Sunday, June 19, 2011

Envying, bragging, guilt, and support

We have a book on the care and feeding of newborns*, and it says in a number of places If X is going really well, don't tell your friends with new babies, as they'll be envious. And it's so true. I've read a number of posts from other new mothers and felt envious. Sometimes of the most pathetic things. For instance, Trinity mentioned that her beets are flourishing, and I was like WAAAH! I haven't had time to thin my beets, plus they're doing that thing where they never turn into beeeeets! SOB! Which is, uh, ridiculous.

And in general, I've got no real cause for envy. I'd elaborate on the ways in which things are going well, but then you'd want to stab ME in the face. Because somehow it often sounds like bragging, even if it's just a statement of fact.

And then there's the fact that I have a baby and some of you don't, which makes me sad.

So I was thinking: Perhaps I need to broaden my horizons and start reading the weblogs of women who did not have trouble conceiving, but with whom I have other common ground. Perhaps get into conversations with people who have different experiences. So I found a weblog that looked interesting, and started reading through the archive to get to know the woman. And then I came upon the post wherein she announced her pregnancy. It took all the air out of my lungs in a way that was quite unexpected. I realized I'd actually never read such a thing before--a pregnancy announcement from someone who didn't realize how miraculous and tenuous that little life was. (Yeah, I'm not a big reader of weblogs in general--I just read yours.) I was astonished to find myself feeling all the despair and loneliness I used to feel every month, just as though nothing had changed. Weird, y'all. Apparently I'm highly conditioned. And then I didn't want to read any more.

So I don't know what to read (other than the things I'm already reading, of course).

And I don't know what to write.

I want to write about the way my husband's constant presence gets on my nerves, but I have a husband who works from home, which means I can shower every day. Would you like to read a post about how my husband's excessive helpfulness is annoying?

I want to write about the ways that our financial stability makes me anxious--how much growing up poor is part of my identity, how I worry that Bun Bun will lack creativity, resourcefulness, respect? Would you like to read a post about how I am TOO RICH?

I want to write about my fear that I can never go back to my job, how answering e-mails from my research assistants about the studies currently running in my lab makes me FUCKING DEPRESSED. Would you like to read a post about how I'm considering throwing away a tenured** position at a perfectly reasonable institution, something thousands of women struggle to achieve?

I want people to sympathize with my problems and offer support, though I'm not sure even I can sympathize with them. 

I should just get over myself, and stop obsessing over how others might react. Because I can't predict it, and anyway, it's not like these qualms kept me from calling everyone in Bionic's whole family a jackass.

I think this is all part of a larger realignment of identity that's going on right now, as I figure out who this Bunny-as-mother person is, as I contemplate the rest of my career, the rest of my marriage, the Rest of My Life.

*I really like it.

**Because I'll either be tenured soon after I return to work full time, or I won't, in which case I bet I'll be really sorry I ever thought I might not want this job.


  1. Yeah, don't complain about having too much help from your husband or I might smack you :). My hubby is working a full-time job which has turned into 12 hours days since the exact day we found out about our son's birth, and he's also going to school full-time (1 online class, 1 night class), so he isn't able to get up at night and help, or really do anything else to help out with the baby or around the house. It SUCKS.
    But you won't hear me complaining too much, because at least I don't have a colicky baby, and I don't have to leave Isaac to go to work, and in general, we are financially secure. I wrote a post the other day about how rough my week was, and then I just deleted it. I knew I couldn't post anything complain-ey, knowing there are still so many of my IF blogger buddies waiting for their bundles of joy who would kill to be sleep deprived by an infant...
    I'm not saying we should censor what we write, but I totally understand why you would feel that you have to.

  2. Please keep sharing and complaining. I love your perspective. You are a few weeks ahead of me and I find it very very comforting to hear the unadulterated experience of a realist - cause I'm one too. And now I have a baby and it's fucking weird and I'm supposed to be super content, and there's lots about it (more than not) that doesn't fill me with contentment.

    Thanks for sharing

  3. This is another limbo land. I wish there was a larger world of women who were in your spot now to relate to. But, alas, the infertile seem so much more interesting. I actually avoid a lot of reading about blogs other than cooking ones. And even then I won't read ones where ms perfect whips out a masterpiece after one flick of the wrist. I like well seasoned friends. Ones who've been through the shit and got dirty. The struggle to tame an evil soul, bastard beets, pesky egg whites, or cook up a baby, all of that makes for an interesting character. When people take good fortune for granted it's like saying, "oh look won the lottery...again" or "its incredibly difficult to be comfortable on my bed made with 100 dollar bills."

    This all said, I'm certain that you'll find a groove. It's a whole new normal that feels a bit tight right now. I, for one, will listen to you bitch anytime. Too rich, helped, baby blessed witch that you are! I say bring it on and let the haters hate. :)

  4. yep, people who have never had difficulty being normative are pretty damn boring, yep. got a whole soapbox speech on that topic, with weird grammatical metaphors and everything. will spare you.

    i'm returning to writing the bean's birth story now, after a week off to consider whether it's really seemly to carry on about the sucky parts of a normal vaginal birth of a healthy baby. so, yeah. but if i don't complain about it, who will? and WHAT OF MY PUBLIC?

    i almost typed "pubic" there.

    this corner of your reading pubic would miss you. stick around and say rude things about asshole doctors and young plagiarists, k thx.

    ps, my word verification is "storp." which i find oddly funny.

    pps, what's up with saying "weblog" all the time? are you writing From The Past? is this the colonial williamsburg of blogspot?

    ppps, do migraines lower a person's inhibitions to the point of rudeness? would a beer help?


