Raising a Genderless Child and other interesting Canadian past times …..

I heard this being commented on 567 CapeTalk this morning, and I was really struggling to get my head around the concept.

The short of it is – if you do not want to read the entire article:

Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, the parents of five-year-old Jazz, two-year-old Kio, and three-month old Storm, want to rear and love each of their children not as a daughter or son, not as a girl or a boy, but just as a child.

The sex of the baby, Storm, has not been disclosed to anyone other than the midwives who delivered it, a close family friend, the father, and the two siblings, who have been told to keep it secret (which also raises ethical issues).

They refer to the baby as “Z,” not he or she. Even the grandparents don’t know Storm’s sex.

The parents seem to believe that children “can make choices to be whoever they want to be,” including regarding their gender, and they are giving them the opportunity to do this.

I have several “raised eyebrows” on so many aspects of these parents, but for the purposes of this post I will limit it.

I will just focus on the one – really briefly as I am still trying to get my head around it.

My one issue is  gender is not something you “choose.”  You are your gender ‘automatically’ by birth – you have X X or a X Y chromosome set, for all intents and purposes.

That is what you arrive with.  Yes I get that society has “male” and “female” roles and if we are one of the males then there are usually certain roles, we assume and as a female there are another set.  Society often dictates how we dress, how we behave and so on.

I have got that point – so tick.

For most of us, it is the cultural expression of male and female and for most people, gender parallels our biological sex.

There are of course exceptions.

I understand the stress and anguish that must come for a child who is say born a boy (because those are his genitals) and he is raised a boy, but does not feel that he fits with that gender.  He may realise that he is a “girl” inside a boy’s body, or maybe his sexuality does not align with “main stream” acceptance of his gender.

I can (or can’t) imagine the stress and anxiety that must place on a child in that situation.

I think we all hope – that as much as we would be accepting and encourage our children to be who ever and what ever they want to be as long as it makes them happy, we do not set out to make the journey more difficult for our children that it already is.

(The journey through childhood and adolescents is tricky enough, and really does not need more obstacles).

So gender + sexuality is also a tricky area – and we are often faced with societies ‘predetermined’ pressures and if you do not align yourself to what is ‘main stream’ life can be challenging.  Tick, got that.

But I am struggling to wrap my head around the potential damage it must do to a child to not be anchored by who they are in terms of their gender as a starting block.  Which in my map of the universe is the most basic sense of self, that we lean on and build on.

These parents are choosing to wipe/hide/not reveal that and then build on top of the invisible base and see what happens.

Why?  To prove society should not push its stereotypes on to a child and all children should develop their own maps of the world independently of society?

Tricky – even in Toronto, this might be tricky. (They do have a functioning society there, right? I dropped Geography at the end of standard 6, so I might be sketchy on what happens up there.)

I think – and I feel – that as people we need some basics down pat to be able to explore other levels of understanding of our true selves and then those around us.

When I read this, I thought of the “Art of War” quote which is probably not relevant here, but it popped in to my head …. and then I googled it to get the correct wording.

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

I must be honest I am not quite sure how to process this idea of parents willingly “keeping” a child’s gender a secret.  Then thinking that if society stopped asking then it would not be an issue, and the child could grow to be a happy well-rounded individual who believed all was well.

My reality is that the world we grow up in is the world we grow up in – and we need to be prepared for it.

Armed for it, and given the strength to get through it.

We learn this when we play in the sandbox with Ruth-I-outweigh-you-by-10kg-and-if-you-do-not-give-me-the-spade-I-will-take-it-from-you-and-beat-you-with-it and we continue to learn it through our interactions with other kids, adults, and the tar when we fall with our roller skates.

Life teaches us difficult and often painful lessons all the time.

I am not sure quite where to “box” this parenting notion ….. how is this making this child’s life easier as he/she goes forward into the world.

I am leaning towards the freaky-parents-who-home-school-co-sleep-organic-eating-wear-corduroy-listen-to-Creedance-Clear-Water-Revival-and-always-make-the-gifts-they-give-each-other-and-sometimes-they-marry-their-cousins-but-always-eat-lentils-no-matter-what-the-dish-is ….. but I am just shooting from the hip here.

I really need to give this some more thought and time to sink in and maybe I will view it differently … or maybe someone can point out a crucial point that I am missing as to why this is a super great idea (for the child), and these are not just weirdo parents!

Boy or girl? Storm, in red, gets a cuddle from his – or her – older brother
Jazz

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389593/Kathy-Witterick-David-Stocker-raising-genderless-baby.html#ixzz1NqO91cXS

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17 Irrefutable Parenting Truths ….

….. according to me ….. these are not universal truths ……..

