Her Bad Mother

Saturday, June 3, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Back in Toronto, and, to demonstrate that WonderBaby's Royal Western Tour was not entirely a morose perambulation through the forests of despair, herewith a story. A story with a moral or two, and some cursing. Not for General audiences; Rated P for Parents Only.

The final leg of WonderBaby's Royal Western Tour brought us to Tsawassen, BC, just south of Vancouver, to visit a dear, dear family that are as close as family as friends can get without actually being related by blood (a family that consists of one Super Awesome Mom and four of the sweetest gentlemen - one big and three small - that one could ever hope to meet, let alone claim a bond of near-familial friendship with.)

It was one of the smaller of these gentlemen, a unusually keen 7 year-old (let's call him Clever Little Awesome Man), who, during the ride home from baseball practice last week, raised with his mother (the aforementioned Super Awesome Mom) a topic that some of us expect to have to address one day with our own children:

CLAM: Mommy, why do you always call us 'dude'?

(OMG blog fodder. HBM's inner pad and pencil are readied for action.)

CLAM: Because, Mommy, it's a bad word.

SAM: A bad word?

CLAM: Yes.

SAM: It's not a bad word. Why do you think that it's a bad word?

CLAM: Because it is a bad word.

SAM: Who told you that it was a bad word?

CLAM: Nobody.

SAM: Who told you?

CLAM: Nobody.

SAM: Who?

CLAM: Nolan.

SAM: (Raised eyebrow.)

CLAM: Nolan said it was a bad word.

SAM: What did he say it means?

CLAM: Nothing. (Precocious little-boy giggle)

SAM: What did he say that it means?

CLAM: Nothing. (Louder giggle.)

SAM: Can you come over here and whisper it to me?

CLAM: (In mother's ear) mumble mumble giggle mumble giggle.

SAM: I can't understand you, sweetie.

CLAM: mumble mumble mumble giggle.

SAM: I still can't understand you.

CLAM: (Loudly and clearly) DOLPHIN WEINER.

(Super Awesome Mom and HBM goggle at each other)


SAM: (Straight-faced) I think that Nolan gave you some bad information.

At which point HBM cannot contain herself any longer: I am totally blogging about this, OK? I am totally blogging about this.

And then, a quiet voice from the back seat: What's blogging?

Because CLAM's SAM has such tremendous respect for her child's information-gathering capabilities and for the savvy of his friends - Nolan, apparently, is a junior zoology buff - she decided that before we completely undermined Nolan's authority on all things dude and dolphin, we should check our sources and confirm our own information (that is, that dude does not, in fact, mean dolphin weiner. Because you never know.)

So, once home, down we sit with our respective laptops, babies on floor, older boys - CLAM and his younger brother, Clever Little Awesome Climber Kid (usually to be found on a fence or in a tree) - retired to the backyard, and Google pages open in front of us. Laughing our fucking asses off. (That moratorium on cursing? Over. 'Cuz, um, HA.) Dolphin wiener!!! DOOOOOD! Do you think that dude really means that? I don't know, dude. Dolphin wiener is pretty weird, dude.

(I won't go into the Google Search Result details. Let's just say that when you google 'dolphin genitalia' you become one of those crazy google pervs that turn up on sitemeter. Beyond that, you don't want to know.)

Things then took a dramatic turn for the surreal when, just as two thirty-something mommies are shrieking DOOOOOD! at each other in reaction to the decidely non-zoological page that opened up after they clicked on a dolphin-penis link that they should not have clicked, two small boys came running into the room, anxious to know what are you doing Mommy? MOMMY?!?

And when the older baby (WonderBaby's Big Cool Boy Friend, baby brother to CLAM and CLACK) started squealing, just at that moment, his first words:

Doood! dood. dood. dood. dood. DOOD!

And when, as laptops slammed shut, the boys demanded to know the following: are you blogging?

(dood dood dood dood DOOD!)

And: what's blogging?

(dood dood dood)

(Frantic mothers trying to shove dolphin-porn transmission devices out of sight.)

(dood dood dood)

Something bad?

Something bad indeed. Something that respectable mothers probably shouldn't be doing. Telling tales about street slang and the sex lives of sea mammals. Exploiting the charming moments of childhood for a laugh. Poking fun at some kid named Nolan.

