“On Motherhood” by @GappyTales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 28.05.18

I gave birth to my second son under a tree. It was under an Ash tree, and it was bloody. Days after, a chuckling visitor told me I could be heard the other side of the hill; that everyone within a mile radius knew he was coming. I’d delivered that son standing, my two feet rooted into the ground, my face up to the sky. Roaring.

A few years later saw my car, boot full with the weekly shop, pulling in to the driveway next to my house. A short, clear three metres over tarmac and lawn lay between car and front door, but it would be another hour until I was home. My daughters head butt deep in my pelvis, her feet tangled under my ribs, I could not force those last few steps and fell instead into a dead, dribbling sleep against the steering wheel. I woke to confusion and imminent labour, thick red indents striping my cheek.  ….

 

You can read the full article here.

Gappy Tales : Writer, feminist, mother. Likes cake, hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles – if you don’t like them, I have others. @GappyTales

 

The Un-Mother, by @MogPlus

Cross-posted from: Mog Plus
Originally published: 11.03.18

Four years ago I entered a writing competition on the theme of motherhood, at the time my daughter was 5 months old, and had only come home from hospital a few weeks before. So this is what I wrote. 

I never used to want to be a mother, in fact the very thought of it scared me. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted less, and yet, when I gave birth to my first child I felt love like I’d never felt before. From the very first moment his big blue eyes opened and gazed around him I was head over heels in love, my whole world was turned upside down by this massive rush of affection. This beautiful little boy was the most amazing thing to ever happen to me and my heart ached with the strength of the emotion. I’d had the most horrific pregnancy, I’d been sick every day right up until his birth, had spent the last three weeks of the pregnancy in hospital because of it, and still it all felt worth it. He was worth the horror.


Read more The Un-Mother, by @MogPlus

Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

Cross-posted from: Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 02.08.17

The concept of the ‘good-enough’ mother, introduced by Winnicott (1965), is still in common use today in family law, and in health and social services. However, it is often misused to blame women for falling below expected standards of parenting rather using it in its intended context. It is often not understood that the concept of the good-enough mother was embedded in another concept: that of ‘the nursing triad’. Winnicott acknowledged that support for mothers is necessary to mothering. The author did not have an expectation that mothers could be ‘good-enough’ without the support of either the child’s father, or another supportive adult. On the contrary, Winnicott acknowledged that mothering would be very difficult without support: this was a concept that he applied to all mothers.  
Read more Winnicott’s ‘good-enough’ mother

Am I In Control?, by @cwknews

Cross-posted from: Stephanie Davies Arai
Originally published: 21.05.17

Control is a bit of a dirty word isn’t it? It’s had a bad press anyway, it has connotations. I have been told in the past “you’re too controlling” and found it impossible to defend myself against that accusation, it’s very slippery – do I say “No I’m not!” or is that too controlling of the agenda? I think what I have done in response is to laugh carelessly as I imagined a really laid-back person would do, trying desperately hard to show that I could let go.

It is good to be laid-back, chilled, careless and able to let go. I have read that.

It is not a good image these days to control, to be controlling, to be uptight, to try hard to make things happen the way you want, to not go with the flow
Read more Am I In Control?, by @cwknews

The Problem with “As a Mother…”, at @JumpMag

Cross-posted from: Salt & Caramel
Originally published: 24.08.17

When a sentence begins with ‘As a mother…’, it’s generally a bad sign. This rarely heralds an insightful observation, as Andrea Leadsom demonstrated. The discussion will continue around the political wrangling, but I wanted to pause for a moment and consider the idea that motherhood grants a woman anything other than the ability to cook meals one-handed while holding a wailing baby.

As a Mother…

I’ve changed. It would be impossible not to. The focus of my life has shifted, and the opinions and feelings of others need to be taken into consideration. I’m sure this is true for most parents, not just mothers.

As a mother, I became aware of different aspects of life that I hadn’t considered. When my kids were babies, I noticed that dropped kerbs and accessible buses meant that I could get around the town easier. It made me pause and consider that the inconvenience of using a pram or buggy was a temporary one, unlike those in wheelchairs, who are often prevented from using a bus because the buggy space is full.

