This last week or so there's been quite swell of "I am a Good Parent" declarations going on, all triggered by Rebecca of Girl's Gone Child who suggests that this new trend of confessing one's self as a bad parent is the new form of saying "I'm so fat."
Interesting. And she's definitely onto something. But what? Like Her Bad Mother, I am very aware that most of my "parenting" posts relate tales of chaos and questionable mommy skills. Even in this last one here, I am regaling you with how I did not leave the house with my children as a well-prepared mommy of two should.
Let me tell you a secret. I did not get my kid to eat cheetos off the floor.
Also. There was a teeny weeny plastic dinosaur in my purse, which Big Boy played with quite nicely for a while.
Also. Although I had no snacks, we did have a couple of singles and there was a vending machine. Filled with candy and granola bars. I opted for the granola bars, though he begged begged begged for chocolate. And he had water to drink, not pop.
Also. In moments where he was really bored, when we were waiting for paperwork and all that other time-consuming stuff that happens when you spend your life away in one morning, I found a pen and paper, and we worked on his letters, and drew pictures and made up little stories and rhymes.
Why did I not tell you these things? Why did I lie? Well, as HBM says, it's not as much fun. Good is. Well. Good. Nice. But I can't get my comic jollies off it. Also. I'm not so much interested in telling you the minutiae of my day as much as picking a moment, and telling a story. And you know I like to tell a story with a bit of comic effect, normally with myself as the butt of the joke. I select some details, omit others, and even fabricate a touch here and there for the sake of literary effect. (yes. I said literary. shut up).
(see? I just did it, up there. in that parentheses. it's a rhetorical tactic--perhaps an overplayed one, but I like it, so bugger off!)
Rebecca is right to point out that this constant self-deprecation needs to be looked at a bit more carefully. On one level I see it as a kind of social gesture that says "I am not a competimommy! I do not judge! I am crap too. See see! Let's be friends!" There's definitely a specifically feminine discourse mode going on here, imbued with self-deprecation tactics in order to show comradeship and community. And in this way, I think it is actually extremely valuable. It's part of our community-building schtick. It's a form of rhetoric. It's a way we tell stories and engage one another. And within this context, I would even say it's empowering.
HBM asks: "Are you as good or as bad or as in-between in real life as you portray yourself on your blog? How much of your 'self' IS portrayed - revealed? exposed? - on your blog? Do you lay it all bare, and if not - what aren't you telling us?"
I know that HBM is a Good Parent. Even through her writing. Especially through her writing. Would we be reading her if we really thought she was a seriously Bad Mother. Course Not.
I also know you are an excellent parent, and you are, and you are, and you are. And I am pretty certain that you folks know I also rockit in the parenting department (as does my partner in crime, DrMrGinga).
What am I not telling you? The stuff I think is boring. The details that can make a post spiral out of control and lose focus. You lot have no clue how long it can take me to write some of these things sometimes. But I carefully cultivate an off-the-cuff style so it looks effortless and conversational (I hope). And I also omit the stuff that is too private, and that extends beyond me (which is a lot, also).
How much of my "self" is portrayed or exposed? Everything and nothing. Most people who know me say that this blog reflects my personality to a T. I've done well in creating an authentic "voice." On the other hand, there is so, so much that is not written. Sometimes because I simply don't have time to sit and process with words, and sometimes because to tell would be to tell too much, and to make this blog into a more confessional or journal form that I don't really want it to be. This is not therapy for me. And although I value all of you, when I need help or support I look to those immediately around me. Ones I can physically grab in my vice-like grip.
So do you know me? Yes. And I know myself better through writing here. But I am edited. And tweaked. Just like you. Just as we are, everyday. I really don't know what authenticity is. It's one of those concepts that crumbles as soon as I attempt to define it. But I will ask--Is saying we're a fiction the same thing as saying we're false?
Note: While I am on another metablogging tangent, you should know that HBM and I have been devising ways to shift BlogRhet to the next phase. We want to make it a group blog where some "thinky" writing can take place--not necessarily academic, but certainly more research and exploration in orientation. If you are interesting in collaborating with us on this project, shoot me an email at gingajoy [at] gmail.com. Please! If you've already stated interest, expect to hear from us soon.