Parents Who Sustain Us

02.5.18

Over the weekend I met a lady in the baby business. We chatted a bit about her career and I was impressed, as anyone would be. She’s bright and hardworking, she’s the kind of lady you want to listen to and learn from.

Then she talked about social media and crowdsourcing photos. I smiled conspiratorially and faux whispered, “Yeah, it’s a tough trick when 90% of baby items are things no one needs.” Which, she ignored. And that’s when I knew she was brilliant.

The more she talked about social media the harder it was for me to nod and smile, until I finally blurted out that no one trusts any of those people anymore and it’s all smoke and mirrors, and my tirade may or may not have concluded with:

We built this business and then we burned it to the ground with sponsored posts, and my blog was garbage too. These new moms on Instagram are the most boring, unrelatable women I’ve ever seen.

But there were also expletives because I’m the kind of lady who says fuck, a lot. And I know it makes people tune out but when I’m passionate my mouth does my thinking so there’s no time for an internal censor to take the reigns.

When I drove home I reminisced to myself about how when my world crumbled around me I took to the internet to write anonymously. As Steven lay dying slowly, painfully, and without dignity, strangers uplifted me. They did more than just remind me that I’d survive, they gave me specific instructions about how to survive. Someone I will never meet gave me the exact verbiage to fill out social security forms. Another told me how to bluff my way through social services at the hospital. Still, another sent me a template for a last will and testament. Strangers did this freely, with a generosity of spirit I’d never known, and at a time when most of the country’s DSL lines were too slow to send an image. MMS and SMS were not how we shared documents.

So these strangers became my friends and my support system. I spent my nights in the hospital and my days mothering. I didn’t want to spend my days talking about the hospital time. I needed them to be separate. That was part of my survival.

When his pain finally ended I wanted to keep these people, these strangers, but I didn’t want to be in the land of death any longer so a blog was born. And then the internet called us Mommy Blogs. And then we were like “don’t call us Mommy”. And then the publicists were like “We have money for Mommy Bloggers” and then we said, “We are Mommy Bloggers!”

This is that space. That space that was good and interesting. That space where we talked about parenting and emailed and DM’ed and tweeted into the night when we didn’t know what to do with or for our kids. Then it was the space that was taken over by toilet wands and discount evangelists, and like all good things, it deteriorated. And that was sad. And I participated in my own business’ demise.

But along the way, there were the women like Tanis who patiently helped me be a friend to the mothers around me. She listened to me moan about how difficult things were for me and then didn’t really care and reminded me that no one else did. Tanis helped me get over myself and get into the sisterhood. Many of my friendships exist because Tanis believed I was emotionally capable of putting my feelings aside and giving to other women instead of worrying about myself. She believed in me when I didn’t know I had strength and she is the kind of woman that believes in other women. She is kind and strong and the thing you really need to know about Tanis is that she is unbelievably weird.

This kind of weird.

But make no mistake, Tanis isn’t flying solo in loving odd things. Remember when I said the Mommy Bloggers were men too? Well, don’t call CC Chapman or Curtis Silver Mommy, but you can call them leaders in the parenting community. In 2010 the four of us were in Chicago to learn about Kenmore appliances (I still love mine!) when CC taught me something very important: that a Dark and Stormy is the perfect wintertime drink.

To be fair he’s done many other things over the years, including turning me into an action figure. I’ve cherished this as much as a non-collector can and it’s remained on my desk since it arrived, unopened and admired.

CC Chapman turned me into an action figure for CMT.

And Curtis is that guy over there in Florida, who is publishing content everywhere, every day. He’s on Forbes and twitter and his couch of the day is something to behold. He’s twisted and smart and he paints to relax so when he offered to paint Tanis’ crazy Christmas gift for us all there was no reason to think he was bluffing (even though CC thought he was).

And that is the very long story of how this unnamed work of art landed on my office wall.

A Hodgepodge

03.1.10

Things with Alexander are better, we had a bit of a blowout and I yelled at him. He didn’t yell back, which is good. It’s not good that I yelled at him, because I hate being the yelling mom, but I absolutely refuse to be the mom of the kid who doesn’t listen. He’s a good little boy, he’s testing the limits, and we’re providing them. I try to take cues from my husband who is so thoughtful. Before the kids turn on the PlayStation he asks them, “how much time do you think you need?” and then he sets the timer. I’ve just been setting the timer. Adding the step that empowers them has been helpful. When they were littler I used to remember that, now I fear we’re all running at so fast a pace that I’m forgetting the details of being their mother.

