the beach across the road

Here in Geraldton we’ve been living in a suburb called Beachlands. It’s full of old fibro houses and it’s a bit ugly, but there’s no other houses between ours and the beach. There is our road, a big wall, a four lane highway, a train track, and another road, but no other houses so that makes it beachfront right?! Ha.

We’ve only been to the beach a handful of times since we’ve been here, much less than once a week on average. There was a time where I was ducking over there for a solitary walk as soon as Bean got home from work but then his hours changed for the Winter and it was getting dark by the time he was dropped back from work each day so the walks didn’t continue.

Bean’s hours have changed again and it’s starting to warm up a bit here now. The last few days it has been hot. In fact, last night was so hot I slept in my undies with the ceiling fan on. I’ve been joking that it must be Geraldton’s comfort tax on my enjoyment of the beach yesterday, because we really enjoyed it.

Yesterday was the second consecutive day we wandered over there after Bean walked in the door at the end of the day and it was just lovely.

The sprogs played chasey with the waves, I scrunched my feet in the sand, we talked about what next… and we’re none the wiser after talking about it. Really, what next?!

I left the sprogs digging a pool at the water’s edge with Bean and went for a short walk up the beach. Even though I’ve been so lonely up here and I’ve been craving companionship I have felt desperate for time alone too. I’ve felt overwhelmed by the mundane nature of daily life up here. I’ve felt that my life has revolved around making food, cleaning up after the sprogs and entertaining the sprogs with little to no outside input. I’ve been on autopilot for a while now, not really conscious of what I’m doing but just acting out of habit.

In the last few months I’ve had many low points in my interactions with the sprogs and expectations of them, and myself, that are not based in reality.

The walk yesterday evening, however short it may have been, gave me time to breath and caused a shift for me.

This morning I woke feeling more refreshed than I have in a long time and I felt enthusiastic about spending the day with my sprogs.

Maybe it was the walk? Maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m leaving here in 5 short days? I don’t know, but whatever the cause I’m grateful for it.

The sprogs and I went to the green grocer this morning and stocked up on bananas, strawberries, watermelon and apple. We came home long enough to pop it in the fridge before heading out again in search of a paddle pool. We found one at the second shop we went to, twenty dollars thank you very much. Perfect.

We got home and the sprogs had a little rest while I inflated the pool so when they woke up it was ready to be filled. They hoped in with the hose feeding cold water in while I bucketed in scalding hot water from the tap. As one of the billions of buckets I carted was filling up I remembered the hippy bubble bath we bought yesterday and chucked a bit of that in too. The warm, bubbly paddle pool kept them amused for a couple of hours! When they finally got out we watched an episode of Grand Designs together on ABC iView before they decided they wanted to hop in the pool again about 10 minutes before Bean got home from work. The second time they were in there I decided it looked like so much fun I got my clothes off and jumped in with them.

I started swishing up the water and got some serious bubbles happening, we were a pile of bubbly giggles and it was so much fun. I think I’ll have sore arms tomorrow from all that vigorous water swishing but it was so worth it and the three of us are looking forward to more bubbly fun again tomorrow.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (5)

reality check

The post I’m about to write is in part inspired by this post written by Cybele of Serendipity in Chaos which had me nodding along in agreement, but the real catalyst for me writing about it myself, instead of just reading Cybele’s words and nodding was a discussion I had with a friend this morning.

In fact, this post could really just be an open letter to that friend, with the hope that other readers might take some comfort in it too.

We hung out with our friends this morning for another meet up of the Denmark natural learners crew. We’re rocking that by the way, we’ve caught up quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and it’s been nice. I’m sure it’ll be even nicer when my family moves closer than 50km away from the rest of them too!

On the way to the meet up Bean and I talked about how refreshing it was to spend time with people who are very real. People who authentically express how they’re feeling, where they’re at, what’s going on for them. These people are people we don’t feel a need to put on a face for, because they’re just real so we can be too. There’s no feeling like we’re imposters around them, we don’t feel inadequate, we don’t feel that we have to put on a “perfect family” facade. We feel accepted and honored for being us, not for being something else. We can admit that homeschooling is hard at times (a lot of times!). We can admit that we sometimes wonder why the hell we’re doing it. We can admit that we’ve fantasised more than once this week about our lives in a parallel universe, the lives of us without children! We can admit that we’re not traveling so well and we don’t feel weak or inadequate for that. We don’t feel judged, we just feel understood.

