Archive for March, 2006

Friday Miscellany

March 31, 2006

1. Further to Wednesday’s post

As Christina noted in her comments to that post, it is possible to argue that the most disturbing thing about Vogue’s ‘yummy mummy’ editorial spread is not the 90lb, 14 year old Eastern European model masquerading as a Southern California MILF, but rather the numerous examples of negligent parenting displayed throughout the spread. The ‘yummy mummy’ (for that is indeed how the photos are captioned) is shown, variously, feeding what looks to be a 9 month-old baby French fries, carting exposed baby around in full sunlight with no hat or sunshade, and jimmying a very flash Philippe Starck for Maclaren stroller onto an escalator. This, in addition to teetering precariously in four inch heels while clutching baby in open arms.

To which I can only say this: if these are the reproductive/childcare practices of Social X-rays/Extreme Fashion Victims, well, then, I guess that’s just Nature’s way of culling that particular herd.

2. Continuation of the same subject

In this same issue of Vogue – which is either trying to attract or repel (it’s not clear which) the elusive and possibly mythical Sophisticated Young Urban Mother market – you can also find a story about Melania Trump’s pregnancy and preparations for baby. In which you will be treated to a picture of a scantily-clad Mrs. Trump coated in gold paint. In case you were wondering, yes, gold paint applied to one’s skin is probably on the What to Expect When You’re Expecting list of Things to Avoid During Pregnancy. See above re: Social X-ray/Extreme Fashion Victim reproductive practices and the greater logic of Nature.

You will also discover in this artice that, in addition to resting his or her Trump-heir bottom upon mink coverlets lined with cashmere, Baby Trump will be inhabiting his or her own apartment in Trump Tower. Which leads me to surmise that not only are Mr. and Mrs. Trump not following the advice of the What to Expect books, they are not following Dr. Sears and will not be practicing Attachment Parenting.

Although maybe if Gucci made baby slings and there were such things as carved giltwood Louis XV co-sleepers… Nah. I didn’t really think so either.

But on to happier stories!

3. WonderBaby had her first non-booby meal this week! Delicious, delicious rice cereal, eaten with lovely plastic spoon!

It was beautiful. Mommy cried.

Aaaaand….

4. … WonderBaby is on the move!

WonderBaby and her court are currently excursing to the provinces to receive homage from her adoring subjects. Travel diary to be posted imminently…

OK, so it’s no tiara. But it’s still pretty freakin’ regal headgear.

Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

March 29, 2006
So, something about me that is not remotely interesting but provides a useful segue to this post: I read Vogue magazine. For the articles, of course. (1) And because it makes me feel inferior, which helps to temper my enormous ego.

And this month’s Vogue, as it happens, is the perfect antidote to any Mommy-ego that I might have been developing in these heady days that comprise Baby’s fourth month. Because just when I thought that brushing my teeth and putting on matching socks represented the gold-standard of mommy-togetherness, Vogue goes ahead and mocks me with this:

Mommy-Fashion Do #37: Always match shoes to belt to infant car seat

And this:

Corset Belts as Post-Partum Must-Haves. There’s a Women’s Studies Masters’ Thesis in here somewhere (‘Motherhood Bound: Defining the American MILF through the Patriarchal Sign’)

I know that editorial fashion spreads are by definition unrealistic. I know too that that model is probably 14 years old and has a eating disorder and a drug habit that are shrivelling her ovaries as we speak. But still. I look at these photos and think to myself, just for a moment: Damn, girl. You are a slob.

For the record, I usually don’t have time for lengthy oral dissertations on the Culture Industry’s Oppression of Women through the Propogation of Unrealistic Standards of Beauty. I mean, duh. We all know it and we all still buy the magazines and watch the TV shows and go to the movies and say to ourselves damn but that Angelina is smokin’ hot. (2) (Except, I suppose, those of you out there who still wear black berets and sport Down With Patriarchy tattoos and shun all media in favour of reading Sartre in smoky cafes. But I probably lost you at ‘I read Vogue.’) Me, I make my living reading Very Important Books and exploring Very Important Ideas and so when I’m not totally preoccupied by High Culture and Philosophy (and, of course, not otherwise engaged in baby-wrangling or blogging), I like to indulge in a little mindless entertainment, even if it is, on some level, Fundamentally Oppressive.

But these days, I’m feeling a teensy-weensy more insecure than usual and so pictures of very skinny models wearing very high heels and pretending to be mothers grated. Just a little bit. But you know what grated more? The product and lifestyle-lust that the layout inspired. A Maclaren stroller designed by Starck? The slick portable baby chair that would blend perfectly into a slick modernist dining room? Want, want, WANT.