<some are mine, some I borrowed/stole/lent without asking>

  1. When you find yogurt on your butt, learning it’s origin is not likely to make you feel any better.
  2. No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. (Thanks Bill Cosby)
  3. When your toddler farts, don’t look at her lovingly and say, “Do you need to poop?” Otherwise, you might be surprised when your attempt at discreet passing of gas is punctuated by the same words compassionately (and loudly) uttered by her.
  4. What works for one child in a family, will not work for the other(s). Nature and nurture theory can easily crumble as one child gorges on tomatoes, while the other cannot bear the sight of them (swap out the word tomato with just about anything i.e. discipline/Barbie Dolls/jungle gyms or what ever).
  5. The one thing about parents is  that no matter what stage your child is in, other parents who have older children always tell you the next stage is worse – always – and then smile at you in a be-littling fashion.
  6. Learn how to spell “diarrhea” so that you  can cancel play-dates via text without loading your dictionary app.  Texting “the runs” does not have the same impact.
  7. The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.
  8. We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.
  9. Even though it seems totally improbable that a toddler would poop at the precise moment you are reading to her about how to poop in the potty, it is not.   Refrain from reading such books whilst she’s in the bath.
  10. Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.  Remember that as you stand and offer advise to a mom who has a child throwing a tantrum in aisle four at Woolworths.
  11. Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.  (Oodles of wisdom there …..)
  12. People like your kids a lot less than you think – be aware of this when you visit friends and take your off- spring along.
  13. If you want a baby, have a new one.  Don’t baby the old one. (Chinese proverb, very clever, if you read it, sit with it, the read it again ….)
  14. The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.
  15. If it is really quiet in the house, do not put your feet up and think “thank gawd I get a break” – get off
    your arse and go and investigate what they are doing.  They are doing something, usually it involves
    a small flame and possibly the cat.
  16. Kids will forget something you told them 5 seconds ago, but will remember the “less than complementary comment” you made about your mother in law and repeat it back to her, word for painful word over dinner, with you sitting there and a mouthful of food.
  17. If a child screams “someone come wipe my bum!” get up, put the wine down, go and wipe their bum.  Bum duty is pretty grim.  Cleaning poo off walls, the toilet and the child when said child attempts to wipe his/her own bum is far more grim.

Mommy makes a racist friend …….

We walked up to the voting station – on voting day (because we are good citizens that way) – we thought we would make it a little family outing and throw in a bit of exercise to boot (as opposed to driving you see – yes, I realised I have worded this entire sentence badly, but any the who….)

<sure we were going  to head to Mike’s Kitchen afterwards and eat our weight in animal fat and sugar-laced drinks, but I felt the walk was a good way to start the day>

After the voting process – which I must confess was very efficient and organized, big thumbs up for IEC – we stopped at a little park and the kids could play around on municipality equipment.

It was a balmy sunny day and all seemed good with the world.

A few moments passed, and a mom came walking up with her daughter to play on the swing set.

My lack of social skills kept me at a distance – but she (the mom) clearly had a better developed personality, and asked Isabelle’s name and introduced her daughter to Isabelle, and was pretty chatty and smiley (which I am always a bit suspicious of.)

In my attempt to be one of the ‘cool kids’ I started chatting back to her.

Her daughter Kaitlyn/Caitlyn/Caitlin was 6 months older than Isabelle, but Isabelle had about 5kg on her (the daughter), so I knew if it turned into a skirmish about the swings, Isabelle would be able to take her without having to stop sucking her thumb.

I asked her whether her daughter was at playschool, and she said she was, and I asked where – as I am always on the scope for a good playschool or crèche. (I am UNABLE to make small talk, I talk for a reason ….. it is an annoying trait at cocktail parties, to which I am no longer invited…..)

Though I do realize that often ‘good’ and ‘creche’ is seldom if ever used in the same sentence, I was willing to ask anyway.

She told me the name of the one she had her daughter was at.

We chatted a bit about that as only mothers with children can – any other time and this subject would have made me shoot myself, but as I have a vested interest in this information I was riveted.

She then started indicating that when Kaitlyn/Caitlyn/Caitlin was ready for Grade R/Grade 1 school she was planning to send Kaitlyn/Caitlyn/Caitlin to a private school.

I decided at this point to interject with my wealth of experience in this regard.

I was all ready to show off, as I have researched this subject extensively.

I explained how I too was (am) a snob, and had my son at a private school before we moved into the area.

How I battled to align my head with the fact that there were no private schools around here and my only option (logistically) was to opt for a government school. (There are private schools but they are a bit of a drive
and trying to get to work in time would require me to leave rather early which is not viable as an every-day event in my world.)

When I stopped rolling around on the floor in agony over my decision to send him to a government school, I was able to find a really good – if not great – government school that suited my needs and I was really happy with the school.  The school was a few suburbs away.

I agreed that it might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ because we all look for different things in a school.

But I was really happy with the (government) school I had found, and my son had been there for three years and my daughter was due to go there next year.

I was explaining it was in a very conservative suburb, had a very active PTA, and parents were very good at contributing and supporting the school.

We were even more lucky that we were English in a predominantly Afrikaans school so got the benefit of small classes.  My son has less than 20 kids in his class (can I get a holler-holler!!!)

The school managing body was efficient and organized, and I generally was really happy with the situation.

Blah-blah-blah-blah ……gloat gloat.

I explained that I had adjusted my perception of government schools, because like all schools – government or private there are good ones and not so good ones.

So there I was making my little speech about the school and I finished off with a flourish, happy that I had conveyed my message so well and with hand movements and everything.

So new-mom-I-just-met-whose-name-I-never-asked goes: “What is the colour split?”

Me – caught slightly off guard: “Er …….. (penny drops)……it is about 10% non-white, I think, but I really have never really noticed.  It services suburbs that are historically white Afrikaans, but the suburbs are changing, and I would guess around 10% or less is about the non-white break.  I would prefer a bit more of a mix, as I would prefer my kids to have a more healthy mix of kids they interact with, I am hoping it will improve as the years go by and the suburbs change.”

Her: “No, I am just the opposite.”

Me – eyebrow raised, ever so slightly : ”Uh-huh….…”

Her: “Yes I want my child to be safe, so I definitely want a school with fewer non-whites ….it’s important that my child is safe.”

Me: “KIDS, KIDS, LET’S GO, DAD WANTS TO GO HOME NOW, CONNOR,GEORGIA, ISABELLE, LET’S MOVE ….. NOW, KIDS!!!”

I think there is something to be said for NOT SPEAKING to strangers in parks!

