Friday, July 15, 2011

Baby and not at all me

My husband and I often have our best conversations when we're in a restaurant. There's something about facing each other across a table and being removed from our normal surroundings that seems to encourage us to have state-of-the-union conversations. Or maybe it's just that I've decided this is what we do, and so I'm the instigator. Whatever. On the occasion when we took Bun Bun to dinner for the first time, the topic of conversation was my longing for a fellow new mother friend who lives walking distance from my house. After Mr. Bunny shot down my idea of hanging flyers (Because he felt it had a bit of a "lost cat" flavor to it. Ahem. He's probably right about that.), he said that at times in his life when he's wanted to meet people, he's had the most success by just acting on all opportunities. That painful as it is to leave the house, it's the most effective way to achieve this particular goal. WHATEVER. Obviously crazy, right? Clearly I can just sit in my back yard and eventually the perfect new best friend will find me.

Implausible as his suggestion was, I decided to go with it, and attended a Baby and Me event last week. It takes place at a former elementary school a mere four blocks from my house, just past the library, a lovely shady walk.

There were some good things about the experience. The other people did not throw stones at me, and I got to hear a ton about what nine-month-olds are up to, which will certainly be useful in seven months. But there were also a few aspects of the experience that made me grumpy and that had the effect of highlighting my sense of isolation.

First, there was the super obnoxious member of the group. He's a stay-at-home dad, and at first I thought he was just extra defensive about being the only male present, or feeling like he had to work extra hard to show how awesome he is at parenting because he has a penis. But as we went around the circle, the rest of us sat quietly while each person had her say, and he always chimed in with his super-knowledgeable response. OH SYDNEY DID THAT TOO, and here's how you fix it. So I think he's just an asshole. 

Second, the conversation fixated for a tediously long time on the subject of baby sign. NOTE: if you're really enthusiastic about baby sign, you might want to skip this part. The development of symbolic communication in humans happens to be something I know a shitload about, and the baby sign craze just chaps my hide. There's nothing wrong with teaching a baby to use signs (that we know of yet!), but there's nothing RIGHT with it either. There is zero careful research to show that it does jack shit for your child's development or has any long-term benefits. And while it might be entertaining to see your kid using symbols before he or she is able to produce words, I think the natural unfolding of language acquisition (which normally involves a period of gestural communication) is a beautiful thing, and why tamper with it? Hate on me if you want, and shower me with anecdotes about your child being so frustrated before she learned the sign for MORE, but you are not going to convert me, and I predict that this craze will die out just as the whole baby Einstein craze has. Ahem. So anyway, I had to sit there biting my tongue for quite a while, which was unpleasant.

Third, I'd gone largely to ask about pediatricians, and the whole room was mad about the very Dr. Jackass I vow to set on fire if I ever see him again. And as a special knife in the side, the woman who seemed most likely to be my new best friend (covered with tattoos, cloth diapering) was the most rapt about how amaaaaaaaazing he is. Sigh.

Finally, I ended up at the changing table with another woman, and we got to talking. She asked how my pregnancy and birth had been, and I told her it had all gone beautifully. But I found myself feeling really weird about just leaving it at that, so I without thinking too much about it, I added that the getting pregnant part had been hard for us. Turns out she'd had trouble, too. I remarked that it was a shitty experience, and she agreed. Then she asked how long it had taken us. Two years, I replied. Oh, that's not very long, she responded.

Part of me totally agrees with her. It's not that long. And I'm guessing had I pursued the conversation I'd have learned that she went through some major hell, and I certainly sympathize with her. But I also think she can go fuck herself. And in that moment I was grateful that I recorded my experience here, because when I'm tempted to write off my suffering simply because it was smaller than the suffering of others, it's nice to be able to re-read those posts, and to be taken back to those dark and painful days.

So...this foul-tempered and highly judgmental bitch has yet to find that new friend. Shocking, isn't it?

21 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun. ha ha. I was just reading a bit about language acquisition in Nurture Shock. It's an interesting book about babies/children. Have you read it? Good luck finding some mama friends. Seems like it takes a while.

