Archive for the ‘bill’ Category

Comments received on an article I write for The Guardian in which I mention briefly that I am no longer with Bill, the father of my children:

“You might also consider giving the father custody or putting the children up for adoption with a home that is able to be more child oriented. Just a suggestion”.

“I wonder, for what whimsical and self-indulgent reason you chose ( these days it’s always the women who chose ), to split up with your children’s father”.


The grief is long and deep. A good part of the grief involves worrying about one another’s grief. One evening my eight year old daughter, Lauca, is worn out and sad.. and I am too. We lie down on my bed together in tears. Cormac comes in, and while only four years old he none the less performs some kind of quintessential male ritual of discomfort with emotion for us.

Cheer up, cheer up you two, cheer up, he says.

Oh for godsake, I say, cuddling him up to me, it is ok to cry.

I am amused that I have to reassure him so. This is Cormac, he has a crying jag virtually every day of his life and he is quite happy to use them for something as routine as being required to take his plate back to the kitchen or to find his shoes.

When we are all quiet again together on my bed I tell them the fun of crying is over and everyone into the shower with me so I can supervise hair-washing.


Me: Please don’t feed the kids chocolate at your house for breakfast. That’s real divorced not-even-trying dad behaviour.

Bill: Worried you can’t compete?

(We both laugh).


A friend tells me that she lies in bed awake at night frightened for my future. I know she means it kindly but I am hurt by her sense of hopelessness for me. I am alright, I say, I really am. I decide I shouldn’t tell her about the nights when the children are staying with their father and I sometimes sigh with pleasure in my empty house. And then there are the nights when I do not even stay home in my empty house.


Everything becomes adventurous and untested. I have a strange energy. One day I see a government policy announcement in the paper and I have mixed feelings about it. As I am leaving work that evening I write a quick pitch to the editor at The Guardian. On the way home I stop at the supermarket for dinner ingredients and then I go to a friend’s house to pick up my two children. As well as collecting my children from school and kindergarten she has bathed them with her own children. I am grateful to her for trimming half an hour from my evening’s tasks for me. At home I check my emails and see that the editor has accepted the pitch but that they want the piece tomorrow by start of business.

I decide I can do this. So, I cook dinner, exchange accounts with the kids about the day, read bedtime stories, cuddle them to sleep, clean up the kitchen and then, begin writing. I give myself until midnight to finish it. In the morning I proofread my piece while we are all cleaning our teeth. I email it to the editor and then hurry up hurry up hurry up us out the front door to our various places – kindergarten, school and the train station for the commute to work. The article is published by the time I reach the office.

The piece happens to mention briefly that I am no longer with Bill, the father of my children. I receive some of the most hostile comments I have seen on an article of mine.

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Cormac (age 3): I am shooting everyone. I am killing all the baddies.

Bill (his Dad): You know, when you shoot everyone you are not one of the goodies? Killing everyone is what baddies do.

Cormac: I am not a baddie! I am a goodie!

Bill: You’re not, you know, mate. At best you’re morally ambiguous.

(Other gun talk).

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The other morning when we arrived late again for school drop-off and my partner, Bill and I were lining up at the tuckshop to put in a lunch order for Lauca, the 7 year old, and I couldn’t help but notice that the dad in front of us in the queue was pretty much off his face:

Me (whispering to Bill): Just a little bit stoned.

Bill (whispering to me): No judgement here, even he got his kid to school earlier than we did.


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Back by popular demand (yes, really).. here is some more of the children’s art.

Cormac (the 3 year old) is in what Montessori refers to as a ‘sensitive period’ right now, and it is for cutting shit up with scissors. Everywhere we are finding vandalism and little scraps of things.

This one is quite nice because it ended up looking like origami. It was a school notice I had not yet read.

Cormac must be doing a lot of ‘parallel line’ work at Montessori, too (ie. an exercise to teach kids how to be able to write) because I found him practicing them on paper towels at home.

Lauca (the 7 year old) really likes to practice drawing techniques like those you see illustrating children’s books at the moment. She’s quite interested in cartooning, so it’s all quite stylised at the moment and with storylines.

This is our family, I know, we’re so nuclear.

