Mother Mother, Are you listening?

12 Jun

Everyday, or almost every day, I open my reader in anticipation. That someone will be writing something that makes me smile, makes me tear up a little and get that “huff” in my chest. That someone will make me angry because they’re right. That someone will write with such clarion beauty my heart will pause for a moment to acknowledge it.

More and more, I open it glad that I subscribe to so many news and science feeds.

It’s not just online fatigue, although I know it’s some of that as well.  There comes a time when it’s all been done-where you’ve had the breastfeeding discussions and the organic arguments and the daycare hissy fits. You’ve talked, you’ve bonded, you’ve agreed. You’ve found your kindred spirits, reveled in the fact that they are your kindred spirits, embroidered their names on trucker hats. But then, life, real life, you know, the one at your door with a package or the one blowing on the breeze through the window? It intrudes and people wander away.

Leaving, in many cases, either new people singing the same songs, or old people singing the same songs for money.

At least once every 3 days lately there’s been a post or a reference to some “bad mom” movement that’s suddenly everywhere-in papers, magazines. How it’s ok to not be so perfect all the time.

It’s funny-I seem to remember having that discussion with Karrie, Edenza and Kim a lot about 3 or 4 years ago, all of us agreeing we weren’t that perfect mother, never would be, and not much caring. Our mothering identities were weird, but solid.

Post after post seems to be filled with hand-wringing and proclamations about how we’re all just mother’s, and no one is bad or good. (Gee, coulda used that in January) Or how it’s terrible to be a bad mother, harming our children, or embrace it! Let them run with scissors and fall asleep eating gum! RIOT!

Are we so insecure in our parenting that we have to rush to embrace the nearest and dearest cause celeb in order to define it? Or is it just another way to generate page hits? Are any of us TRULY worried about this, or are we writing about it because we’ve seen it in a few places, and it might look good to be worried. Wouldn’t want to actually think we’re good mothers.

I’ve had my moments of worry, but they’re buffeted by the knowledge that I’m not a bad mother. I’m A mother. No more, no less. I’m not hurting my children, unless punishing Vivian for a major offence with the loss of her birthday party is considered pain. I parent them as I believe children should be-hands off, standing back, just enough rope to choke on. Raising them to the adults, the women I want them to be.

That’s what missing in all of these posts-it’s ALL about the mother. What SHE does. What SHE likes. What SHE believes. The children?

Well, they’re there. Somewhere, if the writing is to be believed. But it’s bad, or good, to act like the children don’t matter, that the only person with a point of view in the parenting relationship is the mother.

Hooey. Sticky, green hooey.

Parenting, mothering can be done without labels, without cute t-shirts illustrating how badass we are, without posts rattling on about how labeled or UNlabeled we are.

I’d settle for mother’s who didn’t judge the shit out of other people, but that’s just me.


11 Responses to “Mother Mother, Are you listening?”

  1. Kay June 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm #

    I actually THOUGHT about writing a post about being a good/bad mother… because a few of the dozen or so I read made me think some.
    But then I realized that… well, it’s all been said already. And I’d rather not take the same thing and switch the words around, only to call it mine.
    I’m a mother. Some days good, some days bad. I’ve done things that qualify me for both sides of the “debate”. But I really don’t care. Ask my teenager today, and he might tell you I’m the best cause I got him a kick-ass chicken sandwich for dinner. Tomorrow he might say I suck because I’m going to make him mow the lawn. Each child needs different things – some kids thrive on hovering parents, others need their space and (like you said) rope to hang themselves with. I just do the best I can for the kids I have, trying to hang on to my sanity at the same time.
    And entering that debate? Would probably push me over the line (that I’m oh-so-close-to already) of insanity.

  2. sweetsalty kate June 13, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Beautifully said, but yeah, what I could relate to most is the fatigue. It all (not including you, you’re commenting on the phenomenon, as I am) seems so contrived, the breaking up of people into camps and making pointless generalizations. I couldn’t care less. Especially since discourse is not the intent – the intent is to generate hits and attract trolls (then to brag about successful troll-attracting on twitter, to further increase hits).

    Makes me embarrassed to blog, the whole thing.

  3. Jen June 13, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Yes, fatigue. I keep forcing myself to write from time to time but I don’t even read what I’ve written anymore.

    I get the sense sometimes that it’s all people who aren’t really trying anymore or who are trying too hard for less-than-genuine reasons.

  4. Marcy June 13, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    I keep writing — a very small few read and occasionally comment — I ignore what I’m not interested in and write what I am interested in, read what seems interesting, and occasionally comment. I’m not interested in generating hits — I still find that what connection I get through my blog and the ones I read is a good connection, worth pursuing, but I am also aware that there’s only so much connection that actually occurs. It’s a hard balance — making appropriate use of the internet and my blog and facebook, but not expecting too much of it, and staying present and engaged in my offline life.

  5. March June 13, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    I did read some “bad mother” manifesto a few days ago. it’s indeed fascinating that so many people feel the need to label themselves. specially when it comes to mothering. whether they call themselves a good or a bad mother. it’s almost like they want the reassurance that they are indeed a good mother or not a bad mother at all.
    the only ones that will ever be able to say whether you’re good or bad as a mother are your children, and sometimes they won’t provide much reference to that either.

  6. Hannah June 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    I tried to talk about the fatigue too, although I don’t know that I did it as well as you did.

    *fist bump*

  7. kelly June 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    I truly believe there are some shit-ass bad mothers, the rest of us are mostly just trying to survive.

  8. cyroscyros June 16, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    “I’d settle for mothers who didn’t judge the shit out of other people, but that’s just me.”

    Can we put *that* on t-shirts?

  9. thordora June 16, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    I’d settle for one that said “You are not your ad-revenue”.

    Tired of it. Sorely, tired. Like Kate said, makes me embarressed to blog. (admitting to the delivery man what a vomitcomit is the other day was fun though) 🙂

  10. Aurelia June 20, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    I needed to read this tonight.

    God, you have no idea. Sometimes, for people like me, raised in actual true to life Bad Families, it’s beyond irritating to read. I get why it happens. There is an entire cultural thing and it has gone on for millenia, hell, I can pick out academic references on what a good Roman Mother is.

    Trouble is that all of these people are normal average moms. And I sympathize. They want to write, to meet people, to do things. So they need something to write about. So I say nice things and am sweet and nice. But it grates.

    So thanks.

    • thordora June 20, 2009 at 10:18 am #

      After being literally accused of being a bad mother and having the cops at my door, the rush to be considered “bad” is nauseating. I imagine for you, it’s even worse.

      You’re absolutely right. We’re all, for the most part, just average, normal parents, No more, no less.

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