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Wednesday
Jun102009

Rednecking Out on The Band Wagon

I have been blogging for what seems like forever in the world of online blogging. Four years. My blog, she is an old and crippled thing already. I can no longer consider myself a newbie at this online writing gig.

But for as long as I've been blogging, I've been parenting longer. For almost thirteen years now. I've got four kids and a schwack of parenting experience under my belt.

Because of this, I rarely jump on any of the band wagon issues that continually make the rounds in the mommy blogosphere. It all seems  old hat to me and I never feel like I have anything new or fresh or interesting to add to the conversation. Let the other's speak for me because there is always someone out there who can say it better than I can.

But this latest mommy blog fever about how declaring oneself a bad mother is nothing but a trend, a social media ploy to sell books or get traffic has quite frankly incited my ire and fury, similar to when a 14 year old boy bullies my 12 year old daughter and bloodies her nose.

It pisses me off enough to make me want to jump on my soap box and break out my bullhorn.

So I am adding my voice to the discussion and breaking my own blog ethics by chiming in.

Where's Black Hockey Jesus to compose a musical for bad mothering when you need him?

It's time for a little redneck edumacation if you will.

Oh ya, I'm about to get all sanctimommy-ish and up in yer grill. Now would be the time to click the big red X if you're not up for a little cussing.

You see, I have had a unique experience that most parents never have had the pleasure of enduring.  For the last three plus years I have had my parenting and every parental decision I have ever made, put under a microscope to be dissected and analyzed by a plethora of 'child raising experts.'

I know first hand just how damaging the social media construct of what a GOOD mother is and the consequences of bucking that trend by being an atypical mother, someone who is unabashedly 'BAD'.

And I was being bad on my blog and real life before it became the hottest media trend. I was country when country wasn't cool. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

It started the night Shalebug died and having to spending the next three months facing the firing squad with various Albertan coroners over why my son mysteriously and suddenly died and what did I do to cause it? Those f*ckers were determined to find neglectful or inept parenting as cause of death. In yer face you over-educated schmucks! (Ahem. I'm not bitter. Really. Okay, fack yes I am bitter still. It was a nightmare. Almost worse than having your kid drop dead on you in the first place.)

There is nothing quite like the rigorous investigation of an untimely death by authorities who have the power not only to take away your remaining children but to sentence you to be somebody's bitch at the local prison while fighting over a bar of soap to strip down your parental beliefs and self-examine your definition of what 'good' parenting really is.

Having survived that festive period of time with more scars on me than a man sentenced to 20 lashes for stealing a loaf of bread, I figured I would publicly document my 'bad parenting' for the world to see and hence the birth of this blog.

Cuz what's more fun than writing from the heart to document my experiences with my children and then to be indirectly criticized for "endlessly tapping the vein of faux self deprecation for shock value or cheap laughs or sympathy."

For the record, there is nothing faux about my self deprecation. Ask my therapist.

Then, as if having my community, my family and myself examine and doubt my parenting skills wasn't enough fun, my husband and I decided to jump through hoops of fire in a bid to adopt. Not only was my parenting and very inner core examined through this process but again last summer  when I was falsely accused of being a baby beater.

For more years than I care to admit, I have had to do nothing but jump through hoops to prove I am not a 'bad' mother.

My kids have been questioned, analyzed and dissected and I've answered more personality diagnosis multiple choice questions than a crazy person tossed in the loony bin.

A child psychologist invaded my home and sat on my furniture to observe the effect of my parenting on my children's precious psyches.

I've sat at a table of six judgmental professionals and defended my parenting style and choices over and over again.

They didn't want to, (especially after they discovered my blog) but they HAD to stamp me a 'good mom' because according to them, and I quote, "despite Tanis's unique parenting style, her children are well-adjusted, emotionally happy and highly functional children."

DESPITE. Not 'because of', but despite my parenting. God I love parenting professionals.

