Served with whine

January 23, 2007


The other week, after I had written that post about parental vanity, I remarked to my husband that I was a bit concerned about ending that post on a down note. It was hard, I said to him after publishing the post, to find a way to end that discussion without getting all sad and low and woe-is-me…

‘Sad and low and woe-is-me’? he replied, his tongue not-quite-firmly-in-cheek. Isn’t that your thing? Your SHTICK?

Ouch.

My mother likes to tell me that I’ve always been a worrier. But I’m not, ordinarily, constantly all tied up in knots about whither this and whence that? and what the fuck am I doing? I’m not, ordinarily, a big fat mess of anxiety and angst and worry.

Parenthood, however, has ripped out my heart and my guts and my nerves and scattered these across the nursery floor and this has rendered me – understandably, I think – somewhat more vulnerable. Still, even with this heightened and deepened vulnerability, I consider myself to be a fairly emotionally-balanced human being. Sure, I cry more, wring my hands more, press my fists into my temples more often – but on the whole, I’m pretty together. (Right? Right?)

Whatever the case, the picture is always going to be skewed here, on this blog, because this is the place where I vent and rant and rave. Where I – ahem – write. Because despite all of my efforts to focus my writing here, to really use this place as a forum for exercising my writing muscles, I invariably end up writing posts about about how I’m feeling. About what’s bothering me. About all the issues – big and small – that I’m wringing my hands about. This blog has become therapy. You have, like it or not, become my therapists.

I’ve been feeling a little bit uncomfortable about this. I’ve written about this discomfort before; I won’t belabour the issue here. I’ll just say – I’m a bit uncomfortable. Part of this discomfort has to do with the not-altogether-pleasant feeling that I’m doing a little bit too much dwelling on certain issues (To worry or not to worry about declining naps, that is the question/Whither ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the pains of outrageous sleep habits/Or take arms against this troubled sleep). It is possible, I think, that I might be more inclined to just let some issues go if I did not have a forum in which to drag these issues for flogging again and again and again…

Then again, I might have already driven myself insane with the effort of containing all of these issues within the confines of one tired brain, if I hadn’t had this outlet.

I am, for the moment, comforting myself with the latter idea. Therapy is good – no? – even if one never intended to lay bare one’s soul for therapizing (wd? sp?). So I’m trying to chill out a little bit about the hand-wringing. I’ll probably feel better once I get back into the groove of visiting other blogs and lending an ear to other hand-wringers. I’ve been so remiss in this lately, for which I apologize. I’ve been visiting, but not talking. I need to get talking again… that’s what drew me into this community in the first place: the conversation. And the first step toward really good, really fruitful conversation comes with relaxing one’s guard, letting go of one’s full preoccupation with one’s own issues (not to mention, letting go of one’s preoccupation with one’s preoccupation with one’s own issues, holy hell) and saying what one really thinks and feels so that one can learn what others really think and feel. Relaxing, speaking and listening.

So… Hi! I’m Her Bad Mother, and I’m a bit of a basket case these days! A lot of a basket case! Stressed, and tired! In love with my daughter, but getting my ass kicked by her, and by motherhood generally!

How are you?


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    { 56 comments }

    Pgoodness January 24, 2007 at 12:18 am

    LOL. I’m fine! No one ever asks that anymore! I’m Pgoodness and I am a basket case everyday. In fact, when my son screamed “I found it!!” at Target today, I actually said out loud “What? My sanity? Because I can’t find it anywhere!” :) Motherhood is supposed to kick your ass – otherwise, you’re not doing it right.

    crabbykate January 24, 2007 at 12:31 am

    You know, as one worrier to another, I have to say that it’s become much easier now that I have (mostly) accepted this anxiety as my fate. For years I tried to deny it and push it deep down inside, and managed somewhat successfully to live with head above water for some time. And then suddenly, when Alice was about year and a half, shit hit the fan. The concern over eating and sickness and lack of sleeping (which, god help me, also kicked my ass for many a night) drove me to distraction.

