Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm putting "Harrlynn's" comment top level not because I wish to discuss, defend myself or engage her any further -- but to offer this explicit example that succinctly expresses a sentiment encountered by all poet-parents at one time or another (or sadly, in some cases, quite often) -- especially poet-mothers. I correspond with a lot of writer parents and writers who are considering/planning on having children -- these discussions go all over the board; about balance, time management, choices, sources of strength and dealing with outside attitudes.

Attitudes like:

* One's work is only valuable based on its financial viability and/or ability to generate personal "fame."

* Mothers should not pursue any interests, vocations, professions if takes away any time from their children -- unless its financially necessary.

* A mother choosing to do anything that is not an option for all mothers is threatening/insulting/disrespecting them.

* A mother can never sacrifice or suffer enough -- that is her designated role.

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At 5:32 PM, Harrlynn said...

i think what i'm arguing here for is personal responsibility and good fiscal sense.

there's no way reb is making any money writing--and is probably, in fact, spending quite a bit on her poetry habit. and now she's made the decision to invest more money in her poetry habit, at the expense of having an actual--and usually available--parent care for the child in question.

there's nothing wrong with daycare when you're feeling overwhelmed by 3 or 4 young children, or if you're a single mother struggling to make a life for you and your child. or, if both parents are working, your careers more than cover the substantial costs of daycare.

in reb's case, the case of the unknown writer, paying somebody else to take care of her kid, when she's already home, seems like a terrible investment--spiritually, financially, cosmically, and karmically--or at least an affront to hard working people everywhere who don't have the luxury to make the decision that reb so proudly announced.


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You can accept these sentiments and feel the guilt and shame they're intended to provoke -- or you can recognize the destructiveness, the desperate attempt at societal control over the individual, the source of the self-loathing and why its being lobbed your way in the first place.

You can remember your own values, the reasons you first came to poetry, writing and art. You can impart these lessons, ideas and examples on your own children so they don't grow up and become the type of person shown above.

54 Comments:

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Wow, that's a very telling comment. Incredibly biased and obvious in its stereotype of what mothers should do, self sacrifice (as you note) being at the top of the list. In fact, even if it's not sacrifice at all (i.e. you're not hard up for resources to nurture and raise your child), apparently a mother shouldn't do anything that doesn't have an obvious and direct impact on the task of upbringing.

I think her attitude also speaks to the idea that poetry is frivolous. Why would you have someone watch your child while you go off to indulge in marshmallow eating or writing poetry? She hasn't even considered the role of poetry and the possibility that it may edify the world, to put it blandly.

Not to make this about me, but the attitude obviously relates to those of us who haven't fulfilled our role as women by bearing a child -- we're kind of like lumps on the planet. Selfish lumps. And so you, not doing your motherly duties in each and every action you execute, also get dismissed as selfish.

Okay, I'm getting extreme and angry. I'll stop.

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

those cliched attitudes you've described are not mine at all, and barely resemble any reading of my comments. perhaps i've not been clear enough. for that, i apologize.

 
At 11:39 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

amy, poetry does edify the world, same as baseball, but not everybody gets to be in the show. there are great disappointments and responsibilities to be had. i'm all about owning up, not dumbing down.

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger EILEEN said...

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At 12:43 AM, Blogger Phatback said...

Who the hell is Harrlynn?

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

eileen, plenty of poets make a decent salary teaching and speaking, and many of them even receive awards for their efforts, some of them substantial.

phatback, who the hell are any of us?

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger Phatback said...

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger Betsy said...

"not everybody gets to be in the show"

so who else doesn't get to be in this show? anyone to add to that list besides mothers? oh the good ole days when women knew they were only put here to take care of everybody except themselves, when women knew their limited roles AND LIKED IT!

harrilynn, you've expressed your attitudes very clearly indeed!

where are some dead white guys writing about big important worldly things when you need them?

 
At 1:19 AM, Blogger Laurel said...

Wow... I actually think this is really interesting. But it seems to me we've skipped a step in the convo.

"Where is the harm?'

Not rhetorically, but really... *where* do we see the harm?

Is day-care harmful to Gid (I'd say no)? But if you think it is, then I can see why you might see a reason to say to Reb, "Have you really asked yourself what the poetry is "worth" in the long run?

Is the $$$ cost harmful to the household? If it is, Chris needs to give Reb a spankin I suppose.

But if I've learned nothing else from becoming a parent, I've learned that any time you make one choice for a good reason, there's an argument on the other side of the fence.

Parents who pay for their kids to go to college "spoil them" and parents who choose to use all organics are "giving their kids an inauthentic experience" and parents who spank are evil and parents who dedicate themselves to homeschooling turn out fucking freaks and so and so...

