Her Bad Mother

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Please Stand By...

... while Her Bad Mother pulls herself out of the dank purgatory that is Very Unpleasant Viral Illness (a state that was no doubt entered into as a result of, as Her Bad Mother's mother would claim, "too much excitement," a condition that can also lead to Ill Temper and Very Bad Sugar Headaches.)

If anyone knows of any remedies for throats that feel as though they've been razed by barbed wired and ears that feel as though they've been stuffed with exploding zeppelins - remedies that do not involve anything hot and steamy (it currently being far too hot and steamy in the tropics of Toronto for anything that is not iced) (is there such a thing as an iced chicken-soupiccino?) - please do share.

Thank you.

Cue Muzak...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Perfect Love

It was my husband's birthday the other day. Day before yesterday, in fact; one day after my return from the Road Trip That Shall No Longer Speak Its Name. It was a nice birthday - we went down to the lake and had a picnic and WonderBaby sort of sang Happy Birthday - but I didn't write about it. I didn't post a picture, or even leave a little Happy Birthday message here.

I don't say much about my husband here, on the blog. He appears, now and again, a peripheral character in the stories that I tell. Sometimes, rarely, he comes to centre stage, as an antagonist or foil, in some adventure or misadventure that I'm recounting, but even then the story is usually not about him but about our home or our neighbourhood or - most often - our child, and his prominence in the story is merely a function of his indispensability to the scene.

I don't say much about my husband here, nor about our marriage. I don't, I feel, have enough propriety over those stories to assert myself as narrator of those stories. They are not mine to share. They are his stories - or, in the case of our marriage, our stories. So it is that you rarely read anything substantive about my husband.

Which is a shame, because you would like him, you really would. He's a wonderful, wonderful man: one of those souls who is just genuinely good, genuinely concerned about the world around him and everyone in it, who is just naturally, effortlessly generous and kind and not in the cloying manner of someone who wants recognition or a place in the kingdom of God for their efforts but in the straightforward and authentic manner of someone who knows that we all just have to be good to one another if we're going to get along. And he loves animals and children, all of them, except maybe the really unpleasant ones and the older ones with the silly pants dropped below their skinny asses (the kids, not the animals), and always has, even before we had our own. I've seen him moved, really moved, at the sight of young boys at play.

All of which would make him sound really kind of wussy, but that's the thing, probably the biggest thing, that I love about him: he is at once the kindest and gentlest human being that I know, and the strongest. He's a big guy - 6 foot 5 - and he's got broad shoulders and strong arms and although he thinks that he's a bit too thin, he's not at all, and he uses every muscle in his body and brain to take care of us, his wife and his daughter, whether that means getting car commercials made in the Arctic circle so that there's money for diapers and holidays and a roof over our heads or building a swingset in the backyard so that WonderBaby can play first thing in the morning and last thing at night or gutting the bathroom so that I can have a soaker tub (he meant well, he really did) or protecting us from bears (which he hasn't done yet but I know that he could.)

He's funny; he's really, really funny. He can make me laugh harder than anybody, although sometimes he gets carried away with the puns and I have, on more than one occasion, had to stifle (usually unsuccessfully) exasperated groans.

He's manly, in the best sense of the word, in the classical sense of the word, whether taken from the ancient Greek (from the Greek aner, the genitive andros, the condition of being excellent in his form as a man, a male human being, in all that is characteristic of that masculine humanity) or the ancient Roman (from the Latin vir, the root of our word for virtue, which used to mean, as in the Greek, the condition of being excellent qua man - strong and spirited and inclined to apply strength and spirit and reason in the service of family and community.) He will, secretly, be pleased by this description, but he will be uncomfortable with my saying it out loud, with my public assertion that he is manly. He will be embarassed, and he will say so. I will reply that his embarassment makes him all the more manly, in my eyes.

He's not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination: he's not too good with keeping up with birthdays and anniversaries and he maybe expected a bit too much of me when he expected me to jump up and down excitedly at the prospect of spending a week in an RV with his mother (I didn't sell that one very well, did I? he said later, in a perfect expression of understatement)(and might I just add here, to avoid any possibility of further argument on the issue, that my subdued reaction to the suggestion of the mother-in-law/RV combo was not in any way a reflection of any antipathy toward his mother but rather a reflection of the bald fact that mothers-in-law and RVs do not, in combination, make for relaxing vacations. If anyone disagrees with me here feel free to speak up, but my bet is that this is a universal - nay, scientific - truth.) Also, he's not the tidiest person and did I mention the puns? He is not perfect.

But I'm not perfect either; contrary to all appearances, I am far from it. But I'm perfect for him and he's perfect for me and that, my friends, my dear, dear friends, is probably all that you need to know.

This Birthday Message Has Been Brought To You By Crayola Washable Markers and PBS.

We're perfect for each other, we two, we three.

Happy birthday, doofus. I love you.


