Reflection

It’s been over a year since my last post, and a lot has happened. So I thought it would be a good time to reflect.

Becoming a mum has been intense. I always knew there would be things I would be able to handle just fine because of my experience in childcare, and it’s definitely helped already knowing how to change a nappy, handle a baby, different techniques for sleep and calming. But there’s definitely a big difference between handling your own one baby and eight baby’s that belong to other people. Being able to have a break is a big advantage in daycare, half an hour to an hour of uninterrupted adult time, to eat without a little one whinging at you for attention, or trying to steal your food. Having other adults there to support you is also major. The best thing about daycare work was knowing that if you needed a break from a kid screaming, or they were being constantly difficult, you could put your hand up and get someone else to take over for a while. At home, no such luxury. And of course, the obvious one: sleep. After 8 months, I truly, truly appreciate the sleep that I was able to have after coming home from work in the old days. The blissful, uninterrupted peace and quiet of resting your head on your pillow and knowing that the only reason you might have to get up is if you need to pee. Oh, I miss that.

But, of course. There are so many beautiful things about having your own child. Watching them master new skills and develop their own personality. I love the way my little girl pulls faces and reaches out for me when she’s hurt or upset, or just wants a cuddle. She’s at such a great age now: really curious about the world around her, and getting better at moving herself around. She’s still little enough that sometimes at night I’ll feed her and she’ll snuggle into me and fall asleep. And knowing that I’m her whole world, it’s such a joy, and such a responsibility. I want to be my best for her. But some days I feel like I let that down a lot. I try not to blame myself or beat myself up about it, it’s usually those days where she’s woken up every couple of hours overnight and I’m just feeling like a total zombie. Only the essential’s get done on those days, and that’s okay.

We’ve also moved house. We’re home owners now, and that’s pretty massive. We never would have been able to if I hadn’t inherited from my dad. Something I never expected to happen. It’s an amazing weight off our shoulders. We’ve got a mortgage, but it’s cheaper than renting was. We have a house we can change however we want, and a place for our daughter and any future babies to grow up in. We’ve got a couple of kittens, now that we don’t need to worry about getting the landlords permission, or whether they’ll be an issue with a new landlord if we needed to move.

It feels like so many things have just fallen into place for us over the past year. It’s strange to remember how shattered and broken I felt before I found out I was pregnant. I’d managed to find a really dark place in my psyche, but thankfully I emerged, and surely will only be stronger and wiser in the future because of it. There will always be problems, and I’ve discovered new obstacles in life as a parent. But I’ve also found many new perspectives and avenues of support (both old and new). I trust myself and my body more now, having come through pregnancy and childbirth. And I am reminded each day what a loving and supportive partner I have, he’s an amazing dad and husband, I’m so lucky to have him in my life.

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Big news

Nothing like a personal post to offset a few about ideals and ideas.

It has been a massive couple of months.

My first big news (and it’s amazing to feel like I can shout it to the world here, even though it’s anonymous), is that I’m pregnant. Yay! It’s been so exciting and scary. We did the test at the start of February because I was a couple of days late and I figured I always get “that time of the month” the day after a test. So my husband brought a box home and it came up positive. We were in a major state of shock. Especially since, according to my GP, my day 21 progesterone test was apparently too low for me to have ovulated. But of course, after all our fears and the slow degrading of any belief that we could do it naturally, we actually managed it. We’ve had two ultrasounds to try and date the pregnancy, both have come back fine and normal, and I’m due around the end of October.

In another big development, I found out on the day of my first ultrasound, that my dad had passed away from a heart attack. It’s strange for me. I’ve never really known my dad, he was a paranoid schizophrenic and because of that my mum left him when I was a baby. So there isn’t the emotional loss of someone you are close to. But it’s still a strange feeling for me, I suppose just that he’s not there anymore. There’s no chance left to get to know him. He’s not “out there” anymore. And, given his condition, I may never have had the chance to get to know him. But it’s strange to know for sure now.

So, that’s all I really want to say at the moment, I’m very excited for the future. I’m looking forward to our family (and my belly) growing and finally being able to include this child we’ve been waiting so long for.

 

Feminism and Violence against Women

I’m getting very angry with people.

Particularly when these two topics come up together and everything gets twisted.

If you are angry about violence against women (and I certainly am) does that make you a feminist? Is violence against women only a feminist issue? No, violence against women is an issue that anyone can talk about and be disgusted by. It is not the sole province of feminists.

