Monday, September 25, 2006

Caught In The Blogosphere

You tell someone you are a Mommyblogger and they roll their eyes. Oh, one of those, said with disdain. It sounds almost as bad as ‘tweens’, or some other clever marketing strategy.
Is that all this is? Is that all mothers are these days? One of the biggest target marketing groups?

There are women out there breaking (smashing) every myth of what it means to be a mother. At the same time, you got to wonder if some of us are unconsciously exploiting ourselves and our children.

However, it must be said that mothers have this unique forum for expression that was not available a few years ago; to let our voices be heard (and they are), to gain support from each other, other mothers like us, and it is tremendous.

I really don’t consider myself a ‘mommyblogger.’ I despise the term and try to go beyond the stigma in my writing. I mean, I do have other interests than my child and being a Mom. right? I would think so.

When I started my blog, (and earlier on Mama Says) I immediately made it clear that there will be no pictures of my child or anyone else’s, and that I would keep some anonymity-as much as possible- concerning myself and my daughter. It’s about the writing and always has been. The Girl is definitely a part of that, just as motherhood itself is. Plus, I just feel weird about posting pictures of my kid on the Internet. I always felt that was going a bit too far; as if I were crossing some sort of boundary; that is was a violation of …something.

So what of the next generation, our children? This generation who has their entire lives on display? This is the generation of the blogosphere. Their lives are public; privacy is no longer a boundary. My own child is of this generation.

Every generation has to rebel against the one before them. That’s just how it goes, it’s their job. How will this one show their rebellion? The children of the...Blogosphere.
Will they be super private individuals? Will they be more conservative than we could ever imagine, in more ways than one? Even prudish? In extensive therapy?
I could be totally wrong, but that backlash is coming with a rebel yell, though how it will sound remains to be seen.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Defining Identity: More Than Just A Mom

A lot of moms define themselves as just that: A Mom, and nothing else.
I’ve seen it, and it disturbs me.

Surely we have interests beyond our children?

Why do some of us drown ourselves in the role of motherhood? How do we come to that spot? How do we lose ourselves? Where do we learn Motherhood Is All That I Am? Why do we think that’s okay?

One reason I started this blog (and worked on Mama Says) is so I wouldn’t lose myself. So I wouldn’t lose other parts of my identity that would surely have gone astray amidst the demands of motherhood.

I am able to write (and vent) on this blog. It has pulled all aspects together, a merging, of the self. I write what I write because I can. Because it’s what I want to write. It pushes me to write more, differently than I have in the past-in journals, poetry, whatever sort of writing I choose to do. It keeps all my identities intact.

Hey, motherhood is demanding and at times overwhelming and all-consuming, but it doesn’t mean you have to give yourself up.

How do you define yourself-Writer, Sister, Humanitarian? Avid Reader? Photographer? Various Activist? Mother...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Peppermint Obsession

When I was pregnant, and then shortly after The Girl was born, I had this intense, out-of-my-mind craving for peppermint. Particularly peppermint tea.

For weeks I wanted nothing but peppermint tea to drink. As is. No milk. No sugar.

Hell, I probably would have eaten the actual leaves if I hadn’t caught myself and realized-Okay, that’s going a little bit too far. maybe not...

It reminded me of when you hear about pregnant women eating dirt (it actually has a name). I-my body- must have needed the tea somehow.

I couldn’t get enough of the smell. I would go in the kitchen and just sniff the bag of tea leaves (we buy our tea in bulk usually, so it is fresh and loose and very minty), never mind actually making the tea, just like a druggie getting their fix.

There were a couple of times where all I could smell was the aroma of peppermint. It overtook all my senses. Out of all the smells within the house-different herbs and even more potent spices than peppermint itself, among others-it was all I could smell.

It’s amazing how your body communicates its needs through cravings such as these, during pregnancy in particular, and just in general.

Additional info: Properties of Peppermint

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hey, My Baby Reads The New Yorker, What Can I Say?

So, the other day, The Girl and I were out on our regular walk around the block. She happened to pick up a magazine on the way out, pretty stealth-like.There was no way I was going to take it away from her at that point: why incite a tantrum when that magazine will keep her busy for about FIFTEEN glorious and quiet minutes while we do errands?

You know what she picked up? The New Yorker. Just a random copy that was laying around the house. In her stroller, she sat, studying the pages in all seriousness, nodding in agreement to this and that article, issuing a little chuckle at one point, turning the pages with slow precision.

A man walking his dog approaches us, slows his stride, says incredulously: "If I only had a camera! She's 'reading' The New Yorker! I have never seen that! Priceless!", and moves on laughing and shaking his head in disbelief.

Friday, September 15, 2006

So, Pluto Isn't Really A "Planet" Anymore....

This post is a little over due.

Who decides this stuff? A bunch of people in a boardroom gather together one day and say, 'Hey, uh, should we take Pluto off the planet roster?' Better yet, let's lump it in with the Dwarf Planets. 'Cuz, um, they're not really planets anyway, right?