    And yes, you start to drive yourself (and those around you) a bit crazy with the lists of worry you wear around your neck. But the blogging helps, it does. So do the nights out with other mamas in dark bars. As does the acceptance that this is who you are – worry worts and all.

    Crunchy Carpets January 24, 2007 at 1:28 am

    I have been holding waaay back on my blog..hence the big deletion and the dithering about….

    While I like the therapy….I was feeling like I was being too open or something….

    I didn’t want it to be a journal…I have been feeling very mixed up about what I want to write about and how these days….

    Don’t get me started on the parental angst.

    Awesome Mom January 24, 2007 at 1:51 am

    I am great, thanks for asking!

    I obsessed and worried with #1 but with #2 I am secure in my mothering abilities and am now letting things happen whenever they want to. I am so zen now.

    Lara January 24, 2007 at 2:29 am

    oh jeez, are you sure you want to know? i’m completely lost in a labyrinth of depression, unable to focus, incapable of going more than a few hours without sobbing uncontrollably. i remember a friend of mine told me when she was dealing with her depression, she spent about a year unable to do anything but go to yoga. there are days when i can’t do anything but blog.

    sometimes this community is all i have. and i’m grateful for it. and you, hand-wringing basket case and all.

    Domestic Slackstress January 24, 2007 at 3:35 am

    Ironically, I think all this maternal worry makes you totally normal. Since you asked how I am, completely delusional. Parenthood makes me insane. We all go through it. “Me time” is the antidote.

    Jeff January 24, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Personally, I don’t think all you do is complain or lament the “burden” (not a wholly accurate word, but nonetheless appropriate for my intent) of being a parent. Admittedly you are more prone to verbalizing the feelings a lot of bloggers tend to keep to themselves (see above comments for reference), but it’s your blog, and as such it’s your call what goes here. If you’re unhappy with what the blog has become, change it.

    I went through a similar feeling (unhappiness about what I had been writing about) back in early November. I had been writing Thursday 13 and MeMe and what not and felt that I was losing my focus (a parenting blog) so I wrote a mission statement (Nov2) and went forward.

    See, I’m so careful about what I write that I can even sidestep questions about myself without anyone knowing.

    Crap… did I just let my inside voice out? ;)

    Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" January 24, 2007 at 9:26 am

    I am a basket case too…Welcome to the club.

    I think this is the best place to wring our hands. Don’t you?

    And you do it so well here…I love your blog.

    And hey, who doesn’t love a little whine anyway? I like mine with Cheese!

    MotherBumper January 24, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Hi, I’m getting my ass kicked also… at least it’s being served with a smile. Exhausted, questioning myself and in need of therapy – that’s me. And isn’t that why most of us are here? If I thought it was whiney in here I don’t think I’d be visiting that often, I come for the familiar surroundings.

    Suz January 24, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Since I started blogging about our infertility, I’ve always been a little more comfortable or at least accepting of blogging feelings, of blogging as therapy. You’re right, though, because the only reason why it functions in this way are the voices of others. Without that community, blogging is just shouting in an empty room. And that, well, gets old quicky.

    Bloor West Mama January 24, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I am just exhausted! My day starts very early, get the girl ready for day care, go to work for 8am. Then I have to leave work for 4:30 so that I can make the 5:30 pick-up at the day care on public transit praying that there will not be any “electrical problems”. One hour to get there another 30 minutes to get home and then I have to find some food that she will agree to eat, give her a bath and off to bed. This is my life from Monday to Friday. I try not think about it too much because when I do I get really depressed. I look forward to the weekends when we can play, go out and take things slowly.

    I feel like you can always articulate exactly how I am feeling or have felt at some time in my life as a new mom. Always a pleasure to read.

    Mrs. Chicken January 24, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Hi, HBM. Long time no comment. I am getting my ass whupped by a 27-pound 2.1-year-old. She wakes screaming at 4 a.m. and she tells me I’m naughty when I take her out of the bath. Yesterday she told me I “wasn’t fair.”