So there we were, talking about the realness of that particular family when we pulled up in their driveway this morning.

We greeted each other, the sproggets all settled in to play with each other for a couple of hours, and we adults chatted.

My friend, this Mother I had just been admiring told me she’d read my blog and cried. She thought she was getting it wrong and I was getting it right. Which is just oh so wrong! I’m not doing it “right”. I’m just doing it the best I can. I’m doing it like an ordinary Mother.

One of my main motivations in keeping this blog is that I am such a damned pessimist that I need something to prompt me to be positive. Writing this blog forces me to look for the positives in my life so I can document them here. I want to write about the good things so when I look back on this time that my babies were so little I can be reminded of the wonderful bits. I find it easy to remember the bad bits without writing them down, but the good bits take a little more effort to remember. In a haze of exhaustion, feeling isolated and undersupported, I have a tendency to spiral into depression and while a private journal and my art journal have been places I’m able to write without censorship, this blog is the place where I write while wearing rose coloured glasses (most of the time!). Optimism doesn’t really come easily to me. I tend to be negative, and it’s a pattern I’m trying to change. I seem to be more positive now than I used to be, so this conscious effort to change is working, but it’s not easy and I find that I slip back into a pessimistic mindset like I slip into my comfortable old jeans.

Trying to focus on positives has been particularly hard for me over the last few months as we’ve navigated our way through financial stresses, employer induced stresses, study induced stresses, family induced stresses and the big one of living in a weeny little shed with a camp toilet and no washing machine (with a baby in cloth nappies) for 5 months. I yelled at my sproggets more than I want to remember. I yelled at their Dad too. I even told them all that having a family was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. I’ve done that more than once too! Oh how I needed this blog then, inspiring me to find the joy in my life over a long, wet Winter cooped up in this little space with two understimulated sproggets and a glorified bucket for a toilet. It was a glorified bucket that made a tough situation a little easier, a glorified bucket that I was extremely grateful for the loan of, but it was still not a patch on a real toilet. Nor is the shed a patch on a real house with room, a house with rooms! There’s only so many times I can fall over my children while they play in the too small living space we have before I start to lose my sense of humour and feel very smothered.

I don’t want anyone to read my blog and think for a second that I have it all together. I’m as fractured as the next person, parent or not, I just don’t blog about those bits so much. I yell, I swear, I say hurtful things, I cry, I rage and I have Mama tantrums. I have really hard days, and I have some days that just work. I like to write about the days that work because those posts are a bit of inspiration for me to read over the times when it’s not working, the crappy days. Also, it’s a bit embarrassing to write about the times I’ve sworn at Moe when he poked my chest and requested another freaking breastfeed, or how I told Sprout to just bloody well leave me alone because I didn’t want to listen to her whinging anymore. Those memories are etched in my mind anyway, I don’t want to write about them. The burning shame of being nasty to my babies because I just felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of parenting them. It’s not a nice feeling. It’s one I’m sure every parent knows, and one that’s hard to shake.

When Sprout was a newborn and my midwife was still visiting quite regularly for my antenatal appointments I told her I felt guilty about something I’d done (or not done?). Today I don’t even remember what it was, I’ve done so many more things in the time between then and now that I feel guilty about, but what I do remember is what my midwife said to me. She welcomed me to motherhood and told me I’d have a multitude of things to feel guilty about for the rest of my life! She was right, you know. I constantly question whether I’m doing the right thing, whether I’m giving my children a million and one reasons to be in therapy when they’re adults. Whether I’m giving them enough, or even too much.

All of that makes for kinda heavy blog fodder though, so while there is the odd post about the hard times and the inner turmoil, I try to keep it positive.

The thing I took away from today is that we can admire someone so much and not really let them know. You know? I had just been talking about how great this woman is, how much I enjoy being with her, and she was feeling down on herself. Someone might be bumbling through their life thinking they’ve got it wrong, thinking they’re pretty terrible, and all the while someone else might be simultaneously admiring them. So, I’m going to try to open up a bit more, to tell people what I love about them. I’m going to express my admiration because I think everyone needs a bit of admiration now and then.

I’ll start with the friend who has inspired this blog post because I don’t think I did a good enough job today of telling her how much I admire her.

