what I write about
she has fallen and now she is awake
aka I fucking hate Christmas but can’t burn it from the face of the earth.
I am trying so hard to cultivate zen right now. I am stressed beyond reason, between extreme extrovert family planning Christmas (FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT OF CELEBRATING) and work (so. many. activities.) I have lost all equilibrium. I am so tired all the time, I am exhausted by the smallest of things. I yell way too much. I snark at Wolfman way too much. I whine way too much.
The worst thing though?
I spend way too much time just wishing Bunbun would leave me alone and be quiet and stop touching me and stop yelling and just let me do this thing and oh god you broke it and why can’t I just have five fucking minutes?
I hate that. And it makes me hate Christmas even more, that I’m devaluing this truly awesome stage in Bunbun’s life to try and do shit because ‘we always do it’. And when I say I hate it, I get ‘well, we’re all stressed’. So why the fuck are we doing it, if no-one enjoys it? Christ.
So I’m cultivating zen. Fatalism. Pondering the absurdity. Anything to get me through the next one and a half weeks. Anything to help me start relishing the time I spend with Bunbun, not resenting it.
I cannot decide.
Every argument seems predicated on either the “ha ha I’m better than you” model or the “women just want the baaayyyyybbbbeeeeeeeezzzzz” model. It makes finding information hard. It makes discussing it with friends VERY hard. I’m either treading on toes with the ‘no, I feel no desire to have another, but yes your baby is adorable, honestly!’ or ‘I’m sorry you want another but can’t*’ or ‘yes I know you’re an only child/one of seven, but this decision is about me’. The most understanding and rational and emotionally responsive conversation I’ve had about it is with a lesbian non-parent. Part of it is her stellar conversation skills, but part of it is that her baggage (pregnancy won’t just ‘happen’ for her, should she choose that path) sides nicely along with mine.
Exacerbating it is the fact that people have started prying into things. I’m getting asked by strangers when I’ll have her sibling (it’s MY CHILD as well, thanks). I discuss it ad nauseum with Wolfman because he has always wanted a lot of children. His first serious response to me about how many children he wanted was ‘6’ (well before our relationship began I might add). He modified it to 4 after a while. He’s adamant that ‘more than 0’ is his final answer but I fear curtailing his life like this. I fear resentment over this issue even as I remember the vomiting and the fear and the pain and wonder how the hell I could ever stand being more vulnerable. Combined with the plates and everything else I fear my own resentment too.
I don’t talk about that much – I have no terrible relationship with my siblings behind me to back that up. Just something akin to selfishness and ambivalence. Something I recognise as a lack in me rather than as an actual commentary on the nature of siblings** so that feeds into my indecision as well.
The fact that I never felt that urge that so many women talk about bothers me. I never felt it with Bunbun so why should it bother me that I don’t feel it now? But it does. Like this is a more monumental decision – and it is a decision. It’s not something I can simply throw into the universe to see what happens. Or even something I want to go by serendipity and emotional resonance. No matter how amazing a story is I feel this need for something more concrete and logical and it just doesn’t fucking exist. Prioritising the concrete over the emotional in this of all discussions feels like a mistake as well.
*For any number of reasons, none of which make a discussion about this less fraught with hurt.
**Not to mention reading the diagnostic criteria for Generalised Anxiety Disorder which slots perfectly alongside my little quirks and brain spasms – how much of my indecision and fear is because of that, rather than anything concrete.
So, the other day I was making black bean enchiladas and following Cherry’s example of having Bunbun ‘help’.
You should have seen it, such a lovely moment. The sun was setting so everything was a glorious orange. She busied herself putting beans in the pot at the table while I chopped onion, garlic and tomato. Occasionally she’d eat a piece of the tomato and I’d smile and think about all the different foods we enjoy and how wonderful it is to share this with her.
At which point I looked over and saw her taste one of the beans, then throw it in the pot. Then throw a few more handfuls, then chew a bean for a bit, then take it out of her mouth and put it in the pot…
It was still a lovely moment and the enchiladas were delicious.
I know it’s a rather overdone cliche but my life right now feels like a bunch of spinning plates about to shatter into nothingness.
The sleep plate is spinning wildly and slamming headlong into the parenting plate which then careens into the “when was the last time we had a conversation that wasn’t about poop and didn’t turn into an argument” plate which has completely broken the sex plate. The eating plate and time plate keep bumping each other as well which upsets all the tiny little plates on top of the eating plate so healthy is sliding off while cheap is wobbling but easy is steady. It’s bumping the money plate too which is also bumping the “when was the last time we had a conversation that wasn’t about poop and didn’t turn into an argument” plate and has slammed the house plate right off the table. The work plate is in the centre of all this getting bumped from all sides.
The “time spent not thinking about money, the house, food, sleep or our relationship” plate is nowhere to be found.
Now, I know that this is temporary and I know this is part of trying to find how things are going to work up here but I dreadfully miss the “time spent not thinking about money, the house, food, sleep or our relationship” plate. I miss the sleep plate being balanced. I miss a lot of things.