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  2. We had that jerk-off in our birth class too, same guy I swear. He had an answer for everyone and it usually involved using your iphone to monitor your baby. Yuck.

    Also, changing table lady was just rude. I hope you were a least a little rude back.

    (also, this is Sugar from bionicmamas. my last comment seemed to come through as from our site as a whole, which is odd.)

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  3. dammit, this is the real bionic, and since i was just about to tell you about mr. "i'm not at all worried about anything to do with having a new baby bc i am going to solve every problem using my iphone app" (seriously), i felt very confused to see i'd already said that. hmmph.

    also, most people have crap taste in doctors. i realize that sounds crazy coming from someone w/ my ob, but we're broken up, okay?

    i'd be interested to know more of your thoughts on signing. i'm interested in it 100% as a way to potentially make my life easier,not bc i think it will help the bean grow a third noggin hemisphere or whatever.

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  4. That sucks goat. I happened to have the exact opposite experience in my baby class as its a bunch of equally alcohol dependent women who work outside the home and have babies about the same age. I wish that for you. And I usually get what I want. Drinking while simultaneously being able to say "My baby is pissing me off" should be an inalienable right for all new mothers.

    Finally, Baby Einstein craze? I mean don't get me wrong, I love those DVDs but only because Mac stares at them for the full 30 minutes and I can get shit done. Are they actually supposed to be beneficial for him or something?

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  5. also the local moms group here makes me want to bore my eyes out. i've had better luck with the lesbian moms: my advice is to become a lesbian. (this is always my advice.)

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  6. ^it would also probably help if you'd stop eating babies, bunny. geesh.

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  7. well, now my comment just looks weird, but i'm leaving it, because it's true and i'm telling you as a friend. sometimes the truth hurts.

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  8. (I deleted a comment from Anon saying if I weren't such an elitist bitch people would like me, because anyone who doesn't know me well enough to not say such a thing...well, really shouldn't be here at all.)

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  9. Yeah, Bug was totally not into baby sign. (I was interested solely as a means to Less Frustrated Screaming Please); he only ever responded to MILK (pawing at my chest and excited grunting, when the answer was in the affirmative). Neither was I, really, which might be why he only ever signed MORE, and he was already talking by then, so he'd sign it and say it at the same time: MORE MORE MORE MORE.

    Our local moms group has an over-represented contingent of people who live in tasteless McMansions 20 feet apart in vinyl-sided suburban hell, and think that economizing means buying a Lexus SUV rather than a Cayenne. I mostly avoid them like the plague and hang out with the three people I like. I would punch them, but my education has not made me a grumpy judgmental bitch like you (JUST KIDDING!). There's even one woman I actively hate, one of about five people in the world I really, truly loathe; she is an ambitious social-climbing moronic example of the petite bourgeoisie with more ambition than intelligence and more hair than wit. To boot, she knows everything about every child in the whole world, including mine. And her kids are violent, unpleasant little brats who hit my very gentle Bug every time they see him.

    See how un-judgmental and nice I am? It's how I make friends and influence people. This is what they taught me in the Ivies!

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  10. Also, please excuse punctuation errors; I was distracted by the book playing "The Wheels On The Train" for the 2,000th time.

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  11. This might be a whole other post in itself, but my mom has recently (and often) taken to making comments to me about my IF treatments and how "it wasn't really so bad" and "it didn't last very long" and "it was worth it" etc. I think she's trying to really play up the bright side--that, um, I have two awesome, beautiful, healthy little babies to love forever and every--but it really upsets me when she downplays the depression, darkness and pain that I endured during IF treatments. So, I hear you: that lady can frack off.

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  12. Wait, BFFs don't wander into backyards in your area? Clearly, you should move.

    And also clearly, that woman should know that all IF is painful and to not downplay your "mere" two years. There was nothing mere about them.