Here is her illustration of a house of chaos. I like how the hen and chicks have come inside the home and that I am having a sleep-in. A lot happens when I sleep-in.

Views of our kitchen garden.

Our beehive.

My sister has moved back here with her partner to have their first baby. I’m very excited.

And they’re renovating their house. Poor things.

Last weekend we went with some friends to wander about in the vegetable gardens of strangers. We found it quite amusing but the kids were bored silly. Oh kids, I can recall about a billion weekends just like this growing up, where we tramped about looking at boring stuff our parents apparently found interesting. Tradition.

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Since beginning my guest writer stint I have so far published two posts at Feministe. The first was on capitalism and the exploitation of mothers and the second one was on ‘extended breastfeeding’. Both of these posts are what I consider to be fairly hardcore feminist motherhood topics so I was a little surprised (and pleased) that not a peep of controversy had appeared in the comment threads (at least none that were ‘on topic’).

But then I found a comment this evening waiting in moderation abusing the shit out of me for being a mother who breastfeeds her kindergartener son, and I was almost tempted to let it through just so I could say to everyone, see! this! is! what! I! mean!

It ended with the best line of all time:

Poor, poor boy to have a filthy mother like you.

My partner, Bill has been using that line all evening. We have so much affection for it.

Anyway, I’m really enjoying writing at Feministe and I’ve met lots of lovely new people on the ‘extended breastfeeding’ thread. Come on in, the water’s fine.

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Last night Bill and I went out for dinner at our favourite Japanese restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. I ate Agedashi Tofu, which is one of my most favourite meals in the whole world (and last night I realised that it is not unlike French Onion Soup, which is also a favourite meal of mine – France and Japan, have I just insulted you both?), and Bill ate … meat! I was a little surprised because I have been vegetarian for about fifteen years and Bill has been vegetarian for at least ten years, pretty much ever since he wanted to move in with me, travel and have babies together.

This is one of the difficult but interesting things about loving Bill. I never quite get to the bottom of him.

Bill was quite sheepish when I started asking him questions in my gentle, probing style about exactly when and why he had started eating meat again. Then, to be polite, I asked him if his dish was good and he said it was delicious and did I want to try some. “No, because I am an actual vegetarian, not some guy who pretends to be vegetarian for ten years in order to get a vegetarian girlfriend”.

We toasted many years of being together, and never getting married, and still loving the sight of one another naked. He said “you’re a high maintenance girlfriend but in a fun and interesting way”. We love romance. On the way home we saw an enormous meteor in the sky. That has got to be a good omen for us, I said and he agreed.

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From The New York Times:

In a way, the decision to opt out of the rat race to pursue a more “meaningful” career as a parent echoes the classic Plan B narrative of the stress-addled professional who bails out to immerse himself in roll-up-the-sleeves work — say, craft-whiskey distilling, or beekeeping. (Given the drudgery and muck involved, parenting might be considered the ultimate “artisanal” pursuit.)

“For the creative, freelance, D.I.Y.-type guy,” Ms. Rosin said in an interview, “being a stay-at-home dad feels like a form of rebellion, like living off the macho grid and showing people that you are not tied to your father’s notion of what men should do on weekdays.”

In that spirit, Mike Adamick, 35, who left his job as a newspaper reporter to be an at-home dad in San Francisco six years ago, often spends weekday afternoons sewing clothes for his daughter, Emmeline, who is 6. Most recently, he salvaged the flannel from a ’70s-casual sports jacket from the Salvation Army into a thigh-length skirt. “It turned into this nice gray number with some distinguished flair,” he said proudly.

“This ain’t the 20th century,” he added. “There are 300 million people in the U.S., so there are 150 million ways to be a man.”..

.. Questions about the division of labor can be a challenge, even when couples enter the arrangement willingly. “Make sure you define it really well with your spouse,” said Dan Bryk, an at-home father in New York. “There are times when your working spouse will come from a particularly tough day at work and will just forget what a tough gig this is. As I’m sure men did for a century, they just take for granted, well, ‘What did you do? You kept him from injuring himself for eight hours?’ There’s a lot more to it than that.”

