The Mom Pledge
I am a proud to be a mom. I will conduct myself with integrity in all my online activities. I can lead by example.
I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, "right" way to be a good Mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family.
I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind.
I stand up against cyber bullying. My online space reflects who I am and what I believe in. I will not tolerate comments that are rude, condescending or disrespectful.
I refuse to give those who attack a platform. I will remove their remarks with no mention or response. I can take control.
I want to see moms work together to build one another up, not tear each other down. Words can be used as weapons. I will not engage in that behavior.
I affirm that we are a community. As a member, I will strive to foster goodwill among moms. Together, we can make a difference.
Part of what makes this kind of thing so weird is, what is "rude, condescending or disrespectful" according to this code? I'm afeared that an awful lot of what I say would be one of those words. I'm not trying to be rude. I reign in my condescension as hard as I am able. I'm afraid it pops out occasionally when I'm not looking. People often think that me questioning them at all is disrespectful. Pointing out inconsistencies in a story is disrespectful. On one hand I want to say, "That sounds great!" But I'm afraid it's just one more way that I feel like I can't hold up the original spirit of the thing so I don't join. I'm a snarky bastard. Most of my friends are.
I don't really think of myself as a "Mommy blogger" despite the fact that I have crotch droppings and mention them here. I feel like I write about my mothering shit the same way I write about me just existing. I happen to be a mother. But it's not all that much of what I want to think about during my off-time, you know? I have to write about being a mother in so far as I'm trying to hack the experience. I am trying to dissect it to see how it works so that I can put it back together in a different way.
Inviting Sarah to live with me is part of mothering. Even though Sarah is inconsistently available at times she is still stable in her moods. When she is here she is here. Part of being a mother is recognizing that children need to have people in their life who are rock steady dependable in their affect. I'm not and I never will be. I talk about me not being steady. I talk about how to cope with that. And I fucking well moved someone in who was stable. Noah is also more emotionally stable than me. I worry. Specifically, to pull from that last link:
"This handling of mental illness (there were several negative examples) tends to present it as something out of control, scary, and dangerous. And also very, very selfish. Mentally ill people in pop culture are often deeply self-absorbed, wrapped up in themselves and their disorders, which means they have no time for anyone else. When it comes to parents, pop culture implies that mentally ill parents are too broken and damaged to possibly provide the level of care and support their children need. When this is the understanding of mental illness that many people have, it sets dangerous precedents.
Finding positive depictions of mentally ill parents is an uphill struggle, let alone depictions of parents who are members of Mad Pride movement, who may reject conventional treatment approaches to mental illness. For people with mental illness who want to be or are parents, pop culture provides ample reminders that this is a bad idea and should be reconsidered. For people without mental illness, pop culture provides ample judgment fodder and this can be a big problem when those people are decision-makers, the people who, for example, get to evaluate whether a parent should be allowed to keep a child after a report to child services expressing concern, or who sit in judgment on a jury."
I worry a lot. I worry about talking about my mental illness because I don't think I can get away with claiming to myself that I don't have mental illness. There are legitimate names for my experiences. The whole thing can be codified as a case study. But it's my life. I speak overly harshly sometimes. I don't have the self control not to. My option is to never speak again. *I* feel like my behavior is perceived as being outside the bounds of that pledge up there. *I* feel like my behavior is perceived as "rude, condescending or disrespectful." I don't mean to be though. This truly is my polite voice. I am what my life has made me. I am frequently harsh in tone. I do it meaning well. I am not trying to be a didactic asshole.
Bad situations in my life have been really bad. When I say that I was at an important crossroads, I was often making a choice that resulted in a more dramatic shift than most people have as an option. That's convoluted. Not very many people can talk to a rape crisis clinician for five minutes and be told, "You should be dead." That's happened to me when I have talked to a lot of different people. My choices kept me alive. I chose life. Over and over. That sounds melodramatic and I want to punch myself for using that particular cliché. It's true though. I self harm because it is choosing life. It is choosing to allow myself a small amount of relief from the pain rather than actually relieving the pain. I got away from my father. It was hard. It took fighting off my family, but I did it. I got away from my family. I could be another drug addict loser. Instead I'm a drug addict with a functional life. I am a drug addict with elaborate checks in place to ensure that I am not permitted to be erratic around my children. My drug addiction is what allows me to be consistent. Without it I am swinging too hard right now.
