Her Bad Mother

Friday, May 12, 2006

To all the moms that blog, and more

*Because I've never written a thing that I didn't think could be made better through MORE EDITING: Note added below.

I began blogging almost accidentally. I had never planned to keep an online record of life with WonderBaby; in the early weeks of our life together, I was pretty preoccupied by the incredible challenge of pulling that life together. My psychiatrist had suggested keeping a diary as a way to sort through my thoughts on and experiences of new motherhood, but I had dismissed this as a fantastic suggestion for a brand new mother. All of my literary energies were devoted to reading the same pages of What To Expect The First Year over and over and over again, hoping for some hidden insight to leap off of the page at me and reveal the secret of How to Keep Your New Mother Shit Together, and to recording the details of every last spit, shit and nursing session in a little notebook that was dedicated to these subjects. I did spend a lot of time on-line, but that time was spent clicking back and forth between kellymom.com (why is baby spitting up with the force and volume of Linda Blair? why does breastfeeding hurt so much? is new motherhood going to kill me?) and askdrsears.com (co-sleeping is okay, right? I'm not messing up baby forever, right? immediate crib sleeping isn't necessary to avoiding Electra complexes, right? right?) and googling “nipples falling off breastfeeding ouch.”

I had never heard of a mommy blog. I did not know who Dooce was. If you had said to me, 'go read Dooce,' I would have boggled at you and wondered who in their right mind looks for enlightenment on feminine hygeine product packaging.

(Then again, if someone had told me that reading Dooce would reveal the secrets of surviving motherhood, the knowledge of which I craved with the desperation of a dehydrated hippo, I would have been camped out in the feminine products aisle of the local pharmacy scrutinizing every last Summer's Eve box and the Monistat boxes just for good measure.

But I digress.)

One day, during a google search on “extreme baby gas help,” I noticed a link to a page that I hadn’t seen before. Amidst all of the links to pages advertising Gerber Gas Drops and gripe water, there was a link to something called JezeWhiz, where somebody was saying something about the gas my god the gas what is UP with the baby gas thank god I had the foresight to stock up on gas drops. Intrigued, I followed that link, and in doing so, tumbled down a virtual rabbit hole, and arrived in the mommy blogosphere. And my life changed.

The page that I had arrived at was Jezer’s blog. And the first words of hers that I read, referring to the challenge of a new baby, were, “this gig is hard, dudes.”

I may have gasped audibly. Somebody else knows. SOMEBODY ELSE KNOWS.

In an instant, I realized that I was not alone. I spent the next hour - hours - reading through her wonderful blog, laughing and wincing and nodding and goggling at the pictures of her adorable baby boy. (Go look! You will hyperventilate from the adorableness!) Then I started following her links. I linked to Amalah, and discovered another new mother who was babbling hysterically, brilliantly, about having a new baby and making with the funny my god the funny. And then I followed another link, and discovered that Dooce was not a feminine hygiene product. And then I linked to another blog, and another, and another.

I was totally sucked in.

Women – and men, and men and women – were writing about having babies. They were writing about how hard and amazing and exhilarating and painful and awe-inspiring and crazy-making and wonderful it is to have babies. (Okay, sorry, I cannot even begin to sort out the potential linkages for the preceding sentence. And? Baby on tit. So here's a game for you: check out my sidebar links, read some relevant posts at those blogs and then take that sentence and play Match The Adjective To The Post. And when you run out of adjectives, make up your own.) And their voices sounded like my own. They sounded like me. Scared like me, amazed like me, bemused like me. Determined to suck every moment – good and bad – out of every day with the new little beings that had changed their lives. Like me.

So I started my own blog. I called it 'the first days of the rest of my life.' It was just going to be an online diary. I hadn’t yet discovered comments or inter-blog communication; I was writing just for me and for WonderBaby and for the Husband and for friends and family. But when, during one of my daily visits to Jezer’s blog, I realized that I could comment on her posts – on anyone’s posts – the rabbit hole opened up even further. And when she came to my site and left a comment on one of my posts, I landed at the bottom of that hole and recognized this whole new world for what it is: a place to not only find joy and solace in one’s own words, but to find those things in the words of others.

