Her Bad Mother

Friday, June 9, 2006

Mrs. McFeely's Weekly Squeeze

Edit: Note added below...

I've really got to step up this Weekly Squeeze business. Because we've got somewhere over 80 links now, I think, and if I keep doing Love-In profile posts (squeezes. And yes, these would be butt squeezes. I'm dirty that way, with people I like) at a rate of one per week, with random weeks taken off for travelling and wallowing in existential despair, it will take years to profile them all. Years. And by then you will all have tired of me, or of blogging, or both, and then my squeezes will fall on numb butts and then where will we be?

(OK, dropping tired references to asses. But I grew tired of writing about penises. And asses are just around the corner, and, so, easy to find.)



(Hey. Wanna see a penis-sized carrot?)

I am so tired. I cannot be held accountable for what I write today. Do not operate heavy machinery; do not blog.

(Must blog! Am Mrs. McFeely! And am falling behind on my squeezes!)

Where was I? Right - you all might tire of me (do I never stop talking about me?) or of blogging. Which brings me to today's squeeze: Beanie Baby's wonderful embrace of her favorite bloggers. Which came with a twist: she wrote it while feeling deeply ambivalent about blogging and bloggers. While thinking through her concerns about blog politics.

Which is very much in the air these days, and seems to have been for some time. Kristen wrote a thought-provoking post yesterday, in response to an excellent post by Izzy, about the pressures of blog social norms and, in particular, comment etiquette. Scarbie wrote last month about her frustration at not being able to - and not really wanting to - keep up with the seeming demands of blog socializing, demands that sometimes seem necessary if one is keep one's blog in the social stream. And many others have been murmuring their own frustrations: cliquey, exclusive, demanding. (Those of you who have written about this, could you leave links to your posts in the comments? I've read some really good ones in the last month or two but can't remember, in my current fog of exhaustion, where I read them. Terrible, I know, forgive me - but if you send me the links I'll update this post with those links.)

Enter Beanie Baby. She had been, she tells us, feeling out of sorts about the politics of blogging:
“Popularity. Who would have thought it still had currency among thirty-something mothers, especially thirty-something mothers who don't even know each other? The whole thing has been getting me down lately, and I've tried--and failed--to write posts about it on three separate occasions.”

But in lieu of her 'blog politics' post, she jumped in on the Love-In, and positioned her thoughts on such politics as a segue to an ode to bloggers she likes. Kim, Tanya, Moreena, Mystery Mommy, Jen/MUBAR, Marla, Dani, Jen/Under the Ponderosas, Casey, Yankee Transplant and Running 2Ks, were and are, for Beanie Baby (and anyone who reads them) antidotes to blog politics. Bloggers that, for one or two or six reasons or another, have given her something worth coming back for. Warmth, good humour, intelligence. Friendship, real and virtual.

Which was the whole point of this whole Love-In thing. Bring y'all everybody all together. Feel the love. Let the sun shine.

(WARNING: navel gazing ahead.)

But I have to admit, when I saw Scarbie's post, I thought, oh god she's talking about bloggers like me. And when I saw Beanie Baby's - same thing. I am freakishly rah-rah about mommy blogging. I am the ultimate uncool blogger.

Am I - I thought - the Tracy Flick of mommy bloggers? C'mon everybody - I have an excellent activity. Sign up here! I'll make the banners! (Like me like me like me!)

I worried about this for a while. And when I thought about opening up the basement, I worried some more. They will think that I am a shameless popularity whore.

But then I go back to Beanie's post, and read again about how much she likes her blogger friends. And see again how happily she embraced embracing them, and how that embrace really is an antidote to blog politics. And I feel a bit better.

I do want to be liked. (Oh god do I.) I love that people other than my husband and mother read this blog. But I don't do stuff like this to be liked. Not entirely. I do it because I like you. And because I want to make as much space as possible for these friendships. Because I want to keep these friendships alive - those that I participate in, and those that I don't. Because after more than a decade of seeing/experiencing/studying the failings of community and politics, I'm experiencing a community that is mostly successful. Not perfect. But pretty good.