Now, I don’t have any particular problems with feminism. There are some bad examples, and people who say stupid things in the name of feminism, but that happens in every group and I don’t think it needs to reflect badly on the movement itself.

I do have a problem with talking about something really serious like violence against women, and having people ignore the issue in favor of their anti-feminist agenda.

Because anything to do with women in the media must have an evil feminist agenda.

It must be the feminists way of reminding everyone that men are evil and must be treated like dogs or worse….

Accepting that violence against women is most often committed by other men, to me, is a no-brainer.

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is clear on this: in 2012, 87% of domestic violence victims were women. Where women are the perpetrators, the violence is different: studies have repeatedly shown that it’s not as prolonged, and that men are far less likely to be living in fear. They’re also far less likely to be murdered: men kill women in four out of five intimate partner homicides. In the vast majority of cases where women kill their partners, the death follows a history of being subjected to domestic violence.

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/march/1425128400/jess-hill/home-truths

 

And that’s just domestic violence. Even if you add in the acts of random violence committed towards men, I very much doubt that you would find female violence outweighing male violence.

That’s not an attack on men. Those are facts. Very sad and frightening facts.

If we are going to do something about the unnecessary violence going on in people’s homes and on the streets, we need to work together to solve it. Men and women need to stand together and say ‘NO, we don’t accept this kind of behavior”. That is the one, and only message that people should be concentrating on right now.

We shouldn’t be hearing the police warn “particularly females” about the dangers of walking their streets in broad daylight. If I go for a walk nude it doesn’t make me responsible for someone else violating my right to safety. It is my right to be safe on the streets. It is not another person’s right to attack me for ANY reason.

And I don’t need to hear how one violent attack is just another platform for “feminist fear mongering” or that somehow means that all women are suddenly in danger. The recent attack was horrific, and it was random. That doesn’t mean that every man on the street is out to get you because your a woman. What it does say, is that the woman who died could have been any woman in that park that day. The attack wasn’t targeted, meaning that any woman, and possibly any man would have been enough. And that is not okay. We should be telling ourselves and each other, that whoever the victim, the actions of that man are not okay. That until we address the type of society we’re living in, where the message is that women shouldn’t be alone in public, that’s not going to change.

People who perpetrate violent crimes need to know that we don’t accept it. That they will be held responsible for them. That as a society we see them and we blame them for their actions. Not their victims.

I don’t need to be a feminist to have the common sense to see that violence against women is a problem we need to address differently. But I applaud feminists with the guts to address it themselves and publicly.

Staying Positive

I suppose my last few entries have been a bit depressing. I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m bereft of hope. I think that mostly I’m in a processing stage of this journey, and I don’t want to shy away from the hard parts just because they are hard. I also consider myself a realist and to tell myself or anyone else that this is easy or won’t cause any pain would be a lie. These emotions are part of me, and I wouldn’t be the same person I am if I couldn’t acknowledge and then try to deal with them.

But it’s still good to balance that with more positive thoughts and feelings.

At the moment I am feeling more hopeful, and probably more hopeful than is technically wise for me as well. You see, I’ve fallen into the trap of having a “feeling” about this month.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I had weird tummy pains. It reminded me of the cramping I get with my period, although less severe and mostly focused in my abdomen (I tend to get back pain as well). Not being too sure about why I would get this feeling, and not being able to relate it to other stomach pains like indigestion or gas I did consult some fellow TTC*ers on a forum I’m involved with. A haven through all this if anyone is in a similar situation, I highly recommend finding a forum you feel comfortable with and sharing there. I asked them what ovulation pains felt like to them, as I thought to suspect that could be the cause. While no-one can say for sure, it sounded like that could have been what was happening. Just in case, my husband and I made the effort and I silently prayed for a miracle.

Since then I haven’t felt any particular symptoms or reasons to feel hopeful. I haven’t tested yet, and will probably wait a while longer before I succumb to the invariable madness of peeing on a stick. Nevertheless, a small kernel of hope has been growing inside me for the past fortnight and it has helped me to remember my positivity. It has also reminded me that even in this, the capacity for hope is hard to extinguish.

My weight has been trending down nicely, and even if this isn’t the month for us. Even if we still need to go through IVF just to get pregnant. At least I can see that I am capable. I can get there. I will do whatever it takes to get us to where we need to be.

I will still be sad and disappointed if I’m not pregnant. That’s always the dream that I want to become reality. That hope, however, hasn’t been nurtured for nothing. It has renewed my determination should this not work out, and given me pleasant thoughts to send me to sleep at night. For both, I am grateful.