    The smart ones are killer.

    But most days she is fabulous. The hard part for me is the very, very good juxtaposed against the bad. That makes me nuts. I like continuity.

    See ya around more, I hope.

    Anonymous January 24, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Hello. I just found your blog and I like it very much.

    Two things: First, I wanted to tell you that a boy I grew up with had muscular dystrophy and he lived until his mid-twenties. Not sure he had the same form as your Tanner, but I just wanted to mention it. Michael lived a much longer life than was expected and got to enjoy many things, including college. Second, my husband teaches philosophy of education and you and he like the same books! I wonder if you are in the same field.

    Keep on bad mothering.

    crazymumma January 24, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for asking…always good to bend an ear.

    How am I . Well, I am almost 10 years into this parenting gig and I still don’t know what I am doing. My 9 year old is amazing, but she is getting all tweeny and I am not ready. My 5 year old is just plain weird and we cannot figure her out. We live in fear…

    My body is doing weird things to me and is clinging to an extra twenty pounds. Must be something to do with being in my mid ohmygodhowdidIgethere 40′s.

    I hate everything I try and make these days artistically, and I cannot seem to find a good book.

    I am not allowed to drive my Trans Am because I might pitch another seizure so I feel like my wings have been clipped.

    Snort. Other than that, (wryly laughing), things are pretty good.

    PS. I loooove the image of you I have in my mind as you wring your hands as you survey the devastation WB can wreak. Sorry, its just so familiar ya know?

    ewe are here January 24, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Fellow exhausted basket case signing in. I’d like to say that I’m currently scared silly by the idea we’re going to have another one verrrry soon, and I’m struggling a teensy bit now with the first one. Probably because I’m so darn tired. sigh

    So, does this meeting come with tea and biscuits? Really fattening biscuits?

    ;-)

    K January 24, 2007 at 11:24 am

    hey.

    2 is better than one.

    you know. if you’re adding up guilt, no-sleep, and bad mothering points.

    :)

    Mayberry January 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Hi there. I’m fine, actually, and I really believe a big part of it is that after almost two years, I’m finally getting a little more sleep. So while I know it’s completely useless to you at this moment, I will say that the sleeplessness EVENTUALLY gets better; and while it is no panacea–of course there is always something to worry about–when that haze of exhaustion lifts it really does brighten everything, if only just a bit.

    Rebecca January 24, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I’m okay, thanx for asking!

    Well actually I’m worried. I’m taking my older son out of town tomorrow and we’ll be gone over night, won’t be back until late Friday afternoon, and the baby is staying at his sitter’s. I don’t leave often (ever) so I’m not sure how he’s going to do, how it’s going to go, etc etc, etc. My high spirited baby loves his sitter and she loves him, but he’s been moody lately, he’s not a great sleeper andandand… *sigh*

    ‘Snot easy bein’ mom.

    But *ahem* otherwise I’m good, thank you for asking.

    Oh, The Joys January 24, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Ass kicked here too, I’m afraid. Kicked HARD I might add.

    Beck January 24, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I’m good. It’s cold.
    I think that so much of my life IS my feelings and that isn’t something I’m going to apologize for or edit out of my writing.

    CPA Mom January 24, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I use my blog to vent too. And to find out I’m not the only one with the same doubts and fears. And because I cannot afford therapy.

    I like to read your blog because you are REAL and you have the same angst I do. And you put it much better than I ever do as you are a DAMN GOOD WRITER. And MOTHER.

    The end.

    nomotherearth January 24, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    I’m a tad stressed. My life is very much like Bloor West Mama’s with getting to and from daycare and work, and never having enough time to do anything. I am also volunteering at the TPL and taking two university courses. Basically, I am getting my ass kicked. I didn’t know it would be so hard to read a 500 page book in one week (every week). I like to read!! But adding that into my other daily stuff, I’m done. Help!

