Saturday, January 29, 2005

Yes, I'm the Mom in the title

Bitch Ph.D. posted today about the NYT article on parent blogs (or mommy blogs). And Clancy had her two cents to add, which was worth at least a quarter since she was interviewed for the article. I think about this whole mom and dad blogging thing quite a bit. I don't think they're narcissistic as the NYT article claims. There are only a handful of them that I enjoy reading, mostly because I find them amusing or interesting or they cover topics besides parenting. There are a few blogs I've visited that mostly talk about their kids--all day, several times a day. These I don't read. Blogs that show how kids are interwoven with the rest of their lives appeal to me more. It's just like my not reading parenting books or magazines anymore. I don't need that kind of information or reassurance anymore. But I think a lot of people do, and blogs are much more personal, specific and immediate than magazines. People you know are even more immediate, but if many people out there are like I was in the early days of the kids, I didn't have a lot of people to turn to.

I have Mom in the title which I suppose implies that that is a key part of my identity and that I'm going to write about being a mom quite often. I don't really though. In fact, using a quick and dirty search and count, it seems that about a third of my posts are kid-related. I think that's probably about right. About a third of my life is taken up with kid stuff. Now figure that I'm at work 40 hours/week and you can do the math about how that adds up.

People who blog about their kids rather consistently have legitimate reasons for blogging about them, especially those at home with their kids or not at home with infants. They probably spend 75% of their time dealing with kid stuff. The NYT article said something about how no one seems to realize how hard it is to have a kid and that's what people write about all the time. Well, yeah, it's hard and hard in ways you don't think about. I started thinking about why it's hard and came up with a partial list.

The Practical:
1. For the first year of life, you get no sleep. If you're crazy and have another kid before the first one is sleeping through the night, then god help you.
2. Even after the first year of life, there are still plenty of times you don't get sleep. Nightmares, middle of the night vomiting, fevers, bedwetting. This can last until the age of five or six at least.
3. Laundry increases dramatically. I told my bil that I do 2 loads a day. He gasped. It's not really true since I tend to do it on the weekend. I did about 6 loads of laundry today and probably have 3 more to do, not counting the sheets. It takes a long time to do laundry.
4. You feel obligated to cook healthy meals. This costs more money as well as takes more time in terms of cooking and cleaning.
5. If you're working, you shell out for child care. Oddly, this means you can't afford nice clothes for work anymore.
6. If you're not working, you spend a lot of time speaking in monosyllables (if your child in under 3). You also spend a lot of time coming up with creative and interesting things for you kid(s) to do. (I know a woman who is a master at this).
7. Carting your kids here and there, to activities, birthday parties, friends' houses.
8. College fund--need I say more?
The emotional:
1. Post-partum depression. I had it. Not fun.
2. Fear. Fear of something horrible happening to your kid. First, this is fear of you doing something horrible to your kid. Who lets you go home with these tiny things anyway? Then you start fearing they'll do something to themselves, like jump off the roof thinking they can fly or trip while walking down the sidewalk and crack their skull open. Then you start fearing other people. My current fear: sexual assault on my 9 year old. I didn't say these were rational fears.
3. Anger. You get mad at your kids sometimes. They get mad at you. You get mad at your spouse for doing this to you.
4. General anxiety about how your kid is doing. Are they happy? Do they have enough friends? Are they doing well enough in school to get into the college of their choice? Will they hate me later for not letting them participate in some activity or another?
5. Joy. I was not joyous when my kids were born--didn't have that moment they always show on tv where the mom says how beautiful the kid is and oohs and ahs. Not that kind of person. But I like looking at my kids asleep. They seem so peaceful then. I feel joy when they do something nice for another person. Really. I am most proud of them when they're showing compassion and empathy. It means I've accomplished something and reminds me that they're paying attention.
6. Laughter. Lots and lots of funny moments. Today, Geeky Girl got her first zack (aka zit). At Christmas, this quote had us laughing for days: "Look dad, Santa already came in your stocking."

Those last two aren't what makes parenting hard. But they the emotional roller coaster you tend to be on. On any given day, I might go through all of those emotions and have to deal with all of the practical things. No one tells you all of that going in. I don't think there's any way to.

Funny, this was going to be a post about how I don't really identify as a mom, so it's weird that I have it in the title, but it turned out quite the opposite. I guess you can't take the mom out of the geeky mom.