What’s the Deal, Mom Bloggers?

I know what you’re all thinking:  I’m probably about to alienate myself from the world of Mom Bloggers forever. I’m probably about to say something super bitchy, or downright rude. I’m likely about to become a total hypocrite, since I – myself – am a Mom Blogger. This would be par for the course, since it is the B(itch)Log and all. But I still think that’s all wrong.

Just hear me out, because I’m trying to understand what the deal is, Mom Bloggers.

What is a Mom Blogger?

A Mom Blogger is a mom that blogs. Next question.

No seriously, what the hey makes a mom that blogs deserve the title of Mom Blogger?

Sometimes s/he blogs about parenting issues. Sometimes s/he blogs about being a housewife. Other times (most of the time) s/he blogs about some random, mundane bullshit that has nothing to do with being a mom at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely benefit from this sort of laissez faire attitude towards what the content should be. But it still can lead to a little confusion.

So I will repeat: a Mom Blogger is a mom that blogs.

Exactly who is qualified to be a Mom Blogger?

This question seems almost redundant now, doesn’t it? A Mom Blogger is a mom who blogs; therefore, “a mom that blogs” is the qualification to be a Mom Blogger.

But it’s way more complicated than that. Dads are Mom Bloggers now, or Dad Bloggers or Parent Bloggers (as they like to be referred to so as to avoid the emasculation that would necessarily come of a dude being called a Mommy Blogger). Moms of cats, dogs, birds, and other pets have become Mom Bloggers too. Daycare ladies without uteruses write Mom Blogs. Sometimes it seems as though anyone who has ever taken care of another human being or other type of species that breathes (or maybe not) in a motherly or caretaking capacity can – at any point they deem appropriate – be referred to as a Mom Blogger. Also people that plan on one day doing any of that –  maybe, if they feel like it – can be Mom Bloggers too.

Are you starting to get the frustration, here? What’s the deal, Mom Bloggers? Is there anything left about motherhood in the Mom Blogging Universe anymore?

Who supports a Mom Blog?

It would seem that the community of Mom Bloggers would support each other. But that’s not always necessarily the case.

Sure there is a small group of Mom Bloggers that talk about each other, tag each other, Facebook each other, Tweet each other, reference each other, collaborate with each other, and other BFF-ish online interactions-with each other. But there are also a lot of Mom Bloggers that are pretty well left out of the group.

And every once in a while (and by that I mean at least a few times a day) Mom Bloggers of even the most popular and widely-read sort run into other Mom (or Dad or Parent) Bloggers that do not reciprocate support. That ignore certain factions of the Mom Blogging community, for whatever reason.

Again, I ask: what’s the deal Mom Bloggers?

No but really, what’s the deal Mom Bloggers?

So we already asked what the deal was with Mom Bloggers basically being anybody and anyone, male and female; whether they are really moms or not. We sort of alluded to asking “what’s the deal?” on the issue of the content of a Mom Blog (which is basically anything and everything). And the matter of reciprocation between Mom Bloggers – big and small – got a big “what’s the deal?” I would even upgrade that one to a “what the fuck” because it’s messed up to ever believe that you’re too big to be supportive of others in the community.

But the real question I have, Mom Bloggers, is about the skill level.

I used to tutor and TA when I was in graduate school, so I have read a lot of really shitty writing. I mean really shitty. I mean academic papers with “WTF” and “OMG” and one even with a smiley face emoticon. I once had a student show up having a hard time reading the word “philosophize.” And yet still those academic papers with all their illiteracies and their poor grammar and their 2nd grade reading levels were still better than some of the Mom Blogs I’ve read lately.

Some of the worst writers on this planet are the most popular Mom Bloggers. Some of the stupidest, most boring, most mundane content I have ever read in my entire life is coming from Mom Bloggers that are read more widely than the New York Times. And by contrast, some of the best writing I have ever read in the blogging world – from Mom Bloggers and otherwise – gets three or four hits, while “OMG pee poo diaper time whassup” got millions of views.

What. Is. The Deal. Mom. Bloggers?!?!

