Archive for July, 2007

High School Confidential

July 31, 2007
I’ve said before that I don’t think that the blogosphere is like high school, or, at least, that the corner of the blogosphere that is populated by parents is like high school. Hell, I just said it just the other day, on public record, in front of a room full of bloggers, some of whom who were probably thinking that were it not for the facts that I wore no scrunchie in my hair and was not running for school president, I would otherwise bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Tracy Flick, and possibly also one or two Heathers.

(You may, in fact, be thinking that now. That’s okay. I understand. But hands off my virtual scrunchie.)

I stand by what I wrote last year, and what I said at the Momosphere panel at BlogHer: the momosphere is not like high school. It’s not like any high school that I ever attended, anyway. Nobody actively shuns or excludes anybody else. Nobody’s getting pantsed in the locker room, or spat on in the smoke pit, or shoved in a locker. Nobody is prancing down the hall, looking down their noses, swinging their hair and letting their purses knock the glasses off of freshmen who don’t know well enough to get out of the way. It’s not high school here. It’s really not.
But I have to concede that it might, for some people, feel that way. Especially now, in the wake of the party of the year – BlogHer is prom and Homecoming and grad night (and more than a little bit of band camp) all rolled into one – when everybody is talking about who did what and where and who slept with whom and why and omg were you there when they put panties on HBM’s head?
It’s feeling that way for me, a little bit. I’m saying that, obviously, as someone who was there, as someone who was in the thick of it, as someone, maybe, who swung her hair a little bit as she pranced about with her girlfriends (and – it must be said – with their babies. And their moms. Which would have cut down whatever sliver of glamour we were hoping to exude, were it not for that fact that those babies were so heart-burstingly adorable and that mom so super mega-awesome.) But I’m saying it because I felt it; because I am feeling it, now, in retrospect.
I did a lot of huddling. I didn’t circulate around a great variety of tables. I wanted to maximize time with some women that I really, really love heart-friend love – women who I don’t see often enough, women whose friendship pushes past the boundaries of the Internet, women whose distance I keenly feel even as we text and e-mail and chat and (ever more rarely, ironically) catch up with via blog. (My Toronto girls, my reallife BFFs, are another story – I missed being glued to their sides, but had the consolation of one of them in bed and the others on our Thelma-and-Louise adventure and all of them, all of them, here, today and tomorrow in the park and around the table to hug and to kiss and to share.) And so it was that I might have breezed by some of you in the hallway, not noticed you in the washroom, only shared a word or two or three before rushing off to link arms with a BFF, or catch up to a girl-crush or two or three or four, or put up another election poster, or whatever.
And so it is that as I write this, even, some of you are cruising the halls of the Internets, listening to the whispers and giggles and feeling left out, feeling excluded, even, from the experience of not getting to know someone that you maybe wanted to get to know better. I wanted to get to know so many of you better. I missed getting to know so many of you better, so many of you who were there, in addition to the great, great many who were not. (Don’t even get me started on linking you all. CANNOT DO IT. The potential for missed-link angst is far, far too great. Also, my poor tired fingers. Many of you know who you are, most of you don’t, but I just can’t go there. Someday you’ll hear it from me personally.) So much so that I can say this in all honestly: I feel a tiny bit of relief that some of you who couldn’t make it, didn’t make it. That you weren’t there.
Because – because you weren’t there – I can’t feel that I missed an opportunity that was right in front of my nose, as I did with so many. I can avoid feeling guilty about not having spent enough time with you, about not having slowed down enough to exchange more than a few words. About having chosen to have lunch with someone other than you. About having not had the time to discover whether you and I could be heart-friends, too.
Because I really think that we could, you and I – the yous who were there and the yous who were not. Be heart-friends. But there are so many of you, and so little time and so little space in this world that we call real life. In the long, tight hallways and crowded lunch-rooms of real life, where you’ll notice if I don’t look your way. Where I notice if I haven’t looked your way.

So. I cried a lot upon my return. I cried because I felt torn by conflicting emotions. Gutted at having said goodbye to some of the dearest friends I know, some of whom are moving even further out of my real-life reach. Rueful at not having spent enough time sharing this adventure with my really-real-life girlfriends (who, it must be said, barely noticed that I was not in my usual place at their side, so much was the fun being had with the rest of you). Heart-sore at having missed so many opportunities to deepen existing friendships, and to make new ones. And this: relieved to be back in the wide-open spaces of the Internets, where the lunchrooms are bigger and the hallways wider and there is so much more room for everyone. Where you all are, always, and me, too, always, roaming and talking.