I also resent a lot of things. I resent the interference of well-meaning douches who have made it so Wolfman ha started aiming for Bunbun to be out of our bed full-time on his schedule, not hers. I resent that he’s trying to do that while trying to support the breastfeeding which just makes sleep MORE difficult for me than before. I resent the implications from friends and family that weaning will solve all our problems. I resent that we’re even talking about sex when I can’t get enough sleep, the house looks like a toddler did the decorating and I can’t even relax enough to fart properly because fuck we need to look at our budget and you have to stop eating out and all of our blinds are broken and did she have milk today and my rib is still clicking and when did she get up and I really need to write this thing and work is fucking riding me and does the radio have to be on right now and why the fuck do I have to wake you up in order to get a sleep in?
I resent that he seems to have the plates stacked neatly out of sight because I’m the one doing the balancing.
He must be balancing his own plates, right?
Some douchey goddamn neanderthal was in the same carriage as me, Wolfman and Bunbun today. We were heading to the Ekka and this guy was doing fuck knows what apart from harassing women on the train. We got on and all we could hear was his fucking monotonous whining bullshit with occasional “no seriously, stop talking to me” and “no, I’m not going to cry” from a woman near him. Eventually she got up and walked down to where we were standing – well, I was sitting because I had Bunbun strapped to me. She was shaking and pissed off and neanderthal raised his voice and went on and on about bitches.
I wanted to say something to her, I just couldn’t think of anything appropriate.
A few stops later she moves to another carriage and another woman gets on and sits near him. His monologue on bitches gets interrupted to start in on this new woman. Does she know how fucking stupid this other bitch was? All he did was say hello and she was totally going to try. In the beginning the new woman smiles and says how stupid some women are. He launches into another monologue, more and more explicit.
I try to catch her eye. She’s looking down now, picking at her fingers.
He launches into how he’ll wank tonight about her and how that’s better but hey, why isn’t her boyfriend here if he’s so awesome?
I try catch her eye again.
I am not going to put myself in the firing line. My adrenaline is already up and I’m shaking and I just fucking can’t, not with Bunbun nesting against my chest. Not even with Wolfman behind me.
We get off the train and get onto the connecting one. I launch into a diatribe on just how much it fucking sucks to be a woman in public. To be on public transport. I tell him about the time I pretended this was my stop but only got off and ran to a carriage a few down because the thought of even letting this guy know my real stop was terrifying. I didn’t explain that I only did that because it was a well populated stop and I knew that I could have lost him in the crowd.
He asked me why it took the first woman so long to move and why the second one hadn’t. I explained how there’s that initial need to be polite. Refusal to believe they’re actually saying what they’re saying and doing what they’re doing. Then there’s the risk assessment – are they going to be violent or merely vile. Are they going to threaten you or assault you? It’ll be one or the other.
All this with our baby daughter resting on my heaving chest.
I’m sorry I didn’t do anything. The risk assessment just wasn’t worth it. But I’m sick to my stomach nonetheless and I am sorry.
Now, for a slight change of pace, I’m going to talk work.
Well, ONE book.
A ‘realistic’ account of teen pregnancy. A book that seems to review quite well, if you take “made me think twice about possibly getting pregnant” and “good for teenagers to read to know about having a baby”.
Before I start though, I’ve got a shitload of privilege knocking around about this. I wasn’t a teen mother. I wasn’t even close for the most part. I would have had familial support. I’m white, I’m ‘normal’ and I don’t have obvious class-markers (easier with the flat nature of the Australian accent I think). So that’s informed a lot of my discomfort with this particular book.
It opens with a fight between mother and daughter. It includes a fair few monologues about how lovely it would be to have a baby. It includes a 20 year old impregnating a 15 year old who lied about her age. It includes a rich fantasy life. It includes a lot of “abortion or adoption” when she gets pregnant. It includes a terribly, obviously and grotesquely gratuitous ‘low class’ name for the baby. It includes no mention at all of breastfeeding. It includes endless scenes of crying babies, pooping babies, puking babies, upset babies, arsehole friends and douchebag men.
It also includes a scene where she tries to kill her baby who screams all the time.
In other words, nothing at all like my experience with teen mothers. The two I know best are absolutely and totally dedicated mothers. Both breastfed (or are breastfeeding). Both make informed choices. Their stories aren’t mine to tell but at the same time, they are the ones who were in my head while I was flicking through this book. On one side is this media fallacy (that I did actually believe for the longest time) that tries to minimise teen pregnancy by inducing a ridiculous level of fear supported by constant refrains of ‘ruined your life’ and ‘destroyed your future’. On the other are my friends, are people I know who had their children before they were 20, in various situations and relationships and levels of society and they aren’t ruined. They aren’t destroyed.
It seems a little like the drug media – you emphasise the negative to horrifying proportions then wonder why no-one believes you or listens to you. Because they couldn’t possibly have experiences that contradict the party line at all, could they…
Teen pregnancy isn’t evil. Teen mothers aren’t awful. Teen mothers are mothers. They’re women. They’re people. They’re friends. They’re sisters.
They aren’t deserving of books written that end with them attempting to murder their child because they miss their party-life.
