Wrote this around the holidays, felt a little exhausted

When they learn to walk, shelves fall. They learn to talk, they say they hate you. They’re out of diapers, and wetting the bed. They go to school, and learn rude rhymes.

Mommyhood – There’s no winning.

So like, the dog is a symbol, for parenting. Whoa.
So like, the dog is a symbol, for parenting. Whoa.

This beautiful opportunity is wasted on me. I have the chance to give all my love to this little person, to help them grow and live a life not only fulfilling to themselves but beneficial for the world around them. I can produce a globally conscious human being who can change the world but I can’t even make her go to bed; to get the rest needed to do anything productive. I pass out from trying, while she sits on her bed watching Monster House and drawing vampire bats.

I can’t pee with the door closed because she’ll force it open. I haven’t had a proper meal in forever because she and the cats seem to conspire against me, and spill the milk at just the right time.

The same child I would kill for is whom I hide under my covers from. When will I take a breath and enjoy the beauty of parenthood when I am too busy messing everything up?

My ringlet crowned darling will say the darndest thing, say something truly amazing, and I’m too tired to express my pride. It seems all I do is scream, dish out threats I’m not entirely willing to fulfill. If I don’t go through with these coercions, my daughter won’t have consistency in her life. She will grow up moving from one empty relationship to another, deal drugs and end up in jail ruing the day she was born. That day, by the way, is my fault. Ah the constant feeling of inadequacy!

Growing up at Nonna’s house, crucified Jesus hanging from that little Italian lady’s walls, you’d think I had mastered guilt. If there were a degree of some sort I’d receive it without having to apply. But no, parenthood, single motherhood, that’s a whole other guilt-laden animal.

It is said that raising a child takes a village, at the very least a partnership. There are no breaks, no handing her off for a few minutes. I’m the hated parent, the nurturer, the disciplinarian. It’s my fault when things go wrong, when her lunch isn’t perfectly balanced and when her socks don’t match. I can’t even match my own socks. When things go right, I have no one to celebrate with. How selfish of a statement, isn’t the celebration of her achievement the achievement itself? Oh I feel guilty now.

I scour the piles of school notices, knowing if I recycle them without a glance I’ll miss the one warning of a school wide lice contamination. I’m the one braving the underbelly of what I hope is juice stained secondhand cushions, to ensure my kid isn’t left out of Pizza Day. Extra curricular activities, birthday parties, time outs, sticker charts; all on me.

I visit Facebook and see pictures attacking single mothers. “The government is not your babies [sic] daddy,” followed by comments calling single-mothers lazy, followed by ruder language. I comment that said picture may not be depicting the whole story.  I’m not on Ontario Works personally, but as a mother and a woman, I’m offended. You can’t get an income from a paying job without a sitter. You can’t afford a sitter without the cash.  And why is it assumed mothers are stealing from hardworking citizens? Because bringing up the next generation is a breeze.

I keep hearing that single moms are stupid for not expecting the amount of work and money it takes to raise a child. The father is never mentioned. Life happens, there is no being ready for a child. To be entirely prepared is to be a fortuneteller. A human life must be cared for, no matter the circumstance.

Most single mamas are not on the prowl for a dude to support them. If a relationship is pursued, chances are they are for the same reasons non-parents seek companionship. Sex, cuddles and support are all cool things.

Single lady mommies are not all looking for a brand new father for their spawn. My daughter has a dad, whether I’m with him romantically or not. I don’t need to force her to call another man her father. I will let my partner and her decide what their relationship is. I will be in a relationship for love, not to add a new parent to the roster. (Extra help would be awesome, but any parent in any situation would say that.)

While I’m vowing it will be better for my baby than it was for me, the world is sending me another message. I deserve it. As a mother I deserve it. As a single mother I asked for it. As an abused partner I wanted it. Hell, let’s be honest, because I’m a woman, I had it coming.

And this confusion that I feel, being born female, is amplified by giving birth to a female. No pressure or anything, but despite everything I know to be true and everything I learned growing up, I can’t let my little girl grow up to feel like me. There’s no report card, no set of fail proof instructions. Though there is a market of self-help books, fitness classes and nosey strangers who try to make me sway to the otherwise.

If anything it is “character building blah blah blah,” it’s a “journey yadda yadda yadda.”

I want to show how much I care, but it’s hard when my head is constantly held under murky waters. How do other mothers do it? Don’t tell me, I’ll shoot the messenger.

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Introductions are in order

I’ve had quite a few new followers via e-mail, WordPress and Facebook (If you haven’t already, “Like” the page!) And I figured I should re-introduce myself on this blog. MUCH LOVE FOR ALL THE NEW AND CONTINUED SUPPORT XOXOXO

I’m a twenty-something mom  and soon-to-be-graduated journalism student. My five-year-old skateboarding ballerina has made me see things differently, and inspires me to really make some positive change in the world. She is my favourite song and my first love.