As my children grew, their needs changed. From searching for restaurants with bottle-warming and baby-change facilities to ones with a play area or colouring books, to ones with free wifi as the kids reached their teens.

I noticed the differences in pre-school child-care between UK and Germany where we lived when the kids were little, and became aware of the high costs that were a burden to many families in UK.

They started school and I became more interested in the education systems in the countries in which we lived. The way in which the world treated my daughter in comparison to my son affected me and encouraged me to become more feminist, more politically active.

In the coming years, I’ll take more of an interest in further education, colleges, apprenticeships. We are already starting to think about paying for the college years, how to enable our kids to buy property, giving them a good start in life.

Parenting is not a science. Sure, there are studies about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, education systems and more, but there is no ‘right’ way to parent children because every child has different needs.

My experiences have given me insights into many aspects of life. Maternity provisions, child-friendly products and services, child-care and education, housing requirements for families, feminism… but this is all from my perspective, as a educated white woman with a comfortable home life and loving family. Other parents will have taken a very different view on life, based on their experiences.

And others base their world-view on experiences in other walks of life. I can’t speak with authority on what it is like to work as an academic or a researcher. I don’t know what it feels like to be so poor that you don’t know how to get through the week. As much as I can empathise with the struggles and support the rights of people of colour, I can’t walk in their shoes. Why should my life experiences be any more valuable just because I am a mother?

The insights gained as a mother shaped my opinions; they don’t make my opinions any more valid than those of the next person. And they certainly don’t make me more suited for political office  than a childless person.

 

Featured Image by Priscilla Westra/Unsplash

 

Salt and Caramel is a blog about the sweet and the bitter side of life. Freelance writer Lynn Schreiber shares tips on Social Media, blogging and parenting, reviews products and events, and highlights issues surrounding the rights of women and girls. (@JumpMag)

On Night Lights and Living Vicariously through my 3 Year Old, at Never Trust a Jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 07.09.17

As a parent, you learn new things every day. Some you learn through research and experience, while others you just sort of stumble across by pure chance. It was during one of these epiphanies that I realized something ridiculously obvious: childhood is just an endless stream of ‘phases’ stuck together in a haphazard manner.

Kids are perpetually going through ‘phases’ and if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. Telling yourself that it’s ‘just a phase’ is all well and good till you realize that even if this particular phase ends soon, another will inevitably take it’s place and the cycle will start all over again.
Read more On Night Lights and Living Vicariously through my 3 Year Old, at Never Trust a Jellyfish

BACK TO SCHOOL (FOR A HOMESCHOOLING FAILURE), by Bauhaus Wife

Cross-posted from: Bauhaus Wife
Originally published: 07.09.17
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I loved homeschooling.  I loved our wild days, and our shoeless kids, and the romps in the field and afternoons in the woods.  I do look back on that time wistfully.  And while I’m not envious exactly, I also feel a certain yearning when I see my friends who homeschool share their posts and the photos of their classrooms in the treetops and meadows and cozy living rooms.
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Homeschooling, for most kids, is, I think, optimal. Just as it’s my conviction that home birth is optimal.  Do I need to specify that I mean “optimal” within the context of “normal” circumstances?  Oh I do. Alright then.  That’s what I mean.


Read more BACK TO SCHOOL (FOR A HOMESCHOOLING FAILURE), by Bauhaus Wife

Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Louise Pennington
Originally published: 14.09.17

My eldest daughter’s first year of secondary school included a residential outdoor education trip. She had already been on one in primary school at a similar centre so I wasn’t going to bother attending the parent’s information meeting. Until she came home with not only a list of things required to take but skills needed to be allowed on the trip, including:

  • Being able to butter her own toast
  • Cut up dinner
  • Pour herself a drink without spilling
  • Getting dressed by herself
  • Brushing her own teeth.

As with all comprehensive schools in Scotland, integration for students with additional support needs was policy (although these children never get the actual level of support required due to systemic underfunding). The school also had a unit attached for students with autism who may find a full day too difficult. I assumed that my daughter had collected the wrong form and that the list was to double check children’s support needs in order to ensure the appropriate level of staffing to ensure that all children could attend. I went along to the information meeting assuming it would be a waste of my time (since I’d sat through a similar one the year before).