And even with the shifting power dynamic at the playground, there remains something of a line in the sandbox, said Matthew Pritchard, an at-home dad in New York. How does a lone man approach a lone woman at the teeter-totter without giving her the wrong impression?

“I feel like some moms have been resistant to me at the playground or wherever we meet because maybe they think I’m flirting or have a hidden agenda,” said Mr. Pritchard, 47. “As a new father, I find that kind of amusing. Not only do I have no desire for anything else but a play date, I have no energy or time, either.”

That quote about the versatility of today’s fathers vaguely reminded me of this time recently when I bought a second-hand mower from a local backyard business and the guy totally scammed me and sold me this ancient, rusty thing that stopped working on the very first go at our lawn.

Bill was kind of annoyed with me for being suckered and wasting money. I wanted him to sort it out because he is the mechanical one and a bit of ‘mechanical talk’ mano a mano might easily fix the whole situation. But Bill thought it was my purchase and I should resolve the problem, so I went and tried to broker a repair deal with the mower guy but I came home in tears because he gave me such a hard time.

And Bill was disgusted at this other guy’s behaviour so he stormed off in the car to have it out with him. I was afraid it might end up with the police involved because both Bill and the mower guy were pretty angry. But instead they did that yelling in each other’s face thing until finally someone backs down or throws a punch and fortunately the mower guy backed down. A deal was sorted, the mower fixed and Bill returned. As I went out to finish mowing the lawn I saw Bill sit down to show his daughter how to cast on with her knitting needles and I thought, awww this man is a little bit cool.

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This is what serenity looks like when your partner is a darling, like me, and sends you away on a hike in Tasmania for almost two weeks without the kids. I can’t even begin to imagine what that kind of serenity feels like. I study the photos for clues.

The Tasmanian Devil toy Bill bought for Lauca and lugged with him on the hike for various photographs.

Bill did the hike with my brother. This is the back of my brother.

Kangaroo prints in the snow.

The viewing of views.

Spikey grass in snow.


Lake view.

Beautiful things.

More views.

Another view of hiking behind my brother.

A very cold waterfall.


One of the huts they slept in on the trek.

View from the hut they stayed in on the last night.

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My three year old son, Cormac, who is just learning to read brought me this card from his alphabet set. He left it on the bed next to me while I was still waking up. “It’s your ‘mmm’ for Mummy,” he told me.

This is (fucking) homegrown lavender – my first full bunch. Most of it came from the plant Bill gave me for Valentines Day this year. I’m so excited with myself for growing my own bunch of flowers. Also, our bees love me.

Yes, and homegrown eggs. Feel my smug.


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A recent study has found that playfulness — which includes having a “sense of humor,” a “playful” attitude, or a keen and abiding love of “fun” — is among the most coveted character traits for potential mates, both men and women. A survey of 250 undergraduate students found that playfulness was the usually the most important thing people looked for in a long-term partner, probably because nobody wants to be yoked to a humorless asshole who insists on fortifying weekly readings of Goethe for the rest of their natural lives…

.. Men ranked “sense of humor” as the most important quality a woman could have, a trait followed closely by “playfulness” and “kindness” (“physical attraction” was pretty far down on the list, ranking ninth out of a possible 13 traits). It’s fun to speculate about what atavistic reasons make “playfulness” such an attractive quality, but the answer in this case is probably pretty simple — most people like to laugh, and, given the fact that a lot of modern people have at least a little extra not-running-away-from-feral-dogs time to joke around with each other, they’d rather while away the hours of their lives with someone who’s not a complete bore.

From Jezebel. Normally I scoff at these studies with their small sample sizes (ie. 250 is not a big number in economics) and their incessant use of undergrad students as subjects, but I think the results of this study ring true, so I’m behind this one. I love playful, Bill loves playful.

But it would be good to do these studies on someone other than undergrads every now and then because who knows, people might be different at different stages of their life? For instance, sometimes parenting lends itself to being playful but other times it leaves you a cranky, earnest mess – Bill and I like playfulness but maybe most other parents would rank ‘patience’ above ‘playfulness’?

And if you read the link you will find that the researchers are attaching the usual evo-psych conclusions to it, too – it’s all about the male plumage and female fertility. People, over it.

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