People are devoting themselves to figuring out what works in their houses, and eveyone else should screw off, EXCEPT when there is a real danger to the kids. I have a friend who owns an 800 dollar stroller. I think that's insane, but do I tell her that? No. Should I guilt her into saving that money for a college fund, or sending it to Rwanda? I don't think so.

Does one get jealous of Reb's time and money? Sure! I myself could use some cash... but I'm also jealous of people with teaching jobs, people with farms, people who live in NY, and folks who get to sing country songs for money. I wish I had curly hair. Life isn't fair and we live with it.

Babies are good and poetry is good and it's nice to have the luxury to focus on two good things instead of working in a coal mine. I think Reb knows that, feels lucky as hell, enjoys and appreciates her life... and is, in fact, putting her own resources into publishing art.

Usually, when people with resources share them with others, we compliment them for it.

I think you're just jealous, Harrlynne. I think you're unhappy.

*Are* you a single mother, or married to an unemplyed lout? If so, I'm sorry. But if not (and in any case) it seems like you have a good job and the leisure time to troll the blogosphere... so I don't think you're working in a coal mine...

 
At 1:19 AM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

betsy, read again, my comments are not gender specific. never have been. never will be.

 
At 1:28 AM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

laurel, your one baby isn't old enough for you know anything about parenting. as for employment, i do work in a coal mine; i'm a canary. very yellow, seldom green.

 
At 1:38 AM, Blogger Betsy said...

i don't see you going after any of the daddy poets for their selfish poetry writing.

and you sure got a lot of time to tell everybody how little they know about parenting. shouldn't you be using this time to schedule next week's meals or mend their clothing? every second counts! i'm thinking of your children and am worried they might be going to school with missing buttons and only one piece of fruit in their lunch pails.

 
At 1:42 AM, Blogger shann said...

harrlynn, you hide behind your righteousness like the mine owner, not the canary- your 'shoulds' are meanspirited whether or not you protest you are being 'misread.'

And to say to reb "your one baby isn't old enough for you know anything about parenting" is about as obnoxious as some old fart could manage to be-

I won't even go to the 'fiscal responsibility' arena-

yeah- my kids are grown- and they're great- all my poetry didn't seem to ruin them one bit-

 
At 1:55 AM, Blogger Betsy said...

hey reb, do you owe harrilynn money? is that what this is about?

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger Ginger Heatter said...

My daughter's in the other room making her own "educational magazine" while I work from home. She kept interrupting me to find out how to spell things, so I handed her a dictionary. Bad Mommy! For shame!

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Reb said...

See all you poet-mamas in hell -- I'll pack the sunscreen and cocktail weenies.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger A. D. said...

late into the fray, a troll, and a parenting authority by no means . . .

i have trouble separating Harlynn's charges from a disapproval of using daycare—unless of course her described concern is purely financial. (where else would the irresponsibility lie, unless there's something wrong with un-excessive daycare? wouldn't this extend to anything but home-schooling being irresponsible or neglectful? maybe i'm just being silly.)

and i don't think we need to go into how having more money clearly always produces the most well-adjusted and all-around good people.

as a former daycare and borderline *gasp* latchkey child, i may have lucked out in that these experiences, i believe, helped me as a developing person and didn't turn me into a sociopath.

additionally, i do see benefits in the types of things that having an active poet-mom around would provide—pens, pencils and paper, stacks and stacks of books, and an intelligent and centered and probably empathic parent. god knows i loved having these things around growing up—though no poet parent.

hope i might've added something to this very interesting conversation.

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 6:03 PM, Blogger Malaika said...

I have to jump in. Others have skillfully pointed out the many flaws in Harrlyn's tired rantings, so I will simply voice support for Reb and all the other poet moms who like myself make many difficult (and not so clear cut) decisions.

As for hell, well, I don't want ice water, and I really like s'mores.

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

i think it's very telling how most of reb's supporters can't read or write very well.

i mean, all that i'm really saying is that i can't believe, in this day and age of information and responsibility, that reb is bragging about pawning off her family responsibilities to produce what amounts to less than zero.
and that what i mean is not meant to shame or guilt, but is simply the truth as i see it.

it's called criticism and it's legitimate in this case. and none of you rebel supporters have come out and said you're doing the same thing because your not, you're all taking care of your responsibilities, and taking the time also to include your art.

laurel wants to know where the harm is? the harm is in the way reb is throwing money at her perceived dilemma of time management and not providing her child with the best of all possible worlds.

daycare is not, by any stretch, the best of all possible worlds. there's no way an eight dollar/hr daycare worker cares anywhere near the amount that a parent does for a child, even if the parent in question is sacked out on the couch while the child is munching cheese nips and watching disney channel. so, in other words, the care is substandard by its very nature. daycare is the fast food of care. it may not actually harm the child, but it's nowhere near the quality of semi-decent stay-at-home parental care.