Well, I ran across a post from Astrobarry about the Pluto Downgrade.
He makes a good point (as always) about the relationship between The Planet, 9/11 and Katrina. I mean, this can't all be coincidence.

Those two events are the country's worst disasters in decades. Would you go so far as to say Pluto's Demotion was a(n) (un)conscious attempt at brushing everything so horridly eye-gouging about these events under the carpet?

I mean, who really wants to admit poverty and racism are (still) rampant in America? Not here, in this Great Land, where all are created equal....Yeah...and the Constitution is just a 'piece of paper.'

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CHBM Prompt: The Best Part About Fall Is....

Hmm…Fall Foliage and maple creme filled cookies with coffee.
Really. Living in New England, I have the advantage of seeing the country’s most spectacular show when it comes to Fall Foliage. I’ve never seen anything like it until I moved out here. I always think the mountains are on fire when fall rolls around.

The only downside to this is the Leaf Peepers. They come from all around the country by the busload, (big tour buses, I should add) invading our town for about two weeks. Great for them, a bit annoying for the townies that have to deal with the sudden influx of tourists and their exclamations of ‘What a quaint town!’ or ‘Do you know where…’ heard for the hundredth time that day.
But-whatever. I can be a tourist too.
The maple creme filled cookies (any kind will do)… These cookies really hit the spot in fall. Especially with that cup of coffee…I don’t know, they just taste better when there’s a bit of chill in the air...and the melty-ness of the maple with the coffee-yum. I would suggest the Vermont Coffee Company. What can I say-I have been spoiled in my taste for coffee…

Oh yes-could not forget the true sign of fall in Vermont: Cold Hollow Cider and Cider Donuts-freshly baked at Cold Hollow Cider Mill-Mmm, mmm.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This Is Why I Rarely Go Out Shopping Anymore

Went shopping for The Girl's pajamas last night.

Know what I saw passing the girls' section? Training bras by Mary Kate and Ashley that were somewhat padded and had CUTIE in a playful arc across the bra cup spelled out in what looked to be a form of shiny rhinestone type things.

The whole Bratz/barely concealed product placement(no pun intended) has really lit a fire under my ass.

Yeah, I'm irritated. Yeah, I'm a mom.

And yes, I would still be saying these things even if I weren't a mother.
I would never wear this shit if I were that age, my mother would never have let me! Hell- I wouldn't wear some of it now if it were being marketed to me, or even when I was 18.

Hey, I'd rather be called a tomboy with my jeans and push-up bra tank than a slut for wearing a too-short skirt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Don't Be Such A Brat!

*Deep Breath*

Alright. Yesterday, I posted about the abominations of Children's Lit Advertising. This morning I got the latest post from IzzyMom in my box. It is along the same lines as what I posted about in the Children's Lit thing, except hers infuriated me even more than product placement.

What- you say- can that be, that which infuriates you so?

I'll tell you. Those frickin' Bratz dolls.

I never liked these in the first place.
They now have 'Baby Bratz' dolls wearing lingerie marketed to 6 year olds. As if the original Bratz dolls weren't bad enough.
6 year olds!
They don't need to be thinking about that shit.
In addition to that, stores are selling padded bras to these girls. Padded Bras!!!! Hello!!

What is wrong with this society that we think it's okay for children and 13 year olds to be so pre-maturely sexualized?
Also, the parents who buy this stuff...stand up to your kids, say no and be the parent, for christ's sake!

Where did this come from and why do we take it in stride?

I don't know what the deal is about parents being afraid to say no to their kids, and letting their children walk all over them. What you end up with is a child with no boundaries. I think that's what it comes down to in most cases. Was that too harsh?...Another post for another day.

Obviously, there will be none of these dolls in my house, and if they do happen to sneak in , they are going straight to the garbage.

Write to Target, write to the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood
Make some noise about this!

I think IzzyMom really hit the spot with her post.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Poets Of The Palm Beaches

While I was in Florida, I had the pleasure of reading with a few members of the Poets of the Palm Beaches, courtesy of one very feisty woman.

This was the best thing about my time down there. Every Tuesday down at O’Shea’s, poets would gather and share what they had written for the pure pleasure of writing and constructive feedback.

In truth, I miss this kind of atmosphere. I came out of each meeting (nearly) with something: lines for a new poem, a great conversation-humor ran rampant here-, helpful criticism well taken. It also didn’t hurt that it was 70/80 degrees around 8/9 at night, in the middle of November.

In most of the recent writing groups I have attended since seem to lack something that the experience of the readings at O’Shea’s provided.

I’m not sure what it is, but I’d like to find it again.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vermont Woman's Review For Hot and Bothered, Annie Downey

For those of you who can get a copy of Vermont Woman, I encourage you to check out the book review for Annie Downey's Hot and Bothered in the September issue out now.

I know you can get the newspaper all over Montpelier (at Bear Pond Books and Capitol Grounds) and in Burlington.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

CHBM Prompt: What Is Your Back To School Tradition?