I was wrong.
Read more Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

Academia and Class Politics, by @RevoltingWoman

Cross-posted from: Opinionated Planet
Originally published: 07.08.17

I’ve not felt this working class in a long time. For working class, read inferior/not up to standard/not our sort – delete as applicable.
Applying for a funded PhD is a fairly painful process at the best of times. Even applying for one that you self-fund is a trial. But without your own secret stash of cash, it can be a valuable lesson in class politics.

Class politics. You know, the social class system that doesn’t exist anymore because the Tories got rid of it and made us all equal? Or maybe it was New Labour. I forget now. I was probably cleaning toilets or doing some woman’s ironing for a shilling or something working class like that at the time. Busy making myself equal.

Anyway, why should applying for a PhD have anything to do with class politics I hear you ask.

Mek a brew, duck, an ah’ll tell ya..
Read more Academia and Class Politics, by @RevoltingWoman

NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

Cross-posted from: We mixed our drinks
Originally published: 07.06.16
I was chatting to a friend on Twitter the other day about my post on the script we use when we do vulnerability online and we ended up talking about writing in general. I mentioned that these days, I worry that anything I publish will just be awful navelgazing. I joked then that actually, when I look at my navel it reminds me that there’s a story there. Even gazing at my own navel is a storytelling opportunity. See, I am a storyteller after all.
When I look at my navel, there’s a funny little line inside it and only I can really tell that it’s a little misshapen compared to how it used to be. It’s the only visible evidence of a laparoscopy I had done at the beginning of 2013; one of the three incisions the doctors made right before they removed one of my ovaries, the associated Fallopian tube and something else – something hidden.


Read more NAVELGAZING, by @boudledidge

The invisible children, @headinbook

Cross-posted from: Head in Book
Originally published: 30.05.17

Luckily, I’m past the stage of needing to use the Parent & Child parking spaces at the supermarket. I still play the game of “spot the invisible child”, though: eyes peeled for that strange phenomenon afflicting people who nab a convenient place presumably on the basis of owning a parent, or having once been a child.

There are ripe pickings for “spot the invisible child” in politics, too. On a more serious level which I’m not qualified to discuss, there are severely disadvantaged youngsters, whether through poverty, neglect or unmet special needs, whose plight too often goes unmentioned. On a level that affects me personally, though, along with millions and millions of others, are the children in the current hot topic of “childcare”.

To listen to politicians and most media coverage, you’d be justified in thinking that it’s an issue which applies only to tots. There are endless reams of thinkpieces on the harm or otherwise of paid care for babies and toddlers; endless (and fiendishly complex) policy wrangles around entitlement to free childcare (or is it early years education?) for the 3s-and-unders.


Read more The invisible children, @headinbook

Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 08.12.16

3 Year old: Mommy let’s go to the big bouncy place!

Me: Ok Lilly, we’ll go tomorrow. Do you want to go alone or with friends?

3: No friends!

Me: Ok, go alone then?

3:  Not alone mommy, I want to go with you!

Me: Awwww, that’s so sweet, I’d love to go with you. 
Read more Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 14.04.17

A quick post, in irritation. Today, I read in the Guardian that women should expect more of their partners, and less of themselves. Not terrible advice (though not really a revelation either). The article is a puff piece for a book I never plan to buy, written by new mother and bringer of epiphanies to the oblivious, Tiffany Dufu. In her book, so we are told, Dufu describes her revelatory experience navigating the return to work after her first child’s birth, and her growing realisation that her partner would have to do some of the work around the home, since they both had full time jobs. The experience that brought on this revelation sounds depressingly familiar. Back from a full day of work, while struggling with breastfeeding difficulties, Dufu heard her husband return home to the meal she had prepared, past the dry-cleaning she had picked up, only to dump his dirty plates in the sink for her to clean.


Read more Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 16.11.16

You know how kids pick up a new word and suddenly they’re using it all the time and it’s completely adorable? And you know how it’s adorable for maybe the first few hours and then it’s maybe not all that adorable?

Yes, that.

Lilly recently discovered the allure of the word ‘boring’ and for the last week or so, everything and anything has been enthusiastically described as ‘boring’.

What exactly has she been calling boring? Well here’s 10 things she insisted were ‘boring’ just today:

1) The moon

How exactly can the moon be boring? No idea. I suppose it does just sit there without hype or glamour or neon disco lights so it could appear boring to a toddler..

