Monday, December 31, 2012

Mama Bean feels like something has to give, relationally

 
When I posted this on facebook, it got a lot of traction. Something about this sentiment seems to resonate. It certainly does with me.

There are two sides to this. On the one hand, heart-achingly, there are those people that you want to want to be in your life; you want them to find a way. And for whatever reason, they aren't (wanting) or they don't (find a way). It's hard to accept that. It's hard to feel unwanted. It's hard to stop investing in people that don't want to invest in you.

It's hard for me to stop investing in people who don't want to invest in me.

On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that we are all probably this person, this person who is not doing the wanting or the finding a way-ing, for someone else. They are wanting us, but for whatever reason, we don't reciprocate.

Someone heart-achingly thinks of me when they read this.

I mean, it's hard to throw myself a pity parade where I get all the pity prizes because Everybody Is A Jerk, when in all likelihood, I am the Jerk in another person's parade two streets over...

Whatever. Something in my life has to give, relationally. If this is the place where I try to put into words what I don't know how to put into words, welp, that is as far as I can get. Something has to give. Because I am tired of feeling this pit in my stomach when I read this phrase. I have to find a better dance to this song.

The people who want to be in my life will always find a way. Okay. So I need to remain open and welcoming, so it's not like some freaky uphill battle to find a way into my life. But I don't need to be so open and so welcoming that my heart is trampled and I feel like shit. Okay.

I will find a way into the lives I want to be in. Okay. So I have to extend myself into the world, and demonstrate my willingness to finding the proverbial way. But if I encounter some freaky uphill battle, I have to understand that's not the right way? Or not the right person. That second option hurts more, but it's best to cut my losses, yeah? Sure.

I guess I have to get better at seeing when my Open and Welcoming is meeting up with another person's Extending. YayConnection! And if my Open and Welcoming is met with disdain, I have to stop and walk away. And if my Extending is met with Closed and Unwelcoming, I have to stop and walk away. It's the YayConnections that will get us somewhere, yes? Okay.

Anyway, this all feels really super basic when I write it out like this, but whatever. I have to do this, break it down to some essential sort of metric, and then apply the metric to my real life, and go from there. I realize it may be super neurotic to do it this way, but my neuroses only live in my head, and on my blog (ha!) So it's all okay, I promise. Everything is going to be okay. But something still has to give.

The people who want to be in your life will always find a way...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mama Bean doesn't understand why we say someone "lost their life"

How does a person "lose" their life, anyway?

Does it fall away silently, like a mitten tucked under an arm while performing an intricate task, unnoticed until frozen fingers wonder where it went? And then it's long gone, blocks back, hidden by slush and snow piles...

Is it forgotten, like that special card with the heartfelt note, stashed in a box or a folder, somewhere safe, always somewhere safe? But then the safe place is reorganized, shuffled to a different corner of the filing cabinet, the closet, the basement...

Is it forgotten, like a phone number or an address, scribbled on a scrap of paper, on a receipt for gas, on an envelope from yet another pre-approved credit card offer that noone needs, because we've all got all the credit cards we need? And then the scrap is folded too small, crumpled too roughly, ignored and swept up, in the unending detritus of daily life...

People don't just lose their lives. There's always a process, an event; for lack of a better word, there's a reason, even if we don't know it, can't see it, won't accept it.

It would make more sense to say I lost their life. It is me who has lost the life of that person, that person I loved. It is I who didn't hear them slip away silently from wherever I had tucked them into my life, while I went about whatever I found so important. It is I who tried to stash them somewhere safe and protected, and allowed that false sense of security to excuse my inattention. It is I who hastily wrote them in and out of my thoughts, remembering then forgetting to send a birthday card, a thank you note, a Christmas letter. Until there were no more cards or letters to send.

It is we who remain that lose the lives of those who die.

And indeed, we are lost without them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mama Bean gets it together

Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking.

But it can't. I can't. I have to hold it together. 

You know how you have little phrases or catchwords that come in and out of your life. When Grey's Anatomy first started, we all started saying "Seriously? Seriously??" (And then everyone else stopped, and I keep doing it. I will never stop saying srsly...) I picked up "It's not the end of the world" from a friend, and it has replaced "It is what it is" for me, which is good. I also picked up Ridiculous somewhere, everything is Ridiculous, if I don't have the words, it's Ridiculous. I'm getting tired of it. By the time I start hearing my own verbal -isms, I know they're probably on their way out. (Except for srsly, I will never quit you srsly...) 

Lately, it's been "Get it together!" For everything. Food's not cooking right, I say to the pan, getittogether. Kids not kidding right, I tell them to getittogether. Mama Bean not mamaing right (which means yelling, or snapping, or hiding in the basement, or hiding with the dishes, or yelling some more, or hiding in the bathroom, or hiding in the bathroom cleaning the bathroom, or hiding in the bathroom cleaning the bathroom crying by the toilet because there has been toomuchyellingalreadytoday) I tell myself, unkindly and without grace, Get it the fuck together MB.

And I mean it's not just the kids. It's the housework. It's Making Christmas Happen. It's we're-still-not-at-a-church-and-now-I-actually-miss-it. It's a lot of things. It's my best friend lives 7 hours away and noone understands me like her. It's being on my period, the bulliest bully of a period that crams five days of bleeding into one horrible day from hell. It's a lot of things. It's so many things I could complain about for hours and hours. And you could, too. Right?

Fuck, I cannot be the only one. I know I am not the only one.

So.

Your heart may be breaking, too. But you are holding it together. Just like me.

Listen, I didn't want to write a depressing post today. I didn't! I am actually doing better, in all things Depression related. I'm reading a Book with Real Advice and Techniques and Things That Help, seriously! I am regulating my emotions better. Since the crying-by-the-toilet incident, I have resisted the downward spiral, I have not yelled (as much), I have been present and patient, I have been Good! And I'm not even, like, white-knuckling-gritted-teething it. I feel much more clear, truly.

But tonight I just feel like my heart my break (so maybe I'm gritted-teething it more than I admitted, even to myself, but I don't think so. I really don't.) I think I'm a bit confused about how the next few months are going to look, and I feel a bit lost about it? 

Anyway, I'm going to go getittogether. Hopefully tomorrow arrives bright and sunny. For us all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I am not ashamed.



shame (noun): a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong behaviour.
repentance (noun), from the Greek metanoeo, to change (meta) one’s thinking (noeo, from nous, meaning mind)
I have been repentant, I am repentant, of a great many things. But I am not ashamed. Oh, I have been made to feel like I should be ashamed, I face shaming routinely. And it hurts, no doubt. But I think it hurts most, it drives me to shaking fits of rage, because I reject it. It does not resonate with who I am, and so I shake it out and off of me. I am a daughter of Christ. How dare you shame me?