And never, ever getting lost in the middle of nowhere.

Where the whispers and giggles carry further, or can or should carry further, where we have all the time and space in the world to be, maybe, friends. Where you’ll forgive me if I sometimes seem to huddle, if I sometimes seem to not notice, if I sometimes seem to breeze by in the hallway. Because I don’t mean to. I don’t want to. It’s just, sometimes, there are so many voices, so many stories, and my heart can only stretch so far at once. Our hearts can only stretch so far at once.

At least here, in this space, there is room for stretching, and the will to stretch. That’s why it’s not like high school. Not in the ways that matter.

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A Message From WonderBaby

July 30, 2007

(PPS – that means YOU. Yes, you. And you too, sweet Internets. ‘Speshully you.)

Better Than Pasties

July 28, 2007

Last year, there was this.

This year, there is this.

Any questions?

(PS – Am not drunk in those pictures. Okay, maybe a little. But really, that’s not drunkage that you see there, preserved for all of internet eternity there on Liz’s site. That’s TIRED. WAS SO FUCKING TIRED.)

(PPS – I love those evil bitches even though they commited a gross violation of my person. Actually, I love them BECAUSE they commited a gross violation of my person. It’s complicated.)

(PPPS – No, I’m not putting the pictures up here. I have my dignity. *cough.*)

Meanwhile, At BlogHer…

July 27, 2007

From A Distance

July 25, 2007

We’re leaving soon. The car is packed, almost. The maps have been consulted, the route plotted, the schedule worked and reworked and reworked again (do we have time to detour to Frankenmuth? To stop at Target? To visit Joy?). We’re ready. We’re excited. Everything is perfect.

Except for this one small thing, this very small thing, this very small girl, to whom I have already said goodbye, whose cheeks I have already kissed and kissed and kissed and dampened with my tears (Mommy sad?).

I’ve said many goodbyes in my life. To family, to friends, to lovers; some tearful, some not. I still cry every time that I say goodbye to my own mother. I certainly cry when I say goodbye to my husband. But nothing quite prepares you for the tug-of-heart that is saying goodbye to your child, that is waving them off and knowing that you won’t remain right around the corner, that you won’t be there when they get home, that you won’t be there to tuck them into bed. Knowing that you are putting an impossible distance between the two of you, knowing that you are losing time that you can never get back.

My heart aches and yearns to stretch, to fling itself into her pocket and go with her wherever she goes, stay with her no matter how far I go, to stretch and stretch and stretch across the distance, across whatever distance, for however long, until I am pulled back and clutching her, my heart-wrapped her, to my breast again.

Future album cover.

She’ll be fine, I know. More than fine. She’ll be with her Da, revelling in summer. And I’ll be fine, too. More than fine.

But I’ll still feel, keenly, the stretching of my heart.

Baths, Not: A WonderBaby Jam

July 23, 2007

WonderBaby likes her friends, her Daddy, her cat and bedtime; could live without Mommy, and baths…

File this under Dubious Achievements, 2007: after many, many hours, most of which would have been better spent pursuing world peace or building her portfolio of paper-clip art, Her Bad Mother finally figures out how to upload video, which is really pointless, seeing as she has the film-making skills of a drunk Luddite with no hands.

Note that, when asked who she loves, WonderBaby names friends, Daddy and the cat before finally coming ’round to Mommy. Note, too, that the focus of Mommy’s camera keeps vascillating between WonderBaby and the bottle of vermouth behind her. These two things are almost certainly unrelated.

Sunday Miscellany

July 22, 2007
WonderBaby sez: Suffrage Rox!!!

1) There’s still time to vote for which cause you’d like to see BlogHers Act Canada pursue in the coming year – you have until midnight tonight. You don’t need to be a her, or Canadian, or even active to make your preferences known. If you support women blogging for a cause, and if you think that what happens in Canada matters to the world, even just a little bit (how good would it be if we took the lead in signing the Kyoto agreement? if we elected a female Prime Minister who supported women’s issues? if we improved our health care system? were a better model of how mass democracies can prosper and take care of their own, and others?), then have your say. We want to hear. Vote now.

2) Wanna know what happens when a handful of desperate mom-bloggers decide to hit the open road and tear a green streak across America (well, the southern Ontario region of Canada and parts of Michigan and Illinois, anyway)? Read about it here, and here, and then follow the trip this week as we try to green our way to Chicago. It will not disappoint, I promise you.

3) This weekend in the Basement: when online friendships go bad.