Dirty Little Secrets … still bleating on about that …

My previous post about Dirty Little Secrets that Mother’s Keep really hit a chord with me (it also set off a totally irrational argument between Kennith and I, but we can save that for another day).

I think my main motivation for starting a blog was because I felt embarrassment and shame that I was just not that into motherhood.  Everywhere I looked were happy glowing mothers who were so happy to be moms and felt so fulfilled, and so filled with joy.

Bless.

The problem was I felt spurts of joy, fulfillment and happiness but the reality, for the most part, I felt persecuted, drained, confused, empty and pretty angry much of the time.

And I felt alone.

Because it was only me who felt that way.

No one I had ever known had ever confided in me that they felt a bit “under whelmed” with motherhood.

Sure, people said it was “hard” and cramped your ability to ever go to the toilet alone, but not one person I knew ever breathed a word that made it sound like it was not super fabulous all the time.

But for me it was not that fabulous, all of the time.

There were some really stellar moments that made me sigh, but there were some pretty grim moment that made me cry.

And then I thought the unthinkable, ‘maybe this mom thing is a bit crap a bit of the time Maybe it’s sh*t does actually smell ……’

Then I was convinced I would burn in hell for even thinking that thought – which is tricky as I do not actually believe in hell.

One of the many problems I have is that I am a ‘blurter’ – it is not dissimilar from Tourette’s Syndrome.  Basically at the most inappropriate time I will blurt something out, usually too loudly and to the most inappropriate person (or persons) I can locate.

The more inappropriate the time, and the more offensive the blurt, the higher the chance of it coming out.

Picture the scene: Moms I don’t know.  Me at a kid’s birthday party with my son.  I feel awkward, I feel like I am visiting an alien planet and I am nervous that all the ‘real moms’ are going to sniff me out as an imposter.

They are all chatting about how happy they are because Junior has just started walking, and then I feel an overwhelming urge to say ‘Really, it was so much easier when they lay on their back like a jelly, because I found I could get so much done, when they stayed in the same place I left them.’

And then I would usually go on with the scene stealer: ‘Don’t you think birthday parties would be more fun for the moms if they served wine, because I am so over drinking tea …..’

A really innocent comment when compared with my usual ‘blurts’ but even I would feel the shift in the room’s temperature, and realise that I was on my way to leper status.

That was enough for me to realise that the best tactic for me to attempt to try to secure any future birthday invites and playdates was to tone it down, and appear normal with other moms.

And so began the play-acting in front of other moms, and also to a large part in front of most people I knew.

I think the real clinger came when I was watching an Oprah show – (Secret Lives of Moms & Truth About Motherhood in 2009).  On one program a new mom indicated that she was struggling, motherhood was hard, and she did not actually like it all of the time.

I think there might have been less fall-out if Oprah took a cr&p on her interviewers table.

People went nuts.

Harpo was inundated with moms slating the ‘honest mom’ and a subsequent show aired where dozens of moms explained how much they love motherhood, all the time, and that they had NEVER had one moment when they thought it was not the best thing in the frkn universe.

It was brutal.

I realised that clearly the world was not ready for me and my truth, so I sort of skipped that part, and did the ‘smile and wave’ segment of my journey.

Fast forward a few years and I realised you know, fk it, I can’t do this crap any more.

I love my kids, I really love being a mom, some of the time, but some of the time I hate it.  There are some great moments and there are some that only a large bottle of wine, and a few anti-depressant can get me through.

I started to feel better when I started saying some of the stuff that was running around in my head and I could not say out loud.

I have spent nearly two years emotionally puking on this blog.

The best part, and what continues to be the best part, is when weeping bleeding moms confide in me that something I have said resonates with them, or helps them to feel less guilty about something.

No, I do not get off on other people’s sadness (unless it is that Steve Hofmeyer has found a giant growth on his anus), but I really get happy when someone admits that something is not as it appears.

Not quite the ‘truth will set you free’ stuff, but admitting something is not all white wine and daffodils, can sometimes help the next person have the freedom to have their own little epiphany, or just save them a bit of time crying in the bathroom at 2am.

I really am not making my point very eloquently at the moment – so to cut to the chase.

I have created an alternate blog where some brave moms and soon-to-be-moms admit their own ‘dirty little secrets that mothers keep.’

http://dirtylittlesecretsmotherskeep.wordpress.com/

I know when you read some of the posts, part of you feels a profound sadness for these women, but for me I find it uplifting.

Because they have bravely stood up and said something, that maybe all of us are thinking – and by them having the courage to say it, makes it easier for the next mom, who does not have to feel so ‘guilty’ because she maybe does not love it all, all of the time.

And if it is easier for her, maybe she can be a bit more easy on herself, and easier on the next mom she encounters who is battling.

And maybe in that chain a mom forgives herself for not being perfect, and allows herself to just feel and think what is real for her.

Just maybe ….

Go the fuck to sleep ….

Finally a book that caters for the mother in me …. initially I thought this was one of those slightly clever photoshop things. 

Someone scanned in the original book in, edited the text a little, and then when it was really funny, saved the file and spammed it around a bit.

Lots of guffawing when you open the attachment, but we all know no one is actually going to say this out loud, let alone write it down, and find a publisher to publish it.

I mean really, where is the decency?

Being the sceptic that I am, I used the fine and not-undying art of google to look around and see where this came from.  True as nuts, there is the book and if you want the original you can pop along and purchase it at: http://gotheftosleep.com/

I have never heard of Adam Mansbach, but I can say that this book has peaked my interest in him and I might be looking a little closer at Adam from this point forward.