Having a wicked good time.



For the record, if you Google 'dude', you get links to pages discussing the high points of Ashton Kutcher's career, and to pages devoted to Jeff Bridges and/or the Coen Brothers. And to some scholarly discussion of 'dude' as a figure of speech that signifies 'cool solidarity,' a socio-culturally significant stance that facilitates the navigation of young men through 'Cultural Discourses of young masculinity, which simultaneously demand masculine solidarity, strict heterosexuality, and non-conformity.'

You will also find this claim: "Vanity Smurf is a dude." (Which is, I think, contradicted by the scholarly claim, cited above, that 'dude' is a signifier of strict heterosexuality. But given that Wikipedia asserts that 'dude' once referred to a dandy, I think that we are on safe etymological ground here.)

And, you will find this assertion: "Fake etymology of the word suggests that this slang term originally came from a term that meant a camel's penis. The origin of this myth is unknown."

Camel. Not a dolphin, but still. Both mammals. Both in possession of genitalia.

The lesson here: never underestimate 7 year-old zoologists. (Also, never Google dolphin genitalia. Or camel penis. But I digress.)

Nolan, my hat is off to you. Your zoological expertise may be a touch imprecise and perhaps more indebted to urban mythology than to science, but it is nonetheless impressive. That, or you are more pop-culturally savvy than a thirty-something Humanities lecturer.

Either way: DUDE.


And with that, we resume blogging per usual. I'm now off to visit everybody, having not been able to do my rounds while on tour. (And to update Love-in/Group Hug links - which are still coming in!)
I've missed you all!

We've both missed you.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Banner - Don't Delete

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Because it's all about me. And her. But mostly me.

Still somewhere over the rainbow, waiting for right moment (departure of Air Canada flight, Friday afternoon) to click heels and go home. Where, hopefully, sleepful nights (and other nice things, like husbandly company and, um, blogging) will resume.

But will miss this Oz, despite the challenges of our journey here...


I did not think that travelling and spending time with family would have such a negative effect on the blogging.

I thought that travel, and the visit home, would provide so much fodder. There would be so many stories. So many photos. So much to record and share and dissect. But I got derailed. First, by simply not having regular access to the necessary technology/connections/what-have-you. Secondly, but more thoroughly, by becoming overwhelmed by the weight of my stories, made heavier by the thoughts and feelings provoked by family.

I was tempted to beging this post by saying that I have never been more personal, in this space, than I was the other day, posting about my conflicted feelings over posting about my conflicted feelings about family. But that would not have been true. I have discussed my struggle with post-partum depression, and the professional challenges that I faced because of that depression. I have written about my discomfort with my post-partum body. I have written about my resistance (now well overcome) to singing songs about vaginas. (Sorry, vulvas. Vulvae?)

If anything, I have shared too much. But I have shared about me, and about my daughter, and my husband, and the family that we three are. I have avoided, for the most part, saying much about friends and family. I have avoided doing so because I have felt - do feel - that I do not have the right to tell their stories. The only stories that I tell here are my own, and those of my daughter. The stories of the family that we are, and are becoming. There have been and will be times when loved ones will appear in these stories, but these are only appearances, carefully situated within the context of the stories that are mine. Their own stories are just that, their own, and so theirs, and only theirs, to tell.

My struggle in my last post was not whether or not to reveal personal details about members of my family - that was never at issue. It was whether or not to frankly discuss the feelings - the anxieties - provoked by my family. Part of the difficulty here, obviously, is that in admitting to such anxieties I am already revealing much - possibly too much - about my family. And this was where I got blocked. I needed and wanted to express and record - to write - my worry about my family, and in particular about my parents. My concern that they be well and happy and healthy and whole. My anxiety that they might not be. My helplessness in the face of their struggles.

But expressing this anxiety, these concerns, reveals my family as imperfect, my parents as vulnerable. And perhaps it is not my place to tell stories that reveal that much about them. Perhaps it is unfair, to my parents and to my family more generally, to put it out to the world that my family is flawed. So flawed that I have spent many a night awake, racked with worry about its well-being. About my parents' well-being. This may be unfair because in admitting to this worry, the world - or that very small share of the world that reads this blog - is compelled in some way to view my parents in the light of that worry. As (merely) the objects of my concern and anxiety, rather than as the wise and kind and wonderful people that they are. The whole beings that they are.

