Mama's Blog

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Letter to a friend...

So, choices. Family. Right now I am having a really really really hard time-- an epic battle between wanting to the be the type of parent that meets her needs, as messy, unschedule-able, relentless and suffocating as they may be, and in conflict with that, wanting some semblance of independence. I do want to be her womb, her nest, her umbilical cord and her front porch that she can sit on and look out from or run back to -- my body as the site of her home. I love taking her swimming- supporting and making safe her desire to thrash her body about-- to just have utter fun with it. And then to gather her up when she gets still to hold her and wait for her next impulse to take over and then to support that. I love being quiet enough to listen for and hear her wordless needs. I love breastfeeding her, connecting with her as well as being the source of her food-- the one thing in this fucking culture that is not mediated by some corporation, thank you very much. But at other times I feel tethered, confused about and enraged by her dependency on my breast to fall asleep. Tonight, it took a record two point five hours to get her to stay asleep-- partially because my impatience screwed up the timing, partially because trying to accomplish anything but being with her today screwed up some napping time and partially because she is just stubborn and if she finds herself awake and not nursing she gets all worked up. My world is very very small. Claustraphobes need not apply. I have convinced myself that most of my discomfort is my husband's fault, that he is totally unaware of my world, that he doesn't help enough, that he should never leave the house but, while staying here and being my right hand, he should also manage to have a full-time job so he can pay all the bills and I don't have to even think about working. I realize that some of my expectations are unrealistic, but so what. He and I are not able to rely on traditional roles for parenting and running the family, so we are running into all kinds of trouble right now in terms of trying to share duties. I told him that he isn't in charge of anything and is just a glorified babysitter, which is a horrible thing to say but my god I think it is totally true. So this is how ugly it is, I am either completely nuts or am with an self-absorbed twit, or something in between. But I am so sleep deprived that I cannot make heads or tails of any of it. And the support out there is really useless. There is the La Leche version, which is basically, there is only one way to do this and it is to stay at home, do it all yourself, get massages and wait it out-- basically meet all those baby needs and survive to tell the tale and look down at other women. Or there is the even creepier versions that insist that babies are trying to manipulate you, that they need to be independent because we live in an industrialized society and they can and should be programmed to sleep on their own provided you cut out your hear and stick it in the freezer while you let them cry. Something like that. So I am stuck, some days feeling like Superwoman Deepmotherwisdom Goddess, and other days I feel like a Mad Cow Listmaking Paralyzed Slasher. I think I'll have a beer now.

The nice thing for me is, having been pregnant, I feel like a virgin whenever my husband and I make love. I feel so sweet and vulnerable and like it is all for the first time, which is really terrific for me because my first forty lovers were all horrible losers that I wouldn't loan my car to. Now I feel very precious as if my sex organs, having created Ruby, are too important to be careless with. Kind of cool.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Blog Ideas

This is me, the organizator, thinking here. Is it possible to organize posts or conversations under certain headings? I am thinking of having some categories so that we can dive into specific topics or issues and then let them keep going. I would also like to make this open to Mom's who have older children. Here are some section ideas:
Rants; How-To Books; Points of Inspiration; Sex & The Mom; Help!!!; Me & My Mate; Baby Issues; What About My Career?; Burning Desires; Moments of Truth
Okay-those are just some ideas-- do they make sense? Do blogs work in an organized way? Does anybody understand me?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

More contributions to the conversation

from Peggy Flood:

I am afraid I cannot make the meeting, although I would love to be part of this
group. It coincides with my ruminations about writing a solo show, and
one of the themes that keeps coming up for me, is mothering today, particularly
as a creative person, with other tugs on the heartstrings. I would love to talk
to more women about their experiences, and boy does it sound like you've got an
articulate group!

