The past few days have been a mixed bag of happy, scary and thought provoking events. On Friday my friend Britt took us to the Aquarium, and she gave me a year’s membership card as a present, which I thought was pretty generous and thoughtful. It is sad to observe that I got to see precious little in my previous life as a married woman. My social life, which was dismal during my marriage years might be even improving. My ex is probably doing better as he hangs out with the DINK crowd ( Double Income No Kids) but I have my own circle of mom friends, and we can all swoon over the latest antics of our little ones.
Aquarium was great, and I hope to spend more time there in the future with Robert. He was very taken with the colourful displays and the movement of fish and other creatures. Our first visit was somewhat rushed because we had to chase the little firebrand Demi around. We then met up with Trish and her two little girls, the younger one is a fresh rosebud, only a couple of weeks young. As much as I would loved to have another baby, I do find mothering two or more children a very challenging job. It is the ultimate multi-tasking feat, and I am not sure I could survive it. So maybe it is just as well that I am not likely to have another child. As mother of one, I had some time to look around and take in my surrounding, something that both my friends weren’t able to do very well. There is also the added advantage of my single status; I do not need to be home to for my husband at a specific time. Even divorce has some perks, I can say.
Robert and I had a quiet evening at home, we had supper and then a warm bath. I must have looked away for a split second after I finished putting on his pijamas and getting him ready for bed, and in that split second he tumbled from the changing table right in front of me. I caught him just before he hit the floor, but I was still petrified that I hurt him. I must have checked on him a dozen times during the night.
Saturday went uneventfully at work, and I came home to a very happy baby, I am so lucky to have Lucy. My phone camera has decided to quit on me so I cannot put any recent pictures of Rob’s latest antics. He loves to do what I call the “bench press”; he stands holding on to the bench by the door and squats up and down, especially to the beat of the music. I have noticed also that his repertoire of sounds and syllables has increased dramatically. He doesn’t stop now at the bland: ma-ma, ba-ba, da-da, but adds on complex and guttural tones, such as ag and ach. His latest vocalizations are: whooping on his indrawn breath, and smacking his lips. Jackie and I aren’t yet sure whether the latter is a kissing noise or just a random noise he newly discovered. I think he will soon master a form of a Xhosa click as well, yes perhaps I am exaggerating on that one.
Apart from losing the visual component of my posts, a few things happened on the weekend which sort of took the fun out of blogging for me. Firstly while reading my blog roll I was referred to this article (Writing about your daughter’s toilet-training misadventures could net you $40,000 a month and a legion of fans) in the globeandmail.com . The article discusses -and questions- the latest trend of parent blogging, throwing it into a very unfavourable light. The article portrays parent blogging as an exploitation of children and a violation of their privacy. The article quoted some famous parenting blogs, and among them Don Mills Diva, which I read regularly. It was claimed that some of these bloggers are cashing in on their writing and thus exploiting their children for profit, while violating their privacy. The reaction to the article was even more shocking. Some readers commented that parents who blog must get a life, and concentrate on parenting rather than writing about it, others accused parent bloggers of being sick to write about mundane stuff such as toilet training, reflux, and colic. Readers even questioned the sanity of people who such stuff. I know I am not in the league of any of these famous parent bloggers, but I found myself getting indignant on their behalf. I do consider myself normal, and I love reading bloggers’ musings. I also think that some of these dissenters must get themselves a small dose of compassion and humor.
We write about our small children because we are painfully aware of the vulnerability of our memory against the swift passage of time. My baby is growing and changing every day. As his face and personality develop, there are little bits of him that get lost forever. I want to hold all these little bits and preserve them in little snapshots. When I hold my son today, I hold a robust 9 month-old baby, and my helpless newborn is nowhere in sight. Tomorrow, my little baby will make way for a toddler, who will then turn into a young child. My love for my child will grow and change as he grows, and I want to capture its evolution as well. this is – or was- the purpose of this blog. I don’t understand how anyone will find such an activity reprehensible. That said, I am still disturbed by what I read, and I need to question who this blog is written for. Nine months ago it was for Robert, for me, and for the family. Today it is still for Robert, and for me, and I have to keep that in mind. I am free to write what I want about myself, I can relate incidents that make me look like a fool or like a bad mother. Recently I have been writing things that speak of my anger, resentment and hurt. I have to be careful how my child will interpret this writing one day, because I do not want it to colour his judgment. This is the argument for keeping it bland, sticking to safe subject and understatements, but to me this spells dishonesty and censorship, precisely what a blog shouldn’t be.
People like me read blogs and subscribe to them because they help us relate to our mundane and difficult lives. Honest mothers writing about their post partum depressions, their struggle with toilet training and the urge to scream or shake a small baby after a long colic fit help us put our own struggles and failures into perspective. It makes us feel that we are not alone, we are still normal even when we are almost driven off the bend… This could be the little reassurance we need to keep our sanity. When I read a blog I do not want read a sugar-coated version of reality, I want to see what real people think and feel. Real people have real problems, their living rooms aren’t always tidy, they have gray hair and wrinkles, they deal with shy or autistic children; but the bottom line is that they survive, they love their children and find some sort of happiness. Life on parent blogs is not a Disney movie, but it still works, and this is what I want to know.
I had more days of ambivalent feelings towards my ex. He was looking after Robert on Sunday, and around two in the afternoon I got a call from him, where he said there was a problem. I cannot explain the fear and the dread I got when I heard this phrase, so when I found out that someone broke into the car and stole Robbie’s baby bag I felt some relief. Even though the bag contained things that I won’t be able to replace: The jacket I hand knit while I was pregnant, a vest from Mountain Equipment Coop, and a book from Rob’s auntie. There was also an extra change of winter clothes, a sweat-top, a sippy cup, a sun hat and a few toys. Dad did what he could and replaced the essentials (the milk bottle and the sippy cup). Now I have to try and replace the rest. I don’t know how this is possible since I am restricted to walking distances.
My ex apparently also wrote to my family, explaining everything and nothing. Now I am in the unenviable position of being judged and reproved by my own family, as they analyze the mistakes that I must have made in the relationship. I might have made some mistakes, but I wasn’t given the chance to correct them in a professional manner. My ex was never interested in counseling. I am damaged goods now, I believe that marriage is completely overrated and I doubt that I will ever be in another relationship. The only hope I have is to protect my son from this conflict, to let him grow unbridled by my feelings of inadequacy and resentment. I still think that moving away from my ex is the best solution. Maybe then I can have some charitable thoughts about him.