But sometimes I come in here to the internet and I vent my frustration. MDC is really hard to read sometimes. The problem is that my life choices have been between really really bad things that seemed ok to outsiders and things that looked bad to outsiders but was actually great for me. My whole view on life choices is skewed far off to the left from everyone else. For most of my life if you had offered me the chance to die on any given day, I would have taken it.
I had children because I choose life. When people ask me why someone like me had kids, and I get asked, I say that biological compulsion is a big deal and I was a lot more stable then. I don't say, "Fuck you for implying that I am too broken to have worth on this planet you fucking asshole." I had children because I desperately want to spend most of my time with them. Because I like seeing them change day by day. Because even when Shanna or Calli are doing something that makes me want to put my fist through a wall I would cut my hand off before I would slap them in the face. Because they are mine. The first people who love me without any hint of judgment. That will come later. They will judge me. They will judge my behavior as a mother. They will judge me as a person. It's my responsibility to make the choices that will allow us to have a good relationship.
I don't accept it at face value that I will have a relationship with my grown up children. I'm aware that there are conditions on such love. It's hard. Do you know why people stay in relationships with their abusers? Because if you walk away from that love, what will you do about the aching loss it creates in your life? I had children and I went around and deliberately chose adults to help me raise them. Adults who are just as intent as I am that our children be kept safe and healthy. Adults who hold me accountable for my behavior. I'm not actually taking the risk that other people think I am taking.
If anything I am too hard on myself and I demand an unhealthy amount of 24/7 cheer from myself. It's getting better. Normal, healthy people have mood variation. Right now I do not get consistent sleep and I haven't in a year. I have outsourced feeding me to other people and that's a mixed bag. They aren't actually aware that I stopped tracking that because I'm kind of a shitty person. If I don't tell them that I have abdicated responsibility to them then I get to be mad at them a lot when they fuck up. Control games are awesome.
This is hard to talk about. Because I can describe it that way, as a control game, but it's not like I'm experiencing it that way. I focus on taking care of my kids. I get them through their day. They eat at regular intervals. I uhhh don't like a lot of the food they like to eat. I have texture issues. It's not even that I don't like those foods. If someone else took those foods and cooked them till they were mush I'd cheerfully eat it. Shanna and Calli like crunchy things. That feels bad in my mouth. I usually come in and get food for them quickly and then get to the point where I probably should shift gears and make food for me... only I get distracted and do something else. I "forget" to eat. It's partially a consequence of my weird picky food preference issues.
When Noah or Sarah want to eat then there is pretty much always a way for me to feel like something I want in my mouth is an option. They like things that are spiced closer to how I want it (I like slightly less salt than Sarah and slightly more salt than Noah) and it works. Even if it pings me as being slightly over or slightly under salted... that's a small sin. That's how food works when Sarah or Noah is cooking. I can eat it.
For example, I can't handle eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches very often. The oil from the peanut butter stays in my mouth and bothers all the other flavors for days. And the jam often tastes too sweet. But I can't handle eating peanut butter plain because the flavor is too intense and it makes me feel icki. On some days I can handle eating nuts plain. Most days the idea of crunching a nut between my teeth will give me shivers down my spine like nails on a chalk board.
But given how many things I feel I must do in a day... I don't want to go through the effort of making a meal for Shanna and a meal for Calli and a meal for me. Given that my meals are a lot more work. I just don't eat. Because I'm not really worth it. But Noah and Sarah think that feeding me is worthwhile. Hey! I know if I wait a bit longer Sarah will want to eat and it will be easier to just make one mess for the both of us and... It works until it doesn't work. When it doesn't work I generally get pretty grumpy. And that's how a lot of my self regulation goes.
Ok, this is a problem. I need to fix it. It's hard to get to the point where it feels like I have any more ability to do "care" for a body. Even my own. I get really angry with myself for how long it takes me to poop now that I have kids. That's weird. The whole gestating/labor thing changed my plumbing in ways I am not appreciating. And it doesn't help that we are eating so many vegetables that my digestive system is on protest. I don't believe all the people who say this is a healthy diet. I never had to poop this much when I was living on top ramen. That has to be easier on my system. Ahem.
People are whole systems. I'm kind of a mommy blogger. I'm kind of a mental health blogger. Kind of feminist. I'm just me. I don't think I am going to post the Mom Pledge thing on my site permanently. I will agree in my head that I should follow those rules. I will think they correctly describe my approach to life. But I won't publicly join a group about it. That sounds like behavior policing to me. I can't handle it.