And although Jezer was the first (thank you, Jezer!), there are so many others that I don't even know where to begin - or end - in singing their - your - praises. So I'm not going to start. I can't. I can't do each of you justice in one short post and I would almost certainly forget somebody and then I would wake up in the middle of the night tonight in a fit of guilt and self-loathing. You know who you are; I visit you whenever I can and when I'm done laughing or crying or gasping or nodding my head so vigorously that my teeth rattle over what you've written, I tell you so. (And if it's not every post, it's not that I'm not reading; sometimes I have to play catch-up.) You all make a huge difference in my life as a new mother. An extraordinary difference.

KoolAid Moms, I salute you.

(And KoolAid Dads and KoolAid Friends, I salute you too. For helping us all to be the super-crazy-hip-awesome moms that we are)

Speaking of which, of whom... I lied when I said above that I can't single anyone out (Carol-Kane-in-Princess-Bride-voice: Liar! LIE-urrrrr!) . I do have to do a teeny bit of singling out. Not because these blogs are any more special than all of the others that I simply do not have the time and space to appropriately fête here, but because I want to single out a particular type of mommy/mom/mama blogger for celebration: the mama-blogger who blogs as part of her parent team, with her husband/partner. The mother who not only puts her life as a mother on the screen, but her life as a wife, friend and lover on that screen as well.

We all, to some extent, share our marriages and partnerships through our blogs. But the shared parent blogs do something really special with what and in what they share: they put the marital and parental partnership right up there on the screen to inspire and reassure. They celebrate, daily, the love and collaboration and struggle and love that define the extraordinary work that is Mom-and-Dad. So, Wood? Thank you for sharing your life as a mother and as a wife/partner/friend with us all, and for doing so so articulately and honestly and with such good humour. For showing us what love really looks like from all sides, so that we can see ourselves in that love, or aspire to that love. And Mo-Wo? Thanks for putting the struggles and triumphs of motherhood and pregnancy and womanhood firmly within the context of shared struggle and triumph, within the context of family.

Thank you both for standing up alongside your husbands and proclaiming loudly that you have your own unique powerful, beautiful voices as mothers, as women and as writers, and for demonstrating that those voices ring all the more powerfully when raised in concert with the voices of your men.


So there you have it. One small contribution to what I hope will be - what is shaping up to be - the Biggest MommyBlogger Group Hug Ever. Keep posting, and sending me your links.

*I'll keep accepting links whenever you send them. There's no deadline, 'cuz, well, who can put a deadline on luuuuve? This is The Hug That Never Ends: if I continue to receive links after the Great CardPost, I'll just do another post. And another, if need be. And so on, and so on. (I may have to do more than one post as it is - you're all being so great about spreading the love...)

I'll pull it all together in one (or two, or three) big linky-rich Mothers Day CardPost(s) and get it up by the end of the weekend (which might mean Monday, depending upon how debauched my Mother's Day is. Husband? You reading? I want debauchery, dude. And chocolate. And odes to my beauty and charm. Sing it.)

Word to you mothers...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You Gotta a Friend (and a contest!) **New and improved epic version

Because I'm BAD and can't help fussing with things, editing things, and mucking about, I went and changed the title of the Great Mommy-Blogger Love-In post after I edited it and then realized that doing so changed the url which meant that anybody who linked to the original post was screwed which just messes up the whole Get The Love On vibe just a little a bit so I'm fixing it by posting this nonsensical ramble here, so that anybody who follows the second url will still be able to find This Great Post about the Mother of all Love-Ins, for KoolAid Moms (and Dads and Friends) Everywhere: http://badladies.blogspot.com/2006/05/you-gotta-friend-and-contest.html

And a WonderBaby photo, to make you forget that I just made your life a teeny bit more difficult by being so inept with the Blogger and the linkage and the urls and all.

Don't mind my ma. No life skills. But what boobies she got!

Keep the lovey links a-comin'! My own Ode to Mommy Bloggers I Have Loved will be up tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You Gotta a Friend (and a contest!)

New and Improved Epic Edition

*Now with pictures!!! Because WonderBaby is a sweet, sweet addiction...
*And further notes on The Great Mom/Mommy/Mama Blogger Love-In of 2006!
*And a somber addendum.

It is the post that NEVER ENDS...!


The other day, I was provoked by this post, which raised a lot of interesting observations and questions about friendship and judgment, subjects on which I have at least a half dozen emotionally-charged and pedantic (because I can do both! At once!) partially drafted posts that have been abandoned because of the aforementioned emotional-chargedness and pedantry (which, trust me, you do not want to see, because, um, any post in which I segue madly between Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, The Velveteen Rabbit, Jacques Derrida and that episode of Friends where Monica and Rachel start smacking each other and then Phoebe grabs them both by the hair and calls them her bitches is a bit much, even for me, which is a saying a lot. A LOT.)