But my worry is my worry, and is part of my story - this story that I keep harping on about - and is part of my coming-to-terms with being a parent myself. Part of the process, for me, of figuring out what it means to be a mother has involved figuring out what it means to be a daughter. Am I to my parents what my daughter is to me? How do I see my parents? Love my parents? Will my daughter see me and love me the same way? And - what does it mean when the current of care changes between children and parents? When children begin to worry more about their parents than their parents worry about them? How, when and why will WonderBaby worry about me?

I know, I know - one might say that it's too early to be fussing about this. But I don't think that it is. I am a daughter right now, and a parent right now, and I have I'll Love You Forever on the bookshelf right now. Right now I am caught up in all of the emotion of new parenthood and old childhood and the clash of these storms creates a beautiful but startling lightning.

I write through the storm.

So: I love my parents. Desperately. They are wonderful, beautiful people who gave me a wonderful, beautiful childhood. They will forever be wonderful, beautiful people, to me and to their family and to all who know them. And they both of them make the world a better place for being in it. But they have their struggles, as all real human beings do, and I worry. I worry because they are not together, as they should be. As, in a different, better, easier world, they could be (I know, this is the lament of every child of divorce. But in their case it is true true true true. Oh, the bitter sweetness of this truth.) I want to take care of them, to make sure that they are both happy and healthy and without cares. They would both insist that I am not to worry. They would say, will say, that they don't want me to worry, that I needn't worry, that there is nothing to worry about. My mother, I'm sure, will read this and protest out loud, to herself and, later, to me. But this is a daughter's story about her parents and worry for her parents.

So this is personal. My story about my parents. It's only my story. But it's real. One day WonderBaby will have her stories about me, and I will want her to feel free to fully explore those stories, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I will never want her to worry about me or her father, never want her to be sad for either of us, for any reason. I want her always to see us and feel us as powerful, happy, whole. But I also know that that's not possible, that one day, inevitably, she will see our vulnerability, and be frightened. For herself, and for us. And when she does, I hope that she finds a place to put that fear and understand that fear.

I hope that she tells that fear, as a story. And that in telling it, understands it, and accepts it.

That's what I'm trying to do.

There will now be a temporary moratorium on morose posts, effective immediately. The final Tour Report will be lighter fare, involving discussion of the definition of the word 'dude' and penises. And dolphins.
Good times.

The Great Mommy Blogger Love-In List: Unexpurgated, unabridged and babble-free!

Amalah @ Mom’s Daily Dose NEW!
(Not an original submission but a shout-out to this list so it totally counts. And, dudes. Amalah.)

Beanie Baby


Bite My Cookie

Blackbelt Mama NEW! http://blackbeltmama.typepad.com/black_belt_mama/2006/05/karate_mamas.html

Blog Antagonist


Brain Cells, Return! NEW!*




Chicken and Cheese

Chicky Chicky Baby (Mrs. Chicky)


Expectant Waiting





Her Bad Mother (Moi)


I’m Not Hannah (Heather)

i obsess (lildb)


Jennster NEW!



Knocked Up Then Knocked Down
http://tko.typepad.com/ (new site!)
NEW! (The 'REAL' Post)

Mom/Maam/Me (Nancy)

A Mommy Story

Another Mommy Moment


Mommy’s Dirty Little Secret

Mommy Does it All (Kristen)

Mommy Off the Record



Mother May I

Mommy Monologues

http://motherwoman.blogspot.com/2006/05/word-to-zephyrs.html (This was not an official entry, but I thought it more than worthy of inclusion.)

Mommy Off The Record

Mrs. Davis.

Mrs. Fortune
http://mrsfortune.blogspot.com/2006/05/leaky-cauldron.html (forthcoming)

My Mom Told Me Not To Blog (MM – Mom of Monsters)

My Splatter-Painted Life


Nonlinear Girl

Not Winning Mother of the Year (Sharpie)
Welcome to My Life! NEW!