I hope you’re reading this, friend, and I hope that if you’re crying this time it’s tears of joy and love for yourself because I think you really are quite wonderful!

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (5)

this funny thing happened the other day…

In the last week or so Moe has begun using the potty instead of weeing and pooing in his nappy. Sometimes he makes it as far as the potty, often it’s garden path. Whatever, thanks to the garden hose they’re both easier to clean than a nappy! Now, in celebration of the beginning of the end of nappies in our household I have a story to share with you. It’s a story about celebration, friendship and poo. Well, it’s mostly about poo really…

A couple of weekends ago we were at the Denmark Art Markets, wandering up and down laneways flanked with little craft stalls – running into friends we’ve not seen for weeks, some for months and even some we’d not seen for years! We were on a high, the atmosphere was fun and social, the music was great and everywhere we turned there was something or someone exciting to see. We had just left the Kwoorabup-Denmark Transition Town stall where we’d stopped for a chat with yet another old friend about the exciting visions the group have to transform Denmark and were debating whether we should go and buy a stash of homemade soap or watch some music first when at the same time Bean and I suggested it was probably time to change Moe’s nappy.

Neither of us had smelled anything by that stage, so we’ll call it telepathy shall we?

At the same moment that we agreed it was time to take Moe to the toilets and change his nappy Moe became restless and indicated he wanted help to get out of the pram. I told him we were going to the toilet and asked if he wanted to walk. He nodded and whimpered something resembling a “yes” so I lifted him out of the pram…

and got my hand covered in very sloppy poo.

“Oh yuck! Bean, he’s pooed and it’s leaked out of his nappy.”

Little did I know, at that point, to what extent it had leaked.

It was quite a warm day, that Saturday, and Moe was wearing some boardshorts. He was also wearing his very favourite shoes, glorious pink gumboots, which he had insisted on wearing despite the heat.

Moe’s poo had filled his nappy, overflowed into his boardshorts, run down his leg and filled his gumboot which was now overflowing.

Gooooodness me!

At least we were at the end of the market that was closest to the toilet.

We quickly marched Moe in the direction of the toilets with Sprout trotting along behind us giving an excited commentary on the revolting poo situation, that is until she stepped in some of it while barefoot. Then the excited commentary turned into exclaimations of how terribly gross it all was.

Oh yes Sprout, we know it’s gross.

Bean took Moe to the disabled/family toilet while I took Sprout into the women’s toilet to wash my hands and her foot. Once we had washed ourselves we went in to the toilet Bean and Moe were in to help Bean out.

We walked in to see Moe giggling with glee at standing naked in the woefully inadequate sink, with Bean splashing handfuls of water at him. I pulled the wet bag out of the change bag and began to put Moe’s nappy, shorts and boot in it while Bean continued washing Moe with liquid handsoap and cold water. Eventually we’d cleaned all of the poo off everyone and made sure the toilet was left in a clean condition for the next user so we walked out of there with a naked (and much, much lighter!) almost two year old into the arms of another old friend. After completely turning that friend off ever having children of his own we decided we’d go share our story with some other friends who’d recently told us a fun story involving dog poo while we dressed Moe again, and then we were definitely buying some of that soap! Oh the irony.

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comment (1)

art journaling – inspiration

I have a new Tuesday afternoon pastime…

The Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre runs a FREE art journaling course for mothers with post natal depression and/or anxiety. Some women have been diagnosed with PND and some, like me, have self referred because we’re feeling isolated, lonely, or a bit down. Not only is the course free, but the creche in the room right next door is free too.

Yesterday was the first class of the term, some other new women joined and some women were returning. The theme for yesterday was “inspiration”. The group leader gave us a quote, about 3 sentences long, that basically said inspiration rarely creates action but action always generates inspiration. Basically, don’t wait for the ideas to come, just start doing and the ideas will follow. It was a concept that spoke to me…

A mish mash of objects was placed on the table in front of us and we were given large markers to draw what we saw.

We were told to make it abstract, not realistic. To make it about shapes, not detail. We would be adding to it later on, making it more abstract.

I chose to draw the vase, rather than focus on the flowers in the vase, because the vase had flowers that looked like vulvas painted on it. I loved that! Someone else may not have seen vulvas, but I did. Beautiful, flowery vulvas. They were marvelous!