I see that Kalahari has this book available http://www.kalahari.net/books/Go-the-Fuck-to-Sleep/632/41300290.aspx June 2011, so I have added that on my wishlist, and pretty much anyone who is pregnant of having a babyshower in the next few months will be getting one of these books as a present.

Anyway, this file is doing the rounds, and in case you have not seen it here, are a few pages for you – how brilliant is this book?

The illustrations are so divine, and this is such a cool cool book for your mommy-and-baby collection ….

<for the record, five people saw this and sent it to me saying “when I saw this I immediately thought of you….”)

Dirty little secrets mothers keep …

Dirty little secrets mothers keep …

I had someone comment on my blog recently which took me to her blog, and it in turn led me to a section of her blog which was cleverly referred to as “Dirty Little Secrets” where moms/parents had posted stuff …

You know the stuff you think, but do not say in public for fear of being beaten up, or child services arrive at your door step, or for what ever else it is that you fear happening.

There are some corkers on this site.

I thought I would grab a few that stood out for me – then I realized that there were more than just a few that resonated with me …..I am starting to think my multiple personality disorder went along and posted some of these comments.

  • I resent my kids. I feel like I could have done so much better for myself.
  • No one told me how lonely motherhood is….
  • Occasionally I wonder what sort of injury it would take for me to have a stay in hospital as a kind of guilt free holiday.
  • On the outside I am a happily married wife and mother. On the inside I am lesbian plotting to leave my husband when the time is right after get his help paying for my school.
  • I used to love life and feel proud about myself…now I’m sad every day and feel like a failure…I look at my marriage and I think “Do I have to be in this relationship for my children’s sake?”. I love my sons but being a Mom is very tiring and I never feel that I did a good job, unlike when I used to work and felt accomplished and successful. Back in those days when I was single, all I wanted was a husband and a family to make me whole. If this is what I wanted how come I’m not happy…
  • I think I want another baby, only to distract me from the two kids I already have! Probably not the best reason to have a third child.
  • I tell my kids to go away more often than I tell them I love them.
  • I cry in the shower so no one else can hear or see me
  • I look forward to when my husband goes on deployments and work ups because I have one less person to take care of. It’s like he is my 3rd child and I am starting to resent him for it.
  • Sometimes I hide in my walk in closet just for a few minutes of quiet and no one can find me.
  • I feel guilty all the time.
  • I want to leave and take a break from my husband, but I have nowhere else to go. How pathetic is that?
  • I used to be nice too. I used to like sex.
  • If I had known what kind of father my husband would be, we would not have a child. We will not be having a second. Between doing 95% of the parenting by myself, and getting almost no sleep or time to myself, I physically and mentally cannot endure this again.
  • That I want to just sleep. Sleep for an entire day. To just do nothing. I feel like I haven’t slept in 20 months.
  • I keep a container full of M&Ms hidden for just me…that’s right-ALL FOR MYSELF! (It seems like that is the only thing I get to myself). 
  • I love my 2 children but, very often, when they wake up in the morning I’m thinking “When will bedtime come?”
  • I really hate that my husband has he own life and just go’s and can do what he wants and I have to always stay home with the kids or take them with me.
  • I fill up every wipe box in the house to the top and tell my husband we are out of wipes and I need to go buy another package just so I can take “quick” trip to the store by myself.

I think the reality is that there are a lot of sad moms out there who do a fabulous job of putting up a happy face.

I really feel it might be easier if we were all a bit more honest with each other, then maybe newer moms or soon to be moms, would not feel this overriding pressure to “live up to the expectation of motherhood” that we create. 

There is this perception that motherhood is easy, natural, instinctive and well just lovely, and for some, well, it isn’t.

Women really make it hard for women. <sigh>

Of budgies lost …..

I am collecting Connor and Georgia from school and I see one of those “LOST” posters and it appears to have a furry yellow chicken on it, which clearly peaks my interest.

So I drive close to the pole to see the sign and I see it is for a yellow budgie named Tweetie (or something similiar) who appears to be missing and his/her owners are quite keen to find him/her.

I sort of smile and move along, intrigued that people love a budgie enough to take a really good photograph of one – it was a good photo and actually quite a good “Lost” poster as posters go.

I fetch Georgia, and then go to Connor school to collect him.

Connor is in the car, he sees the sign, he asks: “Why is there a chicken on that sign?”

I go: “It’s a lost budgie – but yes, it looks like a yellow baby chicken, I also thought so earlier.”

Connor: “Do they have a cat?”

Me – thinking, how the hell must I know: “Er, I don’t actually know them, I just saw the sign earlier so I know it is for a budgie.”

Connor: “If they have a cat, I think they should ask him where the budgie is.”

 <have I told you how much my kids make me laugh>

The Life of Georgia ….. Part one

I really should stop the Reluctant Mom blog and create a new one called the “Life of Georgia Blog.”

I could fill reams of gumph about her and the strange things she does all day.  Kennith is working hard at convincing me that she is destined to be a “creative” and I need to give her some latitude.

My concern is that if she cannot get through Grade 1, I doubt even the creative industry is going to be keen on her unless we seriously get in touch with “normal!”

This week alone (besides the usual stuff that happens with her):

Event one:

Last night she was arguing loudly with the invisible police on the telephone – like heckling them – the phone in this case was the hand held shower head in a bath.  Judging by her tone and the change in her voice, I was convinced she was “hearing” the invisible police arguing back?

I mean seriously who argues with the police in the bath?

Event two:

Kennith asked her what she wants for her birthday, so she said make-up. 

Kennith said that make up is YUCH and she must think of something else.  She asked for a tattoo on her arse instead. 

