Archive for June, 2007

Holiday. Celebrate.

June 30, 2007

WonderBaby sez, love your dominion.*
On the menu for this weekend: fireworks and ice cream and bathroom renovations and picnics at the park and ice cream and – oh yeah – did I mention bathroom renovations? Nothing says Happy 140th Birthday, Canada! like ripping out your toilet and chucking it out onto your front drive.
We’ll be up to our elbows in drywall and tile and beer until Monday, at which point I will return here, to this place, to celebrate the empowerment of women in the blogosphere. And maybe wave a Canadian flag or two.
In the meantime, the Canadians among you could help with the flag waving by going here and checking out a little project that the MBTers are embarking on, and if you’re so inclined, weighing in with your two cents. Because changing the world starts at home.
(*You’ve seen a version of this pic before, but you’ll forgive the repetition. If the shot fits – and in this case, WonderBaby in a toque emblazoned with a Canadian flag, fits the Canada Day mood perfectly – I say, post it.)

Flight

June 28, 2007
Sometime, over the past few days, over the past few weeks, over some period of time that I have lost track of, WonderBaby became a little girl.

I don’t know when or how it happened. It wasn’t overnight; I would have noticed if she’d gone to bed a baby and awoken a girl. That is, at least, I think that I would have noticed. You would think that one would notice something so extraordinary as the transformation of one’s baby into a child. You would think that one would notice the body unfolding from its coil of plushy arms and legs, of curvy belly and apple cheeks, into a soft-muscled miniature form of the whole person that it will become.

You would think that you would notice, but you don’t.

My eyes only see my baby. My heart only registers her newness, her vulnerability, the extraordinary miracle of her having come-to-be. My daughter is, to me, still small and new and surprising. No matter how fierce, how fast, how powerful she demonstrates herself to be, she is still, to me, baby. And I am, to me, as a mother, still small and new and surprised. No matter how good at this I think I am still, to me, new.

She and I, then, are – must be – baby and mommy. I cradle her, and she presses herself against me and holds on to me, for life, for dear life, and I can only feel her as baby. Soft, downy, fragrant, curvy. Even in the dead heat of summer, as damp tendrils of wispy hair become pressed, wet, like flowers, between her neck and my cheek, as rivulets of body-water, streaked with the dirt of the sandbox, run down between her warm round belly and my own, she is, to me, as sweet and new as spring.

But, then, she pulls away and unfolds her long legs and demands her shoes. And then we walk, she and I, hand-in-hand to the park, where she breaks away and runs – speeds – to the slide, to the sawhorse, to her beloved swing (whing! whing! up mommy up! whing!), to the other children, running playing shrieking laughing breaking away.

And I wonder, when did this happen? And, how did I not see it happening? How did I not notice the moment when she uncoiled, unfurled, flowered into this little human being, this tiny independent creature who runs so fast and so far and so assuredly and who returns only to grab my hand not for her own comfort but for mine? Now mommy come.

Every day she flies higher, faster, further. Every day I look on in amazement, blinking against the sun, the rush of air, as my baby, my wee baby, takes flight. Every day I am astonished. Every day I am surprised.

Every day I whisper, softly, to myself: this is too fast.

The carousel spins and the swing soars and she runs and runs and shrieks with glee, feeling only the wind in her hair, the exhilaration of flinging herself into this world. I see only the blur of the landscape of our life together as it speeds by.

I squeeze my eyes together and I wish wish wish that it would slow down.

A Modest Proposal

June 26, 2007

(Edited below – more news on how to be a better human being. Check it.)

So I was idly flipping through the newspaper the other day, when this caught my eye:

“Anyone who decries environmental degradation, and who really cares about the state of our planet, should give some serious thought to not having children,” wrote David Reeve. “Each additional person consumes a huge amount of resources over their lifetime, especially if they live an energy-intensive lifestyle such as we enjoy here in Canada… We can voluntarily cut down our population now, or do so under duress in the future.”

David Reeve isn’t suggesting anything new. Organizations that promote “child-free” living as environmentally conscious have been pushing their message for a long time now. The planet is already over-populated, they say, and becoming more so every day. Anybody who has children just compounds that problem. We’re full up here, people. No one else should be boarding the Good Ship Earth.