    I think blogs ARE the place for feelings. And reading your blog gives me hope, and makes me “feel” a little less alone in the struggle.

    gingajoy January 24, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    i just wrote an excellent comment, but thanks to NEW BLOGGER I lost it. AM VERY MAD AT NEW BLOGGER AND WISH I HAD NOT SWITCHED. GAHHHH.

    nutshell–i think you express all emotions strongly–not just angst, but wicked humor too.

    conversation–there;s a lot of block on the block, i agree. must be a january thing.

    m January 24, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I’m good! I’m great! (I’m an angsty mess, but…ssshh…don’t tell.)

    Mrs. Chicky January 24, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I’m pretty much the same as you, I just like to put on a shiny, happy face. It’s total bull sh*t but it keeps me going. For now.

    Vent away. It makes me feel less alone.

    (Wow, how much of a downer am I?)

    Mom in SoCal January 24, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for asking. We’re like a lot of families out there — wake up early, get ready for daycare, work, pick-up, dinner, bath, cleanup and make lunch for the next day, exhaustion…

    Is this sleeplessness a January thing? The Cat (same age as WB) has been waking up early and refusing to go back to sleep!

    Otherwise, we are enjoying his super-active, talkative self!

    The Cat’s Mom in SoCal

    PS – LOVE those pictures of WB and the pho! There are so many pho restaurants around here and I’m inspired to take the Cat now!

    jen January 24, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Bad.
    M is a bit older than WB. I am not entirely sure by how much, but M is 2.5 years. All I know is this: I thought I was not going to survive for at least 2 years. At least. It’s turning now. The tide, it’s brighter.

    But it took an awfully long damn time. If you ever want to talk more about it, you know how to find me. I’d be happy to have a nice long talk about it.

    julia January 24, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Hey, welcome. There’s plenty of room in this Basket Case. I’ve set up a nice little corner for myself here and have taken up what seems to be permanent residency. It’s nice here, although I am concerned that Basket Case may not be organic or stimulating enough or outdoorsy enough or educational enough or comfortable enough or safe enough or allow for enough sleep time or provide good quality meals or allow me to spend quality time with my husband and my friends or…or…or….

    Yeah. Basket Case: Population: Me. And you, too, apparently. I think there are a lot of us who live in Basket Case. We might even become an incorporated town and have, like, town meetings and stuff.

    Julie Pippert January 24, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Oh no no no no no

    I just blogged about this Happiness and Up with LIFE! requirement.

    I swear you are going to motivate me to put my Theory of the Overthinking Hypothesis post up.

    Just as soon as I finish my current mommy crisis.

    Listen, there is REFLECTING.

    There is mommy guilt, and then there is angsting.

    I say, “I angst, therefore I care.”

    Some people love with food, I love with concern.

    Own your love language, C, love your love language! ;)

    You get an average of a gazillion comments and God knows how many readers…obviously we like your shtick so don’t worry on that count.

    And as for relaxing guard…being open and honest…talking it out…if you read this post then you know I say AMEN do doing what it takes to stay SANE

    And FTR? I just put up a purely desperate appeal for parenting help.

    :)

    Lisa b January 24, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I am still obsessed with wonderbaby and her Pho.
    She eats! with chopsticks!
    I need that shirt!

    Today was my duty day at nursery school. My daughter locked herself in the bathroom stall on my watch. Then refused to get dressed to go outside or to come home.
    Thanks for asking.

    You want angst come by my place. I ‘m serving it up with a side of ‘I’m going to kill someone’ and poached in “omg I cannot believe what a spoiled bitch I am”.

    Elizabeth January 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Oh honey. The only thing harder than keeping up physically and emotionally with a fourteen month old baby is doing it when you’re about to turn forty, like me. My husband just got back from a seven-day business trip, and I told him if he had been gone even one more day, there was a good chance I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

    It’s your blog, and what you write on it is up to you. If you need to write about feeling sad and low, then write it. You don’t need to apologize.

