Her Bad Mother

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Forecast: Flurries, With A Good Chance Of Poo

Hey, baby! Could you look into your little rubber crystal ball and tell us the forecast for the weekend?

What's that?

35% chance of flurries, 78% chance of spit-up, 100% chance of sleeplessness, 123% chance of productive farts?Align Center
Just as I expected.


To everyone who has been leaving their condolences for Maria: thank you. You're helping to spread a little love around a broken heart.


Toronto-area peeps: interested in heading out on the town, sort of? Read this, and let me know.


And... don't read this unless you're up for feeling really, really angry. Or, do read it and then click back here to have another gander at that super cutetastic baby up at the top of the page, to take the edge off of the grrr arrgh that I guarantee you you're going to feel. Cute babies are good for that, you know.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Little Beaner, Rest In Peace

Hi Catherine,

Don't know if you remember me, but it's Marie. You helped me with my beautiful baby girl Beaner. I had been wanting to let you know about this, but I know you have your own stuff you are going through and well I didn't know how to say it... But I just wanted to let you know that my baby girl Mia passed away On Oct 27, 2008 due to SIDS. She was 13 1/2 weeks old and getting so big! Its so hard to believe that its going on 3 months that she's been gone. I would tell myself, "tell Catherine next week" but next week turned into well this long.... Thanks for all you did for us when I needed people there for me... I just thought you would want to know....



I never met Beaner. I never held her hand or touched her cheek. I knew her only through a story that her mother told me, pictures that she sent me, the fragments of a life that she shared and that became, somehow, strangely, briefly, intertwined with my own.

You can read her story here, and here. It's a beautiful story, the story of a child who was so loved that her mother fought back all of her fear to keep her, for better or for worse, for the sake of a life that she wanted to nurture as her own, on her own terms. Her mother reached out to me, and to you, to all of you, for support and guidance and she drew some of her strength from that and she made the bold step of clasping Beaner to her heart and deciding to never let go and that, that was amazing. Deciding to never let go can be a difficult choice - for some, the wrong choice, an impossible choice - but she made it and she was happy and she kept her Beaner and Beaner was loved.

And now Beaner is gone, and I don't know, I just don't know what to say, because this was the story that was supposed to have the happy ending and although I tell myself that Marie had her Beaner for all the time that Beaner had on this earth, and that that is wonderful, that that is a gift, it remains that to have such a precious gift and then to have it snatched away is tragic beyond measure. So I don't what to say. And it is not, in any case, my place to say. It is not my right, to sing an elegy for Beaner, to wring philosophy from her death. Not my right at all.

I didn't know Beaner - little Mia Catherine - but she found her way into a corner of my heart, and there she remains, this child I did not know and will never know but do love, a little, from a distance, from - now - a tragic distance, nonetheless. There she remains, and there she is mourned, and there she will be remembered.

Rest in peace, Mia Catherine. You touched more hearts than you could know.

You can leave condolences to Maria in the comments. She'll be reading, and I know that the support will mean so much to her.

Then - as I insisted last week, not knowing how soon I would be confronted by the demands of my own words - hug your children. And your moms. And anyone whose heart touches yours. And be grateful.


The Story's The Thing

Here's the thing about maintaining a personal blog: one sometimes forgets that one is not simply maintaining a diary - albeit a carefully thought-out diary, one that is edited for style and for grammar - but publishing, virtually, a sort of memoir or collection of essays or some combination of these. One forgets, sometimes, that one has made, is making, one's story public.

I forget this all the time.

The primary danger, here, is not that one might unintentionally reveal something that one might later regret. We most of us hesitate with our cursors hovering over the Publish Post button every time that we write, mentally reviewing what we've said and how we've said it and worrying over how it might be received. The Publish Post button reminds us, in the crucial moment, that we are in fact publishing, making public, our stories, our rants, our confessions. What the Publish Post button does not remind us, however, is that with every post that we publish we are constructing and furthering a narrative that is followed by tens or dozens of readers, tens or dozens of readers who might well want to know what became of that problem, was that issue resolved, what happens next? They follow a narrative, and our blogging platforms don't provide tools for reminding us that we're weaving such narratives as we write. And because we are not reminded, we - I - sometimes forget.

