More

I’ve alluded to it in other posts and especially in my back and forth comments with Jess, but I thought it was about time I talked about having a child who is what I describe as More.

As a little background my older two as babies and toddlers were for want* of a better word normal. Sleeping, eating, developing all at manageable rates, sometimes early in Miss P’s case but nothing quite so, well, exhausting. ​Other people refer to them as Spirited children but for Eve I feel the word more is what sits right with me.

Awake – ​Eve is more often awake than not, no full night sleeps or reliable naps here because she has more​ to do.

Physical – ​Once Eve was on the move (walking at a reasonably normal 10  months), kicking a ball followed soon after and so did jumping.  While it’s pretty awesome to see that my child is coordinated (unlike her mother) what’s not awesome is the climbing of ladders, bedheads and jumping off with a complete lack of fear.

Mental – ​Eve is more ​switched on than my other two were.  If I don’t want her to know how to open a lock or get what is in a cupboard I can’t let her see me open it.  Putting things up high is no barrier, obviously.

But

For all that the more-ness takes out of me there is one thing that makes it worth it.​

Love – ​We get more smiles, more ​hugs, more ​kisses, more ​laughs, which reminds us no matter how tired and worn down we are so so blessed to have been given a child who is more.

*and I do really​ want a better word as I don’t like the obvious inference of people who don’t fit a particular pattern or mold as abnormal.

New York I love you but you’re bringing me down

New York for me, like many people holds a special place in my heart, we honeymooned there, a place I thought to be progressive.

But people and places aren’t always what you think, sometimes surprising me unpleasantly.  If there’s one issue that’s dear to my heart and my experience is that of teen parenthood and that support is needed not shaming.​

New York has failed miserably with a new ad campaign presumably to scare kids out of falling pregnant.  Which in itself is laughable considering the miniscule proportion of teen pregnancies that are planned.​

I’ve mentioned before that being a parent as a teen is no easy task.  Being a parent full stop is not easy and I can tell you the thing that has the most impact on the difficulty of being a teen parent is the weight of others judgement and being shamed instead of supported.  Make no mistake a campaign like this one won’t make teenagers be more careful or make teen parenthood any less attractive, because it’s not attractive,  all it does is wound existing young parents who need help not harassment.

I wonder how much help they could have had if the Mayor had spent $400,000 helping them instead of shaming them?


I’m so disappointed that people think emotional blackmail is the way to
change peoples lives.  I’m so disappointed New York I thought you were
better than that, clearly I was naive.

Will the real voters please stand up?

I read an interesting post by Carli at Tiny Savages (a lady who I can always count on provoking my thoughts and making me look at my assumptions), called Will ​the real politicians please stand up?  Carli talks about disillusionment with our political representatives, but what it brought up for me is my disillusionment with voting behaviours.

Two incredibly frustrating yet seemingly common voter behaviours in Australia are:​

Voting because that’s the way their family always voted

Deliberately voting incorrectly so your vote doesn’t count

​Both get under my skin because like it or not your vote is important, why would you not want to stop and think and vote for a party / independent that you believe is going to be the closest fit for your values.

Why not take the time to peer past the media and PR spin that clouds this issue? Why not reexamine whether tradition is in this case valuable or just easy?​

“Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”


Jiddu Krishnamurti

Why throw a vote? Do you consider yourself to be so unimportant that you passively let others choose your destiny? Or are you tragically unaware of what others went through to secure your right to vote?​

​Is it all too much effort?  Is it just too much time to take out of your life?  Annoying enough that you might waste a whole morning at the polling station as it is? You know our peaceful polling stations where the worst thing that happens to you is being harassed by people flapping how to vote cards in your face or maybe the person you’re waiting behind farts.  Is it just too much for our privileged selves?

While people in Kenya risk and lose their lives in order to vote,*
we baulk at research,  we whine about hitting a few keys and sifting
through information in the comfort of our home or office?​

​Sadly we’re a country who’ll queue for an iPhone or relentlessly bash the keys to secure concert tickets, but secure a thoughtful considered vote not so much.

Tell me I’m wrong, tell me you care about your vote? Or if you didn’t this year you’re going to?

*Yes in the article someone had a whine about waiting in line, I’d not be too happy hanging out in line there either it’s a just ​a little​ less cushy than we’re used to.

Dear (imaginary) baby

Since the ‘incident’ that pushed me to decide there will (most likely) be no more babies, I’ve had a touch of melancholy mixed  with wistfulness about the baby I had imagined we would have.​  A piece written by Sash has encouraged me to vocalise this and in an effort to put it out there, let go and move on I wrote this.

Dear (imaginary) baby,​

If things were different we might be preparing for your conception, but instead I am packing away and getting rid of baby things that will not be used for you.​

But some reminders of your absence will not be packed away.

