Who Am I?

Luckenbach, Tx
This is me, being carefree and childless, drinking beer in Luckenbach, Texas a few months before I got pregnant. I highly recommend a visit to Luckenbach if you’ve never been. Don’t take your kids.

The inspiration for this blog, Momsoap, came in a sleep-deprived haze during the first months of my daughter’s life, in 2008. I needed a topic and a name. Being a new mother, the topic seemed obvious and so I joined the mom blog world.

I figured the rest of it would spring to mind as time went on. I was right. It has. The name of my blog means nothing other than it had mom in the title, at the time I was making lots of homemade soap, and nothing else I thought of had an available URL.

As a former journalist, I desperately missed writing. As a new mom, I thought that it made sense to turn to blogging for an outlet. My topic originally started as blogging on motherhood, attachment parenting and race-based topics, in part because my daughter is biracial. I’ve since dropped the attachment parenting as a topic because it interests me way less these days. Parenting is too hard to be divisive over methodology. We are all in this together. And plus, I just ain’t that into subscribing to anyone’s dogma.

When it comes to my online personality, I suppose the most important thing that defines me is that I am an anti-racist, pro-woman, mama to a biracial daughter. Practically speaking, I’m single and co-parenting amicably with my ex-boyfriend, who immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria with his family at the age of 8.

Why I Write About Racism

0625101121bEven though my daughter is biracial, my interest in racism did not start with her. I lived in Detroit for nine years (now Austin, TX), had studied journalism at Wayne State University where I learned more about the Civil Rights Movement in two years at WSU than I ever had growing up in Abilene, TX. (The education in Texas public schools is/was appallingly lacking.)

I finished college at Wayne State after my divorce and worked at a small community newspaper in the suburbs of Detroit until I was laid off. It was there, and also in my former job as a bank supervisor, where my eyes opened to the great divide between whites and blacks in the United States and began my journey toward learning about my own racist thoughts and actions.

Questioning my own thoughts and actions when it came to race and culture started when I left Abilene, TX, in 1994, moved to Okinawa, Japan with my then-new-now-ex-husband and lived in another country for three years. He is not the father of my child. When we were married, people would ask all the time when we were having kids. I always responded that I already had one (him) so why would I want another. I guess it’s not a big shocker that we ended up divorced, although, we were married for seven years. The divorce was amicable enough. Although, now if I saw him on the street, I’d likely walk up to him and slap him pretty hard. Sometimes it takes time to look back and realize how egregiously you’ve been treated. I think that’s been the case with blacks in the United States and as time goes on, I believe that if we don’t start working together, black folks are going to start bitch slapping us every chance they get. And frankly, I don’t want to be on the wrong side when it happens.

My Short Autobiography

I am politically liberal. I consider myself a feminist and I am highly opposed to the death penalty. Even so, I love Texas and I have a soft spot for gun-toting rednecks. Why? Most of them aren’t truly evil or complete jerks. They are just ignorant. Many small town Texans I’ve known are some of the most kindhearted and generous people I’ve ever met. And most are not any more racist than the rest of us. Some are. They give all the Texans a bad name. We have a hateful history and currently a tragically awful political arena. But I love Texas. I love the land. I love the people, for the most part. I love my state, for all its flaws. It’s a great place to live.

I was born a Yankee, raised a redneck.

I was born on Long Island, New York. I moved to Trent, Texas when I was 7, with my family: two parents, two brothers and one sister. At the time we had a dog and a cat. The cat ran away somewhere in between New York and Texas.

For seven years we lived on a goat ranch in this small town that had a population of approximately 300. At least, that’s what the sign said.

When I was 14 we moved to Abilene, which was an hour away and comparatively, a big city. At the time, Abilene was able to boast of having the second highest number of churches per capita in the United States. The joke was that we had a church on every corner. It was practically true.

The population there was approximately 100,000, due to three (private Christian) universities and an Air Force Base. When visitors from out of town would ask us what there was to do we’d drawl, “We got a mall.” And we were serious.

When I was 22 I married an Air Force man and moved to Okinawa, Japan. We lived there for three years. I learned how to drive on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car, while reading signs in Japanese.

My husband and I moved twice more after that, landing in Detroit, where he was from. Then we decided to call it quits. I guess I’m crazy, but I chose to stay in Detroit even though I missed Texas.

A few years after my divorce, I went back to school to finish up my languishing bachelors degree and chose to major in journalism because I’ve always loved to write. I found that I had a passion for news and local government, which surprised me as my main reading material as a young girl was Cosmopolitan.

I got a job at a newspaper and now, as you can see, I’ve come full circle.

A few months after I moved to Austin, I went to visit Annika’s dad (he obviously wasn’t her dad at the time), for a few days of fun in the sun, and came home pregnant.

When Annika was born, I quit my job at the ad agency where I was working as a client liaison and became a stay-at-home mom.

Other Things I Write About: Attachment Parenting/Attachment Theory and Alcohol

You may find random old posts about attachment parenting and attachment theory and occasional posts about alcohol.

Attachment parenting: I practiced all of the common practices of attachment parenting. I wore my baby in  sling. I nursed her for four years. And as of right now, at age 5, she is still co-sleeping with me. I was drawn to attachment parenting more for the ideas of positive discipline and the idea that if I did these things I might have a more healthy relationship with my daughter than I did with my own parents.

I always knew that I would breastfeed. That was a given. My mom was a breastfeeding advocate. She nursed three out of four of us. Me being the third child, I was nursed for three years, as was my younger brother.

The co-sleeping just kind of happened and kept on happening. I have lots of posts on sleep. It’s crazy making I tell ya!

The baby wearing, I’ll admit, I just kind of did because it was trendy. I happened upon a Moby sling in a store. Loved it. Then I went to some attachment parenting meetings and found a sling library where I was able to try on a bunch of them. I bought a Mei Tai. Loved it. And a back carrier. Loved it equally. The whole idea of baby wearing though, peeves me in some ways. For all it’s talk of how “natural” it is, kind of annoys me. Women in third world countries strap their babies to them for convenience. They gotta get shit done. And they have big pieces of cloth to tie them to their bodies. That’s why they use them that way. I kind of hate the “natural” child rearing movement. It’s condescending, privileged bullhockey, to me.

The thing I love the most about my attachment parenting community is positive discipline methods. I use the word discipline lightly. I rarely, if ever “discipline” my kid. We have some rules. They get broken, a lot. And it’s usually by me. Mostly, I listen to my daughter, we talk things through, and then we come to a consensus. So far, it mostly works. Nothing is perfect.

Attachment Theory: Being the research nerd that I am, when I came upon attachment parenting, I started reading up on attachment theory as soon as I heard of it. I will tell you now, if I’m going to subscribe to a theory, I unequivocally need to know its origins. I read some of John Bowlby’s books and was hooked. It’s pretty dry reading though, and much of the research is redundant. It’s some fascinating shit though, learning about the psychology of why parents and kids interact the way they do.

One of my pet peeves about the attachment parenting movement is that it has very little to do with the psychology behind its name. Attachment theory says absolutely zero about breastfeeding, cosleeping, babywearing, or positive discipline. In some ways, attachment theory is really quite simple. Be good to your child, for the way you raise them, listen to them, and treat them will follow them into adulthood. For real, it’s that simple. Except for the fact that parenting is never that simple.

And the booze: I enjoy a good stiff drink now and again. During my early days of single motherhood, it was practically my best friend. A glass of wine in the evening can really take the edge off of parenting.

And now, here we are.

e-mail me: martha@momsoap.com if you are a reader with a private question, or a blogger who wants to submit a guest post.

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