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Archive for the ‘babies’ Category

I am proud to have a piece published in Senses of Cinema for the Valérie Massadian cover story. My piece is called “Milla and Motherhood”.

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When halfway through the film Léo dies at work you do not have to see the death —and you do not, such is Massadian’s dedication to life without spectacle — to know that his is the death of the young and low skilled, working in arduous conditions for businesses that likely cut corners.

Heavily pregnant and newly alone, Milla finds work as a cleaner in a hotel. The essential nature of work for the low paid is a constant theme of the film. The neatly maintained divisions between jobs and social connection, made possible with higher incomes, are absent. Milla doesn’t holiday, doesn’t go out for brunch. The majority of Milla’s most meaningful exchanges, such as when she outlines her future ambitions or tries to encourage maternal gestures from other women, happen with workmates.

In this context, the later protracted scenes of mothering make sense. Life happens for Milla not in her free time, which is limited, but while she works, including when the work is mothering work

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This goes in some interesting and very unexpected directions… breastfeeding, single parenting and the gendered expectations of sacrifice and care work.

From “Selma Blair: I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court, I’ll be on the right side of history” by Sophie Heawood in The Guardian. 

“I was about 34. And I thought, maybe that’s right, I’ve never loved somebody unconditionally – I’ve been in love, I’ve been in lust, I’ve been crazy about someone, but I’ve never really still… no. It rang true.” This was after her two-year marriage to Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet had ended. “And then my son had some health issues and he really needed the breast milk, so that really was my job. I thought: ‘Aaaah, I guess I can die now, I got him through that!’ But I depleted myself, too, and I’m still recovering. I still have to remind myself that my own body needs healthier fats than fried food.”

She recently bought the film rights to a novel she loved, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, which is about a woman who has been caring for her sick mother for years, but one day just gets in her car and drives, only to end up in a mysterious town where nothing grows and everything has been lost and discarded from elsewhere. “It was so simple, but also metaphysical and magic. It really lifted a veil in my mind. There are so many women to play, so much room for them.” So she wrote the proposal and is now pitching it, with her as producer and possibly as the lead. She has no other work lined up “and it feels like my only salvation. I had to do this.”

But then she started talking to men in meetings about it. “They just sit like lumps, going: ‘I don’t want to like this character because she left her mother.’ Well, one, she left her mother for a drive, and two, you can’t like a woman who’s broken her back to take care of other people her whole life? You’re not gonna follow this heroine?

“Once I had my child, I realised how unfair life has been for women. When you deal with potential custody issues, which we ended up not having, but you look into it and realise this is all geared towards men now, and the court systems usually loathe single mothers. I thought, I do not have this fight in me, I don’t know how to deal with this. We’re too powerful, so we dim our shine to get through stuff. I didn’t even realise until people started speaking up how really kind of… furious… we should be allowed to be.”

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More wonderful Ariel Gore from Rumpus:

I had my son at thirty-seven after having my daughter at nineteen, and I was partnered, although queer and not married so, again, not exactly getting invitations to the mom-party, but this time I was established as a writer. I’d been supporting my family as a writer and teacher and editor for years. I owned a little house. It was a hustle, but I had a level of stability I didn’t dream of when Maia was a baby.

And of course life is also a lot easier when people aren’t constantly making remarks about how your child should be taken away from you and put in an orphanage. No one has ever said that to me about my son. And I’m the same parent. I’m actually a worse parent now because I’m tired and my back hurts.

Rumpus: Ah, that gets to what I was probably asking with that previous question: when is very young motherhood a boon? What are the various factors that can stymie our creative growth and survival?

Gore: I’m all for young motherhood. The only problems were socially constructed. At nineteen, I was as ready to start my family as I’d ever be. I was as physically healthy as I’d ever be. I was getting gayer by the minute, so my biological clock had been ticking since age sixteen.

I wasn’t invited to the mom party or any other party, so I got to write. My first stories, like everyone’s, were just practice and experiment, so the baby wasn’t getting in the way of anything I didn’t have a sense of humor about.

Early motherhood didn’t ruin my life. I just did everything all at once—writer/mother/grown-up. I’m still clawing to dig myself out of the hole, but it’s good dirt and I have no regrets.

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Aliya Shagieva (daughter of the president of Kyrgyztan) on being criticised for posting a photo of herself breastfeeding on Instagram.

“Its purpose is to fulfil the physiological needs of my baby, not to be sexualised.”

“When I’m breastfeeding my child, I feel like I’m giving him the best I can give. Taking care of my baby and attending to his needs is more important to me than what people say about me.”

 

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breastfeeding

Just, you know, women doing shit in their lives while also breastfeeding. 

Krystell Harrison from Banora Point who plays for Tweed Coast Tigers and Mudgeeraba Soccer Club shared this photo of her feeding her 6 month old son before an AFL game over the weekend..

More of my series here. Here. Here. Here. Here.

(Thanks Kate for the link).

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One of the nicest things about being re-partnered is that you don’t have any seething resentments towards each other from the ‘baby years’. Seth and I both have children from previous relationships, so all the sleep-deprivation arguments about fairness that happen in those early years of baby-rearing were had with someone else. This makes it a lot easier to find one another attractive.

Because this is so true…

I thought I had married an evolved guy—one who assured me, when I was pregnant, that we would divide up the work equally. Yet right after our baby was born, we backslid into hidebound midcentury gender roles as I energetically overmet my expectations. I was feeding the baby, so I started cooking for the whole family (pre-baby, Tom and I had alternated). I was laundering our daughter’s absurdly large mountain of soiled onesies, so I took over laundry duty. Soon I was the “expert” in changing a diaper.

We’re not alone: A 2015 Ohio State study of ​working couples found that men did a fairly equal share of housework—until, that is, they became dads. By the time their baby had reached nine months, the women had added more than two hours of daily work, the men a mere 40 minutes.

And Tom, while a kind, sensitive sort of person, rarely seemed to notice that I needed a hand, lounging on the couch and happily playing SocialChess on his phone while I simultaneously tended our child, emptied the dishwasher, and made dinner. Social psychologists say that men simply feel more entitled to take leisure time.

 

From Jancee Dunn’s “You will hate your husband after your kid is born” in Salon. 

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