  5. See, this is the problem with being such an empathetic soul, Bunny. We want to read about what's going on in your life without you having to second-guess what is and isn't post-worthy. Everybody's problems are different! I'm sure that every time I whine about my job or my fellow ensemble members, there are folks rolling their eyes: cry me a river, g&l, you get to play music all the time!

    All any of us can do is try to present things as honestly as possible, ask for support when we need it, and give support when we have it to spare.

    There's no gold medal at the end for suffering the most...and there's no measuring stick for suffering either. Just tell it like it is, like you always do.

  6. complain away and be real please. it's your blog. it's not right that once we get pregnant, we have to bite our tongues, although i do get why you feel like that bc i've been meaning to write a post about being fucking depressed, yet i don't want to sound like i'm complaining bc i'm one of the lucky ones who made it to *this side*. therefore, i should shut the fuck up, but i don't really want to. but enough about me ... tell it like you wanna please :o) xoxo.

  7. Hm. There has been a bunch of Change! Change! Everything at once! going on. So, yeah, I for one (or, um, seven, being that I'm a little late to the party), say tell us how it is. That's one of the awesomest things about you.

    And if my husband worked from home and I was home for more than a day or so, I'd be ready to fucking shoot him. I mean, I love him to pieces, but a girl needs her space.

  8. I would love to read about a post about your worries that you are too rich. Because even though I don't have kids (yet, I hope), I kind of worry about the same thing.

  9. What everyone else said and more. I love to read your blog because I can relate even though the subject matter is different than what's happening in my life, the themes are familiar.

  10. Post whatever the hell you want on your Weblog (Ye Ol' Weblog from Days of Yore). Complaining is part of parenting. So is jealousy of the appearance of others having it easier. So is identity crisis for both mom and dad, over Who We Are Now and What We Will Do With Ourselves Now. Everything is rearranged and it's like stumbling through your house in the dark, with all the furniture in a new spot every damn day. Of course you'll get stubbed toes, and of course you should bitch about it. Because, ow. Plus, I feel like there's this Cult of Perfection among parents wherein you don't talk about the realities of parenting as it is, but instead only as you envision it. Which is never the same. I wish I had been told about the myriad hardships actually faced by friends, nurses, doctors, etc. when it comes to nursing, night time, napping, introducing solids, etc., etc. I think too many people are inclined to pretend that everything is copacetic and so don't give you the real scoop. Maybe because our blogs are (for the most part) anonymous, and/or maybe because we've joined a tight community who has had no choice but to face some harsh realities, we are much freer here to talk shit about parenting. So, keep it up. I know I will.

  11. Please talk about the reality of raising Bun Bun, and all the glory and awfulness that comes along with it. I think it's best to be real, not only for your processing of all the stuff that's going on in that fabulous brain of yours, but also for the rest of us. I want to read your posts and know what I'm in for, and when it happens to me, i can know that I'm not alone. So complain away!

    And thanks for the advice on the book - it looks great!

  12. Bunny, I would love it if you would write about all those things. I made a decision not to be apologetic about my experiences, otherwise I'd end up editing out anything that really mattered to me. We all have areas that go exceedingly well and others that are abysmal. And if I ever feel like I want to stab you in the face, I promise I'll just click away instead.

  13. This is your blog and you have the right to post about your damn feelings! I realize that it's hard to do sometimes, when you feel that everything's a complaint lately or everything sounds braggy. I get that. Seriously, though, most people understand and most people WANT to hear about it all. I'm definitely one of them.

  14. Yep. I know what you mean, b/c whenever a Mom bloggie writes about how well her baby sleeps at X weeks I literally have to look down at my skin to make sure it hasn't turned green with envy. Hahaha. But still, I think we all have our shit that totally sucks, and our stuff that's going annoyingly well, and we read each other to root each other on, to learn, etc, no matter what. I personally find all of your shit you write about on your, ahem, weblog--the bad and the good--absolutely riveting!!! xoxo

  15. I read everything you write with immense delight. You can transcribe the phone book and I will keep reading.

  16. Hey Bunny, I read this a few days back but for some reason I've been a lurker on your blog for a long time and not a commenter which is really crazy cuz I'm a fucking loudmouth. Anywhozits, just thought I'd let you know that I am anxiously awaiting your complaining posts about your helpful husband, excessive money and successful career. That's what makes you, and this blog, real and enjoyable. :)

  17. I think you're right about the realignment of identity. I suspect that it's difficult for all mothers...but a whole hell of a lot difficult for mothers who did not achieve that state easily, or without grief.

    I, for one, would like to read about ALL of those things. I like all your posts. Take me anywhere. I'm happy to go along for the ride.

  18. I dont even know how beets are supposed to behave. I didnt know they could do a thing.

    Great post.