My daughter runs to me when I pick her up from preschool
35 degrees Celsius, a stinker of a day
And she is in a hoodie
They have stayed inside all day with the aircon blasting
All those cloth nappies as a solo parent
Two years worth
To save her planet
But now I buy her single wrapped plastic cheese for the convenience
The summer hoodie is my doing too
It’s so totally ok
That I’m tired
It’s a massive job
Being a human
It’s a massive job
Being a parent
To small humans
The world is in utter turmoil
So much doesn’t make sense
Our innately, exquisitely intelligent children can see this so clearly
And they know
They know how to pull us back to the truth of our reality
They know how to pause in wonder at
birdsong, starlight, new fungi
They know how to play
They know how to feel
They know how to take their sweet time
What they don’t know
is how fucking uncomfortable it is
to be stretched across the chasm of their knowing of what’s real
and our adult bondage to
the bullshit reality of late-stage capitalism
It’s so totally ok that I’m tired
Sometimes a crow in the distance sounds like a child in another room calling out “Mum!”
A boy whose mother has died is calling me Mummy
He has done for months
But now that she is gone, I feel the weight of this differently
Life is teaching me that to be as kind as possible is all there is
Everything else takes care of itself after that
I cry, often
How is it that I ever manage to write anything at all
Or even have a thought to myself
For that matter
I’m sick of people referring to their kids as little terrors or monsters. Of expecting their 6 month old babies to self soothe. Of asking for advice on how to be able to get their kids used to less human connection.
I’m sick of seeing babies in prams with screens in front of them. I’m sick of hearing parents use power-over and fear tactics with their children. I’m sick of crappy gender stereotyping through clothes and toys.
I’m sick of parents asking on parenting groups about what “stuff” to buy for their kids.
I’m sick of the chilling impact on the early years of human life that capitalism and ecological terrorism is having. I’m sick of the pressure that keeping on top of basic living costs is putting on parents.
I want to see a world where parenting is regarded as THE most important job. Where the people doing it are supported financially and by community to do it to their best ability. Where everything we know about secure attachment, neuropsychology, and our deepest needs for love and belonging, informs the core motivation of how we raise our children.
I want to see extreme overhauls of our education systems so that teachers are upheld to support the biologically wired, natural and beautiful blossoming of innately intelligent, good, active humans.
I want to see a medical system that supports families to have great nutrition, sleep, and spiritual support before labels and prescriptions.
I want to see a world where we understand the value of unstructured time together. The value of parents having time to breathe, alone with themselves. The value of free play.
I want to live in a world where we know that we’re all in this together.
Not a big ask. And I know I’m not alone in this wish.
International Women’s Day
💜right to vote
💜access to education
💚freedom to marry who I choose, and to not marry at all
💚freedom to work
💜ability to gather with other women
💚daughters being raised in a time when they know their voices are powerful
💚freedom to dress as I choose
💜feminist allies of all genders
💚fire in my belly
💜certainty that we will continue to be part of more and more positive change until systems operate from a basis of true equality for all people all over the world
💚ultimate mother, our planet Earth
💜great fortune at living in a time when so much hard work has already been done to make it possible for me to list all these things safely
💚privilege, and my awareness that I can use it to bust oppression
Attend your local IWD Rally! Gather in solidarity to celebrate and agitate!
“Good better best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better best”.
Urgh. I wasn’t in scouts or whatever place this ditty comes from. But I was in a dysfunctional family with a judgy single mum who used to say this, and busted her nut to put me through dance training.
That conditioning instilled from early childhood that there is always more trying to be done.
So I’m 40. I’m raising a teen and a toddler. The teen is home schooling.
I’ve been admired, adored, adulated, and very bloody good in every job I’ve ever worked.
And yet, amongst all the life work I’m already doing, I’m trying to complete a Masters degree.
It’s hard work. It’s indoor, screen based work, on days where I put the little one into care, when the days outside beckon me into them, with garden chores, bird conferences, and subtle shifts in the breeze, all waiting to shower me with the joy of being alive.
But here I sit, generating feelings of inadequacy, panic, fatigue…
I am already great. I believe this.
I am already contributing.
I am already employable.
I am already tired.
I am already tired.
I have worked hard enough for long enough.
This one does not spark joy today.
“More toast please Mum”, I reply.
Aah. Breakfast in bed. My once a week special treat. Babydaddy does a sleepover and I get to have a leisurely morning while he gets to see what it is that I do on all the other days. In theory. But if that’s how it’s gonna fly, there’s a whole lot of ground work to lay. And who’s gotta lay it? Mother hen, that’s who.
Congratulations and hooray for all the women out there who have intuitive partners who really truly share the load. I understand that there’s a possibility of not being the only one to carry the responsibility of doing all the thinking, and I promise that there are times when I really truly have a go at letting go of the reigns; but the reality is, that when I make myself a tray of tea and toast and quietly bring it back to bed, I am still the mum.
And if I want to enjoy peaceful, quiet time, I have to earn it.
I have to explain to the other adult that on all the other mornings I am up with the toddler and on the go, responding to her needs, keeping us on track, and getting us out the door on time.
This includes, and is rarely limited to – having the kitchen cleaned before bedtime just in case I fall asleep with Baby (best case scenario for my ongoing mental health, given the early starts and broken sleep, not to mention mega sleep debt), making sure I’m showered, have taken my magnesium & brushed my teeth, have tidied the living area ready for a fresh day, have set up an ‘invitation to play’ for the next morning, have prepared her lunchbox if it’s a daycare day, and have applied my moisturiser whilst saying to the mirror “I love you, I see you, you are great”. So that’s the night before.
In the mornings, I have to be organised with keeping Baby happily busy if I don’t want to be followed to the toilet, or I just have to accept that having things brought to me in that tiny room is a part of this stage of parenting. The luxury of closed door toileting, long showers, a leisurely coffee… these are things I have forfeited for a child who feels connected and secure. For now, because she is still very small.
So, on my ‘morning off’, my idea is that I get a chance to replenish so that I can keep going on all the other days. I’m lucky as a single mum to have this weekly chance.
But if Babydaddy wants to go to the toilet and shut the door, Baby knows where to find Mum. If Babydaddy wants to have a shower, same. If Babydaddy didn’t get organised with lunchbox the night before, Baby needs to be entertained while he does this at his once a week leisurely pace. And if there was no ‘invitation to play’ set up the night before, then keeping Baby entertained takes more.
As Mother Hen, is all of this intrinsic? Hell no. How I manage sustainably comes down to acquired skills, thought out systems, and practised rhythms. Yes, there is an organic natural flow, yes, there is a lot of intuitive loving awareness, yes, I’m a bloody great improviser and a fast thinker and can operate in the kitchen like one with many more arms than I have.
But at the end of the day, and at the start of the next day, and in the seemingly endless, relentless cycle of keeping on going in a home that is ordered enough to support a developing sense of security, it is my presence and preparedness that keeps me going.
Because this job needs me to keep going.
And that’s why, when, on my ‘morning off’, Baby has come wandering and found me, and nobody is protecting my solitude from outside my bedroom, and she sees me with my tray of tea and toast, and asks for a bit, and then a bit more, I respond with loving gentle parenting. Because that’s easier than getting up to knock on the toilet door to explain all of the above.