Every extra body, the argument goes, is putting us at greater risk of capsizing. Specifically, every extra child puts us at greater risk of capsizing. But wouldn’t it be correct to say, so does every body who insists upon living the full lifespan accorded by our Western standard of living? All those unproductive seniors, flying to Florida and tooling around on their golf carts, don’t they put an unnecessary strain on the planet? Why are we keeping them around? If our boat is so crowded, why are we letting so many useless and burdensome people stay on? And, aren’t we supposed to be protecting women and children first, not encouraging sterilization of the former and discouraging birth of the latter? And aren’t children, like, small?

Didn’t we all get the message from Logan’s Run? The only way to get things under control sustainably in a world threatened by over-population and depletion of limited resources is to kill off all the old people. We need children for renewal, for their youth and vigour and potential contribution to society. What do we need retirees for?

And why stop at retirees? In Logan’s Run, they killed off anyone over thirty (twenty-one in the novel upon which the movie was based). Thirty’s a bit extreme, I think, but why not fifty? People over fifty are starting to slow down, starting to become burdens to society (especially, I might add, the childless oldsters, who have no families to shoulder part of the burden of their care.) Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to the planet if human beings voluntarily jumped ship once they’d passed the peak of their usefulness?

What? Does this sound like the ravings of a oldster-hater? No – I’m just being practical. I’m being environmentally conscious. I don’t hate old people, I just hate that people make the choice to get old and become a burden to society and the environment when they could be sacrificing themselves for the good of the planet instead.

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It pains me to do this, but for the benefit of anybody out there without a clue, please read this before you hate-flame me. I do expect that you do all have a clue, but there were a disconcerting number of readers of my post on discipline and purloined ducks who really believed that I subject my toddler to the Ludovico Technique, and so I remain unconvinced of my own ability to make a satirical point. Personally, I like old people, except maybe not so much the ones – or anyone – who hate children and/or who think that sustaining legions of domestic housepets is somehow better for the world than raising good human beings.

This is the future. Live with it.

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And, because I know that you are always yearning – striving – to be better than you are (you know, because to do otherwise would be bad for the planet and all), I thought that you might like to know about THIS safe and healthy alternative to culling the oldsters.
Also, you might like to hear me ramble pedantically about ethics and parenting and duckicide on the Motherhood Uncensored radio show, tonight at 10:30EST. Check it at MU, or just click below (you’ll be able to catch the recorded show by clicking the button below after tonight.)

blog radio

First Against The Wall When The Revolution Comes

June 25, 2007

I would have posted this weekend, but I was too busy quashing revolutionary activity – cat-jumping and ice-cream poaching and sleep-deprivation tactics and general sedition – in the toddler quadrant.

If all revolutionaries loved ice cream, Cuba might be a very different place right now. Then again, if revolutionaries loved ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s might be a socialist republic under trade embargo. And then what would we do?

While I’m busy playing Who’s The Dictator with WonderBaby, you should go here and read what I did to oppress her this weekend (hint – it involved blue polyester). Also, you should go offer some advice in the Basement – it’s much needed (hint – what would you do if your husband discovered he had another child?) Oh, and you may want to read the story and check the result of our BlogHer or Bust contest (hint – we couldn’t send everyone to BlogHer, but everyone’s getting candy) over at MBT. Round-ups of all the awesome posts will come once I’ve had some sleep. Unless I’ve been overthrown, of course, in which case you may never hear from me again (hint, hint – COME SAVE ME).

An Open Letter To A Dick

June 22, 2007
Dear Tardy McAsshole Von F***tard,

You looked so slick in your bespoke suit, your polished wingtips, your neatly trimmed hair. You strode purposefully, manfully, through the crowd, Wall Street Journal tucked under your arm, eyes fixed ahead. You couldn’t have been a broker or hedge fund manager – too late in the morning to be on the subway, and to be on the subway in the first place – but still, you smelled of business and money clips and your walk told me that you probably had some meeting to get to, some merger to oversee, some economy to destroy.

That’s what I saw, anyway, as you strode toward me, the mom, shuffling along in capri pants and scuffed ballet flats and wrinkled Gap t-shirt, pushing the Maclaren, singing to the toddler fidgeting within. I don’t know if you saw me, I don’t know what you saw, but I do know this: we were in your way.

We were pushing our way through the open-gated ticket entrance, the one that strollers and wheelchairs use, the one that isn’t supposed to be used as an exit, the one that you were exiting through anyway. There was you, and there was us, and there were twenty or forty or a hundred other commuters thronging through the downtown station and we got stuck. We were coming in, you were coming out. We came to a stop, me and my baby, and we waited for you to step aside. We expected you to step aside.

