what I write about
she has fallen and now she is awake
I am very very sick of getting concern trolled about my identity.
Don’t I know I need interests/hobbies/purchases outside my maternal identity??
Here’s the deal. I spend an inordinate amount of time outside the home for work. Even though my workplace is reasonably child friendly and certainly welcomes parents, I spend 40 hours or more of my week travelling to work, working, or doing something other than spending time with my child. Do not presume to tell me that child-centred updates on facebook (!!) prove that I am one of those parents.
Beyond the socially structured nature of facebook (i.e. you are not the centre of everyone’s universe but they are the centre of theirs and what they do on facebook is informed by who they see as their ‘audience’). Beyond the artificially constructed ‘mothers who drink wine are SO NAUGHTY and FUN and NOT LIKE THE OTHERS. Beyond the tag ‘mother’ denoting it less. Beyond the ridiculous level of expectation behind all of these things.
Beyond all of that, how the fuck would you know? If you are so busy bemoaning the lack of substantial updates (seeming to mean “sauced with my friends” updates) (since we’re all boozehounds here) and snarking about those mothers, how the hell would you even know the state of my identity. Have I talked to you about it? Am I worried about it? Have I expressed a need to change my life? No? Then let me identify myself however I wish. Motherhood changed my life completely and I am not going to apologise for that, or pretend differently, because you want the old me back.
My facebook is full of baby pictures, this whole blog is full of mothering. It’s totally okay to ignore the changing style and skill of my photography, the feminism and politics and philosophies of motherhood inherent in what I write. And please assume you are the centre of the universe and know everything there is to know about me. I’m totally one of those parents and therefore inconsequential. Please privilege other socially constructed ‘identities’ over motherhood because you couldn’t possibly find another way to judge women. Please tell me I need to spend more time, more money, more energy, fulfilling an external goal of ‘identity’ before you will accept my viewpoint.
Distilling ‘identity’ into a series of purchases, fashion choices, hobbies and leisure activities is demeaning to everyone. Be as rockabilly-goth-metalhead-femme-cheerleader-geek-gamer-fitfreak as you want to be. Own it. Live it. Don’t pretend you need to have a brand to have an identity. And don’t pretend any of them are more or less meaningful than parent. Identity is what you make it, and mine includes a shit ton of mothering, something I am not going to apologise for.
Y’know, those CURLS and that COLOUR and the FEEL and blahblahblah. I mean, it’s cute as fuck, but I get so icked when people start on about it.
Add in Bunbun’s love of water, love of physical activity, tendency to sweat profusely, aversion to hairwashing and total screaming condemnation of hair drying, and you’ve got some fearsome hair styles. Which we don’t care about. But you also get some fearsome stank, which we do. We cosleep* so hair funk is an uncool way to wake up.
I first cut her hair to get rid of the baby mullet when she was about 8 months old. Just a few snips in the bath – I save the hair though. Second haircut was post-flu because weeks of her hair getting stuck in eye goop, snot or spit was just too tragic. I saved some of that hair too.
Now I’m thinking of cutting it again – not a bob, not a trim, not a fringe. A real short hair cut. Pixie even. And damned if I can’t find a single blood photo, or story, or HINT that anyone else has done this. Not ‘repaired after a self-done job’ and not ‘making do with toddler fine hair’ or anything like that. And certainly not ‘dad-hair’ (fuck that gender essentialist bullshit).
Someone else, somewhere, must have deliberately and wilfully cut their daughter’s hair shorter than their chin. I’m talking Audrey/Amelie pixie here. Proper short. Dry in minutes, wash in seconds, short short short. But still not a crewcut or clipper job.
I don’t have an emotional attachment to her hair. I’ve never wept over it, for all I have kept the snippets (and lovely little things they are, perfect for doting grandparent presents). I don’t identify with it, or long for it, or dislike it. I do emotionally react to the way people perceive her hair and my relationship with it – I mightily dislike the assumption that Wolfman is behind the haircuts, that I must ADORE her hair and that I must want it to be longer.
Yet I haven’t cut it yet. I fear that my reaction to others is behind my desire to cut her hair. That I’m making feminine an uncomfortable place to be. Which is very much not my intention but I still fear it. Mostly because I’m growing my hair and I don’t feel the same way about that as I do about her hair. Wolfman pointed out that I’m not nearly as sweaty (usually), don’t put up a fight for washing and don’t need to be chased around to dry it. I don’t think my choice is entirely practical though – for all the lack of emotion I have about her hair, I have an excess when it comes to femininity. I have a horror at how constrained she is by her gender, how much judgement she already wades through when it comes to the existence of being a girl.