I don't want to be president of that community. I don't need to be CHBM Member of the Week (seriously, what with all of the Meryl Streeps that are always nominated, it's an honour to ever make it onto the list). I don't need Andrew Shue to read my blog (Hammer, yes. Billy? Eh.) But I do want to be an antidote to blog politics. And I want to be one of many.

WonderBaby: Making Her Bad Mother Too Tired For Tomorrow Today


BTW, anyone know how to get a sidebar back up on the, um, SIDE? My sidebar seems to be down around my bloggy ankles and it's a bit awkward...


NOTE: There's another guest in the basement today. Please stop by, pull up a pillow or beanbag chair, pour yourself a drink and have chat with her.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Art of War (Gerber-style)

This child is kicking my ass.

She has suddenly become immeasurably stronger, faster and more willful than the strong, fast, willful baby that she was yesterday. Or the day before that. I don't know anymore. I can't remember. Because I am SO FUCKING TIRED.

Not, mind you, from lack of sleep. WonderBaby sleeps through the night; she has done, with the exception of the odd night here and there (and on vacations) since about four months. Ever since we bust free of the swaddle, finally, and got her into her nursery and her crib. Lucky, lucky Bad Mother, you're saying. Pretty baby sleeps through the night!

Whatfuckingever. If she didn't sleep through the night I'd be dead by now. So it's simply Nature's/God's/the gods' small mercy that she sleeps through the night. Because she ain't interested in sleeping during the day, except for the odd catnap here and there. Or maybe one hour in the morning and THAT'S IT. Nada más. Ya esta.

(Which is why, FYI, I have been lagging in blog socializing. Apologies, apologies. It's one thing to surf and scroll and comment one-handed when baby is clamped to boob. Quite another when baby is swinging from your hair.)

This might not be so bad if she weren't a turbo-charged baby hell-bent on world domination. Starting with complete and total domination over Mommy. (Scratch that. Mama. MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA.)

Mama's her bitch.

It was all light-hearted, really, when I began referring to my bright little baby as Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe. But I should have known. She has been, um, spirited from the very beginning. Her eyes were wide open and she was hollering before she'd even made it all the way out of my life-ushering vagoogoo. She was ready for biznass.

I was thrilled, proud. My baby, warrior princess and future philosopher-queen! Watch out, world. My sweet little despot is going to Kick. Your. Ass.

What I didn't anticipate: that first, she'd kick mine.

WonderBaby's hungry? More boobie! And then - lunch! Which must be carefully arranged so that she can feed herself. Unless Mama wants to hear some screaming. So the banana and avocado are broken into slices and set on tray. Cereal is spooned into cup with baby-friendly spoon at hand. And then WonderBaby feeds WonderBaby, until WonderBaby grows tired of feeding WonderBaby and Mama must act NOW to get peas (NO NO NO not bananas avocado cereal those are for WonderBaby hands only! Peas! With new spoon! NOW.)

I would make a joke about visualizing whirled peas or giving peas a chance, but it's just not funny in a state of war...

WonderBaby wants to move? WonderBaby will walk, thank you very much. Which requires the presence of Mama's hands for balance. Until we reach the couch/ottoman/rail/cat, and then WonderBaby must be left alone. ALONE. To revel in her standing power.

(That crawling thing of two weeks ago? SOOO two weeks ago. Crawling is reserved for the clinch, for pursuing wayward toys and chasing cats. Otherwise, crawling is for chumps. Walking is where it's at. Never mind the physical limitations of a 6-and-a-half month old body. If world domination requires upright mobility, upright-mobility-training commences now. NOW.)

(Pictures? Of the standing/walking/tearing at Mama's arms? OMFG are you kidding? Pictures are now only possible when child is restrained. Or thrashing about in crib.)

