Resignation to redundancy

I guess if anyone had read my blog post last month it was clear that I would be the perfect candidate for redundancy.

It still came as a suprise to me.

And I have tried to describe it as a type of grief. Not for a job that, let’s be honest, wasn’t really inspiring me, but for the plan I had that *this* time I would have a straight forward pregnancy in a supportive work environment with paid maternity leave and some semblance of job security on my return.

I lost that.

I didn’t lose any self esteem in the process which is one of the brighter spots in an otherwise very dark week. The redundancies spanned the business and hit people of all tenures and talents. Today I sat in one of the “outplacement” workshops and heard from people many years more senior and in many respects more superior than myself who had lost their jobs after 10,20 and 30 years! How could I feel bad after only 3 and with the company agreeing to pay my maternity benefit? I couldn’t.

What I could feel bad about is my inability to relax into my new role as stay at home mum. Even with my next child already kicking and squirming inside of me, clearly loaded with the same over the top personality that fuels my other children, I am not prepared to just be a mum. It isn’t that I undervalue the role. On the contrary, I think there are some amazing mums – including my own – who should be paid more than most of the business execs I’ve spent my paid career associating with. Sadly, I am not one of those. It is like starting as the  lunch delivery person. I am on the bottom rung of motherhood.

David says I should be so happy – I will get to do one of his favourite things any afternoon I like. I can walk the kids down to the beach and sit on the pillboxes, having a milkshake with them and watching the waves roll in. Sounds great but not something I know how to relax into. Their tiny complaints and miniature arguments are like nails on the chalkboard and counteract any effort I make to relax into this lifestyle. Perhaps this will come in time. Maybe I need to write some kind of plan, maybe I need to change the routine again but this time instead of changing it to accommodate THEIR latest stage of growth – I change it to cope with mine.

Just save me from the world of the mummy-bloggers.

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Fair&well Chilli Chicken

The things that happen when you aren’t looking.

Chilli chicken disappeared from the yard today without a sound and leaving a trail of feathers. We could hear the doomsday soundtrack kicking off and we scanned the ground for evidence of the fight. Ushering the children indoors, I calmly explained that Chilli had probably jumped the fence and been taken by a dog.

“She wasn’t taken by a dog, Mummy, she would’ve been eaten. Chomp Chomp”. At least Aidan at 4 knows how to lighten to moment – even if in a few years he will be more devastated by such things like his dad. D was cranky. It had happened again. We needed insurance, higher fences, armour plated chickens.. anything! RIP another chicken he Facebooked and then threw himself into other tasks.

For me, I didn’t cry like I had when we lost Freddy. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it’s just that she wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last. I had to “toughen up princess”. Katarina was more interested in whether her dance class would be on today and she wasn’t too concerned.

Chickens, right, they are just chickens.

I *did* cry however when our neighbours showed up at the front door holding our first and favourite Chilli chicken….. completely unharmed.

Yes our girl of the 72-75gm egg had lost a considerable chunk out of her tail feathers but was otherwise in very good shape. She had escaped the neighbours dogs by flying up onto a garbage bin where she had perched for probably 4 hours before being rescued.

The best part was bringing her inside, giving her to the kids.

The second best part was seeing the look of joy and suprise when unsuspecting hubby came home and bothered with other things until the persistent voice of Aidan saying “Daddy, someone’s here” finally revealed Chilli cuddled up to Aidan and a towel.

Special day.

Birth

Note: I’ve been wanting to write about the birth of Aidan for some time.. but it’s a hard topic for me to confront . So I’ve decided to do it little by little, if and when I can. I suspect my feelings will change over time, they often have.. but I still need to get these feelings out there. Today’s installment is less about the events around his birth and more a question about how we can raise our children not to be ashamed of their bodies.

From the time we can understand concepts of nudity, we are told to cover up.
We are taught to protect our privacy and be respectful of others privacy.
As women we are given bras at puberty and in recent times I’ve seen tiny bra-like tops for girl children.
We are chastised for lifting our skirts up and told to keep our legs crossed.