    Also-also, "elitist bitch" is *obviously* the first thought that comes to mind when I think of Bunny. Not "super-cool, funny, real, awesome woman and mom." Not at all. (sigh) People.

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  13. I still campaign for being your BFF, as clearly we are cloven from some evil brain.

    I have this same issue with just finding new friends, mom or no mom status. There's something especially awesome about having a snarky exchange with someone that you have NO IDEA wtf they will say next. And I think that that predictability is what's annoying you to the bone. I will hope that someone will come forward and surprise you in this case.

    If nothing else, I expect to sit in to Bunny lecture on human language acquisition. I will teach whatever bebeh I am blessed with only ONE sign. And I think you know what it will mean. ;)

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  14. Is there an e-mail I can send a question to? I can't find it on your blog.

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  15. Wow awesome coments galore! Specially from bionic mama and Jenny-- the wheels on the bus are going to be shot out if I hear that song again. Well in regards to the new mama BFF you could do what mine did, stop me on the street while I was walking with my baby and my dog and say "hi can I talk to you for a minute I just had a baby and don't know anyone around here" and it turned out she is not a lunatic and actually does have a baby and is very cool.

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  16. Re: 'two years - oh, that's not very long' woman, I just want to let you know that I think that that was uncalled for, and I say this as a woman who has been trying for (oh fuck) SIX years and still no luck. Two years is MISERABLE. I can look back in my blog to see how I felt two years in and I was MISERABLE. It's far too long to be trying and far too long to be living in grief and anxiety and longing. She was just being a Pain Olympian. World, alas, littered with them.

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  17. You are such a mother fucking riot. Pls dont ever stop calling out the truth. Tell Daddy Douchebag to hit the road. Law, I cannot bear even picturing his face.

    Good for you making your way in the land of the Baby Holders. There have to be some decent ones out there.

    I recall the time a mom from the neighborhood mom's group shared her blog with everyone. Of course, I rushed home to read it. Fuck me. All these stories about how "blessed" (gag) she was to have the opportunity to travel all over the world this summer. Oh the culture! Oh the world is a small place! Look! Darla is a tap dancer! Someone shoot me.

    If a blog doesnt have strife, depression, anger and loss who the fuck wants to read it?

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  18. Well, the truth is you don't want just any friend. You want a real friend. Someone who is at the same juncture of life as you, but also someone who doesn't judge, who doesn't take things TOO seriously (but takes seriously the things she ought to). Look on, Bunny. You deserve one.

    As for the class, I did a bit of chuckling. Christ. I've never been a joiner, or a fitter-in. It's important to know that (impending, possibly) motherhood is not necessarily going to change this.

    Wish we lived in the same 'hood, though.

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  19. I excel at not fitting in, so I have had extremely mixed results in trying to identify non-douchey moms (or dads) to befriend. The daycare we picked has some crazy-rich kids attending (Detroit Pistons' kids, etc.) and I'm quite sure my car (what I thought was a pretty nice mid-size Japanese SUV) is the most ghetto vehicle in the school parking lot. So. I smile and nod but I don't jump at the chance to hang with them. Lone wolf or some shit.

    I am unsure of the baby sign. I think it might be useful to know "milk" and "more" and "all done," but I don't think it has anything to do with meaningful development of communication skills, any more than a walker teaches a baby to walk. It will probably boil down to how lazy I am in teaching it, anyway. I don't have such a hard time figuring out when he wants milk (tit-grab) or when he wants more (gaping open mouth and inpatient vocalization) or when he's all done (mouth closed like Fort Knox with head turned to side and bib ripped off and thrown to the ground followed by shouting with glee). So baby sign might be moot.

    And do kick Douchy Dad in the nutsack. He sounds like a great candidate for it.

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  20. OCD spell-check: "impatient" rather than "inpatient." Idiot.

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  21. Stephanie (apenguinandanowl)July 19, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Well, of course! The problem with the mommy groups is that there are other mommies there. You just didn't realize. It's OK. Now you never have to go back, content in the knowledge that these groups spring forth from somewhere around the 5 circle of hell.

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