Monday, September 18, 2006

Uncensored Motherhood Anonymous

I've decided to begin blogging sitting Indian style (can I still say that?) atop a tasseled zabuton (floor/meditation pillow) that my husband used to lounge on when he was a Navy brat in Japan. Maybe my 'arse won't ache so badly now that I've given up sitting like a "big people," as my 3-year-old would say, on my kids' IKEA mini chairs.

Let's switch to topics bigger (I hope) and better than my backside. While putting Solenne down for her nap a few moments ago I read the first non-anonymous offering by Marcy Sheiner titled Anoymous Was a Mother. In it she writes about how often mothers are judged by society, especially by fellow moms, when they publicly come clean about the not so saccharine picture-imperfect side of mothering.

More specifically, Sheiner exposed the isolation mothers often feel when they choose the stay-home realm over the 9-to-5 plus daycare choice, the ostracization working mothers often feel when snubbed by the stay-at-home kind, the passing but often biting criticism from strangers that mothers can be subject to while out at the mall/grocery store/park or any other place outside the home with their babies in tow; the shame that comes along with admitting that perhaps motherhood isn't all you thought it would be and self-doubt and disappointment in one's own parenting abilities.

Sheiner, also incidentally a long-time erotica author, (How dare she be a sexual being and propagate the same act that gave life to her own children while at the same time being a being a mother?!) exposes the emotionally seedy underbelly of motherhood that so many of us aren't willing to admit to ourselves, let alone to the world at large.

I, like Sheiner, have struggled with the concepts of anonymity, self-censorship and the many controversial truths of motherhood. I wasn't bothered much with either, even after giving them much thought since starting my blog, until I went to a neighborhood bachelorette party last Saturday.

Who knew my suburban housewife neighbors were such scandalous, self-admitted dirty birdies? Don't worry. They know I call them dirty birdies, and they like it. I like them even more than I did before now that I don't have to be the only one bearing the Scarlett perv mama Letter on the block.

The crowning edible jewel (much bad pun intended) of the party was a vanilla Bavarian creme-filled penis cake, which was shockingly life-like with its slightly curved flesh colored frosted shaft and salt-and-pepper food coloring tinted shaved coconut ball hair. The groom is no spring chick and the confection's ever so diligent baker, my children's friend's mom, aimed to be as body hair authentic as possible.

Being the youngest one (31) at the party was a little strange, though. Younger by decades. You should have seen my ailing 81-year-old widowed neighbor ask what a dildo was during a game of D-I-L-D-O (the skanky, sexed-up version of your grandma's B-I-N-G-O).

I guess this makes me a ridiculous mom who talks about about dildos and penis cakes. There must be something wrong with me because nice moms don't talk about sex, especially not in their dinky little hobby blog. They're supposed to miraculously forget what sex is the minute their babies crown in the delivery room, or in my case, in their master bedroom. Or at least keep it to themselves.

Back to my anonymity/censorship tie-in many long-winded, parentheses littered paragraphs later (get used to it). At the bachelorette party I told one of my neighbors that I wanted to blog about the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey spin-off game of pin-the-dong-on-the-chiseled-model-poster-guy we played with our eyes closed on our no-peeking honor. No one wanted to sport a bandana over her eyes.

Totally dorky, I know. Yeah, dong, seriously. Who still says that? Some loser at the party said it after a few Solo cups of vodka spiked punch. Okay, I admit it. It was me. I'm a tool. I didn't want to toss around hardcore swears in front of the elderly, so I awkwardly said "dong". What would you say in front of someone older than your grandmother when your friend unwraps a nifty, heavily veined dildo ring-toss gag gift game?

"Why would you blog about a thing like that?" my neighbor asked, pursing her lips with condemnation. "Don't you have a mom blog about mom stuff? I don't know any moms who'd write about stuff like that! You want people to think you're a nice mom, don't you?"

The people who know me already know that I'm not that nice, at least not all the time. I'm moody, opinionated, bossy, impatient and uppity. I can be nice enough if there's chocolate and/or fine cheese involved. I can be bribed. I'll take any kind of chocolate. But the cheese, only the finest. To the strangers reading this blog, well, I can't make up your minds for you. Let me know via comments.

"What about your kids?" she asked, loaded with judgement. "What about them? How would you like it if they read your blog?"

First, none of my kids are fully reading yet ... and I'm not sure I know the answer to that last question yet. Probably a big emphatic NO. No, they won't be allowed to read mommy's blog.

The kids definitely know I'm doing some kind of work on the computer every day. Something is seriously wrong if they don't after staring at the back of my head an hour at a time while I rap away on the keyboard and shout at my hand-me-down (but still lucky to have, wonderful husband who so sweetly and generously procured it for me who is no doubt reading this) laptop when it serves up annoying errors while I try to post new blog entries.

Aiden's learning to read but isn't all the way there, so I'm not worried about him just yet. Kade knows his letters by sight and sound but definitely isn't reading. Solenne, well, she's busy lapping up her thumb and twiddling her hair all damn day, so what's to consider at this very moment? I'll have plenty to consider in the coming days.