4) Never any shortage of kick-ass meta-chatting here. You should be reading it. Or writing it. (Details at the site.)

5) I know it’s old news, but still. It’s important.

The Heart is a Muscle. Use It.

July 20, 2007
Many of you have read this before, but I want you to read it again. Because I want you to help.

This is Tanner:


Tanner is WonderBaby’s cousin. He lives on the other side of the country, so he only sees WonderBaby very infrequently. But he’s her biggest fan.

When WonderBaby was still tucked away in Her Bad Mother’s belly, preparing for her takeover of Her Bad Parents’ lives, and also the Known and Unknown Universe, Tanner was preparing for her arrival.

He designed an airplane, so that he could fly to Toronto to visit her, and then bring her back to British Columbia so that they could play together there.

Unfortunately, he kept the drafts of his designs on the kitchen wall, where they were unceremoniously erased by Someone Who Didn’t Understand (another bad mother). Crayon-On-Wall, it turns out, is an unreliable medium for creating Important Documents.

But Tanner had a back-up plan. He would make a wish. He would wish himself to Toronto to visit his baby cousin.

And as it happens, Tanner does have a wish to use, however he wants.

Because Tanner probably isn’t going grow up, and little kids like Tanner get to have at least one wish that will come true, because there are only so many dreams that can be pursued and fulfilled in a lifetime that only stretches as far as childhood.

Tanner has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. It’s what is referred to as a ‘degenerative muscular disorder.’ What this means: Tanner’s muscles are gradually wasting away. Soon he’ll be in a wheelchair. Eventually, his muscles won’t work at all.

Lungs are muscle. So is the heart. One day, Tanner’s heart and lungs will stop working. And then he’ll die.

DMD is a genetic disorder that only (with very rare exceptions) affects boys. And it’s the littlest of boys – the diagnosis usually comes when a child is between 2 and 5 years of age. Boys with DMD are lucky to live into their teens; only in the rarest cases does such a boy reach adulthood. DMD always kills. There is no cure.

Let me repeat that: It always kills. There is no cure.

Tanner will die. His parents will lose their son; I will lose my nephew; Wonderbaby will lose her cousin; the world will lose a bright, bright light.

A wish is a very small thing to give such a child. But it’s also everything: it’s magic, it’s dreams, it’s the promise that if you want something badly enough, sometimes, just sometimes, you can reach that thing. It’s something to look forward to. It’s hope.

And our precious Tanner, the little boy who loves WonderBaby with all of his bravely pounding heart, wanted to use his one special life-affirming wish to meet her.

We told Tanner not to use his Big Wish to come meet WonderBaby. WonderBaby came to him. She doesn’t know about wishes yet, but she’s learning.

Tanner’s teaching her.

*******

Postscript: I wrote this last year. In the year since, Tanner has grown and loved and smiled and laughed and brought much, much joy into our lives – and received much, much love from you – but he has also begun using a wheelchair, and taking more steroid medication to help his muscles hold out a little longer, and he has struggled, hard but often futilely, to be accepted in a world that often doesn’t understand or accept disability, or the prospect of death.

I’m re-posting it now, for a few reasons. For one, I’ve found (through PBN) a new, easy way to support the organizations that are trying to help kids like Tanner, the organizations that are holding out the only hope that we have for Tanner’s future. iBakeSale donates a specified portion of whatever you spend when you shop online through them (no cost to you; details here). To help Tanner, go to iBakeSale by following THIS LINK, and sign up and and add a muscuar dystrophy organization to your charity list (I’ve signed up with the Parent Project For Muscular Dystrophy Research. Just search for Parent Project if you want to help. You can, of course, add any charity of your choice, but my purpose right now is to get you to help me to give Tanner a future.)

For two, I want you to help me to convince my sister to start a blog for parents of children with muscular dystrophy. She’s isolated, as are many other parents in her position. And, she’s at a loss as to how to really pursue support for Tanner’s cause. I’ve been pitching blogging hard, but I’m only one voice (and, too her, a sometimes grating voice at that) I’d love for her to hear it from the blogging community: let her know that there are thousands of loving hands and warm hearts out here, and that we really do strive to make a difference, and that we can help her make her difference. Just leave a comment.

For three, if nothing else, I want you to please pass this information along to anyone who you think might help. And I want to give another reaosn to hug your children. Tanner is a little boy with weak muscles, and he needs our strong muscles to do his heavy lifting – but so do all children, in their way, need our strong muscles. And the heart is the strongest one we have.

Use it.