Great heaping bajillions of thanks to K and Dispatch Mom and Miscellaneous Mum for awarding, respectively, "Mommy" and "The Street of Misfit Toys" Perfect Post Awards. So banal to say, but so, so true: I'm honoured. Muchly. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

High School Confidential

I've said before that I don't think that the blogosphere is like high school, or, at least, that the corner of the blogosphere that is populated by parents is like high school. Hell, I just said it just the other day, on public record, in front of a room full of bloggers, some of whom who were probably thinking that were it not for the facts that I wore no scrunchie in my hair and was not running for school president, I would otherwise bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Tracy Flick, and possibly also one or two Heathers.

(You may, in fact, be thinking that now. That's okay. I understand. But hands off my virtual scrunchie.)

I stand by what I wrote last year, and what I said at the Momosphere panel at BlogHer: the momosphere is not like high school. It's not like any high school that I ever attended, anyway. Nobody actively shuns or excludes anybody else. Nobody's getting pantsed in the locker room, or spat on in the smoke pit, or shoved in a locker. Nobody is prancing down the hall, looking down their noses, swinging their hair and letting their purses knock the glasses off of freshmen who don't know well enough to get out of the way. It's not high school here. It's really not.

But I have to concede that it might, for some people, feel that way. Especially now, in the wake of the party of the year - BlogHer is prom and Homecoming and grad night (and more than a little bit of band camp) all rolled into one - when everybody is talking about who did what and where and who slept with whom and why and omg were you there when they put panties on HBM's head?

It's feeling that way for me, a little bit. I'm saying that, obviously, as someone who was there, as someone who was in the thick of it, as someone, maybe, who swung her hair a little bit as she pranced about with her girlfriends (and - it must be said - with their babies. And their moms. Which would have cut down whatever sliver of glamour we were hoping to exude, were it not for that fact that those babies were so heart-burstingly adorable and that mom so super mega-awesome.) But I'm saying it because I felt it; because I am feeling it, now, in retrospect.

I did a lot of huddling. I didn't circulate around a great variety of tables. I wanted to maximize time with some women that I really, really love - heart-friend love - women who I don't see often enough, women whose friendship pushes past the boundaries of the Internet, women whose distance I keenly feel even as we text and e-mail and chat and (ever more rarely, ironically) catch up with via blog. (My Toronto girls, my real-life BFFs, are another story - I missed being glued to their sides, but had the consolation of one of them in bed and the others on our Thelma-and-Louise adventure and all of them, all of them, here, today and tomorrow in the park and around the table to hug and to kiss and to share.) And so it was that I might have breezed by some of you in the hallway, not noticed you in the washroom, only shared a word or two or three before rushing off to link arms with a BFF, or catch up to a girl-crush or two or three or four, or put up another election poster, or whatever.

And so it is that as I write this, even, some of you are cruising the halls of the Internets, listening to the whispers and giggles and feeling left out, feeling excluded, even, from the experience of not getting to know someone that you maybe wanted to get to know better. I wanted to get to know so many of you better. I missed getting to know so many of you better, so many of you who were there, in addition to the great, great many who were not. (Don't even get me started on linking you all. CANNOT DO IT. The potential for missed-link angst is far, far too great. Also, my poor tired fingers. Many of you know who you are, most of you don't, but I just can't go there. Someday you'll hear it from me personally.) So much so that I can say this in all honestly: I feel a tiny bit of relief that some of you who couldn't make it, didn't make it. That you weren't there.

Because - because you weren't there - I can't feel that I missed an opportunity that was right in front of my nose, as I did with so many. I can avoid feeling guilty about not having spent enough time with you, about not having slowed down enough to exchange more than a few words. About having chosen to have lunch with someone other than you. About having not had the time to discover whether you and I could be heart-friends, too.

Because I really think that we could, you and I - the yous who were there and the yous who were not. Be heart-friends. But there are so many of you, and so little time and so little space in this world that we call real life. In the long, tight hallways and crowded lunch-rooms of real life, where you'll notice if I don't look your way. Where I notice if I haven't looked your way.

So. I cried a lot upon my return. I cried because I felt torn by conflicting emotions. Gutted at having said goodbye to some of the dearest friends I know, some of whom are moving even further out of my real-life reach. Rueful at not having spent enough time sharing this adventure with my really-real-life girlfriends (who, it must be said, barely noticed that I was not in my usual place at their side, so much was the fun being had with the rest of you). Heart-sore at having missed so many opportunities to deepen existing friendships, and to make new ones. And this: relieved to be back in the wide-open spaces of the Internets, where the lunchrooms are bigger and the hallways wider and there is so much more room for everyone. Where you all are, always, and me, too, always, roaming and talking.

And never, ever getting lost in the middle of nowhere.

Where the whispers and giggles carry further, or can or should carry further, where we have all the time and space in the world to be, maybe, friends. Where you'll forgive me if I sometimes seem to huddle, if I sometimes seem to not notice, if I sometimes seem to breeze by in the hallway. Because I don't mean to. I don't want to. It's just, sometimes, there are so many voices, so many stories, and my heart can only stretch so far at once. Our hearts can only stretch so far at once.

At least here, in this space, there is room for stretching, and the will to stretch. That's why it's not like high school. Not in the ways that matter.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Message From WonderBaby

(PPS - that means YOU. Yes, you. And you too, sweet Internets. 'Speshully you.)