Talk To Me

June 1, 2011

I’ve had a difficult time writing, of late. Part of the reason for that is just good old garden-variety exhaustion — lack of sleep and surplus of work and two small children who are all jacked up on springtime have been combining to drain me utterly – but it’s not only that. The other reason is that I’m just not feeling all that confessional, and there are too many things going on in my life that would, if I were to write about them, feel like confessions – some my own, others not so much my own – and that, for some reason, just feels, I don’t know, hard right now.

Confession is the wrong word here, actually, inasmuch as it implies revealing something shocking or controversial or unseemly. Most of the things that I just don’t feel like writing about right now don’t fall into that category. Some of them do – I’m struggling with some motherhood-related anxieties and some parenting issues that, were I to discuss them, might leave me vulnerable to judgment – but these are the sorts of things that I usually don’t even think of as controversial until after I’ve written about them and the heated commentary begins. Which might be part of the problem here: I’ve just become so skittish, in the last year, about opening up this space to discussion, that maybe I don’t know how to proceed conversationally any more. On any topic.

Before my dad died, I almost never closed comments. Trolls would come and trolls would go and conversations would heat up — some would boil over — and conversations would cool down and the whole exercise was exciting, in a discursive sort of way. But then Dad died and I was writing about things that made my heart sore — writing more, I should say; writing about Tanner and long lost brothers and abortion and depression weren’t exactly topics that kept my heart singing — and I just found myself less able to summon the emotional and intellectual energy to engage on those topics. It was especially difficult when those conversations attracted bad-tempered commentary — you’d be amazed at how many people feel totally justified in assessing your grief and heartache and informing you that they find it contrived or inauthentic or boring — but it was more than that. Or less than that. It was just, I don’t know, discursive fatigue. Or discursive fear. Or both.

Sometimes, this is what the Internet feels like.

I just didn’t feel like talking. I still feel like that sometimes. Sometimes, a lot.

Which is fine, I guess. There’s absolutely something liberating about writing in this space and not needing to give any thought to what people are going to say and how I’m going to respond. It allows me to write just for me, for writing’s sake, rather than for conversation’s sake, which, really, is a different kind of writing, isn’t it? The thing is, though, is that this space – this space, here, of course, but also the blogosphere more broadly – was built for conversation, for community engagement, for discourse. It’s meant to be fueled by those things. It’s given its energy by those things. And sometimes I miss those things, when I’ve turned my back on them and retreated to my garret, to the room of my own in which I define and practice my writerliness on my own terms. Usually, then, I throw open the doors and invite conversation, and that’s great, I love that, but it still sometimes feels awkward, now, like I’m some emo teen emerging from her room, clutching her notebook in her ink-stained hands, shuffling her feet and asking if anyone wants to hear her poetry.

So it is that with some stuff, I feel like I no longer know how to talk — write — conversationally, or even whether I want to talk about it conversationally, and that would be fine, if I were certain that I didn’t care about having conversations, which I’m not, quite the opposite, actually. I like conversations. I don’t necessarily want to have them all the time, but I do like them. Conversations are why I fell in love with this space – this conversational space, this community – in the first place. I don’t want to forget how to have them.

So, in effort to keep my discursive muscles limber, I’m just going to blurt out some of the things that I’ve been reluctant to start conversations about, because blurting is totally a conversational tactic, you guys. Here goes: potty-training Jasper (it’s going badly), Emilia’s temper (do all five year olds go through a stage in which they behave like surly teenagers? Because, my god, this child), my temper (I fear that I turn into Yelling Mom way more often than I’d like; see also previous remarks re: surly child), my concerns about my children being spoiled (I don’t even know where to start with this one), my conflicted feelings about not having more children (yes, I am still wringing my hands about this), my mom (she’s sick), death (because my mom is sick, and also because, you know, Tanner), life change (long story here, but some big ones are pending), how difficult airlines are making travel with children and how people always assume that moms with kids on airplanes are yokel flyers who never travel without their kids and so just don’t get air travel (more ranting), gender politics (in part because of this story, which is just, I don’t know, bugging me. On a lot of different levels. All of which would make for a potentially inflammatory blog post), drunk neighbors (I don’t know how to write about our neighbors without being really, really judgy), and about ten thousand other things that I won’t bother to list here.

How about you? What have you been reluctant to talk about? Or, you know, not reluctant at all to talk about? How are you, really?

(See? I can do this. Conversation: EASY. I must practice this more often.)

(No, really. How are you? What should we talk about? PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.)

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    { 80 comments }

    Sherry May 25, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I’ve been reluctant to talk about how, although I’m excited to move to Halifax after wanting to do so for almost 9 years, it is so incredibly terrifying. The rent is more expensive than you would expect from a small Maritime city, the packing is overwhelming, and sometimes I want to pull my pillow over my head and just refuse to leave. But if I write too much about that I’m afraid I’ll get patronizing “oh, wah, you’re finally realizing your dream of living on the east coast and all you can do is complain” comments.

    I’ve also been reluctant to discuss how non-dog-friendly that city is for renters. There are dog parks and groups and paths along the ocean but if you want to rent a home because you’re not financially able to buy a house yet you’re pretty well screwed. It seems that roughly 95% of available home rentals are very “NO DOGS” and the remaining 5% are in areas that are either sketchy and dangerous our so far out that there’s no bus service (and I don’t drive so I need a bus to commute). So I have been avoiding talking about the tough decision that is likely coming for our family because we’re running out of time.

    And I’m reluctant to talk about how scary it is that I’m going to be going back to work sometime this summer after being at home with my kids since my 8-year-old was born. I am eager and excited but I’m also terrified.

    And this is why I haven’t been updating much lately. Sigh.

    Thank you Catherine, I think I needed to vent. :D

    Her Bad Mother May 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    @Sherry, venting is awesome, isn’t it? even if you don’t go into all the details or wrap it up in lengthy paragraphs and such. maybe even more so ;)

    (I owe you an email from, like, forever ago. Am so sorry – am worse with my inbox than I am with sorting out my writing issues. Could you send your last mail again?)

    Katherine at Postpartum Progress May 25, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I hate that the internet has made you feel in any way that you can’t share what you’d like to, but I also understand. I can’t think of any one big thing I’m reluctant to talk about. Just continuing daily to worry and fret and be anxious over what I do and don’t do and what I’m considering doing and what I should have done.

    And 5-year-olds? My 5 year old is surly as all get out. It’s not just you.

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:21 am

    @Katherine at Postpartum Progress, god, you don’t know how relieved I am to hear that there is even ONE more person with a surly five year old out there, seriously.

    FreeRange Pamela May 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

    @Her Bad Mother, mine is surly, too. Big time. Between him and the “terrible 3s” happening with the little one, things can be RATHER unpleasant hereabouts. Then again, they are both still pretty cuddly at times.

    get going girly May 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I have yet to be viciously trolled – though I have been insulted and questioned and virtually spanked. I usually tell them to kiss my ass. I delete any anonymous comments and feel totally justified in doing so – no cowards please. I have disgreed with posts i have read and sincerely hope that I expressed my position respectfully. As for your fears I guess we all have them, i think that is part of the appeal of blogging – it proves we are not alone. As for your blurts: i have 3 kids all pottytrained differently but one of my daughters used to like to poop behind a plant in our living room, I finally gave in and put a porta potty back there (better than on the floor!) I always said the fives were way worse than the twos. Those 5 year olds can be MEAN! As for yelling – my 15 year old worked me into such a frenzy that I was hurling the f bomb and spitting all over him. I have lost my Mom, my Dad, my brother and my daughter – there is no easy fix for this one. Saying goodbye to someone you love leaves a neverending ripple in your life’s fabric. You cannot come away from this type of grief unscathed. I am so sorry. Airlines suck, politics suck and unfortunately most neighbors suck.