most parents resort to daycare as a means to increase their financial wealth, which, in turn, they hope, will be a satisfactory trade off to not actually caring for their children. it's usually an acceptable tradeoff for the child because he eventually grows to understand the importance of the money that was made and the "good life" that his parents have worked hard to attain.

but in the end, of course, daycare is a compromise and tradeoff, and, in reb's case, a seemingly unnecessary one because of the apparently sufficient wealth of her current family situation.

now if reb wants to come out and admit (as publically as her initial daycare declaration)that she really doesn't enjoy her position as a full-time parent, that her art is so good and important that it should require no suffering and sacrifice, well then, i'll git along on my high horse and tip my hat, once again, to the delusional.

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Collin said...

Hi, Reb...longtime reader, first time commenter. This one really got me.

Wow, Harrylynn...or whatever your name is, you have just flipped your lid. I think all of your ranting can be boiled down to one word: bitter.

You seem to have spent most of the day ripping Reb and other commenters here...so let me ask you: Where the hell has your kid been all day while you've been acting a fool here?

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger Helen Losse said...

I guess I'm another of your
not-so-literate supporters! Do what you think is right,Reb. Women should support other women. This is about choice, not how much money you make. Life isn't about money, but then you know that: You're a poet.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Phatback said...

"i think it's very telling how most of reb's supporters can't read or write very well."

Good use of irony. But then, you can really save a lot of effort by ignoring the shift key if you're going to write that much just to show off the ability to suck your own dick.

Why doesn't Phatback take advice or criticism from people? Because they never have sufficient information to make an accurate or useful analysis.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Everyone needs a break from parenting - and Reb can buy it and do whatever she wants with her time without having to justify it to the "harrlynns" of the world (who slink away to his/her blocked blogger profile after getting a attention fix).

"there's no way an eight dollar/hr daycare worker cares anywhere near the amount that a parent does for a child, even if the parent in question is sacked out on the couch while the child is munching cheese nips and watching disney channel."

This is such a stereotypical view of daycare, daycare workers, and moms - the daycare worker does not love the child as a parent does - but many care about the kids and their jobs plenty (I taught in two childcare centers in grad school and just after). And the social aspect for a child adds another benefit.

Daycare has been shown to have a negative effects on children when time spent there goes into the 50 hour a week range. Reb is giving her child the benefit of having new experiences and meeting new people at a young age in a secure environment - there definately is not harm in that. She is also being a role model to her child and other parents on how to achieve balance in life.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 8:20 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

collin, i'm not bitter. i'm intensely happy and self-satisfied. well past smug, if you insist on knowing. and you can pretty much bet my children weren't pawned off to anybody but their teachers and unpaid-for friends today.

phtbck, what information am i missing?

j.b., reb doesn't have to justify anything to me. i'm not out for justice or attention. i'm merely expressing my mindfelt opinion about an issue that is dear to me. you think reb is a role model, i think she's wasting her time and money.

oh, and last but not least, to the grammar police, reb loves trolls.

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 9:53 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

xxxjimmy, what can i say?

chivalry lives right here in river city.

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jilly said...

"...i mean, all that i'm really saying is that i can't believe, in this day and age of information and responsibility, that reb is bragging about pawning off her family responsibilities to produce what amounts to less than zero."

doing one's art is completely worthless?

wow.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

xxxjimmy, you needn't quote the gospels to me; i wrote them all.

jilly, dear, art is worthless when it clouds your judgement.

now, could everybody please stop wowing me. my head is begin to swell.
guess that's what happens in atmosphere of unconditional love and support.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 12:14 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

I really hate a pile-on, so I'm going to stick my neck out here....

xxxjimmy - You seem to be saying that full time mothers aren't "doing anything" with their lives. Do you really mean that? What qualifies in your book as "doing something" with their life? Aren't you just presenting the mirror image of Harrlynn later comments?

Am I the only one who think both Rebecca's and Harrlynn's (initial) viewpoints are valid and relevant in the discussion? For me, Rebecca's "Legitimate Mothering" post from last Friday summed it up best - there are always trade-offs, and there seems to be a tendency to demonize the other side.

Both sides have now spiraled down into name-calling, which is a shame.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger The Overlook Press said...

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At 12:32 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 12:41 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 12:59 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

xxxjimmy, you don't really have anything to offer this conversation, do you?

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Kells said...

RE: the weird sense of smug satisfaction that some superparents have from doing literally what most people kinda quietly and ordinarily have done since the dawn of time. Bring up kids. Kids are great, better off if brought up without an aura of ultrapreciousness accompanying their every fart.