That said, it’s got good reviews from teenagers and I’m not in the business of censorship. I am trying to find a counterpoint though. I really wish the new cover weren’t so fucking peppy looking since it was a goddamn dismal book to flick through at 1630 on a friday afternoon.
I have been without the internet for about 2 weeks now. It was far harder than I would have wished and I dislike admitting it.
I’m in my ‘home town’ now though and by God am I struggling with it. My new job is fine* and the house is alright** but there’s a sacrifice to this that I wish someone would just fucking understand without being told, without being taught.
I sacrificed friends and a budding little community of like-minded people in order to surround myself with relatives who call me daughter a ‘sook’ and a ‘whiner’ and deride her tears because she couldn’t possibly be truly upset/sad/mad. I’ve sacrificed total and complete acceptance of any breastfeeding goal for ‘ha, you’ll change your mind’ and ‘pfft what are you going to do when she’s five?’ and ‘god, if I walked in and you were feeding a five year old I’d walk back out and not let my kid over’. I sacrificed some of my breastfeeding relationship***.
I sacrificed distance, emotional and physical. Read more of this post
The idea that the judgement rained upon childfree women is not only the fault of mothers, but also has no ill effect on mothers themselves. Like it isn’t part of a wider social fuckup that not only assumes you want children (and that something is wrong if you don’t) but also that because you want children, there’s nothing at all you can complain about because “you chose this”. So there’s no recourse for fair or equitable treatment because you chose to have a baby. You chose that so you also chose the bad treatment. No backsies. If you didn’t want substandard care, social isolation, intellectual ostracism and society bent on telling you you’re wrong, you should be childfree. Then you can get judged for that too.
(Also, remember that there’s a chance that the mother you’re talking to was childfree at some point.)
Anything that assumes all women are the same is bad for women as a whole. Anything that makes women jump through hoops to prove that they’re worthy, that they’re okay, they’re not like those other women, isn’t okay. If your argument against women is based upon a pretty unlikely to the point of nearly mythical happenstance, you need to step back a little. If you’re judging someone based on one tiny interaction for one tiny fragment of time, you need to really examine what is happening.
And if you think for one moment heaping that judgement on a struggling parent is helping them, you have got to be fucking kidding me.
My anxiety is full blown and I feel desperately ill-prepared for work. My visit to family was disastrous in terms of mental equilibrium and I’m still struggling to find my feet. Only to get my roster and discover my first week back is a six day stint with two night shifts. Then a day off to prepare for a normal five day week. With two night shifts. There are other concerns, but that’s the main one.
THE WORLD IS COMING AT ME TOO FAST.
The closer I get to starting back at work, the more anxious I get and the angrier I get.
I’m angry at everyone from my father to friends to Wolfman’s coworkers because all of them presume that he will be bored with staying at home. Bored with our child. With the undercurrent that I wouldn’t be, couldn’t be, shouldn’t be. In spite of what he says, in spite of what we say. We just don’t know or understand. We couldn’t possibly be relying on intimate knowledge of ourselves – gender roles win every time dontchaknow? Because history has obviously shown one of us craves intellectual stimulation and work and it wasn’t Wolfman, in spite of what everyone keeps telling me
I’m angry at Wolfman for not taking this seriously enough. For not magically fixing my anxiety. For staying up drinking and gaming til 3am and leaving the freezer door open last night. For not waking when our daughter stirs so even if I weren’t feeding to sleep most of the time I’d still have to wake up, then wake him up. For not having done his wisdom teeth before now. For acting like certain chores and expectations I have are my own unique and crazy perversions.
I’m angry at myself for being so anxious. For applying for another job that’s probably going to be a better paid version than my current one even though I want to change paths but the lure of the familiar and more pay is just too much. For not being able to explain my anxiety in a way that makes Wolfman understand what I need him to do.
I’m angry at the world because I get paid shit in spite of my education because I am in a feminised field. For telling me over and over and over that I’m too demanding or too much of a perfectionist or a clean freak or a middle-class obnoxious ‘mommy’ who cares too much about appearances or mean simply because I have standards. Because it tells men that not doing a job, or doing a half-arsed job, or procrastinating until someone else does it, is all okay as long as it’s a woman’s job they’re fucking up. For telling me over and over that his decisions are all logical and normal and okay and personal but mine are suspect and probably because of all that shit I read and I don’t I know that it’s all my fault. And for telling me that I should just be grateful he does anything.
I’m angry at my douchebag brother-in-law for congratulating me on the weight BunBun has lost (hint: none, she just got taller and ‘you lost weight’ is not a universal compliment). I’m angry at Maman for explaining how I can’t expect higher social consciousness from someone ‘so smart’. For denigrating my degree. For doubting my devotion to BunBun.
I’m angry at the constant fucking questions about ‘still’ feeding and ‘still’ waking at night and when I’ll wean, when I’ll put her in her own room, when I’ll switch the carseat around, when I’ll give her cow milk, when I’ll do cry-it-out, when I’ll leave her overnight, when I’ll move back, when I’ll have another baby.
I’m angry a lot right now.