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:24 am

    @get going girly, I’ve developed a lot of strategies for dealing with trolls and meanies (and I don’t count respectful disagree-ers among these); I’ve had to. The thing of it is, though, that even with those strategies, it gets tiring. Even just reading troll comments – even just knowing that they’ll come – can be enough to make me want to just go back back to bed. Not because my feelings are so hurt, but because dealing with that negative energy takes effort. Effort that I sometimes don’t feel up to.

    getgoinggirly May 26, 2011 at 6:56 am

    @Her Bad Mother, You are right it is exhausting and draining to be berated. One of the toughest things i talk to my kids about is how much damage words can do and the lasting effects those words can have, and the written word is worse because it is out there forever. And blogging is different than ‘normal’ jobs because there are no personal days or vacation days, so there are no days to regain our balance and our perspective. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to do just that – think about what advice you would give to a friend and then take that advice. As your own boss you are probably doubly hard on yourself but we all need to remember that a good boss also rewards. Take out your calendar and assign yourself personal days and vacation days, write them down and on those days put up a ‘out to lunch’ sign on the blog.

    Your site is one of the few that I have found so far that I truly look forward to reading- every time.

    PS set up a file with your favorite comments and when the trolls hit, or you are just tired, take out that folder and reread THOSE comments just to remind yourself about all the good stuff.

    Sarah May 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Sometimes I feel trapped by the image of myself I have created on my blog. I feel tied up between discussing things that are really on my mind and offending readers (who I may or may not be related to). I never seem to get anywhere with it. I guess I just haven’t decided that I can take that risk- mostly from fear I suppose or keeping the peace. But it bothers me that my blog really is only the very thin shell of what is going on with me- and underneath there is so much more. Thanks for opening this up for discussion. I know you’re not the only one- and not the only one with a 5 going on 16 year old (what is with that???).

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:25 am

    @Sarah, THIS. YES. God, this is a whole other post.

    Minka May 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

    @Sarah, I would suggest either creating a TOTALLY anonymous blog (which is what I sort of did so that I can be utterly candid… though I made the mistake of telling about 5 of my friends that i was writing it…, so there are about two or three topics I can’t discuss, because it would freak my husband out that these people know it’s me writing the blog), or just accepting that the reason you started a blog was to be able to open up. If you’re not getting that feeling of freedom, what is the point? Ask yourself why you’re doing the blog in the first place. If you really need this venue to be cathartic and liberating… either say screw it and go for it and take the risks, or, as i mentioned above, start another one and TELL NO ONE IT’S YOU… and you will be totally free to be yourself.
    I am still so grateful I’ve never given away enough details about myself that people can figure out my identity. Though occasionally it is really hard not to show photos of my kids, especially when I write about them. Good luck!

    Sarah May 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    @Minka, I’ve definitely considered starting an anonymous blog. I started writing originally to give updates on my daughter to my family far away…but now I have a little different goal- more self centered I guess. More of what is going on with me as a person, parent etc and I think that is the rub. The platform I started with doesn’t really match what I want anymore…so I’ve got to decide how to deal with that. A little more anonymity may help.

    Minka May 26, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    @Sarah, you’ve definitely gotta do it! Keep the original one, and make it more about life with your daughter. Keep it as a lighter, breezier blog about your family life (sort of like the glossy bullshit articles in many parenting magazines; don’t get too deep or profound). And start the anonymous one. I mean, it costs nothing, right? what have you got to lose, except maybe your sanity… and based on my own experiences, I’d say NOT doing a new anonymous blog is more hurtful than actually doing one! I started my blog with no agenda. I was just struggling through life and needed a primal scream into the universe… which became the blogiverse. But as I’ve continued, I’ve come to wonder if “screaming” and venting is fulfilling enough, or if I should really be devoting so much time to something that ultimately started as a way to unburden myself and (hopefully) engage in conversations with people going through similar experiences. The bummer is that, though I’ve “met” many online kindred spirits who have really been supportive, I typically don’t receive many comments at my blog, and that makes it less of the “dialogue” I was hoping it would turn into… Hence… I’ve returned some of my focus to my original career of screenwriting and hoping I find a balanced way of using my time to write scripts and blog. Keep me posted!

    Sarah May 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    @Minka, I set one up today : )

    Nicole May 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    ooo, let’s talk about that genderless child article. I’ll go first, and you can blame any resulting trolling on me!
    I think it’s a real shame that people feel the need to see the world in such stark black and white, no compromise, not ever terms. Sex and gender (different things) are such an important part of how a person identifies themselves, and in their rush to protect their child from society’s classifications these people are denying this kid a category all together. A young child needs to be able to organize the world to make sense of it, and part of that is Daddy is a boy and Mommy is a girl and I am a boy/girl just like Daddy/Mommy. This has nothing to do with gender roles or feminism, just plain normal child development. Girls can still play with trucks and boys can play with dolls, but making such a big deal out of being neutral puts a negative spin on being male or female.
    To take it a step further – is it really responsible parenting to make your child a guinea pig for a vast social experiment? Who really thinks its a good idea to make their baby a target for outside scrutiny?
    And just to make sure I offend the maximum amount of people – I’m so sick of the crusade against pink. These are ‘girly’ things, and there is nothing wrong with being a girl. Denying femininity is not the answer to sexism, it just perpetuates the idea that feminine things are undesirable.

    Issa May 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    @Nicole, This: “A young child needs to be able to organize the world to make sense of it, and part of that is Daddy is a boy and Mommy is a girl and I am a boy/girl just like Daddy/Mommy. This has nothing to do with gender roles or feminism, just plain normal child development.”

    Just yes. I am so with you. Also? They are putting their issues on a tiny baby and that just sucks. The kid has parts. What is so wrong with that?

    Asa's Mummy May 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    @Nicole, yes, I agree with so much of what you said, but I have to say that as the lesbian mother of a long-haired, pink-wearing little boy, I at least understand the temptation those parents feel, to scream out to the universe, “stop gender-typing my child!” I can only imagine that it’s infinitely harder for parents whose child is experiencing some level of gender dysphoria…

    All that said, I don’t really think that making the kid come up with his/her own path out of this is the best way to make a point.

    red pen mama May 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    @Nicole, *standing up and clapping* Exactly how I feel!

    Jessica May 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @Nicole, The more I think about these people, the more crazy it seems. Humans have genders. What’s wrong with that? Their oldest son still classifies thing as “girl things” and “boy things” in the article, so I don’t think their experiment (I really don’t know what else to call it) is having the effect they wanted anyway. Aside from that, he has said that it makes him uncomfortable when people don’t know whether he’s a boy or a girl.

    The biggest problem is that these people are not going to be able to change the way other people think, and that seems to be their goal. Instead of taking the emphasis off of gender, I think that what these parents are doing is making gender into a much bigger deal for their kids than it would be otherwise.

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:30 am

    @Nicole, I love your remark about the EVILS OF PINK. I wrote a post at BlogHer a while back that asked why we demonize princess stuff while praising (or at least accepting uncritically) pirate and superhero stuff. I’m aware of my own hipster/activist tendencies to try to encourage my daughter’s tomboyishness – but she still often goes for pink. She does what she wants around the cultivation of her own gender identity; I let her make the choice.

    SO much more to say about this. Maybe I should write that post.