So you might say I’m feeling a little perplexed or reflective as to just what the deal is with the Mom Bloggers? I believe that a blog is just like any other piece of writing – it should be done well. It should be widely supported within its group of peers. It should have meaning and purpose, and it should be free of stupidity. Call me crazy, this is just how I’ve tried to run my own Mom Blog.

What do you think the deal is, Mom Bloggers? Or are you ignoring this post like many of the others because you believe you’ve grown too big?

Speaking of Mom Blogs, have you voted for me on Top Mommy Blogs lately? Just click the link and your vote is registered … http://topmommyblogs.com/

Four Parenting Lessons I Learned From My Mom

People sometimes tell me I look at the negative side of everything. I always think it’s funny when they say that, though, because it is only through being honest with yourself about a situation that you can make it better. Haven’t you ever gone to a wedding and thought to yourself “jeez, I’d never do that at my wedding?” Or had a shitty job and accepted the shittiness of it to push yourself to find something better? People with that gloriously naive-“must always look at the bright side of things”-approach to life generally (in my experience) stay in bad situations longer than they should because they can’t be honest about the uglier stuff that needs to change.

I refuse to waste my life accepting a pile of crap as a bed of roses just to sound pleasant to others. It’s just my opinion and approach to life, though. You don’t have to adopt it.

So last night I made my husband watch Mermaids with me. I’m on an 80s and 90s movies kick right now. It started with watching all the films Esquire suggested “all women” should watch, which included some 80s gems. Then as I perused through the Netflix Que, I noticed there were a ton I haven’t seen in ages. Some I had never seen at all.

It’s been so long since I last watched Mermaids that I had forgotten the crux of the story. It’s all about this teenage girl learning lessons in life from the negative bad-mom aspects of her “town tramp” of a mom. Reminds me a lot of my mom. For those of you faithful blog followers that are relatively new, I won’t beat around the bush: I call my mom Trailer Trash Mom for a reason. In the years since she divorced my dad, she has become a trashy, hillbilly, user and abuser; who has stolen, lied, and cheated more from me than anyone would tolerate. That whole “debt for life” thing has been repaid to her ten-fold at this point; although, I just can’t cut the ties because I want a relationship with my grandparents, which can only be facilitated if she is around (they think she’s the greatest thing next to stick butter, likely a consequence of old age and a very hefty piece of wool she’s pulled over their eyes).

In any event, watching Mermaids reminded me of the parenting lessons I’ve learned from the more negative aspects of my own mother.

Lesson 1:

Never make a promise to a child unless you plan on keeping it

Fortunately, when my mom breaks promises to me now, I only cry for about a day. When I was little, though, I’d cry for days – once a whole week.

I’m not talking about stupid promises. “Oh yes, you can ride the automatic-disease-ridden-pony in front of Toys ‘R’ Us next time, I promise.” I’m full of shit every time I say that, because that promise is to get the kid to stop bitching; although, will still not be happening. The thing has been covered with an unidentified slime for as long as I can remember.

I’m talking about big promises. “Dad promised he’d be at my Little League game and he didn’t show up or call!” is devastating, especially if it happens frequently.

Lesson 2:

Don’t turn your kid(s) into the parent

There’s a scene in Mermaids when Winona Ryder’s narration acknowledges that her character feels like the parent sometimes. And she is. Her mom is too much of a two-bit town whore (although she tones it down at the end) to even prepare a regular meal. This is something my mom used to constantly do.

When my mom first left my dad and moved across the country to Seattle, I’d visit twice a year. In the beginning she was the “other woman” to a married guy in the military, who was a night guard in the prison. Naturally, when her only daughter came to visit, she couldn’t run the risk of losing her status as the “other woman,” though, so she’d leave me sitting downstairs to fend for myself the entire trip, while she’d entertain him upstairs all day while his wife was at work. I even had to cook my own meals, which was difficult since I was only 10 at the time. I once threw Cheetos into a bowl of white rice I found in the refrigerator. Fucking disgusting.

Nothing sucks more than having to grow up too soon because your parent has the maturity of an infant.

