this t-shirt - the Her Bad Mother Tee - is the work of Christina and Kristen and all credit is due to them. It can be acquired from Christina's CafePress shop, here. For the inspiration for the tee, see here.

(Christina - there've been requests for tank top version and baby/onesie version...)

Now when people ask you if you've been to Her Bad Mother's blog, you can be all cool and nonchalant and toss your hair (if you have any left after post-partum shedding and grabby baby depilation) and say, oh, yeah, been there, done that, GOT THE T-SHIRT.

(What really tells you that you've made it, in the ways that matter most? The nicest, smartest, funniest bloggers in the blogosphere visit you and read your blog. That's making it.)

(Flings cap in air.)


My husband just walked in and asked what I was doing.

Me: Blogging.

Him: Are you blogging about how great it is to have sex with your husband?

Me: No.

You asked for that, dude. Sorry. But consider yourself lucky: if I were really to blog about our sex life you KNOW that your testicles would shrivel from the embarassment. It would be flattering, of course, and perhaps you would go down in history with the same kind of sexual fame that Kirstie Alley's second husband, the Hardy Boy, no pun intended, attained. But dude? My mother and my sister and your sister and sometimes - gah - your mother and some of your colleagues and most of our friends and have I mentioned your mother? read this blog. So have I explained enough about the testicle-shrivelling embarassment that would attend the sex talk?


(Love you.)


WonderBaby has a new hat:

Hat Girl in Repose

New hat courtesy of the Nana. We love the Nana.

AND STILL MORE! (when will it end oh god when will it END?!?!?)

In honour of Mrs. Fortune and her Brand New Cookie**

All together now...

**WonderBaby's open letter to new blogger babies, originally composed for Boy Wonder, child of Urban_Mommy, should now also be read, with necessary modifications to the address, as an open letter to Jacob Paul. (This is a little bit Elton John of me, I know. But it's good!) WonderBaby welcomes you to her empire, Jacob Paul! Go forward and dominate!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

To Hell with All That

**Edited - link added - below. Check it.

What follows is an exchange that was, with the exception of the last letter (my last, unpublished word), recently printed in the National Post. And, for dessert, random thoughts that may or may not be related to that exchange.

(And! Gratuitous baby photos!)



What’s Best for Mom is What’s Best for Kids
Re: Stay At Home, Mom!, April 26.

Caitlin Flanagan states that she "said the truth" in her book, To Hell with All That: Fearing and Loathing Our Inner Housewife, in suggesting that stay-at-home motherhood is best for children and families. She also responds to critics who charge that the book is a contradiction in terms (in its having been written by a working mother) by saying that "it's a book about contradictions."
A memo to Ms. Flanagan: You can't have it both ways. When your operating assumptions are riddled with contradictions, you cannot claim that your conclusions are "truth." What you have are opinions.

And while her opinion that stay-at-home motherhood is best seems commonsensical, it misses the point for most mothers. What's best for children and families is what's best for women -- as mothers and as individuals -- and that's choice. A woman who finds staying at home fulfilling and rewarding will be a happy woman and so will be giving her best to her children. A woman who finds staying at home stifling or frustrating is going to be unhappy: Is this best for her children? The gold standard is happy parents.

Ms. Flanagan says that "when a mother works, something is lost." Absolutely. But something is also lost when a mother stays home and is miserable, or when a father works such long hours that he only sees his children on weekends. The happiest families are those in which both parents are able to make the choices that best serve them and their children, not those that follow the dubious "truths" of a dilettante stay-at-home-mom like Ms. Flanagan.

Her Bad Mother, Toronto


Put Children First

Re: What's Best For Mom Is What's Best For Kids, letter to the editor, April 28.

(Her Bad Mother's) letter saddens and frightens me. She states: "A woman who finds staying at home stifling or frustrating is going to be unhappy. Is this best for her children? The gold standard is happy parents."

Shouldn't the "gold standard" be happy and healthy children? It is this type of selfish attitude that causes many parents to feel the "need" for a dual income and therefore leave the child-rearing to strangers or grandparents, even if they don't need the extra money. I realize many couples require both parents to work in order to pay the bills, but Ms. Bad Mother is talking about working for the purpose of being a "happy parent" -- not because of a need for money. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves why we have children. Is it to fulfill ourselves and to make us happy as parents? It should be about the children. They should come first.

Paul Larman, Barrie, Ont.