*TTC = trying to conceive

It’s not the shirt, it’s the assumption

Well, I’m actually going to do something kind of current for a change. I’ve been reading some comments about this shirt, and whether it’s racist or not, and thought I might share my two-bobs.

When I first saw it I suppose I started with the most obvious. For the question of racist or not – not really. The shirt in and of itself could be worn by any race and be directed at any race. However, I believe the assumption behind the shirt is very racist. It’s directed at a very specific part of the population – the ‘unAustralian’ haters.

I’d like to add at this point that I hate John Howard’s whole ‘unAustralian’ thing. It’s diabolical in the way it pits people against each other. It makes such huge assumptions about what it means to be Australian – most will picture things like a BBQ, beer, maybe church, probably sport and the beach, and, you guessed it – white people. It’s a pervasive myth, the blonde, athletic, tanned, young, white Aussie, going about his carefree day. But the fact is, it’s just not true. At least half the population are either 1st generation Aussies or weren’t even born here. Let that sink in for a second. HALF.

We’re a culture of many religions, many languages, many cultures and many colours. This type of t-shirt is predominantly aimed at white Australians with some version of – ‘nerr they made that place halal the whole countries going to shit, their taking over’ blah blah blah. These people, tend, ironically, to be the ones who take Australia and what it offers them for granted the most. They complain about a shop that sells halal meat, but neglect to take similar advice and simply go somewhere that doesn’t. In terms of business’ it’s simple, if they don’t get enough people buying halal meat it won’t be profitable to sell it and they’ll stop. For it to be becoming more common doesn’t show that ‘they’re taking over’ it shows that selling that type of meat is more profitable for the business than not selling it. But people complain and whinge and act like the way the meat is killed/prepared is so important, even though they don’t even know how it’s killed/prepared when it doesn’t say halal.

Or arguments over ‘losing Christmas and Easter’ will pop up. Because of course it’s impossible for people to individually celebrate Christmas here if they choose to, what with a public holiday, freedom of speech, and private areas where you can do pretty much whatever you want. Never-mind that the many other religions in our country don’t get any public holidays or specific spaces within which to celebrate their beliefs. We ‘Australians’ must be so hard done by, we’ve just got no Judeo-Christian moments left… As well, of course, as this also implying that white Australians all have Judeo-Christian faith, discounting the many atheists in our communities.

Because of this the shirt has an implied direction, and it assumes that it’s targets are immigrants or refugees, people who ‘have a choice’ about whether to live here, and should ‘go back home’ if they don’t like it. This therefore creates a strong ‘us’ ‘them’ mentality among those who choose to adopt this type of slogan. We assume that to be good enough to live in this country you need to be ‘one of us’ and as I’ve discussed, the ‘us’ that they’re referring to, is white Australian-ism. Which on it’s own fails to recognize the way that we took over this land from the Aborigines and forced them to adopt Anglo-Saxon beliefs and behaviours. But we can disregard that information because we are already in ‘us’ ‘them’ mode, and therefore anything that is not white Australian is foreign and not to be trusted or empathized with.

This is the real problem with the shirt. It allows for a series of assumptions in the minds of many people already partial to racism, and encourages it to bubble to the surface, instead of engendering a country of people with tolerance and compassion for others.

Personally, I would feel more comfortable leaving this country I know and love than being the kind of dick that thinks a shirt like this is okay.

You’d be so beautiful if…

 

If I had a dollar for every time someone made a negative comment about the way I look I think I would be rich by now.

I’m sure that’s pretty standard for most women out there, and probably a lot of men as well.

 

“You’d be so pretty if you just lost a little weight” complete strangers would say with that look of innocence like they haven’t just told you you’re worthless the way you are. If only your body conformed to the average idea of beauty.

And unfortunately, well-trained avoid-er of conflict that I am, I don’t disagree. Sometimes even internally I don’t disagree. There’s a sickening sense of ‘routine’ to these occurrences. A feeling that these sorts of put-downs and judgements are just to be expected.

 

But what I want to talk about here, is an even more worrying trend that I’ve been noticing in my life, and maybe there are others who will recognize this in their own lives.

I’ll start with a few quotes:

 

  1. We just need something to smooth out those lumps
  2. You should probably start wearing make-up (to job interviews)
  3. Me “I got my dress adjusted” Response “Did you eat too much cake?”