Then once the deed is done and we are finally opened, we give over. Apparently we don’t just open to the one man who we hopefully trust and love, but to everyone else as well.

Our arms are uncovered so we can be stuck with needles and blood taken from us.
Our legs are forced open and our insides are probed all “for the wellbeing of you and your child”.
We are watched, monitored, scrutinised, often naked or half naked as the agony of childbirth comes upon us.
More needles, more pain, sometimes we are cut right open, right then “for the wellbeing of you and your child”.

But no-one tells us this is ok.

No-one undoes those years of conditioning that privacy is all important.
And so instead of joy at the miracle of birth, some of us, just some of us, are left feeling forever violated.

Love for the child will give us the courage to feed them openly in public, or maybe we won’t. Maybe we will try furtively to hide our breasts and bow our bodies over the tiny life we’ve brought into the world. Maybe we will walk the lopsided walk of a proud mother, made ashamed of her body. Nowhere to hide, everything exposed. All of the things, we had been told to keep to ourselves from the moment we could understand the words.

Yet something written some time ago and read amongst the university crowds and the feminists movements, still strikes a happy chord for me.

‘Virgin’ means one as yet unmarked by them, for them. Not yet a woman in their terms…Not yet penetrated or possessed by them…A virgin is but the future for their exchanges, their commerce, and their transports. A kind of reserve for their explorations, consummations, and exploitations.1

Brutal and true. Does it have to be this way?

What if we were empowered to be open on our terms. What if in that crucial moment when it is our life and our chlid’s life on the line, we could feel OK with opening ourselves? What kind of programming early on, would it take to instill a sense of ownership like that? Certainly something stronger than “put your dress down, everyone can see your undies” that is purely based in the fear of embarrassment from others!

Maybe now, three years later, I understand why they try to make you write birth plans or think harder about what will happen during birth.. maybe that is the insitutional way to empower… but I don’t think they go far enough and I don’t think they can.

I think it is now up to me – to teach my daughter that her body is beautiful, is hers, to be cared for and developed. I will teach her, that sex is not something to be ashamed of and I will abolish the word virgin from my vocab. I will share with her the realities of childbirth and make her proud that through her body a new life might come into this world and it matters not what her body looks like at ANY time before, during or after that event.

I will teach her to be proud of her body. God forbid it should ever sustain violation, but I will teach her all the same, that her body was designed to protect her soul and she alone can let attacks on the soul through those outer defences. She will learn not to measure what is inside of her, by what is on the outside of others.

I might never be able to change my programming, but it is the responsibility of one generation to pass our learnings to the next. I hope these are lessons, my daughter can use.

Ron Mueck's "Mother and Child" (2003)

Ron Mueck's "Mother and Child" (2003)


1Luce Irigaray, “When Our Lips Speak together,” trans. Carolyn Burke, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 6, no. 1, 1980, p. 74. This Sex Which is Not One. Cornell Univ. Press, 1984.

Theme of the week – Free Range Kids

Seems like every show or piece of radio this week has been about Lenore Skenazy, the author and speaker of the topic Free Range Kids.  You can read all about her ideas at http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ but what has stuck with me this week, is the volume of support being voiced for and against her views. I didn’t think parenting was so polarised.

But I am naive. I was naive when I followed my brothers and their friends down into the bush at the back of my house to play armies. I was a runt of a girl all blonde hair and freckles and I raced down there in my favourite dress and bare feet, naively, keenly. You know what I learnt down there in the bush? I know what you are thinking.. but that is part of the problem.

I learnt that you can climb all around and inside and over and through piles of trees piled up by council and turn them into fortresses or castles. I learnt that sticks used as weapons can give you really nasty cuts that sting, but after a while that goes away and you get a great looking scab to talk about. The biggest lesson I learnt is that if you build really big chicken traps, they can catch other animals too and that doesn’t always end the way that you think so you should think a little harder about what you choose to do. I learnt that when it gets dark, it’s time to go home because you can’t see the other side you are playing against anymore.