WonderBaby wants action? Bash toys. Bash Mama with toys. Climb Mama. Pummel Mama until she agrees to go to the park. Refuse to recline in stroller. Sit straight up clutching toys as stroller bounces over curbs. Then insist upon being carried. Then squirm. Squirm more forcefully. Insist upon being put to ground, feet first, to commence walking. Shriek at any sign of resistance.

Keep pushing that swing, peon! Push or I'll vomit!

Work that playground like the motherfracking future ruler of the universe that you are. Yeah, you, Hippy-Granny-in-the-straw-hat, you're her bitch, too. Dance! (Cue hippy granny twirling in circles for the sweet, sweet reward of high-pitched WonderBaby giggles. Hippy granny does not realize that this is the dolphin-pitched war cry of the WonderBaby summoning her Army of Infants. Mothers of Toronto - or of the immediate vicinity of Dufferin Grove Park - if your babies are rattling their crib rails and agitating, it is because they have heard the cry and are preparing to take us all down. Be on your guard.)

(You think I'm joking.)


This child is not seven months old and I'm already whipped. And exhausted. So exhausted. And in dire need of a martini, and pissed off that my body no longer tolerates martinis, because how the fuck am I supposed to get through the coming months, years (gah gah gah), without the cool solace of vodka shaken over ice?

Goddam but this is tough. So tough.

But, but... (You knew this was coming.)

Such sweet, sweet domination. How could I be anything other than completely in her thrall?

Sweet surrender.

Still. One of these days I'm going to do a post entitled How To Know If Your Child Is A Future Despot, which will be based upon a close textual analysis of Xenophon's Cyropaedia and my personal experiences with WonderBaby. And my tongue will not be in cheek.


By the way - please visit HBM's Basement again, if you have a chance. There's another guest there, curled up in one of those beanbag chairs, telling a story and looking for some sympathetic ears. She's there now; stop in and chat with her.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Psst... wanna hear a secret?

As regular visitors here know, I've struggled with the constraints of writing in a semi-public forum. How to write about experiences that have confused, angered or upset me, or left me in a state of anxiety, when such stories involve people who know about the blog? People who might read and be hurt, offended, or upset? How to write about the things that keep me awake at night, things that I really yearn to work out on the page, but that I'm afraid might reveal too much about me?

A couple of months back, I had a run-in with someone that left me frustrated and angry. This someone said some things about parents of babies that infuriated me. But I couldn't write about it here. My antagonist knew about the blog, and I was afraid that writing about the incident would be hurtful. And that it might provoke a confrontation that I did not wish to have. So I wrote an Un-Rant, a rant about not being able to rant about the experience that I had had.

The Un-Rant helped a little. But not enough. (Also? Caused more problems than a plain old confrontation would have. Everyone thought that the post was about them. Frantic phone calls and e-mails from freaked-out friends and family members wondering what they had done. Fuck. Take it from me: ambiguous rants are trouble. Avoid.) So I started a second blog, a secret blog, with the intention of airing all of my issues without the constraints of self-censorship. A blog that I would tell no-one about. A private space; a room of my own. A place to write freely.

But it's not really so private, because it's part of my Blogger house. The door to that basement lair is clearly visible to anyone who crosses the welcome mat. Which is - and this is going to sound so twisted - sort of how I wanted it. I wanted other people to know about it, and to want to hang out there. My secret clubhouse! Where we can share secrets! Come on in!

Which defeated my own original purposes, but I'm messed up that way.

I set up this secret clubhouse, in which secrets would be shared and virtual cigarettes and liquor sneaked, and then left a trail of wine bottles for everyone to follow. Which means that my own secret-sharing would not be so secret. I would need to be circumspect about what secrets to share and how to share them. Which, I'll say it again, defeats the purpose.

Or so I thought.

I can't divulge my own secrets in my basement lair. But you can divulge yours there. If you want.