I was reminded - uncomfortably - of this the other day when I wrote a confused, rambling post that was a variation on another post that I'd written a few months ago. I knew that I had already written on the topic - whether or not I wanted to keep open the possibility of having a third child - and was just trying to sort my feelings out further. It was a post that I wrote for myself, not one that was intended to advance my story, such as that story is. And that pissed at least one reader off, a little: she protested that I was just retreading old ground and that it was frustrating and why didn't I make more of an effort to let readers know what I was doing to prevent what seemed to be my inevitable slide into whiny insanity - for example, what had I done about the sleep issues? Had I taken any readerly advice? - because, seriously, if I kept this up - and certainly if I made the terrible mistake of committing mental suicide by further childbearing - she, for one, was not going to be able to read me anymore. (She later apologized for articulating herself so harshly, and made clear that she was just frustrated because she is a fan of the blog, and I'm totally comfortable with that, so please don't smack her in comments.) Which: OUCH.

The comment struck a nerve, because a) I'm sensitive about the possibility that this blog can be, you know, angst-ridden at times, and believe me, my angst bores even me, and b) oh, gawd, I like totally can't maintain the thread on my own stories, can I? But there're reasons why I don't always (read: almost never) maintain a narrative thread: because sometimes doing a follow-up on how nothing has changed and how I'm still angsting out over the same old miscellaneous bullshit seems, I don't know, tiresome, and because - more often than not - I forget. Some other issue comes up - the girl pours canola oil on the living room sofa, or I become obsessed yet again with the finality of vasectomies - and whatever thread I had begun to weave about sleeplessness or feeding baby or finding long lost siblings gets lost.

Which is fine, in a way: this is my story, and if it's disjointed, so what? But still: I like a coherent narrative thread, and so far as coherence is possible in personal narratives, why not pursue it? I can't promise that I'll follow up on every little issue, but I can promise to make an effort to not just abandon cliffhangers (I laugh even as I write this. Who among you was waiting with bated breath to see if Her Bad Mother would ever sleep again, dun dun dun DUN?!?!?) So, to that end: the first of a series of semi-occasional, whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it, will-probably-forget-to-do-this-ever-again updates on stories that you probably don't care about but this blog is a narrative, dammit, and so the story must go on:

1) Did Her Bad Mother ever sleep again? No, she did not, and probably will not again, ever. She has tried most of the suggestions offered and none, so far have worked. She would just give up and look into becoming a vampire, were it not for the fact that she doesn't want to eat her baby (I don't care what Stephenie Meyer implied in Breaking Dawn about mother-love overcoming the temptation to sink one's teeth into buttery baby butt cheeks; if I were a vampire I would totally eat my baby because, my god, the deliciousness), so she'll just persist in this lovely and only slightly inconvenient sleep-deprived fugue state.

2) Did Her Bad Baby ever take to solid foods? Yes! He did! He does! But only if they're, you know, solid. As in, able to withstand the clutch of a chunky little fist. Which is to say, hunks of bread or cereal biscuits or meatballs or whole baby carrots or, for some reason, pickles. Anything mushy, anything on a spoon, anything in a bottle (sigh) is rejected with a swat of a chubby hand.

3) Did Her Bad Mother ever find her long lost brother? Has she made any progress? Not so much. Believe me, you'll hear about it when - WHEN - anything happens.

4) Whatever happened to the Phallic Lovey? He (Christian name: Toadstool) was tossed aside by the girl - who declared herself to be 'too big for Toady now' - a few weeks ago. It was like a sad Toy Story 2 sub-plot, really, and Her Bad Mother got a little weepy. Her Bad Husband, however, rejoiced. And then this happened:

And so it goes.

Any other questions on narrative threads that I may have dropped, recently or, like, eons ago? Fire away in the comments, and I'll follow up them, someday. And tell me, what are the narrative threads that you've dropped? I'm not the only one out here who can't tell a story, am I?

Also, oh, hai: yesterday was Delurking Day, and I missed it. Feel free to make up for that today.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Morning Music Show: I'm A Lumberjack Edition

And if at first you don't succeed...

(It's a toy. DUH.)

(She likes it because Daddy has one. We have a property with a sizable acreage of forest that we tend under the terms of a forest management plan, and that plan involves strategic cutting necessary for the forest's sustainability, and why am I explaining all this? Emilia likes chainsaws. That's kind of awesome.)

(Awesome, so long as she doesn't remain committed to the idea of deforesting schoolyards and parkland.)