Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mommyblogger Manifesto

(in other words, it's damn long, but possibly, still worth your while)

There is some big ole to do about a duck afoot in the blogoshpere. I don't honestly know what its about, or whom is involved, because I make a concerted effort not to get involved in that kind of thing.

I suspect it's some in joke reference to how bitchy or how incompetent some poor woman outside the circle of privilege is. I'm guessing it's because she challenged one of the Queen Bees. But who knows? It's how those things tend to go, but it could any one of a hundred age old petty squabbles.

Long ago, in a place far, far away, I brawled with the best of 'em. And after the whole ordeal was said and done and left in the past, I realized that the only reason I ever felt the need to criticize or challenge someone else's views, whether it be on parenting, or politics, or religion, was to temper my own uncertainty in the views that I held.

I also learned that while perhaps winning made me feel better for a fleeting moment, the triumph was brief. And that sustaining such a combative and contentious mien was really exhausting, and at the core, unsatisfying and demoralizing.

In short, being the bitch might feel good in that brief shining moment when you have outbitched everybody else, but afterwards, you just feel mean, petty....small.

These days, I haven't the time, the effort, or the inclination to weather another tempest like that. And with twelve years of parenting under my belt, I have the confidence to rely on my own instincts and trust in my own ability to reason through some of the tougher issues that come with raising kids.

The thing is...if we're all honest, most of the things we do as mothers are to impress other women. Not our kids.

Because a twelve year old doesn't care that he was breast fed for 42 months. Or that only diapers woven of the purest fibers from the first shearing of a lamb fatted on rosehips and caviar touched his delicate bottom. Or that he was only allowed to play with toys fashioned from virgin Beechwood, Hemp and Conch shells harvested from the Caspian Sea.

Other women care. It's the acceptibility gradient by which we judge with whom we will allow ourselves and our children to socialize. If we didn't have that internal barometer, we'd all like each other and get along despite our differences and we just can't have that, now can we?

It's stupid.

Standards are good. Important even. But taken to extremes they become divisive, destructive, and elitist.

I no longer care about impressing other women with my parenting or my parenting views. I rarely let someone's else's views influence my opinion of them as people unless they are truly, inhumanly, unspeakably vile.

I do care about impressing my kids.

So how exactly DO you impress a twelve year old?

That's hard to say. Because things that you might think would earn some grudging respect and undying gratitude, may elicit only a grunt, a nod, and a barely adequate expression of thanks.

And then, sometimes you do a thing without even thinking. It isn't planned and plotted and reserached. It's a knee-jerk reaction, a moment of weakness. But suddenly you're a hero.

The lesson here might be to just quit planning and plotting and researching and fly by the seat of our pants. Some of us figured that out long ago. Some of us are far too entrenched in our grown up ideals to navigate through life without our Google safety net.

The other day at the pool, some older kids were really making things miserable for everybody else trying to weather the already brutal Georgian heat. They were throwing...nay...hurling a tennis ball to one another lengthwise accross the pool. Small children, infants and other adults were all in the path of this testosterone fueled horseplay, and it was literally impossible to get out of their way, as their movement followed the path of the ball.

Their language was bad, their topics of conversation completely inappropriate.

Many of the Mothers shooed their children into the baby pool, which is a mere 5 or 6 feet square, where they huddled, trying to play while packed in like sardines.

It pissed me off. We pay some pretty steep dues to belong to this HOA, which is the only way to garner pool privileges. I decided that I'd be damned if I'd let a bunch of adolescent pissantes chase me or anybody else who pays, out of the pool. Our pool.

"HEY YOU GUYS!!!" I bellowed.

Everyone in the pool turned to look at me.


They looked at me, made comments amongst themselves and moved. A little bit.

I repeated my request and added that they were endangering little children and that someone could get seriously hurt.

Again, they snickered, shot me dirty looks, and moved. A little bit.

I just wasn't having it.

I got up, walked over to them and said,

"Dudes. I have asked you like three times, nicely to go down there and throw across the pool, so you don't hit any little kids. If you can't do that, I have no choice but to get bitchy. I know your Mom (pointing) and your Mom (pointing) and your Mom (pointing) and you KNOW I will tell her how you were behaving down here. Don't make me get all neighborhood busybody on you...mmmk?"

There was a chorus of mumbled "Yes Ma'am"s, and they grudgingly migrated to the deep end of the pool.

I realized, too late, that Diminutive One, who looks up to these boys and thinks them the epitome of Middle School cool, would be embarassed beyond belief. I anticipate paying for that with a couple of days of pouting truculence and monosyllabic discourse.

I turned to him, intending to apologize and attempt to mitigate some of the damage, only to find him grinning from ear to ear.

"Why are you grinning like that?" I asked, truly perplexed.

"Mom. You are such a bad ass."

And that was that.

I impressed my kid and I didn't have to outbitch anyone except a pack of teenagers who deserved it. I didn't have to eat my words. I didn't have to apologize for going too far. I didn't have to make myself scarce, hoping everyone would forget my behavior.

Girls, c'mon. If you want to be a family of Polyamorist Buddhist Nudists who co-sleep with your 12 vegan children, all of whom you've breastfed until they were five and whom you now unschool...then be proud of that. If you think the best interests of your family and your children are being served...who cares what everybody else thinks?

And if someone ELSE wants to do that...why do YOU care?