Once we’d drawn some shapes we got stuck in to adding colour with water colours, oil pastels and the huge selection of papers that we could glue on.

I used some corrugated cardboard, an old sewing pattern, some wrapping paper, a gold paper doily, a paisley napkin, some tissue paper and some maps. It really transformed the way it looked.

I had a fabulous time being able to speak to other adults without worrying about my children’s immediate needs. Adults who know the isolation I’m feeling as a mother, especially as a mother in a new town. The sprogs enjoyed themselves too. Sprout had more fun than Moe, because Moe was a little tired and because it was the first time I’ve ever left Moe with anyone he’s only just met. I felt guilty about leaving him, but he was having a fabulous time when I left, and they never left him to feel sad on his own. I walked in and he was having a cuddle with one of the women who had been looking after him. He was glad to see me, and I was feeling refreshed enough to be glad to see him too. Next week I’ll see if I can put him to bed for a sleep before we go, that will probably help, and he’ll get more comfortable with the space as time goes on. This outlet for me is important enough to move through the Mama guilt and know I’m able to do better by my children if I have this meaningful couple of hours time out from them each week.

I think I’ll really enjoy my Tuesday afternoons for the next little while…

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (8)

quarantine

Why, yes, we are in quarantine. How did you guess? Did the post title give it away?

Moe is unwell.

He’d been out of sorts for a few days, which I had put down to tiredness and teething after a couple of rough nights in a row, and then he quite suddenly developed a rash Tuesday afternoon. He’s been seen by a Dr, to rule out anything sinister like meningecoccal meningitis (which he didn’t seem unwell enough to have, but on advice we had him checked anyway). The Dr was a lovely fellow who could give us no definite diagnosis. It could be chicken pox. It could be rubella. It could be any rash causing childhood illness…

Whatever it is, we’re in quarantine. Unfortunately we didn’t know anything was wrong until after the rash developed, so we’ve probably passed it on unknowingly, but now we do know we’re staying home. He’s generally in good spirits. The rash doesn’t seem to be troubling him, he’s not scratching. He is breastfeeding a whole lot more than normal, and he’s more sleepy, but he’s otherwise pretty happy now.

Sprout’s moods have been swinging wildly from reasonable to downright revolting to inconsolable sobbing to hyperactive giggling and back again, so I suspect she’ll develop the rash in the next couple of days too. If so, I think we’ll be in quarantine for a while yet.

Today was a gloriously sunny day, I was able to fold & bring in the 3 loads of washing Bean did yesterday, as well as hanging the nappies out. I also swept the paths and put up some chook wire fence along one path to protect a new garden bed* we’ll be planting out with some ornamental flowers and some medicinal herbs. Sprout and Moe helped me sow some nasturtian seeds, and otherwise cruised around the backyard with no clothes on. Quarantine is certainly giving me the opportunity to be productive!

I’m so pleased the sun was out today, we needed to be out of doors and we needed a good dose of sun on the skin too.

Tomorrow, providing it’s sunny, I plan to pull out some old bed sheets to drape over the garden table to make a makeshift cubby. We’ll pull out the paints and craft glue too. If it’s rainy, we’ll bake and do craft inside**. We’ve got some long days ahead of us, but I have lots of great ideas to help us pass the time enjoyably.

 

*from Dave and the sprogs

**I’m crossing my fingers it’s sunny, the shed is so lovely and clean right now, I’d love to spend a day outside so it can stay lovely and clean for a full day… haha!

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unschooling is not exclusive

A lot of my unschooling posts could very easily be labelled “parenting”, “things my kids do”, “kids”, “learning in general”, “journal”, “day in the life”… you get the idea.

That’s because natural learning isn’t exclusive to unschoolers. Everyone learns naturally, whether they’re 8 months old, 8 years old, 18 years old, 80 years old (again, you get the idea). Everyone learns naturally, whether they’re full time unschoolers, full time schoolers, full time workers, part time workers, part time schoolers, you know? Learning is one of those things we can’t escape, even if we wanted to!

I don’t mean to come off as exclusive when I write unschooling posts, and I certainly hope that I don’t. My aims in writing posts about unschooling are to explore (and record the development of) my own unschooling philosophy, and to share with my readers how boringly normal unschooling can be. Facilitating our children’s natural learning is not rocket science, it’s just parenting* really.