SHE IS TURNING SIX!

Event three:

Monday I fetch her from school –she is playing and has only one boot on.  The other boot is in her bag.  It cannot be comfortable to walk around in one shoe, and a boot at that. 

Driving home I stop at a dam I had seen and wanted to see if we could take a quick look around and go back there on the weekend. 

We stop, we get out, Georgia starts running around the dam – one foot barefoot, one foot still in a boot! 

Surely a sane child would go, hhmmmm this feels a bit odd, let me take the other shoe off!  Surely!

Event four:

On Monday I fetch Georgia from school – I took Isabelle along for the drive, and as Isabelle’s safety chair was in Kennith’s car, I put Isabelle into Georgia safety chair, which is more of a booster seat. 

Seems easy enough.

 I get to the school to fetch Georgia.  She is excited that her sister is in the car, as she adores her sister.

I buckle Isabelle into the safety seat, and Georgia goes ape sh*t – but like totally totally ape.  Full scale tantrum of epic proportion.  It is as if I am ripping her leg off through her nostril!  It went on and on, and escalated rather than started to simmer down.

My level of patience for a tantrum is limited to about 32 seconds, on a good day, 8 seconds on most other days. 

So I leave the school, Isabelle in safety seat, Georgia buckled in a normal seat and Georgia is going totally “postal.” 

I pull over, slam on anchors, RIP Georgia out of the car, I hear Connor go “uh-oh!” 

What I wanted to do is throw her on the sidewalk and scream at her to “just walk the fek home!” what I did instead as tell her that she had two choices. 

1.  Get in the car now, stop screaming and do not even dare cry. 

2.  We reverse and I put her back at the school door step.  I will then phone her father who will have to leave work early to fetch her and she will get a hiding when he gets there. 

Pick one, option one or option two, but I am done with the screaming!  Done!    She opted for option one – clever girl!

Event five:

Georgia has a karate grading coming up.  She tells me it is going to be on Wednesday. 

I correct her and tell her it will be on the 21 May on a Saturday as the notice says. 

She tells me again it is going to be on Wednesday.

I explain that I have a letter and the grading is at the DoJo and will be at 21 May, which is a Saturday and around two weeks away.  We will all go, and we are very excited about being part of her grading.  On a Saturday.  One the 21st.  Not on Wednesday.

She tells me again that the grading is this Wednesday.

I sigh – quite deeply and with a certain measure of despondency.  I explain again that it is on the 21st which is a Saturday and it is about a week away.

Again she tells me that it is this Wednesday.

I talk through my teeth: “Georgia it is on the 21st which is a Saturday, really I have a letter, it is in about a week, it is not this Wednesday.”

She tells me it is this Wednesday.

I go off pop!

I am not sure she believes me about the 21st, but I do think she has learnt that mom really does not want to hear about “this Wednesday” again.

Event six:

Georgia makes up her own school work and homework.  She has zero interest in learning the A B C’s and all of that stuff. 

She however has an entire written language that she is rather proficient in.  Any the who.

She tells me that she has homework to do.  I say no worries; do it later after you have had dinner and a bath, okay?  She says okay.

For whatever reason she did not “do homework” – so she is crying in her bed and telling me to switch on the light – it is about 9pm – so she can do her imaginary homework!

I convinced her that if she woke up early for school tomorrow then she could sit at her desk and catch up on her homework then.  She was not happy about the suggestion, but it did stop the crying.

You do understand we are crying about imaginary homework!

Okay, so that is this week’s strange.  I have excluded the other reams of strange that go on pretty much all the time in our neck of the woods.

Someone suggested you are never given more than you can deal with, I am not so sure.

Running fast backwards ….

So “Running fast backwards” popped along and left this comment on my blog yesterday (have I told you how much I love comments, I do, I so do …. and I love them when they make me take a moment like this one did.)

Hi RM. I don’t blog; I am rather behind with all this new blogging, tweeting and you tubing stuff.
Any hoo..one day well sitting at my desk, bored out of my skull and completely unable to go on..I stumbled across blogs. It seems that I am addicted to reading other peoples blogs! Almost like my Big Brother addiction I had (when it first came out) how I adore to read and watch others’ lives, I find it fascinating. What I must comment on though is a common theme that I have noticed with all the bloggers that I have read and that is an underlying sadness. Why is it, that we are all so sad? I too am sad, but not in a lie down and cry my eyeballs out sad…just a sadness that I carry along with me that others seldom get to see. So I was wondering, why is it that you think we are all so sad?

Initially I thought “hey chump I am not sad” but then I thought, damn you are probably right.  I might be a tad on the “not happy side” and actually I follow blogs where there is a bit of sad, or huge snotty heaps of it in fact.

I wrote the post “Running fast backwards” commented on with huge tears running down my face.

I cried some more when I re-read it for spelling.  I cried some more when I posted it, and then I continued to cry for two more days.  I realised I had had one of those moments where you really take stock of who you are, and what the hell you are doing –  I have not cried yet today, but it is still early, so give it time. 

So yes “Running fast backwards” you are indeed correct.  A lot of bloggers are sad, but I think the issue is that (and this is purely my own conjecture on the issues) is that we blog because we are sad. 

We are not sad because we blog.

I have often seen bloggers who start blogging because they have or are going through an ordeal or something that is so huge that they need to put “pen to paper” and then when the “thing” is over, they no longer need to blog.  One example, that I have seen, is that a lot of women who are going through IF, seem to lose the urge to blog once they have had a baby or come to a point on the IF journey where they have decided that another journey awaits them. 

