After 9 months maternity leave I am now back to work. It’s official. It was a shakey start with my first week being taken up balancing child illness and the subsequent childcare issues that land on a womans’ shoulders as a result. I can now happily report my desk has been sat at work e-mails dealt with and the new teaching semester [nearly] prepared for. It’s great actually. Although I miss my darling wee one, Orin seems perfectly happy with my friend childminder – the beautiful, warm and charming Lotus [yes that is her real name – fab isn’t it?]. I’ve had most of teh welcome back conversations too. It’s been nice catching up and even though all those coversations have meant i haven’t quite got everything done today that i wanted it’s been fine. Productive enough. And as a recent mother of two finding their feet again in the world of work again that’s enough. I’ve even had time to discover bloglovin’ and so I slowly grow myself outwards – onward and upward [or outward].
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Why do I say being married is a good way to be? Being married for me to the particular person who is my husband has provided me with a healthy life stability – both emotional [love and support] and practical ( I could never have afforded to buy a house on my own). Something I never really thought I missed but looking back clearly did. Obviously marriage isn’t for everyone and people find themselves married for all sorts of good and not so good reasons but for this particular person it’s been a deeply rewarding and affecting experience that will be a part of who I am forever – regardless of what the future holds.
Today is my 7th wedding anniversary. Although my husband and I have been together for 13 years (and celebrate our ‘getting together’ anniversaries too) the wedding anniversaries are special in a different way. In answer to the question posed on the header of this blog: how should a person be? I’d give ‘married’ as one – perhaps rather unfashionable (?!) – answer. The public commitment my husband and I made to each other this day 7 years ago in front of family and a large cohort of friends is still something of which i feel proud and hold dear. Sure, as we were living together for 6 years previously and had bought a house we’d already made a commitment but the act and event of celebrating this publicly still feels great today. There is a bond of love and life-journeying that deepens with each year and as we enter this 8th year with the family of 2 children we wanted finally a reality I feel as excited and as loved up about our future as I did in 2007. Being married is one of the best things I have done or will ever be.
If you haven’t already caught this news series it’s worth a listen. Interesting speakers discussing issues relevant to all parents, taking the issues we parents care about everyday and giving them a rigorous airing. Have posted link to first ep in this series here – although currently at ep 3 as of last night – but lists give clear synopsis so you can of course choose to listen to whichever interests you: