Archive for March, 2008

You Know You Waaaaant it

March 31, 2008

Because, there is just SO MUCH cool stuff out there, and so much weird stuff, and just, you know, so much stuff, and yet – even though some might consider it horribly throwbacky for women to talk shopping shopping shopping – just not enough web content about STUFF – the marketing of stuff, the design of stuff, the history of stuff, the stuff itself – by women.

So, if you’re looking for cool mom stuff, you’ll still go here, and if you’re looking specifically for green mom stuff, you’ll go here, and if you’re, like, a supercool Canadian chick who has babies but also maybe doesn’t and is looking for cool stuff, you’ll soon go here (link pending!) But if you’re just a woman – just a very cool, smart woman (or a man who appreciates the finer points of cool, smart, feminocentric consumerism) – who likes STUFF – finding stuff, talking about stuff, thinking about stuff, COVETING stuff… then you really. must. go. HERE.


Because we said so. Because it is the awesome. And because if you can’t covet stuff and talk stuff and think stuff when 21st century technology virtually engulfs you with stuff, well, there’s really no point in being on the Internet, now is there? Go, look, ENJOY.

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What, you didn’t know what a koan was? Fair enough, it was late last night when I posted and mine wasn’t exactly the model of intuitive irrationality. Doesn’t matter. Just summarize the truth about motherhood in as few words as possible (I set my benchmark at twelve) and share it. Bonus points, redeemable in good karma, for koaniness. If you’re into that.

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The Truth, In Twelve Words Or Less

March 30, 2008

The truth about motherhood:

The sum of all universes, shat upon, but ever-wiped and diapered.

(Spare and obscure, I admit – and meaningful, perhaps, only to me – but I was simply incapable of even beginning to ponder the question, what is the truth about motherhood according to me?, without either writing a six-volume epic, or a koan. I went with the koan.

If you’re reading this Sunday, you’ve still got time to answer the question, put forward by PBN. You might try to do it as a koan, in one shortish sentence. Be sure to link PBN and Discovery Health if you do it before midnight tonight. Let me know, though, via linkage and/or comments, if you go the koan route – which is, really, just a concise sentence, usually one that articulates contradictions, but it can sound however you like. Your truth about motherhood, twelve words – or so – or less. I’d love to compile them. )

(Look! SusieJ did it! So did Ali-RN! You can too!)

My universes, summarized. (Soon to be universes, squared.)

Lady Of The Rings

March 28, 2008

When I was pregnant with Wonderbaby, I lost my wedding ring. It was late in the pregnancy, and my fingers were swollen, so I removed it and (I thought) tucked it safely away, with every intention of putting it on a gold chain or something so that I could keep wearing it.

I never saw it again.

It was something that I had hoped never to lose. My mother had it – and my husband’s matching band – handmade from gold from my great-grandmother’s collection as her wedding gift to us. It was the only thing that I had of my great-grandmother’s, and the most precious of our wedding gifts, not to mention, you know, the crafted symbol of our undying love. And I lost it.

I wore a cool Frank Gehry-designed Tiffany ring in its place until very recently. It – the Gehry ring – was explicitly not a conventional wedding band; it was just a pretty, shiny placeholder for the treasured ring that my husband kept assuring me we would find. When we moved house, shortly after Wonderbaby’s second birthday – more than two years since I had lost the ring – we finally gave up looking. It was gone.

My husband bought me a replacement ring for Valentine’s Day this year. It’s very pretty, a simple white-gold band with a sparkly row of diamonds across the top. Conventionally wedding-bandy, without being too traditional, and evocative of the simple gold band that my mother had crafted for us. If you put my husband’s left hand alongside my own and noticed our rings, you would think that they each had probably been purchased or made with the other in mind. That they weren’t – that there are years and histories that divide these two rings – would only be apparent to someone who knew the saga of the ring that formerly dwelt upon my left ring-finger. Even then, they might not notice. A ring is a ring is ring, after all, and one band – whether it be treasured hand-me-down gold or jagged high-design silver or brand-new and sparkly – is not all that different from another.

A ring is a ring is a ring. And the loss of that first, most precious ring – the first piece of jewellry that I ever really treasured as something whose whole value was greater than the sum of its market-evaluated parts – taught me that what was precious was not the ring itself, but everything that it symbolized. Which, I know, trite, but still: I was able to lose that ring and not feel that I’d lost some part of myself. My marriage, my love for my husband, my mother’s love for me, the memory of my great-grandmother: those were, and are, all things that live and breathe and flourish beyond the ring. These things cannot be lost.

Someday, I’ll pass along my wedding ring – my shiny, pretty, circa-2008 ring – to my daughter, and I will tell her its story and I will tell her that it means everything – love, memory, loss – and nothing. That its importance – before it comes into her possession, while she carries it with her, and long after she loses it – resides only in its idea, in the thought of it as a symbol of all those things that I will tell her about, that she will learn about, and that that idea, that thought, those things, can be carried in her heart, their weight beyond gold.

I have no picture of that ring, and this was supposed to be a photo-centric post, so. In lieu of, I inserted pictures of some of my other favorite things. My antique Lopburi monkey oil painting, my library table, one of my two cats, a photo of my grandma on her wedding day, the squirrel who’s been suntanning outside my kitchen window. You know, stuff I love.

None of which I love as much as this, though:

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As I noted yesterday, instead of a straight-up Friday Flashback, today is a kind of Friday Flashback/Friday Foto Frenzy combo – a photo-centric post that may or may not involve a flashback (although bonus points are awarded for keeping it flashback-y.) The topic: “My Favorite Thing,” or “These Are A Few Of… etc” (in case you have more than one.) Self-explanatory: what object (or objects) in your home is your favorite thing, the thing that you would be most likely to grab first in a fire, the thing that you gaze upon and murmur, lovingly, MINE? Bonus points if it’s something from your youth or childhood. (Inspiration from Mama Tulip, who was probably inspired by someone else, which is how this stuff usually works.) Let me know if you do it, so that I can come check your stuff out.

Other posts this morning (note – this list is NOT comprehensive – I’m limited in my capacity to update links these days, tho’ I’ll try to add more as I can, but anyhoo: this baby’s round-robin, which means follow the links for more links and more links and so on and so forth):

Sweetney
Girl’s Gone Child
OTJ
Mrs. Flinger
Whoorl
MuthaBumpa
Izzy

What A Girl Wants

March 27, 2008

Hey, I might be an aging pregnant woman who is totally run aground by her toddler, but still. I likes me my shoes some lots. Which is why when Guy Kawasaki recommended this spectacular object, I was all over it. Like, that very minute. Clicked the links, located a local source, hied me hence to purchase and then dragged it home for immediate enjoyment.

Whereupon Wonderbaby immediately used it to jail Dora, who has really been rousing the rabble lately and needed to be contained.


But it’s actually for shoes. My shoes. Mah preshuss shoes…


And I’ve only put, like, a fraction of my collection in there. Can see them all! Can get at them all! Which, is irrelevant, given that my fat preggo feet don’t fit them, but still! MAH SHOES! Have broken free from their back closet shoe-box lair and are now ART.

What can I say? LOVE.

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The Rakku – the Shoe Wheel From Heaven pictured above – is now one of my very favoritest things. But it’s not my most favoritest thing. That, I will tell you about tomorrow. Tomorrow, instead of a straight-up Friday Flashback, we’re doing a kind of Friday Flashback/Friday Foto Frenzy combo – a photo-centric post that may or may not involve a flashback (although bonus points are awarded for keeping it flashback-y.) The topic: “My Favorite Thing,” or “These Are A Few Of… etc” (in case you have more than one.) Self-explanatory: what object (or objects) in your home (note: NOT child, pet or partner) is your favorite thing, the thing that you would be most likely to grab first in a fire, the thing that you gaze upon and murmur, lovingly, MINE? Bonus points if it’s something from your youth or childhood. (Inspiration from Mama Tulip, who was probably inspired by someone else, which is how this stuff usually works.) Posts go up tomorrow!

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Thanks so much to everyone who put in their two cents about daycare vs. preschool vs. Montessori. Really, just so tremendously helpful. Enough to help us decide that the Montessori we visited might NOT be the one for Wonderbaby.

You all rock. But you knew that.

To Montessori, Or Not To Montessori

March 25, 2008

That is the question. Among others.

Wonderbaby – who is now, admittedly, more of a Wondergirl, even if I can’t bring myself to call her that – is 28 months old. Soon, she’ll be old enough to attend the well-regarded Montessori preschool that is just around the corner from our home. Which means that she would leave the lovely daycare to which we have all become well-attached in the three months that we have lived here, and move on to a more regimented, learning-focussed environment, when she is just shy of three years old.

She’s been pretty happy in her daycare, which she attends three days a week. But she’s a little ways beyond the other children her own age in speech and movement and general activity, and so – with our permission – she was moved into a higher age group where she could move beyond the things that she’d already mastered and not run circles around the other children in the room. And so far, it’s been fine, but my heart does ache, just a little bit, when I see her in there with all the bigger children, her tiny self asserting her dominion in whatever corner she has staked out, defying anyone bigger to treat her as smaller, and I wonder, could we – should we – do better with this? Place her in an environment where she’s not necessarily the smallest or the youngest (or, conversely, where she is not, by whomever’s standards, the smartest or the fastest), but where activities are tailored more to her specific needs?

(There’s a whole other post here, waiting to be written and filled with heartache and confusion, about how to do what is best by my spirited little dictator – how to adequately provide the stimulation and learning that she thrives upon while still allowing her to be the wee child that she is. I never, ever want to smother her with concerns about maximizing her potential or aspiring to whatever excellence I think she might attain or like nonsense – and I do think that it’s nonsense for parents to pressure their children, especially their small children, toward such things – but neither do I want to close off opportunities for her, nor do I want her to become bored or enervated. All of which is to say – my questions here have far less to with ‘what is best for her development’ and everything to do with ‘what is best for her soul?’)

Her daycare is very good about early learning and engages children, within their respective age groups, in activities that are designed to stimulate their curiosity and facilitate interest in words and numbers and science and craft and whatnot. I think that it’s more than adequate as a preparation for ‘real’ school later on. But then again, Wonderbaby’s ‘skipping a grade’ – in freaking nursery school – concerns me. Is keeping her with older children the answer? Or do I need to be seeking out a program that is more suited to her, as she is, at her age? And might that program be Montessori?

We’ve visited the Montessori school around the corner. It was very impressive. But it was so markedly unlike her – noisy, chaotic, bright, messy, playful – daycare that it was almost disconcerting: quiet (although clearly happy and engaged) children busy with quiet activity, all in coded dress (nothing extreme, just variations on navy blue and white kiddy ensembles) and all seeming more mature than their three-plus years. More mature in many of the ways that Wonderbaby is herself already ‘more mature’ – studiedly reflective and tending toward extremely close engagement with tasks at hand – but also more, I don’t know, mature in that mini-adult kind of way that spooks me when I see it in her, and makes me worry about the possibility of squashing, even just a little, the silly, free-spirited child that she is at her core.

And I just don’t know enough about these things, and it’s a lack of knowledge that weighs upon me as a lack that I cannot afford. Might Montessori be the right choice for her? Will her daycare suffice? Is ‘sufficing’ sufficient? How am I to know what’s best for her, what’s truly best for her, both the child that she is and the full person that she’s in the process of becoming?

Anyone out there have some advice, personal perspective, personal experience with Montessori, personal experience with other early-education systems, general sympathies and/or – most importantly – reassurances that I am not the only mother out there who worries about not always knowing what is best for her child?

B To The Bunny

March 23, 2008


It’s not quite Holly Hobbie in the do-rag, but still. Wonderbaby’s determination to re-style her toys more street is, I am choosing to believe, evidence of advanced creative flair and a steeze cred that far exceeds my own. And in any case, it gives Easter a little different flava, and I’m pretty sure that Jesus would totally approve. He was down in the ‘hood, for realz. Until he went all up to the Big Daddy’s ‘hood (word to the Holy Ghost, yo), that is, which I guess is what we’re celebrating today, and which has nothing to do with bunnies, pimp-styled or not.

Happy Easter.

Di and Me

March 21, 2008

Everyone said that she was so pretty. I didn’t think that she was so pretty. I mean, she was okay, but she had short hair. She wore pants. She looked like she could be one of my teachers. She didn’t look like a princess, not at all.

He, of course, didn’t look like a fairy tale prince, either, but I knew that princes weren’t always Prince Charmings. Grandma had told me. ‘You can’t always judge a book by its cover.‘ That’s what you learn from stories like the Frog Prince: just because someone’s a little warty on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re not handsome on the inside. Prince Charles wasn’t handsome, she said, but she was sure that he was very, very nice.

Princess Diana, on the other hand, she was lovely. Such a pretty girl. So sweet. Just like a storybook princess.

I didn’t see it. What was so special about her? She had feathered bangs, just like my friend Wendy, who was a whole year old than me and very sophisticated, but not, you know, special. not like a princess.

We watched the wedding together, my grandma and me. We got up really early in the morning, and grandma let me have alphabet cereal, and she drank coffee, and we had blankets pulled up over our knees and we watched as Lady Diana’s carriage rolled through the street – it was a real carriage, like the ones you read about, maybe not the kind that come from fairy godmothers, but a real carriage, with big wheels and flags – and we watched as she got out, in that big fancy dress – a princess dress, for sure, but her hair still looked ordinary – and walked up the stairs and into the church and all the music and Grandma dabbed at her eyes a bit and said that she hoped that Nana was watching this from heaven, because Nana would have loved it. I said I hoped so, too.

Grandma sipped her coffee and made a little noise in her throat and said that someday I would have a wedding, too, maybe not as fancy as that, but it would be really nice and I would be just like a princess.

I won’t have hair like that, though, I said. I’ll have princess hair.

You’ll have lovely hair, no matter what, she said.

Princess hair, I insisted.

Being a princess doesn’t have anything to do with hair, she said.

I’ll be a princess when I get married?

You’re a princess now.

No.

Yes, to me you are.

When I get married…

You can have a fancy dress and be all dressed-up like the princess that you already are. But you’re already a princess. To me.

You’ll be at my wedding, right, Grandma?

I hope so.

You will be.

She wasn’t. She died the following year. But she was there, in my princess-heart, in that part of myself that knew, because of her, that my pretty dress that day was only window-dressing, that I was a princess already, no matter what I looked like. Just like that princess with the feathered bangs so many years earlier, who was princess, my grandma told me, because she was loved. Just like me.

Brought to you by the weekly Friday Flashback coffee klatsch. This week, we’re jawing about “Where Was I When…?” (something big and important happened in the world – Elvis died, John Lennon died, the Challenger crashed, there was that solar eclipse, whatever – our parents did it with JFK, right? And if our parents did it…) Join and in and let us know – links, comments, whatever floats your boat – how to find you.

“Where Was I…” posts as of late morning:

Me
Sweetney
Mrs. Flinger
Mamalogues
Whoorl
Oh The Joys

Want mores? I wrote about Di’s death here, if you’re interested. Or, you could read my review of Barney’s ABC. Up to you.

Our Motherhood, Our Selves

March 19, 2008

When I wrote that MILF post the other day, I was sort of expecting that there might be one or two people, at least, that might say that they embraced the term MILF. To which I was fully prepared (and even set up the groundwork in the post) to say, hey, fine, whatever floats your empowerment boat. I have no interest in telling people what they should or should not find empowering; I just have some clear opinions about what seems to me to be unempowering. But although some people said that the term didn’t bother them (which, again, fine; I’m not looking to ban the term), no one said that they embraced it or took it seriously.

That, however, wasn’t the thing that most surprised me in the comments. What surprised me most was that someone turned up and read the whole discussion as an affirmation of the general tendency of mothers to view themselves as superior to other women and to other human beings in general:

Um. The statement that mothers are sexually more interesting is just as offensive as the suggestion that they’re not… Mothers are women. Childless women are women. There’s no “winner” but there seems to be this divisive battle going on, particularly in the blogging sphere. Problem is, I don’t see any non-mothers claiming superiority in the way I see mothers doing so.