Not so much because I like having beautiful things – I absolutely do, but I don’t need beautiful baby equipment. (I got over that issue really fast. Baby equipment must needs be functional. It’s got a job to do, and if the ugly plastic thing or piece of cardboard does the trick better than the High Design Model, then we go with the plastic or cardboard. And? Babies ain’t cheap. The usefulness of the Oeuf bouncy chair does not correspond to its price and when there’re a thousand other things to buy and save for, well, might as well go with the cheap or secondhand Fisher Price model…)

No, the reason that these things got to me was that they spoke to my pre-Baby ambitions for my New Mother Self. I did not expect that I’d be gallivanting around in four-inch heels and Marc Jacobs trenchcoats (although, hello? Spit-up would roll right off of a slick patent leather trench…) But I did imagine myself maintaining some respectable level of hipness and traipsing hiply around the city with my super-hip baby by day and lounging with martinis while hipster baby chortled peacefully in a discrete, black bouncy chair by night. The truth of life with Baby, however, looks more hippy than hip. We’ve been over this before, but here are the facts, again: yoga pants are stretched over the child-bearing hips, and running shoes are strapped onto newly-widened feet for balance. And instead of well-designed baby equipment tucked discretely in the corners of our tidy home, we are buried under mountains of red and yellow plastic. (Martinis, in case you haven’t heard, now give me seventh-circle-of-hell hangovers.)

I don’t mind this at all. In fact, most days, I love it. I wear spit-up stained t-shirts with pride, and sip happily at the Guinness to boost milk supply. The superficial trappings of hip are much, much less interesting now. But that Vogue spread? That pushed some superficial buttons.

Which is what it was supposed to do, so don’t read this as a complaint, or as the foundation of a treatise on the Evils of the Fashion System. Truthfully, I laughed as much as I salivated and fretted. Four-inch heels? Carrying a baby that looks to weigh about 30 lbs (in other words, about half the size of the model) in four inch heels without a Baby Bjorn Active Carrier? Ha Effing Ha.

(And? WonderBaby has more hair than slickity-slicker-Vogue Baby! Triple HA!)

So even though that Philippe Starck stroller would be lovely to have, if I have to give up the comfortable shoes (am working up to ballet flats) and the comforts of outfit-creasing baby carriers to make it work, I don’t want it. And I don’t want the life that goes with it. I like this one just fine.


This is how we rock it in the real world. (3)

———-

1) Am not kidding! OK, mostly kidding. But seriously? Jeffrey Steingarten is the best food writer in the world. And where else would I find out that Frank Gehry is going to be designing for Tiffany?

2) Angelina is hot (not going to touch the issue of her slutty man-thievery, tho.’ Or the grottiness of the man that she thieved.) But she’s not my girl-crush. Catherine Keener is my girl crush. Catherine Keener rocks! But most people don’t see this, so I go with the more obvious example.

3) This unveiling of Bad Mother was inspired by Mom-101, who is an inspiration to us all.

A mommy by any other name would still smell like spit-up

March 27, 2006

(This is not the Dull and Pedantic Post that I warned about in my last post. No, this is an entirely new Pedantic Post that may, in fact, also be Dull. And Long. LOOOONG. Consider yourself warned.)

(But! There are pictures!)

The debate about what Women-Who-Are-Mothers-Who-Not-So-Incidentally-Blog should call themselves rages on. Apparently, to refer to one’s blogger self as a Mommy is, in some circles, considered jejune. Mommies, after all, are not taken seriously, and so any blogger looking for a serious audience ought to avoid the sticky taint of such a juvenile term and refer to themselves as Mom, Mother or Parent.

To be honest, my reaction when this topic first hit my blogdar was: you’re kidding me, right? RIGHT? Who (expletive, expletive) cares? And then, more expletives, sotto voce.

But then I gave it a second thought, in part because other literate and thoughtful WWAMWNSIBs had something to say about it, and I pay attention to literate and thoughtful people. (Not so much to ignorant dipshits, but then I try to avoid such persons as much in the blogosphere as I do in real life.) Why does it matter what we call ourselves?

I’m not fully certain why it matters to the blogging public, although I agree with others that it has something to do with securing respect in the public space that is the parenting blogosphere. There’s weight attached to the terminology used in parenting, and the names that we use to identify ourselves as parents carry a tremendous share of that weight. In an environment where language is the primary means of identifying and characterizing ourselves and our peers, what we call ourselves takes on an enormous significance. You don’t like women who call themselves mommies? You might not like me, then, even if you’ve never read a word of my blog. Does that matter to me? Absolutely.

But beyond its obvious relevance to my desire to be liked (please oh please, blubber), why does this matter to me? And why do I call myself what I do?