I have been repentant; I have changed my thinking, from season to season, ever deeper into faith. I have looked at my mistakes, my wrong behaviour; I have swallowed my humiliation and distress; I have tasted the grace of my God, literally bathed in it. And repented, changed, continue evermore changing my thinking.

I do not tell my secrets, but I wear their stories in my life every day. They change my thinking, to embrace the expanse of human experience (don’t judge a book by its cover, they tell me, you don’t know their life...) On a day of pure intentions, my thinking is changed to action, hands dirty with compassionate acts, working out my salvation, imperfectly. Sometimes, with profanity.

I do not tell my secrets, because my religion would shame me for them. Does, in fact, on a regular basis, shame me, with distorted scriptures, guilt-trip sound bites, billboard politicisms. At first, all I see is Anger, my arguments mustered in a line of defense, to protect me, from the attack of shaming disguised as logic, in all its rhetorical polemical glory. I have my rhetoric, too; I have my polemics. But eventually, I just turn away, weary.

My religion spends so much time shaming, it makes me fear I will eventually hate the Bride, no matter how much I love the Groom. There was a season when I discovered, happily, enough grace in my heart to rest in the bigness of God, and continue loving his Church, if only by kind of ignoring it most of the time.

This is not that season.

There is only one Bride, one body of Christ, and here we are, the Christ-ians, the members of the Nation of Christ. Yet the Bride’s eye seems to see different from the mouth, who speaks different from the hands, who work different from the guts, who shit different from the knees, who stand different from the feet, who walk endlessly on the backs of shamed sinners, afraid to look up at the Bride and beg for Mercy.

Mercy.

And what of my church? “Well, when I rule the nation of Christ...” heh. I tell you what, in the church I attend (which is none, at the moment. so.) I assume, dangerous but necessary, and I’ll venture to be an ass for this cause – I assume that everyone has secrets just. like. mine.

He stole money from grandma to pay for drugs; she slept with another man; he’s gay; she had sex before getting married; he slept with another woman; she had an abortion...

(Tell me tell me why whywhy all the "worst" secrets have to be about sex...)

I just assume it’s there, some secret they’ve been told to be ashamed of. Some secret about which they may or may not ever change their thinking. Some secret they've been told to feel painfully, acutely wrong about. Something they've been told makes them unworthy, unwanted, and unloved.

And then, I simply refuse to be yet another Christian, yet another member of the nation of Christ, who stands in their way with guilt and condemnation. Because they are a child of God. How dare anyone shame them? Let alone me, with my secrets that I never tell.

But trust, as I trust in the one who told me I no longer needed to listen to shame... Trust; I am not ashamed.

I pray you aren't either.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mama Bean's going on a lion hunt (But she's not afraid...)

"What's going on; why are you depressed?"

It's not that there's no answer. It's just that it's... a long one. And not terribly clear to myself, so I certainly can't articulate it. I know my triggers, I know my weaknesses. I know what proximity to which persons created the right soup for the wrong mojo. So. If I don't give a neat, two-sentence answer, please don't hold it against me.

What pains me is that, naturally, I have no obvious reason to be depressed. My life is fucking fantastic, for real. I have an amazing husband, beautiful children, great job. My day to day, while exhausting, is plenty fulfilling for any normal North American - all my problems are firstworldproblems. I know.

And I suppose what pains then is the sense that I must somehow legitimize being sad. Like, behind the question all I hear is criticism: "What do you have to be sad about? Who do you think you are, being depressed? You can't really be depressed. I know people who've been depressed, and you don't seem like them." I know that's not really there (I mean, it's all friends who are asking, people who care enough to ask, so obviously, that's not there. My friends wouldn't require me to justify my mental health. Ostensibly.) But that doesn't mean an unhealthy mind won't hear it.

In many ways, there is no (word) reason (but a biological one.) Like, this is why we have serotonin fixers, this is why there are valid, beautiful chemical solutions. (There are other, less valid but still beautiful chemical solutions, but I will not be pursuing them lol.) I don't know why it happened this year, this summer, this way. It could have been any year, any season, any way. And that adds yet another layer of frustration - why did it have to be this year, this summer, this way?

I understand the drive to find a reason. I am a healthcare provider; every workday I face twenty or so people who want me to tell them why they hurt, and I don't always know. I often don't know. And that's hard (for all of us) because, without a Name, it feels harder to Fix. It's harder to find the solution, to strategize the escape route, to prepare the defenses, to know how to prevent it. If I can't even name it (wrap it up in a box with a pretty bow, this is The Why) then I can't kill it.

So here is one of the twisted mind holes of depression. I don't know why I'm depressed - Sheesh I can't even explain it - Oh God I have no right to be depressed what is wrong with me - This is so discouraging - I am so depressed - Sheesh I can't even explain it - etc.

But. I feel like I've done enough loops, I've circled close enough to the drain, that I can claim it. As in, I don't feel the need to prove, and I'm not interested in its legitimacy. This is mine, and imma wrestle it. I don't want to turn away from the pain; I am making myself go through it. Because I think I have missed a lesson on this before, and I just have to find it on the other side somehow.

I feel like this is why it's been so emotional, why there are so many tears, why there's so much profanity and anger and angst. Soooo much anger, sooooo much profanity. Much. Ask PB. It makes me really awful to be around (and that sets up another twisted mind hole, trust.) (I'm sorry, in advance, that I'm so awful to be around. It's a selfish process. I'm sorry to be selfish.) (See? Mind hole.) (But I am sorry.)

And this method still will not give me The Why, and I am comfortable with this. It will not tell me why it was this year, this summer, this way. And it won't necessarily help me prevent it from happening again. It will just spit me into After. And I have to have faith the lessons will make it easier for the next time, next season, next way. 

I have to think the thoughts I think towards my patients at myself, "Let's move on. Let's just focus on getting better. You have all the right tools, just use them" and what I say out loud "You're doing all the right stuff. It just takes time."

Love yourselves, friends, for whatever lions you're hunting. My deepest gratitude if you're gonna come hunting with me. Can't go over it, can't go under it, absolutely cannot go around it. Have to go through it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mama Bean wishes this time did not involve so much crying


The word "sad" does not even begin to describe. It is a disservice to the millions who suffer from it, let alone my own emotions, to call it sadness. Even depression cannot begin to capture. And I am so tired of it. I am so tired of trying to romanticize it, as though I enjoy this separated reality. Enjoy sitting on my couch, the mechnical buzz of fridge and dehumidifier, furnace and fish tank, so totally incongruent with the moving, bright, active world I can see outside. The wind blowing the trees, the cars scaling the hill, the people walking to school. The separation is constant; even when I walk out into that wind, scale that same hill to teach my class in a few minutes, there will still be the buzz of my mind, the incessant swirl of insecurities, the emptiness of my heart. -Deus Ex Maior Quam Is
Because this is not my first (nor second) time at the rodeo, I can indulge in (too much) analysis - compare, contrast. What's the same and familiar, because depression is an old friend at this point. What's the same but I'd forgotten, or has been amplified/changed. What's brand new...

