Saturday, 28 December 2013

On enjoying life; "everything doesn't have to be perfect"

Sometimes I worry that this blog is starting to become a form of birth control. On and on I whinge and moan...oh god, we're so tired, the place is such a tip, the kids drive us crazy...blah, blah, blah.... I feel now is the moment to rectify this. For one thing, my sister will never feel like having kids unless I start to put more of a positive spin on it. I think my little ones could do with some cousins one day! Second of all, 'tis the season to be jolly and count one's blessings.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

On princesses...

I've been thinking recently about how much we need to imbue our children with our own principles. I'm not talking morals or ethics, I think most people want their children to be on the same moral compass as they are, whatever that might be. I'm talking politics really and feminism in particular.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Waste not, want not...

Once upon a time, I used to be a bit of a greenie. While I'm not sure whether I was an "eco-feminist" (believing that the Western scientific and capitalist framework marginalises women's connection with nature) I certainly felt concerned about the future of the planet in terms of global warming, waste strategies, energy policy and nuclear weapons. Sadly as a haggard mother of two, my eco warrior credentials have taken a poor second to my struggles to get through the day. Recently, a couple of people recommended I read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (2013). It has become a cult hit, a book about an American family's attempt to produce zero waste in a year. I read it in a weekend and was inspired, finally a writer who can knock me out of what she calls "eco-depression" and "action paralysis".

Friday, 4 October 2013

Housework - whose job is it anyway?

Housework by Pascal

The division of labour within the household is something that seems to vary astonishingly between modern families, not necessarily along the lines that you would expect. It amazes me that some women I talk to are still entirely responsible for the kids, the washing, the cleaning, the cooking, the appointments, the maintenance and all the other things which go along with running a family home. Occasionally this seems to be because their other half refuses to lift a finger, sometimes they assume he won't, or more often it is because he works such long hours it is physically impossible for him to do anything other than eat and sleep when he makes it home during the week.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Being a full-time mum whilst keeping those doors opening...

It has been a while since I last wrote a blog post. Normal life things have got in the way; adjusting to the endless pre-school drops offs and pick ups, sorting out the massive crack in both the living room wall and my mobile phone screen. The much-loved family cat dying. To cheer me up, I have got addicted to HBO box sets - Homeland and Girls. So there really has been little time to pontificate about life.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

What kind of feminist are you?

Recently I was looking at subscribing to a feminist website and the question came up: What kind of feminist are you? Um...I thought. Just using the word "feminist" in most circles outside gender studies departments is still a bit controversial, a bit combative, a bit OTT. When flicking through Grazia and Cosmo, you might come up with such insightful quizzes as "Are you a bitch?" and "Is he The One?" or maybe this inspired article, “Can you be a feminist and still love fashion?" What kind of feminist I am hasn't really been a question I asked myself.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Careers versus parenting: how do you define SUCCESS?

As a child you have a fantastical idea of success - it is being a superhero, going to the moon, becoming a singer, an actor, a footballer. Doing something really special that will make you rich and famous. Then in your teens, the realities of the world kick in. Someone tells you that you need to be really, really good at maths and physics to make it as an astronaut.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

On that controversial topic, SLEEP...

So it has been quite a while since I wrote a blog post. This has mainly been because my baby son has been waking every 1 to 2 hours in some kind of sleep torture scenario, rendering me on the verge of being able to function, let alone write. A phrase I have heard used to describe such an infant is "guantanamo baby"! He has had this sleep pattern for a year now (with occasional brief moments of hope) and our older daughter has always kept us from that amazing cure, the lie-in. So why did this suddenly mean things ground to a halt in the last few weeks?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Living in fear; the non-stop media whirlwind of violence against women and children

Every morning I turn on the radio and another family TV stalwart of the 60s, 70s or 80s is proclaimed a sexual predator, a rapist, a paedophile. The next item will relate to the recent kidnap or murder of a small child. The following item gives more details about the three women kidnapped a decade ago as teenagers, living imprisoned while surrounded by their unsuspecting neighbours.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Trying to be happy...