Put Family First
Re: Put Children First, Letter to the Editor

Paul Larman missed or misunderstood my point entirely. I did not say that parents should go to work ‘for the purpose of being a ‘happy parent’’ (italics mine); I said that the happiness of parents should be a consideration in making the choices that make a happy family. If a mother – or, for that matter, a father – is happy staying at home, then that happiness will be reflected in her or his parenting, and consequently yield greater happiness for the children. The well-being and happiness of our children is, of course, the primary concern here; what I’m suggesting is that the well-being and happiness of men and women as parents has everything to do with the happiness of their children.

So when I said that ‘the gold standard is happy parents,’ I was referring to a standard against that suggested by Caitlin Flanagan – the standard of the dutiful stay-at-home mother/housewife. The gold standard of parenting is not – cannot be – such a model, which is unattainable for many and undesirable for many. Where this model is possible and desirable - as it is for myself and my own family - it can be understood to be meaningfully choiceworthy. Where such a choice is not solely a matter of duty, it serves the greater happiness of the family as a whole. However, where this model is pursued only as a matter of duty, and where the primary duty within that models falls to a reluctant mother, whose interests are really served? The children will certainly benefit from the 'round-the-clock presence of their mother, but if she is unhappy, how deep does that benefit actually run?

This is old feminist hat, but why should the woman be the one to stay home if she would rather work? Or, to put it differently, why should the father work, if he would rather stay home? My point is that mothers and fathers – families – are best served by choices. Obviously, financial constraints bear upon the availability of such choices, and ours would be a much better world for families if all had the financial freedom to choose to keep a parent at home. But perfectionist claptrap such as that which Ms. Flanagan is offering and Mr. Larman defending – the insistence that the only happy family is one that follows the Cleaver model of virtuous stay-at-home housewifeliness – also constrains families and women by perpetuating the dangerous myth that parenting, and motherhood in particular, must for some reason be sacrificial. Happy families are only happy families to the extent that all members – children, fathers, and mothers - are happy. Period.

Her Baaaaad Mother, Toronto


For the record, I enjoy Caitlin Flanagan's writing: she's funny, and smart, and she raises interesting and provocative questions. As should be obvious from the above exchange, I disagree with many of her conclusions. But that disagreement is not what is really getting under my skin here. What most bothers me is that this work contributes in a significant way to the manufacture of polarities in the debates concerning women, motherhood and parenting. It seems that almost everything being published these days on the topics of feminism and motherhood and the confluence of these is or is being presented as an extreme pole in a raging debate. Moms versus Mommies! SAHM versus WOHM! Feminist versus Traditionalist versus post-Feminist! KoolAid quaffers versus cold realists! Flanagan's book is just adding height and prominence to the already teetering New Traditionalist/Post-Feminist pole and so making discussion among women about their condition as women and mothers seem all the more, well, polarized.

Of these poles, of course, everybody loves the one that is or seems to be anti-feminist (as the New Traditionalist/Post-Feminist camps appear to be), the one that seems to break through the seeming din of feminist dogma, the blind chorus of we-are-women-hear-us-roar-our-weakness. Because that's edgy. That's brave. That's daring.

(There's a Nietzschean rant here that I am fighting off with all that I have... resist resist resist...)

Lone woman setting out to battle the feminist lions?

That's a story.

Controversy sells, obviously, and so it's likely no accident that any mention of Flanagan's book is prefaced by taglines to the effect of "Feminist Rage Boils Over!" Find or create the Anne Coulter of mothers and you'll have your next media sensation. But all of the fuss over what is ostensibly polarized and sensational obscures the fact that between and amongst women there is a fluid range of positions and views and that for most thinking women - for this woman - those positions and views are threaded with ambivalence and ambiguity and and contradiction and nuance. I call myself a mommy, but appreciate the force of the argument for using 'mom' or 'mother.' I call myself a feminist, but have had my struggles with feminism in both theory and practice. I am a SAHM who never thought that she would be a SAHM and that she would love being a SAHM; I am also a SAHM who needs the stimulation of things beyond my SAHMness. (Queen of Spain put wonderful words to this, chez QOS today: I am a stay-at-home-FEMINIST.)

We contradict ourselves? Fine, we contradict ourselves; we are vast, we can contain multitudes.

It's not controversial, it's not edgy. But it's probably the most interesting thing about being a woman, a mother, a parent, a human being.

Let's embrace it.

What is truly unambiguous, unambivalent, and without contradiction: The Zurbert.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

WTF Wednesday! Now with more cursing action!

**Note added below. Keepin' y'all on your toes!

The mood has been a little heavy over here at WonderBaby headquarters. Which means that it's time for the weekly WTF Wednesday interlude.