What I have learned through all of this and ultimately, my point to this long winded diatribe, is that nothing matters as long as your children turn out to be happy, thriving, functional and well-adjusted adults. ('Cept Jumby. He may not be functional in the tradional sense of the world but he'll steal your heart with his smile and his amazingly well-adjusted personality.)

I choose to embrace 'bad' mothering. It's the only mothering I really know how to do. I am not archetypal mother who dons an apron and helicopters her children. My children happily roam free range, pee in pools and pick their noses.

I am the mother who rejects the dominant cultural narrative of what defines a 'good' mother. I am the mother who calls herself a bad mom with her tongue in cheek, not because I am employing a transparent, unimaginative marketing ploy but because I am okay with my imperfections as a parent which goes against the societal imperative for perfection.

It's not that I'm reveling in 'bad' parenting, I'm simply acknowledging that society's rigid dictates of what a 'good' mother is, is not for me. I am not calling myself  bad in order to bait people into saying what a good mother I am, I am calling myself bad to share my insecurities and doubts with other mothers (and fathers) who have felt the same pressure to be the perfect parent and wonder why it's not enough just to love and protect one's child without having to live up to a definition of parenting that fits as well as a strait jacket.

I am not conforming to media labels, nor trying to influence the next generation of mothers to embrace neglectful parenting. I am neither trying to glamorize the definition of bad parenting nor bastardize the definition of good parenting. I am simply putting one foot forward each day, doing the best I can while maintaining what is suppose to be a humour blog.

If I offend your sensibilities by embracing my inner badness and the irony that accompanies that term, I won't apologize. I am what I am as Popeye says and it works for my children and for me. I'm not trying to be defeatist nor passive aggressive by labeling myself 'bad'. This blog isn't about me being trendy or joining in to be one of the cool kids, it is simply about being me. In all my redneckkin' bad glory.

It doesn't matter one hair on a cat's ass what other people label my parenting or my reflection of it on my blog. Call it good, call it bad, call it redneck-tastic, but it's all semantics no matter which side you flip this pancake. In the end the only thing that matters is my son is not rattling the bars of a prison cell with a tin can and my daughter isn't spending her free time trying to self-medicate with sex in the back seat of some doofus's car.

So, through my blog, if I encourage more parents to imitate my special brand of BAD PARENTING or feel less isolated because of their own parenting techniques, then I say HELL YA.

Cuz if my two children who are happy and well adjusted after the hell they went through when their brother died BECAUSE (not DESPITE) my parenting helped them, then more children could benefit. Plus the child welfare authorities gave me papers saying that I make bad parenting look good so I figure I'm not the worst role model out there.

*Jumps off her sanctimommy soap box and goes to pour a cup of coffee laced with Bailey's Irish Cream. Cuz I drink first thing in the morning too. I iz da BAD mutha.*
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Reader Comments (237)

Fuck I love you.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHer Bad Mother

This "bad mother" phase will pass, as do all trends on teh interwebs. But dammit if you don't make bad mommying look good.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWill

Cheers (did you hear me clinking my coffee mug with aforementioned Bailey's against yours?)!!!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Thank you for writing this. With the hell that you've been through many times over, there's not one damn thing that some sanctimommy can say to convince me to listen to her instead of you where it comes to hurdling the challenges of parenthood with style and grace.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie @ The Mom Slant

I love you. :)

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSugar Jones

Yes.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Hell to the yeah! You are my hero! x

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda (Femmefartale)

You said it best right here "In the end the only thing that matters is my son is not rattling the bars of a prison cell with a tin can and my daughter isn’t spending her free time trying to self-medicate with sex in the back seat of some doofus’s car."

With 2 girls of my own, knowing if they're anything like me the only lessons they will learn are lessons learned from first hand experiences. The only job as a parent of girls is really to just keep them off the pole. If I can keep them grounded and thinking with logical minds with minimal dumb mistakes in life, that should be attainable.

So long as I get a smile, hug, and an "I love you Daddy" every once in a while, then I think I am a success.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHockeyman

The drama flavor of the week thing is getting old quickly.

My mom came over today and tried to explain an video she'd seen on MSN network about "mommy bloggers" and it was just bizarre. Augh.