My response – admittedly knee-jerk – was to defend the intended literal meaning of what I’d actually said:

I said that *I* was sexually more interesting, as compared to my pre-maternal self. It was a personal reference, not a universal one (although I would argue that sexual self-awareness and maturity does make one more interesting as a sexual partner generally. This, however, does not apply exclusively to mothers…) The fact is – as one anonymous commenter above makes abundantly clear – that mothers, as a group, are often regarded as asexual or unsexual by the culture at large, and certainly by popular culture.

When I gave it another moment’s thought, however, I realized that my irritation at the comment wasn’t that I’d been misunderstood, or that the commenter had missed my point about the whole MILF thing being demeaning to women generally, but rather that someone was bringing up this old saw about mothers having a superiority complex, and that I was going to have address it lest my head explode.

There are a lot of things that I could say about this whole ‘mothers think they’re special’/’parents think that the whole world should revolve around them’ nonsense, not least among which would be that until you’ve had a child, you can’t possible realize how many facking obstacles the world throws at human beings who pack children around with them. But my primary argument would be this: yes, actually, mothers (and to some extent, parents generally) do think that they are special. Not as a matter of superiority, but as a matter of difference. We have a differiority complex. We view ourselves as fundamentally different in many respects from people who do not have children. (Note this important point: NOT BETTER THAN. DIFFERENT THAN.)

Once you have given birth to or adopted a child, your entire world changes. Your entire world, and THE entire world, changes. You come to understand love in an entirely different way than you could ever have possibly understood it in the absence of the human being that is entirely dependent upon you. You come to understand your body, and bodies generally, in an entirely different way. You come to understand faith and morality and safety and security and learning and dependence and independence and fear – oh my god the fear – and passion and defensiveness in ways that you could not possibly understand if you did not have that child. This is, in my opinion, just fact. Children change you fundamentally and uniquely. Someone who has not had a child simply cannot understand the nature of this change firsthand.

This does not mean that people without children are less than, or inferior to, people with children. It just means that our life experiences are different. Parents – and especially mothers, I think – know things that non-parents cannot possibly know, because of those different experiences. If you do not have a child – by birth or adoption or whatever – or have not had a child (it does not matter for how long – five seconds or five years or five decades – or under what circumstances children might have been lost or given up, the experience of the having, however briefly, is what is fundamental) you cannot know how having a child changes you, how it changes your perspective, how it changes your relationship to yourself and the world. How it changes your heart. This is no different from saying that people who have faced death, or gone to university, or travelled the world have fundamentally different life experiences and different knowledge than those who have not experienced those things. It’s just that mothers, and parents, are a larger group, and so their recognition of themselves as a group with certain fundamental likenesses is perhaps more obvious in the culture.

So, yes: mothers do identify as a group and do bond over the similarities in their experiences (not least among these: oh my god did you know that it would be like this?) and do sympathize with each other over certain common struggles that they – rightly or wrongly – perceive to be unique to their experience as mothers. Because they want to, and because they need to. It’s a whole different world out here in Mommy Land, and for many of us it will take the whole rest of our lives to get used to it.

And if we sometimes (and I do hope that it is only sometimes, because we do spend time in other places) act or speak or write as if you need a special passport to get to this place and to really experience and understand it, it’s not that we don’t respect your travels and experiences – we do, because we’ve been on many of those same journeys ourselves. It’s just, well, you do need a special passport to get here and understand it for yourself.

It’s called a kid.

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You all? Have made this such a TREMENDOUS discussion. I encourage anybody coming to this post for the first – or the eleventh – time to read the comments, and (of course) my contributions to the comments. Some of you have made me rethink some specific elements of my argument – ALL of you have me think, period – and I’ve explained that rethinking below, in the commentary. I heart you, Internets, I really do.

Got MILF?

March 17, 2008

Monday morning post-caffeination confession: I hate the term ‘MILF.’

I know that there are a lot of moms out there who’ve appropriated the term and use it as a term of self-empowerment, especially in the context of maintaining some pride in appearance, (which I’m all for, notwithstanding certain evidence to the contrary) but still: I hate it.

