Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Geeks Of A Feather Flock In The Corners

In two days, I’m traveling to Chicago for BlogHer. BlogHer is like Comic-Con, except with more women and babies and far fewer Trekkies. It vibrates at about the same geek frequency, though, which is something that too many people forget, I think. It’s a conference for women who write and socialize and make their livings on the Internet, which is to say that it is the very definition of geek. But for many people, it’s an event that triggers severe social anxiety and bad flashbacks to high school. Which is surprising, for what is, as I’ve said, a gathering of geeks, which is to say, a gathering of people who are disproportionately more likely than other members of society to have limited social skills and so who should not be even remotely socially threatening.


That said, I find BlogHer scary, too.

Here’s what I said after the conference last year:

What I saw (at the conference) was this: friendships being formed, friendships being renewed, friendships being celebrated and reveled in and enjoyed. I saw love and tenderness and warmth; I saw women cheering each other on, and men cheering the cheering. I saw all of the things that I’d seen in my first year“women who are, like me, trying to use found moments of lived fearlessness to navigate the murky waters, the frightening waters, of womanhood and motherhood and writerhood (here be monsters, here be monsters. We know this. Still we fly our sails). Among women who are willing to say, out loud, that they don’t know how to always be fearless. Among women who walk with fear, but who carry wit and intelligence and charm and strength as rods and staffs for comfort” – and more.


But I also saw insecurity and anxiety and nervousness and reserve. I saw another mom with babe-in-arms keep to the sidelines, like me. I wish that I’d done more to connect with her, beyond waggling my baby at her baby (an effort that made her baby scream, which, you know, can really make someone feel like a fuck-up), because I wanted to ask her, is this as hard for you as it is for me? I heard a woman crying in the bathroom, and another woman soothing her, and I wanted to say something, but I didn’t, because I was embarrassed, having been soothed myself the night before and still feeling awkward about it. I saw, many times, women sitting by themselves, and sometimes I approached them, and sometimes I didn’t, because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was working the room – don’t laugh, it happens – or demanding attention (oh mah gahd have you seen mah BAYBEE?!?!) or, sometimes, just because I felt stupid and awkward and who knew when the baby was going to start crying again or the front of my blouse go wet and what would I say then (oh, hai, I’m Catherine, pleez to excuse the sloppy mammaries and squalling infant)?


We all feel on the outside, all of us, sometimes; even the biggest and brightest of our stars feel their distance. Whether we know a hundred people in the room, or one, or none, we feel, in certain moments, lonely. Misunderstood. Lost. Alone. We’re women, we’re human. We can be surrounded by love and still feel isolated. We can project love and still feel empty. We can be friends and make friends and still yearn for friendship. We can be inside and still feel completely outside. We’re internet geeks, girly ones, some with babies, some without, most with vaginas, all with hearts. We’re complicated.

I love us for that. I love this weekend for that. I love BlogHer, and BlogHers, for that. But there is still the ache, the anxiety. So please, can we be gentle with each other, forgiving of each other?


Yes. Please.

Let’s all of us remember that mingling with a thousand women (and some dozen men) – strangers and friends and everyone in between – is daunting for all of us. Even that blogger in the corner who you think is all well-known and well-connected – she may be those things, but she might also be anxious as hell and quietly cursing herself for not renewing her Ativan prescription. So, yes: cut her some slack, and cut yourself some slack, and do your best to relax (ha!) and have fun. Let’s all of us who are going go in the spirit of openness and patience and fun – and those who are not, follow the stories in the same spirit (and know that you are missed.)



Comments read comments(26)
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Mrs. Flinger

posted July 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I have a post half written (not so elequently) saying a similar thing. And Amanda? The other mom with a baby? She is my working partner and also my “attachment” this trip to BlogHer. I coaxed her in to going with me this year and will cling to her coolness because she is every bit that: AMAZING.
Like you.
Last year I was so shy I felt like a dooche when I said Hi to you. And every time after that when I saw you. This year I know we are all insecure in some ways and it’s lovely just to be able to say hi.
I’m ok with being in the corner sometimes. I might meet somebody else amazing there, too. Look for me.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I’m not nervous about Blogher, but I do like to hang back. I’ll be at as many sessions as possible and as few parties as possible. Total geek.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for this post! I need to read it! I’m a BlogHer newbie this year and feeling a little bit (read: chest-crushing) anxiety about being the loser no one talks to. This is a good reminder to me to take a deep breath and just dive in. Thanks!