Super-moon
Though I’m sure Mother Nature would beg to differ (image courtesy ABCnews.com)


Read more 10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

Plus size and Pregnant by @NurseBlurg

Cross-posted from: I'm Sorry I'm Like This
Originally published: 20.08.16

bump1On Monday I’ll be 15 weeks pregnant. You have to count it in weeks because the constant terror that something might go wrong means you need weekly milestones.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my constant terror. Saving that for another blog post. I’m here to talk about clothes. I love clothes. I’ve not bought any in nearly 4 months now which if you know me at all you’ll know that I am clearly  very ill.

Plus size pregnancy options are, well, limited. I guess they think that pregnant people just want to wear nighties all the time, which we DO, OBVIOUSLY but also we have to go outside to our jobs. So where can we shop? WHERE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN WE SHOP?
Read more Plus size and Pregnant by @NurseBlurg

How do we talk about mother’s day? at Positive and Promise

Cross-posted from: Positive & Promise
Originally published: 10.05.14

The older I get, the more capacious the significance of Mother’s Day becomes.

Yet this has very little to do with biology. For one thing, I am not a mother myself. In the most simplistic, Hallmark card terms, I identify as “daughter” in each relationship that is traditionally relevant to the holiday. Daughter, granddaughter, and, soon, daughter-in-law.

I by no means want to diminish these relationships; each is dear to me, and I will talk about them in this post. But I find myself frustrated by the biologically essentialist emphasis upon blood lineage perpetuated by this holiday. Women create exquisitely intimate ties amongst themselves, ties transcending and circumventing bloodlines. Lineage is not exclusively chromosonal. Motherhood, while important for its conceptual origins in biological connectivity, carries an even richer meaning when we widen the breadth of its reach.
Read more How do we talk about mother’s day? at Positive and Promise

“That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Cross-posted from: Murder of Goths
Originally published: 05.01.17

My kids have reached that age. Now the infuriating conversations have started.

“Boys do this, girls don’t”

“That’s a girls toy”

“Girls don’t like that”

No matter that, up until this point, I’ve always encouraged both children to play with and like whatever they want. I’ve been very clear that there are no “boys toys” and “girls toys”. Myself, and the rest of the family, have done whatever we can to make clear to both children that girls and boys are more alike than different.

Unfortunately I’m not able to control the environment my children grow up in as they get that bit older.

Here’s the thing that gets me though, I hadn’t quite considered how strange small child logic can be, as evidenced by conversations with my 4 year old son.
Read more “That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 10.02.17

About 15 years ago, a message was sent home from my daughter’s primary school teacher. It wasn’t about chocolate slice. It was about her hair.

My then six-year-old’s head was covered in tight, thick ringlets. While many clucked and cooed about her “gorgeous” hair, they didn’t have to wash it, or try to get a brush through it.

It was an ordeal, one I approached with dread — she’d cry and flail about. And so it wasn’t washed or brushed as often as more patient parents might have done.

(I also had two other children and a baby who needed attention.) 
Read more Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

On individualist lifestylism and woman-blaming: musings on recent attacks at Liberation is Life

Cross-posted from: Liberation is Life
Originally published: 26.02.17
Many of you have seen one of the latest women writers to come under attack – the author of Why I won’t let any male babysit my children, Kasey Edwards.

Edwards takes a cold, hard look at the too-high likelihood that males with unsupervised access to children will sexually abuse them, compares it with the far lower prevalence of women committing child sexual assault, and concludes that the policy of her and her husband in only allowing women unsupervised access to their children was the most responsible choice they could make.

 

WHAT FEMINISM MEANS TO ME.

Cross-posted from: The All Women Show
Originally published: 14.08.14

Our feminist society is making a zine, the theme is ‘What feminism means to me’ and here is my contribution!

F = Freedom

The most important notion in feminism is a woman’s freedom. Freedom covers a whole lot of things, freedom over her own body, freedom of speech, and freedom in the public domain. Feminism works towards giving women freedom. So we can wear what we want, say what we want, walk where we want and be who ever we want, without anyone taking advantage of us, in any situation.
Read more WHAT FEMINISM MEANS TO ME.