In a world where we read and hear so much bad, it is too easy to forget about all the good that can come from letting our children free to learn in their own way. Of course bad will happen, but where is the perspective?

I am going insane this week with all this over protective parenting.

Don’t touch that, there’s germs.

How could they forget to put his nappy on?

What do you mean she fell over, you were supposed to be watching her!

The chikkehs! The chikkehs have scratched my baby boy!!!!

The icing on the cake came with the announcement of the FisherPrice recall in the US. I watched an interview where they showed how a small protruding button on highchairs had caused cuts and a plastic ignition key on a trike had caused bruising. Sorry? Did you say you are ordering all these toys returned at a cost of multiple millions of dollars because kids could be cut and bruised? Not something that could poison or kill a child, but the kind of injuries I sustained and survived in the course of a normal happy childhood?

So I guess I just don’t understand. I don’t think childcare workers should have eyes in the back of their head anymore than mums can be supermums and supervise what colour paint is the tastiest for their toddler to suck on. I think we can try our best. If our best means that on somedays we fear for our kids, let’s hope that those fears are squished by the weight of their sheer joy as they recount how the chickens squirmed and squawked in their hands… or whatever part of life they learnt about today.

The Next Big Adventure

Apparently in the words of my husband – I’m clucky.

Well IF that were true, I’d be in trouble as I am currently contracting and in no place financially to consider taking time off for a third child. IF that were true, I would think that a pet might be the solution – but your common dog or a cat is a little like a child – all take take take and very little give. Plus the hours of supervision required would almost certainly equal that needed to have another baby anyway. So, it has come down to fish or birds… not that I’m clucky.

Now before the fish/bird enthusiasts unite to tell me what a rotten person I am for not thinking these creatures require as much attention as a child – I’d like to say – toilet cleaner. I am pretty sure, a fish can not get stuck into toilet cleaner as if it were a chocolate milkshake and I’m almost certain chickens can’t paint the walls of the house with butter. So with respect – toilet cleaner.

As it so happens, the goodly teachers at my son’s daycare centre have been running the living eggs project. Basically this is where Living Eggs supply the school with eggs in an incubator so the children can watch them hatch and grow for the first two weeks. What happens next to these cute bundles of yellow fluff? Well, they get ugly for a good few months while their feathers grow out. They stay at ugly camp for a while until they emerge, phoenix-esque, resplendid in feathers. Tell me how often you see pictures of chickens in their teenage weeks? Not bloody often. Maybe the Cluck MacPherson of chickens was spotted at the 13 week mark.. maybe.

When I was a kid, my brother got to bring home six chickens from a similar project, so I got to see them go through the ugly phase. I’m not particularly scared of it. I’d like to teach my kids that something cute can get quite ugly for a while but then turn into something useful – like egg-laying hens. I think this will adequately prepare them for adolescence and hopefully set the expectatioon that one day, they better bring me home something useful like eggs or a robot.

So anyway, I’ve volunteered to take some of these chicks at the end of this week and raise them in our surburban backyard on a diet of pellets, grit, kitchen scraps and my failed masterchef creations. I’m naively optimistic and am wondering if I should spend any time developing a plan for how to cope. I mean, what will I do the first time one of the chickens poos on my child or one of my children wants to take the chickens for a swim in the bathtub? Action plan: laugh. cry. invest in more bubblewrap.

It’s a big adventure for me, a bit of extra chaos to contend with but it will serve a fantastic higher purpose. When David says to me “you’re clucky”.. I’ll be able to say, “no darling, that’s the chickens.. time for you to feed them”.

ps. I’m not clucky.

Cranky pants

Bored followers of my stupid ranting, will be acutely aware that my family have just sludged through a bout of the common cold. You don’t need to remind me, that reading that kind of drivel is as boring as having a cold yourself. Then came the terror and suprise of Aidan poking a plastic stick into his sister’s eye at 6am. Oh that screaming. She survived of course but I learnt two things, little people heal suprisingly quickly and public primary schools will not administer an eye cream at all, let alone at 3 hourly intervals.