BUT ANYWAY.

I'm very glad to hear you chime in on this. I think, or at least I HOPE, that intelligent readers can tell the difference between sensationalism and honesty. And I also believe that "bad parenting" can be played up a little for laughs without hurting anyone.

Bad writing is bad writing. And that's a far greater offense sometimes.

But we need voices. We absolutely need to be able to say THIS IS WHO I AM. As women, as people, as parents. I like who you are. And I'm honored to read your stories, bad and good.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

If you're a "bad mother", then I want to be one too.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermapsgirl

You, my dear, rock my socks. And you have a firm grasp of the concept of fucking semantics. Which is an attractive quality in anyone.

Fuck, I love you, too.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMr Lady

Ahem. Don't worry, I will respond. *grin*

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

Amen!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I totally wish I could be as secure about how I am and how I parent as you. (You KNOW I want to be you when I grow up, right?)

I can't believe the hell you went through when Bug died. (We had an investigation but they tripped all over themselves telling us that it was a formality that they had no choice but to do.) I don't know what I would have done if they had put us through what you had to endure.

Either way, you're the bees knees.

I love you for writing this.

xo

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLoralee

i'll drink to that.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternic @mybottlesup

This whole thing has been killing me. When and who decided what was "good?" I mean, really? WTF? It seems like if you're going to rate something, it's only fair that the standards be publicized and agreed upon by a panel of experts and whatnot.

You're not a "bad" mom. You're an honest mom. That's a standard everyone should try to achieve.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBurgh Baby

I can relate to this post in so many ways. My parenting recently came under attack with a malicious (and false) accusation by my ex husband. The same ex husband who has "allowed" me to (by his unwillingness to do so in favor of pursuing a career)raise our three children pretty much without him for the last 18 years, 7 of which have been as a single mom after he bailed on our family to take up with my "best friend". So I've taking care of our children for 18 years as well as cleaning up the fallout of his mess for the last 7 years and then he has the audacity to accuse ME of doing a bad job of it. Anyway, now I can't even send my kid to her room without the police coming to my door. I understand the intense srutiny thing.

As mothers we are never going to win prizes or be applauded by anyone but each other, and even then the "haters" always have something negative to say to try to make themselves feel better.

Wow, sorry for the rant. Great post.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMindyMom

Perhaps it is all semantics. But really, if I called myself a bad mother every day I would beat myself up over it. Instead, I call myself a fucking fantastic mother and celebrate what I do well.

And if anyone ever told me that my kids were well adjusted despite my parenting style, I would give them a word or two or several thousand in reply about why I don't need to be "mainstream" in order to be a great mom.

you are bad Tanis, bad like Michael Jackson- you know back when he was cool and not actually... well bad.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfidget

Thank you, Tanis. You're awesome.

As the parent of 3 adult kids and one almost adult, I've had my share of "parenting guilt". But you know what, my kids love me and they choose to hang with me.

And that is the best parenting endorsement of all.

You are awesome. I know I said that already, but you need to hear it again and again.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLianne (CeliaDarling)

I like you a lot!
(hey, not everyone can be all I love you, right?)
;)

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarinka

Love this. Love you.

Preach it, sister.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngella

Precisely! The only thing I care about in the grand parenting file is if my kids smile when they see me (and I can tell those smiles aren't hiding something or because I look like a dork, which I typically do, but details...) and I know THEY are happy. So far, so good.

GO Tanis! WOOT WOOT!!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersandi

You fuckin rock!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaden

After everything those so-called "parenting experts" have put you through, you should be able to line them up on the driveway, grab your shotgun and yell, "despite THIS, bitches!" whilst shooting maniacally at their overpriced shoes.

I am fairly new to the whole blog stalking thing. I do stalk yours and look forward to it every day.

I have to say, I do not get caught up in the rhetoric, the fads, the good mom and the bad mom. I just blog about what happens and when shit happens, I blog it.

Thanks for letting me stop and visit. I think you're pretty "boss".