Like To Get To Know You Well

July 19, 2007

A couple of months ago, I made the following confession:

Her Bad Mother is not me. That is, she is not entirely me. She’s a voice inside my head; she’s one of the many reflections that I see when I look in the mirror. She’s the me who worries about being a bad mother (the kind of mother who lets her toddler fall out of shopping cart), and the me who takes pleasure in thinking of herself as a bad mother (the kind of mother who lets her toddler use a shopping cart as gymnastics equipment. Montessori bad.) She is anxious me – the me that my own mother refers to as a worrier – and she is self-deprecating me.

But she is not the Whole Me. She is not even the Whole Maternal Me. She’s just one part of that whole. She’s the part that I write about. She’s my blog muse. She’s a character. A true character, but still: a character, of a sort.

The real, whole me? You don’t know her. Not really, not fully. You know some very, very important parts of her – parts that had probably never really been fully exposed before she began exposing herself on this blog. You would recognize her if you ever met her in real life. You would recognize the self-deprecating humour, the over-functioning vocabulary, the hand-wringing, the bob. You would see Her Bad Mother in the whole me. But you would see so much more than Her Bad Mother.

I’ve been asked, by a couple of people, to spell out what it is exactly that you would see. You know, so that nobody gets a nasty shock at the BlogHer conference. The problem is, I don’t quite know how to put into words who the quote-unquote real me is. As I said in the confessional post that I cited above, the real me is a kind of shadow to the Her Bad Mother me who appears on this blog (and, the Her Bad Mother me a kind of shadow to the me that I am in real life) – we’re true but imperfect representations of each other. And the whole thing about these words on this screen that you’re looking at right now? They can only capture the shadow. It’s a deep shadow, with crisp outlines, but it’s nonetheless a shadow. (Am resisting, with difficulty, an urge to launch into a lecture on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, one that would draw parallels between his cave-city and the blogosphere blah blah blah. Am. Resisting.)

So I could tell you more about how I love martinis and chocolate and about that time I was held against my will on a Greek Island and about how people used to tell me that I looked like Kimberly on Diff’rent Strokes but also Molly Ringwald and how I much preferred the comparison to Molly Ringwald, especially after Kimberly became a drug -addicted felon. But that would still only serve to round out the corners of the shadow, sharpen the edges further. It would tell you more about Her Bad Mother the writer (what am I choosing to reveal? How am I framing my anecdotes? How am I characterizing myself?) but not necessarily a whole lot more about the woman behind Her Bad Mother.

If you want my stories, you can tour my archives, or the ‘Best Of’ list on the sidebar at your right. If you want my formal bio, you can check out BlogHer’s speakers page and scroll down to the C’s. If you want to see and hear the real me, mediated only incidentally through the character that is Her Bad Mother, you could check out my AlphaMom interview, which is being debuted today on the AlphaMom site. It’s about as real as it gets on the screen – witness LeahPeah’s sweet genius at drawing out an interviewee’s thoughts and feelings – without the benefit of alcohol (for me, not you. I’ll only become fuzzier if you’ve been drinking.) It was filmed during last year’s BlogHer conference, when I was still so new at being a mom, and a blogger, and before I’d figured out that I should sometimes censor myself. You’ll even hear WonderBaby’s real name.

(For the record, I am no longer engorged. Disregard that portion of the interview. Thank you.)

That’s the best that I can do. I hope that if you are coming to BlogHer, and if you do meet me, I don’t disappoint. The rest of you, I hope that you get a sense of the real me through the bits of shadow flickering upon this screen. You’d like me, I think. I hope.

The fantabulous MochaMomma is once again urging BlogHers to introduce themselves, share a little more than they ordinarily, in advance of the big meet-up next week. I’d like to second them on this, but I’d also like to do something further – I’d really like to hear from those of you who aren’t attending. I’ll get a chance to get to know the attendees better, many of them, but I’m feeling keenly, already, the missed opportunity with so many of you others.

So, please, even if you are not attending BlogHer – especially if you are not attending -do participate in BlogMe. Write a post telling us little bit more about yourselves. Because we want to know. Because we will be talking about you, missing you, next week. Sharpen up the corners of your shadows for us, the better for us to imagine you there. Link back here and/or leave a comment so that I can find you, and I’ll do up a Wish You Were Here list next week, before we leave.

Public Service Announcement

July 19, 2007

Remember this little project? Well, we need your input on Part II: Finding Our Cause. Which is to say, we need you to:

Vote

Whether you are Canadian, or just Canadian at heart, please, go, vote.