What's the same is the separation this quote speaks of - like I'm underwater looking out through the tank walls, or being muffled under a layer of wool that makes things both dull and too bright to keep looking at (and so I turn away, into the soft numbness.) I think this is when I finally acknowledged, shit I've been bitten again, when I felt that heavy hopelessness settle in - it is very much like a buzz or drone in my, I dunno, sure why not be melodramatic? It's my blog - a drone in my very soul.

What I'd forgotten is how frustrating it is. You'd think the frustration of it would help a person, say, try to avoid this phenomenon altogether, but then, it's not that easy, is it? I forgot that, in so many ways, I am still so maddeningly functional - every day still happens, stuff still gets done, life still happens. It just happens at a distance. This is amplified by the fact I'm no longer a student - that now I absolutely must remain competent and functional for the sake of my patients, my staff, my family. And it doubles the frustration, the grief, when I somehow can't keep it up - because I don't fail at work, it's always my family that bears the brunt of my failures.

I didn't remember how much it feels like being masked, and how it feels safer to be ignored, but also hurtful to be unseen - ambivalence, I forgot the ambivalence. Hence, the dancing picture. Some days I'm happier (?) no...relieved, relieved to just give myself over, to be comforted by my old friend - because it is comforting, to just fall into seclusion and malaise. But at the same time, I know it's wrong and I shouldn't want it, and I'm tired of it, and want out. Slow underwater tortured tango.

The brand new? This time around is markedly emotional. I think previously I have just fallen into apathy and inertia. This time, I am volatile. There is a simmering anger, I feel like a volcano, like I have fucking Emotional Magma inside me under the pressure of momwifework (not always in that order) that periodically erupts. In shakes, or yelling, or slamming and throwing things, and (I don't know why this is the most disturbing one to me) sobbing uncontrollably. It is exhausting.  I recently had two friends on separate occasions remark on my patience as a parent, and I felt like such a fraud - because what looks like calm is just repression, just holding it in, until later, when it can all come out in a disgusting mess of noise and fluids.

I feel like digging down into this feelingsness is the way out, but, like, I don't want to. Even this writing process is ambivalent - I enjoy doing it, it feels like relief, but I am terrified, of receiving either pity or rejection/judgment, and also annoyed that it keeps me from my RSS, and also exhausted by it. But I'm just going to keep doing it, and keep hitting publish, because...because. This is a safe place of my own creation, and it is so vast and uncontrollable, yet I feel controlled here, in a way that my real, immediate surroundings are not controlled, are not...safe. Who ever knew the internet would bring us here?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing - it's Harvest Time!


The other night we harvested our potatoes. We grew three types sold by a local greenhouse as a "gourmet mix" - Norland (red skin, white flesh) purple viking (deep purple skin, white flesh) and Alta blush (an Albertan creation, white to pink skin, and white to yellow flesh). I wouldn't say our harvest was great, only 3 or 4 potatoes per plant, and only the purple ones got large. Papa Bean dug up the plants, and laid the potatoes onto the dirt, where the kids could grab them and put them in the box.
Our harvest would have been better if we'd hilled the plants more diligently. I'd like to build some potato boxes (with layers of planks you add as the plant grows) or else just garbage bins, in the future. It's not really economical to grow them - potatoes at the store are cheap enough. They are ego boosting, though, it's hard to kill a potato plant, and beetles notwithstanding, they just make a gardener's soul happy :) I like growing the "gourmet" types, I really want to try fingerlings next year.
In the box picture, Bean's blurry arm has a blurry worm on it. We found lots of juicy-looking earthworms while digging, and the kids were well distracted by them, having little worm races on the walkway. The worms, alas, did not survive. But their sacrifice helped our sanity survive, and for that, we honour them lol.
This little Sproutlet doesn't meet much that doesn't go into her mouth - green tomatoes, ripe tomatoes, dirt, rocks, acorns, and more tomatoes... She keeps smiling, so I can't see anything wrong with it...
The Prairie Valley City in general, and our family in specific, have been blessed by an amazing apple harvest this year. We've received 50 or 60 pounds of apples from three different sources (!!!) We're going to take about 100 lbs to a local farm that presses them into fresh unpasteurized cider - we'll get about 8 or 10 gallons. Only $5.50/gallon, and they sell their own stuff for $15/gallon. The rest we'll sauce or make pie filling or something. Here's Bean learning to use our peeler. After borrowing a fancy peeler (for over a year, yikes!) I found this cheaper plastic one at Value Village for only $4, and it is awesome!
This is the tomato station in my garage, where I'm trying to sort the types. The giant ones on the left are Hawaiian pineapples, in the middle are a mix of green zebra/Bulgarians, and nyagous (black) tomatoes. Then there's the cherry bounty. At the farmer's market, those suckers sell for $3-4/pint, and I've probably eaten about 10 pints already. I love my garden :)
I have a half dozen montages like this, just enjoying the colours of the harvest. It's been a really bright, vibrant kind of year, and I like that. On the other hand, those Hungarian wax peppers (the long orange one) were waaaay too hot, luckily I thought to put them in salsa, otherwise I doubt we'd have used them. The mini brown peppers were cute, but not terribly tasty. Overall, I'm not sure we'll keep growing peppers - it's one of those rare things that don't taste as good as the store (in our experience, maybe I'm doing it wrong) and often our growing season isn't long enough for them to ripen (colour) fully anyway, plus we only get 3 or 4 per plant, which isn't necessarily economical. But maybe I'm saying that because peppers were cheap this year at the store *shrug*
This is a Hawaiian pineapple tomato sliced up. They have the most beautiful colouring, this lovely peachy orange into bright red, and the streaks go throughout. The flavour was amazing - not really like a tomato at all, just vaguely fruity and very (very) sweet. Mild, not a lot of zing or acidity. It was a pleasure to eat, and it was huge, so I basically had this for lunch haha.
Last but not least, yesterday's caprese salad, with black cherries, sweet 100s, and sun golds/sun sugars, fresh basil from my aunt's garden, and bocconcini. I cannot describe how much I enjoyed this. I used the rest of the basil to make walnut pesto (not quite as good as with pine nuts, but at $6.48/100g, I wasn't buying pine nuts) and used some of the pesto to make a balsamic vinaigrette. I also used 23 green zebra/Bulgarians to learn how to blanch and peel tomatoes (it's so easy!) and make salsa (onion, garlic, lime juice, salt/pepper/cumin, cilantro, corn, red pepper, Hungarian wax pepper, and tomatoes). And then today, I had another caprese-ish salad, with green tomatoes to add some zing (they are such bright happy tomatoes, with a lovely sweetness) and the vinaigrette. Smiling smiling smiling...