Obviously, my children are still quite young. If we were sending them to school Sprout would only be in kindy this year, and Moe wouldn’t be going for another couple of years, so while they’re not officially “school age” there’s probably going to be a lot of similarities between many of my unschooling posts & many other “Mummy blogger” posts. The posts where I discuss the evolution of our unschooling philosophies will be more typical of an unschooler’s blog, but those posts that describe how our days go, those “unschool Monday” posts where I waffle about painting, playdough, craft, story time at the library… well they’re just not exclusive – all Mummy blogs have those posts.

*Some days I do wonder whether rocket science is actually harder than parenting…

posted by wildecrafted in education and have No Comments

unschool monday – adventures in autonomy

Sometimes I find it quite hard to parent the sproggets respectfully & gently. I’m trying to parent in a way that is quite radically different to the way I was parented. My beliefs about children, since becoming a parent, are also radically different to the beliefs I held about children before I was a parent & they are radically different to the beliefs commonly held by adults in our society. The beliefs I hold are constantly evolving, our choice to unschool is a perfect example of that evolution. We began our parenting journey a little left of centre with my choice to homebirth our first child. I then discovered some reading on why it’s a great idea NOT to praise children. From there, the snowball effect has lead us on a journey through attachment/natural/instinctive parenting philosophies, then natural learning/unschooling philosophies to where we are now. As we journey further along this path I know our belief system will evolve further & I don’t know where that will lead us. Something I do know now though, is that I struggle almost every day to reconcile the difference between my ideal parent-child relationship & my actual parent-child relationships.

When the sproggets are behaving in ways that challenge me I battle with the voice in my head that tells me to yell, to intimidate them, to make them do what I want them to do. That voice is the voice of authority. The voice of the inner authoritarian parent who wants to govern, & to govern with fear. The inner authoritarian parent who wants unearned authority over another person. If I’m honest, there’s probably also the voice of a petulant inner child egging on that voice of authority. The petulant inner child who thinks the sproggets should have to put up with another person having unearned authority over them, just because I did…

The thing about this voice of authority is that it demands respect for behaving disrespectfully. Oh the irony! Only, it’s not respect that is granted in return, it’s fear.

I see it, those times I’m feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, unsupported, those times I do give in to the demands of the inner authoritarian parent.

My children don’t respect me for yelling, for demanding through gritted teeth that they go. to. sleep. right. NOW(!), for creating artificial consequences (if you do that one more time I won’t read you a story)… it’s not respect that inspires them to comply with my requests, it’s fear. Fear of witnessing (or bearing the brunt of) an unhealthy expression of anger & frustration, fear of artificial consequences, fear of punishment.

A parent-child relationship is a complex relationship. A relationship with many expectations attached to it, a relationship more people feel entitled to comment on than any other interpersonal relationships. I find my parent-child relationships harder than others to put on display, especially when on display 24/7.

We’re staying with Bean’s parents at the moment. We’ve been here one week already & we’ll be here until the shed is finished, in a couple of weeks. When the shed is done, we’ll still be on their property, but we’ll be in our own space. It’s hard, for all of us, sharing their space. They want to live their way, we want to live ours. There’s a lot of compromise.

Since being here, a place that just isn’t our own, we’ve compromised a lot on our values with regard to parenting.

Unfortunately, staying with Bean’s parents has amplified that voice of authority so it is louder than the voice of the reasonable parent, the respectful parent, the unconditional parent.

I have found myself behaving in ways that make me cringe, as I’m doing it!

The expectation that I will control my children is a hard one to ignore. The overwhelming majority of adults in our society view children as people who are ignorant, incompetent & simple. People who need to be controlled because they are incapable of independent thought, responsibility, maturity, selflessness or autonomy at any level. That behaviour just comes magically when you become an adult, apparently.

Our society tells us not to reason with children, because children are unreasonable. Don’t give children the choice to eat something, or not to eat it, because children don’t know what’s good for them. Make your children share their most precious possessions because children are selfish, they’ll never be motivated to share without having it forced upon them. Ridicule children for expressing emotion, or at least ignore them, otherwise they’ll be too soft.

It’s hard to go against these attitudes, held by the majority of people in Western society.

The part of me that so desperately wants approval, the part of me that wants to please others at whatever cost, the part of me that was told I was a “good girl” for behaving conveniently as a child… that part of me is scared. Scared of offending or upsetting someone else by simply living differently in their space.