***This should be the foreword on every "How To Raise Your Child Correctly" book there is out there.

I think at the center of this discussion is that there is not ONE best way to raise to child, but many.

When we begin to criticize how others are parenting, we are operating on the "one-way" mentality and moving around in a black and white field.

Parenting is a huge gray area and though we may want to say, "Because this is right for me is should be right for you too," we can't. Parenting styles are just as individual as the little people who are responding to them.

It reminds me my elementary school teacher's mantra as we sat in our desks trying to do long division: "Pay less attention to what your neighbor is doing and focus more on your own work..."

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 1:10 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Are you now yelling at me xxxjimmy? Now I'm the problem, too, because I disagree with your implication that mothers who aren't sending their kids to daycare part-time in order to pursue their profession aren't "doing anything"?

You throw in phrases like "hovering over her child like a 24/7 vulture" and "child bite at your nipple every damned second" and "umbilical cords should never be cut" - but, that's not what was said, or even implied.

I think it would be helpful to discuss this topic without making wild attributions to the other side.

The irony is, of course, that I pretty much agree with Rebecca and not with Harrlynn. I just don't think Harrlynn's viewpoint deserves the caustic reception that it has been getting....

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 1:53 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 2:10 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

My "all mommies = good" equation? Again, can you try to make a point without making things up?

I'm beginning to suspect that xxxjimmy is indeed a troll as well.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

OTOH--the view that if you are fulfilled by being a stay-at-home-mother *without* pursuing another vocation--meaning that *is* your vocation--and that somehow makes you a martyr smells pretty bad to me.
___

What's the difference between two mornings at day care and two mornings at pre-school? Do mother's who stay-at-home and send their kids to pre-school neglect their children? Is it really about what mother's *do* with their free time? Harrlyn is apparently spending his/her free time on the internet. Is that neglect? Are you getting paid for your comments, Harrlyn?!

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

xxxjimmy, there's really nothing for you to believe in or about me. my initial question and comments are quite clear, despite the fact that many people here refuse to read and understand them.

susan, yes, i'm working as we speak. i do get paid to work. life's been good to me.

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 3:31 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Good for you, Harrlynn. I mean, You GO, Girl.

 
At 3:46 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Why must people attack Harrlynn, instead of debating the ideas that were put forth?

I think Harrlynn's comment on the tradeoffs seems to be a good starting point (Harrlynn's insults aside). In it, I think good arguments are made about why day-care could be considered sub-optimal. And Harrlynn echos Rebecca's earlier comments in correctly identifying that it is all a tradeoff.

The real question is if it is an acceptable tradeoff. Harrlynn thinks it isn't. Rebecca (and I, BTW) think it is. Mixed in with the over-the-top rhetoric and insults, I've seen this real topic discussed in parts...it would be nice to see more of it.

So - perhaps, why don't people try replying to the issue at hand without even a mention of "them" (see Rebecca's good 'us vs. them' post).

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

xxxjimmy - Good point. Your comments (many others as well, but in particular yours) did draw me out to actually post something.

Heh - so...er...thanks. :-)

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Harrlynn said...

my insults stemmed from the reb's reaction to my initial question, which reb responded to quite rudely. i may be a better parent than her, but i'm certainly not a better person. i will always respond to rudeness with my own.

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Betsy said...

ah, i see. not only is harrilynn the only person who knows anything about raising kids, she's the only one who gets toss to around the insults and better than thou tone. and we're supposed to treat her rudeness as if it has merit. give the asshole her dignity, damn it! smile when the asshole shits all over your house. pour the asshole a cup of tea! come again asshole! have a nice day asshole!

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 4:07 PM, Blogger Behrle, Prince of Trolls said...

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At 6:00 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

harrlynn - While I understand that you feel like you were struck first, I hope you get that, perhaps, others see you as striking first. And, at this point, you're just adding more fuel to the fire while I'm trying to calm everyone's flames...

betsy - I think it is clear from reading the comments over the last few days that harrlynn hasn't been the only one who's gotten to toss around the insults and better than thou tone. Which is (part of) my point. Calling someone (i.e. Harrlynn) "trailer mommy" "jealous" "unhappy" "bitter" or "asshole" (as people have done)...what does that show about the validity of Harrlynn's position on daycare? Nothing, of course. It just starts seeming more and more like an ad hominem fallacy.

As far as "we're supposed to treat her rudeness as if it has merit" - well, one question everyone should ask themselves is if the initial post by Harrlynn was rude, or just a normal criticism that many people (correctly or not) have with daycare?

Is dislike of daycare a taboo subject to bring up? Are we only allowed to say positive things? Is berating and stifling a minority viewpoint really what you want to do? (While these questions are in some sense rhetorical - I honestly would be interested in hearing real answers to them.)

 

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