Conveniently brought to you on Tuesdays. Because here in WonderBabylandia we try to keep the masses happy.

And keeping the masses happy is good politics. Someone recently tried to start a revolution here, and so it is imperative that we set about distracting the masses with bread and circuses. Because sooner or later someone else is going to realize that this is, however benevolent, a dictatorship and that dissenters are administered 40 Big Word lashes before being subjected to Hard Pinches from WonderBaby's loyal subjects and then chased out over the drawbridge by shouting Cultish Mommy Bloggers (see below) with sticks and forced to start Their Own Blog.

(Yes, you may visit This Blog. There is currently no embargo, no travel advisory, and, to the best of our knowledge, no vaccinations are necessary. We prefer that you visit blogs with which we have established diplomatic relations - partial list at right, no passport stamps currently available - but we have not established any curtain, Iron or otherwise, with dissenting blogs and will not do so until such blogs become openly hostile. If you do choose to visit This Blog, however, please abide by interblog norms of civility and observe the rules of conduct of that site. For example: no Kool-Aid, and no cursing. Yes, the latter will deaden your self-expression, but rest assured that full cursing freedoms can be enjoyed when you return to WonderBabylandia. Which you fucking better well do. Her Bad Mother gets lonely cursing to herself.)

(Although do please refrain from bringing any plant or animal life back with you upon your return. And wipe your feet.)

In the meantime, to ensure that you remain loyal to WonderBaby, Imperial Leader, and to the cult of Her Bad Mother, we offer you fun and distraction! In the form of WTF Points of Interest, or Things That We Here At WonderBaby Headquarters Have Discovered This Week:

1. The Mystery of the Mutant Seal Block Revealed:

Remember that one? In the foreground? Seemed to be some sort of mutant seal, or earless cat, possibly performing yoga poses?

I think that I know what it is:

A Shmoo. Okay, so the Shmoo lacks the front legs and tail of the mutant block creature, but aren't Shmoos shape-shifters? In any case, they are truly extraordinary creatures, not unlike bulbous-headed Lilliputians. Because they are self-replicating and can produce any imaginable resource - meat, buttons, toothpicks - from their Shmoo bodies, Shmoos can form the the basis of a completely sustainable and self-sufficient economy, one that doesn't rely upon the exchange of commodities. And they are, apparently, more entertaining than television. So, the blocks upon which these Shmoo appear are clearly Communist propaganda. Make of that what you will.

2. In addition to being an unreliable narrator, I have, according to one Paul Larman of Barrie, Ontario, 'saddening' and 'frightening' views on parenting. This was pronounced after the National Post published a letter that I wrote addressing Caitlin Flanagan's recent work, in which I stated, among other things, that happy families require happy mothers, and that happy mothers are - whether SAHM, WAHM, or WOHM or whatever - mothers that have choices and are happy with their choices. This, according to Mr. Larman is a selfish view, and one that saddens and frightens him. More on this later in the week.

**When I post on this, I'll include the letters. So, no need to fuss about with online subscriptions to the Post get up to date. I'll fill you in; I promise. And although I may be many troubling things - saddening, frightening, an unreliable narrator, and burdened with a potty mouth - I always keep my promises. Well, most of them. I'll keep this one. Because I want you to like me, and to not defect to any protest camps.

3. Hammer still hasn't visited my blog. But he's been busy hanging with Sting (who's looking a bit rough and Malcom McDowell-ish these days) and taking random photos of exercise equipment, so that probably explains it. He's busy. Or maybe he's just afraid of...

4. Rampaging Mommy Blogger Cults!

Apparently, I am a member of a cult (see here, and comments here). The insidious Cult of Mommy Bloggers, who quaff emotional KoolAid and propagate nonsense about Empowerment and Disempowerment and chant lamentations for the Great Mother Struggle while choreographing pro-mother dance cheers (Woe Betide the Mothers/Go Mothers Go!) Ours is a great and dangerous cult, one that is dedicated to Mother World Domination and the mocking of Tom Cruise. We are fuelled by a dangerous cocktail of hormones, baby-love and virtual KoolAid, and we are actively recruiting and brainwashing new members.

If you are reading this, and you have a blog, or even if you don't have a blog, but are mesmerized by. My. Big. Words. And. Occasional. Cursing. And. Random. Photographs. Of. Big. Eyed. Child... you have been sucked in and you have become a member of the cult, too.

(Grandmistress Kristen! Note hypnotic use of punctuation above!)

People of the Blogosphere. You have been enslaved by Xenu. I can free you.

But you must send money. Now.

Sucked in yet?