It’s no secret that a lot of the reason I started doing How Baby was because I was having trouble figuring out how to “perform” motherhood. Sure, I could change a diaper, make formula, all that, but the real struggle was figuring out how I could wear this life-changing mantle of “mother” without blocking out everything else.
I spend most of my life on the internet in some shape or form, and I have for more of my life. I saw the rise of blogging, and, shortly thereafter, the rise of the mommy blog: a peculiar space where the private was on display for everyone to see, carefully curated; this space eventually grew to include places like Pinterest, which weaponized this idea of mother-as-lifestyle-choice.
This cultural shift raised up the voices of a certain kind of mother: the kind of person who ices her own cakes and wants to learn how to make jam, but also likes taking her shoes off at the beach. She calls her husband “hubby” or “hubster” or “DH”. She breastfeeds and cosleeps and babywears and made her own baby food and knows what a sensory bag is and did the baby yoga and considers putting her children in an outdoor kindergarten. This person, she’s a wonderful person – she’s probably besties with The Pioneer Woman – but the repetition of her qualities, the relentless privilege of the time and money she has available to her, felt oppressive.
And then here I was: the ex-riot grrl with the dyed hair and the facial piercings; the one who drew fan art; the one everyone thought would end up with a wife, not a husband; she who proudly proclaimed her choice to be childfree. There wasn’t a space for me. I wasn’t like my mom, and I wasn’t like Internet Mom. So I started drawing How Baby, and I tried to be me, but a version of me that was mom, too.
It wasn’t obvious at the beginning. When your baby is just… a baby, it’s easy to get caught up in what motherhood means to you, how you perform motherhood. Very little you do seems to have an impact on your baby, after all. But now that she’s older, and she knows I’m her mother… I realize now that the most important performance I’ll ever make is for an audience of one. It doesn’t matter if my life is photogenic, or if what I do feels “true” to some idea of myself I have in my head. I don’t need to keep pace with other mothers – I just need to walk beside my daughter.
… and on THAT note, this is just to say, I’ll be in Edmonton this weekend for the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo! Table 1354, in Hall E. I have How Baby zines and posters, the standard complement of art prints and postcards, buttons, stickers, and also I’ll still be doing ink-and-marker commissions on Friday and Saturday. And because I’ll be driving back on Monday, I’m gonna skip posting Monday and see y’all at the same baby time on Thursday!