Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Hi there, my long-time-not-seen blog people!

I honestly didn’t intend to take a slightly-more-than-a-year-long break from this here old blog, but then in the middle of March last year, this happened:


Well hello there!

My life, and that of the family, got considerably more complicated. Worth it, oh yes, but even less easy and simple than it had been before. Here is Mr Baby Dude today, for contrast:


It is now, slowly, gradually, painfully, becoming possible to have a life that involves more than Keep the Tiny Human Alive, and I am dipping my toes back into writing and arting and gardening and all the delightful activities that keep me slightly less insane. The revision of Steel Butterfly is once more stumbling along, and I have art projects that have been back-burnered for way too long being front-burnered once again. So who knows? I may even start updating here once in awhile, too.


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I didn’t mean to be public and open with my miscarriage. Public and open are not things I do very well, or willingly, or at all if I can help it–look, I’m from Kansas. We are experts at bottling things up and Not Talking About The Important Stuff, and a lifetime’s worth of habits are hard to break.

Here’s how it happened:

The Mr and I were delighted to be expecting again. (Shades of delighted: finding myself pregnant brought me all kinds of complicated feelings, worries, concerns. But largely delighted.) The Viking Prince had just turned five, I’m not getting any younger, and it was/is definitely time to start adding to the family, if we were going to do it. So, delighted.

So, the second we had confirmation, we told everybody.

These days of course that means call the family, then put the news on social media. And our friends were also delighted.

The Viking Prince? Also delighted; after all, he’d been talking about the little sister he wanted for nearly a year. (“I’ll dress up as Ant-Man, and my little sister can be Cassie.” “What if she wants to be Ant-Man too?” “…Well, I guess I could let her do that.”) He joined in the name brainstorming with a aplomb, and contributed the nickname Spiderling to the not-even-yet-a-bump in my belly, so that we could dispense with the clunky “your little brother or sister.” (He insisted sister, with typical stubbornness, and I lost track of how many times one of us grown-up types uttered variations on, “We have no way of knowing right now. It could be a boy.”)

So, universal delight. I started on the mental list of Stuff To Do To Get Ready–an extensive list, that any minute I was sure to put on paper and start ploughing through. My mom came for a visit: coincidence, but the timing worked out perfectly. I was perhaps five weeks pregnant. (more…)

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Age of Ultron spoilers ahead! Ye be warned!




Black-Widow-Age-of-Ultron-posterSo, in my unsorted Age of Ultron thoughts, you might notice I didn’t say anything about that scene.  You know the one.  That scene.

You know, the scene where Natasha Romanoff comes clean to Bruce Banner, the man she loves, about the horrors done to her in her past, and how because of those she feels unworthy, less than, inhuman–a monster.  That moving scene where she told him something about herself she had never confessed to anyone, that scene that broke my heart a little bit because the cold, merciless logic of her tormentor-teacher-brainwashers in taking from a young woman the ability to bear children, to live beyond the mission and live for someone outside herself, was indeed impeccable, and because the person so dreadfully damaged by this wrong done to her is Natasha, whom we’ve (or at least I’ve) grown to love throughout her journey from SHIELD agent to Avenger.  You know, that scene.

That scene where Scarlett Johannson and Mark Ruffalo gave beautiful, heart-felt performances, bringing more layers of depth and warmth and pain and humanity to their characters.  That beautifully lit, beautifully shot scene of quiet horror, the one that in the midst of a superhero movie about punching killer robots in the face nearly brought me to tears of pity and woe.  That one.

the-avengers-age-of-ultron-screenshot-scarlett-johansson-natasha-romanoff-bruce-bannerI didn’t realize that scene was not okay, that it wasn’t okay for me to like it and it wasn’t okay for Joss Whedon to have written it.  I didn’t realize that a female character expressing sorrow that she was tortured and forcibly sterilized was no longer okay, because … feminism? I’m really confused. Why is it not okay?

It reminds me of a writer’s blog I sailed past awhile back; the writer was talking about trying to figure out some new, fresh kind of motivation for a female character.  So not, because she’s in love, or because she wants to protect her children.  Something not stereotypical.  And I thought, “But … women fall in love.  Women want to protect their children, or to have children to protect in the first place.  And that’s okay.”

