Can Any Mother Help Me?

Social Mothers: Motherhood, Motherwork and Social Media

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UK mums only please!

What happens when the oldest job in the world meets the newest technology? Is social media transforming the way women adapt to motherhood? Are you constantly onilne posting photographs of your little ones? Exclaiming how litte sleep you’ve had? Asking advice on everything from how to sooth cracked nipples to where to buy calpol at 3am? Or do you just trust your instincts?

The purpose and value of this study is to find out what impact social media has on the experience of motherhood and how it effects women’s transition into motherhood as well as how it continues to positively or negatively impact on their lives. If you are a UK mother and use social media either a lot or a little I would like to hear about your views and experiences. All the information you share in the survey is anonymous.

It will take about 20 minutes and feedback from mothers who have already taken it was that they found it interesting and enjoyed filling it in. I appreciate your time and in sharing this with other UK mothers. If you have questions about the survey please do not hesitate to contact me through this blog.  If you want to be updated on the findings of this research and any related publications please follow this blog. I’ll be posting updates here.

Click on the link below to access the survey. AND THANKS!

Motherhood and Social Media Survey 2015

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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! 🙂

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.

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.

Petals – Supporting Those Suffering from Pregnancy Loss

Loosing a child at any stage of their or your life is a tragedy. Loosing a child you never met or felt is a strange event. Like missing something you never had. mourning someone you never knew – but to which have a completely visceral connection. After my third miscarriage [trying to have my first child] I was referred to a consultant who made the routine investigations and suggested medical answers to my situation. If it hadn’t been for the service Petals Charity founder Karen Burgess provided at my hospital’s birth centre I might still be searching for the answers to more difficult questions. the ‘why me’s?’ How can I grieve for someone I never knew?’  ‘How long will I feel like this?’  It was a deeply isolating and sad time where everywhere i looked happy mums laughed with their healthy newborns, women blooming in late pregnancy gracefully sidled around every corner and the realisation that something I had taken for granted but now knew to be as uncertain as everything else worth having in life – having a safe and healthy pregnancy – seared, raw and relentless. My sessions with Karen helped me to come to terms with the loss and galvanised me to look to the future with a positive and mindful attitude.

If you live in the Cambridgeshire area you may need Petals services or know someone who will so please support their work by voting for them in the Lottery Good Causes. Winning would raise the profile of this charity, its work, acknowledge the emotional impact of pregnancy loss and if they win they also receive a cash award. Money that would enable even more parents to receive the support they need at a difficult time.

Please Support this charity by following the link below and voting by July 23rd.

Thanks Sx

http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/project/petals

40 Weeks

It’s been 40 weeks. Today is the due date for my second boy. 40 weeks coursed through with various degrees of nausea, poor sleep, deeply aching back and hips, brain so blank from tiredness that makes you wonder if you’ll ever be able to put your thoughts together again,   [that nothing-else-makes-you-tired-like-pregnancy-makes-you-tired  feeling] fully cognisant that you are soon to enter  the glorious ‘ordinary’ sleep deprivation stage of newborn’s sleep and feeding demands and breast-feeding. In france you are not considered full term until 42 weeks. I will spend the next 2 weeks feeling overdue simply because in Britain we choose to call 40 week full term. Funny how some thing so biologically universal can be socialised in such culturally specific ways. from the end of today I will have to inform enquiring friends and family and strangers [nothing invites a random conversation so readily than being a heavily pregnant woman]  i am over due with the concomitant rolling of eyes, and sympathetic ‘nearly there!’ Baby is moving like a Kung Fu pro most of the time but my blood pressure is calm this time, so i’ll stick it out for as long as I can. As usual husbands prefer an end date and talk of inductions have taken place but after my last experience I want to give this boy every opportunity to show up in his own time. Of course a part of me very much wants to get on with it too  – childbirth is such a momentous, life altering and unpredictable thing that various degrees of apprehension are unavoidable – but seeing as this is likely to be my last journey on this particular biological trip a part of me also just needs to take my [our] time. Status update – as and when…

On Being Without Children

See my comment on yesterday’s article in The Guardian by Jody Day.

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/25/child-free-women-jody-day?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150580097736657_20939898_10150580856616657

The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

I came across this novel 8 months pregnant and milling around Waterstones looking for a book to say something about where I was in my life. About to become a mother at 39, simultaneously excited about the new adventure and racked with anxiety about the ‘me’ I’d taken for granted all these years and worried I might lose in the oncoming onslaught of nappies, feeds and sleepless nights. Apart from the striking John Deakin portrait Girl in Cafe on the cover that reminded me of my best friend, a quick scan of the back blurb confirmed this book might have something for me. The character of Elina was the hook. Described as no longer recognizing her life after the arrival of their first child and, an artist, she wonders if she’ll ever paint again, I felt I might learn something from her about my own, similar anxieties. So it was with a somewhat prejudiced and self interested mind that I came to this book and although I enjoyed reading O’Farrell’s prose immensely and was drawn into the emotional journeys of all the characters, the novel as whole left me dissatisfied. The crosscutting between the lives of Lexie and Innes [London 1950’s] and Elina and Ted [London present] was well plotted and didn’t force contrived parallels of experience and all four characters stood on their own as strong, complex and interesting individuals getting along with their particular life circumstances. As a reader you wonder where there stories will intersect and the way they finally do is simultaneously expected and unexpected. But the upshot of the reveal takes the novel’s narrative trajectory away from what have been the two emotional heartbeats up until then [Elina and Lexie] and left me, particularly in the case of Elina’s story, feeling she’d been abandoned by the author.  As a reader i also felt somewhat abandoned. I wanted to know more about Elina and her transition to motherhood and it’s seems the author had run out of things to say about that or just didn’t know how to resolve Elina or her story. The somewhat truncated and unresolved question of Elina’s particular existential predicament may also be read as fully intended by the author. Becoming a mother just happens. Whatever a particular woman’s questions and doubts and fears and anxieties about the loss of an identity she’d taken for granted up until now they can dissolve and/or fall into place once the baby arrives and a time of transition is allowed to take place. This maybe so but I still find it unsatisfying, a cop out even, never the less the novel’s theme of motherhood and women searching/dealing with issues of identity is reflected in a number of other narrative prisms and offers much that is rich, emotional satisfying and sensitive. I would recommend this read.

Celebrity Miscarriage

The recent and much publicized miscarriages of Lily Allen sparked a surprising wave of ignorance about the subject as well as exposing a seam of confused and deluded attitudes about pregnancy. To begin with both Ms Allen’s past two so called miscarriages were in fact stillbirths: the correct term for pregnancy loss post 20 weeks. Negative comments to one article contained a thread that drew comparisons with accidental pregnancy loss and abortion, citing gross hypocricies in a society that mourns accidental loss and permits terminations of unwanted pregnancies. As usual the comments sections reveal both ends of society; the sympathy post and the vitriolic hobby horsers, just waiting for their chance to pounce. Nor do I subscribe to the view that its good when celebrities talk about the bad things that happen to them, that its helps lifts taboos, or creates platforms for valuable social intercourse about subjects-less-talked-about. Despite the pain felt by the person behind the persona in these cases celebrity public engagement around difficult subjects serves them too well and contributes too little to widening knowledge that its impossible not to maintain a position that some things are best left un [publicly] said. Either way this sad event should be taken for what it is: a personal tragedy for Ms Allen [and man] and some fair to middling column inches for a content hungry press.