So, I was talking about this great post, which challenged me with this statement: I don't know if it's possible to become heart-friends with somebody without seeing her face as she laughs at you or tells you that she loves you.

I think that we all probably have different understandings of what a heart-friend is. I know who my own heart-friends are in real life: that very small group of human beings who I’ve variously lived with, grown up with, danced with, drunk with, sung along to Patsy Cline with, cursed with, sniffed cherry blossoms and peonies with, co-authored academic papers with, discussed reality TV (unironically) with, drunk with, made babies with, laughed with, and cried with. Those human beings with whom I’ve been living the best and the worst and the most precious moments of my life.

(Yes, I just sacrificed good grammar for the sake of that syntax-mangled run-on sentence. For the rhythm of language! For friendship! That’s how committed I am!)

The best and the worst and the most precious moments of my life. So many of these, now, are being shared with people that I have never met face-to-face. People who are also sharing some of their best and worst and most precious moments with me. People with whom I am sharing tears and laughter and curses and random thoughts on big and small ideas and a disdain for Tom Cruise. People who, when I opened up about depression and losing my teaching contract and the terrible feelings that come with having been pushed aside for reasons relating to the overwhelming smackdown new motherhood can be, commiserated and commented and share their own stories and sent sympathetic e-mails and rose up against the meanies who had started throwing sand around in my sandbox.

Good people. Good mothers. Good women. Women (and some men) with whom, I think, I could be friends. Good friends.

And then I think, are they not, some of them, many of them, friends already? These are women whose presence in my world – even if that world unfolds partially on the flickering screen of a laptop computer – make that world a richer, fuller world. They make that world a better place, a much better place.

So even though I don’t see their faces when I laugh or cry or commiserate with them, they are friends.

(Pause for dramatic effect. Cue cheesy Whitney Houston song.)

Which is why, when my spies told me that my crazy blogtard (nope, no linkage) was running a contest to find the Worst KoolAid Mom (still no linkage), I got really, really mad. These be my friends you slaggin,' yo. And because, um? Apart from the general slavish evilness of the whole enterprise, holding a which-mommyblogger-sucks-most contest that culminates on Mothers Day Weekend is like putting a bounty on Santa’s head and scheduling the execution for Christmas Eve. But because nothing good ever comes from futile anger at ressentiment-fueled Last Men, I decided that the best use for my energies was to do something positive.

So I am announcing my own contest, which is not so much a contest as it is a call-to-celebration. This is a summons for love letter posts to your bloggy friends - the bloggers you love or think that you’re gonna love or that you maybe just wanna fool around with a bit - to be tossed around the Internet in a big, kissy, KoolAid slurping, mommyblog-loving frenzy in which we all get celebrated as Mothers of the Week. So: sometime between now and Mother’s Day (Sunday), write a post about the women in the blogosphere that have made some difference in your world. It doesn’t have to focus on just one blogger (I don’t know that I’ll be able to restrict my celebratory post to just one blogger), but you absolutely must single out the objects of your celebration and give them lots of linky love. And if you want to write about how Dooce or Amalah or some other supa-stah or near-stah blogger has enriched your life, that’s great, but if you do that, you are required, by the terms of this assignment, to also celebrate a lesser known blogger (extra points if you seek out someone who is not on your blogroll and write about what a great discovery they are.) By this weekend, I want to see all of our names in virtual linky lights.

When you’ve posted your Ode to Amazing MommyBloggers, let the object(s) of your affection know. And send the link to your post to me, and I’ll put all the links together in a Big Honkin’ Momma Love post in honor of Mothers Day and us and the totally awesome mothers that we are. (Oh, and spread word of this around. As I recently pointed out here, I am not an supah-stah or even a comet or even a random piece of space junk, so word won’t spread if we rely solely on HBM traffic. Talk it up!)

The point of this is to make this week the week that we are all Mother of the Week. This is the week to really celebrate our friendships, new and old and as-yet-undiscovered. This week is our week. Make it so.

**To be clear - you can write about as many mama-bloggers as you like. You want to name 5 Mothers of the Week? Great; the more, the merrier. Just remember to shine on each mama with a bright, red carpet-worthy spotlight (and, of course, give good linkage.)

And: you don't need to be a mommyblogger to post an ode to your favorites. Anyone with a blog (dads? y'all can feel free to step up here) is more than welcome to share up the love.

