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.
On my way home yesterday evening, a freight train passed us in the opposite direction. The fading sunlight reflected momentary rainbows as we passed and as the night rose. It was really lovely.
fifth week herbs by geekanachronism, on Flickr
My herb garden is growing quite well. An early casualty in the thyme, then gifting the coriander to a workmate, only to receive garlic chives in return! Still no garlic but I have high hopes for next week. I’m planning on tomato as well.
To touch something real,. Will help your wounds heal – Whitley More Than Life. It seems to help, it must be said.
Watching one of my favourite patrons at work win something today. For everything else that went to shit for the day, that made me really happy.
Mofo and The Artist and their kiddo, The Lawyer, have been in the state and visiting. He’s a biggun, homebirthed, breastfed, all that crunchy stuff. And ADORABLE. We’ve been doing the rounds of various cafes and restaurants and are due for breakfast out tomorrow. Which is one of the many many things I miss about Melbourne (first and foremost is the people).
I’ve been taking time out on the patio with the garden, Bunbun and the ubiquitous blue clamshell. In the afternoons and evenings it is really nice.
fifth week paddling by geekanachronism, on Flickr
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?
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.
to stay home and care for our 10 month old daughter*
“so…what’s he actually going to do?”
“is he going to start doing housework?”
“ha, is he going to keep going with cloth nappies?”
“I’d love to take time off”
“aw, that’s so cute, how long do you think it’ll last?”
“but seriously, what’s he going to do at home?”
“he’ll work part time won’t he?”
“will he start helping overnight?”
“that’s so weird, why are you making him do that?”
“are you sure he wants to?”
“no, honestly, what’s he going to do when he’s at home?”
*$100, a giant bottle of decongestant + antihistamine and 2 hours later it turns out that not only is she teething. Not only does she have a cold. She also had an allergic reaction this morning and probably last night too. Which explains why Wolfman called me a shambling zombie the other morning.
Yesterday was the first whole day I’ve spent away from Bunbun. We’ve spent multiple nights apart because we had to, the occasional morning or afternoon by choice, but never an entire day. I was fucking terrified. That fear and anxiety that turns to white out and makes me act in odd ways because I just cannot bring the fear to the front. It just underlays everything else and I begin to cry because I listened to a sad song, or I get irrationally angry at the washing up, or I simply have to reorganise my data.
So when I woke up and got ready it was almost a relief. It’s here it’s happening and no stopping it now. I fed her and got up. I had breakfast (by myself, making only my own food) and fed her again and left. I walked in and people said hello and hugged and enquired and cooed at pictures on my phone. I sat down amongst almost all of my coworkers and we planned for the upcoming year and talked about teamwork and mindfulness and changing your attitude. I found my mind was still as useful as it ever was, even as my breasts tingled and I realised I hadn’t packed breast pads. I pumped in the car and only had a letdown listening to Bunbun growl into the phone when I checked in at lunch. I missed my afternoon pumping session too taken with the new ideas. I found I’ve lost my knack for public speaking. I lost my track of thought and my desire to be there as my breasts began to ache with the need to see my baby. I drove home, my need riding me, only to find she was still asleep (apparently her 1400/1500 nap only happened at 1700 after walking for a while). I pumped and waited and eventually she woke again.
We settled back into our routine and I breathed a sigh of relief. We were fine. We were okay. We survived. She took barely any milk while I was gone, but I made more than enough. She was happy, I was happy, Wolfman was happy.
We can do this.
In my other life I’m a librarian. I work in a public library with a bunch of computers and free internet access for members. Even children can access the internet with parental permission. Every so often a parent is horrified and dismayed that we do not filter our internet.
Why would we?
Filtering is inefficient and ineffective. Particularly when it comes to shared connections. Yes, I will probably set up a whitelist when Bunbun begins using the internet. I will certainly monitor her use as she gets older. See how I set up a whitelist for Bunbun? This is because as a parent I am responsible for her. This is because I will choose what I think is appropriate. This is because what is appropriate for her will change as she grows. This is because what is appropriate for her will greatly curtail my usage of the internet. There is no filter that is appropriate for everyone. Currently there is no filter that will even be appropriate for children – whitelists work but curtail what they can experience which is appropriate for little children but for older children their ability to research and synthesise information will be restricted by whitelists. Blacklists are faulty at the best of times and utterly unreliable. No single filter fills all needs and current filters are an absolute joke.
But beyond that, there’s the social ramifications. I want Bunbun to learn that not everyone on the internet is right. Not all information is correct. That some people are arseholes and will be mean. I want her to be able to process information at a high level. I want her to have the ability to discern what is correct from the morass of idiocy and incorrectness that is the internet. I don’t want her growing up thinking that if it’s written down it must be correct. That if she’s ‘allowed’ to read it then it’s all okay. I want her to have a higher level of information literacy than that. I want her to be able to discuss anything she’s seen or read without fear of getting in trouble for seeing it. I want her to be aware of the dangers online even within filters.
I don’t want her to be subjected to a Clean Feed that’s anything but clean.
If she chooses to go to university and research I want her to have access to all the information she needs – even if it’s disgusting or evil or disturbing or amoral. Good cannot triumph over evil if we refuse to even allow ourselves to see it. Research cannot be done well if it’s done secondhand. She may need access to hate sites, to pro-ana sites, to terrorist sites, even to child pornography sites. It’s all well and good to say ‘no-one should see it’ but what about people researching it? Trying to understand it in order to combat it?
If she chooses to write I want her to be able to write whatever she chooses. I don’t want her curtailed by an assumption that exposure to information is the same as acting upon it or believing it to be good.
Whatever she chooses I want her to have free access to all information. Not just what someone else has decided she is able to view without taint.
Do you know what I am afraid of though? I’m afraid that she is going to grow up with friends who are allowed to use the internet unhindered because Mum and Dad have put a filter on so everything is safe. I’m afraid that she’s going to have to deal with people who think that information is evil. I’m afraid that her education is going to be diminished because the spectre of evil information has been combined with a startling lack of technical aptitude and an overlay of parochialism and good old fashioned patronising patriachy to create a world where censoring and entire nation’s information access is acceptable.
The ‘Clean Feed’ will not protect her from abusers, molesters, child pornography, bullies, bad information, terrorists, pro-anorexics, bad body image, sexist imagery, violence or bombs. That’s my job. The Clean Feed just pretends that it will and leaves you even more open to manipulation.
Open Internet is important. Act. For Bunbun’s sake, act.