    Becky May 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    @Her Bad Mother, I would love to read that post. You have a way of getting into the nooks and crannies of issues and putting names to those little nagging things I didn’t know were bothering me. There are lots of little nagging things with this story and the ensuing discussions I’ve seen on it, and I just haven’t been able to put names to them.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, this childless wonder was an absolutely ROTTEN five-year-old. My mom would probably agree that I was worse at 5 than at 14.

    Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman May 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I had a pink wearing boy, he had a pink bike with tassles, dolls, dressed up in my clothes, wore nail polish. He decided when he was ready (at six which is typically when a boy child developmentally crosses over and starts identifying as a male) to drop the pink thing and is currently wearing navy and gray while playing Mario on the Wii.

    While I don’t agree with the older boys being expected to keep a secret, what the parents are trying to do isn’t that radical. It’s just been spun by the media to make it seems like they’re neglectful crazies. The ‘social experiment’ everyone keeps talking about has been practised already by many, many parents who didn’t get media coverage and the resulting hostility. I have read the original article twice and many, almost negative, commentaries on it and can’t quite see what all the fuss is about.

    Ultimately the dance of the child’s personality and the cultural expectations that will emerge as he gets older will determine the child’s identity not the fact that the parents kept his gender a secret when he was a baby.

    Christie May 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    There’s a certain ebb and flow to confession and conversation, both on one’s blog and in life in general, don’t you think? At least that’s how it seems to work for me. After an ebb, it’s hard to return to the conversation, but it feels good too. I think most people understand that the process is rarely smooth or glitch-free.

    In terms of what to talk about, I can’t seem to pin that one down either. Stuff I’m reluctant to talk about one day, I’ll happily discuss the next. Perhaps it’s just the nature of the medium. Maybe I need to blurt more! That’s the key, I guess, keep writing in whatever style suits your current circumstances and the conversation will flow from there. I hope you keep flexing those discursive muscles!

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:31 am

    @Christie, ebb and flow, yes. I have to remind myself sometimes that these things just happen. I’m an overthinker ;)

    Jennie May 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Why are moms’ playgroups so awkward and stressful for me? Either convinced I don’t work well in groups, or perhaps just too introverted, or perhaps the mama drama is just too much while so taxed raising children. And why is the SAHM path so isolating? Ugh. And the boys constantly tearing up the house. Parenting is H-A-R-D and I think it gets harder the older they get.

    Great post :)

    Her Bad Mother May 26, 2011 at 6:31 am

    @Jennie, dude, I could write a whole post about that, too.

    Lisa May 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Guess what my 3yo daughter wants to be when she grows up? Daddy!

    It’s sweet and I’m mostly doing a good job of not taking it personally. Her whole life has been one, long daddy phase. Which is even more insulting now that I am home with her. At least she still wants me when she’s hurt. Other than that, I’m basically “the help” it would seem.

    They are pretty much completely alike. She has looked exactly like him since she was born. Her temperament is his, thank goodness, since he’s the mellow one.

    Adrienne May 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Yes, to all of that.

    Sometimes, I’m all social with my blog, writing and conversing and doing all the good-blogger things.

    And sometimes I live for a few days as if the internet doesn’t exist.

    And sometimes (lately) I use and consume social media as if it was the old media. I read but rarely comment; I write without encouraging or engaging in the ensuing conversation.

    Sometimes (lately) I’m more introspective and although I may share my thoughts, I don’t necessarily want to discuss them.

    Issa May 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Is it wrong that I kinda want to come scoop you up and force feed you wine and cake for a few days? I think you need an honest to god break. A break from life, from kids, from work, from everything. I can’t give you that, but I think you need it. It’s normal I think to not want to talk at times. We’ve been doing this a long time and sometimes we need a break. I took a break for a month. Mid-March to Mid-April. I didn’t post a thing. I barely commented. I was on Twitter, but not as much. It was nice. It re-newed my wanting to keep writing. Re-vitalized my brain in a way. Then again, I realize this is your career…so that may not be possible.

    Hmmm, few things and then I’ll try for mine. 1. Potty training sucks. It’s going badly for me too. Boys are hard. Pretty sure my son has no clue when he needs to pee, which is odd to me, since his large and small motor skills are amazing and he talks as well as most kids a year older than him. But there it is. 2. Yes. Four/Five is SERIOUS girl attitude. I do hear it’s the same as 13/14. She’ll get through it, as will you. Just keep reminding her that she isn’t the boss of the whole world and call her on her shit as much as possible. Six is a lovely age. 3. Your kids are at harder ages. Yelling happens. Everything passes lady. Promise.

    Um…let’s see. I am pretty open online. Mostly because I’m wordy and don’t have very many friends where I live. However? I’m currently writing a living will, in conjunction with my ex-husband, because our lawyer is making us. It hurts my heart to do this. Not because we don’t agree, as we have mostly done, but because the very thought of figuring out who could have my children in light of my sudden death, makes me want to curl up in a ball with a blankie and never leave my house again. I want to talk about it. But I can’t. Writing this made me anxious.

    Now I need to go find something shiny.

    Joansie May 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    @Issa, I’m right with you there. I want to reach through the tubes and pat your back (yours and Catherine’s, and so many people here, really). I want to come bearing cupcakes and wine and hot chocolate with brandy. I want
    to get everyone to vent and rant and share and relax, because we all love our kids to bits and grow frustrated beyond belief at their antics (emo teen grumpiness at 11? what up with that?), and because while the life , at home, is great and frustrating, the world beyond the scene of their antics is great and terrifying.

    red pen mama May 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    One of my children is challenging. She challenges me, anyway, she challenges my parenting skills. And I don’t know how to write about it. Because of the, let’s call it, Kate Vitje [sic] effect. If I write about the difficulty I am having parenting her, and she reads it when she is 16 (or 8 or 10 or 22), is she going to resent her mother talking about her as a difficult child and how will that impact our relationship? Conversely of course, she will already know my parenting difficulties — MY difficulties, not hers — and possibly be fascinated by the advice I have gotten and how it has enabled me to survive.

    So, yeah, I hear you. And I have a vastly smaller audience than you do, so GAH, I can’t even imagine having to go through this on your level.

    I like listening to you, and “talking” to you. I need it. I am becoming Yelling Mom, too, so we can definitely talk about that!

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting May 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’m struggling with the opposite. Life is life right now. Not fabulous. Not horrible. Parenting is parenting. Not easy. Not horribly hard. Not momentously rewarding. Marriage is marriage. Work is work. The Internet is the Internet. Meh. Nothing is really moving me.

    red pen mama May 25, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    @Issa, I want wine and cake and a break too. You & Catherine come to Pittsburgh, and I’ll find a hotel room with a spa for the three of us.

    Issa May 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    @red pen mama, I’ve never been to Pittsburgh.

    red pen mama May 31, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    @Issa, Pittsburgh is a fantastic city. Good people, great food, great sports teams (mostly), museums, musicals, and shopping galore. And spas. Come on down!

    Jessica May 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Oh, Catherine… these need to be all separate posts, or where do I start??

    Potty training – it’s going so badly that I might as well not even be doing it. My older daughter didn’t bother to make sure she made it to the potty *every* time until I told her that she couldn’t go to school if she couldn’t keep her pants dry. That’s all it took. Of course, I didn’t say that until I was ready to pull my hair out the summer before she started JK. My little one doesn’t start JK for another year, she turns 3 next Thursday, and I really don’t see her bothering before that either.

    I have a 5 year old too, and it would seem that they do all hit a surly phase. And it really is just like a teenager, the mood swings drive me nuts, and I never know quite what’s wrong.