And, and: don't forget to link back to me so that I can include your post in the Great Love-In Round-Up Mother's Day CardPost (which, note, may go up Monday in the event that Sunday sees me buried in a mountain of bon-bons.)

And and and and: Many thanks to those of you who have already posted! Rock-on KoolAid sistahs!

**Serious Note**

Today, the tears, they have been flowing. Kristen told the devastatingly beautiful story of her amazing mother and the loss that they shared. Jezer wrote about such tragedy befalling someeone she knows. And Amalah, in her latest Daily Dose, posted about a few moms who have suffered the most terrible loss or are facing such loss. T. reminds us regularly of the strength and hugeness that are required for facing such loss. In the spirit of Mothers Day, sisterhood and the Great MommyBlogger Love-In of 2006, go shower those moms, or any others that you might know of, with the warmest virtual hugs.

Those moms (and here I'm also giving special nods to my sister, mother of the remarkable Tanner, and my late much-beloved Grandma, who lost her Jeanie before I was born) are the strongest and most awe-inspiring women imaginable. Words fail, so warmest, most appreciative virtual hugs and THREE BIG CHEERS will have to do. Love to you all.

And a sweet little smile from WonderBaby...

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Today's post brought to you by the letter P

So I was planning on blogging about the herd of buffalo that stampeded through our living room, knocking over all of my empty chardonnay bottles, in the early hours of this morning, until I found this on our doorstep:

Congratulations! You qualify for an instantly slimming, beautifully shaping, supremely comfortable, free sample pantyhose!

Which I found infinitely more disturbing.

Is there any other thing that is more matronly than pantyhose? No self-respecting girl-about-town wears pantyhose. You can’t even be sartorially ironic about pantyhose: downtown punk chicks wear shredded tights, Harajuku girls wear Hello Kitty knee socks and urban vintage cool hunters reference the 40’s in fishnet stockings. Pantyhose? Not even Chloe Sevigny wears pantyhose.

Prior to becoming a mother, I would occasionally wear tights (black, opaque Dim tights, worn with black skirts and black sweaters), weather depending. I have also been known, on dressier occasions, to don a pair of thigh-hi stay-ups or even – wink – gartered stockings. I have never worn Spanx, but I have it on good authority that they are not at all offensive. And, c’mon, spanx. Any product that refers to good ol’ S&M fun can’t be all that dowdy.

But pantyhose? Please.

The very term is disturbing. Panty. Hose. The word ‘panty’ may be titillating, insofar as it can conjure images of pajama parties full of college girls in baby-doll nighties pummeling each other with feather pillows (if you’re into that sort of thing), but pair it with the word ‘hose’ and it is drained of all eroticism. Pantyhose. You might as well call them gonch-tubes for all the feminine allure they evoke.

Throw in the words 'nude,' 'control top' and 'crotch' – as in nude control top pantyhose with reinforced crotch, size Extra Queen - and you’re done. Officially neutered and condemned to a sartorial existence that is defined by a-line skirts with elastic waistbands and polyester slacks. You are 70’s Mom. You might as well get the Carol Brady mullet and be done with it.

So why hasn’t anyone explained all of this to the makers of Enchantress Hosiery, makers of fine Enchantress Control Top Hosiery and the brains behind (I shit you not) the Control Top Pantyhose Club for Women, who sent me this invitation to join their Pantyhose of The Month Club (still not shitting you) with the promise to also send me a pair of Free! Cubic Zirconia! Earrings! (still with the not shitting) if I signed up immediately?

Why why why why why?

When did I become Control-Top Mom, and who told those people?

Don't do it, Mommy! Hold out for the L'eggs!

And while we’re entertaining questions: why do I get this shit in the mail, while Izzy gets personal lubricants? Where do I file my complaint?

And? How do I get myself reassigned to the Honey-Pass-The-Lube list?

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Bad Mother Down

The Husband and I are currently making arrangements for life insurance, because, you know, babies make you go all mature like that, such that those creepy TV ads for wills and insurance(you know, the shot-on-video ones with the stilted dialogue spoken by non-union actors: "What is it that you are doing, Honey?" "I am working on our will." "Why?" "So that little Johnny will be taken care of if we die in a horrific car crash or are crushed by a herd of stampeding buffalo." "That is good thinking, Honey." "Yes, and that is why I called 1-800-Dial-A-Will, where phone operators with mail-in paralegal diplomas were waiting to take my call") suddenly seem like profound cinéma vérité.