 

I could probably go on, but I think these will illustrate my point well enough.

Of those comments, the first and third, were said to me by my mother; the second by my husband.

The first was while looking for a top for me to wear to a job interview (I’ve been to a lot lately, so it is a theme). The second was after I had got some make-up (which I never otherwise wear) for my wedding, and had gone through the first test. And the third was in reference to my wedding dress, after several months of ‘don’t eat too much cake or you won’t fit your dress’ comments. I’m not even a fan of cake…

Now it would be so easy to start defending these comments. That they were meant well, or that it’s about facing the ‘reality’ of the world that we live in. I know particularly for my husband that he was concerning himself with the way that people perceive not wearing make-up rather than trying to say that he thought I needed it. But how often do we do this, how often do we push aside what those who should be on our side have said to us with these sorts of excuses. I know I often tell myself, well I am overweight, so maybe they have a point. Even though it hurts.

Unlike, necessarily, the comments of a random stranger they hurt deeply. And, especially in the case of my mum, they’re persistent. I’ve been hearing comments about my weight and my looks from my mum my entire life. I don’t remember her ever telling me that I am beautiful. I can survive the pain of any stranger while I’m still dealing with the pain of that.

The major problem, is that it’s much harder to talk about these kinds of criticism. I know that I have seen many examples of people going on Facebook or sharing stories among friends of strangers that have said horrible things to them, regarding weight, or looks. And it’s easy to share these and shame the cruelty of the perpetrators. But it’s not that easy when it’s people close to you. I think about telling anyone that my mum said those things to me and I shudder, because it makes her sound horrible. And I don’t want people to think my mum’s horrible. She’s still my mum. Or what if I told someone about what my husband said, and they asked, ‘why are you with such a jerk?’ and I go, he’s not a jerk, he made a mistake, everyone does. But if we can’t talk about these types of occurrences, then we can’t address them. We can’t receive support; and soon the comments become part of our internalized self talk.

 

I guess, in writing this, and sharing some of my experiences, I hope that if anyone ever sees it maybe it can start a dialogue. A dialogue about the beauty criticism that feeds into our everyday lives and the hidden harm of receiving these regular messages from those who are supposed to be our close friends, family, lovers and supporters. Because before long we hear these criticisms and begin to think… well if my mum/husband/brother/best friend etc. thinks that I’m not good enough the way I am, I’m probably not.

 

Sending love to all those who have ever felt this way. You are beautiful just as you are.

Romance

 

Being Valentine’s Day today, and with my new husband in a different state seeing family, my mind has wandered to romance.

My husband has long claimed to be non-romantic. I’m not sure if this is a “man thing” with the assumption being that romantic gestures are too touchy-feeling for ‘proper’ men to bother with. Or if he isn’t actually sure what romantic things are, and so doesn’t recognise for himself when he does them. And, a third possibility of course, is to lower my expectations so he doesn’t have to do anything grand.

Now, to give you some idea of where I’m coming from; here are some of the things that I think of when the word romance comes to mind:

Exhibit A: The man doesn’t cook, which is fine with me, he does the dishes and I’m happy. But, when I’m sick, or having a painful ‘time of the month’ he will often go out and get me dinner, or even, on occasion cook it himself so that I don’t have to.

Exhibit B: He always holds my hand when we are out. We have been together nearly 8 years now.

Exhibit C: Just before we recently got married, we had to change our ceremony from outdoors to indoors because the weather was just too hot. And he’s looked concerned and asked me if I was sure that was okay, to which I was like yeah it will be fine, we will still have a great day. And he said to me, that he thought he was more worried about things going well than I was, and when I asked why, he told me it was because he wanted it to be a perfect day for me.

 

And I dunno if that’s what most people would consider romance or not. But to me, these things matter more than any flowers, or fancy jewelery (though he does like to get me nice jewelery).

I know a lot of people, including those that know me, seem a bit weird that we just got married, and instead of going away together, my husband has gone for a trip without me. I won’t lie, it’s not easy being apart from him. But that would have been true whether we were married or not, and has been true in the past when he’s gone to see his family interstate. But we have practicalities to look after, our dog is an important one, and I don’t think she would go well in a kennel. I rather think that it speaks to their lack of trust though. Like the second we’re apart our love for each other is somehow going to disappear. It seems a bit ridiculous to me. Because I know, from the things that he does for me, those every day considerations; that he loves me, and I think that’s the most romantic thing you can have in a relationship.