They just don’t need this outlet any more.

Blogging is much like journaling.  You journal so you can write down your thoughts, your inner fears and find a way to work through some of your “stuff.”  Often putting it on a page is liberating.  It is a way of facing your own fears – head on. And that is pretty much what we are most afraid of, our darkness and the sadness that lurks within.

I chose to blog versus journal, as I could not find the right ink for the right pen, and the journal with just the right texture of paper to get started. 

I got caught up in the details, amd I made excused why not to get started.

Eventually I figured I would blog – no pen and paper to procrastinate about.  I had a new born baby strapped to my left breast, I had one hand free, I had oodles of time to stare into a screen (as I was not sleeping anyway) I might as well blog.

I can’t see that a person who is so happy with life that they routinely break out into a skip and yodel while in full folk outfit needs much in the way of sitting down and pondering his/her life.  They often know who they are and are so truly happy/content that deep introspective is just not necessary for them. (bless their cotton tidy whities!)

My sense is if you are truly happy, truly happy, you feel a sense that you are a “full and complete human being.”

Unfortunately I don’t ever feel that happy – I aspire to be content.

I started blogging when I had just had my third child.   I started blogging because I had my third child.

I thought I was going to be the perfect mother.  I thought I had dealt with all my shit and it was going to be really wonderful to be at home holding my little pink fluff.  It was all going to be so happy and well, I was going to be so damn good at it too.  I wanted it all so badly and I felt ready at 37, that surely, surely now, I was ready to be a content grown-up person.

I was going to embrace motherhood – with a sense of happiness and confidence that I had never experienced before.

Instead I felt an overriding urge to stab my partner with a fork (in the jugular), fling my child against a wall so she would stop crying, and take as many combinations of ante-depressants and sleeping pills that I could lay my hands on.

It all felt a tad sad and a bit bleak.

Not quite the poster child for the latest Living and Loving Magazine I am afraid.

I started blogging because I had all this stuff that was sitting inside me, stuff that I thought was unique to only me.  I was so broken and so beyond repair that I was unfixable (or so I thought).

I had been in therapy for years, and I had tried various medications and their combinations, tried hypno-therapy, read a couple of self-help books, and spent too much time googling “depresson” and “running away from home.”

Blogging is  – for me – a way of just saying “this is me, this is my stuff, and I am hurting” – the moment I put it out there, and pushed “publish” on some of my subjects I felt a release that I cannot describe to you.

Just putting it out there, made it no longer run around in my head.  I no longer torment myself with some of the thoughts.  I can say things in my blog that I struggle to say out loud – to anyone.

With blogging I started to feel a little more real, a little more present in my own life story.

And then – and here is the wonderful part – when people started to comment on my posts I realized that as unique as I thought I was, I was not that unique. 

There are moms (and people who aren’t moms) like me. 

Who struggle, and who feel that all they see is the photoshopped smiley moms clutching their blue-eyed off-spring, when they are maybe not “those moms.”  Maybe they are the other moms, the moms who are afraid, who wonder why they chose to be moms, why every day is so fucking difficult, or why they are crying in the bathroom at 2am.

So “Running fast backwards” I must confess that you are right, there are a lot of sad blogs out there, and I too find many of them compelling.

Blogging has helped me in ways I can’t even describe.  It is not something I do anymore, it is something I am, and it is something I need. 

And, when I don’t need it anymore, I won’t do it.

Today I need blogging, and fucking hell, I am so glad I have this platform.  I am so glad I get to connect with other bloggers and readers who I allow glimpses into my soul, and who also allow me privilege of seeing bits of them.

Does that make sense?

Some times the dust lifts and you have a moment of clarity …

My birthday was on the 9 May.

It was the rather large thirty-nine, which fills me with all sorts of dread.

Partly because it is alarmingly close to forty, and I think mentally I am still a twelve-year-old girl under all the wrinkles, cellulite and blemishes.

With that in mind, I decided to “write myself a letter” – from me the thirty-nine year old to me the twenty-nine year old. 

You know the kind where you  impart all sorts of wisdom and nuggets of truth, and then you sit back and tell yourself how clever you were for doing that sort of letter, and then go pour yourself another glass of wine and fill your script for Valium, that sort of thing.

So that was the plan.

The problem with “my plan” is the last few weeks have been rather “mind expanding” for me. 

I do not mean in a drug-induced way, I mean in the way where you start to “see things” and you have so many “ah hah” moments that you can actually feel the pressure that your brain exerts on the inside of your skull as it expands and starts to change.

I have had several over the last few weeks, and some that have rocked me to my core.

At the moment, I am quite unsettled and feeling nervous and anxious.  All those not so good feeling things, as one feels when one is on the cusp of a change of epic proportion.  (I could also just be on the verge of having a full-scale nervous breakdown, the symptoms are rather similar.)

I am sure I am not going to magically change into a size 8 underwear model before your eyes, but I definitely feel a shift at my core.

Back to my letter to myself, ten years ago.

I started writing the letter, but could not get through it as I kept crying and that was in the opening paragraph. 

Not small attractive little tears that artistically roll down your cheek as the light catches and glints off them.  Rather large crocodile crying jags, where the snot makes bubbles as it comes out your nose and rests on your top lip.

Which is all the more alarming when you do it at work, and you sit in an open plan office area….but moving along

It is not that I look back on the last ten years of my life and that I am sad because it was all so worthless.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad for me that I was so damn sad for so much of it.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad because I was (and am to a large degree) such a little girl lost, desperate for affection and affirmation but for the most part unable to accept it when it was offered.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad that I nearly threw it all away because I was so sad and so cross for the wrong reasons.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think about all the energy I have wasted being angry at my “lot in life” and all the hours I chewed up wondering “why me” when it does not matter ‘why’ it just matters ‘what now.”