It’s fear that drives me to parent from a place of authority. Fear that motivates me to scare my own children!

Living in this space, that is not mine, I find myself feeling stressed, flustered, by the sproggets “mess”, their toys strewn around the place during the day. The toys that always get put back into their baskets at the end of each day so there is no evidence of the play & the learning that took place earlier. I feel so worried that we’re being too much of a burden that I work myself into a heightened state of stress, following the sproggets around, picking up after them before they’re ready to pack away, before their game is over, before they’d probably pick the stuff up themselves anyway.

I ask The Bubble to pick up her clothes & she doesn’t do it, so I stress. What will these people, who can’t relate to our way of parenting, think of me? Do they disapprove because I’m not making her do what I ask?

Of course, I’m usually asking at the wrong time.

“Hey Bubble, stop playing that game you’re perfectly happy playing right now so you can pick up your clothes that wouldn’t hurt anyone to be left where they are for another 15 minutes, or even for the rest of the day! Pick up those clothes that I know you’ll pick up later, do it right now because that’s going to make us all look perfect, that’s going to prove we’re doing it right.”

Oh yeah! Really inspiring…

In our own space, these things wouldn’t bother me. In our own space, the sproggets can play freely. Our space is safer, more free of hazards, less littered with breakable, “precious” things in places the sproggets can easily reach. In our space I don’t feel the need to follow the sproggets around picking up after them, telling them “no”. In our space, I don’t feel the need to make excuses for their sleep patterns that don’t look like those described in text books. In our space I don’t feel awkward for “letting” the sproggets leave food on their plate at the end of a meal, or “letting” them put that food in the fridge to eat later. In another person’s space, I find myself making excuses for their existence & making excuses for my values.

So that there, that was my confession, my acknowledgement of the suboptimal way I’ve been relating with my children for this last week or so. Here then, is my pledge:

I’m going to do my very best to just not care!

It’s still important to me that we compromise, while we’re in someone else’s space. It’s important to me that we make this experience as positive as possible for these generous people who are helping us out in the best way they can.

It’s also important to me that we stay focussed on our values with regard to unschooling & parenting with respect. Our relationships with our immediate family, Bean, myself & the sproggets, they’re the most important relationships. This is not the last time we’ll feel pressure to conform to majority held views so we’d best get used to staying solid, standing firm in our beliefs. We can’t be swayed because we’re afraid of ruffling feathers simply because we’re living according to our values. If we’re not hurting anyone, & in fact we’re doing quite the opposite, then why should we care if others view our choices in a less than favourable light because they’re not in line with the way “everyone else” does it?

It’s time to begin ignoring the (internal AND external) pressure, no matter how great.

Last night, or rather, this morning at 2.15am The Bubble sat up in bed & reached for her big book Thousands of Things to Spot. I asked her what she was doing & she replied, as if it was the most normal thing for an almost-4 year old to be doing at 2.15am,

“Reading my book.”

That voice of authority shouted in my mind,

Make her go back to sleep!”

So I said, “Ok.” and rolled over, falling asleep again within seconds. No argument, no stress.

I don’t know how long she was awake for, I know she was asleep again when I woke at 2.45am to breastfeed Babyman.

This morning she mentioned to me that she really enjoyed her midnight reading adventures. We talked about it in the kitchen, there were raised eyebrows, and you know? I don’t care. The Bubble was happy, I was happy, no one was hurt. Looks like a perfect adventue in autonomy to me!

 

Unschool Monday, with Owlet.

posted by wildecrafted in education and have Comments (3)

you’re alright!

I have a rant to share on behalf of children everywhere.

From the child I was & from the adult I am now…

If a child falls, slips, bumps their head, scrapes their knee or otherwise hurts themselves they are the ones who can decide if they are alright, or not!

If a child is frightened. If a child is hurt. If a child is lonely. If a child is sad. If a child is angry. THEY are the ones who can decide if they are alright, or not!

Too many times I’ve seen children be told,

“You’re alright…”

when it’s clear they are not.

When a child shows signs of distress – if they cry, if they wimper, if there is a tremor in their voice, if there are tears in their eyes, if they yell, if they fall silent, if they seem at all “not alright” – it’s a good idea to offer comfort, rather than tell them they’re alright.