Ohmigod we too could be crushed by a herd of stampeding buffalo and WonderBaby would be abandoned to child services and so doomed to attend technical college and become an assistant dental hygienist living common-law with a trucker who only reads tabloid sports-sections and drinks beer from a can oh the horror the horror!

(Yes, the above is classist. I feel terrible about resorting to stereotypes just to make a point and get a laugh. [Sips chardonnay.] Just terrible.)

Buffalo? Oh dear. Well then we really must summer at West Egg, mother. There won't be buffalo at West Egg this season, will there, mother?

So this morning, in the service of the above, a nurse comes to our house to do the necessary medical examinations: take blood pressure, urine samples, blood. BLOOD.

I, Bad Mother, am famously (among friends and family) squeamish. And terrified of needles. Terrified. Bad Husband has, in the past, accompanied me to dentist and doctor appointments to hold my hand while medical professionals stick me, because I'm given to crying and, occasionally, bolting when a needle heaves into view. But I'm a mother now. I endured 10 months of blood test after blood test after blood test AND an epidural and I didn't cry, bolt or pass out once.

So, I figured, a little needle-waving and blood-letting in my dining room would be No Big Deal. Nurse Needlepoke spread her equipment out on the table while I, cool as a freaking cucumber, tapped away at my laptop, working on a post in one window and surfing blogs in another. I had just abandoned my post-in-process during a brain fart and was about to read Christina's latest post when Nurse Needlepoke indicated that I should give her my arm and roll up my sleeve.

No problem. Extend arm, squeeze hand.

She asks me if I'm comfortable with giving blood.

(This is actually a translation. What she says is, "Like blood?" But there's a whole English-as-second-language thing going on here and I assume that she doesn't intend the reference to vampirism.)

No oh god no am terrified of needles but just had the baby 6 months ago and went through lots of blood tests during the pregnancy so totally used to it now and it's no problem and I'll be fine...


... 'cuz when you go through all those tests and the glucose screenings and the needle in the spine you get over your fears really fast, you know, and...

Fade to black.


I come to and am doubled over in the chair and the Husband and Nurse Needlepoke are lifting me back into a sitting position. The first thing that I see is my laptop screen and all I can think is must blog about passing out...

"You okay? You need juice."

The Husband fetches juice and I sit up straight and insist upon my wellness. Am fine am fine am totally fine totally dizzy but fine.

Nurse Needlepoke puts needles away and sets about preparing her little blood pressure machine and I turn back to the laptop to reopen the Blogger window to create a new post.

Never mind un-ranting the Unrant today... passed out, OMG!... must post about passing out...

Nurse Needlepoke motions for my arm again and unravels the blood pressure armband. She slips it on and the machine starts pumping.

"You okay?"

Yes, totally fine, totally fine, it was just the fasting and the breastfeeding, got me light-headed, is all, am totally...

Fade to black.

Where am I? Where's my laptop?
Husband: You're here. You really have to lie down.
Fine. But where's my laptop?

It's clear that despite 10 months of pregnancy, countless needles, an epidural that didn't work and 36 hours of active labour, I am still a world-class wuss. Fine. I can accept that. What I am having trouble wrapping my around is the obvious mental imbalance that attends such a twisted reaction to something like, say, losing consciousness at your dining room table: must blog must blog must blog.

It seems to me that I've crossed some sort of line - and this may be a line that is, eventually, crossed by anyone who devotes a portion of their life to storytelling in some form or another - in moving, almost instantly, from the experience of something to the impulse to tell a story about that thing. I was constructing my narration of the story of passing out before Husband and Nurse had picked me up off of the floor. And when I passed out again? Jackpot! A second climax that reveals the dramatic action and seeming climactic moment of fainting as merely part of the rising action of the story! Woo hoo!

Is this just overly-attentive but totally normal writerly devotion to the details of the stories of my life? Or is it Barthesian confusion of the self and the text? Such that one day, when I'm walking the streets of Paris and am struck by a laundry truck, my final thoughts will be, is this how my story ends? Is this ending writerly enough? Whither the text whither the text?!

Or am I just losing my mind?

Stampeding buffalo intruding upon F. Scott Fitzgerald fantasies? Imagining that you're a dead Post-Structuralist? Obsessive blogging? May be signs of madness.

Turning to the Internet or your 6-month-old baby for psychiatric assessment? Proof positive.