Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baggy Bloggers: Where are they?

I want to be a “Mommy Blogger.” Some of my favorite blogs to follow are those of young moms (and stay at home dads) who are not afraid to write about how hard being a parent of small children is. When Andy was young we didn’t have the outlet of blogging and the network of supportive other exhausted parents to cheer us on. For the most part, we had to put on that stiff upper lip, wipe the spit up off our Target nursing tops, and feign delight in the new parasite sucking the life out of us. I could have used faceless strangers urging me to “hang in there” though that line would likely have tempted me with visions of something more like a noose made of burp rags hanging from the garage rafters my (or better yet, the wasband’s) lifeless, but free, body swinging in the breeze of car exhaust fumes.

Fortunately (for both my son and I) being a stay at home mom was not in the cards for me. Because I had to, I convinced myself that I would not have been a good stay at home mother (no patience, addiction to adult interaction and other such excuses) and that my son needed social interaction (based on the guilt of knowing we probably wouldn’t be gifting him with siblings). I have a very vivid memory of my post baby job interview. It was to go back to work, part time, for a firm that had been kind enough to hire me through the last six months of my pregnancy. To fill in for another woman who was out grunting her own parasite into the world. Four weeks into my role as a dairy cow, with very impressive and productive swinging teats I may add, I stuffed myself into my green and black suit and went to talk with my boss about continuing on in the office, part time for a while. I really enjoyed the interview. We did it over lunch: a lunch in a restaurant. In suits, both of us. Somebody brought me water (lots…remember I was breastfeeding at the time). Another took my order and brought me food! We laughed and talked about opportunities and career paths. I could have stayed all afternoon. Except those wonderful teats I mentioned had other plans. Suddenly the boss looked at my front and suggested it might be time to wrap it up. Appalled, I looked down at my front. My green top was turning a darker green with two caption bubbles on my chest that seemed to carry the message “Time’s up. Time’s up.”

This was before people had cell phones. Fortunately Mark couldn’t reach me to remind me I needed to get home. Unfortunately Mark couldn’t reach me to remind me I needed to get home. I screeched around the corner and when the garage door lifted up I had to slam on my brakes. I nearly ran them over. I don’t know how long Mark had been standing in that garage with the screaming baby, just waiting to dramatically illustrate for me how thin spread I could look forward to being for the next 18 years of my life. At that moment I confess I had bad thoughts. That’s what a blog would have allowed me to do: express those bad thoughts. Instead I stuffed them away, only to have them resurface decades later.

Decades later, as Mark and I sat on a couples therapist couch, he actually said “I didn’t complain when you stopped working when Andy was born (six feckin’ weeks, thank you very much) nor when you only returned part time (32 hour week is considered part time). This from a man who had been in and out (mostly out) of work for the past ten years. His point being that he had been oh so supportive when I was lazing around juggling the demands of a young child and a stressful job, while he didn’t feel I had been equally supportive of his lack of gainful employment. (I tried, I really did,) Social security sends out a birthday present every year (around my birthday if you couldn’t figure that out) to cheer me on, showing me how many more years I need to work to have any kind of income from them. I swear it’s one year longer every year I get the letter, which means I will work until I die. What joy! The information I look at more carefully is my income history, from the age I was fifteen and had to start reporting my earnings. From this I can see that that little break from working I took when Andy was born (six weeks) and opting to work part time (32 hours a week) until he was in college, cost me nine years time to recover to a salary level I was making before he was born.

It surely would have been nice to have a blogging outlet through those early years. I love the whit and cleverness these mommy bloggers use to bring us as voyeurs into their messy homes. The whining in these blogs is balanced, as mine would be, with the breathtaking love and fierce protectiveness our child uncovers in us, sandwiched between the sarcastic cynicisms allowed in the anonymous kingdom of blogs.

Now my quest is to find the kind of blogs that are meaningful to women at my stage: survivors and thrivers. There aren’t many out there. Bloggers that is. There is an abundance of survivors and thrivers. I’m friends with many of them. They just don’t blog. Yet. Our generation is late to the blogging ship. I can’t wait to see what today’s clever mommy (and daddy) bloggers produce when they reach my milestone. I long to read their honesty and amusement. The few blogs I find from women my age spend much time angrily writing words of resentment towards wandering husbands of past lives who have taken up with girls their daughter’s ages; or detailing the precise steps they took to construct a curtain awning to match their husband’s lazy chair. Not that there’s anything wrong with these blogs. Everyone needs an outlet and I am happy to see others my age figuring it out. But these are not the topics I care to read about. (I think I actually sound like a resentful ex-wife sometimes. But I hope there’s at least an equal measure of joy and fascination in my blogging, unlike those blogs that are one whine on top of another). I want to know of the messy houses and piled up laundry of women who no longer have the excuse of young children to distract them. I want to “converse” about why dating at 50 scares the hell out of ladies, though thoughts of a one-night-stand with a cabana boy, preferably one who also knows how to hang a shelf and diagnose a scary car sound, can get the juices flowing. I want to bond on the internet with women who would rather spend money on a pedicure than take a family vacation. So where are these baggy bloggers? Not necessarily bloggers with baggage: that would encompass the entire blogging world. But the baggy ones, like me?

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