You didn’t.

You stared right over our heads and kept walking. You just kept right on walking. You lifted your perfectly-creased pantleg and stepped over the front-end of the stroller, stepped over the stroller, baby and all, and kept right on walking.

You stepped over my stroller, you stepped over my baby in her stroller, and knocked me in the shoulder as you pushed by. You stepped over my baby and you didn’t lose pace, you didn’t miss a step, you didn’t give it a thought. You have, I’m sure, done this before. Maybe not with a stroller – maybe it was a wheelchair, maybe a walker, unfortunately attached to someone infirm or elderly, someone inconvenient – but with something in your way.

Mr. Tardhole McAsshat, I want you to know this: you’re an asshole. The worst kind of asshole, the kind who causes me to lose faith with humanity, the kind who makes me feel that we are, we humans, irredeemable. I hate you for making me so angry on such a beautiful morning.


I would hope that your balls shrivel up in your pressed cotton boxers and rot. I could hope that, but I won’t. What I do hope is this: that one day, you are pushing a stroller, or a walker, or are navigating the city in a wheelchair, and you come face to face to someone just like you. And I hope that, in that moment, you recognize you, and that you shrivel a little inside at the expectation of being shoved or stepped over. And then, I hope, that person stops, and steps aside, and shows you what human beings should be like. Can be like.

And I hope that you feel just a little bit ashamed. Okay, a lot ashamed. And then I hope that you go to hell anyway.

Yours,

Her Very Mad Bad Mother
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I would have taken a picture of me lifting my skirt and doing a rude flash, instead of recycling the bird, but I’m just not that bendy. You can, however, still check out my more figurative skirt-lifting here, and vote for me to get presents.
And check back for the announcement of the winner of BlogHer or Bust. IMMINENT.

Peering At The Backside Of The Moon

June 20, 2007

I kept my mouth shut for a reason. I figured, if I never, ever discuss that fact that WonderBaby is both sleeping through the night and napping every afternoon, in her crib, I will never have to answer to the gods for impertinence. I figured, if I never speak of it, I will never tempt them to relieve me of this great gift.

So I never spoke of it. After months and months and months of kvetching about WonderBaby’s wakefulness, I simply went silent. On the day that she finally started napping – April 2, 2007 – after a seven-month nap strike, I went silent. I swore that I would not speak, nor write, about her sleep. The gods are impetuous, and fickle, and they would, I knew, take me from the gift of sleep as quickly as they had given it.

But the temptation became too strong. My secret was too sweet – she sleeps. She sleeps! I began to whisper it: she sleeps. Hand cupped to mouth, eyes raised heavenward, hoping that the gods be distracted by demi-gods taking their women or mortals stealing fire: she sleeps.

And then I began to gain confidence. Surely it was I who had brought about the sleep; surely it was my commitment to schedules and rituals and my persistence in trying, always trying, to bring about the precious sleep that had won me this victory. Surely this was my accomplishment, mine alone. Surely I could sing my own praises. Surely I could say it out loud: I have won her sleep!

I forgot the gods. I sang openly of my accomplishment. I waxed philosophic and pragmatic and prudential. I speculated upon technique. I regarded the nap and the easy bedtime as works of art, crafted by my own will. I displayed them proudly, and announced them to anyone who drew near. These were mine, I said. I made these.

I was prideful, hubristic. You know, then, how this story ends.

Sleep has flown, been snatched away, is gone. The naps are sporadic, bedtime is a battle, our nights and days have become long, too long, far too long to bear. The wax that has held the harmony of my days has melted, and I am falling, have fallen, into the sea. Is this the gods’ vengeance, or did I simply reach too high, too far, too soon?

If only it were always this easy. If only.

I am peering at the backside of the moon.* It is dark, and it is pockmarked, and I would give anything to feel the sun again.

(*Undying respect and big geek high-five to whomever can tell me the source of this line.)

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I lifted my skirt and… what? Whaddya think? Check it out, and tell me that you love it over here.

If Truth Is A Woman, She Wears A Skort

June 19, 2007

When I was about seven years old, a boy asked to see under my skirt.

It was a hot summer day, near the schoolyard. We’d been playing in the grass near the playground; it was long grass, the kind that sings in a good wind, the kind that you hide in. We’d been hiding, we two, and some other children, hiding and running and running and hiding, in and out of the grass, the blades scratching our sunburnt skin. We’d been crouched for what seemed a very long while, hiding, separated by a thin clutch of stalky grass, when I heard him whisper: show me under your skirt.