Hope to talk to you this week.


from Lee Bradley:

hey mamas,

I love this idea. Krystyna if you can figure out the blog thing that's cool. .
. just spent an hour or so browsing through the Literary Mama link you posted -
thanks for that. Some random thoughts towards next weekend's meeting,
since I won't be here unless we figure out a virtual way for us out-of-towners
to participate. [pause: go check on baby, sleeping soundly in her playpen. get
glass of water. back to computer. /end pause]

so today I'm in LA, and we have this party/open house thing, and I get to see
so many people I haven't seen in the five months we've been living on whidbey
island, in the almost four months since I became a mom. and so many
people want to know. what is it like? being a mom? how is it. being
a mom. and I answer and I answer and I answer. and I wonder all the time if
anything I'm saying is true. if I have any idea what it is, in fact, like.
which I know sounds odd because I am living it and I am it. I think what I
don't know is perhaps how I feel about it? I don't know.

q: what is it like, being a mom?

a: I think what's most different is that I am the kind of person who gets
caught up in what I'm doing, sitting at the computer, reading a book - I don't
get up until I'm done. and now, I get up constantly. and I'm learning patience,
and that it's ok if it takes ten times as long to do something.

q: do you like being a mom?

a: yes, I think I . . . well you know you just look at her and melt. I
get so happy.

q: how do you like being a mom?

a: I like it. It's great, mostly. I have meltdowns, which usually I think
are when I'm overtired.

q: life is different now, huh?

a: oh yeah, so different. wow.

these answers are all correct, they are all things I have figured out,
discovered, thought of in trying to define for myself what has
changed. [pause: baby stirs, go stand near baby's crib. is she waking
or just stirring? signs of distress on face, jerky stretches. quick
run to bathroom to pee, wash hands, come back, pick baby up. sit, nurse, think
some more, solve question. /end pause] now sitting with baby on lap,
typing with one hand, because even though she will stay asleep if I lay her
down for some reason I want to keep her near. what was the answer to
that question? wait, what was the question? :) I like to say I don't
have post-partum depression I have post-partum amnesia. :) [pause: go
lay baby down in crib after all as crimp in neck becomes really
uncomfortable from holding on lap and typing with other hand. /end pause] the
question was, why do I feel a sense of falsness in all my answers to the
questions about motherhood, being a mother? the answer I come up with: in a way
I feel like nothing has changed. I have not changed. I am still me. Now I
have Jessie, and she is amazing and exhausting and distracting and beautiful
and so so sweet, and I am still me. when I go to school [pause: baby
cries. run to other room. stop before getting to crib - no cry. stealthily peek
over sofa... asleep? asleep. /end pause] when I go to school one night a
week, several hours go by when I am consumed with other things, other thoughts.
I think of Jessie on the way home. I wonder if I am a bad mother becuase I
actually didn't think of her for a few hours. I realize that I am a
person defined by many things, one very large one is now motherhood, and it's
still one of many.

So - the reason I don't have good/satisfying answers to the questions: I have
undergone a seismic shift. everything has changed and nothing has
changed. it is indescribable. I don't know what it's like to be a
mother and I don't know what it is like not to be a
mother. I think I need a book club.



from Rebecca Gray:

h my GOD I like that BLOG idea.

from Stephani Nawyn:

You are welcome to share my message, although I don't want to offend anyone. I
think my experience might be unique; other moms might feel more isolation, as
if what they are doing as mothers is invisible. I feel like I'm constantly on
display, and I could use a little some isolation.

And I hear you about being buried in work; I hate setting a workaholic example
for Henry. And I hate the chaos my life has descended into. Perhaps we can
commiserate on that as well.

- Stephanie


Dear Gals,

I have stumbled across a couple of books that I would like to share with you,
the moms in my life. I am finding that these books are creating, for me, a
community of support and reflection that I otherwise can't access via the phone
or email in the wee hours of the night, or more likely, during the abundance of
hours when the wee one is at my breast. One, in particular, is really making me
think, dream and articulate, and I thought it might be good to get together
over this one. It is "Maternal Desire" by Daphne de Marneffe and I
got it from the public library. Let me share with you a few excerpts from the
intro and propose an idea for gathering:

In discovering she was pregnant with their
third child, the author found that she was possessed with an overwhelming yet
inexplicable sense of freedom. A memory came to mind of the day she rode her
bike without her father's help "--unsteadily, but irrevocably." That
memory "captured a transition I sensed was taking place in my life. I was
moving from a shaky endorsement of a model in which children were fitted into
my previous life to a desire for a life centered on mothering, from which other
priorities flowed. Paradoxically, the outward complication of our lives was
introducing a radical simplicity. My feeling of freedom did not diminish, of
course, the real demands we would face in having another child… still, I found
the glimmer of freedom compelling, in part because its source-- my shift of emphasis
towards mothering-- felt so transgressive. How was it that at the dawn of the
twenty-first century, the ancient imperative that women mother their children
felt somehow liberating and new?"