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posted July 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for that. Now, I plan on marching right on up to you and saying “Hi!”

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the weirdgirl

posted July 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Every time you write about BlogHer I just want to give you a hug. It shouldn’t be this hard and yet it is.
I am appalled every time I hear someone was crying in the bathroom.
There should be no crying at BlogHer.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

Wow, thanks so much. That makes me feel better. I am feeling all those things and so good to know we all are in some way or another. It will make it that much easier to walk in the “room”.

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posted July 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm

I can’t wait for next year! I promise not to cry :-)

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posted July 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm

I’ve never been to Blogher, but I honor those who have had the nerve to attend. It is very easy for us to blog and hide behind our screens….to lurk and read other blogs and comment.
Yes, be kind.

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posted July 21, 2009 at 11:13 am

I’m not going but felt I should still say thank you for the post because it touched on so many of my own anxieties about all types of social gatherings. I hope to make it to next year’s. Thanks.

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posted July 21, 2009 at 11:19 am

What a phenomenal post. I’m going in to my FIRST Blogher with an open mind and with the soul intention of having a blast.
Hope to meet you there.
Thanks for sharing.

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samantha jo campen

posted July 21, 2009 at 11:21 am

This is my first BlogHer and I’m way more stressed about it than I should be, so thank you. Thank you for this post and yes, we should all be kind.
Crying? There’s no crying at BlogHer!

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posted July 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

I’m not one for crying in bathrooms, but hiding out in the comfort of my hotel room is definitely on the cards if no-one talks to me :). Going to give myself confidence pep talks over the next 2 days until I get there.
It’s so nice to read posts like this an know that other’s feel the same way you do.

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Amy in OHio

posted July 21, 2009 at 11:41 am

Roger that, 10-4
Really how many ways can I come up with to say, spot on dude.

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Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]

posted July 21, 2009 at 9:45 pm

I’m a BlogHer virgin, and I’m talking big game on socializing, so I hope I live up to my own expectations and actually MEET new people.

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RookieMom Whitney

posted July 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Hoping for the strength to just be myself.

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posted July 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Traveling without my babe this year and already my arms feel empty and my confidence is flagging. Your words are true and yet, as I imagine the days ahead, I want so desperately for them to be meaningful, that I tremble. Pardon me, that if when I see you this year, I lurch forward and bleat, “HI, IMAMANDACANWEBEFRIENDS?”
Great post.

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posted July 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Rock on mama. I think you just put 1399 women at ease.

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posted July 22, 2009 at 9:11 am

Aw thanks for missing me in advance. Just think the road trip was like a dry run for Blogher I found you to be a delight to talk to and was glad to meet you. PS Don’t tell anyone but I went home after and had a huge panic attack. Go get ’em !

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Ally B

posted July 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm

THANK YOU!! I leave tomorrow and I’m freaking out… but this really made me feel better. :)

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posted July 23, 2009 at 12:10 am

What a beautiful post! I know I’m not the only one who appreciates these sage words of advice. Thank you.

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Your Name

posted July 23, 2009 at 12:11 am

What a beautiful post! I know I’m not the only one who appreciates these sage words of advice. Thank you.

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posted July 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

Hmmm…my comment on the last post was not meant to be anonymous!

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the hack geek

posted September 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm

very nice

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posted July 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Dude, I’m insecure because you don’t follow me on Twitter. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, should I even come up and introduce myself to you at BlogHer next week???

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escort a lugano

posted September 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

Don’t stop posting such stories. I love to read blogs like that. BTW add more pics :)

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Bella Benedict

posted October 2, 2010 at 6:31 am

Rather nice blog you’ve got here. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.
Bella Benedict
irish escorts dublin

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