What I said today at Kristen’s site, in a comment to her thoughtful post on the topic:

I’m still trying to figure out what my thoughts are on this subject. In part, I think, because I am still trying to figure out my thoughts on being called a mommy, a mom, a breeder or whatever. At 4 months, Baby isn’t calling me anything yet, but I imagine that when she does it will be ‘Mommy.’ (If she calls me ‘Mother’ immediately, or refers to me by my given name, I’ll take that as just weird.) So I usually think of my new identity as Mommy. But I’m sensitive to it being perceived as less serious than other identities I might have.

And I’ve also spent far too long in academia to be insensitive to the Politics of Naming. In fact, I would say that I am now so sensitive to such politics that I develop a rash when exposed. I once participated in a meeting at the university to discuss the formation of a women’s caucus within our department. The entire meeting was spent debating whether it would be alienating to women to even call the group a caucus because, you know, COCK-US. The penile reference might Intimidate and undermine the Inclusivity of the Group. I never went back.

I’ve gone a little off-track here. What I wanted to get across was the following: a) I usually get hives and so run off in pursuit of salve when the politics of language rears its ugly head, but b) I recognize that it *can* be a part of important and necessary discussions… It is in this case (important and necessary, that is), because what we call ourselves as mothers has everything to do with how we identify ourselves as mothers, and that happens both individually and collectively…

So how do I identify myself? That question is so loaded for me that it almost put me off writing this post. The fast, dirty and painful answer is that I have very little idea who I am in this new life. I’ve addressed the question of my greater existential turmoil elsewhere, and will no doubt do so again (because I know that you all burn, burn to read about it.) But what I can say, right now, is this: I’m a Mommy. For now, for today, for better or for worse, I. Am. A. Mommy.

Ceci n’est pas une Mother

Why not Mom, Mother or Parent? I do use those terms, sometimes. But not often, because they all carry connotations that don’t, or don’t yet, comfortably apply to me.

Why not Mom? It’s what I call my own mother. I view it as indicative of a greater maturity in one’s role as the maternal parent, and also of a more mature relationship between parent and child. Or of a completely immature relationship that has nonetheless advanced to later stages (as in ‘gawd, MOM, stop embarrassing me!’ spat through the braces of a livid 14-year-old.) Some day I’ll be a Mom. But I’m not there yet. It may be the case that calling myself a Mom would earn me more respect as a parent or as a blogger. But, again – Not There Yet.

Why not Mother? This is more complicated. The maturity issue, referred to above, obviously applies here. But there’s more to it than that. I refer to myself on this blog as Her Bad Mother, and not Her Bad Mommy (the Google hits would be too disturbing, and in any case, there’s a story behind HBM), but the ‘Bad’ detracts from the seriousness of ‘Mother.’ This, obviously, is part of the intent of the moniker. Although I am A Mother, I cannot refer to myself simply as ‘Mother’ with a straight face. And, not without thinking about nuns, the movie ‘Psycho,’ and expletive-laden hyphenations. I can talk about motherhood, mothering, and about being Her Mother and a mother generally, so long as we’re sticking to the abstract third-person. But I can’t call myself Mother, at least not as a proper name. And I can’t imagine my own daughter ever calling me Mother in anything other than a voice of outright exasperation.

Why not Parent? I don’t really mind the term ‘parent’ to describe myself. It’s safe, I’ll say that. I use it in discussions with my doctor and other professional support persons. But ‘parent,’ to me, has the same feel as the term ‘partner,’ when used to describe a husband, wife, co-breeder, whatever. It’s devoid of any personality. It tells me nothing about the person being described. Which is, I suppose, the point. But I’m not entirely comfortable with de-gendering parent roles: parenthood is gendered, even when it’s Dad at home and Mom at work and/or when Daddy is the softie pushover and Mommy the hard-ass and/or whatever. Fathers are boys and mothers are girls, and this is true even when there are two of either in one household. But that’s a whole other post.

I like knowing whether the person at hand is male or female, and – here’s the rub – whether they describe themselves as Mommy/Daddy, Mom/Dad or Mother/Father. Even if our respective understandings of those terms differ, your use of one or the other or all of them tells me something about you. Not, I want to stress, as fodder for the Great Filter of Judgment – my preferred fodder for the Filter are demonstrations of stupidity, extreme illiteracy and blatant disregard for norms of civility. (And maybe, also, acid-washed denim. And camel toes.) I’ll always make every effort to avoid judging a parent by how they refer to themselves. We all have our reasons for identifying ourselves the way that we do. The interesting question is, why? Why do you call yourself a Mommy? A Dad? A Bitch with Baby? A Dude with Diaper Bag?