It doesn’t matter if you think they should be alright because you think they didn’t fall too far, didn’t hit their head too hard, didn’t bleed so much or you think the dark is just not scary. THEY are they ones who can decide if they are alright, or not!

“You’re alright…” is invalidating & dismissive.

Try,

“Are you alright?”

“Would you like a cuddle?”

“Can I help?”

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

Try validating them, try hearing them, try understanding them, because THEY are the ones who can decide if they are alright, or not!

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comment (1)

I am NOT a housewife!

Over the last four years my role as a stay at home parent has been called into question countless times. Recently though I have been criticised for not being a good enough housewife because I expect my partner, a responsible adult, to do his fair share of the housework at the end of the day when he comes home from working outside the home.

I have 2 things to say about this, the first is not very nice so I won’t write it! The second, well…

I AM NOT A HOUSEWIFE!

In my role as a stay at home parent I have 2 young children depending on me all day. To list just a few of my duties, I dress them (or help them to dress themselves), change nappies & wipe bums, feed them, breastfeed one of them (giving of my physical body!), console them, answer their questions, play with them, take them out to socialise, read to them, sing to them, dance with them, pick up after them & ensure our home is a safe environment for them to be in.

Not only does Bean regularly get a full 8 hours sleep per night, compared to my average of 4-5 hours (due to me doing the bulk of the night time parenting with Babyman breastfeeding overnight), he also works a job with a set lunch break & smoko. Most days I don’t even go to the toilet without an audience! I work all day.

I do the food shopping for our whole family & I do it with the children in tow. I prepare at least 2 meals plus snacks each day for our children, I often get dinner ready also since Bean isn’t usually home until late of a weekday evening. I change 5-6 nappies per day & I do the bulk of our family’s laundry – including Bean’s laundry!

I can't credit this image to the original artist because no one else on the nerd has. If it's yours, do let me know.

Like Bean, I enjoy my job most of the time. Like Bean, I sometimes feel tired of my job because it’s physically & emotionally hard work. Like Bean. I sometimes want to swap roles, working out of the home seems very appealing some days.

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children. This is a decision we are lucky enough to be able to make & we made it because it’s important to us that our children have a parent at home with them while they are young. Given that breastfeeding is also important to us, & I have the boobs, that job falls to me! As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

I have 2 children, not 3! Bean is an able-bodied, able-minded adult. If we did not live together he would be responsible for himself. Why assume that, since he lives with the owner-operator of a vagina, he no longer has to be responsible for himself?! Being a woman does not make me his slave. I am nothing to him but his equal.

Just as I am responsible for myself & responsible for providing for the needs of my dependent children, so is Bean. What is between our legs has no bearing on our responsibilities!

Our children are Bean’s children as much as they are mine. The fact that I care for them full time means Bean doesn’t have to worry about finding someone else to do it, nor does he worry about paying someone else to do it!

When I have furthered my study to bring my earning capacity in line with Bean’s & when our youngest child is no longer breastfeeding I intend to return to paid work. I’m really looking forward to it, actually. Eventually we will both work part time in paid employment & part time caring for our (unschooled) children.

As a student I will need to set aside time at the evenings & weekends to do my study. Being that Bean is their other parent, the children will spend that time with him. Neither of us view that as a chore, or an unfair expectation of him. His anatomy doesn’t disqualify him from being a good & involved parent.

While I am studying, then when I am working in paid employment, & Bean is caring for the children, as I do now, the housework & general household responsibilities will be divided as they are now – EQUALLY!

I am responsible for myself. He is responsible for himself. We are both responsible for our home, we are both responsible for our children & will continue to be until they are able to be responsible for themselves.

I am not a housewife, I am a woman*!

 

I originally published this with the last line reading,

“I am not a housewife, I’m a feminist!”

and another woman pointed out to me that being a feminist is a choice, but being a woman is not. She explained she thinks what I have described in my blog post should be reality for every woman simply because she’s a person, & that some men & women may read it & think something along the lines of,

“Well that’s your choice.”

So, I agreed & I have changed the post to reflect that.

