Closed Doors

Yesterday I saw an ad on our local buy and sell for a Jolly Jumper. I’ve always loved these little contraptions and for $10 I figured I’d give it a shot.

This is what happened:

(There is a video embedded in this post-you may have to leave the Tumblr dash to view it)

Needless to say, Olive LOVES it. Initially she spent a few minutes just sort of hanging there, trying to figure out what, exactly, she was supposed to be doing, but once she got the hang of it she was off! Hopping and bouncing, we can not stop laughing at her while she jumps around looking like she’s doing a soft-shoe routine.

Extra points because it takes up zero floor space and we can just slide it to the side of the doorway when it’s not in use.

Despite the fact that the above video is one of my favorites, and brings a huge dumb grin to my face whenever I watch it, I fought a bit of an internal battle about whether or not to post it.

I’m getting into a strange territory here with Olive. Like it or not, this blog has officially tiptoed into mommyblog territory. It’s not unwanted, this shift. I love sifting through my experiences and putting words to the changes occurring in our lives, I like the idea of preserving a record of Olive’s first days, months, years.

But then there’s the shadow side. The fact that I’m writing about a small person who is unable to give her consent. I’m telling someone else’s story. And unlike how I write about Adam – he has complete veto power over any mention of him on this blog – Olive is unable to grant me permission to write about her (or deny me it for that matter.)

As Olive’s mother, I am entrusted with taking care of her. This responsibility includes guarding and preserving her privacy, as well as teaching her to do the same – it’s an increasingly rare commodity these days. So how do I reconcile my role as a mother to protect, with my desire as a writer to show, share, describe? What are the rules, the guidelines for this?

It seems that everyone’s making them up as they go along.

Some bloggers give their children pseudonyms, or avoid showing their faces and other identifying information in photos. Others use real names but draw the line at photos of their children less than fully clothed. And still others offer an all-access pass until the child is a certain age – whether that be five years old or twelve- at which point they limit access, gently fade out the spotlight.

I’m trying to navigate this issue with grace, trying to gradually feel out where I will set my own limits, where I will close the curtain and dim the lights, lower my voice.

I think privacy is paramount. That may seem strange coming from someone who keeps a blog, but I don’t believe on putting absolutely everything on the table. I believe that some things are sacred and there are aspects of my life- our life- that I will never, ever write about.

On the other hand, I don’t believe in teaching a child to fear the world. It’s one thing to instill in them the common sense to avoid dangerous situations and the street smarts to extricate themselves from said situations if necessary. It’s entirely different however, to instill in your child (whether purposefully or subconsciously through your own actions) the fear that every stranger is waiting to abduct them, every man sitting by himself at a playground is a potential pedophile.

Caution is prudent, paranoia is ridiculous. It’s the difference between preparing a child to navigate the world with confidence on their own, and obsessively protecting them from every danger – real or imagined.

For this reason I have chosen to use Olive’s real name (I do avoid using our last names but they’re no state secret and I’m sure you could find them if you sniffed around hard enough). I don’t believe that posting photos of her face will endanger her or erode her privacy any more than taking her out in public would.

Beyond this, I’m still finding my way. Trying to find the perfect place to draw that line in the sand, set guidelines to ensure I stay on the right side of it.

I try and put myself in her shoes, I try and imagine a fifteen year old Olive reading through these archives.

Would she be embarrassed by my writing (any more than a normal fifteen-year old is embarassed by their parents, that is)? Would she feel pride at the words I’ve used to describe her, the moments that I’ve shared? Would she laugh at her poop story as a rite of passage that every baby goes through, or cringe with embarrassment that hers was documented for all to read?

As the first generation of mommybloggers’ children ages, I’m interested to see how this plays out. What are the effects of having your life documented for a public audience? And if the blog in question is fortunate enough to generate an income for the individual writing it, are we exploiting our children by doing so?

I’m curious to know your thoughts, regardless of whether you have children or keep a blog yourself. What do you think?

(To add a comment, click the pink “Comments” link below this post. Scroll down to the end of the post and there will be a field to add your input. It asks for a name and email, but if you feel like remaining anonymous you can simply make one up, like Me, and me@mail.com)

Da Bomb

           

Hey! It’s me! I’m not even Blogging From Bed, I’m actually fully awake and sitting upright in a chair! I’m dressed even!

Today has been a productive one so far. Last night I came home from work exhausted and fell sleep from 8:00-11:30 pm. Then I was awake from 11:30-4:30. Then I woke up again at 8:45 am immediately in a panic because I had a hair appointment at 9.