Right now I usually refer to myself as a Mommy. ‘Mommy’ resonates with me because it connotes immaturity. I am absolutely an immature mother. I’ve never done this before. New motherhood baffles me, so I can’t pretend to be anything other than a total neophyte. ‘Mommy’ also resonates with me because this stage of parenthood strikes me as a profoundly ridiculous enterprise. Not ridiculous in the sense of unimportant, but ridiculous in the classical sense of inspiring laughter (following the Latin ridere, to laugh). It’s silly. I’m tripping all over myself as I find my mother-legs, and this is a silly, risible thing to behold. It’s clumsy, crazy, goofy Seussian parenting and I’m not going to – can’t – cloak it in a veil of seriousness. So I refer to myself the way my immediate live audience would, and will, refer to me – as Mommy. Say it with a giggle.

Giggle, dammit.

If you’ve looked at more than one post on my blog, you’ll know that I sometimes mock my own Mommyness. But you’ll know too, I hope, that I also take that Mommyness very seriously. I hope that you’ll take me seriously. But to do this, I think, you have to appreciate that I am, and why I am, a Mommy.

I’ll do the same for you, whatever you call yourself.

Word.

*****************

And! Thanks to the super and amazing Blog Makeover Diva for the fantabulous makeover of Bad Mother Headquarters! Check her out!

Cause what’s Saturday without a good game of tag?

March 25, 2006


I’ve been tagged by the totally awesome Kristen! Which is very exciting, and very timely, because my next post was shaping up to be very Deep and Pedantic and possibly Very Dull and we all really need some nonsensical blather instead, no?

To that end, then… Behold, the meme:

Accent(s): With adults – Canadian (tho’ I’ve been known to insist that there is no such thing as a Canadian accent. Who, me? Say a-boot? Eh? Never!)

With my child – Muppet or Gangsta.

Booze of Choice: Very, very dry vodka martini, shaken, with olive. But that was put to the test recently.

Chore I Hate: Every last freakin’ one of them. What chore do I not mind? Putting clothes into the wash. (Oh, the accomplishment! I have cleared the floor – yes, the floor – of laundry!) What chore do I especially hate? Taking clothes out of dryer for ironing, folding, and putting away. (Kills the aforementioned accomplishment buzz. I’m not done yet?)

Dog or Cat: Have Siamese cats, but they’re not so much cats as they are scrawny cross-eyed dogs that have Problems With Authority. Love dogs, want dog, won’t get dog anytime soon because am lazy and worried about more mess in already messy household. However, if a dog ever does join our household, she will be a bulldog and she will be named Lady Margaret Finnegan O’Flaherty of Bath.

Essential Electronics: I really want to say ‘vibrator’ to be funny, but a) I don’t have one, so that would be lying, and b) if I really did have one I’d be too embarrassed to admit it (See? I’m too much of an embarrass-aphobe to even allow myself to lie and say that I do have one. Can you say uptight?)

The truth? Digital Camera, Sony Cybershot.

Favorite perfume(s)/cologne(s): Creed’s Spring Flowers. What I actually smell like, day to day? Spit up.

Gold or silver: Why? You got some?

Hometown: According to my mother: cabbage patch. According to my birth certificate: Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Insomnia: Are you kidding? Dudes. I have a four-month old baby.

Job Title(s): Handmatron to WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe; Official Companion and Playmate of SuperHusband; Keeper of the Revolutionary Siamese WonderTwins. Recreational titles? PhD (ABD) and University Instructor.

Kids: We keep no goats here. So, no.

Living Arrangements: Drafty old house that is far too small for one Future Ruler of the Universe and her entourage.

Most Admired Trait: Once upon a time – the ability to consume multiple vodka martinis while saying clever things with obscure references to, among other things, Plutarch, Nietzsche and America’s Next Top Model. Now? The ability to put on shoes with WonderBaby already strapped into the Baby Bjorn.

Are those skills rather than traits? Fine – my Most Admired Trait is that I am Clever. But note that my saying that my most admired trait is my Cleverness immediately makes me Irritating. Which cancels out the Clever as admirable.

So I’ll just refer you back to my mad skillz, noted above (Unusual Skillz to follow).

Number of Sexual Partners: See Essential Electronics, above. No, that doesn’t mean that I count vibrators as sexual partners. It means that I am an embarrass-aphobe and so do not talk about sexual activity. Well, not my own, anyway. I’m all up for talking about yours!

Overnight Hospital Stays: Two – once with pneumonia as a child, and once with birth of WonderBaby. The first time, people brought me Barbie Dolls and candy. The second time, not so much. I’m still waiting, people.

Phobia: Embarrassment (see Essential Electronics; Number of Sexual Partners, above.) Needles. Spiders. Dentists. Enclosed spaces. Being embarrassed in front of spidery dentists with needles in enclosed spaces.

Quote: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.’ Miss Piggy.

Religion: Deeply Conflicted Catholic

Siblings: One sister, much loved and much battled with.

Time(s) I Wake Up: Many. This week’s schedule – 3am, 5am and 7am.

