Internet Refugee

I feel like a refugee. I know that’s dramatic, but this feeling of being displaced, shuffled around, trying to assimilate in and ‘pass’ for one of the locals when grieving the loss of a family. I wrote about the OffbeatFamilies shutdown yesterday, and have managed to stay away from the shuttered doors, and have tried to nestle in to Offbeat Home & Life, a place I previously felt comfortable. But then I started reading the comments, which is advice they say NOT to do in most internet communities, because snark+ runs rampant. But the Offbeat Empire has felt so safe…and then…I come across comments like this:

Ooooh… I’m sure this makes me a terrible person, but as a childless-by-choice OBH&L reader I’m glad there’s not going to be birth stories and breastfeeding articles in here…. cuz it would totally ick me out, but I’m sure I’d end up reading it anyways cuz it’d be like a train-wreck, where you don’t want to look but you can’t tear your eyes off it. Then I’d probably just have to stop coming in here, and that would make me sad.

But hooray for Harry Potter!

Ugh. So birth and breastfeeding is icky to you. Awesome. And my parenting choices are like a ‘trainwreck,’ which is also awesome. And makes me feel super comfortable when I’m mourning the loss of a place I loved and content I loved. Imagine if I went there and said “I love reading about colored wedding dresses, but gay dudes kissing is sooooo ick, and a trainwreck and so I’ll probably not come back.” Hurtful, right? (and soooo not my views in reality, FYI).

But I was feeling kinda okay about squatting over there, but now I’m not so sure. So of course I’ve begun spiralling. Where do I fit in? I’ve bounced over to Mutha Magazine, and Mommyish, and Birth Without Fear, and think ‘oh cool, these might feel like home someday,’ but just like expatriating, that day isn’t today and so I feel displaced.

Which calls into question my own feeling at home here, on my own blog. A blog with a name I’ve questioned for awhile and with a handle that I’m not entirely comfortable with. Monk-Monk sometimes feels too…unhuman, if that makes any darn sense at all. So don’t be surprised, if like a post-breakup, I dye my hair to change my identity. The blog equivalent might be a look change/name change/handle change. Still me under the bloggy makeover, but I thought I’d give you a heads up that my mind is swirling about new taglines and titles and how to move forward in internet refugee empowerment.

Mommy Comparisons

Mommyhood comes with a strange set of insecurities. It’s almost like being back in junior high school where every pimple and out-of-place hair was subject to intense scrutiny. We were so busy worrying about fitting in that we almost didn’t have time to worry about whether other people were fitting in. Almost. But there, of course, were cliques and in-groups and people who bonded together over common or shared experience and part of that was excluding others from the group based on often-sketchy requirements.

While at my moms-of-newborns group I noticed that I was becoming quite self conscious about my own experience of parenting. While Potamus is only 7 weeks old, and other women have babies of similar ages, I was the only one in the group who hadn’t brought toys to entertain him while he layed there on his blanket. My mind whirled through thoughts like “oh no, what stage is he at, should I have brought toys? I am a bad mom, I need to get on top of these things. What if he doesn’t develop normally because I didn’t expose him to toys early enough?” Clearly this thinking is delusional, as all over the world there are babies growing into healthy, well adjusted and smart, kids and adults without the abundance of plastic colored flashing first-world toys that are on the market today. However, I couldn’t help but feel inadequate.

And, because we are new moms and are trying to get to know one another on both a personal AND a mom level, the topic of giving birth came up. I was surprised that, once again, I didn’t fit in, as I gave birth vaginally, with only fentanyl at the last minute for pain, and the other four moms of newborns (versus the other moms who had babies a few months old and didn’t participate in this part of the conversation) had given birth via c-section, all not by choice. As they were commiserating about their c-section, the recovery, and how they were sad to have not had the experience of birth that they wanted (vaginal, no medication). While I could commiserate on having pain medication when I thought I could do it without, I, once again, didn’t fit quite in with the birthing experience that these ladies had. And while I tried to insert myself, there was this sense that even my trying to commiserate wasn’t quite welcome, because, after all, I had as close to the birth experience that they wanted and really didn’t have any need to complain.

I can’t escape the divide online, either. I am invloved in reading several forums and blogs and find that I am still not in any group fully. There are the offbeat mamas, which I consider myself a part of, but, while I consider myself a hippy at heart, I don’t really think of my mothering as all that hippy-like (though I baby-wear, and Boof baby-wears, and we might end up doing cloth diapers, and we co-sleep and sometimes bedshare). But I don’t have pink hair or go to rock concerts and I am not all organic and from the outside we look like just your typical all-american family.
So the other websites, where they have almost a disdain for breastfeeding and babywearing, but probably fit my personality in other ways, label us “crunchy” and “granolaey” which I normally wouldn’t take as an insult, but I want to fit in.

So I think thats what I need to examine…my desire to fit in…and why mommyhood is a club with cliques and why I feel so insecure, when really, we are all just trying to do a good job.