Or, What I Can’t and Won’t Give You and Why

Since I often write based on what I am looking at, reading, or thinking about, I have decided to post about a comment that Marian over at Kirala left on my blog recently, in regards to my previous post:

You ordinarily seem so cheerfully tolerant and steady-on as a mother that I have to admit it’s a little reassuring to know that you can get a bit frustrated at times.

Marian, let me tell you I was HORRIFIED when I saw your comment. Let me also tell you I am really glad you took the time to post it. It made me wonder what other people think when they read me. Do they think I’m some kind of unflappable Ur-mother who laughs off being sprayed with a mouthful of yogurt or having her mouth vomited into? I doubt it, but let’s go with that notion for a minute.

My first inclination is to tell you a woeful story about yesterday, when Strudel’s dad and I were so foolish as to go out to lunch. Strudel behaved SO BADLY that she was throwing everything she could get her hands on: the chunky parts of her tom kha, spoons, menus, pennies, and noodles. By the end of the meal she was swatting at all art within her reach and banging her head on the booth’s wall. The good news is that I gave someone over at childfree hardcore something to post about, assuming one of their members were present. Note to the gleefully childless: I think making children cry is fun too, though I am a Moo with crotchdroppings. I am doing your work because I can victimize them day or night.

Dude, I’m getting off track here. As usual. My point is that I am not unflappable. I was way flapped. I wanted to dunk her in the mini-pond in the lobby and run away, pretending that I have no children…though my stretchmarks and HAT SIZED WAGINA would tell another tale.

Let me say that normally I don’t write about the inherent difficulties of childrearing, for a few reasons.

1. If you are a parent, then: DUH, amirite? Children can be the tits and the pits, all within the course of an hour. I assume you don’t want to come here and read about how my kid just twisted my nose until my nostrils were pointed at the ceiling because she didn’t want her diaper changed. You probably just finished sobbing because your most favoritest thing ever got mangled, or maybe little Angelica just pulled a clump of your hair out because she didn’t want to eat peas. They’re feral sometimes. That’s baseball. If it makes a good story or picture, I’ll grab it.

2. If you are not a parent, then you cannot completely grok what I’m saying. If you could understand me, then something has gone terribly wrong, because you should only suffer this badly at the hands of your own offspring, who will likely grow up, sterilize themselves, and write hateful screeds on childfree hardcore. Or better yet, they will be recently quoted in my local paper as saying, “If restaurants ban dogs, then they should ban small children, too.” (I’m not even going to go into all the things that are wrong with this argument. Today.)

3. So, with the first two points in mind, I feel like I don’t want to chronicle my struggles with children. That’s just not what this blog’s about. It’s more about, I don’t know, my struggles not to buy tube tops. Or my struggles not to eat random pointy shit, or my struggles to keep inappropriate items out of my snack trap. And sometimes, because I cannot resist, it is about my struggles with my first babydaddy. Which brings me to my fourth point.

4. My relationship with my older child’s father was a great source of distress to me, to say the least. I also had stressful times with my older daughter, which I occasionally blogged about. Most of these entries were twisted and used against me in court in some way. Recently I was telling a friend suffering through the protracted early stages of a divorce that I was persecuted in court for “being overly concerned with cleanliness and order,” as a result “not letting my kid be a kid.” A few paragraphs later I was persecuted as unfit because I was “neglecting my duties” as a mother because I was working and going to graduate school full time. So was I scrubbing fixtures with a toothbrush while Franny cowered under the table, or lying in a pile of Hot Pockets wrappers smoking cigarettes? It depends on which day of the week it was. Children enjoy variety, you know.

In short, I realize I have become hesitant to write anything negative about the very real strain of raising children, for fear that Seattle Federline will try to start a new case against me. Because if you are not catering to a child’s every whim while farting glitter, in real life and in print, then you are an Unfit Mother.

And yet, I won’t stop blogging.

5. I have been thinking about this point an extra-special lot since I followed the mommyblogging shitstorm over on Pandagon recently. Amanda Marcotte featured a quote from a self-described Christian mommyblogger, which I will not defend, attack, or link to, because I acknowledge I am taking it completely out of context:

The moment I find my children boring, the moment I don’t take joy in watching their explorations and moments of learning, the moment I choose self-fulfillment over milestones in my child’s life, will be a sad, wasted day in my life.

