Her Bad Mother

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Writing in the dark

Mrs. McFeely Friday/The Weekly Squeeze (and visiting blog friends) will resume after WonderBaby's Royal Tour. HBM is currently blog-challenged, and struggling to overcome...


I’ve been having trouble blogging.

In part because I’ve been off the electronic grid for four days: there’s no wireless connectivity in the small desert town where my mother just bought a home and where she plans to retire. (Yes, Canada has desert. Semi-arid desert, with cactus and tumbleweed and rattlesnakes and everything. It’s desolate, and beautiful.)

But being off the grid shouldn’t have stopped me from writing. I’ve drafted many a post off-line. And, ordinarily, I’m constantly working words, weaving sentences, knitting ideas in my mind. Crafting posts as I nurse, rock, sing, walk, play.

But I haven’t done this. Not since Tuesday night.

Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, long before dawn) I sat up awake in the guest room of my sister’s house, WonderBaby asleep in a Pack’n’Play beside me, computer open on my lap. A Serious Family Drama had played out that evening, the second evening of our trip, and I couldn’t sleep until I had purged my mind of the surging emotion and clattering worry and slowed the pace of my frantically beating heart. So I wrote. I blogged. And as I blogged, I fretted about the destination of my words. Would I publish this post? Could I publish this post? The words were so fraught with worry and confusion. They revealed so much.

Was I blogging too close to the bone?

I was. But I had nowhere else to go. Husband was dead asleep, miles away in Toronto, not answering the phone. All I could do was write. And the place that I write – the place where my writing lives and breathes, the place where the writing becomes real – is the blog. So I sat there, in the dark, and wrote a post. And when I was done, my fingers hovered over the mouse pad. Hit Publish? Or Save as Draft? Publish? Or Save?

If I hit Publish, somebody might read, and understand, and send words of commiseration, of comfort. But more importantly, I would be advancing the true story of our lives – my life, WonderBaby’s life, the life of our family – in all of its gore and glory. I would be honest. WonderBaby’s Royal Tour is not, will not be, a series of picture perfect snapshots, family portraits against postcard backdrops, amusing anecdotes and colourful stories about eccentric grandparents and boisterous cousins. The story of this trip is one more instalment in the serial narrative of our lives and it has more than its share of pathos and drama. It's a messy story, as full of tears and anxiety as it is full of laughter and kisses. Writing this trip honestly – holding true to the narrative as it unfolds in our real lives – means writing the truth. But what if the truth is sloppy and naked and scared?

How much revelation is too much? Where is the line between writing honestly, and exposing one's self?

I hit Save. Better safe, as they say, than regretful. Better safe.

But I haven’t been able to write since.

All of my thoughts and feelings and worries over the past few days have defied composition, because I begin each mental post with a caution to myself: you can't blog this. You shouldn't blog this. You won't blog this. And that stops me cold.

My determination to stay safe is choking the writing. I need to find a way to write honestly, without crossing whatever line exists between honesty and overexposure. To tell my story, our stories, without violating trusts, without divulging secrets, without baring souls too completely. And without turning pathos into bathos.

I have to find that way. So that I can continue writing, in a way that keeps my mind and heart and conscience clear. And so that the stories I pass on to WonderBaby are true stories, the truest stories, so that she can know her mother, her father, her family. Her history.

Her story. Her true story.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The WonderBaby Royal Tour, Western Edition, First Dispatch

Where to begin?

Which stories to tell? What news to relate? Which curse words to fling?

1) The birthday that began as day from hell (complete with crippling back pain and projectile cat vomit and near-confrontation with aging naked socialite at spa) but got better (lovely meal prepared by lovely husband) but then went hellish again (projectile husband vomit from over-indulgence in super-rich chocolate cake and/or secret Vietnamese lunch that he snuck in while I was at spa staring down saggy-titted Rosedale matrons)?

2) The flight westward? With Energizer-charged WonderBaby, now with EYES THAT DO NOT CLOSE, not even after endless hours without sleep? During which the so-not-helpful flight attendant commented, after observing WonderBaby's amazing ability to sit up on floor near bulkhead with a soft book and hoot, loudly, FOR HOURS, that "it's always the skinny finicky ones that develop most quickly."?

Insert multiple curse words here.

(Am trying to train myself to minimize cursing. Am in presence of small children. And increasingly, freakishly, alert WonderBaby. Goddam.)

3) Our arrival in British Columbia's beautiful Okanagan Valley? The lovely greeting from WonderBaby's little cousins? Tanner's query (oft-repeated) as to why his auntie wears glasses? And why auntie looks like Velma? And could she please take off her glasses and not look like Velma? For the record: a taller, blonder, thirty-something Velma. And could someone please explain to him, in terms that a six year old will understand, that this is a look that many a latter-day feminist hipster girl strives for?)

The long, difficult discussion on the drive home about where WonderBaby came from, exactly? (Auntie's tummy. Why? Because she grew there. Why? Because that's where babies grow. How did she get there? She, ahem, grew from a seed. How did the seed get there? Um... How did she get out? Um...)

From the cabbage patch, dudes. From the cabbage patch.

4) WonderBaby crawling? Backwards, but still. On hands and knees and MOVING.

I can't do any of these stories justice in the five free minutes that I have right now. Especially without the cursing (cursing makes storytelling immeasurable faster and easier. A well-delivered what the fuck would summarize that my commentary on that flight attendant story quite nicely, thank you very much. But I'm cutting down.)

Saints preserve me. It's going to be a long twelve days.