The Girl isn’t in school quite yet-still have a few more years to go. That surely doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the subject. But, I’m not obsessing about it either. I have weighed the possibility of home schooling against public school in my mind (and aloud at others who would give me a good opinion). Public school isn’t all that great these days, as we have heard through the news: schools are understaffed, kids aren’t reaching their potential, test scores aren’t as high as they should be, etc, etc. Also, do I really want my child in public school if she isn’t learning anything? So many kids are unchallenged by the public school system.

Home schooling gives you more options for learning, that’s for sure. Everyday activities could be counted toward home school learning: cooking, reading Jane Eyre, or taking a hike through the woods. Mothering Magazine has always had great articles and information on the benefits of home schooling and has been an excellent resource in helping me come to my own conclusions about public/home schooling, among other things.

I don’t remember if we had any traditions per se when I was in school. We always went school shopping for clothes and supplies (paper, scissors and pens in those days. Oh, and a calculator. Not half the crap kids need today). It was a planned event (with three kids it was just easier to do it all in one fell swoop), always on a budget, and we were involved whether we liked it or not.

When it comes time for The Girl to start schooling, I hope we will find new traditions and non-traditional traditions to throw into the mix. Aren’t we always schooling in some form or another throughout our lives?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In Praise of Women Inventors, Most of Whom Happen To Be Mothers

(Because women should be praised all of the time, not just on Mother’s Day and National Women’s History Month)

I saw a sign not too long ago (at the bookstore, library?) proclaiming June as ‘National Men’s Month.’ Oh, so the last 2000+ years haven’t been enough? They have to claim the month of June, too?

Where would the world be without women?

Women are the inventors of life, the single most important force on the planet. There have been many who have been either ignored altogether, or passed the invention off to the credit of a man.

Here is a little gem from Inventors and Inventions: C.D. Tuska (1957)

-“I shall write little about female inventors…most of our inventors are of the male sex. Why is the percentage [of women] so low? I am sure I don’t know, unless the good Lord intended them to be mothers. I, being old-fashioned, hold that they are creative enough without also being ‘inventive.’ They produce the inventors and help rear them, and that should be sufficient.”

From the very mundane, most practical items (brown paper bags!!) to Nuclear Fission; from Hypatia to Hedy Lamar, women have been inventing throughout history.

Inventions abound on the domestic front, though most are considered as improvements to make life better and easier. No woman won any awards for these. They were merely looking for a better solution to the drudgery of housework and raising their children. Such women as Melitta Bentz, inventor of the drip coffee method; Marion Donovan created the disposable diaper; Anne Moore, the Snugli carrier and Margaret Knight-brown paper bags.

One of my favorites for ingenuity is Mary Peck Butterworth. Everybody wondered how she got her fortune. She counterfeited Rhode Island currency in the 1700's while living in Massachusetts and, essentially, never got caught. There wasn't enough evidence!

Among the doctors/healers/mothers was Dr. Virginia Apgar, of which the Apgar Score is named for. She was a leader in her field, but would never get as far as she would have liked because of her gender.

Many women who have made some of the most astounding and important discoveries of our time have been overshadowed by men, or simply dismissed for being too far ahead of their time.

Take Lady Mary Montague: she invented the smallpox vaccine nearly a century before Edward Jenner. Guess who got the credit? Then there was Nettie Stevens (a native Vermonter), who discovered the X and Y chromosomes in 1905. At the same time, a male scientist, Edmund B. Wilson, was conducting the same study. Who is more remembered for that discovery today?(for more on Stevens and Wilson click here)

Sometimes it seems as if we, as women, have not come far at all, and at times, even fall a step or two backwards. Granted, we are not torturing ourselves wearing wale bone corsets as a ‘necessary’ item of clothing, nor are we struggling for our right to vote (that only took 200 years). But, we are still underpaid in the work force; we are still struggling, as mothers, as women to adequately support our families, and ourselves.

A few months ago, CNN announced the Senate knocked down a proposal to raise the minimum wage. It stands at $5.15 an hour. There is no way anyone can live on that, let alone support a family.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Sound of Silence

I cannot stand the sound of silence. Not so much, however, that I feel the need to fill the dead air with meaningless words, just because it is deadly quiet (as in, let’s say, conversation).

No, no. This is a different sort of brand.

It is the silence when you are alone, when you are sitting up at night, when you are a single mother.

I cannot tell you how often I just put a movie in at night when I am writing, after The Girl is soundly in bed. I don’t even watch it. It’s just there for the noise.

I used to do this before The Girl: While I was at college, my (kinda psycho) roommate had a small portable television. I would turn that thing on while going to sleep, after a hard night’s partying, err studying-keeping it low just to have the sound. She was hardly ever there, anyway.

I did it at the last place I lived (before I had The Girl), where it was just me and my then boyfriend. He never stayed up late into the night as I did, so I’d turn that TV (or radio) on again while I wrote, so I wouldn’t have to listen to the silence.

Why do we do this?

Why is it so hard to accept the sound of silence?

(The sound of silence was nowhere to be found this morning: The Girl got up at 4 am)