Some tangible like the beautiful rocking chair that I purchased thinking that it would be where I fed you and documented your first year, the special pieces of clothing belonging to Eve that I planned to use for you. 

Others intangible like the names rolling around now permanently relegated to the ether, Magnus if you were a boy Blythe if you were a girl or possibly Celia, maybe Astrid, they will not be narrowed down without you.

I watch Eve and her tenderness with new babies and am saddened that she will never meet you and teach you all the naughty and beautiful things that she excels at.​

​The knowledge that it has always been difficult does not diminish the sorrow of knowing I will never breastfeed again.  Nor does my puffy unmodel like pregnancy figure outweigh the desire to feel the strange beauty of feeling someone grow within me.

I wonder who you would have looked like and if you would have been laid back or busy like Eve.  ​

I wonder if my patience would have multiplied like I know my ​love would have.

Dear sweet (imaginary) little one I know you would have been a true blessing, I just don’t know that I would have been the mother that you deserve.​

All the love that I will never get to lavish on you.​

X

Outcry vs Sales – Lego friends

When first launched the Lego friends range in January 2012 it attracted a vocal backlash.

But with Lego experiencing a 25% surge in global sales this year, the friends range placing fourth in Lego range sales ​and Lego have struggled to match supply with demand despite doubling production. It seems that there are ample consumers that don’t have a problem with gender specific toy marketing. 

For our family it’s important to provide options for our children, regardless of whether they are considered gender specific or neutral.  Miss P played with dolls but also loved Thomas the Tank Engine as a toddler, Tarrant had his own Bratz* doll along with about a million hot wheels, I know there was a million of those because I stood on each and every one of those surprisingly sharp cars.  Eve has a range of toys, we try to stick to cloth, timber and unbranded but make an exception for Lego (Duplo range) because of its imaginative and developmental benefits.

Our take on taking on gender restrictions is not the extremely difficult path of having exclusively gender neutral toys.​  Truly neutral toys, beside being a relatively limited pool to select from, I feel foster a false reality for our children.  Gender lines are out there and drawn clearly in pink and blue, if we only present our children with gender neutral values how do they learn to think critically and navigate or better yet cross societal lines when we aren’t there to guide them?

Instead we provide toys from all areas and in all colours, I’ll admit I try to limit pink but that’s because I find most pink garish. Eve at the moment loves balls and cars but also likes to nurture her dolls.  I’m sure her interests will develop and change but in the meantime we are trying develop a strong sense of what she likes and why it doesn’t matter if that something is considered to be for boys or girls.  I feel that there is a limited time to ​teach Eve that these labels are not important, what is important is whether she enjoys play.  I say that it is limited as I have experienced first hand the rough transition that kindergarten and primary school can provide when the opinions of others become incredibly influential.  We’ve navigated it twice before with others trying to impress conformity on Miss P and Tarrant at many turns, thankfully I have strong willed children who only occasionally flail and give in to the boundaries of others and that experience is valuable too.

But back to the outcry vs sales figures for the Lego friends, what exactly does it say about the outcry, is it a battle that people are truly invested in?  It may not be if sales figures are anything to go by.  Did the outcry garner the product a higher level of publicity and did that additional visibility then boost sales of a range that may otherwise have passed largely unnoticed (as most of the previous Lego ranges aimed at girls have)? Does it even matter as long as we are all free to raise our children with our own individual values while teaching them to respect the choices of others?​  The market says there is a place for specialised Lego ranges for girls and even ninjas, does that influence what you buy for your children?

*Yes my kids played with those big headed dolls until​ the day that the hemlines rose so high you couldn’t tell if the doll was wearing a dress or missing its pants.​

Here we go again, victim to blame

Heartbreaking enough that anyone experiences violence from their partner, what’s worse is that often enough the victim is blamed.

Anyone who doesn’t know the Pistorius case probably isn’t reading here because they mustn’t have tv or internet access.  The case is yet to be decided but already in the public court the innocence of the victim is being slandered.

In a post (since removed) on his Facebook page Chief Femi Fani-Kayode had the following to say:*

The initial “accidental-shooting burglar theory” has been dismissed by
the South African police. According to the BBC there are speculations
that there have been previous acts of domestic violence and altercations
between the couple, that there was a terrible argument going on just
before the shooting and that this is a straightforward case of
cold-blooded murder probably as a consequence of high passion.


Whatever the the truth may be, all I can say is that this is a great
tragedy and we need to be careful about the kind of women that we spend
our time with. Any woman that stirs up your anger and constantly
provokes your wrath ought to be avoided like a plague. It is those that
bring peace and tranquility into our lives that we should cherish.

I have little doubt that Pistorius, who was a great achiever, a living
icon, the greatest and best known African sportsman in world history and
an absolute gentleman, was provoked into a murderous rage by his pretty
little lover and that she played on his insecurities and inadequacies.
These are the classic traits of the biblical “strange woman”- the
destroyer of men’s dreams and destinies.