It made me think…for about five seconds, when I realized I completely disagreed with this and always have. I want to personally reply to this out-of-context statement by saying that I OFTEN find my children boring. There is a lot of way Sisyphean slogging, grunt work, arguing, and tediousness associated with being with them and guiding them into becoming bigger people who can make better decisions. I am just not inspired to run an entire blog on my children. They are part of my life, and I love them so much, even when they are banging their head on restaurant walls and causing me to eat so fast I get indigestion. But they are not me. And they are not my purpose for blogging. Plus, I want this shit to be more funny, less whiny.

My favorite thing is getting an email or comment that says, “thank you for making me laugh today.” I am your dancing monkey. DANCE MONKEY, DANCE!

Thank you, Marian, for making me really consider some issues that have been trying to crystallize for a while, but keep getting pushed out by grocery lists, whining, and the Facts of Life theme song.


  1. Not a parent, but you do make me laugh. :)

    And I look forward to what you have to say about dogs and kids in restaurants. I think it’s ridiculous that (literally) ass-munching dogs should be spreading their slobber around grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, etc. The current hoopla about this is, to me, a no-brainer…

  2. My girl learned the word “crotch” a couple days ago. I got into trouble for this. (though I believed it step up from “stinky”) So I beg a morsel of your wisdom: What *is* the socially acceptable children’s term for this region? Or a bad word that decent people will not recognize. Surely you must know.

  3. After a bit of goolie googling, my fond memories of the Groovie Goolies are now tainted evermore. Perhaps for best. Anyway, that expression appears to be specific to males, so not applicable. Meanwhile in other UK slang, “pisser” would seem to be exactly what I’m after. Except that when translated, it is not.

  4. Hey Jope, long time no see. Around here, we use the generic but clinical “vulva.” It kind of covers the whole package, and it’s correct.

    Lately she’s been saying “private parts,” which she did not learn from me. I am evangelical about knowing what your junk is called.

  5. You people are obsessed with genitalia! I’m just trying to potty-train the kid, darnit. And so the hunt goes on. If fruitless, I shall invent my own word.

  6. I’m not a parent, but I just have to say: I will be smugly self-satisfied if, when the time comes, I’m half as cool and awesome a mum as you are, SJ.

  7. Like everything else, there has to be a balance. You can’t live your life 24/7 for your child(ren). At the same time, you can’t be completely selfish. Parenting isn’t always a joy or a Hell. And I think you, SJ, represent that (in)delicate balance. I give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to creative, punk-rock parents who take their responsibilities seriously enough to be concerned about their child’s development and growth, while taking time out “keep it real.” Occasionally with jawbreakers. In your vagina.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t approve, but we’ve gotten Mia trained to refer to her “girl parts.” And “boobies.”

  8. My daughter was taught to call it her “bootie” by her fellow toddlers in preschool, and, really, who am I to disagree?

    Not only am I occasionally bored by my kids, I’ve decided that’s a GOOD thing. I think everybody is trying way to hard not to ever be bored even for a second. Being bored is the first step toward thinking about stuff, which is the first step toward maybe having a deep revelation about the way things are. When my daughter is hanging upside down on the couch and saying “I’m bored,” I tell her, “That’s nice.”

  9. Good perspective, Carny.

    Man, it seems like 9 times out of ten my comments turn into hoo-hoo discussions. Could be worse, I suppose.

  10. I barely ‘know’ you…yet I love you…..

    Thank you for being honest.

    I think parenting in 2006 is about cutting though all the rose coloured bulltoodles about the JOY of parenting and seeing it for what it is…..

    and what is it? For me a test of everything that makes me human…..it pokes and prods at my every fault AND good and makes me think every single day.

    But after failure to eat in TWO restaurants last night…I can’t think of anything good to say.

  11. Wow. That was a very thoughtful and thorough response, SJ. Thank YOU. I agree, more funny less whiny is in general a good philosophy of life, even when one doesn’t have the threat of litigation breathing down one’s neck.

    Also, among many, many other times, this:

    “Because if you are not catering to a child’s every whim while farting glitter, in real life and in print, then you are an Unfit Mother.”

    made me laugh. thanks…

  12. Just found you. LOVE the name of your blog. I wanted to begin my comment with “Dear Asshole” but i didn’t want to start off by offending anyone. I’ll save the offending for later.

    I lost the unflapable label when my daughter was 5 and came out if the bathroom with no pants and a permanent marker and said “Look mommy, i just drew a happy face on my labia.”

  13. My friend who grew up in Texas called it her “precious” – imagine my delight when I saw LOTR!

    SJ, you nearly always make me laugh. Most of the time you are my favorite blogger because you have a unique way of expressing common, and sometimes uncommon perspectives. No matter what you’re talking about it, it always grabs me.

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