Unusual Talent/Skill: Can change channels using remote with my toes. Also, can, like Kristen, recite names of all the books of the Bible in sequence. Am working on doing both simultaneously.

And? I can also do a mean solo re-enactment of scenes from the first season of Lost – especially ones featuring Claire (‘HE TRIED TO TAKE MY BAAAAY-BEEE!!!’) or Hurley (‘Dude. We gotta BOOK’) – but I think that only WonderBaby really appreciates this particular skill.

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat: Eggplant. Even the name is gross.

Worst Habit(s): Making up voices for every animate and inanimate thing in our household. Insisting that the word ‘dude’ is in the lexicon of every animate and inanimate thing in the household.

Capitalizing Words that I think are Important. Being extremely wordy when filling out questionnaires.

X-rays: Couldn’t say, because x-rays are generally not memorable occasions. Vaginal ultrasounds, on the other hand, one never forgets. I’ve had three.

Yummiest Food I Make: Are vodka martinis a food?

Zodiac Sign: Taurus or Gemini, depending upon the astrologer (was born on cusp – May 21). Yes, that does make me special.

*********

My turn to tag now! If you haven’t already been tagged, Ninepounddictator, Jezer, Christina and Scarbiedoll – you’re it!

Getting back to me

March 23, 2006

There’s been some discussion in the mom/mommy/spawning women blogosphere, over the last day or two, about the personal politics of the body after children. That discussion was sparked by post by Morphing Into Mama about the obligation on the part of women to not let themselves go entirely after having children. Her original argument, as I understood it: that women have some obligation to their partners to not gain excessive amounts of weight after having children, to not allow themselves to become totally physically transformed by motherhood, because in becoming completely different physical beings they cheat (my word, I mean it in the sense of deprive) their partners of the person that their partners fell in love with/married/etc. The topic was picked up by Moxie, and others, and it very quickly developed into a full-blown debate about what is expected of mothers, and what mothers expect of themselves, with regards to their bodies. It is, obviously, a highly contentious issue, in part because it is so deeply personal. What woman is not, after having children, profoundly sensitive about her changed body? What woman does not worry about what her partner thinks of her changed self?

I’m not going to recount the debate here; you can read what was and is being said by following the links above. Again, it’s a controversial topic, and so best followed in its original threads – I can’t claim to have given the clearest account of MIM’s argument, and I’m not interested in trying to summarize the responses.

What I want to add to the debate – and my purpose here is really to sort out my own thoughts on this issue – is this: I think that the question of how women deal with the dramatic changes that they undergo in becoming mothers runs far further and deeper than the body (although the body does, I would say, stand front and centre in that question because it becomes, for women, emblematic of the whole repertoire of changes that they undergo. And, because we are so deeply sensitive about our bodies.) This was touched upon by some contributers to the discussion, but I think that it bears further consideration. It does, at least, for me.

As I noted in a comment that I made to Moxie’s contribution to the discussion, I’ve been very lucky in the following respect: my husband loves the physically transformed me. And not just in the ‘I’ll-love-you-no-matter-what’ way of loving me. He tells me – and I believe him – that the physical changes I have undergone are wonderful; he tells me that he loves my new womanly, motherly form. He tells me that my motherly-ness is extremely sexy to him. He tells me that he’s not interested in seeing me lose the 30-some-odd pounds that I’ve yet to shed from my 60-plus-pound pregnancy weight gain. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The thing is, I’m not totally blissed out by it. I am blissed out by having such an extraordinary husband, but when it comes to how I feel about my body, his feelings on the subject really only infuence maybe a third, maybe less, of those feelings. The rest is entirely about me. And I’m not 100% comfortable with my new body. Maybe it takes some getting used to – and I think that I am getting used to it, in some respects – but for the most part it still feels alien to me. Prior to pregnancy, and for all of my life leading up to motherhood, I was a skinny girl. Boyish hips, modest-ish chest, small ass. And – I know that this is an un-PC thing to say – I liked being a skinny girl. This is terrible, but when my bigger-boned sister developed an eating disorder while we were in our teens, my honest ongoing thought was ‘thank god I don’t have to work at being skinny.’ I totally understood her compulsion to be thin. There but for the grace of the ectomorph gods, I told myself, go I. If I were ever to get big, I thought, I’d quaff the Ex-Lax too.

Then I got pregnant. And I loved the pregnancy bigness. I felt healthy, earthy, lush. I had a big, round (taut – let’s not forget taut) belly, bursting with the life growing within it. I had booty. I had boobs! I ate cookies and ice cream and onion rings with abandon. But 65 pounds later, Wonderbaby arrived, and she only took about fifteen of those pounds (what with her 8 and half pound self, the placenta and other assorted ick) out with her. Even discounting the 10-odd pounds of boob, there was a lot of bigness remaining. Welcome to fat, Bad Mother!