[Internal monologue: I talked a lot about money in this post, that's weird. I didn't think gardening was about money for me, but then again, we do this because we're Green Misers, environmentally minded when it costs less lol. Also, it's weird to put something some bright and cheery after serious posts about Depression, but, well, that's life!]

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama Bean lurves her rhetoric metre

rhetoric noun: 1. the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. 2. language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience. [more in-depth at the wiki]
How sensitive is your rhetoric meter?

Rhetoric isn't quite the word I'm looking for, but propaganda seems excessive. (Almost) None of the information we 'download' these days is pure fact, free of opinion, or some underlying agenda. Well, that seems harsh, too. It all has a message, anyway, it seems. I feel. There, this is all just my rhetoric, too.

This is the problem with calling this the information age. It's not really just information. And as a parent, I'm faced with how to teach my children to navigate an informational playing field vastly larger than the one I learned on, which was already larger than that of my parents. I suppose I could rely on the old chestnut 'don't believe everything you read' but it's harder than ever to control what enters our family environment to be read. I think I lean towards less enforcement/freer access, but this will mean more discussion, more tough questions with no answers, and more time. And I must keep in mind the time-line - that the skills of literacy, comprehension, critical analysis, they build on each other, much more slowly than I liked (going through it) or will like (trying to help my children through it.) And then too also, it's even more critical for kids to understand this, to be actively critically analyzing their environment, at a younger age than me or you, because the consequences (seem to) get more dire with each generation (is that in my imagination?) 

I'm not sure I can accurately remember my own trajectory in Rhetoric Management. I suppose I built those literacy and comprehension skills through my undergrad, and started a foundation of critical thinking skills, but I didn't gain any proficiency then. I have thought of four major areas where I find it most important, and I can roughly put them in order. [ETA: I started this post when Bean was a baby, it originally referred to teaching "my child" and I'm only getting around to finishing it now. For pete's sake, none of the personal pronouns are even capitalized! /sigh]

Area the first: Religion/Christianity. Boy, was this a trial by fire, when I moved to the US midwest (during the run-up to the 2004 election no less, but we'll get to that later.) I had often felt buffeted by conflicting positions and rhetoric during my angsty teenaged faith, and had trouble reconciling what I felt was right with the oh-so-persuasive arguments of more extreme opinions. I had to learn to trust myself, and my interpretation. I had to know it was okay to read a persuasive argument for something I disagreed with, and just politely acknowledge it was well argued without feeling the core of my beliefs had been shaken. I had to stop taking things personally. People have opinions, people like to share them, people now have the internet to do so freely and loudly and without restraint - but I don't have to listen, and even when I do, I don't have to feel like my beliefs are being attacked or destroyed or even challenged. Because it's just their opinion. We can all be grown-ups and exist in this world together with different opinions just fine.

[Here I'll add: since 2004, the internet itself has matured in many ways, I find particularly when it comes to religious discourse. I think in large part because we've all conglomerated into our meta-tribes, and there's so. much. room. for as many small niches of religious thought, it's really fantastic. So not only is it easy to ignore rhetoric you disagree with (and I mean truly ignore, without trolling) but it's also really easy to find those you do agree with, and just (virtually) pet and rub each other all over with mutual love-festing.]

It's a good thing I got a handle on that, because I was about to get a crash course in American partisan politics - area the second. I truly didn't have a clue. I thought Canadian and US politics were pretty similar, 'cause we're pretty similar in general. Not so at election time. It was (toooooooo) easy to get caught up, to get emotionally invested. It was easy to be (utterly, distractedly) engaged by so. much. rhetoric. But after a few exhausting, commercial-filled months, man oh man did I have to turn that shit off. I had to handle the rhetoric, and remember that opinion is just opinion, even in these matters of Great National Importance (and not for my nation, mind you lol.) I had to remember that politics don't need to be personal, and I was still friends with my same friends I was friends with before I found out if my friends were Republican or Democrat. We are all grown-ups.

[It helps that I moved away lol. If I thought the 2004 election was bad, I cannot even imagine living through the 2008 or 2012 ones. To my American readers, I salute your perseverance! As much as the internet has matured for religious discourse, it has devolved when it comes to politics. My facebook feed is evidence enough of this. As a way of contrast, the development of my Rhetoric Management toward religion was to broaden my horizon; for politics it has been to narrow my focus/position. And I think it's interesting that these two areas required such opposite solutions.]

Area the third: Scientific Literacy. Given my BSc. I suppose my critical thinking skills developed earliest here, but didn't really... settle, until I was learning to navigate the morass of medical science and effective vs. ineffective healthcare. And I did this while entering a young, controversial, not-yet-completely-scientifically supported profession (don't kill me, Chiropractor friends, for that edgily wishy washy description.) Because I have the background for this, it maybe wasn't so thorny as the religious and political arenas. But it is life and death stuff being discussed at times, and certainly the ethics of healthcare in our (so privileged, so first world) society gets increasingly muddy. In general, I am saddened by the general public's scientific illiteracy. Research is presented so journalistically as to be virtually useless, especially on the internet. And I'm not sure any amount of interwebz maturation is going to compensate for the lack of quality science education being provided our children. If I'm going to be a Tiger Mom in any fashion, it will be drilling the scientific method into my poor children's heads and hearts until they weep for the sheer joy of deductive reasoning (lol... kind of.)

Ah yes, won't someone think about the children? Well, parenting is the most recent and, frankly, batshit crazy arena of rhetoric and flat out propaganda I've been thrown into navigating. Just when I think I'm getting a handle on it, I'm thrown into a fit of self-recrimination or sputtering indignation once again (from "I'm a horrible mother!" to "JFC shut your judgmental pie-hole!" and back again. Repeat.) If I hadn't honed my chops or whatever leading up to this, I would go crazy. Because when it comes to our children, everyone's opinion is the only way and everyone else is ruining their children's lives and there is just. no. end. If a mother isn't willing to just turn it off, walk away, and trust in her heart that she is doing the loving, most bestest job she can with the resources she has, she will be destroyed. I like to dabble and read and engage with both sides of any debate, and I find it all pretty entertaining. I'm not always the best at articulating why I make the choices I make (homebirth, for e.g.) and my lack of articulation can feel pretty weak in the face of so much interneticulation (can I make up that word? I think I just did. But do you know what I mean? The voice of the articulate internet - anybody can sound totally reasonable or totally unreasonable to anybody else on the internet.) But every day is an exercise in filtering parenting rhetoric, and I wouldn't say that exercise is best performed by the sleep-deprived haha.