But, I will admit the girl is annoying. I always joke about her being the worst roommate ever. We’re a small family in a small apartment. It’s her, two cats and me. I need alone time. I have always found a retreat in reading and writing. A strange getaway from parenthood considering I write a lot about it.

After I became pregnant it came to my attention that all parents of all walks of life face societal expectations regarding how they parent.

And so my blog was born. Full of those awesome comebacks I thought of too late, but you can feel free to use them, my own confusion being a mom and research on what media, consumerism, feminism and classicism have to do with raising a family. Along with pictures and videos to make you smile.

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Guest spot mommy: Savannah Watters

Story and image by Savannah Watters

Sav and Raelyn
Mama and babe <3

I’m sure every new parent has a magical plan to keep their lives somewhat consistent and keep some identity when having their first child. “Everything will be exactly the same”, they would say. We said the same thing, but embraced the obvious changes that come with a new member of the family. Now that my daughter is almost seven months and I can fairly reflect, I think I could honestly say that my life is very much the same in some ways, just a million times better with the changes. I wake up earlier and it makes me feel good. The things I believe in mean more and I work harder to shape those beliefs for her. I’ve found out who my real friends are and become closer with my partner. My favourite concept in the world, love, has overcome my life and myself and has become my identity.

We made a point to have our daughter socialized early – taking her on frequent outings which helped me to recover quickly post partum, and having family stay with her while we went out to maintain some sort of social or romantic life. I knew we would have to get used to someone else caring for her eventually and that it only gets harder as time goes on. I have no regrets doing that after a month. We are a young couple, and to me it is important that we continue to live and grow as we would naturally so we can be our true selves for our daughter. I love her just as much as the next parent, but to allow myself a break from time to time puts that love in perspective, and know myself enough to be able to fully care for her without losing touch of reality. The responsibility comes first though, and it takes some balance.

I listen to punk rock with my baby. I have friends over to play music together while she falls asleep to the guitar and sleeps through the night. I take her to protests and political demonstrations. I take her out to dinner with us. I know we are lucky to have such a well-behaved baby, but something inside me feels that the attitude with which I approach parenting plays a huge role in how she learns to adapt to us. So far I have no regrets, just lots of love. It’s an amazingly fulfilling reward for the work all parents put in to raising our children, and that is something we all have in common, no matter what our identity.

Read more of Watters’s work on her blog, Progressive Mommy

I write stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Snack and a show

It’s hard to find an activity that is intellectually stimulating for both a four-year-old and a twenty-six-year-old.  So far, we’ve had good luck with theatre performances.

Next … Strawberry Shortcake: Follow Your Berry Own Beat!

Regent Theatre March 3, 2013

Max and Ruby in The Nutcracker Suite at The Regent Theatre, Oshawa
Max and Ruby in The Nutcracker Suite at The Regent Theatre, Oshawa

Max and Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite

Regent Theatre, Oshawa

December, 2012

Kiddo: “I loved it. I liked the ballerinas, and Ruby!”

Mama: I was pretty bored. It was definitely kid friendly and the kiddo loved it. The intermission was too long for my daughter and a few other lil ones around us, things got restless and cranky. Snacks were on sale but I didn’t see anyone get scolded for bringing in their own food, there are also little fold out tables if needed.

The First Miracle

Writer and director of The First Miracle, Michael Khashmanian
Writer and director of The First Miracle, Michael Khashmanian

Performed by St. Mark’s Players at Celebration Square in Whitby
December, 2012

Kiddo:

“It was pretty good. When the soldiers brought that guy to jail was my favourite. The songs were good,” she starts to sing, “Have you heard, have you heard? What’s the word? What’s the word?”

​Mama:

​Also singing, “News has come from Rome, news has come from Rome!” The songs were catchy enough to keep us both entertained. This story also had a political message. Ya, my four-year-old didn’t get it, but the songs kept her happy.

Pinkalicious at Lower Ossington Theatre
Pinkalicious at Lower Ossington Theatre

Pinkalicious the Musical
Lower Ossington Theatre in Toronto
June, 2011

Kiddo:

​“Getting the cupcake was the very best part. And getting the doll was very, very best part. When she took all the cupcakes was good in the play. The other part I liked was when she turned pink, like, Pinkalicious!”

​Mama:

​I really enjoyed the subplot about how it’s OK for males to enjoy the colour pink.

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Community resources in Durham Region

Know any that should be added? Need help finding something specific?​
Contact hillary@hillarydimenna.com

I have since created a feminist directory of resources for Toronto and the GTA at FIRE – Feminist Internet Resource Exchange.

Health Babies Healthy Children​
905.668.7711​
durham.ca

Luke’s Place​
905.728.0978​
admin@lukesplace.ca​
lukesplace.ca

Oshawa Community Health Centre​
115 Grassmere Avenue​
Oshawa​
905.723.0036​
ochc.ca

Pregnancy Help Centre of Durham​
29 Drew Street ​
Oshawa​
905.720.3252​
pregnancyhelp.ca

Rose of Durham​
200 Bond St W​
Oshawa​
905.432.3622​
roseofdurham.com

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com