Lesson 3:

Don’t ever introduce male suitors as “uncle”

I have had so many uncles in my life, it’s a good thing they weren’t real or family reunions would need a bigger venue.

My mother had so many men coming in and out of her life until only recently, when she married this guy that lives in a trailer out in New Mexico, I have lost count. I do know there were at least eight Mikes, three Rons, two black guys (the first was Marvin Gaye’s drummer), six with gambling problems, and one nice guy out of the bunch (who, of course, my mom dumped for no reason). Each of them was referred to as uncle, which just traumatized the shit out of me.

In recent years, she’s started introducing her boyfriends as “grandpa such and such” to the Pookies, which is when I realized the importance of this Lesson 3. I immediately put my foot down. No to “Grandpa Bugsy”. No to “Grandpa Yogi.” No to “Grandpa Mike.” And no … the hillbilly husband will be no “Grandpa Dennis.”

Lesson 4:

Never settle for less in life, or expect your kids to either

When I worked in pharmacy during college, I worked with a girl that would not allow her daughter to have any conveniences that she was not given as a child. She wouldn’t let the poor girl even go to birthday parties of other kids because she had not been allowed to as a child. It made me so sad every time I saw it happen, which was a lot in the six years I worked there. My mother has always been like this.

After divorcing my dad, my mom did nothing but settle for less. She’d debase herself to settle for men she found in bars. She’d settle for less with jobs and cars and housing and friends over and over and over again. She still does. Her most recent stunt of settling for less is starting to bite her in the ass – marrying this hillbilly in New Mexico. He’s a total jerk to her and she has the nerve to say that since she’s settling for jerkish behavior that I should too.

I don’t think so.

These four lessons that I learned from my mom are pretty important ones, and I wouldn’t have learned them had I not looked at the negative side of my mother’s behavior over the years. I almost feel grateful for my “negative” approach, because had I not taken it I may have just accepted these behaviors as acceptable and continued the cycle I see so many other women in my community continuing with their own kids. When you look at old movies, like Mermaids, you can see that a lot of people used to hold this perspective. Look at the world for what it really is and overcome it. Not just settle for happy positivisms all the time just to make everything seem great to others.

See how much happier I am in my “negativity”? I mean, can you even still call it “negativity” when so much good is coming out of it?

Reasons I Was Meant to be a Mom

After Mother’s Day – hillbilly brawl and all – I realized that there are some reasons I was meant to be a mom.

Am I saying I am “meant to be a mom” like “oh look at me, I am so great – I shit rainbows when I put on my soccer mom uniform!!”? No. No I am not. Am I implying that I am better than others, or that people should learn from me? Unless you want to take some of my tricks and tweak them to use yourself, I am by no means the standard by which others should judge their behavior. I have more flaws than Carter’s got liver pills. Does this mean that I am on a mission to pop as many little bastards and bastettes out of my hoo-haa as I possibly can before my eggs dry up and/or my uterus falls out? HELL NO.

Do I mean I was put on this Earth for the sole reason of raising children? No, I don’t mean that either, I just mean that some things are now natural to me.

Reason #1: I have no problem getting picky kids to eat

Yesterday at the party my mom threw for my grandma, my cousins came in with their two kids and while all of us ate exactly what was being served, they served their kids a separate meal. I was actually pretty offended (having cooked the entire meal that was being served myself), but was also appalled that they would teach their kids that value. When it came time for dessert, they even went out to their car and brought back a box of donuts – our cake and custard cups were apparently not even good enough for their picky eaters.

Pookie is an incredibly picky eater and even she was shocked by this behavior. But then again, maybe it’s because working with her pickiness to get her to eat healthful meals, and to be polite when at another person’s home, is relatively easy for me. I have learned to hide tofu and asparagus in alfredo sauce and noodles. I cover fruit with strawberry yogurt and three servings gets eaten easily. Even tonight, I baked carrots, peas, and corn, into ground chicken – she gobbled it up. I have no tolerance for “I don’t want that, give me something else.”