But I dealt. I reconciled myself, however temporarily, to the big, and gradually trimmed up a bit (I’m still only 4 months in). No Ex-Lax was involved. And I learned to love some of the big. I think. Just a little bit. But I still feel that I’m not my old self, and I’m struggling with that.

And what I’ve realized, over the past months, is that that struggle actually has less to do with coming to terms with my new body than it does with coming to terms with my new self more generally. I’m not just living in a different body, I’m a different person. And my husband isn’t just living with a physically transformed wife, he’s living with a new wife. He’ll say, of course, that he loves all that is new about me, and I’ll believe him. But do I love all that is new about me? That’s the tougher question. I think that I do. But it still feels so strange sometimes, and often I’m not sure whether I’m in my right mind about loving the new me. After all, didn’t I say, before Baby, that I wouldn’t give up my ambitions, my professional plans, my urban/academic/adventurous self? That I would never leave the house in yoga pants? That I would jump right back into lecturing and writing and Thinking Big Thoughts and that I would do it all wearing heels? That I wouldn’t be happy otherwise?

So why am I happy now, with all of those things marginalized or abandoned (hello, yoga pants and running shoes!)? Who is this new person who is happy having given up – even temporarily – those things that she thought defined her and determined her happiness? Am I happy? Or am I just confused, blinded by the fog of sleep-deprivation and hormones and LOVE that is new motherhood?

There’s a new girl in town – a softer, rounder, Mommyfied girl – and the Husband loves this new girl. He hasn’t been cheated or deprived of anything. In fact, he’d say that he won the Lotto with all the new goodness that abounds in his life – and a bigger ass on wifey is part of that goodness. But do I love this new girl?

I don’t know. I’m learning to, I think. But it’s gonna take some work.

——–

GRATUITOUS BABY PHOTO
I love this new girl. No question.

Now if I could just stick to HAND sandwiches like WonderBaby, maybe there wouldn’t be so, so much of the booty…

And you thought the pimps had it rough

March 22, 2006

Apparently, it’s hard out there for a baby, too.

Well, for French babies, anyway. Apparently their mamans insist that they wash their hands and keep their fingers out of their noses and go to bed when told. Such injustices have compelled some French babies to protest publicly. One baby was so outraged that he put his words of protest to music, and now his Battle Hymn for the Babies – or, Dur, dur être bébé (It’s Tough to be a Baby) – has become a rallying cry for babies everywhere. (1)

The French, of course, have a long history of protest. One might go so far as to say that they invented the modern protest movement. That little demonstration way back in the late 18th Century, the French Revolution, really set the standard. Now, when the French get upset about something, they don’t talk about it: they march, sing or throw things at each other. (To the best of my knowledge, the guillotine is no longer being used.)

So it really shouldn’t be any surprise that French babies, getting all up about something, would start releasing records. It’s not as though they can march, after all. Their little arms couldn’t hold up the signs. And tossing pureed sweet potato or bottles of breastmilk at riot police doesn’t have quite the same effect as, oh, say, stones and fire bombs.

I’ve been very careful to conceal the Babies of the World Unite movement from WonderBaby, because there’s no question that she has grounds for protest. Although she enjoys numerous freedoms, some forcible confinement has been necessary for the peace and security of the household. WonderBaby has been routinely subjected to the constraint of the swaddle and the confinement of the baby jail, and while to date protest has been limited (2), we are anticipating outright rejection of these measures in the near future. Postponing this rejection, and moderating this rejection when it inevitably occurs, will be critical to the continued sanity and well-being of all members of the household.

That said, I don’t know that WonderBaby, given her Nietzschean inclinations (3), would actually align herself with a protest movement. Her plans for world domination do not, so far as I understand them, involve reliance upon an underclass. She seems, rather, intent upon relying on her own arms. (4)

And when she has full and unfettered use of those arms? Watch out.

Baby on lockdown.


———-

1) I must confess that this is old news. Jordy made his protests back in the early nineties, when it was still legal in France to put babies to work. He’s now a pimply teenager, and is seeking to re-establish himself as a public figure. Expect “Dur, dur être adolescent boutonneux” to be released any time now.

2) You thought maybe that we had bested the swaddle gods? Ha. Ha. Ha. That battle has been temporarily abandoned. There have been some experiments in swaddle-free sleeping, some of which were successful for very brief periods of time (45 minutes! Woo hoo!), but it has become clear that WonderBaby is still not prepared to rock it freestyle, at least not full-time.

3) She is aiming for control of the Known and Unknown Universe, after all.