When I posted, the other week, about wanting to write freely - to get the shit out, to get the shit figured out, to get support - so many of you responded with resounding 'OMG, me toos.' So many of you said, in comments or in e-mails, that you've struggled with the desire and/or need to tell stories that you were reluctant or afraid to tell on your blogs. For the same reasons that I've been reluctant: because it would expose too much. Because the wrong person might read it. Because it would darken up an otherwise light and cheery space. Because you just don't feel comfortable saying whatever it is that you're yearning to say on the front porch of your blog home.

And then a very dear friend came right out and asked: can I borrow your secret lair? There's a story that I'd like to tell, that I need to tell, but I can't say it out in the bright light of day, where just anyone could hear...

Of course, I said. Of course. Come on down. It's dark down there, but cozy. We can talk there.

So she's there now, curled up in a virtual beanbag chair in her comfiest jammies, virtual drink in hand, ignoring the wood panelling and the velvet paint-by-numbers art and fading Tiger Beat posters (Duran Duran) and stale smell of basement while she tells her story. Please go have a listen. And share your thoughts, and hugs.

And then, if you want, tell your story. Use the secret lair to tell your secrets or your scary stories or the feelings that you just haven't worked out fully enough to blog publicly about. Maybe you've got some funny stories that you just don't want everyone to hear. Or maybe you just want to solicit feedback or support on something that is just too weird/icky/loaded to put on your blog (was anyone else afraid of shitting after giving birth? Of sex? Anyone else bleed for 6 weeks? Anyone else forget to buckle baby into car seat? Watch baby fall off bed? Anyone convinced that they're irretrievably physically/emotionally/mentally messed up? The worst mother ever?)

Maybe you just want to chatter nonsensically about the latest gossip (Anna Nicole pregnant OMFG!) without cluttering up your own blog. Or maybe there's something more serious that you want/need to work out on the page, something too dark or touchy or weird for public airing (I'm scared to take meds/not take meds/have another baby/not have another baby/think about my miscarriage/not think about my miscarriage/yell at my mother/not yell at my mother.) Or maybe you just want to bitch about your in-laws. (Which you of course would never do, because they are all delightful.)

I hereby declare the Secret Lair open to one and all. Anyone who wants to talk/share/story-tell/rant off-blog, this is the place. Come on in.

Scratch 'Boys.' Should read: No TARDS Allowed. Boys are fine, if they're nice.

So this is now your secret, off-blog space, for sharing whatever you want to share but shouldn't/couldn't/won't share in the bright light of your own blog. You can do it anonymously, pseudonymously or in your own name. If you want me to direct traffic to your 'secret' post from my main site, I'll do that. I'll link it up and talk it up and send people to the basement to hear your story. But if you want to just keep it to the lair, quiet-like, I'll respect that too.

You can either send me your post via e-mail, or contact me for the log-in info and post it yourself (so long as you promise to log out!) I will never reveal the identity, blog or otherwise, of anyone who posts there, unless you want me too.

This will be our secret space. We'll share secrets (who knows, I may drum up the nerve to adopt the veil of anonymity there and share my own secrets, too, finally!), raid the virtual liquor cabinet and talk late into the night, collapsing on the shag-carpeted floor in giggles and tears.

It's cozy here. A good place for secrets. Striped giraffes tell no tales...

Dudes! The Mother of all Lists!

And now, a break from all of the dudish priapica (not that I haven't been enjoying, immensely, the discours sur les weenies, dudes and dorks, but we must move on), for this announcement:

The Great Mommy Blogger Love-In/Group Hug List O' Links has now been given its own link in the HBM sidebar. Now you have easy access to the mamas of your neighborhood, with no need to wade through the excess verbiage of HBM's introductory comments or the endless gallery of gratuitous baby photos. (OK, you love the baby photos. You know you do.)


You wanna piece of me?

So, check it out. Again. New links have been posted as recently as yesterday. Yesterday, people. The links are still coming in.

You all rock.

(Mrs. McFeely's Weekly Squeeze to resume this Friday...)