Reason #2: I am OK with the fact that I stay at home

It is true that I am constantly struggling with finding some purpose to my life outside of Yo Gaba Gaba and the world of Barbie, and I still lament the days of graduate school and career goals.You could also probably consider me to feel pretty isolated and a little depressed for some of the days because I have so little interaction with the adult world. But I am still OK with the fact that I stay at home.

I like my life. I get plenty of sleep. I homeschool, and that is probably the most rewarding thing that I have ever done. I write when I can, read when I want, and plan stuff for us to do outside of homeschool and the daily grind. We go out to lunch most days of the week to try and deal with the isolation thing, but then I am usually confronted with a terribly narcissistic and judgmental society. Today was another one of those days. Again at Natural Cafe, we were standing in line and someone nearby us decided to loudly describe why her life is much better than mine. It was about 11:30, so she and her friend were quite obviously on an early lunch break, and the rest of us in line clearly have no concept of “lunch break” or “work schedule.” The one who resembled a dwarf said in her pithy and nasal tone: “wow, there’s a lot of kids here today!” And then the other with an ass the size of Texas and something of a partial beard replied “yeah … I could never feel my life was fulfilling at all if all I did was stay at home and pop out little kids like this all day.” Then they both laughed.

Clearly the nasal-toned dwarf and the gargantuan-assed she-man are so miserable in their own daily struggle to make cubicle life fulfilling that they have to pit themselves against the crowd. I could have just as easily stood in line with my own SAH friends and talked about how unfulfilling my life would have been if it was defined by someone else’s schedule, and how being a slave to a corporate world that will eat you up and spit you out quicker than the blink of an eye is the most miserable thing a person could do, but I don’t need to do that because (unlike those women) I am perfectly OK with where I am in life.

Reason #3: I know an unhealthy situation when I see one

Sometimes when it’s just us, we tend to ignore the unhealthy, or tolerate it because we have learned to let it not affect us. But when little children are involved, it really isn’t as easy as “ignore and it’ll go away.”

Through this entire Mother’s Day nonsense with my Trailer Trash Mom, I have realized just how unhealthy this situation is for the under-18 crowd. I knew it was unhealthy before, but for some reason it didn’t really ‘click.’ The Mother’s Day Gala of the Century that my mom had planned turned out to be pretty lame. I was expecting a trailer trash brawl, when really all I got was a lot of people being fake. The most climactic thing that happened during it was that an hour and a half after we were supposed to eat, my Trailer Trash Mom was still dicking around getting place settings set up, so we just said “we are eating now” and she slammed her fists down on the table. This is much like my husband’s family, though – all that drama, shit talking, false promises, gossiping, and hurting people’s feelings beforehand, but when everyone comes together they just pretend as though nothing had happened. My aunt that didn’t invite us to my cousin’s graduation party claimed that our invitation was the one that got jammed in the printer. My Trailer Trash Mom kept saying “I’ve got some more money for you…” only to never actually give it. And the cake incident was carefully swept under the rug as no one was really interested in staying to chat after the meal was over.

I was resolved to walk away and not look back before the actual Mother’s Day Mayhem, now I am firm in knowing this unhealthy situation when I see it. Emotional abuse and dysfunction is so unhealthy for kids to be exposed to, and tolerating it sets just as bad of an example.

Reason #4: I Constantly Fret Over Making Things ‘Special’

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I should have sat around on my lazy ass all day after paying homage to that ridiculous family hoopla my mother had put together. That isn’t what I did, though.

As I do every morning, I made breakfast. And as I always do when I make pancakes, I made pancake shapes. They usually don’t come out, but I always do anyway because the effort is what seems to get the most appreciation. After my mom’s stupid, anticlimactic party, I agreed to go bowling, despite the fact that it was the last thing on my list of things I was interested in doing. It was a day that my husband was actually home, and spending time with us, so – again – I wanted it to be special and filled with activities everyone would enjoy.