    Sara January 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Only found your blog recently, but wanted to say keep going, in all senses. I read the latest nap post at the *most* needed time; lack of naps from my 12-month-old has been my own obsession of late, and I really, really needed to hear that I’m not crazy. We’re all in this together, right, Internet? Wishing you very well.

    Mimi January 24, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Well, thanks for asking. Ass completely kicked by two wakeups and my own (not Miss Baby’s inability to get back to sleep). I have to teach today, and my eyes are red and itchy from exhaustion. And I miss my husband and my baby. And I’m not getting any research done. Oh well.

    Your blog is what it is, and lots of people enjoy it. If writing it makes you feel better, or, at least, not *worse*, keep on keeping on.

    At least everyone (except me) is leaving great and funny comments!

    kittenpie January 24, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Good, thanks. I am just getting back up after a stomach bug and starting to think about starting new glass work – womthing for myself. I’ve been a bit tired and down myself lately, feeling like I’ve been missing something, so I’ve decided to get my hands dirty (and cut and shredded) again.

    But HBM? If the wringing of hands and venting over the same issue were a problem, you’d have no visitors. Obviously we like commiserating with someone as wretched as ourselves! And? It’s not a new feature here… *cough*swaddle*cough* Maestro, please- We love you just the waaaaaaay you aaaaare!

    NotSoSage January 24, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Hmmm…how am I? I’m good, I think. These days, with Joe gone (back in a week!), I feel like I don’t even have time to consider what I’m feeling.

    I think I had a minor identity crisis this morning when a friend pointed out that I had made a typo when talking about my much-anticipated single, childless weekend. I had written the word “wine” as “whine”. Doesn’t that just say so much? (Insert sagging shoulders here).

    I am currently nursing a huge crush on the blogosphere for just the reasons you’ve described…that we can look to other mothers to validate what we’re feeling without having to worry about wrapping children up in 20 layers of clothing, trucking them off to a coffee shop with a 30 pound diaper bag and having the conversation interrupted at 10-second intervals by demands, diaper changes and escape attempts. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    But all in all, I’m happy. Really.

    Becky January 24, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Hi HBM! Well, you read my blog today (thanks for the comment, BTW), so you know how I am! LOL! Hang in there…

    I was talking to my OB/GYN Friday (regular yearly girl check-up, you know?) and was complaining about how tired I always seem to be and is it really because I have two kids? I feel like I barely make it through most days and never get done all the things that need to be done. He told me that being a Mom of two and working full-time will do that… that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and that I shouldn’t worry about my friends or other Moms I know who seem to have it all together as I don’t really know what goes on “behind the scenes” and they are dealing with all the same issues I am.

    So, we’re all in the boat together and there’s plenty of life-jackets to go around! ;o) You just gotta keep on keeping on.

    something blue January 24, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    I must tell you that I’m not a trained therapist but I do have a soft shoulder. Unfortunately it likely has a few boogers on it because my life is really all about snot right about now. However I believe that a few bottles of wine and we’ll be feeling no pain.

    Balance means that when it starts to feel like everything is work, it’s time to play.

    Veronica Mitchell January 24, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Fine here, except for pregnancy heartburn.

    If you use your blog for therapy, I hope you don’t mind if I use your blog for the same reasons. I don’t spend much time getting angsty in my own, because I can’t stand to go back and look at it later. But when I read your worries, which are frequently like my own, or where my own might go if the wind blew differently that day, it is cathartic for me, and I feel more mentally tidy afterwards. Your blog lets me digest angst in manageable portions. So feel free to keep it up, at least as far as I’m concerned.

    dorothy January 24, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    What perfect timing. I just got done throwing up my anxiety onto the keyboard, I mean, blogging, and then stepped over here to see what you were up to.

    Much More Than A Mom January 24, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I feel you. Truly. 6pm to 6 am is sucking big time at our house. Basket case? Right here.

