Monday, July 23, 2012

Mama Bean is a Narrative and a Statistic

You know what's great about the internet? No matter what your Weirdness, someone else has it, too. And they've got a blog or a tumblr or a pinboard, and inter-kismet will bring y'all together. It's the way of the (brave new) world. The internet makes bell curves come alive - your weirdness is just the centre of some weird bell curve, populated by a bunch of other weird people who are all, on average weird like you. Bell. Community. Interwebz are Love.

As a new mom, a young mom, and inexperiencedandbaffledandtired mom, finding my Self on another's blog, seeing myself in a meme, hearing my voice in someone else's post, holy shit was that a relief. Like whoooooosh   ...   relief. And then? I get to interact and comment and like things? I get to have a voice, too? And you're gonna agree with me? And affirm me? Wha? Ohshityes, sign. me. up.

But it doesn't stay that way. Or rather, this brave new world, this virtual group parenting, this Cloud Parenting, it's a double edged sword. Because, even when we share weirdness, we remain individuals. And in one way or another, there will be clashes, differences, confrontations. And there will be Trolls.

I was chatting with a friend about how frustrating it is when someone extrapolates their parenting experience out to the Whole. I'm not talking about the Well-meaners offering (unsolicited or not) advice. I mean the people who seem to misapprehend that the way they are living Parenthood is not the way everyone lives Parenthood. That, in fact, every child is different, and every mother, too, and every family and community beyond that, too also.

It starts to feel like you're being judged, because your experience doesn't look like theirs, and for whatever reason (familiarity?) they'd prefer if you looked like them. The scientist in me wants to scream at them (a little, just a little), "You have a sample size of ONE! That is not actual evidence. Anecdotes are not CONCLUSIVE!"

This is the paradox of Cloud Parenting. On the one hand, this blessing, this relief of finding your Tribe, where you feel your choices and preferences and experiences are accepted, where you belong. On the other hand, this struggle to assert your individuality, and its worth, to hold up your Story over and against the bell curve. It's a tension, and this generation of parents has to learn to navigate it in ways the grandparents did not.

I'm just saying, when I feel like myself or my kids are being outliers in some worrisome way, I am grateful for the opportunity to find some corner of the internet that affirms we are just plain normal. Or at least, we are statistically Within Range of normal. But, the power of the Cloud doesn't negate or lessen or cheapen our Shine - we are still sparkling shining snowflakes of specialness. And so there, I am grateful for the opportunity to just smoodge all over myself about our Sparkle in my corner of the internet. But I shouldn't fear that anyone's particular story sets a statistical standard for me to live up to.

I don't feel like I'm getting this out very well. I just wanted to say that there's a tension between the opportunities provided by the Internet to a) express one's (parenting, religious, whatever) Narrative as unique and special and b) find one's (parenting, religious, whatever) Group as inclusive and homogeneous at the same time. It's a tension that didn't exist for previous generations. That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (without the Inadvertent Farmer this year)

The Inadvertent Farmer has gone MIA, so she's not hosting the KinderGARDEN blog carnival as in years past, but I still have a garden and I still have kids, so I'm carrying on the spirit of it, and praying everything is alright in her neck of the woods.

This collage shows (clockwise from top left): yellow zucchini, onion flower, teeny tiny beginning cucumbers, thinned carrots, Papa Bean watering the jungles, mini brown pepper, Hungarian yellow wax pepper, green zucchini. PB is watering the potato bed there, which also has the cucumber plants that are unfortunately shaded by the potato plants. They are very short, but with lots of flowers, so hopefully they still fruit. The middle bed has a tomato jungle that I cut back (drastically) tonight, tying up escaped branches and centering tilting cages - I will never underestimate indeterminate tomatoes again, we are concocting some sort of crazy heavy duty cages next year. There are also green beans in the middle bed, which we ate stir fried with shrimp for dinner tonight.
This is the third bed. The peas along the trellis are pretty much done, they were sweet and lovely, little Sprout loves to pick them one by one out of the shell. She also loves when mommy takes a pile out of the shell and she can stuff them all in her mouth at once. Bean kept asking for peas, but not really eating them. There are four out-of-control tomato plants at the end, and then rows of carrots, lettuce, parsnips, and beets. I have taken out the two rows of spinach because they bolted before I could eat it. If I ever try to grow spinach again, I'm planting it somewhere really shaded, summers are too hot here otherwise.
Here's a parade of my tomatoes, of which I am ridiculously proud :) First are the Green Zebras.
These are called Hawaiian Pineapple. They are oddly pale, and multi-lobulated (?)
This is the Nyagous plant, which has the most tomatoes by far of all the plants. It has crazy escapee branches going all over the place, trailing on the ground. I'm worried the tomatoes higher up will weigh the branches down too much, I'll be watching this plant very closely.
Black Cherry. I am fascinated at how, even as unripe green tomatoes, they all look so different.
This is called Japanese Black Trifele. I love the unique pear shape.
These are Green Bulgarians, they look a lot like the Green Zebras.
Tomatoes not pictured: Persimmon, which has no flowers or fruit on it yet :( Carbon black, sungold, sun sugar, and sweet 100s. If anyone from KinderGARDENs still reads here, please leave and comment with your own gardening post, I'd love to catch up with your gardens and kiddos this year!