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTreasure Hatch

@Mr Lady, this is just a test of the emergency comment reply system. If this had been an actual comment, someone would be crying right now.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

I just don't get how "bad" is the new "good." What you're saying is the you ARE a good mother to your kids (even "they" said so, in their derogatory way) so I don't believe you're really embracing "bad." You've written a nice whole post pointing out all the things you've done to be a good mom, while pointing out how the authorities have even deamed you a fit parent. So, that's what you are. Like it or not. You are a GOOD mom.

As we start to embrace "bad" as the new "good" there are legions of ridiculously awful moms out there who glom onto this whole notion that being a shite mom is somehow heroic and cool. My god, I've sat on Ivillage message boards with some seriously white-trash women (this coming from a woman who was born into absolute red-neck, white-trash, trailer-park living) and been absolutely horrified by how some of these mothers behave (i.e. admitting to leaving their babies in the car while they go drinkin' in the bar at night.)

I'm sorry, but those are BAD moms, and you won't find me putting myself in that category for one hot minute, no matter how badly I need to rebel against the "parenting experts."

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

You Bad Mother, you! RAWR! ;) This was a fabulous post. As we all know, there is WAY too much pressure on moms to be PERFECT, to be "good." I think we just need to be ourselves.... Every individual - child, parent - is different. So, there's simply NO way to measure good parenting. And I don't know who these shrinks and social workers are thinking they can measure it. I'd like to see how THEY parent....

This is such a great discussion. Such a great way to expose the impossible ideal of "good motherhood," and, possibly why postpartum depression is so common these days. Motherhood is too damn stressful with all the expectations, etc. too damn stressful.

I can't believe all the things you've been through as a mother. It's startling. ((hugs))

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaley-O

I effin love you, Tanis!

I've been labeled and shoved into the "bad mommy" box ever since I agreed to, and allowed, my two daughters to move to Indiana with their dad LAST YEAR!

My husband's family recently discovered my blog and it's been nothing but drama since. They had the nerve to ask my husband WHY I write about my girls as if they live with me or something. I WENT OFF!

And posted about it yesterday. The title, "Exposed" kinda served as a double shot.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Behavin

I heart you, T.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermimi

Remember, "despite" breaks down into "de spite." Those people earned your spite. I think you're a passionately caring mother, wife, and friend, and heaven knows we don't want those made with a cookie cutter.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCynSieWil

@Maria, I understand. I hesitated to comment myself on this the newest drama in the blog world but the slings and arrows of the pointedly 'good' moms were getting a little too sharp for me to ignore.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

@Natasha, And I look forward to your response.

*Evil grin.*

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

@Annie @ PhD in Parenting, Annie, I don't call myself a bad mother every day.

I generally only do it, tongue-in-cheek on my blog. For humour or irony.

It doesn't matter what you call yourself or how you label my parenting. Like I said, as long as my kids walk the straight and narrow in the end, you can call me the world's twattiest mom.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

Tanis, you are my Role Mommy.
Rock on, sista!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica

Tanis,

I wanna be you when I grow up, I've already asked my husband if we can leave New Orleans and head to Canada.

During our adoption process we were grilled by an "expert", who had no children, on our parenting skillz. She had the nerve to say to my husband that she wasn't sure he was cut out to be a father, because he appeared to be a big kid himself. She said it wouldn't affect our application for adoption, but she thought she would give him something to 'think about'. Broke my husband's heart.

Fuck the mainstream, fuck the experts, and most of all Tanis, FUCK THE ONES WHO COME HERE TO HATE. Let them go back to their own blogs and stop trolling here.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNibblet's Mommy

@TheFeministBreeder, No, what I'm saying is it doesn't matter what you, the media or society labels me as, I know I'm doing the best I can to be a parent my children can be proud of.

I don't see the need to label myself as a good mom because society has defined a good mom as a perfect mom and I am far from perfect.

