I know, I know. The world needs another “mommy blog” like it needs a hole in the head, and here I am, adding another one to the pile.
But given this new era of supposed “honesty” in parenting – where we all try to acknowledge just how fraught with difficulty the task is – I’m having a hard time resisting the temptation to write about my experiences. New (to me) and thought-provoking moments arise almost daily in the course of taking care of my 17 month old daughter, Lily, with my husband Joe; and inevitably, her appearance in our lives has altered the nature of our relationship, our perspectives, and the ways we spend our time and money. But we’re both trying to hold onto the best of who we were before we were parents, which is no small or easy task.
So here are some basic things you should know about me before we get started:
1. Though I have a job I love as an entertainment reporter for AnnArbor.com, I try to never use the phrase “working mom,” because ALL moms are working moms. Yes, our experiences will often be different, but in my mind, there’s something inherently condescending in using the term “working mom” to signify women who work outside the home. The title seems designed to reject the fact that taking care of a child/children full-time is as much work, if not more, than the kind that comes with a paycheck (and just from staying home with Lily during her first months of life, I know this isn’t true). So let’s stop letting the whipped-up media frenzy surrounding the “working moms vs. stay-at-home moms” debate drive a wedge between us, and let’s declare that mothering is an insanely challenging process, no matter what your particular circumstances.
2. I spent most of my life convinced I would never have children, and I never felt a burning ache to re-produce, so while Lily was hardly an accident, I’ve nonetheless found myself in a life I never previously envisioned for myself. (I never pined away for marriage, either, but here we are.) I knew I’d have to give certain things up to have a child, and because I was so happy with my life – great partner, great job, great friends – I worried about upsetting its delicate balance. And I still have moments of panic. One day, when I was walking around with newborn Lily in a sling, I came upon some outdoor event where there was a row of strollers, clusters of chatting moms, and small kids running around; and rather than engage with them, I turned tail. Not out of any sense of looking down on these women, but because here I was, facing the thing I’d spent most of my life fearing, so I felt – fiercely, like an instinct – like I needed to leave and find my own quirky path through motherhood. (That, and I’m socially impaired.)
3. After having Lily in May of 2008, I lost my mother to cancer in January 2009, so I went from becoming a parent to losing a parent in what seemed like a whiplash-inducing flash. For this reason, I feel all-the-more alone as I figure this whole parenting thing out. Not that my mother would have mettled or played a gigantic role in the process – she lived in North Carolina for the last decade of her life, and besides, we’re polite, repressed Midwesterners, people! – but that’s one source of advice and guidance that is now gone. Amazingly, Lily’s presence made the week of services for my mom much more bearable – it’s hard to feel devastated all the time when a cute 9 month old is smiling at you – but my mother’s absence is another thing driving me to write this blog. Writing is the way that I emotionally process and work out the things that are obsessively gnawing away at my brain, so while sharing my thoughts, my hope is that I’ll guide myself through parenting’s myriad tricky parts, and maybe even offer something positive to a few other parents along the way.
Thanks for coming along. Next stop, enlightenment.