I didn’t answer him. I remember holding my breath and listening to the wind in the grass and pretending that he wasn’t there.

Show me under your skirt and I’ll show you under my pants.

I still didn’t answer. I plucked a stalk of grass out from the ground by its root and chewed its tip. My legs were sore from the sun, from squatting. I was getting tired of this game.

I have a thing in my pants. I’ll show you.

I stood up.

Show me, I said.

He did. He yanked his shorts down, very quickly, revealing tiny white briefs. He tugged at those, and his tiny appendage flopped out. Small, pink, and quivering ever so slightly, like the squirming, hairless baby mice my sister and I once found, out behind the shed, the baby mice that the cat got and that made my mom shriek and that we knew better than to mention at dinner. It quivered there for a moment, and then disappeared again behind white cotton.

Now you.

I chewed my blade of grass and looked him straight in the eye.

No.

And then I turned and walked, through the grass, back home, and told my sister: I saw a dink.

She said, what’s a dink?

I shrugged, and went off to find my Barbies.

Why didn’t I lift my skirt? I was as capable of brazen exhibitionism as any precocious seven year-old. I don’t recall feeling shame, or reticence. I can remember the feel of the sun on my skin and the scratch of the grass on my bare legs and the far-away sounds of children playing and parents calling, but I don’t remember what I felt about what I was seeing. And it seems to me that I didn’t feel anything, other than a mild curiosity and probably some measure of disappointment that what came out of his pants was really nothing as interesting as one would have hoped.

I really just didn’t care, I think. And because I didn’t care, because the game just didn’t seem all that interesting, I just left, the question of what was under my clothes, what was concealed within my underpants, abandoned as irrelevant.

I wish that I could say that this demonstrated some preternatural awareness of the sacredness of what was, what is, beneath my skirt, that I became aware in that moment of the power of the skirt as veil, as that which conceals what men desire, what they seek to understand, as that which conceals what Nietszche understood as a metaphor for truth, for what men understand to be truth, that which has made fools of so many men, so many philosophers (supposing truth were a woman, what then?), that which does not allow itself to be won.

I wish that I could say this – that I could identify my pre-pubescent self as possessing an understanding of the force of womanhood, even if only an intuitive understanding – but I can’t. In a different mood, on a different day – if the grass hadn’t been scratching my legs, if his weiner hadn’t been so mouse-like – I might well have hoisted my skirt and flashed my plump cleft and enjoyed the cool brush of the breeze on my parts. If truth is a child, she lets herself be well-known. I didn’t learn modesty until adolescence. I did not learn the power of what modesty conceals until much later. I did not start refusing to lift my skirt out of principle until I learnt these things.

But I wonder now, what was lost when I lost that pre-pubescent whimsy, that careless impulsivity, that thoughtless willingness to say no just because? To say yes just because? To reveal or conceal as the mood strikes, and not for the purposes of negotiation, manipulation, protection?

Did I become, in my maturity, too convinced of the sacrosanctity of what lies beneath my skirt? Did I become too convinced of its exalted status as an object of pursuit, of desire? Did I make the mistake of the philosophers, convincing myself that it must not be too easily won? Did I come to take it too seriously? Did I forget how to not care?

I watch as my daughter twirls in the sand, her skirt hoisted high above her waist, exulting in the dust and the breeze and the sun, and my heart pounds with exhilaration and fear. Fear, for what her openness could provoke. Fear that she’ll lose that openness. Fear that I’ll cause her to lose that openness, because I want her, in some dark corner of my heart, to lose that openness, because I am afraid of that openness.

Exhilaration, because I remember, and because that memory forestalls, if only for a moment, the fear.

Here’s to lifting our skirts. Or not.

Here’s to bare legs and carelessness.

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Posted as part of the PBN Blog Blast for Sk*rt – go check out my cross-post on Sk*rt so that a) you can check it out, and b) you can vote for me to win stuff cuz you likes me. Check it HERE. And while you’re there, click the LOVE IT button. I don’t lift my skirt for just anybody, you know.

And check back here at HBM- and at MBT – later in the week for the results of our super-duper BlogHer or Bust or Candy Contest. In the meantime, you can find most of the links to participating posts in the comments here. Go read – and if you did a post but didn’t leave a comment here or at MBT, let me know asap.

Love Made Us

June 17, 2007
It did indeed.