    I am totally a yelling mom. I never thought I would be, as I’m not a yelling person in general, but there you have it. No one has the power to make you feel completely helpless and unheard quite like a stubborn child.

    I am so back and forth on whether or not to have another child. There are so many things in each column that neither really comes out on top. I think in the end, having a child is an almost entirely emotional decision, and not having a child may be more of an intellectual one. One of the biggest decisions in life, that a lot of people don’t take seriously enough, it’s a hard one to make.

    My grandfather (whose basement we rent)was diagnosed with cancer over the winter. We thought we were going to lose him at Christmastime. It’s something that hangs over my head every waking moment. Something that I have no control over, that will affect my life in a myriad of ways..

    As far as being open online… I think I am. However, I write pretty much anonymously. As far as I know, there are only 6 people who actually read it, and that makes it amazingly easy to be candid. Especially since only 3 of them actually know who I am.

    roo May 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I’m just entering the third trimester with my first child, and I’m already stressing about whether or not he’ll be an only, and how I feel about that.

    Add into that the fact that I, as of 10 days ago, became an “expectant mother of advanced age,” and thus, well, might not be able to choose whether we get a chance to have another after this one, and that’s a whole ‘nother level of angst.

    I really should just focus on what I have, and trying to do the best I can in adjusting to motherhood, without making up other things to worry about– but that’s just my brain, I guess. Never satisfied.

    Tessa May 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I am with everyone on the wine and cake break! I identify with so many of these comments. I’m not sure why people are so judgy. It seems as though we are all struggling with the same issues. Even though we may not handle them in the best way, we are certainly trying our hardest.

    Danyelle May 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I’m not a big talker when too many things are going on, I tend to shut down and get stuck in my head. Then even when I want to talk, I’ll become unable to finish an entire thought before something else comes up. Eventually it all comes out.

    I think or at least hope all 5 year olds act like surly teenagers because mine certainly is one. And her attitude is turning me into that yelling mom too.

    Take a break if you need too, take some you time. Above all take care of yourself.

    Angella May 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I’m having a rather melancholy day and wishing I could quit everything and move to Mexico. Blah.

    And that photo? I feel that way about the Internet often.

    corasmom May 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    The list of what I am not talking about online (or to many real life people) is long. Potty training is up there, except with a few people, because so few people get where we are and how we got here. The fact that our recent move was great for everyone in the family but me – it was a terrible move for me and I lost so much in terms of work, friends, comfort, security… The unethical organization I have been working for, and the special variety of self-loathing that goes with working for such a place. That despite a few years of trying, it would seem my (surly) 5yo will be an only – though she has several helpful suggestions on how to deal with this. This might be why I mainly write about cooking now – I know where I am with that topic.

    Ami May 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    1- Potty training a boy is like taking a 2-6 month sabbatical to Hell. On a good note, I don’t know of any healthy child going to junior high school in a diaper. So eventually it will happen.
    2- When my daughter was 5, she once accused me (at an incredibly high volume in a very public place) that I was ‘ruining her life.’ Fun times. Fun times. (How lucky are you that you get to be going through this AND the potty training at the same time?)
    3- My Dad is at the end of his 3 year battle with lung cancer. And somehow, faced with a future without him, I feel as if I am walking the tight rope of life without a safety net. Even worse than that feeling, is the feeling of watching your ultimate hero being reduced to the most humbling and painful state possible.
    4- It seems wrong to deny a child a gender, just so they won’t receive a label. It disturbs me on many levels. Would we deny someone a race/skin color, a religion, or a political point of view in order to ‘free’ and ‘liberate’ them from public preconceptions?

    Lady goo goo gaga May 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I am new to mommy blogging, so I don’t know yet about the Trolls or mean commentary that come with being a successful blog. But I will say you are a great writer and an inspiration to me:)

    Christine May 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid finishing up my play. I can’t write the end. It’s not coming out. I know what I don’t want to say and I’m so afraid I’ll say it I just can’t write. I tweeted the other day that the only writing I’m actually doing is in the comment sections of other people’s blogs. Which, I suppose, is why I’m here. I’ll move past it. It’s just really hard.

    Kristi May 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    My five year old turned 6 today. Half the time she’s incredible and the other half I expect her and her three year old sister to spin their heads around and spew pea soup. The four year old steals. Stole some shoes from her friends house and put them in my purse. My kid, a thief. Awesome.

    Keep talking. We’re listening.

    Crystal May 26, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Those could all be separate posts. And I feel you on all the kid stuff. My 6 year old is insufferable. I rip my hairs out. My 2 (almost 3) year old is finally sort of potty trained. Like how a puppy is trained. I say pee- he pees, sometimes even on the potty. I am yelling mommy- far to often. My husband has nerve damage in his face and vision loss from a car accident last year. Scary. And my job is trying to kill me. The internets are big and scary…. But they can be friendly. We’re still listening, even if we can do nothing more than make you feel less alone.

    Amy May 26, 2011 at 6:24 am

    I think 5 year olds do normally go through a surly phase. I think being 3 is like being 13, being 4 is like being 14, etc. Oh, but 5?! (and 15 for that matter) They’ve been working on this independence thing for a couple years and, by their limited understanding of the world, think they have it all down. Sometimes–except for when they are a babbling puddle of goo needing MAAAAAMAAAAAA!!!!!!

    Yesterday I raised my voice a couple times and then caught myself, and wondered how my daughter perceives that. My husband NEVER raises his voice. I don’t want to be the angry one.

    Also, you can give a kid freedom and choice AND gender identity. My friends’ son is 3 and wears dresses usually. He just likes his sister’s hand-me-downs, and we happen to live in a pretty progressive area where no one bats an eye at a little boy in a dress, so it’s all good. But a couple weeks ago he chose to wear pants when going out and told his parents that he didn’t want people to think he was a girl. I think this is awesome–not a single person pressured him to wear a certain thing, and he made his own observations about genders and made his own conclusion. He still sometimes wears dresses at home because he likes them, but he’s finding his own role on his own terms.

    Z May 26, 2011 at 9:28 am

    My teenagers struggle with his sexuality and the implications of those struggles. I feel like there is TONS I could write about, and maybe even find kindred spirits who have lived through it and can give me tips/advice — but for obvious reason it is NOT going to happen. But it weighs heavy on my heart every moment of every day.

    Her Bad Mother June 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    @Z, big hugs to you. big big hugs.

    Natalie May 26, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I’m reluctant to talk about my marriage…the good and the bad. This year, it’s been more one than the other. That has recently changed, it’s nice.

    I’m reluctant to talk about my mother being not 100% since fighting off 3 types of cancer in the past 3 years…I see her falling, slowly, and it makes me so incredibly sad. I don’t really want to think about how tired her body might be from this fight.

    I’m reluctant to talk about my work, which is overwhelming to say the least. It’s a constant pull and push and struggle to keep my head above the water….but when I do find that groove….the electricity I feel is unbelievable. Some days (not often), I am simply still surprised that they pay me to be here.

    wow, i guess I sorta needed to talk about those things

    Elisa May 26, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I’ve been reluctant to update my blog because ideas come and go and I try to sort through them and figure out which ones will work, which might come across as judgmental, what people actually want to read about.. etc. I would be better off channeling the energy used for thinking, wondering and worrying toward actually writing. I guess I too have felt a sense of fatigue about it.