    Jenn January 25, 2007 at 12:01 am

    I can only say I’m okay, because I’m at the status quo. Ass-kicked tired and prone to hyperbole. But, that, my dear, is the new norm. The bar is set. Are we keeping track if it happens to be lower than before??

    Angst is the new black, you know. :P

    metro mama January 25, 2007 at 9:25 am

    I’m pretty zen right now, but I suspect it won’t last.

    We Toronto gals are due for another night out so we can commiserate in person.

    Tania Thompson January 25, 2007 at 10:54 am

    The thing about therapy is that it eventually – hopefully – ends. There comes a time when you’ve worked through the bulk of the issues and can move on. It sounds like that is where you are. (And you can always go back to therapy, then leave again, then go back, and on and on…ah life!)

    Personally, when I’m fretting, I clam up (as do a lot of us, I suspect) and it has always been helpful to read your blog and say ‘yes,YES!’ You articulate the experience a lot of us mothers are having, which is extremely helpful – and because of your finesse and talent as a writer, also damn entertaining. Even the tear-jerkers are, um, pleasant? to read.

    We all love your shtick. It is in all of us, too, and you help us access it. It can be, uh, a tad neurotic at times but who wouldn’t expect a thinker to occassionally over-think? It is your occupational hazard. We forgive you.

    Lisa January 25, 2007 at 11:05 am

    You know, I think it’s in the air. I’m having issues; my IRL friends are, and many blogs that I have been reading are saying the same thing. It just really sucks!

    Mamalooper January 25, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Getting my ass kicked regularly as a mom. Just when I feel I have it figured out, Monkeygirl changes again and I am back to square one.

    I have such respect for the moms who are doing paid work outside the home as I cannot begin to imagine the amount of energy required to do so. Plus come home to the second shift.

    Anyhow, reading of your angsty struggles helps me realise that I am not the only one who feels overwhelmed at times.

    Christina January 25, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I’m a basket case, too, so I understand. Life has been a lot of stress lately, much of which I don’t even have the ability to relieve myself of by writing on my blog, because my husband reads my blog daily, and some of it is about him.

    Luckily, parenting is the least of my stresses for the moment, at least until baby #2 gets here. Aside from a few issues (see my most recent post), Cordy has become an easy child to parent for the time being.

    Keep pouring out your heart here, hand-wringing when you need to, and just talking when you want to. Sometimes we all need the support, and other times we are in a better place to have those full, interesting, enlightening conversations. That’s all the natural give and take of friendships, right?

    CrankMama January 25, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    But Catherine, worrying won’t always be your “thing” and parenting does get easier on this front. Any thinking sensitive human like yourself finds one’s sanity cup totally tipped over when you have kids (if only because of all the freaking weird hormones and sleep deprivation).

    Mark my words. You will feel better. Meanwhile, at least you have a million people who LONG to hear about every little and big worry you share. Because at least you worry with elan (the rest of us just slobber around).

    -Rachael

    Mom101 January 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Of course I didn’t know you before you were a mother (good or bad at that) but I wonder if worrying is “your thing” or just “your thing now?” Maybe you need real therapists and not supportive blogfriends sometimes too…just a thought. Either way, we are still here to say keep on keepin’ on!

    PunditMom January 25, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Yes, I am all those things, as well. The worrying thing does get easier (and I’m a worrier from WAY back). But I do worry about different things about R. Now that she’s 7, though, I’m less worried about whether I’m a good mother — I’m comfortable with being good enough. I’m trying to take a little breather on the worry front, ’cause I figure I’ve got some serious worrying to do in a few years on the teen-age front.

    L.A. Daddy January 25, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    In “real life” I’m not much of a worrier. Type A and all that.

    But when I sit down to write about LA Toddler and our little misadventures in parenthood, I start to become a serious worry-hound. It all sorta comes pouring out and I end up writing about it.

    If the same people who knew me in person read my blog they would think it was probably ghost-written by LA Mommy instead…

    Kind of weird.

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