Thanks for your kind comments and e-mails–our family emergency has been resolved. I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth could keep me away from the Berkshire Conference 2011, especially considering that there won’t be another one until 2014! Well, friends–there isn’t a lot that would keep me away from it, but there’s something I haven’t told you about Famille Historiann before that might put this into perspective:
I am the living mother of a living child I’ll call Madeline (not her name), who, unfortunately, had a bum appendix that announced itself as acute abdominal pain at 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning. She had an appendectomy about 12 hours later at Maine Medical Center in Portland, no rupture and no complications. As these things go, this was a health emergency that was speedily dealt with and easily resolved–she was released Friday morning at 9 a.m., and by Friday afternoon was playing energetically outside her grandparents’ house with her cousin. The timing was unfortunate since I had to miss the big conference, but it could have happened at a worse time and place–like during one of our wilderness backpacking trips, or when we’re not staying with family members. Fortunately, Fratguy was here too–he was scheduled to fly back on Thursday, but he postponed his return to Colorado until today.
As many of you readers know, I haven’t disclosed my parental status previously by design, although I think some of you have guessed–the Sesame Street YouTube clips, the discussions of children’s literature, and the references to the Kid’s Place Live channel on satellite radio probably weren’t too subtle. But the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of blogs out there about parenting and not so many blogs about history and sexual politics, 1492 to the present, and it’s my professional interests and political views rather than my personal life that I wanted to blog about. There are a lot of mothers in the world, whereas there aren’t all that many people with my particular training and expertise. There are a lot of women who write about motherhood in the mainstream media, but not nearly so many women writing outside of that identity and/or writing on feminist issues. Motherhood doesn’t make me special or interesting, or especially interesting.
I also didn’t want to identify myself as a mother because I think that a lot of blog conversations about mothering can become essentialist and personal in ways that work against feminist analysis. (For examples of those kinds of conversations, in which people with a particular experience of motherhood assume I’m not a mother because I express opinions about motherhood they disagree with see here, here, and here; Dr. Crazy has written about this too. Because all mothers everywhere transhistorically are identical, right?) As I’ve written here before, I don’t think motherhood is authorizing beyond one’s personal experience, because people’s experiences of parenthood are different because children and adults are different. What worked for your family might not work for mine, and vice-versa, and most children end up okay no matter what. (And besides–in my case, N=1, and unlike Dr. Laura Schlessinger, I don’t think my particular experience of parenting one child makes me an expert.)
There’s also the question of writing in ways that people might find interesting and stimulating. I love Madeline–and those of you with children love your children, too, but do we really need to read and write about that here? I also think children should be permitted to make their own mistakes about creating online identities when the time comes. Blogging about my child just seemed too invasive of her privacy, so I created an online persona who left her position as a mother or a non-mother ambiguous. Additionally, when I started my blog Madeline was very small, and I was wary (as a not-really-pseudonymous blogger) about how that kind of information might be used by others who didn’t mean us well. Now that she’s reached the age of reason I’m less concerned about her safety, but I still don’t relish the ways in which this kind of information can be used to frighten and/or enrage me.
This cowgirl has said her piece. Let’s pretend this conversation never happened.