    Thank you for pushing us, by blurting your own stuff. We should all just blurt out more often.

    p.s. I have heard many parents of five year old girls refer to them as “five going on fifteen.” So I sense that it is all normal on that front. Too bad normal rarely means easy.

    jen May 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Oh, you don’t know how much better I feel after so many people talking about their surly 5 year olds! I have been so frustrated, sad, angry, depressed about my 5 year old daughter lately. It feels like nothing I do is right, and every time I ask her to do anything it is the end of the world. There is crying and statements of how I don’t know how to make her happy and I don’t have the “magic” of her father (my ex who is barely financially helping, and who is constantly canceling their time together – but she thinks that it is me canceling and keeping her away from him). Some days I feel like if I don’t promise her the world, I will ruin her life by being a “bad mother”. She even wished on St. Patrick’s Day (on a school art project) that she had a better mom. Yeah, I’ll be treasuring that damn construction paper four leaf clover for the rest of my life. And the yelling. Oh, I hate it. I read your post about having a family with no yelling pretty much with disbelief. I grew up with yelling and vowed that I wouldn’t be that way. Well, I have broken many vows in my life and that is just another one. But really, when she refuses to put on her shoes, or move from her spot on the floor, and you are already 15 minutes late in the morning what do you do?

    Wow. That felt good.

    Minka May 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

    After reading this, I feel like crying because it’s making me think of all the things I’d want to talk about if I had the time and energy. And here I was all prepared to work on my latest screenplay, trying to be disciplined (since this whole blogging thing began for me, I have totally ignored my screenwriting career… which is one of the things that has me bummed out and frustrated), when I read your post and am now all distracted. Sigh. So here is my compromise — a quick(ish) comment so I can force myself back to my script:
    1 – you are not alone in ANY of the above-mentioned issues. Ebb and flow was a good comment/comparison/analogy/whatever. It’s like life. Our moods shift, our needs change and evolve. Constant flux. Maddening unless you accept that this is the nature of life, of ourselves. Sometimes I want to vent everything, other times I need to keep it all in. And the reasons vary.
    2 – Five year olds – yes, surly. Difficult. Especially the girls. It’s not you, it’s not your child. It’s a phase to prepare you for puberty… which will make this phase seem ridiculously easy. Scary, huh?
    3 – yelling moms — I yell a lot. And loudly. And swear. And also hug hard and love them hard and we talk about mommy’s tendency to yell and swear. It’s part of me, and they’ve learned to differentiate between the serious yelling, the “I really mean this shit” yelling, and the “I need to blow off steam and you triggered it with something small, but still.. I am yelling anyway, and you understand why, right?, because you’re my kids and we’ve talked about this and you understand mommy.” Also, this is a phase for YOU. You will eventually master this and learn to yell less. I am quite certain of that. I work on it, and actually do yell less… which actually freaks them out more. I close my eyes and take a deep breath and tell them — quietly — how hard I am trying not to yell because I am very very mad… And it works. I don’t actually have to yell, but they can see that I am on the verge of exploding. Crazy, huh? But weirdly effective for all involved.
    4- fuck the trolls. many people are stupid and probably use your comment section as a place to raise themselves up by knocking you and your perspectives/values/beliefs/whatever down. Humanity is full of idiots. I know it’s hard, but ignore them. Or use them as a reminder of how lucky you are to have so many readers who AREN’T trolls and who appreciate how much you have to offer and how much your writing enriches our lives — because it DOES. Remind yourself how lucky you are that you have wonderful friends and people who love you who AREN’T trolls. But sometimes it’s good to know Trolls are out there, because it keeps us in the real world.
    5 – I wish my sex life with my husband was better. But for reasons I can’t go into here, or on my blog, it’s not all we’d like it to be. Nothing major or weird. Just stuff it wouldn’t be fair to my husband for me to talk about so publicly because, though he’s been very supportive of my blogging, he’s a really private guy, and I can only ask so much of him. Sigh.
    6 – my career. Double sigh. After a frustrating emotional roller-coaster working as a screenwriter and director, I now experience similar things with blogging. I love the outlet of blogging, but sometimes lots of readers show up (though they rarely comment — you are luckier than you know to have readers who comment!) … and sometimes hardly any. And I cannot discern any rhyme or reason… and it is… a little maddening. And makes me sad. Sometimes i put my heart into a post… and no one comes. And I don’t know why. Other times, I have posts that are not nearly as heartfelt or of major importance to me… and I get a lot (relatively speaking…) of visits to my site. It feels like the film business… which I was soooo looking to blogging to provide a respite from.
    I am torn about my career. I have one foot in hollywood, and one in my new midwestern life.
    I have never managed to get my head around not making a decent income, and it’s freaking me out. We moved here partly to escape the toxic environment of L.A. and partly because we could live well on my husband’s salary without me making any money. Supposed to be a big relief, right? Well, as it turns out… my need to make money apparently isn’t about the $$, ie not about our family’s financial needs. Apparently, I need to make money… for me. Apparently my sense of self includes me earning an income, even though I don’t “have” to.
    So when we moved here, I scaled back my screenwriting endeavors, stopped “networking” from afar, and kind of just lived my life with my kids, setting up a new home, getting us all settled into a new life with new friends…
    And then realized… I’m not working! I was sort of going through the motions of working on a new script… but not really. Just kidding myself I was still writing… and then I found blogging, and for a short time, that felt great. But watching the page views not rise very quickly was… hard. And though intellectually i understand how long it can take to build up a real readership, it’s still… hard. And knowing it can take FOREVER to make real $$ from blogging is also very… hard. Especially when I had a lucrative career for so long, even though the income wasn’t a constant flow.
    So now I grapple with what the future holds for me… and yes, I’ve gotten back to working on a screenplay… which means I haven’t been blogging as much… and i watch my page views dwindle… And I just feel confused.
    I wish I’d chosen a more stable career than being a writer.
    Sometimes it’s great.
    But often, it sucks.
    And I do think about death, as my dad had both open heart surgery and cancer within the past year and a half. And I’m about the same age now as my mom was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.. (both parents are still with us, I must add). And so I look at every day as one less day I have left… Each night, I ask myself if this day was well spent… And I am trying, very hard, to enjoy my moments and enjoy my days and enjoy the hell out of my kids and husband, because we get so precious little time.
    so much for my quick(ish) comment.

    Her Bad Mother June 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    @Minka, I could write pages about the weirdness of commenting dynamics. Relative to my traffic, very few people comment here. But I think that commenting as a practice has declined. I actually wrote a post about that at BlogHer late last year. Maybe I’ll find it and link it.

    (and thank you re: further underscoring that it’s not just MY five year old who can be an asshole.)

    mom2boy May 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

    On the nonlinear path of potty training – my almost four year old has been day time potty trained for almost a year with no accidents but is still wearing pull-ups at night save for a week long experiment about three months ago. A week of washing his sheets daily and back into pull-ups he went. The pull-ups have pee in them every morning so I’ve been thinking he could be wearing them off to college at this rate. Then last night he announced he wanted to sleep naked. Um, okay but what about when you have to go pee? He said he would hold it. Hmmm, eh, fine go for it. BUT, he didn’t pee in his sleep! It might, probably, be a fluke but so what. I’ll take a small step forward where I can find it.

    Julie Marsh May 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

    You and I talked about this in New Orleans, and how it led me to close comments entirely. I’m still not writing much though, and I’m feeling very guarded about revealing any of what’s going on in my head.

    Maybe it’s the weather. Or maybe I’d talk if we were all holed up in a hotel room, wearing jammies and eating pizza.

    Frelle May 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    what have i been reluctant to blog about… well, everything, really. I really must move to wordpress so I can password protect things.