"What about your kids' friends' moms reading your blog? How would you feel about that?" I've also been asked.

All I can say is that I've been on the homefront raising kids for five plus years and am about to blow if I don't let off some steam. I hope to give voice to the frustrations so many moms, especially moms with three very young children at home, endure every day like I do.

For as much inconvenience and irritation that I experience on the daily, there are equal doses of elation and joyous pride, all that happy, gushy stuff moms love about their kids. Lest I forget the nicey, nice stuff (which I also plan to share on this blog between bitchy rants. Otherwise, who would stick around to see what happens next?).

I can't speak on other mothers' situations. I wouldn't dare because I know how sensitive an audience mothers are. But, as you'll soon learn, I have far too much to say about mine.

Before Kade and Leni wake from their synchronized nap (that's a feat in and of itself) looking to be cheered up out of their sleepy grumping (which involves heaps of patience and alternately holding each of them while the one not being held whines, stomps and sometimes screams) I'll quickly share some of Sheiner's thoughts from her aforementioned essay Anonymous Was a Mother, featured in the book The Essential Hip Mama, Writing From the Cutting Edge of Parenting, edited by Ariel Gore, also one of my favorite zine-stresses and unafraid-to-come-clean mama authors.

For your perusal ... Here Are Three Marcy Sheiner quotes on mother censorship:

"I got stuck in rage, I got stuck in terror -- but most of all I got stuck in the writer's hell of self-censorship. I knew that if I told the truth about what motherhood has been like for me, I would be breaking a taboo much stronger than the one against sexual expression. I would be violating a conspiracy of silence that serves to keep the human race propagating. Furthermore, if I wrote about how difficult motherhood has been for me, I would open myself up to the irrational charge, frequently leveled against mothers who deviate in any way from the norm, that I don't sufficiently love my children. If I told the truth, without couching it in good-natured jokes -- that for me motherhood has been more of a source of pain than pleasure -- I would be seen as defective, unnatural, inhuman. Worst of all, if my children were to read what I wrote, I would, even at this late date, do them irreparable harm. I would be vulnerable to the most deadly epithet know to woman: "a bad mother."

"I think mothers have remained silent primarily out of fear. We are not supposed to feel ambivalence. We are not supposed to have negative feelings about motherhood, let alone negative feelings toward our children."

"It should not be necessary to state this, but part of the problem is that I must: I dearly love my children and do not wish them gone. As a matter of fact, it is precisely the love I feel for these people, a complex, many-faceted love unparalleled by any other I have known, that makes the condition of motherhood so unbearable. That I can never do right by them, that they can never live in a pain-free existence, that I unthinkingly caused them some of their pain, that the world I brought them into isn't good enough for them -- all these are sources of anguish to me. I believe that most mothers -- most parents -- feel at least some of this."

I certainly do. Do you?


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous robin said...

darling kim, your blog is a pleasant distraction from my 1- failing love life 2- still awake at 10pm kids-who-are-school-aged 3- not drunk/not drunk enough state of post-celebratory celebrationess (fine, i'm drunk enough) 4- dismal 2nd week showing in fantasy football 5- needs badly to workout at some point this week 6- got nothing done at work today 7- etc.... life.

i thank you.

ps. amen sister.

pps. hi adam, you are a ham-face. (but i love ya)

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Robin. I'm happy you're keeping up on my blog. I have to learn how to register it properly with the major search engines and get listed at all the subversive mama web rings I like. Hopefully you're spamming it around like a mad woman. Thanks again. You are the only person I know of who reads it other than me. I make a lot of errors since I'm a one-woman editing show. Take care. Here, here on the wine. I'm headed that way soon. Kim

At 1:44 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Not being that computer litterate with blogs etc, I just found out how to reply. Your articles are great and I have been reading them daily, and check every morning to see if there is a new one.
Keep up the great work.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Glad you are enjoying them. It's about 6:30 a.m. now. Adam was up sick last night and we played a big game of musical beds with the kids. No fun. I'm in good spirits though and am about to being my daily love affair with the coffee pot. My caffeinated interludes with Mr. Coffee are surely best when the kids are asleep. BTW, I'm proud of myself for teaching myself last night how to post photos with good old HTML code since the automated thingy wasn't working. Now I know how to do it forever and don't have to be frustrated with not being able to post daily pics. Take care and spam my blog address wherever you can, please. Low readership continues until I properly gain an audience. Tell Steve I say hello. Kim

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous heather said...

I'm here reading too as I dodge the toilet-bowl with morning/noon and night sickness. I definitely feel you on this as we look both forwards and backwards to the arrival of this new baby. Sometimes I just don't feel I have enough to give one and still have part of myself.

Anyway, love the blog and I will do my best to advertise you around the blogosphere.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger marcy Sheiner said...

Thanks for all the citations. Just thought I'd stop in and leave my URL.

Marcy Sheiner

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