Sometimes no matter how lucky you are in life, you feel down. Or insecure. Or like you don't belong. It is a tough emotion that comes and goes, starting when you're just a little person getting to grips with the world. You might be able to cope with it better as you get older but you are never immune. It is what you want to protect your children from on their first day of school, whilst knowing that you can never completely shield them from the realities of life.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

On motherhood and class...

Apparently the British class system is on the wane, dying out as we all enjoy a more united and uniform society, barriers are broken down and snobbery is something last seen in the 70s as Margot patrols Tom and Barbara's fence with disdain in the The Good Life. According to the latest class calculator, the typical upper, middle and working class distinctions are no longer accurate representations of society and now 7 classes are required to describe our social groupings, based on things such as an interest in opera versus social media.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

20, 30, 40...when is it ever the "right time" to have a family?

Pregnancy test by Jon Large, available under Public Licence
As I was baking banana cake for the playschool Easter Fair this evening, I wondered what life would be like if we didn't have children. We would still be in the big smoke, no doubt. Well rested, well traveled. A stone lighter. I would be on the career ladder with more confidence and skills, putting in the extra hours guilt-free to try and nab a promotion. Probably planning a weekend with the girls. We would be going to more gigs, seeing more films, getting drunk. Question is, would I be happier?

Friday, 8 March 2013

How kids bring a whole new dimension to the tricky art of making friends...

Before life changed forever
Now everyone knows that the easiest way to meet people when you're new in town is through one or both of the following: kids and dogs. Rather like the English can always fall back on that conversational mainstay, the weather, the long-suffering child or pet owner always has something to talk about, something to share with that fellow carer of needy, temperamental beings.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Besotted with boys...

I remember finding an article some years ago while flicking through my mother's copy of "Good Housekeeping", (not sure that's a feminist read!) The article was called something like "The love affair which can never end in marriage..." and showed pictures of women with their young/teenage sons. "Ugh, wierd!" I thought and flicked on.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A Women's Liberation Movement Woman

Judith Viorst

My Dad gave me a book of poetry called "It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty" for my 30th birthday. I thought it was a rather depressing gift (I may have been feeling a little sensitive as it was only 10 days after the arrival of baby number 2!). The other day he told me to have another look and, considering the context is 1960s New York, a lot of it rings true. Here is a very apt poem from the collection.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5: The "So, d'you think you'll have another?" question

About a week after giving birth, you are lying on the sofa, an exhausted wreck. You are cradling the new little alien who has arrived to transform your life, to the extent that you barely recognise yourself in the mirror...and already, some visitor or other is asking whether you are planning on adding further to your family! This might be expected first time around, but, for me, it's been even more of a hot topic of conversation after the second.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Is it ever OK to be financially dependent on a man?

In my feminist mother's opinion, the answer is an emphatic "no", you should never give up your independence. For a woman to support a man for a period of time, however, maybe to pursue further training or something worthwhile, is uber feminist and kickass.

Hmmm, unfair maybe?

Yep, this poster speaks to me...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Reclaiming pink

I clearly remember as the young daughter of feminist parents not being allowed to wear the colour pink. It was check shirts and khaki shorts to the point that when I finally got a pair of pink trousers aged 4, they stick out in my memory as a wardrobe landmark. Now, I confess, I let my daughter wear pink without much complaint. The colour suits her, she is not obsessed with it (as I was!) and will often choose other colours but it is definitely a favourite. I still feel that there is a bit of a feminist taboo over pink though. If your female child is dressed head to toe in pink, you clearly don't believe in equality for women and probably want her to grow up a prissy madam who doesn't like getting wet. A boy dressed head to toe in pink must be the child of extremely liberal parents or from somewhere far away.

Feminism now and that elusive work/life balance

As the daughter of feminists, I'm interested in how we, the next generation of mothers, are choosing to bring up our children. Was "having it all" everything it was cracked to be? Is pink so evil? Will we pursue the same ideals and lifestyle choices or are we doing things differently?

Feminist mum reflections and dilemmas...!

1. Is it inevitable that maternity leave transforms you from a competent professional into an inept 50s housewife? Complete with scuzzy house and children who refuse to eat or sleep...or is that just me?

2. How much pink is too much pink? Does it matter??