[Speaking of internet maturation, I think since Bean was born (when I started writing this) the way parenting is treated on facebook and twitter, and even blogging to an extent, has really changed - I think people are starting to get the message that kindness matters. The trolls have been ignored out of existence, maybe a little? At least, I get the sense parents are less willing to rise to the Polarizing Bait - there's more focus on being supportive? Maybe this is also in my imagination...]

[I'm sorry this ended up so disjointed. I just know that my emotional health depends on my rhetoric metre - I sense the rhetoric, I sense how it could elate or enrage me, I evaluate if I feel like or have the resources for elation/enragement, I proceed accordingly. This is just my story of traveling the steps of Rhetoric Management. Critical thinking keeps me sane, in a crazy world. I hope it does the same for you.]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mama Bean wants to write about depression but doesn't want to be depressing

It's a tall order. But I want to write about it, because words are my friends and I need them, because I feel like I can write through the depression, because I have written through depression before, because this is as close to praying as I get sometimes (often.) 

But I don't want to be all sad-sack and off-putting, or alienating. 

So I'll start with as-positive-as-I-can-get:

Taking a daily B complex vitamin is helping, yay! The one I take (SISU brand because that's what my clinic sells) has 25 mg B1 25 mg B2 50 mg B6 20 mg B3 100 mg B5 0.2 mg B9 and 100 mcg B12. B vitamins are not psychoactive in any way (unless you are deficient, which will cause distinct neurodegeneration) and most of them (all of them? I should know this...) are water soluble, so they don't bio-accumulate, you just pee out whatever extra you don't need (and it makes your pee really yellow.) All of them are involved in energy production, so they help with my energy levels. A couple Fridays ago, I didn't get enough sleep (surprise surprise) and I forgot to take my vitamins before leaving the house, so the first hour of work I was absolutely dead in the water. I grabbed a bottle off the shelf (work perk!) took two (normally I only take one) and within 15 mins I was almost hyper. It was a fricking miracle.

I actually started taking it almost a year ago, when I found myself at pregnancy-fatigue-levels long after Sprout had been born. The supplement-guru at our office immediately recommended B, and now I recommend it to any women (especially moms) who tell me about fatigue (or just look fatigued ha!) I got lax about taking anything for awhile (months...) and rediscovering this little gem has been a life-saver. If only in the sense that being depressed leaves you resourceless (feels like you have, in fact, negative resources, less than zero) and so if you're gonna function with nothing, you should at least be peppy about it.

Other things that are helping (or would help, if I'd do it consistently): sleep. music. my husband's willingness to love me broken and all. interacting with (not just consuming) social media. 

Things that are not helping: motherhood.

So stay tuned for more * uplifting * words about that...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mama Bean cannot be a back seat driver

There will be days where only the word abandoned can describe the way you feel.  Left.  Forgotten.  These days will come, and have most certainly come before, but it is on these days we must remember that one day, someone will come along and find you again.  Find you, and when they do, they will find beauty in your cracked boards, grace in the rust you are bathed in and hope in the nails that still stick out, reaching for the sky.  -Tyler Knott, Abandoned Window on Abandoned Wall
The other day, PB and I had a little back-and-forth in the car, trying to figure out how to get out of the city for a day-trip to the beach. He asked which way he should go, and I gave him two options, and he said he didn't know which one to take, and I refrained from making the decision for him, so then we got a bit side-tracked, had to make a few extra turns in our city's spaghetti-like streets (The Prairie Valley City has never seen a right-angled intersection it didn't want to mangle somehow.)

And as it turned out, what he meant was he actually didn't know where to go at all and wanted explicit directions. And as it turns out, I'm loath to give those.

Why? Because I am traumatized by a life of watching my parents argue about back seat driving. I don't have to say this, I think I start to half explain before he says, yeah yeah I know.

And then, half joking, "Geez, stop being broken."

And I just laughed and laughed. (If only it were that easy, right?) Noone understands me like him, and it makes my heart swell. When he found me, I was already broken, and he thought I was beautiful. And two, three years later, when he was actually getting to know me, he still thought I was beautiful - cracked and desperate, half a country away, terribly alone and depressed. He has loved me and still loves me through so much brokenness, now...now we can laugh about it.

I don't have it in me to be a back seat driver, because I am so tired and scared of car fights. (Fighting in the car is hella-awful, right? Because noone can go anywhere, you're all just stuck looking out the windows, waiting for the tension to get sucked out the vents...) But in so studiously avoiding it, we still had this "fight." If it weren't for love, if it weren't for the grace to see through to each others' heart-words... well, there'd be no winning, no redemption. Just another set of kids looking out the windows...and I tell you what, I refuse to do that to my children.

Here's what car fights taught me, about driving and otherwise - there are very few directional choices that are irredeemable. It doesn't matter which route you choose, you'll still get from Point A to Point B - and in the grand scheme of life, it doesn't even matter if it took you 5 minutes longer. (We were always late, as a family, anyway. I cannot describe to you how useless this fighting was, when we were always late to get there anyway.)

What matters is the quality of the drive, y'know?

Did you know Sunday mornings happen even if you're not going to church? What I mean is, you know how sometimes (often) (every week) getting ready for church feels like pulling teeth, feels like pulling yourself and your children through molasses, and everyone's kind of useless and crabby and speaking in grunts instead of words? And then you're all sullen driving to church, parking at church, walking into church, but it's all smiles as soon as your palm meets greeter's palm?

Though we're not going to church right now, this Sunday was still like that; getting ready for our day-trip to the beach, but we're all molasses-useless. It was really bizarre. But this little back-and-forth totally cut through that crap, this weird moment of how-deep-how-well-we-love.

And guess what, side-tracked and all, we still got to the beach. No driving mistake is irredeemable, you'll still get from Point A to Point B. You'll still find the beach. (Even broken people get found.)

(I know this post all about me me me, but... well, Happy Birthday PB)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing, winding down through August

 
We were away for a week, and I feel like I came home to early Fall, which is my favourite season - the nights are getting crisp, mornings are refreshing, and the garden is definitely heading into harvest time. Our master plan for these cucumbers to climb up the repurposed futon frame trellis, covered in delicious cukes didn't exactly... welp, it failed. But I pulled the ten or so cucumbers we did get onto the outside of the box just to take this nifty picture haha.
 