So there they are: the reasons I was meant to be a mom. This wasn’t one of those cute and pithy posts about finding puke and pretzels in your hair, like you’ll find most of the time you search for a blog about being a mom; in fact, I’m sorry if that’s what you were looking for. There are a hell of a lot of reasons why I was not meant to be a mom too. I ‘aint no mom blogger, so the list is all kinds of big, and I’m sure I’ll compile it at some point, although it would look something like: I swear, I drink a lot, I don’t take shit from anyone, and I cannot stand those kid’s shows like Cayou and Good Luck Charlie. But I’m OK with taking a card, a homemade plate, a shopping trip, and a Mother’s Day mimosa for the troubles I have listed here, which is exactly what I got.

I Don’t Work, “Get a Job,” Yadda yadda yadda

So, faithful blog followers, I’m super tired and we’re on our second viewing of Freaky Friday (that horrifyingly stupid movie with Jamie Lee Curtis and Linsey “I’mma fuck up ’til I die” Lohan) – so needless to say I’m feeling a little snarky. Last weekend, I went to this writers group meeting for an anthology that I submitted a piece to for publication. Of course, like every good writer I thought the other pieces submitted in the same category as mine all sucked. I mean they sucked hard. They sucked harder than that one time I had to suck all of the pimientos out of an entire jar of Spanish olives to make a log of Jamaican jerk cheese. That hard.

So one of the submissions that was – fortunately – rejected was about that terribly cliched topic of whether or not stay at home moms actually do a lot of work. In all seriousness, anyone that thinks to the contrary is an ass hat-jerk face that needs to have a serious date with my fist up their ass. But the other group of people that is way overdue for my fist up their asses is this group of morons that keep writing these idiotic diatribes about the plight of the stay at home mom.

The submission that was rejected for this anthology was one of the worst. To be honest, she sounded bitter. One of her worst lines went something like ‘so the next time you look down at me for not having a real job, Mr. PhD, remember I’m raising the children that may one day be saving your life.’ I am (of course) paraphrasing, but doesn’t it just make your blood boil to read that ignorant shit?

There are of course a few things that need to be addressed here:

For one, a stay at home mom or stay at home housewife does a lot of work – no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. If I were to write one of these terribly self-aggrandizing essays, I would probably just write about a day like the one I had today. I would talk about how my day started at 7 am when the kid got up early because she went to bed early, and proceeded to turn the TV on in my bedroom to those frightening Yo Gabba Gabba shows and turn the volume higher and higher until I got up. Then it was teeth brushing, face washing, body bathing, clothing, and making breakfast. By 10, we were on our way to get the oil changed in my car. By 10:30 we were going to get early lunch at Subway. By 12noon we had gone to UPS, the Harbor Gift Shop, Kinkos, Staples, and Radioshack. By 1 in the afternoon we had done a major grocery shopping trip and were lugging all the bags into the house and into the refrigerator and preparing a healthy snack. After that were two hours of homeschooling, followed by three loads of laundry, more homeschooling, and the preparation of a healthful dinner of turkey, wild rice, and carrots. As if this were not enough, it was then time for more teeth brushing, more body washing, more clothing (only this time in pajamas), forty-five minutes of homeschool reading, and now I finally have some time to work on my latest knitting project and write this blog and (hopefully) sleep.

Staying at home is a lot of fucking work. Everyone knows this. We do not need more pithy and hostile diatribes written to justify that fact.

The second thing to discuss, though, is that Ms. Hostility up there does have a good point – there are a lot of people that still seem to look down on the stay at home act. I, myself, struggle to find meaning amidst all the laundry and errand running and it doesn’t help when I have assholes like Hello Kitty Toaster posting on Facebook bull shit about stay at home mothers or housewives needing to go out and get jobs. This reminds me of people that put others down for eating food they don’t believe to be healthy (which Hello Kitty Toaster incidentally does all the time) – as if they are so miserable in their own diet that they have to put down others to make themselves feel better about their decision to not eat carbs or fats or whatever it is they choose not to eat. I think this is the same thing that is going on when someone genuinely does look down on or talk down to stay at home mothers. Secretly, deep down inside they want to stay at home and raise the kids or whatever it is they’d want to do at home, and have to put others down to make themselves feel better about their decision to embark on a fulfilling life working at Burger King (or whatever their career choice may be).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay at home mother or housewife. Despite the truth to this, though, we still don’t need it stated more. For years, this has been stated – in essays, articles, blogs, you name it. I can remember reading an essay in high school (over 10 years ago) called ‘My Mother Never Worked’ and it was all about the enormous amount of work the author’s mother actually did as a stay at home mom. The topic is overdone and no matter how many angry, hostile, and seemingly moronic attempts people make to justify that, it doesn’t work. People will always look down on it because people are assholes who think their way of life is the way of life.