So, cumulative total of 8 hours of sleep but grasped in small unsatisfying snatches  between long bouts of sleeplessness, where I lay supine, rolling over every five minutes trying to find a spot, THE SPOT that would lure me into sleep.

I watched the stars outside our bedroom window and I thought and I worried and I thought some more and then I let my mind ramble towards the ultimate of worries, the motherlode: “What happens after we die?”

I then got so panicky that I had to read celebrity gossip for 45 minutes to drown out the massive existential dilemma unfolding in my brain.

(Did you know that Khloe Kardashian might have a different dad than the other two, the divorcee-to-be and the one with the baby? FASCINATING.)

I made it to my hair appointment on time, mainlined some coffee, got a blood test, bought a sweater, came home, decorated for Christmas (YES I said it! It’s ON! Only 40 days away guys!) and that brings us to here and now, where I sit summing all of this up for you, because you know what’s interesting? Hearing someone talk about their errands.

True story.

I’m at a loss for what to write these days, I’ve run out. I sit here and all I can think of is all the shit I need to get done. I try and muster enthusiasm to write about things like how I wasted an precious hour and a half two days ago searching for the perfect plant pot (Why are they all so ugly? I don’t want forest green, or maroon, or a faux-grecian urn, I want colourful stripes or grey and cream chevrons or vibrant glossy turquoise- something, ANYTHING that doesn’t equate me owning a large plant with me covering my couch in protective plastic and owing a poodle named Muffy) 

I don’t want to post crap. I don’t want to post for the sake of posting. I also don’t want to continue writing about how I don’t have time to write.

10 more days guys, TEN MORE DAYS and then my sanity can return and writing can resume and my spare bedroom can stop looking like it’s been yarn bombed.

(And in ten days I can also finally get around to that giveaway I promised)

Thank you for your patience.

What’s In A Name, DickFace?

I’m a little upset with The Internets right now and here’s why:

1. AntiDuckface. An entire site devoted to denigrating what is arguably my favorite pose EVER.

DuckFace and I have a long and proud history dating as far back as 2005 (which, P.S., is like six years before this site was even INVENTED thankyouverymuch), and  probably even earlier except I don’t have photographic proof right now.

(At this point I wish to share that I have typo-d Duckface as “DickFace” like twelve times, hence the title of this post.)

Witness, 2005-era Duckface:

                                     

                                      

I did DuckFace while in Australia:

                                   

I did DuckFace when I had a nose piercing:

                                  

I do DuckFace when posing with my sister:                                                  

                                  

I’ve done Duckface while taking boredom shots of myself on long car rides:

                                      

And y’all just know I busted out some good ole DF for the Glamour Photos

                                     

Do you know how long it took to find all of those photos? About ten minutes.

Why? Oh, because there is at least one DuckFace shot in EVERY SINGLE photo album on our computer (It would have taken five minutes except I had to find pictures of myself doing either solo-DuckFace shots (considerably more rare) or DuckFace shots with people who probably wouldn’t mind being published on my blog in a post with the word “Dickface” in the title).

And you know what? In MY day we didn’t even call it “DuckFace” , we called it “KissyFace” which sounds far cuter. Look, all this preamble is not trying to say that I invented it or anything, but my god Internets, please don’t take DuckFace/KissyFace away from me. Don’t let this website kill DuckFace.

IT’S ALL I’VE GOT!

Thank You, Amen.                                      

(moving on…)

2. A few days ago I was musing that once this blog starts raking in the millions (I’ll wait while you stop cough-laughing) I might want to drop the .tumblr.com and just move to .com, you know, streamline things a bit like Beyonce or Madonna. So I tried to go ahead and reserve that domain name (just in case) but, EGADS! the name was taken!

“By whom?” you might well be inquiring. I wanted to find out too, so I let my fingers do the walking all the way over to www.SweetMadeleine.com , and what should I find waiting for me there?

Why, Sweet Madeleine, the Cocker Spaniel of course! (Or King Charles Cavalier?…some sort of spaniel anyway)

                  

Guys, my blog domain name belongs to a dog.

And, I mean look, she’s a very cute dog who is obviously very loved and adored (Do you see that awesome life jacket?!) but also, clearly not very well acquainted with her namesake.

Um, yeah, hi, Dog-Madeleine? I am a famous blogger. I have like 150 readers! Yeah-huh. I KNOW! One-five-oh baby.

Don’t you know who I am?

                            

Who am I kidding, no one can stay mad at a Madeleine. Carry on, you sassy little minx.