Every stay at home parent deserves to have the work they do recognised for what it is, a job. Regardless of our sex or our gender, I believe no one in a partnership should be cleaning up after another able bodied, able minded adult as part of the role of stay at home parent!

posted by wildecrafted in home and have Comments (5)

Toy weapons and war play

I have been pondering toy guns over the last few days as my daughter saw children playing with toy guns for the first time a few days ago. She has not mentioned it, she didn’t ask what they were and on the surface it appears not to have affected her. It has affected me though, it has reminded me yet again that as my children get older I know I will begin to encounter difficult situations where they are exposed to things I would prefer they were not exposed to. Things that they may ask me about, things that I would like to be able to discuss without giving judgement laden responses. I know also that children are so very perceptive and even though she’s not mentioned seeing the toy guns, she would have noticed them and they would have made some kind of impact.

I’m not comfortable with toy weapons. Increasingly so as I become more involved in the refugee rights movement again, this time with more personal involvement with people whose lives have been torn apart by war. Often literally, with many refugees having prosthetic limbs because they’ve stepped on land mines. People who are very traumatised by their experiences with real weapons, real violence.

I feel that toy guns (and, in fact, all toy weapons) are a glorification of war, and I feel that war is… I actually can’t even articulate the sorrow and anger I feel with regard to war. I can’t see anything positive in war. I am committed to non-violence. That certainly doesn’t mean I am never violent, I am very ashamed to acknowledge that I have yelled at my children in anger on several occasions, that I have handled my children roughly when I’ve strapped them into their car seat or pulled them roughly away from a game before they’re ready. My committment to non-violence is a committment to work on ways to address my anger issues (of which I have many), to learn to express anger in a healthy way, to reprogramme my default behaviour when faced with a stressful or anger-inducing situation. For myself, for the people I love, and for people I don’t even particularly like I am committed to non-violence.

I know it’s naive to wish I could protect my children from all exposure to violence when we live in a culture that is quite numb to it. Violence for entertainment, violence on the news. Even without a television or electronic games they’ll be exposed to it in our society, often in very subversive ways. I feel very sad though, that children even know what guns are, that they can conceive to pretend that an inanimate object is a gun when a toy gun is not available.

I have a stance against dolls that represent an unhealthy body image (Barbie, Bratz etc) & princessification (thanks Siobhan), and I feel that my stance against toy guns comes from a very similar place.

I wish to express to my children, through my rejection of certain toys & imagery, that some ideas including (but not limited to) war, “beauty” as media/dominant westernised culture portrays it, intolerance of (racial, physical, sexual, gendered, cultural etc.) differences go against my ethics.

I’m also wary of imposing my own ethics on my children as I know that I’m not necessarily right and I know that other people have very different ethics from me. I know, for example, that some people who I love dearly believe that my choice to consume animal products is unethical. Even though I am very conscious of where the animal products I consume come from (organic & biodynamic farming practices, raising backyard chooks to kill ourselves), these people who I love, who also love me, do not agree with me on this one. Despite differences in our value systems, we’re able to respect each other, and while I value that so much I do think that unconditional acceptance is something of a myth for me, I must be honest about that. I love to believe in unconditional acceptance but I don’t know if I am infallible enough to actually accept everything my children may choose unconditionally in much the same way that I am committed to non-violence despite being unable to control violent tendencies in myself completely (yet).

I believe I will always love my children, regardless of choices they may make in future that I don’t agree with. If I’m honest though, I know I would feel very disappointed if either of my children chose to engage in war in any way (for example). I believe I would still love them unconditionally, yet I believe I may not be able to unconditionally accept some choices they make. Of course this is all theorising right now, I can’t know how I would respond if not faced with the situation. I would hope that even when my children make choices I don’t agree with that I would be able to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing helpful or constructive to say, but then, it’s all down to perspective isn’t it? I may think that vocalising my displeasure at their choice is helpful and constructive, while they may not.

I know that for now, while I am our children’s primary care-giver I will not allow toy guns in our home because I do not wish to normalise war by accepting war play into our daily lives. I wish that it was not a scenario I have to ponder but I like to think that if I see my children engaging in war play I would use it as an opening to discuss my values regarding war in an age appropriate manner. I don’t think it’s helpful to shame them, or other children, for engaging in war play. I think that making a big deal of it could actually have an effect opposite to the desired effect of squashing any interest in war play, turning it into the forbidden fruit instead. With real, honest information I feel confident my children will make informed choices as they grow up, I just wish I didn’t feel so nervous about it!

posted by wildecrafted in education and have Comments (4)