Saturday, July 10, 2010

Absence and the heart

"Oh, the liquor was spilt on the barroom floor! And the bar was closed for the night! The house mouse peeped from his little mouse house! In the glow of the pale moon light!"

What the hell is she singing? Pynchon and I exchanged confused looks as we zipped up the 401 to this unexpected musical accompaniment. The mouse, it turns out, drinks all the spilled liquor off the floor and gets belligerent, looking for the 'gol-darned cat!' Gramma had been coaching Munchkin on the lyrics the whole week she'd had Munchkin to herself Way the Hell Up North.

While Munchkin was on her holiday Up North, I was in England, at a conference, and Pynchon had to stay in Small City to work a ton of overtime, and so our whole little household blew apart to the winds for a week, with no Internet or phone connections between us. And when Pynchon collected me at the airport, and then we collected Munchkin at her Auntie Soosee's, we all looked at each other afresh.

Holding down the home front by himself for the week, Pynchon secured his dream job, full-time and permanent. On her holiday, Munchkin learned how to swim and was determined to now tip the scales at a full 50 pounds. Away in England, I tried to get by for a week with no Internet, by doing yoga on the pebble beach at Brighton. I got a tan. Things are different; we are different.

It's amazing what happens, sometimes, when you give everything a little breathing room.

So, err, yeah. You can see the segue into the blog business coming, right? The blog has had several months of breathing room. I didn't quit, but I didn't write. And now coming back and having a look around, I am both amazed by the detail and richness of the record of my life that's contained here and also by the really incredible community of support and friendship in which it circulates. Circulated? There's a lot of stuff from Munchkin's early years I would not remember if I hadn't written it down here; there's a lot of Stuff from Munchkin's early years I felt at the time like I would not have survived if you hadn't supported me.

But do you know the most amazing thing that's happened since I started this blog? I became Mom. It's a role I now inhabit fully, like I have mothering toes and mothering hair follicles and mothering knuckles. I don't feel like I'm ... pretending, or faking, or muddling, or not-quite-mom-enough yet. That feels pretty good--it feels natural, or at least naturalized, now.

(Yeah. We've got all our ducks all in a row over at our hizzouse.)

I certainly don't mean to suggest that I'm perfectly confident, or free of ambivalence, or well-accomplished, or not sometimes pulled in different directions by different parts of my life (mother, wife, woman, professor, sister, daughter, researcher). That's not it. Rather, I don't think that "Mom" is someone I'm not sure how to be. It's what I am, already, even as some of the tasks associated with the position are ones I haven't tackled yet. Dealing with ever-changing new stuff is part of "Mom," so I guess I'm doing it right.

And so, thinking about what "Mom" means has lost some of its urgency for me, and maybe this is why blogging has lost some of its urgency for me. There is a kind of irony in blogging, a kind of 'meta-' to it, as though writing about what it meant to be a mom would turn me into a mom that knew what it meant to be a mom. I think I know, now.

But I like doing this; I like writing about my family life, if only so that I can remember it later. I like sharing it with however many of you still haven't moved me to the 'defunct' folder of your reader. I have other things going on now, too, now that mothering has become more verbal, more interpersonal, and less physically and psychically gruelling. I'm doing a lot of yoga; I'm more and more engaged in my research work in social media; I am working on my home reno and interior design skills.

All the blogging guides tell you this: find your niche. Maybe it's your passion, maybe it's strategic, but find your little corner of the world and work it like crazy. Do that one thing and do it, do it, do it. So blogging as a new mother seems likely to succeed in the standard ways--pull together an audience, get some numbers, get known, in that small niche. That was then. Blogging for me now, like my mothering, is more diffuse, not so reliably niche-y. More like my life now: really full, but not of the same thing all the time.

"Mimi on the Breach"--it was about me, ostensibly, right from the start. "Me," when I started this (Christ--FOUR YEARS AGO), was about trying to get a toehold on this whole 'Mom' thing. "Me," now, is about more things, not instead of but in addition to mothering. So I guess we'll see what happens now.

Goodness, back when I started, 'Miss Baby' was two months old and went to bed at 2am. I had three reliable commenters (Her Bad Mother, CinnamonGurl-that-was, and Bubandpieand-that-is-now-Bea. Imagine!), and a total weekly readership of six people. Now I get more PR pitch emails every week than I used to have legitimate readers. Weird.