Only God knows who sent this creature from the sea into this great man’s
life just to destroy it. For Pistorius it is all over. In one moment of
blind rage he has lost everything and he has brought shame, disgrace,
sorrow and infamy upon his name and that of his family. The blood he has
shed will speak against him and his lineage forever. And all because of
a sexy and pretty little model who the devil sent his way.

May the Lord deliver us all from the daughters of Jezebel, Delilah, Athalia and Yemoja”.

Yes it’s not poor Oscar Pistorius’ fault it’s the defenseless woman who locked herself in a bathroom (presumably to escape what is suspected to have been a several hour long argument) she shouldn’t have provoked the rage that caused someone she loved to fire a gun through a door hitting her wounding her fatally with four bullets.

I’ve had to pause several times while writing this, because it’s hard to separate myself and my experience from what little is understood about what lead to Reeva’s murder.

I know what it’s like to lock yourself in a room and brace the door to hide from the rage of a loved one, and reading this makes me appreciate how lucky I was that there were no guns in our home.

It is not Reeva’s fault that she was murdered, she did not ruin Pistorius’ life he stole hers.

As for other arguments that she should have left what appears to have been an ongoing abusive relationship (Police have confirmed previous domestic disturbances), I agree that it’s a no-brainer that she had more chance of still being alive had she left, but it’s not that simple.  It’s difficult to leave any relationship and it’s compounded in an abusive relationship where more often than not the abuser first breaks down your mental health, confidence and even cuts you off from the support networks you need to be able to leave.  At the same time, saying it was her mistake for not leaving is just another, albeit more subtle, form of victim blaming.  It also overlooks that many women murdered by their partner are in the midst of or have already left the partner in an attempt to escape their violence.  Regardless, Reeva should not have had to leave because the man that she loved should have valued her, her love and the inherent trust she placed in him and never raised a hand much less a gun in her direction. 

I’ve spoken on this issue before (ironically a year exactly before Reeva was murdered) and sadly I feel that I’m going to have continue to relive my experience in the undying hope that others will not have to suffer in the same way.

If you or someone you know needs help please try White Ribbon or other Domestic Violence resources they are here to help.

* Taken from Romance Meets Life

Broken

How a lamp made a difficult decision for me.

A short while ago I received the most beautiful household item I have ever owned.  It’s milky glass, black wooden legs and woven cord made it more than just a lamp for me.  It was the first designer item (that wasn’t shoes or a knock off) that I have ever owned.

Was.

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
It started well but Eve entered her naughty destructive mode a few
hours later after I unthinkingly let her have the foam from my soy
chai.  I had forgotten that the chai mix had milk in it, even though it
is only a minute it was enough to set Eve into whirlwind mode.  I have a
theory that because it makes her stomach hurt and she can’t express
that verbally she expresses it by acting out.  It’s either that or my
kid is one of “those” kids that people make snide remarks about.

The
peak of the acting out resulted in Eve climbing on to our bedside table
and shoving the aforementioned prized lamp off shattering the delicate
glass top. Lest what I say next sounds materialistic and shallow. While
it was the height of the low that the afternoon became it was just the
last straw in being run circles around, jumped on, screamed at, bitten
etc.  As a mama these are the times that I become extremely fragile and
fail to cope.

The long
and short of it is that I am now 99.9%* sure that Eve is our last baby,
while I would love another child I can’t see myself giving another baby
and my existing three a happy healthy home while trying to find a
constructive way to manage Eve on a bad day.  I hate the way it sounds,
like I care so much about an object that I place it above family, but
really the lamp is just a snapshot of the challenges of parenting Eve,
challenges that are new to me as the older two were much calmer babies. 
Eve requires a lot more energy and careful watching made more
complicated by the house being a work site.

I’ve
really been torn on whether we would add to our family since shortly
after I had Eve, and it’s hard to know that we won’t be.  But the
reality is that there is only so much of me to go around and I need to
be the best parent I can be to the children I already have instead of
worrying about a person that doesn’t exist.

I guess that answers my earlier question, how do you know when you’re done?

*I’m not silly enough to say 100%, I’m sure if I did fate would laugh at me and I’d be pregnant before I knew it.

There is no prize

As people we are pitted against each other, as women even more so.

As girls we are taught that we have to be prettier, smarter, more pure than other girls in order to secure our future.

As mothers we are taught to unravel what other mothers are doing so that we are right and they are wrong.

As older women we are taught that we are irrelevant and should disappear.

In all of these lessons we are pitted against one another, competing sometimes viciously.  But here’s the thing there is no prize.  We do not lift ourselves up by tearing others down.