The most recent attack on parental sanity arrived in the form of a phone call from the childcare centre announcing that Aidan had a raging rash and must be taken out of care immediately. There goes the rest of this week – how to balance the baby boy and the heavy metal workload.

Now in the scheme of things, I’ve been lucky. And in the greater scheme of things that unfolds around me, my family have been incredibly fortunate and I am almost loathe to complain about these slights.Cranky pants from http://daddytypes.com/2006/10/08/handknit_cranky_pants_cranky_pants_what_are_cranky_pants.php

But I have my cranky pants on this week.. so that makes everything more dreadful than it really should be. Yes, I’m sorry I have to move that meeting or arrive a bit later. I’m sorry for the inconvenience to everyone.. and yet why does my sorry sound like I’m saying sorry for having kids that need attending to? I’m not. I’m not sorry for my kids or how they intercept with everything I do now. Whether that is how they become the subject sometimes of what I write, or how sometimes they just want to crawl into our bed, (even when the clock clearly says 3.45am).

I think I’m going to write more about this, but it is time to turn off the moonlight in the kids room. Sorry.

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Picture from:

http://daddytypes.com/2006/10/08/handknit_cranky_pants_cranky_pants_what_are_cranky_pants.php

Things I Like To Do

As I have a smidgen of time up my invisible sleeve, I have decided to catalogue the things I really enjoy doing.

1.   Gardening -not in the by-the-book, must buy the latest hybrid seeds and hatch them kind of way. Just regular weeding and pruning and mowing. I am not a fan of hedging, because it hurts my wrists.

2.  Painting – again definitely not by the book or with some grand idea to produce something amazing. Just because I like colour. LOVE colour. I don’t get to wear much now I’m a heffer but I do love painting with it. I can’t imagine what it must be like to paint those big black canvases with a streak of grey or red. How boring. I love colour but at the same time can’t handle Ken Done… how unAustralian.

3. Tweeting – I do love twitter. Or I loved Twitter. I think I have to be more selective with those I choose to follow. For a while I followed those who were talking about social media. Now everyone is talking about it, even the local restaurant. And they tweet and retweet each other, over and over. No-one wishes to be in a room full of roosters and sometimes that is what twitter is like. Not tweets, but crows and squawks and who can out link everybody else. I still love twitter but for the quiet, for the humour, for the gentle sharing that is a true “tweet”.

4. Swimming – Something I simply do not do enough of. One day I want to do an ocean swim. I think I could train to do the distance but my vivid imagination would drag me into icy shark-infested, blue-bottle stuffed waters and I might be too afraid to make 5 mtres, let alone 5km.

5. #sydneymorningphoto – ok so this is twitter related, but basically it is my very good reason to get out of bed in the morning and watch the sunrise. I have to take a photo on my phone. In order to do this properly I have walk/run (wun) down to the beach and then of course back again before the kids get up. It is usually about 40minutes all up, and if I do it every day I can cross off my 30min of exercise a day without too much hassle. I hate getting up, I hate wunning, I love the photo snapping and then I hate the trip home. Overall though it is very worth it.

6. Cooking – I like to cook. I prefer though when what I cook is eaten. I like cooking with things from our garden. I like having the children in the kitchen with me, learning learning learning. I don’t like other people in my kitchen.

7. Writing – there is a lot of junk in my head. Writing is a good way to put it in a virtual soccerball and kick it into space.

8. Nails – love having the time to do my nails. I don’t have great nails, but generally if my nails are done that means I have achieved some time to myself and I have carefully and lovingly sorted their issues out.

9. Family – spending time with them, well obviously, but time that isn’t constrained and contorted into must-be-here-by-then-or-else. Just natural stress free family time. Like Tapas Saturdays and Sydney Weekender.

10. Grass – not smoking it, lying on it. I love lying on the grass and watching the sky. Prefer the grass to any chair. I can sit, I can lie, I can roll over and I can also say “woof”.

I think I’m quite a loyal creature at heart.