    I am reluctant to blog about the fact that in january, my soon to be ex husband moved back into our house without invitation or notice, and how violated that made me feel. I am reluctant to blog about the fact that I got an apartment and needed a notarized letter from him stating that he would pay child support (which he had been doing for 7 months already) and since he wouldnt write the letter, I lost the apartment. I am reluctant to blog about the fact that we live in the same house again as roommates and that our children are aware that we are divorcing and that he wouldnt sign the damn letter to let me move out, I am reluctant to blog about the fact that I am in desperate need of any job so that I have proof of income and can move out. How trapped and desperate I feel all the time, how I hate where I live and what it’s like to cope with the psychological manipulation he tries to play on me and on the few local friends I have left. I’m proud of the way I am coping, but damn, you know, I would love to be able to write about this stuff and get some support.. but I dont have a good space for it and Im worried about legal ramifications of airing dirty laundry. But as a writer, it’s killing me to just not say anything.

    Thank you for asking. Seriously. I love your transparency and that you are inviting the same in your comments. I need to remember to come by and read you more often. *HUG*

    cpr115 May 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    So, I’m not a blogger, but I figure I’m gonna jump in on this one. The thing that I am reluctant to talk about, which is part of why I stumbled on here, is that I feel like a bad mom, oh, 98% of the time. FT, single mom, I’m too tired to play when we get home, I have to much to do on the weekends to get real one-on-one time with my daughter. I make some money, but not nearly enough. And, I’d say probably once a week (more or less), I wish I was NOT a mom. I don’t like to talk about the fact that I am not happy being a mom. I’m not unhappy, I’m just not happy about it.

    Long story short – I was parent from the time I was 11. Not to my own children, but with a disabled mother who became guardian to my disabled nephew, that left me holding the bag most of the time as a teenager. I hit 23 and was finally able to LIVE for me, not around other people. And became pregnant at 25. So, I just kinda feel like I cut my life short.

    I cherish the times she goes with her dad. I get to sleep, I get to clean, I get to shave my legs. I get to do what I want to do, not what someone else needs done.

    I just wish I was happy about being a mom, and I have my moments, granted. But the majority of the time, I am not. I’m more robotic than anything. I just do. But, she crawls up on my lap and tells me I smell good and she loves me and all the world is wonderful. Until I tell her “no” and then I get, “I want my daddy.” And her three evil heads come out, rotate, and she spews fire…. Well, at least that’s what happens in my brain when the tantrums come. It’s so much more spectacular than my 3 yr old laying on the floor screaming…

    Tarasview May 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    first- hugs to you for blurting stuff out :)

    second- here are a few of the things I have NOT been blurting out on my blog because I too am feeling skittish with the judgy-mc-judgerson’s out there.

    - my husband got laid off (he is a pastor and our church is too small to pay him) and our landlord sold the house we are renting so as of June 30th we are homeless and jobless. That pisses me off… some of that anger is directed at God and some is directed at the general crappiness of my current life.

    - my 9 year old son has Autism and I used to secretly hope he would get better… not completely better but better enough that I didn’t get all the phone calls from the school and have a continuous stream of conversations about my kid and his issues and all I should be doing to fix his issues. It makes me sad that he will struggle with anger forever. It makes me sad that he will never “fit in” and have an easy time making friends. It makes me sad that he needs a “calming cave” at school just to make it through the day. I don’t like Autism and I don’t want to think of it as just another personality type and I am sick of people being mad at me because the Government of Canada has graciously decided we qualify for disability funding.

    - I am a pastor’s wife and I am sick of people telling me things like God only gives people what they can handle and that God has somehow chosen me for “extra blessings” by giving me a kid with Autism and impending jobless and homelessness.

    - I yell far too much lately

    - I feel scared pretty much all the time about all sorts of things

    - I am sick of wiping other people’s (albeit small people’s) bums. I believe that 9 years straight of doing this daily is enough.

    - every day I read one more thing on the internet that proves I am a crappy mother… I don’t do enough, exercise enough, read enough, teach my children enough, play with them enough, eat healthy enough, put them in enough activities, try enough therapies, clean the house enough… and the list goes on and on.

    - I firmly believe that God should give mother’s an equivalent amount of energy to the children they have to care for.

    Ok. Let the judgement begin! :)

    You inspire me Catherine. I so enjoyed meeting you in person at Blissdom Canada last year and I can’t wait to chat with you again in person at Blissdom Canada this year! Thanks :)

    Natalie May 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Hi, I read you all the time but have never commented mainly because everyone here always has something smart to say and I …welll…lets just say not so much. But this got to me today because my anxiety about my daughter is killing me…I am making myself sick with worry over her…over all the things that could or might hurt or kill her…last night I was on google until 3 am (I have to be at my desk by 7 am) looking for pictures of bat bites because I have convinced myself that while she was playing in the yard on friday and I was on the porch a bat swooped down and bit the back of her arm where there is a red lump (which I assumed, after she cried, that it was a bee sting but behold there are TWO little points now that the swelling has gone down and this obviously means a bat) I have called my mom a million times today to see how she is doing and i can’t talk to anyone about these crazy anxieties because no one gets that even though I am laughing on the outside about my zany ideas on the inside I am completely paralyzed with fear.

    mom2boy May 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    @Natalie,

    well, I would have gone with spider over bat but maybe that’s just because spiders are more common where I live. If the anxiety is paralyzing or really interfering with things you would otherwise be doing or enjoying, you might want to talk to a professional about it. I think many mothers are anxious and have irrational fear at some point – it’s just determining if it is beyond your ability to bring yourself back down. Even just talking to someone who takes you seriously can help relieve the anxiety.

    Nicole May 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    @Natalie,
    I second the call to talk to someone. Not everyone is affected the same way by post-partum depression, and this kind of severe anxiety could definitely be treated. I waited longer than I should have to see a therapist after my daughter was born because I thought since I was still functional it wasn’t that big a deal and it would eventually pass. I felt sooo much better after having someone to talk to.

    Kristen May 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I definitely get your reluctance to blog about certain things . . . I’ve been feeling that lately as well, over many of the same topics you’ve listed. In particular, my 4-year-old’s PMS-type behavior, and my own irritability (and yes, yelling) and how that affects my children in ways that punch me with shame. I hope you write about it – I always find your introspection to be so helpful and comforting, and I’m sorry you have to deal with so many ignorant comments.

    Regarding the gender article, that really rubs me the wrong way. It feels like more attention-seeking behavior for the parents than an actual choice that will benefit the child in the society that he/she will have to learn to live in.

    kris May 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    My 6 year old was a 5 year old recently, he just turned 6, and my god, I cannot handle it. He yells, he screams, he has attitude, he has no respect for us as parents, he crosses his arms, he has let me and his father know that he wishes we hadn’t been born(he actually yelled this at us during our trip to Disneyland for his birthday yeah, I was ready to sell him, or leave him or something at that point), he is everything I expected from a teenager, not my sweet baby boy. He slams doors, he does everything I never expected. Surly isn’t even a word for it. I am hoping it stops, and soon. My husband is a yeller and now he roars at our son, and I am sure this is not going to help the respect issue, because now both of them yell at each other and neither one listens to the other one, and it is a endless cycle of disrespect from both parties. I have to parent everyone, trying to make the two of them see things from the others perspective. Spanking has come out, big time, and we never wanted to be a huge spanking family. We’ve hit a space where we’ve talked, we’ve yelled, we’ve done timeouts, we’ve ignored bad behaviors. We’ve hit this point where it’s like, you don’t want to respect me, fine, you better fear me then, because I am going to beat you black and blue the next time you scream at me.