Happy Dad’s Day, you big crabby jerk. We adore you beyond measure.

Around The Corner, I Had A Friend

June 15, 2007

Almost exactly one year ago, I lost a friend.

I lost this friend because new motherhood had caused me to be neglectful of the relationship. The phone calls were fewer, the visits were fewer; the friendship, all told, was left to languish in the dustheap of obligations from my previous, childless life. My friend – a longtime friend, a best friend – felt that neglect. She knew that I couldn’t help that my attention was diverted by an infant, and that my head was clouded by depression, but she felt, still, that the neglect was something that she couldn’t tolerate. So she left me.

This in itself would be unremarkable – every parent has a story about how some childless friend drifted away, uninterested in the constant baby-prattle, unimpressed by such accomplishments as good latches and regular shits – but that the gap that opened up between me and this particular friend wasn’t a gap created entirely by new parenthood. This gap was created, in part, by blogging.

That I was unable to make sufficient time for the friendship was a problem for my friend, but it was not the entirety of the problem. More serious, from her perspective, was the fact that while I did not have time to go for coffee or spend leisurely evenings chatting over a bottle of really good Syrah, I did have time to blog. You make time, she said to me in her ‘Dear John’ e-mail, for what matters.

She was right. I was making time for what mattered. I needed blogging. In the midst of all of the confusion and isolation and – yes – depression that I was feeling as a new mother, blogging gave me something to cling to. It gave me something to do. It provided me with a means of opening up, of finding my voice and giving voice to the feelings that were threatening to overwhelm me. And it helped me to rediscover myself as a writer.

These were all things that I couldn’t do with her, that I couldn’t do with anyone in the lived space of real life. These were things that I had discover for myself, in the shadowy company of virtual peers. I needed other parents, other writers, other friends who I could speak to, confess to, through the curtain of virtual space. I needed to do this from the security of my sofa, in the dark of night, in the grey hours before dawn, as I sorted my thoughts alongside freshly laundered onesies. I needed to do it in the company of sympathetic strangers.

I can understand why she felt hurt by my self-imposed isolation. And I can certainly see why she felt hurt by the fact that I had gathered strangers around me, behind my closed doors. But I was angry, last year, when she accused me of neglect, of not caring, of thrusting her into the role of, as she put it, window-licker. I am still, sometimes, angry. But that anger, when it comes, comes mostly from frustration and regret. I regret that the friendship ended. I regret that she’ll never know Wonderbaby. I regret that this friendship couldn’t survive my motherhood. The loss of this friendship was just that, a loss. I have formed some very, very special friendships in the blogosphere – incalculably special friendships – but this friendship was important, and can’t be replaced.

But it’s done. I can’t do the calculus on gains and losses here – I would no sooner give up what I’ve gained from my friendships in the blogosphere, and from the rediscovery of my voice and my (figurative) pen, than give up my motherhood. These are among the most precious things – after WonderBaby – that this new life has given me. To say that I’ve been empowered as a woman and as a mother doesn’t even begin to adequately describe what I’ve gained from this community, this experience. From blogging.

But there has been – rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly – some cost, some loss. I suppose that with every new stage in life, every new road travelled, there is something lost, something left behind. Does it mitigate the quote-unquote empowerment that I’ve discovered on this journey? No.

But it does make it somewhat bittersweet.

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Posted as part of MBT’s BlogHer or Bust Round Up. There’s still time for you to participate: sometime before midnight tonight (Friday), write a post about blogging and the empowerment of women and link to MBT. Not only will you feel really, really good about yourself, you’ll be eligible to win a two-day registration to BlogHer. Or candy. Your pick. And your post will be linked up here, and at MBT, and at BlogRhet, where the brightest minds in the blogosphere will immediately set about deconstructing it and identifying its greater meaning. An offer you can’t refuse, no?

Just Do It

June 15, 2007
WonderBaby REPRESENTS.
Toronto bloggers want to send you to BlogHer. So write that damn post already. You have until tomorrow, midnight. Just write it, then link back here or here and leave a comment here.
And if you don’t want to go to BlogHer? Write the damn post anyway. How has blogging empowered women? HAS blogging empowered women? Has it empowered YOU? Feel free to adapt to your own whims and fancies – if you’ve got a post simmering about how blogging has beaten women down and caused us to regress to some terrible pre-Cleaver state, have at it. There’s candy in it for you, and attention. And I know that you crave both.
So? What are you waiting for?
Just write the damn posts.