It’s not that I think moms shouldn’t regard themselves as – to use the vernacular – f*ckable. Moms are eminently f*ckable, and usually have demonstrated themselves as such in the most convincing way possible: by bearing the children that unadulterated, unhindered f*cking yields. What I reject is the idea – the idea that I think underscores and gives the term ‘MILF’ its force – that mothers, as a group, are ordinarily so obviously unf*ckable that society needs a whole separate category and term for mothers who escape that norm. To say something along the lines of ‘her? Oh, she’s a MILF, totally’ is really to say, ‘her? She’s not like other mothers, who are, as a group, entirely sexually unappealing. SHE’s a woman one could see banging DESPITE the fact that she’s had children!’

Which, you know, is – obviously – demeaning to mothers, and to women generally. (Also? Referring to one’s self as a MILF? Grammatically confusing. Unless you are suggesting that you would totally be into doing yourself – as the use of the personal pronoun, signified by the ‘I’ in MILF, implies – which you might, in which case, more power to you – you should avoid the term. Just say, I AM HOT. That tells us everything we need to know.) Not because it categorizes some of us as sex objects – objecting to objectification is, really, a little bit futile in a society that frames the Pussycat Dolls as an example of feminine empowerment – but because it does, simply, categorize us on the basis of our sexuality and organize that categorization according to the assumption that mothers are ordinarily not f*ckable.

Which is bullshit. I might not be at the peak of my primping powers – and I may, in fact, be too goddammed cranky these days to be sexually approached without extreme caution – but damn if I couldn’t if I wanted to. I am far more interesting as a sexual being having had children – I’ve looked at sex from both sides nowwwww – than I was in my days of undimpled thighs and bra-optional t-shirts and forty-dollar lipsticks. So I resent feeling that I have to carry some outmoded idea of moms as asexual creatures in high-waisted jeans on the back of my psyche, and I resent even more the idea that I can only release the weight of that load if I beat it away with some titty-hoisting bra while proclaiming, loudly, to the world, that horny young men everywhere should want a piece of me. (They should want a piece of me – that, I think, goes without saying – but that shouldn’t be the measure of my physical and sexual worth.)

If it’s good enough for Tori Spelling, it’s not good enough for me. Because, you know, shouldn’t we be reaching a little higher (and deeper) than silicone and tank tops in our quest to feel good about our bodies and our sexuality as mothers? As women?

Or am I just too jacked up on coffee and hormones this morning to think straight?

A Pull-Up Pant By Any Other Name Is Still A Hat

March 14, 2008

What does one do when one is almost exactly two years and four months old and is very, very excited about the birthday of one of one’s most bestest friends, a birthday that is formally today, but which won’t be celebrated until Sunday? Why, one starts partying in advance, of course. Which means, one needs a party hat. And if one does not have a party hat with which to party, well, then, one must simply improvise with whatever one has on hand. Or bottom, as it were:

It’s clean, in case you were wondering. She’s pretty fastidious that way: dirty pants are immediately deposited, by pant-wearer, in the bathroom, regardless of whether the potty has been involved. Clean pants, well. They can end up anywhere. On any number of dolls, stuffed Muppets or plush phallic symbols. Or on one’s head. Which, really, is the most festive of all options, don’t you think?

Happy Birthday, Mister H. We loves you lots.

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Have you taken THE DARE yet? Instead of issuing a Flashback writing prompt this Friday, Tracey and I are pimping the Dare of Truthiness: reveal your true, unmade-up self to the world! In a photo! On your blog! (Alternatively, you could write just something about the dare – you know, just go with truth, if you’re skittish about photos – but you’d have to be descriptive. So that we could make-up our own mental picture. Which could be better or worse.) If you do it, link us up and/or let me know in a comment to my Self-Portrait post.

So far, participants include:

Moi
HRH Sweetney (she started it, so any and all cursing – or props for bravery – should be directed at her)
Dame OTJ
Mme. Breed ‘Em And Weep
Missus Mamalogues
Mrs. Flinger
Madame Izzy
Ms. MotherBumper