Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Mother's Day -- now shut up and smile

I'm still not sure about writing this post. It seems stupid that I feel like I have to write this post. But it's been spinning around like a nasty little sharp-toothed spinny thing in my head for a few days, particularly in the shower, and shaving my legs is unpleasant enough without the nasty spinny stuff, and hey -- Crazy Mayor Lady asked for a Mayhem guest post, so where better to spin off my stuff?

I read this article a few days ago. I read Suburban Bliss long before I read any other blogs, and I had heard a bit about Michele McBee, who is apparently just the epitome of churlish, venomous, ungrammatical, unimaginative bitcherness (when bitterness marries bitchiness). I don't read Suburban Bliss all that often anymore, not because it's not every bit as funny and real as it's always been, but because Melissa Summers is a total success who doesn't need or notice my readership or comments, and I prefer to spend the majority of my blog-reading time on people for whom I am part of a community instead of merely an audience. When I have time, I catch up on it. She's funny and truthful and a little wacky and loves her kids and finds motherhood rewarding, difficult and sometimes overwhelming. Because of this, thousands of people adore her blog, and a few people feel justified in telling her that she's a neglectful, ineffective, alcoholic mother who shouldn't have had children. In the article, Michele McBee says bloggers like Summers make motherhood 'a horrible, nasty experience', and 'so much harder than it has to be'. She 'worries about some of these kids', so she very helpfully and graciously offers her negative opinions on Summers' personal appearance and that of her kids, and questions her husband's sexuality -- you know, to point out how motherhood is easy and to help the children.

I know, I know -- why get mad at stupid people? Why waste my breath trying to refute the stupid vituperative ramblings of stupid people? Maybe they can't help being stupid. Maybe they're lacking some crucial gene for intelligence and we should be holding a telethon to raise money for smartness transfusions. The problem is, it's not just stupid people that are always ready and willing to chuck sh*t at mothers. There was a column I read in my local paper a few years ago, which I think I've mentioned before, because it really struck a nerve for me. It was a smug male columnist mocking one of those emails that periodically gets sent around, in which the salaries for various jobs that mothers do are added up to some fairly large number and everyone's supposed to stop for a minute and realize all the stuff mothers do for free. Yeah, it's a little cheesy, but as someone currently involved in doing all that sh*t for free, it's nice to see. This columnist made some conciliatory remarks about the fact that motherhood might be a little tough, and we should respect mothers, but 'surely not based on the putative value of diapering and sandwich-making'. The fact that he used the words 'surely' and 'putative' only made me want to kick him in the slats even more.

Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is lifelong and constant and yes, it is intensely joyful and tremendously rewarding and sometimes just downright enjoyable, but it is also incredibly freaking difficult. If it's not? YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!!!! Michele McBee has asked Melissa Summers why she had kids. Why did we have kids if we weren't going to bliss out on every single moment? Um, because we don't live in Cartoon F*cking Fairyland where little birds carry away the dirty diapers and mice wearing little clothes sweep up the house and scrub the toilets? Nobody cares about the value of diapering and sandwich-making? That's right, they don't -- AND THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT HARD, YOU BIG STUPID STUPIDHEAD! Because no matter what Big Stuff is going on -- medical issues, bullying problems, drug problems, legal problems -- all the small, annoying stuff still has to get done. By the mothers.

According to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. But if you're a mother daring to do a little examining of your mothering life, be prepared for people to say a great number of things that essentially boil down to: Nobody forced you to have kids, so don't whine about it. I know a fair number of people who have chosen to have kids. Not a single one of them wanted kids but decided to forego them for the good of the planet -- some of them imply that this was a factor in their decision every now and then, and every now and then I imply that they're full of sh*t. We decide a lot of things in life -- where to live, what to work at, what colour to dye our hair. Sometimes we complain about them.

I don't mean to suggest that this is more than a few stupid people or smart people with localized stupidity in this area. Most of the bloggers I know and read and comment on and see commenting on my blog are wonderful, supportive, understanding people. It can't be overestimated how helpful it is to know that you're not the only one who gets tired of cleaning up the same mess or answering the same question, or loves the sound of your children's voices ninety-eight percent of the time and the other two percent of the time finds them akin to the sound of a pterodactyl mating with a leafblower. And that's why it's so out of line for people to equate voicing negative things about motherhood to being a bad mother. Because if we can't talk about them, then things will get really ugly.

People slag celebrities. People slag politicians. If you get any kind of famousness thing going on, people are going to judge you, and gossip about you, and try to cash in on your reputation by riding your coattails, whether they're flattering you or vomiting their acidic bile in the comments section of your blog. In a weird way, I guess Melissa Summers could consider being targeted by Michele McBee and the other harpies a sign of success. I'm so not famous, I feel pretty safe. But anyone attacking a mother for hinting that motherhood is anything but one hundred percent fabulous one hundred percent of the time is attacking me. And beware the wrath of me -- I know a LOT of uncomplimentary adjectives.

Am now going to fire this off to Tracy and trust she will spice it up with some funny cartoons. Thanks for the loan of the soapbox. Hope you all had a great mother's day with your nearly-perfect children.

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