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think of all the wasted opportunities when I could have loved better, laughed more, and lived more instead of missing out on so much because I was too distracted to live in the moment.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I think that there are so many times where I wanted to walk away from everyone and everything, because it was all so damn hard. I am sad because it actually wasn’t and isn’t that hard.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I am sad, that I have been so very sad and so very angry for so much of it.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I see how good life has been to me, and I was so angry and such a hurt little girl, that I often could and did not see how much good there is and was around me.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I realize how selfish I have been.  On this exhaustive quest to find me, I have often risked those around me who are so dear to me and who have stood by me through my chaos and through my (epic) rants.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and see that I was so quick to judge and hold grudges for things that others were so quick to forgive me for, when I committed the same transgression.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I wonder how I got here in one piece.

I look back on my life in the last ten years and I realise that I need to, desperately need to, just exhale, release all the shitty shit that I drag around me – just open my hand and let it go.  It has done me no good clinging to all of this, and holding on to it so tightly.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I realise that there is a chance that the next ten years will be different.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more present.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more available.

I look forward on my life in the next ten years and I want to be more in touch with what is going on around me.

I can’t promise I am going to be nicer. I can’t promise I am going to be more patient. I can’t promise I will swear less. I definitely cannot promise I am going to drink less wine.

But I can promise that there is a shift within me at the moment. I am not sure anyone will see the difference when they look at me – but it is there if you look carefully.

So happy birthday me.  Thirty-nine is not as bad as you thought, and see, the world did not actually come to an end.

You are wiser, maybe a little bit saner, have so many fabulous friends who appear to love you, even though you can be a total twat on so many occasions. 

You have children you adore and even like – and an Egg who is good to you, and good for you on so many levels.  

You also have a credit card (granted it is a little low on the credit aspect) and some Aldo shoes you have been coveting out for some time.  So get up, take a shower, brush your teeth, and go and buy the damn shoes already.

Happy Birthday Reluctant Mom!

The baggage we pass to our children …….

I have had a few chats with girls who are moms lately.

The discussion has often centers around the fact that we, as moms, bring baggage into our relationship/dealings with our children.  That baggage was often handed to us from our own mothers/parents.

Before you start looking for the “UNLIKE” button on this post – I am not trying to “pass responsibility” on to our mothers or father and say ‘woe is me for my sad life‘ I am going to make a different point, so bear with me on this as I sort of stumble to the point.

A lot of the stuff that was passed to us from our parents is what shapes, moulds and sometimes hinders us in our own lives.   

It affects how we function as adults.  For many of us, the effect is felt in an acute manner – but for others among us, there is not much of an effect. 

But — I believe firmly that there is ALWAYS an effect (great or small) – this is often felt much later in life, when you least expect it and in the strangest ways. (the monsters that lurk in the box, in the closet shall we say)

The thing is that for me – now as a mother – I have my own set of baggage that I am now handing to my children. 

One f&k up at a time.

I think it is a bit unrealistic to think that I am the perfect parent.

Sometimes it is unrealistic to think that I am even a ‘good enough’ parent.

Sometimes I am just crap at it.  But with that in mind, I wake up each day and hope today I will be a bit better.  And maybe get a bit more right than wrong.

Recently a friend’s mother (who is around 65 years old) who I have not seen in several years, asked me about my kids.  We were chatting and then she asked in a conversational how-are-you-tone:  ”Are you a good mom?”

She said is with a smile and clearly does not read my blog (bless her).  I stood there and in my usual flippant manner said: ”Well no, not particularly.  I am okay, but I make a kak load of mistakes, but I get better at it.”

To which she smiled, and then I moved the conversation on as I realized that making that statement made her feel a bit awkward, and uncertain whether to invite me in for tea.

And this is my point that I am getting to in the least succinct manner possible – I think I have the benefit of being a parent in an age where parents are more “conscious” and more “aware” than parents our parent’s generation.

I am not suggesting we are the perfect parent because we are so super aware and conscious.

I am not suggesting that we are automatically better than our parents’ generation.

But I am suggesting that we might be better because we are more ready to accept that we do not get it right, and also admit that we might not be all that good all the time.

And (most of us) keep trying to get better, once we admit that we have got it wrong.

Our parent’s generation was definitely the generation that felt they were right all the time –and g&d forbid you question them  –  then or now. 

It is just not done. 

Most friends I know who have mother-daughter issues will not think of raising any issues with their own mother. 

These women would rather sit with the angst that burns holes in their stomachs every time they see their mothers, rather than breathe a word of dissatisfaction or raise an issue from their past.

They have indicated that the part that puts them off (besides mortal fear of being disowned) is that their mother will not be receptive in any way to listening to any discussion about how they might have failed as a parent.  The conversation just does not happen because they feel their mothers would not listen nor accept any discourse on the issue.

I feel that our generation of ”being parents” – and I might be speaking only for a small group that I know – readily admit when we f&k up royally. 

We speak about it on forums, we admit it on blogs, we admit it when we comment on blogs.

I don’t want to read blogs about the perfect mom who does arts and crafts and calls her children “my little ones” I want to read about the mom who struggles like me, argues with her husband and screams at the kids, and admits that she does not get it right – thems my kind of people!

I have told my kids several times that I am sorry when I make an error, or I have disciplined them in error, or maybe I was too quick to punish or punished too harshly. 

Sometimes I do not always realize when I do something wrong.  But I have Kennith who will happily point out my errors for me.