So get over it. Move on. Get a hobby or go back to judging others for eating carbs or not eating carbs or whatever the fuck you want to judge them for. I’m just so tired of hearing people bicker and bitch about this topic. Shut the fuck up or you’ll be having that date with my fist up your ass.

The Lady With the Pink Hat

About a week ago some controversy was spurred over a trend that is growing across the country, that trend being the No Children Allowed Restaurant.  More and more, restaurant owners are responding to the complaints of clientele who would prefer to eat their meals in peace, rather than have it ruined by some bratty kid whose parents are entirely hands-off on the discipline.  On the surface, this seems vaguely reminiscent of the old “one bad apple ruins the entire bushel;” although, to be fair, those without children at the dinner table have just as much a right to eat in peace as those with them have to let their kids run the show.

Some varied responses have been made to this.  Some have agreed, even those with kids, because they recognize the fact that parents these days just don’t believe their child should be disciplined (or, possibly that their child can do no wrong).  Some have disagreed on the basis that, while they recognize children can be completely out of control, it seems inherently wrong to refuse service to people just on the basis of the fact that they happen to be in a particular group of people (dare I call them:  the birthers).

We’ve talked about this before, the notion of people acting as though they are the only people on the planet, and so everyone else should cow-tow to their desires.  And, in fact, it seems to be happening more that people in society feel a sense of being entitled to do whatever they want, even if it means that they and their children are infringing upon the rights (and even safety of others).

Today I was at the library with my father, who happens to be a candidate for full hip replacement surgery.  Nearing his seventies, his bones have become so brittle that even the slightest fall could result in a fracture of his hips.  He even has a handicapped placard for his car.  While at the library, a child was running around and screaming while his mother was nowhere to be found.  Inevitably, the child ran into my father, nearly knocking him over.  My father looked down at the little boy and said “watch where your going, where is your mother?” and the kid ran off without another word.  Five minutes later, though, this lady in a pink hat stalked up to us and started yelling at my dad – in the middle of the library – for daring to respond to her son, who can clearly do no wrong.  After calming the situation down (although I did say that she should learn to be a parent as she walked away), she went off with her bratty toddler and we went about our business.

Despite the fact that the situation was calmed down, though, and the kid and his mother eventually got kicked out of the library because the little terrorist was ripping books off the shelf and screaming, this raises again the issue of the No Child Restaurant.  Had my father (or any other older person that spends a fair amount of their time at the library) been knocked over, he very likely would have broken a bone at the hands of a little boy that was allowed to run all over the place.  And had my father broken a bone, the only people that would have been liable for it in the end would have been the library.  Worse than him running all over the place, though, was the lady in the pink hat:  his mother.  Without knowing the situation or the health or the beliefs of other people, that woman has taken the position that so many other parents today take, which is that the safety and happiness of others is of no matter as long as they can do whatever they want.  That poor, little boy is on a surefire course for destruction later on in life and his mother has done nothing but teach him that he can be a monster, and to raise his voice if anyone questions that.  One day, that little monster will hurt someone in a place other than the library, where the only one liable is him; and then they will all have to pay the price of a mother that simply doesn’t want to deal with an unruly child.

When considering how to act in any public place, it seems we need to remind ourselves that public means that other people will be there, with entirely different situations than ours.    Not everyone thinks a screaming and destructive kid is the cutest thing next to teddy bears.  And sometimes, it can even be dangerous.  To those that still don’t understand why some restaurants have chosen to have a policy that no children be allowed, consider the actions of the lady with the pink hat.