    What I don’t get is the fact that I would never have attempted the behavior he is exhibiting. My mother, on our Disneyland trip, sat with her mouth open, in awe of how he treats us.

    If anyone knows how to fix this, feel free to email me, lol. But I just wanted to pipe in that surly is an easy word for what we are dealing with.

    Now, in your space, something I fear talking about in my space, and I wonder if this is normal or not, but my daughter, my 2.5 year old, has to have long pants on all the time. Shorts, skirts, dresses, anything that gives easy access to her female bits, has her playing with them, constantly. We’ve told her bedroom only if she wants to do it. We’ve spanked her hands for doing it. We get on her every time we catch her, and make her wash her hands. I don’t want her to feel bad about herself and her body, but I tell her it’s nasty, because it makes her hands STINK. I am ready to go to her pediatrician because I don’t know what to do. I get looked at by friends and family who tell me they have never seen anything like it, and wonder what I have done that makes her diddle her privates all the time. Whispers of is she abused has actually come past my ears, and no, she is not, no one has touched her there, I know, she goes no where, and my husband and I have never done anything to her. I feel like I have to defend myself all the time. Then there is the interest she has in brothers penis, and the fact that she doesn’t have one. We have to make sure they are never together naked. No baths together. He is always pulling her on top of him, and we have had major conversations that each others privates are just that, private, and no one should be touching them. No tickling each other etc.

    I want someone to tell me that this is normal. Please?

    kris May 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Oh, and nothing I do is right. I always get to hear how I ruined things, how I did it wrong, and how my efforts are never good enough. I worked for hours on the birthday cake he asked for, trying to make it PERFECT. When I cut it and we went to eat it, he told me he hated it, I had ruined it, because I put chocolate chips in the chocolate cake, and he didn’t ask for chocolate chips, so therefor I ruined his birthday cake.

    Laural May 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    well I think I write on my blog maybe once every 6 months. And i never do it because everyone in my life reads it and i hate that. (and work people which sucks)
    I cannot imagine how you deal with that – and a million readers.
    If I could talk about anything anywhere it would be about how stressed I am about money and my kids and a bunch of other things.
    I would also really like to vent about how frustrating body image issues are.
    As for your questions:
    1) Potty training Jasper – people are really judgemental about this. Matt was 3.5 when he finally did it. And when he was ready it took a weekend. It was all on his own terms.

    2)Age 5 – totally sucks. My son just turned 7 and I like it so much better. 6 was good too.

    3) Temper – I’m a yeller. And a door slammer. It’s not good. But, it’s hard. You’re not alone.

    4) Spoiled kids – yeah. Same. I worry about this too. And I’m struggling with money. But, then I work and I sometimes feel that lego makes up for working. Or another doll. I’m not right. But, it makes me feel better.

    Most of the other stuff I can’t comment on.

    But, neighbours … my immediate neighbours are amazing. But the people 2 doors down who have loud parties. It’s hard not to be judgy. Especially at 2 am when I hear them. Or when the cops bust them and they stash their open booze in our shrubs. (do you bring it back?)

    Anyway, it’s been interesting to hear what other people are saying.

    Cindy May 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Just wanted you to know that our daughter is 4 and 3/4 and we regularly refer to her as a teen – about 16 – in attitude. Sweet and loving one moment, feet stomping, angry face, door shutting (she’s not strong enough for a good slam with our doors yet), and the cry of “its not FAIR!!!!!” echoing through the house. Really, I’ve started saying “Go to your room!” in the same tone it gets said to teens. And I find myself yelling more than I would like. You are so not alone on that at all. I could say more on other things, but must run. Thanks for continuing to write. I find your blog not only interesting and intellectually stimulating, but really confirming in my experience as a mother.

    audra May 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I wanted to comment yesterday, but naptime got away from me. First off, I agree with the ebb and flow comments. Big Life Stuff like you have been dealing with consumes mountains of energy, besides the fact that you work and are a wife and mom.

    Stuff I am reluctant to talk about? My 6 year old boy is 3.5 years into potty training and though he has gone months at a time bone-dry during the day, he is more often in stretches of almost daily large accidents a week. I swear sometimes I really, really want to do something awful when he decides he apparently couldn’t care less if he pees in the toilet or in his drawers. Also? We still don’t understand him much of the time. After 2 years of speech therapy and school-based intervention and perfect hearing test after test after test, I feel like I am going to lose my mind. There is a learning disability in there somewhere, we are pretty sure of it, but what is it? Dyslexia? Executive recall? Something else? And is there ADD on top of that? I HAAAATE that I don’t have any fun stories of his ever-expanding vocabulary, or his take on the world around him, or anything really, just months and years of confounding conversations that leave everyone in tears or frustration. You don’t realize how much the natural course of language acquisition endears you to your child until you don’t have it. And on top of that, he is CONSTANTLY underfoot. I seriously cannot get him to unplug. As an introvert parent of an enthusiastic extrovert, it fries my brain by 9am every day. The questions start as he comes out of his room and I kid you not, if it weren’t for a TV break, they wouldn’t stop until he goes back to bed. The constant, never-ending need to ask why and how and when and why, why, why and make commentary (which I often don’t even understand) and give me instructions and let me know I did something wrong or offer his “puffect idea”…I can’t even hear my own thoughts anymore. And, oh my word, as a result, I am a yeller parent. The yelling never seems to stop when he is not in school.

    So yeah, what I’d really like to talk about is how do you get over the guilt of really disliking your child? I mean I have moments where I like him, but good heavens are they smothered out by the other kind. And that part really kind of socks me in the gut every morning and I’m not sure I ever get over it in the course of the day. I think somebody actually admitted this recently, right…and wasn’t she basically burned at the stake?

    And how is it that I became this angry, yelling, negative person after becoming a mom? I mean seriously? I used to be generally positive and encouraging and saw the best in people and NEVER raised my voice. I look inside and I don’t even see that person in there anymore. My husband is really gracious, but seriously sometimes I wonder what he even sees in me anymore. Which really pisses me off too, because there is good stuff in there, I just seem to rarely dust it off and get it down from the shelf anymore. I’m just too damn worn out all the time.

    I love coming to your site because you often manage to articulate the heart of the issue at hand and why it has been bothering all of us, which often leads to a conversation that helps assuage some of the guilt. So, I’m sure you do need a break, but just know you have been a light on a hill to many of us.

    cpr115 May 26, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    @audra, Well said! Esp the “light on a hill” part… I couldn’t agree more!

    audra May 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Something that is hard about this ether-conversation, is that at your best, it still isn’t a picture of your whole self and the interconnectedness of your experiences and thoughts and how each of those things play out in different ways and at varying levels at varying times in the facets of your life.

    So you write about your kid and the frustrations there, but it’s never all your feelings on the subject, or even all the information and the part you do share often plays to one side of those feelings. Then, that troubled human comes along with their own bag, heavy bag, of issues and points their finger at you to make themselves feel better in some sick way, but you are left with thinking, well, maybe there’s a bit of truth in there, but no, dammit, no, because there is this whole other part of me that effects this story that I either didn’t want to write about or couldn’t, and shit, I was just trying to have a conversation…limited as it is by dis-presence of the internet.

    I mean, in real life, you can look at a person’s reactions and explain yourself where there is misunderstanding, or pull back where there is judgement, or push ahead if there is acceptance, but no, no, no, you just have to lay out your panties and hope people understand them and/or are gracious.

    So, that, that part is exhausting about the internet. It makes me tired under the best of circumstances. It makes me want to chuck the whole thing under the worst.