So I cut her hair again, just her fringe, and try to work out what my deal is. What I’m going to do about it.
but there’s a catch.
I’m ‘lucky’ that Wolfman is such a good guy. Except that I went throught how many failed relationships and false starts and never starts because there was no fucking way I was going to partner with a misogynist douchewad.
I’m ‘lucky’ he helps around the house and stays home. Except that absolves him of any impetus to get better – why should he? He gets claps for simply being home, no matter what he actually does there.
I’m ‘lucky’ I have a good job.I worked hard to get where I am. I uprooted my family TWICE for this, I have thousands and thousands in debt to be educated and qualified enough to be working a job where I have some semblance of security and things like leave.
I’m ‘lucky’ breastfeeding worked out. Again, I worked fucking hard at it. I really did. I look back and think of the five + months of hour long feeds, the constant denial of anything existing outside us and our relationship and not leaving the house for days to build my supply and wonder how the fuck I did it.
I’m ‘lucky’ I didn’t get PND. Yet again, I worked hard because I knew it was on the cards. So any signs, any little tremors and I was back into lockdown mode. I didn’t wait for the tears and the harm and the rocking and the alogia because I’ve been there before and I know what it is.
But I am lucky. I’m lucky that I was born into privilege so I could go and get that education, find a partner who had a good enough job that I could stay home, save money, save time, budget. I’m lucky that I knew what PND was going to do before it happened so I could do something at the slightest of warning signs. I’m lucky that I got a maternal and child health nurse who didn’t live and die by the scales, a paediatrician who was pro-breastfeeding and an obstetrician who wasn’t trigger happy. I’m lucky that even if I had, I not only had the resources to change the situation, but the education to know better and the time to do something about it and the privilege to think I am smart and correct and knowledgeable and worthy.
Luck can obscure the work that we all do to be where we are and who we are. I’m not just lucky.
I have been somewhat prescriptive on presents before*. I have views. I also hate shopping and consumerism so I tend to prefer not giving or receiving presents where I can – I am comfortably middle-class enough that I want for nothing really, and what I do want is not an appropriate gift from my fellow middle-class inhabitants. So I’d much rather avoid that whole thing. Christmas, in the style of my family and my inlaws, does not allow for this. So we scaled back this year – one present, unless you were a child. Then you got two. The same for all of them. We got more for Bunbun but most of those were things we’d been meaning to pick up, rather than actual presents (i.e. the ubiquitous foldout couch).
So Christmas is fraught with anxiety for me – both the buying and the receiving of gifts. I sometimes find the perfect thing but mostly it’s this endless search for anything, something, to buy in order to wrap and sit under a meaningless tree in order to participate in obnoxious rituals that don’t have any significance beyond the purchasing and unwrapping.
Then there is the politics of it.
No matter how much I may disagree with someone’s politics or views, or methods, I do not buy a gift in order to either poke fun at those views, or undermine those principals. But the wider community seems to think it’s perfectly okay! It’s so fucking funny to buy my daughter obnoxiously gendered stuff because I don’t like it. So hilarious. Never mind she already has a pram, she obviously needs a massive pink leopard print one with a bassinette attachment. Never mind that I specifically pointed to a style of tricycle when asked about purchasing one, I obviously wanted the pink and purple, badly designed version.
Never mind any of my principals, it’s fucking funny to dismiss them, can’t I take a joke? Can’t I be grateful? They’re just giving her what she wants, all little girls are the same, and if she isn’t, it’s because I’m such a humourless gender-cop that I don’t let her have anything she wants.
Why aren’t I smiling and laughing when being fed this shit?
Here’s the deal – she will be genderpoliced for the rest of her life. In the 18 months she has been with us people have given her dolls, and bears, and blocks, and musical instruments, and playdough. No-one has given her a car. Or a truck (even though that was her second word). No swords or guns or tools. No blue, no green, no black. She is already being gender policed. She is already having her choices artificially narrowed to girl or girl or girlier. She already has her physical expression dominated by clothing choice because the skirts are too narrow or the shorts too short, or the shirts too brief**. Why is it too much to ask family not to participate? Gleefully? Purposefully?
God I hate Christmas. I am fucking glad it’s over, and that Wolfman is talking to the most egregious of offenders, but I would much rather avoid this drama altogether. And if people just gave gifts out of love, not political fucking point scoring and personal oneupsmanship, it’d be a lot more awesome.
*I so wanted to say ‘previously’ instead but it was a little too alliterative.
**I live in Australia, putting a baby in a fucking bikini is awful. Putting girl children in a series of cap sleeve shirts needlessly exposes them to more sun than they need. Not to mention the abbreviated shorts offer NO protection against searingly hot playground equipment.
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 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?