It’s okay.  It’s okay for a woman to want children.  That’s not anti-feminist.  It’s okay for a woman to have children.  Still not anti-feminist.  It is definitely okay for a woman to be sad that she can’t have children.  It is especially okay for a woman to be sad that she can’t have children if she was forcibly sterilized.  Guys, gals, advanced artificial intelligences, extragalactic visitors, it is even okay for a woman to be sad about all of the above if she is Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, super spy par excellence.

You know what’s not okay? Dumping internet hatred on the writer who gave his female character these feelings, this background, this motivation.  If you must hate, and be outraged, and vilify someone, try the people in the real world who do torture young women, for real, mutilating them and destroying forever their chance at motherhood.  Hate those guys.

And don’t just hate.  Do something.  Because this world doesn’t have a Tony Stark to blow the bad guys up, or a Captain America to whack them with a shield, or a Thor to smite them with righteous lightnings, or even a Natasha Romanoff to scissor-kick them and flip them upside down while the frame goes all sideways.  It’s up to us.  We’re the only heroes we’ve got.

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Warning: Spoilers for Arrow seasons 1 & 2

As a lifelong geek, when I became a mother I didn’t have access to many good examples of motherhood in the stories I enjoyed. Most of the moms in stories are absent (died in childbirth is a popular one), clueless, or vaguely benevolent (and then murdered by bandits or demons or time travelling killer robots, probably). And mainstream media is probably not much better. (I say “probably” because I frankly don’t know.) You’ve got the psycho Mommy Dearest types, or the Heroically Dying of Cancer moms … what else? I’m sure I don’t know.

Sometimes the moms don't even get names!  Sleeping Beauty's mom is "the Queen"

Sometimes the moms don’t even get names! Sleeping Beauty’s mom is “the Queen”

My own mother is an amazing woman (hi, Ma!) who raised me under challenging circumstances while building a business from the ground up, and it goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that I admire her extremely. However, she’s a milder and probably kinder person than I am, and since I was a kid when she was dealing with some of her particular challenges, it’s safe to say I wasn’t really paying attention to how she did it.

So what’s a geek mom with a yen for stories to do? Who do you model yourself after? Because one thing stories do is get into our hearts and souls and show us how to be.

(Side note: I am a Catholic, and that means I should probably be modelling myself after Mary, mother of Jesus–but I admit I find her baffling and inaccessible, because other than storing things up in her heart and having that same heart pierced by a sword also, I’m not really sure what she did or how her example is useful in the day-to-day trenches of motherhood. Further note that this is a problem with me and not at all a problem with Mary.)

Enter Arrow‘s Moira Queen.

Mom of the Year?

Mom of the Year?

When the show began, I’m afraid I didn’t pay much attention to Oliver’s (i.e. the Green Arrow’s) mother. She seemed like she was going to be Evil Mom, or maybe Ruthless Businesswoman First and Mom Second, neither of which are tropes that interest me. As the series progressed, however (and the writing improved), I began to take notice.

The first thing that attracted me to Mrs Queen was her courage. In the Season 1 episode The Odyssey, the Hood–Arrow–Vigilante guy–confronts her in her office; she pretends terror and helplessness–and then grabs a gun and shoots him. (Of course, she doesn’t know she’s shooting her own son, but hey. Nobody is perfect!) Now, we could talk about the difference between moral courage and physical courage–but the fact is, Moira has both.

That doesn’t mean she’s perfect. This is a woman with a history of making seriously bad decisions. To list a few: she had an affair with (ewwww!) Malcolm Merlyn, bore his child, and lied about said child’s parentage. She collaborated on “The Undertaking,” and was complicit in the earthquake device’s completion and implementation. She betrayed a colleague to save her own skin (and her kids’). She made shady business deals. She was way too comfortable telling lies. Some of these acts are mistakes, and some of them are deliberate decisions–and either way, her moral compass definitely does not point True North.

Don't mess with moms, that's all I'm saying.

Don’t mess with moms, that’s all I’m saying.