The tomatoes have continued going crazy, bending their cages down, lots of heavy fruit starting to turn colour. These are green zebras, and they are ripening to a slightly orange colour, but I'll only pick them when they start to feel less hard (but not necessarily soft). I did pick two green hungarians (which also ripened a bit orange) and they were pretty tasty, but a bit too sharp/bright. I like my tomatoes with a lot of sweetness, so I'm not sure if I'll grow them again. I am thinking some green salsa and green tomato sauce will look (and hopefully taste) good, so that's the plan.
 
The tomatoes on the left are Japanese black trifeles, so they've got a lot of ripening to do. The green hungarians are on the left. Our potatoes do not seem to have done well this year, despite having nice big plants; they have drooped and dried out already, maybe we didn't hill them enough? But those three taters in the bucket you see were all I got from one whole plant, and one of those may even have sneaked in from a neighbouring plant /sigh.
 
These are black cherry tomatoes. They look ready to eat, but they won't pull off the stem/vine easily yet, so I don't think they're fully ripe. I am being as patient as I can to taste them :S
 
I have two or three of these super-tomatoes on my Hawaiian pineapple tomato plant - I think they are made from several blossoms being fertilized and growing all together at once (maybe the vine was too cramped?) They are just starting to get orange now, I suspect I'll have to pick them green and let them finish ripening inside. But there's still plenty of August and (hopefully sunny warm) September left - fingers crossed against frost, right?
 
I thinned the beets just to see how they were coming along; they are small and that sucks. I've been picking many delicious handfuls of those orange sun sugars and sungolds and some red sweet 100s. Those orange suckers are so sweet and awesome, they're all eaten within hours of entering the house. That cucumber was very thick-skinned and a bit acerbic near the skin - I think this is either because it's not a thin-skinned variety and/or because it's been such a hot and dry summer.
 
These are mini brown peppers, they have since ripened to an even deeper red-brown colour. I can't decide when to pick them, but I'm thinking tomorrow.
 
These are yellow Hungarian wax peppers, which have for some reason turned orange. I don't know if they are spicy or not, but I think they're getting picked tomorrow, too.
 
The pumpkin plants have taken over the front flower bed, growing from the right corner across the middle and back (covering my lilies a bit, that's not so good) up into the bush at the left. There have been many male flowers, but not a single female flower, so no pumpkins for us :( I found two small female buds when I got home from vacation, but neither will bloom in time for fruit. That's my update! How's your garden doing?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mama Bean knows you on a certain level, you know?

When I was in university, I concocted a system of interpersonal knowledge levels by which I evaluated and/or grew friendships/relationships. Despite the world of adult relationships being vastly more complicated than how complicated I thought my social life was in my early 20s, I still find the system useful, at least for analyzing my placement in a particular friendship or wider group/web of relationships.

The system has three levels. Primary knowledge is the basic nuts and bolts info about someone's life - their family, their occupation, what they do on a day to day basis. Obviously, knowledge at this level can be pretty superficial (dog's name, what car they drive) and can get very deep (particularly detailed knowledge of someone's history, for example, or in this day and age, a solid understanding of their religious or political views, perhaps.) And every relationship starts here, with the basic exchange of information. Secondary knowledge has to do with preferences - again from a superficial level (favourite restaurant, hobbies, taste in music) to the more detailed (I don't know how to describe it, but just a very solid idea of their world view, to the point of predicting what they'd like in novel circumstances, maybe?) And this level also encompasses understanding a bit about value systems, but not so much as the third and final level. Tertiary knowledge is when you know someone well enough to know their motivations and drivers, their values, an understanding of their personality. This gets more into having predictive abilities as far as their choices or behaviours go - you know what they'll do or what they're thinking/feeling. It's more than just knowing opinions. For me, being a Myers-Briggs junkie, I need tertiary knowledge to feel comfortable guessing at your four letters. (By the by, the very fact that I have this system fits perfectly with my INFJ personality type, and I thought that was hilarious when I found out.)

So I've been thinking about this as applied to groups, as Papa Bean and I have been examining ourselves during this church search, and also a little bit as it pertains to parenting (and cloud parenting). I think a group that comes together on the basis of some primary level commonality is what I'd call a community. Any given church congregation is a community of people joined at this primary level of common religion. Your workplace is a community of people with a primary level common business/service. Mom groups of many shapes exist on the very basic primary commonality of motherhood. And depending on the specificity of the primary information, the community can be loose or tight, you know? 

I think when we start to look at people joined by a secondary level of commonality, we're talking about a tribe (in the meme-y meta way that we now use that word.) When PB and I consider the church we want to serve in, we're thinking about finding a tribe - not only joined by common religion, but a common specific expression of preferences within that religion, a particular progressiveness and politic. I don't think I have to say that this is a difficult thing to find! I think if you look at really cohesive workplaces or fantastically successful businesses (Apple?) you'll find more of a tribe mentality - people have bought in, have invested in a common goal/vision/process/preference. And I think I've written before about how comforting the Interwebz can be for finding your parenting tribe, somewhere in the Cloud - something that can be near impossible on the ground. 

I suppose a really tight tribe would start to approach a tertiary level of knowledge and connectedness, which I would call synergy. But I'd say it's pretty hard to get cohesive understanding of motivations and values across very large groups of people (churches have split over much smaller issues than that, amiright?) I'd say it's even pretty rare in two person relationships - I mean, I'd hope most marriages start here and grow into it from there. I can count on one hand the number of people I feel I know (or used to know) on the tertiary level and who know me the same. (Well, and being an introvert, I wouldn't want that number to be much bigger, but tell me extroverts if you have the same experience?)

The complexity of adulthood muddies my system on many many levels. For one thing: geography! When I was in university, everyone most important to me (give or take) lived in my city; not so anymore. I have these synergistic friends living their primary lives miles away from me, and I am ashamed to admit how little time I invest in maintaining that primary knowledge - what do they do day to day? What car do they drive? Let alone their parenting strategies, their workplace conflicts, their political activity... I know I can't hold onto my tertiary or deep secondary laurels with these friends forever, without supportive knowledge of their actual physical life. Because everything changes, and that's the other thing: time! I mean, values and personality are relatively stable over time, but still - people are falling in love, making new humans, building empires or destroying them!