As much as I loathe him when he does that, he often makes me take stock of a situation.  Though I am often angry at him I do respect that he sees and comments on it, to allow me to also see what I am doing wrong.  We often chat about how we might have failed as parents in certain areas and maybe how we can try to get it better the next time.

I was packing up some books this morning, and I realized that I have 5 parenting type books on my night stand (and on the floor around my night stand). 

I don’t know sh*t from shinola when it comes to kids – I have three and I have been doing this for nearly 10 years and I still think I am pretty sucky at it.

But maybe it is just me – maybe it is just me who knows nothing about parenting, and possibly most other moms have got it right.  And with that is the fact that as a “novice” at parenting I make mistakes – almost daily, and those mistakes will then be passed to my kids for them to carry as baggage into their adult life.

And that my friend, is a tad on the scary side!

Some days I am going to get this parenting thing right, and some days I am going to get it spectacularly wrong.

I hope – that I remain as “aware” as I am now. 

Aware that every action as an opposite and equal reaction.

That everything I do now (good or bad) will have a ripple effect into my children’s lives, and into their future.  Some good, some not to good, some important, and some not relevant at all.

The problem is I do not know which ripple will be the ripple that sets off the tsunami, and that is the kicker.

Anyway, that was my little thought for the day.

I am sure it is not something that has only occurred to me.  But I can now add it to the list of things that wake me at night to lie awake staring at the ceiling, fretting, worrying and wondering if screaming at Connor/Georgia/Isabelle and withholding television privileges will turn them into the next  sociopath.

We just never know!

I’m for dogs … (as the saying goes)

I have always been dog people. I have always had a dog or dogs.

I used to show dogs, judge dogs and play around dog show rings –with a special interest in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. But then kids came along and spending time at a dog show became more challening than fun … I still nurse illusions that in a year or two I will be able to make my way back to dog shows and it will be a hobby that I keep up, with the family or without the family. 

I really do like dogs.

We had a dog Annabelle (yes I do realize my daughter is called Isabelle, it did lend itself to lots of confusion and often having to re-scream the name as we would get them mixed up) and she was born on the 1 January 2001. 

Annabelle was always a bit on the wild side and as much as she would drive me to distraction – because she really was like Robby Williams on TIK – just way too much energy, I was still fond of her.  She was however really difficult to train, and was really the dog that taught me humility.

I was always quick to judge someone if they did not have a well-trained well-mannered dog, because clearly they had no control over their dog (tsk tsk).

Then the universe conspired and gave me Annabelle – and I learnt humility, because she was virtually untrainable …. virtually.

Last year October, we were coming to the tail end of renovations on our home.  In the second last week one of the building guys left the gate open, and our dog bolted.  Annabelle had a bit of Forrest Gump in her and could run and run and …. you get the picture.

Annabelle did a runner.  But I was not too worried as she was micro-chipped and I figured sooner or later someone would take her to a vet/SPCA/animal welfare, bar code scan her and I would get a call and it would be that easy.

I drove around and looked for her.

I ran some ads, posted things on social media sites, sent emails around, phoned vets/organisations and got hold of a few people who know people who are involved with lost dogs – and I waited, as I figured sooner or later she would appear.

I got a call from a vet, to say they had a dog that matched my description. 

I was very excited, threw Connor in the car and headed to the vet.

Annabelle is a 10-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, spayed bitch with red and white markings, with a distinctive white blaze on her chest, across her snout and she has white feet.

I arrive and the vet shows me to a fawn Great Dane cross Labrador – the only thing they had in common is that they were of the species Canine and both were bitches (not the vet, who might have been, but I really did not hang around with her to find out).

I generally have a lot of respect for vets, I do.  But this one sort of made me go “Seriously, seriously?  I spoke to you on the phone and explained my dog in detail – great detail.  Did you think this was mine and then washed her and she stretched and grew a uterus since my call? I mean seriously!”

I might not be welcome at that vet again.

Clearly it was not Annabelle.  I took my lead and collar and went back to the car with Connor and felt very dejected.  Then I felt very worried, as this was the only response I had regarding all my advertising.

I started to get a sneaky suspicion that maybe Annabelle might not be coming home.

That was 6 months ago.

Connor still tells me every 2 – 3 weeks that he really misses Annabelle and he wonders where she is.  I say that I hope where ever she is she is warm, safe and has someone who cares for her, and has decided that they love her so much they are going to keep her …..well that is what I wish and like to tell myself repeatedly.

I still get very sad when I think of her, and I feel guilty that I had not done more to find her and more to protect her from getting out.

So we are dog-less in our house.

I have never been dog-less in my entire life.

I know I am not ready for a new dog. I am just not ready. I just do not feel ready.

My friend Ilze sent me an email from a breeder who has a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier bitch and I started looking at the pictures and then I felt a small twinge – that maybe I am ready for a dog. 

I am not sure yet if I am ready for this particular dog, and need to give that all some thought.

I am also not a fan of “getting a dog for a child” (hear me scrunch up my nose in disgust and really go tsk tsk) – a dog has to be for you, as kids will lose interest generaly after about 3 – 5 weeks if you are lucky.

However – no but, just a however – I like children to grow up with dogs and be respectful of them, and also not be afraid of them.  I think a dog in our house with our kids will lose it’s mind because there will always be someone to snuggle with and play with.  I also like children around dogs, and like children who are not afraid of dogs.

But I am not sure yet if I am ready for a dog.

<I am not an impulsuve decision maker when it comes to pets, it took me about 3 – 5 years to get my cat, so spontaneous decisions in this area are hardly my forte….>