I would rather cheekily refer to myself as a bad mom who has good parenting skills and let the rest of you fight over what label you want to slap on me.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

Bravo. Bravo. Bravo. Just got crap on my own blog because some commenter said there was too much 'cussing and drinking and a disrespect for our Creator.' I was like dude, you're on the wrong blog. There are enough blogs to go around so that the Muffia (coined by Allison Pearson) and Brag Hags (coined by Lindsay Ferrier) can go congratulate each other on how brilliant they are and leave the rest of us happily crappy moms alone. Cheers! (clink)

I am a firm believer that most people are stupid. Those people like to wag their fingers and raise their eyebrows and proclaim that "they" know what's best. But stick them in a different situation and they'd flounder. You are the best for your children. I'm relatively new here but I've read some of your posts. Your kids couldn't have a better mother.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Come on Tanis, that's not fair.

I have always been a huge supporter of you and I e-mailed you personally to tell you I didn't direct that line at you or mean it as an insult because I think your writing is brillant and I think you're an original, unlike others who, seeking to be trendy, would milk the bad mother thing in a less skillful and entertaining fashion.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDon Mills Diva

Hell Ya! You tell 'em Tanis!
My husband & I were not able to have children so I'm not up on all the Mommy blogger issues. That said I so enjoy reading your blog. I find it very entertaining, heart wrenching and educational. Where else would I learn to pee standing up?

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I would stand up and applaud you, but then my laptop would fall off my lap which would probably break it and then I wouldn't be able to get my Tanis fix. Plus you wouldn't be able to see me standing to applaud anyway, so I'm just going to sit here and say, "Touché, my dear!" Raising children often requires humor and self-deprication.
I don't know about you being a bad mother, but you sure are a good bad-ass momma!! ;)

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKei

Great post Tanis.

Am I a bad mother? I don't know. I write about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Does that make me bad? I guess I'll wait for my daughter to call me one in a fit of pre-pubescent rage. It's a family tradition, after all. I'm counting down, T-10, if not sooner.

Can't wait to buy you a drink at BlogHer.

*applause*!!

To quote Rhino the hamster: You are BE-AWESOME!

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenera

Preach it your gawgeous hunka redneck sexy, you. Exactly the way I feel. I live my life out of the box (my kids don't fit in that box) and revel in it. So glad you said it.

Tina

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTina@SendChocolate

@Don Mills Diva, I'm sorry K, I wasn't trying to be unfair. I was just using a quote from your blog to hammer home my point.

I apologize if I've hurt your feelings and you know I respect and adore you. I just happen to see the other side of this pancake a little differently than you do.

This whole debate has felt a little personal to me regardless to who writes what post, I think, because of the judgment I have faced in my personal life.

Again, my sincerest apologies. You know I appreciate all your loyal support and I never meant to come across as disrespectful.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

@Redneck Mommy, LOL. Might take me a while, as I have a busy afternoon.

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

sputter choke, sigh. The first paragraph had me thinking that you were about to declare that you were done blogging! And that thought had me screaming (in my head, thank god) NO-OOOOOOO DON'T GO!!!!!!

Good thing I'm a speed reader!

The rest of your post had me thinking "sounds like the working mom vs. the stay-at-home mom wars" that drug on for YEARS. And had me sighing, please, this is such an non-issue.

No one mother or another mother is better than another. I think we get these babies handed to us, either out of our own bodies, or out of someone else's, and we just mother.

Why label this? I think I'm a fucking rockin' mother. I worked my ass off for 20 yrs now, gave up a shit-ton of my own happiness to STAY and not GO when the other parent (ahem, my husband and their father) in the name of being a mother.

I knew no other way. If some idiot thought to label me a "bad" mother for staying, I can say I'd have flipped them the bird, dropped their hot ass off at the corner, and gone on to the next, ding ding ding, PULEASE.

I"m glad you're not going to not be here online for my daily inhale of laughter. I adore the blogs I've discovered, and I read them almost everyday.

Mother's rock. The ones that don't, do go out to get wasted while leaving their babies in the bar parking lot. Those *mothers* should be arrested, and their babies should be given to REAL mothers. There are plenty of us out here.
Love,
Julie

June 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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