I struggle with that lesson, there are times where I fail and analyse others lives and judge.  But there is no reward in that, often it results in pulling myself apart, things I do wrong, things I don’t but should do.

In many aspects of life competition is healthy, it’s what has driven many great human achievements, but in this area it is insidious.  There is no gain for competing to be the most compliant to societal values.  Being true to ourselves and allowing others to be true to themselves is far more valuable than treading on each other to climb to the top.  The sense of peace when competition and judgement dropped is alone worth opting out of the race. Even if there was nothing to be gained in supporting others it wouldn’t matter as there is less to be gained in racing to the top, because there is no prize other than a veneer of smug satisfaction to hide our own insecurities.

So why do we do it?

Why do we judge the girl who doesn’t sit to the side as a pretty decoration? The mother who has unruly children? The older woman who does not fade in to the background?

It’s so much easier to compete than to look at who we are, who we want to be and how to get from one to the other.  Yet if we dropped the competition and supported each other how much easier would it be?

If you have a few minutes to spare I’d really appreciate your vote in Apartment Therapy’s Homies – Best Family and Kids Blog.

Voting for the first round ends on the 8th.

Where there’s smoke there’s indignation

I wasn’t going to touch this one with a forty foot pole, really I wasn’t, but today my feed is filled with indignant women.  Many of whom make points that I absolutely agree with. But something about this whole issue has gotten itself firmly under my skin and I’m about to go all ranty pants on it.

In case the title didn’t tip you off Chrissie Swan got caught out smoking while pregnant.  To be fair I’m not going to make a judgement call on Chrissie or her addiction, it’s her body and her baby and if she wants to take a risk like that it’s her choice right or wrong smoking is not illegal.

What has gotten to me in this whole discussion is twofold. The seemingly arbitrary line as to which addictions are acceptable and the fact that society believes they can (loudly and obnoxiously) tell women what to do with their bodies and their babies.

Would this same argument be happening if Chrissie had been caught drinking while pregnant?  Equally legal and also potentially addictive, we know that like smoking drinking has the potential to cause harm to fetuses.

Better Health have a fact sheet on the issue of smoking while pregnant, which can be found here.  I’m not going to go in to the risks because I don’t want them to be taken as judgement of Chrissie.  I don’t approve of smoking full stop, but it’s not my body or baby and as long as she doesn’t smoke near me or my children I have no business telling her what to do.

Drinking alcohol has a similarly long list of risks. Would people be so understanding of how addiction works if Chrissie had been caught out at the pub?

Or what if she had been caught fulfilling some illegal addiction?  I’m not keen to compare smoking to illicit drugs even though it’s often quoted that smoking is as addictive as heroin.  All the same I feel like the understanding and sympathy that Chrissie’s addiction garners would be thrown out the window if she was using.  Why is that if an addict truly can’t help themselves?  Why instead of providing support and access to professional support is an arbitrary line drawn dependent on where your addiction falls?

My personal experience is that society judges drinking much more harshly than smoking.  Five days before Eve was born we attended a trivia night held unsurprisingly in a pub, the nasty comments I got leaving at the end of the night were pretty harsh considering I’d only been drinking soft drink.  Which leads me to my next point,  women particularly pregnant ones are still somehow deemed public property.

I assume that the public property attitude, which is only intensified in Chrissie’s case working in the public domain, stems from old herd instincts.  That may be naive of me but I assume that deep down this urge to police behaviour stems from trying to protect the greater good of the gene pool.  That doesn’t make it okay.  Humans have spent centuries sloughing off outdated ways of thinking but when it comes to how women should and shouldn’t behave we haven’t. If anything the policing of behaviour right down to how we look has increased with the media playing proxy for an absence of societal elders. 

Is the judgement of Chrissie that much more gleeful because she is part
of that same media that lays down the societal law in a less than subtle
manner? I can’t say that I’m surprised at just how hard she has been hammered considering that she is not only part of the media but part of programs that build their round up on telling us what to wear and how to think.  It’s no excuse but I think some of the anger directed at Chrissie is a perceived chance to push back at media dictating who we should aspire to be. It doesn’t make it right and it certainly doesn’t mean that women in or out of the spotlight are treated as public property.

I think to some degree we have all experienced being behaviourally policed but I have found that as a woman it has been more intense surrounding pregnancy and parenting.  I’ve been criticised for working up until the week Eve was born (at a desk job no less – not exactly out there jack hammering), and of course been told that I shouldn’t be eating from a platter of cold meats at a work function – ironically by a coworker who was also pregnant at the time and smoked.

How do you feel about this?  IS it our business to police others?  Should people be made to remember ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’?  

If you do want help quitting smoking Quit have a wealth of resources for you.

If you have a few minutes to spare I’d really appreciate your vote in Apartment Therapy’s Homies – Best Family and Kids Blog.

Voting for the first round ends on the 8th.