    Maternity tee girl May 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I think you are brave to say that you are feeling apprehensive about writing certain things and offering yourself up for slaughter (should the masses, or one particularly judgy or unhappy individual choose to cast stones). It’s risky and sometimes hurtful, soul-sipping, business, this blogging thing, but I hope you continue to write away, freely expressing your thoughts. And, yes. All five year olds are horrid individuals…sometimes ;) Blog on, mama…blog the hellz on.

    Jess May 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Hello! This post finally brought me out. I’m a new mom of a 10 month old who was desperately searching for a mom blog I could relate to…and then I found you. I had to click on each and every one of those 50 Best Mom Blogs in whatever the hell magazine that was, but I found what I was looking for: someone smart, who writes well; someone cynical, who doesn’t do much gushing about unicorns and rainbows and their children’s voices echoing from the hills like angels; someone who isn’t so cynical as to not post pictures of said children doing sweet things. The yin and the yang of it all, plus humor — and did I say smart already? Yeah. I’ve read through about half your archives in the two weeks since I found this site, and I find myself checking in every morning. THANK YOU for blogging. Life raft, drowning person; cactus, desert — insert your own metaphor here. But sometimes I am so thankful for your words I don’t know what to say. Motherhood is ISOLATING. Anyway, enough about me! Catherine, I’d just like to offer yet another voice encouraging you to open comments up when you want to — but also, really, it’s all right to close them off when you need to hibernate and snuggle into a quilt. Even though people like me are enjoying reading about your life, hearing your thoughts, getting friendly with you all virtually in our heads — you don’t owe us anything, ever. Including explanations, should the topic be contentious. I know it’s one thing to know that intellectually and another to really feel it. I have never written a blog, but I write creative nonfiction, and when I workshopped my essays or sent them out it’s more than a bit unnerving to have all these people start commenting on what the narrator should do, or what her problem is, psychologically speaking — I want to say, wait a damn minute here, I’m the #@$#@%$ narrator as you all very well know — but I also lean forward and listen intently, becuase isn’t that narrator constructed? She’s not the sum total of my experience in the slightest – she’s real, but she’s a figment of me, a persona. Sometimes when people say especially hurtful things (I wrote an essay about having sex with a homeless man — not a rah, rah, yay, sex with homeless man! how hot! kind of essay, but a deeply conflicted, difficult circumstance, issues with drawing boundaries, exploratory kind of essay — and my thesis advisor told me I was a whore. Happy day, that.) Anyway, when they say shit like that, you just have to take refuge in the persona, toss your head back, and return to your REAL life. In which you are much, much beloved. :)

    'Becca May 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

    With the exception of a potty-training kiddo, pretty much your list. Although my dad isn’t any sicker now than he’s ever been, so there’s that.

    Add to it the fact that I want to talk about my mom. All the time. And no one really knows what to say to a still-grieving 34-year-old half-orphan who really should be over her mother’s death 2 and a half years ago.

    And I want to talk about the fact that I’m driving across country next week to visit my widowed father and I hate going home to that house that no longer has my mother in it, and I can’t say that to my father because hello, he lost his WIFE, what right do I have to get teary?

    There. I…don’t feel better at all.

    Emma May 27, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I have this problem from the other side – sometimes I’d really like to comment, but don’t, because I feel other commenters express their thoughts way more articulately and/or are more informed on the issue, or I worry that the original blogger will think badly of my thoughts or me, or think I am being negative when in fact I’d like a conversation.

    I have an ebb and flow with my blogging too. I think that’s OK. I think too that you created your blog, so you can do what you want. Maybe you had one vision/need before, maybe that’s changed now… isn’t that life? And one shouldn’t be held prisoner to one’s blog, or the reputation/reader expectation of that blog. Or even the new media, now that I think about it. Sure, we can start/contribute to a conversation, but do we always have to?

    On your blurt… if it helps, I can say (1) my eldest wasn’t toilet trained until he was 4.5. I did not cope well with this. (2) Five was not always a good year for this child, either. He’s now nearly 7, with no tantrums to speak of, although plenty of foot stomping and scowling. I’m kind of resigned to it. (3) Oh my temper, my temper, why does it unleash itself on my kids? I never even thought I had a temper, before. (4) I’d love to hear what you have to say about spoiling. I kind of think a hardish, more-on-the-deprived-than-spoiled-side childhood would be a good thing, but how is that even possible when I myself like, and pursue, my middle-class life? (5) Death/sickness – I’m sorry. (6) The gender story interests me too… I’m not going to comment here on the parents based on a newspaper article, but it got me thinking of how I am doing in breaking gender stereotypes. Not well, was my conclusion. (7) Your drunk neighbours … obviously I no nothing about the situation but if you write about why you annoyed, is that really judging? Isn’t it your perspective on things you are experiencing?

    And what I don’t blog about: how, because I work at home, I am the wife not only of my husband, but our neighbours (picking up their kids when they can’t make it b/c of their work, cooking joint family dinners because I finish work before they get home, etc). This is petty and mean-spirited, and I really like our neighbours, and they do lots of nice things for us, and they are very appreciative, and I honestly believe we should be helping each other out as working parents, but I still resent it.

    Columbiarose May 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Caution. Objects on the internet are smaller than they appear.

    Denise May 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I don’t write on my own blog about the frustrations and challenges with my job. I teach English at a public high school and the current political rhetoric re. teachers unions coupled with the fact that the public is consistently given the message that public education is FAILING and anybody who says otherwise is ok with mediocity. Add all that to the fact that some parents refuse to allow their kids to be held accountable for their grades, behavior, effort… it has me feeling… Paranoid. I’m not trying to push it all back on the parents. Trust me, i take my part of the educational equation very seriously and I know there are bad teachers out there. I don’t see myself as some kind of hero for working with kids. And I’m not looking for a big pat on the back. I’d just like to not feel as though people see me as the enemy and my work as a perpetual, ineffective drain on tax payers. But I feel like I can’t even breech this topic because it would be perceived as ungratefulness and unprofessional. Because we teachers are supposed to teach with efficacy and patience and passion 100% of the time no matter what the students bring into the classroom by way of attitude or sickness or hurt or neglect, right?

    I love my job and I enjoy my students. But some kids simply. Won’t. Work. And their parents won’t make them. I’m tired of that being counted as MY failure. As a teacher I can’t say what some of these kids really are because I’m their teacher, but you could if they treated you similarly at the grocery store or on the highway or movie theater or elsewhere.

    Sally May 28, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I’m new to your blog, but have thoroughly enjoyed reading, and the comments.

    Have to say, I’m not a young mother; my daughter is 46, granddaughter 24, and great-granddaughter 5 (and yes, she is a handful, but remembering so was her mother and her daughter). It goes away!

    What I wanted to say, when my daughter was about 14, I really thought something was wrong with her, seriously. I went to the child guidance clinic for an interview, and then she went alone.

    The outcome was “there’s nothin’ wrong with your daughter; it’s you who has the problem. You’re wanting her to be perfect, and that’s not gonna happen.”

    LOL – hang in there ladies; it’s so worth the ride. :)

    Jessi Louise May 31, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Blogging is weird! I still don’t understand how to integrate it into my real life – it’s always felt like my nerdy little secret ;)
    I think the main thing I’ve taken away from blogging is the realization that people can relate to absolutely ANYTHING you’re going through. I’ve had a hard time actually connecting with people through blogging though, because I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that conversations on the internet can be as meaningful as those that take place in person. I never take part in heated discussions online, because it seems like people feel safe to be mean and overly-judgmental and once feelings are hurt, there’s no going back.
    Your posts are always intelligent and well-written and whether you open comments or not, I still enjoy reading.

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