I chalk this all up to a really profound sense of powerlessness and insignifcance on the part of women that dates back the the pre-suffrage days. It doesn't have to be that way, if we choose not to let it. Don't be powerless. Don't be insignificant. DON'T make a mockery of womanhood and all it stands for. Because women are not the sum of this kind of behavior. Women can change the world, feed and clothe it, kiss it's boo-boos and right it's wrongs.

But we have to quit beating each other up first.

Peace, ladies.


  • At 6:05 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    You are a bad ass. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. ;)

    That said, sometimes a duck is just a duck. I know, how lame am I with the Freudian humor? Kristen of Motherhood Uncensored described an incident at Gap whereby a little rubber duck (worth around $5) ended up in her bag accidentally. She decided to keep it but blogged about whether that was the right thing to do. 100-plus responses later, and some commenters had gotten very sanctimommyish.

    So she made up three duck buttons -- 'keep the duck' if you agree that she shouldn't have to return to the store, 'take the duck back,' etc., etc.

  • At 8:40 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I want to print this out and hand it to everyone I know, everyone I meet, everyone they meet. I'm so tired of being judged and then judging because I feel judged.

    If only everyone got it like you do!

  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Loving you even more today. I've been reamed up one side and down the other by the Sanctimommy's at Karen Rani's site this week, and it sucked. But you know what? I haven't been bitchy in a LONG LONG time, and now I'm letting my bitch flag fly on my blog. It feels really really good, because it's payback for stupidity. I can handle a lot, but the chorus of Mommybloggers so desperate for hit counts that they can't even use their own brains to think, well I'm so up their grill right now.

    I'll calm down eventually, but honestly, if you start a fight and you continue the fight, then payback is a bitch. You reap what you sow. If you think it's OK to be judgemental sanctimoneous asshats, well, then I guess when people say they're not gonna take it anymore, you don't have any reason to cry foul.

    The whole Duck thing. stooooopid. Thanks for reminding me to take down the duck badge on my blog. I had forgotten about it.

  • At 10:00 PM, Blogger Bea said…

    Parenting to impress the other mothers - oh, yes. I was filling out a questionnaire for one of the many parenting studies I'm involved in (one of the advantages of living next door to a major research institution), and one of the questions was "I am more permissive with my child when we're in a public place" - strongly, agree, disagree, etc.

    I picked "strongly disagree" because I'm exactly the opposite - if I'm out among other parents I'm strict about things I might let go at home, just because of the whole Parenting Olympics thing.

  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can I just tell you that I LOVE that you got all "bad ass" at the pool?

    The happy pills have toned down my badassiness quite a bit but nonetheless, I would have stood up and applauded you if I'd been there!

    Good for you and all the little kids at the pool. You rock, BA :)

    As for the other stuff, I don't have any clue about ducks or whatever. I seem to have missed out on some kind of brouhaha but that's probably for the best.

  • At 11:00 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    That is so friggin' cool. To be a badass is fabulous, but to have your kid know, well that is divine.

  • At 9:21 AM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    I love that your son called you a bad ass. I can't wait for that. ;)

  • At 11:40 AM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    a freaking men. i don't even know the situation you are referring to.

    but i am always puzzled by how we can choose to step on each other rather than lift each other up. if we do that, they years of oppression have truly won, haven't they? it's like they convinced us to believe the hype.

    when the truth is that collectively we are powerful beyond measure. but only if we stand together.

  • At 2:16 PM, Blogger OhTheJoys said…

    I missed the whole duck thing, but bow down to getting fiesty at the pool - I'm all about that myself!

  • At 6:08 PM, Blogger Christine said…

    As a newish blogger who is just starting to get the feel of the lay of the land, who the Power Mommybloggers are (and why, and how and all of that) thank you for the reminder to keep it as real here as I do in the physical world.

    You totally rock, you bad ass you!

  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    I bow to your badass-ness.

    I think that's the best compliment that any mother can receive from their child. Okay, maybe not the best but certainly up there.

  • At 4:46 AM, Blogger JChevais said…

    I have long decided that I don't care what other mommies think... as long as my kids give me hugs and kisses and can talk to me at the end of the day, that's good enough for me.


    Good on you for getting all prickly at the pool. I'm glad that DO was impressed.

  • At 4:47 AM, Blogger JChevais said…

    And I'm not sure why I put whatever in that comment. I'm pretty sure that I was going to say something else, but got sidetracked.

    Whatever. It's monday.

  • At 8:08 AM, Blogger Ms. Skywalker said…

    You hit the nail right on the head; parenting to impress other parents.

    I might, in the sub-universe that Brave Jenn lives in, use that line to one of the awful moms that I encounter and I'll smile pleasantly while Real Jenn bites her lip and tries not to cry.

    You are a bad ass. The best kind of bad ass.

    And you've impressed this parent.

  • At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice. I swear, every time I come here to read, I end up taking notes.

    You rock.

  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Namito said…

    Re: Pool: I SO hear you. When safety is an issue I have no problem putting the breaks on bad behavior if the people responsible aren't. You are the awesomeness for that.

    You are also a breath of fresh air for just letting people be. Just like teaching, there is no one way to parent, and we have to give parents the benefit of the doubt that they are doing right by their kids. Unless, of course, the kids are black and blue or worse. Then I would expect some serious questions.

    I too am out of the loop on the whole duck thing. I'll count that as a piece of good luck.


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