More than anything, having indulged in some profound nostalgia of late (five year college reunions will do that) I find myself wishing (oh so dangerously tinged with regret is wishing) that I'd known then, when I was spending my valuable hours thinking myself so clever for figuring out the world in three simple levels, when I was discovering who my secondary and tertiary levels really were at Palmer, when I was growing and developing that selfhood in early marriage and now in early parenthood... I wish I'd known what and who really mattered. And I wish I'd taken the time - I wish I would take the time now to tell those people, to say what I feel, to hash it out with them, "Hey, here's where we're community and I like that, let's keep that" or, "Hey, here's where we're tribal, it's awesome, and I like it, let's keep it" or, "Hey, I think you know that we have something beautiful and synergistic between us, and I treasure that, please... please, keep that with me." I mean, I don't think every relationship can necessarily handle that exact depth of conversation, but in this age of ridiculous digital-connectedness, you'd think I could find the time to at least be honest.

So, tell me things: do you organize your sense of friendship in a system like this? Does your personality jive or clash with this system? (It's not perfect, so I'm not going to be insulted if you've got other ideas.) How do you navigate the communities and tribes in your life? How do you cultivate or communicate your way through tribalism or synergy? Think about it while we enjoy the sweet dulcet tones of Mr. John Mayer.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Mama Bean sometimes can't win

Vignette the first:
Chatting with a patient during treatment, exchanging basic information about our children, boy/girl mix, ages and how many months apart they are. I love having these conversations, I love that I get to meet so many moms at varying stages of motherhood, I feel I am participating in community and shared wisdom and wonderful womanhood, or something. Then I ask if she is home full-time with her children (because I ask everyone about their primary occupation, because it's interesting, and because their occupational activities have a bearing on their spinal health.)

She replies, "Yes, I just couldn't fathom letting someone else raise my children, y'know?" And then, perhaps realizing that I have children and I clearly am letting someone else raise my children, she feels it necessary to ask, "So where do your kids go when you're here?" I don't know, maybe she was hoping, against hope, that (as in the first eight months of each of their lives) my husband was at home raising our children? And I was not the awful mother she had just insinuated me to be? Oh well. 'Tis not so. End scene.

Vignette the second:
Chatting with an older mom about feeling somewhat limited and/or isolated with my small children; describing that I don't always feel able to handle long outings, or poorly timed (vis a vis eating or napping) activities, or that I simply do not seem to have enough hands/patience/wits to parent some days. Explaining that I opt out (willingly, because it's what's best for my kids) but that I fear I'm missing out (on my community, on friendship, on having a life). Expecting (why do I expect things?) some commiseration, maybe, or some encouragement. I would have accepted even platitudes; this-too-shall-pass me, you'll-miss-it-one-day me - I don't even care! Instead, I got, "Yeah, I used to use my kids as an excuse, too, but then I realized I just had to do it. And it wasn't so bad." I don't know, maybe she thought that was encouraging? It wasn't. Call me crazy. End scene.

Vignette the third:
In the midst of a group of harried moments ganging up on me, a progressing-into-cranky-and-irrational Moment, a toddler-and-pre-toddler-with-no-impulse-control Moment, I struggle to gather my belongings, assess any damage that's been caused, and prevent any potential damage from occurring by the barely-wrangled beasts. I struggle to maintain a socially-acceptable exterior, to be polite, to not yell, to not grab and wrestle and throw over my shoulder, kicking and screaming. I struggle with the fact that I love my children, and I accept them in all their moments, harried or not, but even so, the world does not. In fact, the world, at that moment, in the person of someone I thought of as a friend, instead said to me, "Wow, I just cannot relate to that, getting more and more riled up as they get tired. I guess my kids just weren't like that."

End. fucking. scene.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mama Bean can't find a good version of Bobcaygeon online anywhere (grr)

Oh Gord, sing to me about wine and Willie Nelson. Driving down this country road, tell me about where you saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time. Pulling down the shade against the setting sun, I want to hear about the sky, dull and hypothetical, falling one cloud at a time. I want to hear this love, in your song and your voice, tonight. I want to hear about staying hung up on that girl in the middle of a riot. And I want to think about that place where I saw the constellations reveal themselves one star at a time, clouds falling all around.

If this is the poetry that smoking copious amount of weed produces... then toke me up. Fer real.

The people I went to Palmer with I think have a general impression of me as a goody goody. And I get where it's coming from - church every Sunday, didn't go to the bars, didn't seem to drink or swear or whatever. Got good grades, whatever that means (We all got good grades. There were four valedictorians in our class. And I wasn't one of them.) Never mind that I swear like a fucking trucker. (A Palmer friend recently commented on facebook that I'm adorable when I swear, FFS.) 

And here I am thinking, "But I'm from Canada! I'm from the land of legal pot!" And it really seemed the other Canadian gal in our class and I swore more than any of the good Midwestern kids around us. We felt downright crude. And anyone who spent any amount of quality time with me knew I'd tell a dirty joke sooner than I'd say anything else. My mind is perpetually (perpetually) in the gutter (perpetually.) (always.) (right now.) But I suppose my Canuckhood only confirmed how polite and buttoned up I must be?

Truth is, I didn't go to the bars because I couldn't afford the drinks. And if I was gonna spend the money, I'd rather see a movie and eat butter drenched popcorn.

But they never asked what I was drinking or smoking at home...



Well. But I'm no Gord Downie. I'm no poet.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mama Bean knows Papa Bean is a complicated man

The other day, I broke the stove. I had the coffee maker plugged into the stove-top outlet, and then I was cooking some soup, but I turned on the wrong element, and it zapped the coffee maker cord and the outlet (and the lights for the oven.) (No lectures.) (Even PB didn't lecture me when I told him. He knows lectures don't work for me. They just make me feel like shit and mope and cry and mope some more.) In fact, what he did when I told him is calmly reach over and open the top of the panel, which I didn't even know could be opened and pull out the fuse (or, fancy lightbulb, as I call it in my head) that was blown, so we could buy a new one.

How did he know that?!?

Secret man knowledge, I tell ya. Like his man hands. I like to think of myself as a fairly strong person, with strong hands, too. I work with my hands all day. I'm an accomplished pianist. I have strong hands. But I cannot lift furniture by just, like, gripping it with flat hands and carrying it around. I don't have hands like that. I call them Papa Bean's man hands, and when he expects me to just pick up a piece of furniture with flat side and no little ledge to hook my fingers under, I just mumble manhands under my breath. And when he flips open parts of appliances I have broken to fix them with random bits of machinery, I whisper manknowledge.

Okay, but then tonight I shared a kpop video on his facebook wall, because I know he likes kpop. It's not often I run across the stuff in my internet perusing, because my web-tribe just ain't into it, but anyway, there it was. And I was so tickled to share it, because even though I don't like it, I like to show that I love and care for his kooky tastes. (Turns out the song was even worse that that tripe usually is.) So he meanders over eventually and then says, "Would it be kinda sad or totally awesome if I told you I already know that song?" 