(Also, in case you’re counting (I am) I now know two gorgeous shopgirls, one kitten and one Cocker/King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Madeleine. I’m bringing it back, baby!)

and finally, the last of my grievances with The Internets:

3.  When I started to search around for alternate domain names, THIS was also taken.

WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD?

                                   

DickFace DuckFace on the outside, crying on the inside.

Ta-Daaaa!

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret- as you read this I am standing in a high school gymnasium trying to entice teenagers to spin a giant prize wheel and correctly answer trivia on sex, drugs and resources.

But wait! How can I have just posted this VERY blog entry about being in a high school gymnasium WHILE I was in a high school gymnasium?! Am I a wizard?!

No, friends, The Internets is the wizard here. Apparently there is this thing called a queue where I can pre-write a post and set it up to publish at ANY date in the future!

Miraculous! I can’t believe I’ve been pressing “publish” myself for the past 4 months like a chump! This changes everything!

I’m think I’m going to just start writing light topical posts to publish at random times of the day, like an office worker who logs a lot of hours, not really accomplishing anything other than looking busy.

“Oh look!” they’ll say, “There’s Madeleine posting a 3 am diatribe against imitation Dijon mustard, man does she blog HARD!”

I wish I could do this for real life, record appearances when I’m in the mood to stomach them and then just be able to offer up this prerecorded self in my place. I would have recorded this whole gymnasium-trivia shebang at like 4pm, after I’d had three coffees and a shower.

As is is I’m probably standing bleary eyed and muzzy mouthed, trying not to snap at teenagers for lack of caffeine. (Or maybe I’m chipper and happy and somehow blonde- You don’t know! it’s the FUTURE! Anything could happen!)

Anyway. I’m done at 4 and have a few more (real-time) posts to write for then. In the meantime, please pray.

Rhyme and Reason

Some days I sit here and I wonder who I’m writing for. I wonder if writing every day isn’t somehow diluting my words, my work. Initially I thought it might be beneficial, training myself like one of those hypothetical monkeys, hammering away at this modern day typewriter- eventually at some point the great work will come tumbling out, right?

I’m beginning to think that I was wrong. It’s become too scattered, too open to corruption. Like throwing dozens (hundreds, at this point) of darts at hundreds of different targets, hoping that at least one sticks. What am I trying to do? Am I trying to strike a chord? Convey meaning? Be funny?

It’s the feedback aspect that pollutes it I think. At what point do you see yourself turn away from writing for yourself and towards writing for others? I would argue that this sea-change occurs precisely at the point where you begin to feel an obligation to an audience, imagined or otherwise. The point where you desire the reaction of an audience more than you desire the release writing affords.

Keeping a journal, I never felt pressured to fill each page, to summarize each day and sign my name. It isn’t the same here, it can’t be.

The birth of these thoughts and my need to excise them can be traced back in a linear fashion to two things: Discovering, then reading, my little sister’s blog; and working my way through Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together”.

This is what I was thinking, sifting through my sisters wildly disjointed, chaotic and insightful words while simultaneously perusing the pages of a book about the perils of technology and our feedback culture: Hilary (the sister) wasn’t writing for anyone. I never knew she had this blog, not one entry had a comment and so I assume few others know of it either. She was writing for writing’s sake. Some posts are so obscure that I don’t even know what they describe, what they refer to. But they’re deeply engrossing nonetheless, they encapsulate her so perfectly.

As for Ms. Turkle, the fantastic researcher with a delightful last name, she has built a book explaining word by word what technology does to us while we think it’s working for us. The eternal feedback loop.

At the intersection of these two worlds, the words written by these two women, my mind started retracing its steps. Why did I start this blog?

To write.

I felt like there was a part of myself that was overflowing. In the first post I ever published here, I said:

I found I was getting twitchy, tetchy, without someplace to write. I need somewhere to hold the extra bits of me that won’t fit into snarky emails and hastily written texts…

By sitting down each morning and forcing myself to write – although forcing isn’t quite the right word- am I losing something? Does the quality get lost within the desire for quantity? Am I turning myself into a sort of 24 Hour Fox News channel where the pressure of writing something means that every day I churn out words words words that don’t in fact mean, anything?

How much can be said about a misunderstanding with an online retailer? How many times can I re-tread the worn trope of celebrity worship?

I know that in navigating this terrain, it’s important to remember that life doesn’t exist in a vacuum but it also can’t flourish in an environment so overstimulated, over-fertilized, over-harvested.

I’ll become barren, nutritionally void.

I don’t know what this means. Perhaps it means fewer words and more meaning behind them. Perhaps it means nothing. The truth is probably somewhere in between.