"Every mother I knew, and virtually every mother I read about, grappled
more or less explicitly with the same painful questions: Where should caring
for children fit into one's life? What should one do with the desire to care
for one's children? How should one understand it, think about it, or talk about
it? No one expected to have easy answers, but it seemed that so often our
culture's response was framed as a matter of how little one could spend time
with one's children and not do them damage. So rarely did public discussion
take account of the embodied, aching desire to be with their children that so
many mothers feel. What's more, the vocabulary for this desire seemed so
limited, the language available for exploring it so constricted, that it was
hard to get a grasp of what part of the desire should play in one's decisions
and in one's very assessment of oneself."

"Women's desire to have children has survived the vagaries of
feminist suspicion and is now fully respectable and in public view. But the
territory that remains occluded, dogged with contention and strangely
unspeakable, is the territory of caring for children-- of spending one's
hours and days with them... and of its meaning and value not only to children
but to mothers as well."

"Embedded in the emphasis on the caregiving mother's nonentity status is a
tendentious refusal to recognize the pleasures, the self-expression and the
moral fulfillment mothering can afford. Mainstream feminism, with its espousal
of Western individualism as the basis of women's liberation, has been ill
equipped to recognize, let alone critique, this limited view. Though feminist
activism has helped secure for women the public power previously denied them,
it has done little to challenge the assumption that women who spend their time
caring for children are powerless, un-self-actualized and at the margins of
cultural life."

"We live in a culture that enshrines acquisition but profanes care. When a
person, still most likely a mother, feels the desire to care for her children,
our tired cultural scripts shed little light on the profundity of her
situation. This books offers a view of maternal desire-- its qualities, its
effects, its pervasive devaluation and misinterpretation in our individualistic

So, just a little taste. The author is a clinical psychologist
and in her book she draws on all kinds of theories about childhood development,
materialism, feminist issues, french feminist theory (my favorite), abortion,
sexuality and the eros of mothering, etc... It is can be a bit academic but the
chillier parts could be enriched by the sharing of resonances of our personal
experiences and thoughts. I propose that we agree on a date four to six weeks
from now and, for those of us in Los Angeles, create a potluck tea and gather
round with our babies to discuss the book, our lives and whatever else comes to
mind and heart. If you have another friend who might be interested, we could
invite her as well. For those out of town but interested, we could come up with
some ways for you to be a part of the dialogue too. I am open to ideas for how
to frame or structure the conversation. So, late me propose a date and time and
have you either Reply All or reply to me to get the conversation going.

How About: SATURDAY MAY 28TH OR SUNDAY MAY 29TH, noon to 2 or 3PM

If you are busy, feel no pressure. The exciting thing is there may be a bunch
of good books to read and discuss (Naomi Wolf's "Misconceptions"
looks good too!) For me, its either this or Winnie the Pooh. Let me know what
you think!

Love, and spit up.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Update from Tracy

Hey Ladies,

Sorry if you all haven't heard from me. Got buried in work (having a hard time
with that) and didn't stay in touch. What was great about the initial invite
were the responses that I got from each of you-- some of which I have had your
permission to share with others, so I will paste them below to get the
conversation going. So, who is still up for gathering this weekend? Did someone
express a preference for Saturday or Sunday? I am going to call it for Sunday
at 2pm at my pad and see who nibbles. Has anyone had a chance to read the book?
I don't want this particular discussion to be a book assignment, especially
since I haven't been on top of the communication. Just let me know who has or
is reading it. We can use the book, or even some of the quotes from it, to be a
stepping off point because I think that all of us would benefit from whatever
discussion springs forth. More importantly, we can discuss what we would want
from a book or discussion club and see where to take it from here. So, what say
you to:

Some thoughts to share:

from Krystyna Hughes in Minneapolis:

I am inspired and filled with a renewed hope that I am not just becoming a
suburban soccer mom arrested in the simple (yet not so simple) as we both know,
tucked away life of motherhood. I have recently been feeling (after 8 months of
being exclusively an at home mom) that I needed to exercise, explore,
develop the other facets of my being. On the one hand I feel guilty needing to
do so, because after all, am I not in a privileged position to take care of my
child without having to go to work, yet it has become very evident that being a
mother is just one part (a huge part) but never the less, one part of my
identity. This might seem obvious, even to myself, but as you know, motherhood
seems to be an ALL consuming vocation, leaving little time for much else.
I love Marneffe's eloquent point of view and it really hit home for me
when she writes: "Embedded in the emphasis on the caregiving mother's
nonentity status is tendentious refusal to recognize the pleasures, the self
expression and the moral fulfillment mothering can afford.... Though feminist
activism has helped secure for women the public power previously denied them,
it has done little to challenge the assumption that women who spend their
time caring for children are powerless, un-self-actualized and at the margins
of cultural life.....We live in a culture that enshrines acquisitions but
profanes care. There is so much I have to say about this topic, but I know that
your time and mine is limited, but I thank you for reminding me that I am not
alone and that I can continue to be a connected, culturally aware thinking
person as I celebrate the godly position of being a mother. Mothers are sexy

I would very much like to participate in this group, I am not sure yet how,
perhaps by phone. I have a VOIP ( voice over internet processor) so it would be
no charge to you or me. If you have your phone set to speaker phone or perhaps
I could write short articles on the topics we are discussing. I will ask
Nigel about how to do something technologically practical and useful for an
event of this nature.

All my love and thank you again,



from Kim Starzyk:

Sounds like a great idea...count me in!

Just for an opposing view, however, I will be bringing along "Mommy

Madness" by Judith Warner. I'm not sure it's the best thing for you brand

new mommies to be reading, as a lot of what she refers to you have not yet

experienced (and may not, hopefully not...), but here's a couple of


"As young women we had choices - endless choices. But motherhood made

it often impossible to act on our choices. Or gave us choices on the order

of: You can continue to pursue your dreams at the cost of abandoning your

children to long hours of inadequate childcare. These were choices that

didn't feel like choices a t all. And they came at the cost of our " full

human potential". That is to say. at the cost of keeping alive the various

parts of ourselves - the ambitious part, the nurturing part, the sexual

part, the active part, the intellectual part, the domestic part- that

combine to make us human."

"The mess of the Mommy Mystique - the belief that we can and should

control every aspect of our children's lives, that our lives are the sum

total of our personal choices, that our limitations stem from choosing

poorly and that our problems are chiefly private, rather than public, in

nature - is not an individual problem that individual women should have to

scramble with. It is a social malady - a perverse form of individualism,

based on a self-defeating allegiance to a punitive notion of choice; a way

of privatizing problems that are social in scope and rendering them, in the

absence of real solutions, amenable to one's private powers of control. It

demands a collective coming into awareness at the very least. And, I

believe, once that awareness is reached, it cannot be cured without some

collective, structural solutions.

But first we have to dig our way out of the mess. And replace the

motherhood religon that reigns in our time with some real life

Love, and carpool,



from Stephanie Nawyn:

Hi Tracy,

I would be interested in a reading group, although I would like to read some
books about topics other than mothering. Unlike the author, all I ever think
about, hear about, and read about is mothering, the desire to mother, the
desire to not mother for at least an hour or two, or how other people think I
should mother or desire to mother. I am interested in reading this particular
book, as I can't understand how this woman thinks the "vocabulary for this
desire seemed so limited" when there are literally hundreds of books on
the library shelf offering such vocabularies (as I found out when I searched
for this book).

So, while I am not tired of mothering, I am a little tired of talking about it
with people. But I would like to have some lively discussions with people other
than sociologists, and I am curious about this book. I'm free either day you
suggested, and I would prefer an afternoon-ish time (like around 2pm). I may
not bring Henry, though, as weekends are usually Daddy-Henry time.

- Stephanie


an idea from Krystyna

Hey Tracy,

Talked briefly to Nigel today regarding your Book Club for Mommas. He suggested
doing a Blog (A diary with a discussion thread). Don't know if you want
to create a club that is small and intimate or post it for the
whole world. I could help with the blog. I'm pretty sure Nigel could set it up,
but I'd have to check. Perhaps this is not want you had in mind for us non
Angelinos, but it's a thought.

Anyhooty, a bien tot!



P.S. Below is an example of a Blog for Mothers.