How about you? Are things changing for you? How are your families? How are your lives?


Omaha Mama said...

I still check my reader...and you're still there. :-) Even if I don't write as much. I still do.

So are you staying? I'm confused. Are you retiring? I thought this was a goodbye post, but didn't hear a loud one by the end?

I was at Brighton Beach. It was 1996 and I had just graduated high school. I was with classmates and our English teacher. It was my first view of the Atlantic Ocean and I was on the other side of it. Beautiful.

Glad your doing well. It was fun to see Mimi pop up on the reader today. :-)

slouchy said...

lots of this resonates with me. as i think you know, i've stopped blogging. i didn't start so much to gain a foothold as a mom but rather to record what it was to be (fully entrenched as) a mom (my kids were already 9 and 5 when i started blogging).

but blogging or no, i'm so happy i found you here.

Mimi said...

Hi OM -- yup, I'm staying. But I think I might blog about more things than just stories about Munchkin.

And hi Slouchy -- yes, I've been thinking about you and your not-blogging, and being sad about how the momosphere is changing and sometimes I wish everything would stay the same ...

Lisa D. said...

Umm, that's quite the song Gramma taught Munchkin! :)

I understand what you mean about blogging, and about growing into being a mother. I feel the same way about just growing into being an adult, and at 35 years old, with 4 children and married for, well, a long time, I finally feel like a grown up! I finally feel like I know who I am, what I'm good at, what I like and don't like, what I'm comfortable with. I can relax and let things go more easily.

I don't blog, but I think what I like about reading blogs is hearing someone else's life experiences and their different perspectives on the same things we all go through.

Cloud said...

As someone who writes a blog that strays all over the place, I say- come on in! The water's fine!

But maybe you won't get PR pitches if you don't keep your niche focus. Or maybe I don't get PR pitches because my writing isn't as good as yours (it isn't, and no, I'm not fishing for a compliment, I'm giving one- your writing is a joy to read).

Anyway, I'm glad you're staying. I'll probably read whatever you write.

alejna said...

I'm glad that you're back, and sticking around.

I pretty nicheless myself, as bloggers go. I am all over the place. I recognized that as a downside to my blog, especially when I try to put my blog on some sort of listing that involves categories. Of course, the up side is that my blog really feels like my own space. It's been hard enough for me to pick a career, so I'm glad I don't need to confine myself too much in my hobby.

I'm glad that you and your family (as well as your lovely blog) have all had some good breathing room. Congratulations to Pynchon on the exciting job, and to Munchkin for learning a song that will provide much entertainment.

Jenifer said...

So nice to get an update (says the gal who posted -what a year ago or something!) anyhoo it WAS nice to hear from you again.

I think you really said it, your initial reasons for blogging don't exist anymore, but that doesn't change what you get from it.

I kind of think I haven't been blogging because personally I am trying to shut down some of the noise in my mind. The when/if/how to reenter the workforce, a family member who is fighting cancer, all the things every family deals with one way or the other.

I miss posting though and often mentally post anyway. I realize how much I miss it when a blogger such as yourself resurfaces. You just want things to stay the same sometimes.

I am looking forward to your thoughts and stories, there was always more dimension to you and your blog than you might have realized.

Patti said...

I found your blog originally through "blogs of note" and told soooo many people about your "developers-want-my-house" stories. We were moving around the same time, or just had, so that resonated with me (cuz I'm not a mom...) Also I've never forgotten your statement about the "blogs of note" crowds - like people watching you in the bathroom and commenting on your technique, or some such thing. I still laugh about that!

Glad you're not leaving. And it's nice to see you back.

For me ... I blog, I think for two reasons. One is work-related - "hey, this woman is clergy AND has a sense of humour - weird" and one is personal - I really enjoy writing, and it's an outlet for me.

Kyla said...

My life is different and the same. Blogging has changed, though. I used to have 15-30 readers and most of them have since quit blogging. It is hard to rebuild that kind of
community. I'm not quitting anytime soon, but it will probably never be like it once was.

Glad you are staying. I hate losing my regular reads!!