A complicated man, my husband.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mama Bean didn't know how painful parenting would be

What a loaded title for a post, eh?

Don't worry, this isn't heavy today. This isn't about how parenting is so emotionally weighty, how there are pieces of our hearts transplanted into these tiny, fragile bodies, wandering around outside our bodies, bumping into crap and making mistakes, etc. This is not about that.

This isn't even about how Bean is a physical toddler who needs to run and jump and throw and push and hurt things and people because he has no impulse control and can't always make himself understood and probably wonders if anyone in his life really loves him. This isn't about getting beaned in the head with cars and books and other hard objects periodically.

I just didn't know how much their little bodies would end up colliding with mine, accidentally, but nonetheless, painfully. How they will constantly, with perfect timing, throw their heads up just as you are bending your head down, to connect poignantly at the bridge of your nose, where the burning blinding pain will last for minutes, but no matter, you can't stop, you still have to put the shoe on/pick up the dropped food/kiss the scraped knee. Or how their sticky little feet would shudder like a "snakebite" across your bare leg or arm, as they step on/over you for hugs, for better access to the book, to reach the car you just took away and put on the windowsill. Or how pointy their limbs are, their elbows and knees and feet and even their funny pointy bums, digging into your ribs and legs and arms, as you dress them, hug them, comfort them, wrestle them, or just lie on the floor in exhaustion and allow them to climb all over you, it doesn't even matter anymore.

It's just a little bruising, is all.

(When I shared this with a patient of mine, an older mom whose children are grown and married and almost parents themselves, she kind of said, "Oh, I guess I just didn't let my kids, like, do that." And then she had the grace to stop herself, because I guess she realized how unhelpful that was.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mama Bean has straight hair, if you're wondering

You know that old adage, women with straight hair want curly, and those with curly wish it were straight? It's true, right, on both sides of that fence, we spend ridiculous amounts of money to get the hair we don't have. It's funny.

Or, you know the other one, smart women wish they were beautiful, and beautiful women wish they were smarter? I think that was on Ally McBeal once. It's a truism, too, in its own way. Many people have written many doctoral theses that treat the topic with more finesse that I can in a little blog post. I'm just running off the ones I can think of off the top of my head. 

The other day, after talking with my best friend (on a glorious one-night respite in the southeastern corner of my fair province, roughly halfway between our two homes), I thought of another one. Crafty moms wish they read more, and reading moms wish they crafted more.

Or, you know, fill in the blanks with whatever significant or insignificant mommy-war dichotomy you wish. Moms who commit their time and effort to A wish they had leftover time and effort to also do B, and vice versa, because lord knows we all have to bend over backwards to Do All and Be All in our effort to martyr ourselves on motherhood's doorstep for the sake of our children.

We live in a grass-is-always-greener kind of world.

I was thinking about this in relation to my work-life balance (oh that elusive beast...) I stay-home and work-out-of-home, both. Only it doesn't count, either way. Because I don't stay home all the time, so I'm not a real SAHM, and I have no authority or right to make commentary as though I have any clue what being a SAHM is really like. Obviously. But I'm also not out of the home all the time, I get to be home sometimes, so I don't really know what being a WOHM is like. I can't talk about any challenges I feel from SAHMing because I'm only doing it halftime. I can't talk about any mommy-guilt or professional-consequences I face from WOHMing because I'm only doing it halftime. This is the I-get-both-sides-of-the-grass scenario. It is not green.

Anyway, I don't know why I felt the need to write that down. My hair is straight, and I do wish it were curlier. I am smart, and I feel beautiful 4 or 5 days out of 10. I craft (less than I'd like) and I never have time to read (do blogs count? lol) And I'm a SAHWOHsomesuch /sigh. Mommy wars are pointless.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mama Bean is a Narrative and a Statistic

You know what's great about the internet? No matter what your Weirdness, someone else has it, too. And they've got a blog or a tumblr or a pinboard, and inter-kismet will bring y'all together. It's the way of the (brave new) world. The internet makes bell curves come alive - your weirdness is just the centre of some weird bell curve, populated by a bunch of other weird people who are all, on average weird like you. Bell. Community. Interwebz are Love.

As a new mom, a young mom, and inexperiencedandbaffledandtired mom, finding my Self on another's blog, seeing myself in a meme, hearing my voice in someone else's post, holy shit was that a relief. Like whoooooosh   ...   relief. And then? I get to interact and comment and like things? I get to have a voice, too? And you're gonna agree with me? And affirm me? Wha? Ohshityes, sign. me. up.

But it doesn't stay that way. Or rather, this brave new world, this virtual group parenting, this Cloud Parenting, it's a double edged sword. Because, even when we share weirdness, we remain individuals. And in one way or another, there will be clashes, differences, confrontations. And there will be Trolls.

I was chatting with a friend about how frustrating it is when someone extrapolates their parenting experience out to the Whole. I'm not talking about the Well-meaners offering (unsolicited or not) advice. I mean the people who seem to misapprehend that the way they are living Parenthood is not the way everyone lives Parenthood. That, in fact, every child is different, and every mother, too, and every family and community beyond that, too also.

It starts to feel like you're being judged, because your experience doesn't look like theirs, and for whatever reason (familiarity?) they'd prefer if you looked like them. The scientist in me wants to scream at them (a little, just a little), "You have a sample size of ONE! That is not actual evidence. Anecdotes are not CONCLUSIVE!"

This is the paradox of Cloud Parenting. On the one hand, this blessing, this relief of finding your Tribe, where you feel your choices and preferences and experiences are accepted, where you belong. On the other hand, this struggle to assert your individuality, and its worth, to hold up your Story over and against the bell curve. It's a tension, and this generation of parents has to learn to navigate it in ways the grandparents did not.

I'm just saying, when I feel like myself or my kids are being outliers in some worrisome way, I am grateful for the opportunity to find some corner of the internet that affirms we are just plain normal. Or at least, we are statistically Within Range of normal. But, the power of the Cloud doesn't negate or lessen or cheapen our Shine - we are still sparkling shining snowflakes of specialness. And so there, I am grateful for the opportunity to just smoodge all over myself about our Sparkle in my corner of the internet. But I shouldn't fear that anyone's particular story sets a statistical standard for me to live up to.

I don't feel like I'm getting this out very well. I just wanted to say that there's a tension between the opportunities provided by the Internet to a) express one's (parenting, religious, whatever) Narrative as unique and special and b) find one's (parenting, religious, whatever) Group as inclusive and homogeneous at the same time. It's a tension that didn't exist for previous generations. That's all I'm saying.