How far will you go to be a good mum?

shelling broad beans for my 6 month old

As mothers we often find ourselves doing barmy things for our children – like crawling on shop floors for toys cars lost under display units or staying up until the early hours to ice 30 cupcakes in a pirate theme or shelling broad bean [a labour of love if ever there was one I tell you. My 6 month old loves them but the husks are a bit too, well, husky for his toothless wee mouth.] Things we’d never have dreamed of doing BC [Before Children] but now launch ourselves into with unquestioning gusto.

Are we just barmy or is these the truest expression of motherly commitment and love?

Would love to hear your stories of ‘barmy’ motherhood.

For example…‘The other day I found myself ….’

Go on. Share! :)

What is it with mothers’ blogging?

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First time at Mumsnet Blogfest [now in it’s third year] and I have come away feeling inspired about blogging and the genuine empowerment it gives to women from all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of interests. I met a secret divorcee, a jewellery and crafts maker, a business advisor, a designer, a fashion stylist, someone who does amazing things with vintage fabrics, all of them mothers, most are wives [or exes] and all are dynamic individuals following their passions as women in an age defining activity – blogging. It’s a place where all of us can share our experiences of motherhood and intimate personal relationships – something as women we all share but also express ourselves beyond the tag of mother/wife/partner etc to other like minded souls without leaving the house. Something like approximately 80% of all bloggers are female. So what is it about blogging that attracts women and in particularly mothers? Traditionally ‘stuck at home with the kids’ women can now communicate with a global audience. We can share our interests and passions and experiences and feel connected and validated. Rather than isolated and alone. Is it the ease with which you can take part in wider society while still fulfilling your family commitments? Perhaps. But more than this I think it is about writing. Whatever you’re writing about writing requires a level of reflexivity – of reflection that makes meaning in our lives. Writing allows us to catch hold of at least some of the things we experience everyday and hold it dear. The discipline and structure involved in putting even just a paragraph or two together bring you out of the maelstrom of life – particularly family life – and like a meditation allows you space to think. This might seem like a small deal in the scale things – but life is made up of small things and as I age and life moves faster I value this space to reflect more and more. I started blogging as a way of connecting to my students [I am a writer and lecturer] but since having my now 3 and half year old and 6 month old boys I want to write about my transition into motherhood. I even embarked on a PhD around this subject. [See my about and research pages] I would love to know why you blog? Why did you start blogging? Has your reasons for continuing changed? if so how? Why?

Remember

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Kings Cross looking beautiful today. My first day without 6 months old Orin. Mixed
feelings as I wend my way to mums net blog fest. Looking forward to the event and the day away from motherly duties but slight feeling of having forgotten something making me uneasy.

When IS a good time to have children? Apple and Facebook says…

SO the recent Apple and Facebook decision offering women the chance to freeze their eggs instead of dipping out of their careers primetime and using them the old fashioned way understandably provoked opinions. The corporation interfering with mother nature, the ‘punching in’ of work strictures impressing itself on the steady unstoppable movement of body time may seem like a perk, a brilliant board room benevolence gifted to talented women wanting careers as well as children but surely after the initial exhilaration of the ‘great idea’  no one actually left that table [or bouncy castle – you know what these cool tech workplaces are like] still thinking that it was a revolutionary solution to the ever present problem of women, work and childbearing/caring.  What it’s saying is actually you know what now you have no excuse not to have that career you always wanted. There. You can freeze you eggs and then have them later. Later? How much later. Exactly. We’ve all heard case of women having children in their 50’s, 60’s, older even but as a 42 year old mother of a 3 and half year old and 6 month old I tell you it’s not easy been an ‘older mum’. As a filmmaker, writer and now teacher of these practices I have first hand experience of how for many people and perhaps particularly women, confidence and success coming at the same time as our peak reproduction period. I wasn’t sure I even wanted children until I was in my early thirties.  My husband and I fell pregnant quickly but we suffered 3 miscarriages and other complications so it wasn’t  it took until I was 39 that I gave birth to my first and 42 for my second [April this year]. It’s been hard work. I’m older than I’d like to be truth be told and I highly recommend having children younger to anyone I can. The physical side of it all takes it’s toll – even when things are going smoothly. It’s all very well saying do it later. Just because we have the tech to do it doesn’t mean that we should right? This may work for some women, but I suspect it will not for most. Finding the right time to unfreeze and go through the complications and worries that so many pregnancies throw up regardless of fertilization would be incredibly hard. Hopefully there were some women in the room when this brainchild first took breath. If only she’d said, ‘What women really need is flexible working hours and better childcare provision.’ Now that would be a revolutionary idea. Something to really take us forward and future looking into the 21st century.