4) See Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI

when the world is puddle-wonderful

March 21, 2006


Yesterday was the first day of spring. I like spring. Which is, I suppose, nothing unusual. Everybody likes spring. What with the daffodils and tulips and morning dew and Easter Creme Eggs (sorry, Cadbury Creme Eggs) and bunnies and all.

But I don’t get completely blown over by spring. I’m not really a bunny person, and although I think that the flowers are pretty, I really don’t get moved by morning dew. Don’t get me wrong, I think bunnies are cute. I just don’t think they sell a season, is all. There’s better marketing in the Creme Eggs.

Spring is mostly for children. It’s playing in mud and splashing in puddles and delighting in bunnies and chicks and ducklings and Easter egg coloring contests. The enjoyment that adults derive from spring is, I think, largely nostalgic (oh the memories of splashing through puddles or hunting for chocolate eggs in the wet grass!) or vicarious (oh the look of delight on the face of a child who has found a shiny foil-wrapped egg!). But there’s another layer to this enjoyment – the feeling of relief. Relief at having made it through another winter. Relief that the days are getting longer and brighter. Relief that summer is around the corner. Relief at being able to step outside and take big gulps of warm, sweet air. At feeling that air on your skin.

That’s how spring has felt to me, anyway, since I passed the age of puddle-splashing. (OK, so maybe I’ve splashed a few puddles in my adulthood. But just a few. And I always felt a little bit embarrassed.) But this year is different: this year, there is Baby.

And I cannot wait to take Baby outside and lay on a blanket on the grass and watch her feel and smell and hear the earth in springtime. She was born in November, so her only experience of the outside world has been filtered through layers of wool and fleece. She’s only really seen the world through windows, only felt stray gusts of cold air while wrapped and covered in her stoller or pressed firmly against my chest. She’s never seen a flower grow straight up from the ground; never heard a bird chirp, never felt the grass or the dirt or the rain. That she will, soon, see flowers, hear birds and feel the grass, the dirt and the rain thrills me beyond measure.

I may even splash in a puddle to celebrate.

——–

From the Not All Bunnies Are Cute files:

Let’s call him P. Bunny

This one’s just creepy. The pimp suit, the mustache-instead-of-whiskers, the boob-like eggs, the cracked-out look in his eyes. It’s just wrong.

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker

March 19, 2006
Still Life with Developmental Toys
10 things I learned this weekend:

1) Martini shakers, when filled with ice, vodka and a whisper of dry Vermouth, make awesome rattles. Cocktail hour can be fun for all ages!

2) One very, very dry vodka martini (shaken, with an olive) is the precise amount of alcohol required for getting me drunk after my 14-month pregnancy/breastfeeding paranoia hiatus from drinking (10 month hiatus, if you count virtuous nips at breastmilk-boosters like Guinness as ‘drinking.’ I don’t.)

3) It is also the precise amount of alcohol required for a post-hiatus hangover.

4) Hangovers SUCK.

5) Hangovers suck worse when you have to wake in the middle of the night to attend to an unruly infant who was, presumably, overstimulated by all the martini shaker/rattle action earlier in the evening…

6) …and when you have to wake again shortly before dawn…

7) …and shortly after dawn.

8) The suckiness that is the hangover is further worsened by the presence of another adult who is not hungover and who remains oblivious to the war cries of the above-mentioned infant.

9) The suckiness that is the hangover is lessened when that other adult SUCKS IT UP and takes over care of the infant so that hungover mother can crawl back under the covers for another hour or two of blissful, blissful sleep.

10) Sleep helps the hangover. So do soft peanut butter cookies and chocolate milk. So does this:

Oh, sweetie, Mommy’s a little bleary, but she sure does love you…

Now give back that martini shaker.

The Un-Rant

March 16, 2006
I started this blog for the usual reasons: maintain a record of the Wonder Years with WonderBaby, share that record with farflung friends and family, keep up with the practice of writing (which, yes, could be done by finishing the last two chapters of my doctoral dissertation but whatever), etc, etc. But it also became a way of clearing my mind of the complicated muck that attends to new motherhood, that muck that pushes the brain cells aside and makes it impossible for new parents, new mothers especially, to have conversations about anything but baby. I’m not talk about our fully understandable fascination with the beauty of our children – most human beings appreciate that particular fascination – but our full distraction by the grotty, mundane, sometimes ugly details of life with messy little beings who have not yet fully developed the faculty of reason. This distracting muck was, I felt at times, threatening to smother my brain.

Yes, she’s gorgeous. Adorable. Loved beyond measure. But guess what? She shits! A lot! Spits up! Forgoes sleep! Makes Mommy crazy!

But by pushing the muck out onto the screen, it became much less, well, mucky. All mushed up in my head, the details of new motherhood melted together into a sort of swampy mess – shitspitsleepshitswaddlespitshitsleep – but out on the screen, out in front of me, those details broke apart and became less like muck and more like particles of rough-grained sand, little glimmering nuggets that sparkled if I held them or looked at them at just the right angle.