Krista came over and we sipped wine in the middle of the day (4pm), half a dozen (or more) kids ran in and out of the house, and I installed my new ceiling light. Our girls have been friends since diapers, and Krista remembers Alexander’s birth. There’s magic when the kids get together, I love it.

My friend Tanis was told by a PR rep at Blissdom that she’s too edgy, feral even to work with publicists. If Tanis was a better listener she would know that girls like us shouldn’t cross the Mason-Dixon line. Oh, but Tanis is Canadian, so she might not have known that. I mean, how could she possibly know? She’s busy decorating her Ivory Tower as she has won the 2010 Bloggies at THE BEST CANADIAN BLOGGER. Conversations like that just reaffirm for me that the best Bloggers has little to no use for Publicists. Mommy Hawkers (review only bloggers) are probably the best match for the fake Louboutin PR crowd that dominates in the blogosphere.

I went to the gym this morning to get on the elliptical. Well, actually I go to the gym to watch TV. It’s lame, I know. A run would do me more good than an hour on the elliptical, but sometimes I just want to watch TV. Of course I couldn’t because all the TV plugs don’t work at the gym. I should stop blogging and tell them, because I care about that. After my workout I passed by a smoothie chain and I thought I’d pop in and get one. In the store were two women and myself. One was at the cash register and one was behind her, coughing, a lot. In fact, she was coughing into her hand. After I decided on on one of four smoothies that weren’t comprised mostly of sherbet (which makes them into milkshakes), I handed the cashier my $4.35 and watched the coughing one begin to make the smoothie with neither a hand washing nor a set of gloves. I told her I changed my mind, and that I’d like my money back please. Unlike the gym, smoothies aren’t a big part of my life. I’m not going to complain to a manager (I’m pretty sure one of them was the manager) because I don’t care. I’ll be perfectly content to skip the smoothies altogether, as I probably have 3 a year. The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is indifference. As I walked out of the store I heard the two girls talking about the “crazy lady”, um… I’d get bugged about that, but again, they’re coughing in a smoothie shop all day.

I’m playing with YouTube more and more. I’d love it if you subscribed. I promise no super long videos. Double dog swear. I have a terrible case of YouTuberculosis and I blame Ben Hughes. It’s highly contagious and clicking here just might transmit it.

Kenmore has provided me a Washer and Dryer to review. They arrived on Friday, and I ran out to get HE laundry soap so I could get started. While I was at the grocery store I started sniffing the laundry detergents, because I wasn’t sure what sort of flowers my husband should smell like. Well, I got distracted and came home with regular laundry soap. Although some people might think it’s a crummy way to start, I thought that a mountain of laundry suds was kind of funny. I’ve since bought the HE soap and I’m deeply ashamed that our clothes have been dirty this long.

I’m turning 40 this month. My husband is asking me what I want for my birthday. Nothing. Really. I do have it all, and the things I don’t have I never really wanted. He’s asking if I want a party? Nope, nothing sounds less appealing than playing hostess on my birthday. What about a small one? Oh good, then I can’t even get lost in a crowd. Maybe I want to take a trip? Well, I’d love to ski, but I’m not into spending the money. I looked around for ski trips, and found the Snowmamas, which raises more questions than answers. Do I trust any of those reviews? I went on over to Skidazzle (which is a group I’ve always trusted) and I’m wondering, do I want to review my family vacation for you? Why should I? Why shouldn’t I? Again, I’m struggling with privacy and authenticity. Every time I show up in a group of Mom Bloggers (which is less and less often) I hear the same refrain, “If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t write a review.” Really? How is that helpful? And how the hell did I go from turning 40 to (once again) noting that too many people can be bought and paid for? In some circles Yelp is no better.

The book is killing me. I’m writing like crazy, but I don’t think I’ll be done by the time I’m 40. This is depressing. Everything about it is depressing. I mean, if I put the kids in daycare I could be done in four weeks, but really? Why? I’d rather play with my kids, which is not what a publisher wants to hear…