mother of two

It’s been a while. two months in fact, but here’s blogging at you … mother of two is where i’m at. nothing remarkable about that in the scheme of things but to me it is nigh on miraculous. a unexpected adventure and my greatest challenge. saying that i’m still getting used to the new routine is an understatement – and of course with children that routine is always changing. My youngest is a dream. Happy go lucky and now a good sleeper – no possible reasons for complaint there. It’s just my life and my head. How do I fit it all in. By ‘it’ I mean everything they need – my 3 and half year olds’ social calendar alone requires an experience PA to do it justice – everything our house needs [housework -laundry, cooking, cleaning etc.], everything my husband needs [mostly just dinner] and oh yes everything I need….I have had to become better at something I was always bad at. Time management. I’m not going to be writing a best seller about this subject any time soon – but it’s time manage or sink as far as I can see… and that means making time for not doing. Which I am not doing at the moment. I am a firm believer in the restorative power of mind over matter and for me this means time alone with your thoughts. Otherwise it’s easy to forget who you are.  And the question of what kind of mother I should be  – cf this blogs’ title with the word ‘person’ now subsumed [forever?] into the word ‘mother’ – will not be one I recognise or can happily live with. More on this anon.

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Old gender Frontlines endure in Todays Suburbs: Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

This novel was suggested to me by my PhD supervisor as I began my research in to the impact social media is having on experiences of motherhood. The women and mothers in this novel don’t make use of social media, nor does their author to communicate who they are so it wasn’t for that that my supervisor suggested the book. Rather it was for its precise anatomy of the struggles of women with the daily divided tertories of men and women’s work. they way Cusk describes lives where the politics of gender should be alive, kicking and screaming – but isn’t. These women are bright, intelligent but most exist as if feminism hasn’t happened. As if The Feminine Mystic, Female Eunuch, A Room of One’s Own and the many other conscious raising tracts of the politics of sexual inequality hadn’t happened nor the movements they inspired. Cusk and her characters are dissatisfied in their housework and child rearing duties and wonder what’s changed for women now compared to the past. Certainly not much as far as they see. Some accept this as the way of things. Some find it less easy to stomach. But what to do? Crop your hair the only answer one woman comes up with. Cusk relies on a conventional third person narration to detail the thought, dreams and actions of her characters with a genome scientists precision. The shopping trips, school runs, neighbourly dinner invitations that make up their seemingly similar suburban lives  in desirable  Arlington Park the landscape in which they must thrive or sink. As we move over the lives of these characters Cusk gives us a wide tracking shot of their lives, intercut with well place close ups – but she keeps us at a distance and at times I found myself reading on as a matter of duty rather than desire. I think the distancing effect of her writing is due it part to its eloquence. Dare I say over eloquence? Although I admire and enjoyed her prose the impact of the characters lives feels backgrounded as a consequence of Cusk’s prose style somehow. Cusk writes with acuity and if you are a wife and/or mother it is likely you will find something to recognise in these pages. But don’t expect any solutions to the problems of domestic life it raises.

Mum’s use social media more regularly than general population…

Just came across this report on parenting website babycentre.co.uk. Some interesting findings clearly presented.

http://www.babycentersolutions.com/docs/BabyCentre_2013_UK_Social_Mum_Report.pdf

This report was commissioned to analyse the social media habits of mothers and how that impacts on purchasing habits. It demonstrates what you might suspect – that social networking does indeed drive purchasing decisions – and in particular the consumer habits of mothers. Well why else would advertisers pay popular bloggers, you tubers  and social networking sites to advertise on their pages? Despite this obvious finding there’s much to mull over here. For example [p10 of the pdf] how women adapt their social habit when they become mothers – for instance finding themselves having less in common with friends who don’t have children and feeling more comfortable with friends that do or new friends who are mums because they can talk about their children without fear of boring the other person. Is the world really divided between those who have and those who don’t have children. I’d like to think not but i have to say this point rings true in my experience. What’s your experience? Do the eyes of your friends-without-children glaze over as you discuss little johnny or jana? Also how mothers use social media to enhance their well being by posting about personal, health or professional goals and achievements. A positive thesis. A more negative thesis – one I’ve been reflecting on these past few years is how social media increases social anxiety and stress. Perhaps these are two sides to the same coin. The anxiety or stress we might feel by seemingly not having such beautiful, ambitious, achieving lives as our peers is placated by purchasing the product and services so conveniently placed next to our social activity… mmm.

Anyways – lots more to digest so take a look and if you see anything of a similar nature on your interweb travels do share. THis is all grist to the mill of my PhD.

For a summary:

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a25006911/mums-wake-up-with-facebook-instead-of-coffee

Found anything else like this? Please share and help me broaden my PhD research net!

Post a link in the comments sections below – or if you’re seeing this on my FB page share with link with #socialmediamums.

THANKS!