And so those details became sort of fascinating to me, in a way that transcended my simple, base interest in sorting through the muck of new motherhood. The shit and sleep and swaddle, removed from the murky depths of my addled brain, could be seen and appreciated more fully, as details of a much bigger and (switching tropes here) beautiful picture. Not, I want to stress, in the banal manner of appreciating the “beauty” of a plastic bag blowing down the street. In the manner, rather, of appreciating the complexity of the details in a painting by Bosch or Bruegel, where the details themselves are absurd, appalling, mundane, or even ugly, but the larger picture is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, extraordinary, beautiful.

An important, probably crucial, part of the process of deconstructing and reconstructing the muck to better see its complexity/art/beauty has come from seeing the deconstruction/recontruction that other parents do with the wonderful muck of their lives. Watching other women and men weave the grotty details of their lives with children (the stuff that makes meanie blogtards post comments like ‘zzzzzzzz’) into fascinating, and sometimes magnificent, tapestries has helped this mother peer through her own grot and find the beauty there.

Why am I babbling on about all of this (apart from wanting to articulate, however convolutedly, a thanks to other blogging parents)?

Because the other day I was struck, full-on, by a shitty volley of anti-parent meanness. And I really, really wish that I could take this particular mound of shit and work it and spin it and weave it into this tapestry that I’ve been talking about, the one that I’ve been carefully deconstructing and reconstructing in the blogosphere. So that I could better understand it, and my reaction to it. See where it fits, and why it fits. Put it in its proper place. Maybe have someone come forward and share how they dealt with that particular shit (because, I fear, it’s not a particularly unusual story.)

But I can’t. Doing so would implicate someone who knows about this blog, who could come across the story, and get hurt. I know this much, that the meanness had something to do with hurt. I don’t want to make it worse. It’s killing me: telling the story, sharing the story, weaving the story into my bigger picture would go so far toward demuckifying those corners of my mind and soul that got smeared by that shit-volley of meanness. But I can’t.

So I had to rant a little, or un-rant, about the benefits of creative ranting, by way of compensation. And it’s helped. I feel a little bit better now.

Thanks for listening.

Blogger’s Beautiful Baby Boy Born!

March 15, 2006

UrbanMommy’s trial by pregnancy is over: UrbanBaby arrived yesterday!

And WonderBaby, Future Ruler of the Known and Unknown Universe would like a word…

———–

Dear UrbanBaby,

Welcome to the world.

It’s a good world. It’s not as comfortable as the world that you just left, but I think that you’ll like this one better. It’s a bit colder here, but there are plenty of big soft arms that will wrap around you and warm you up so nicely that you’ll love the cold for bringing those arms to you. The food doesn’t come automatically, but when it does, it comes from the most wonderful place that is so sweet and soft and warm that you’ll love the hunger for drawing you to that place. It’s not as comfortably snug and dark as that other place, but in the open light you’ll see beautiful and amazing things, such amazing things that you’ll love the stark brightness for helping you see.

The best thing that you will see: your mom and dad. They’ll be a bit blurry at first, but you’ll smell them and hear them and you will know them oh so well because you knew that they were nearby even when you were in that other place. This is the best thing: they are even closer now. They will touch you and kiss you and when they bring their faces near you – and they will always always be near you – you will see their eyes and you will see that they love you. You already knew that they loved you, but now you will be able to hear and smell and taste and touch and see that love and it will sound/smell/taste/feel/look so nice oh so nice that you will never be able to bear its absence for a second. But you will never have to. They’re going to make sure that your whole entire world is love.

The very best thing: you have made their whole entire world a world of love. When you feel that wetness on your head, that’s the love spilling out of their eyes because they can’t hold it in. You bring that love out. You were made from love, and you bring love, and you will live in love because to those two big people holding on to you, you are love. They are learning, every time that they look at you, touch you, think of you, that even though they thought they knew already, they never did really fully know what love was until the moment you arrived.

You know what love is. You’re living it now, in the beautiful cold light of this amazing world. You can’t speak it, but you cry it out loud. Keep crying that love. It’s awesome.

Yours,

WonderBaby, Ruler, etc.

PS: I will one day rule all of this world, so be prepared to recognize my power. I will, however, cede one or two fiefdoms to your control. You may take possession of your household immediately – consider this a hereditary principality, one that you will hold with ease. I relinquish control over your parents, although know that I will continue to charm them and that I expect some share of their affection. When the time is right, I will provide some instruction in the ways and means of rule. For now, follow your instincts. Cry and shit at will. Clutch. Spit. Stare deeply into their eyes. Cry and shit some more. They will do your bidding.

Now, go forward and dominate!