However, her flaws are part of what draw me to her. (I admit, I have a Thing for ruthless and amoral characters; f’rinstance, my favorite characters on Heroes were Nathan Petrelli and Adam Monroe.) After all, I am a flawed creature too–horribly imperfect. The Blessed Virgin can show us perfection within purely human parameters, but characters like Moira show us how to be great in spite of our brokenness.

Because Moira is great. When the revenge-bent, psychotic murderer Slade kidnaps the entire Queen family and demands that Oliver choose whom Slade shall kill, his mother or his sister, Oliver is horrified, but Moira steps forward with magnificent courage and volunteers, thus saving her daughter from death and her son from a cruel and impossible choice. Unhesitating, unflinching, she lays down her life for her children. Even Slade admires her. (Not that the admiration of Slade is something to be desired!)

Moira doesn’t jump off rooftops or punch bad guys in the face, but she is a hero nonetheless: an imperfect mother who is willing to sacrifice herself (and anyone else too, but like I said, she is not perfect!) for the good of her children. Although kidnapping, assassination, and bribery are probably not good things to be involved in, a geek mom like me can still be inspired by her example of selfless love.

Also, she's gorgeous.  Seriously, I hope I look half this good when my kid(s) are grown.

Also, she’s gorgeous. Seriously, I hope I look half this good when my kid(s) are grown.

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Yes, the default language on my FB is Pirate. It looks weird to me any other way.

I want to talk about something actually serious today, and I’m going to try to be calm and respectful about it, even though my initial reaction was, “Screw you, Commenter Number 3!”  Except the word wasn’t screw, if you get my meaning.

My two-and-a-third-year-old is sleeping as I type this.  I have lots of other things to do: phone calls to make, bills to pay, maybe grabbing a shower, and then if there’s any time and energy leftover, actually writing or arting.  Odds are good, he’ll sleep just long enough for me to type something, maybe get a shower, and then wake up while I’m towelling off my hair.  Then he’ll be awake again, and he’ll need a snack, and he’ll need to be kept from throwing things at the cats, and he’ll need, and he’ll need, and he’ll need….

I understand that motherhood is a blessing (to quote a friend, “it’s a fact I have memorized”), and that good parenting is important, and that family is important, and good relationships are important, and so on and so forth.  The problem I have with commenters 1 and 3 above (I’m commenter number 2, and I never get enough sleep) is that they are (deliberately or not; I’m sure they’re very nice people) poo-pooing with platitudes a very real problem.

Maybe I’m a terrible mother.  (Most days, I’m convinced of it.)  But sacrificing my personal goals and ambitions on the “altar of self” (or rather, the altar of catering to a tiny selfish person’s every need) doesn’t make me feel saintly; it makes me frustrated and pissed.  I legitimately have goals for my life beyond my progeny, goals for my art, and it is ridiculous a.) to say that once you’re a mommy that’s all you are and can ever be, world without end amen and b.) to make me feel like crap for wanting to be a person, whole and entire, and not just mommy.

My friend asked a real question.  She did it with a smiley face, because she is a wonderful, sweet, kind, smiley person.  But the question–HOW?!–is legit, and deserves a legitimate response, not some Pollyanna bullshit.  (Sorry, I said I was going to stay calm about this, and it’s not happening.)  This is the short end of the stick, and you’re gonna like it anyway, helps no one.  Plus, you are not doing your children any favors by sacrificing everything up to and including the things that help to fulfill your soul.  Unless you genuinely are a saint (I’m not, God knows), it will only make you bitter, frustrated, angry and resentful.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

So let’s engage this question:  How does one pursue a career (in art or anything) while raising children?  Does one pursue a career while raising children?  Or is one S.O.L.?

If one is not S.O.L., how does one manage?  What if daycare or hiring a nanny are not options?  (They aren’t for me, and many others I know.)  There’s only so long one can go short on sleep–and only so long going short on sleep is effective.  After a while, you’re too tired at night to work, and too tired during the day to deal with the demands of motherhood.

I don’t know.  I don’t have an answer, and I wish I did.  I’d apply it to my own life and share it with all my friends.  I just know, I’m tired all the time (and prickly too!), and I find it insulting to the genuine pain and frustration of the would-be working-artist-mother to say, “Buck up, you!  Children are more important than your selfish ambitions, anyway!”

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