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Archive for the ‘fatherhood’ Category

Just a quick reminder that if you like a little political economic theory and feminism with your motherhood you can…..

…..hear me speak on the Mothering Under Neoliberalism plenary panel at the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood Conference in Melbourne on Thursday 14 July, 2016. The panel includes Petra Bueskens, Anne Manne and Fiona Giles and excitingly, Andrea O’Reilly is the chair.

I’m going to deliver a paper called, “Do Economists Love Their Babies Too?” The other papers on the panel include, “Mothers and the Universal Basic Income”, “Lifters and Leaners: Neoliberalism and Farewell to Maternalism” and “Satisfying the Needs and Giving Pleasure: Breastfeeding in public as a slow food critique of neoliberalism”.

You can buy tickets just for the plenary panel if you prefer, but let me tell you that the whole program is really great and will be released shortly.

I would love to see you there.

 

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These are difficult questions for me to consider. I am proud of being a mother. I love my two children. I love them so much that it hurts to look at them and I am pretty sure they are the best, smartest, scrappiest, funniest boys in the world, and having them changed my life. My life before children was selfish and bland, all feelings and no grit, just a drifting miasma of mood. To go back to living like that seems like hell. I get annoyed when women’s magazines try to edit my motherhood out of my work. I get depressed when they won’t run a piece unless I take out any mention of my having children. I firmly believe that having children has made me smarter and better and more interesting, and fuck you to any women’s mag that doesn’t think so too.

And yet, I am profoundly unfree.

I have a ten-month-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old. The three-and-a-half-year-old goes to preschool for a good portion of the day, but the preschool isn’t state-sponsored, so it eats our entire childcare budget. That means I am home with the ten-month-old full time. This is a luxury. Many women would kill to stay at home with their babies. I am fully aware of this. I try to write when the baby is asleep. He sleeps for about two hours in the morning. Otherwise, throughout the day I do housework, cook, try not to go insane. My husband leaves at five in the morning and gets home at eight in the evening most days, so I am short on adult conversation or help. There is a deep, almost suffocating solitude to my days, and yet there is also the California ocean, the flowers, the breeze. It is lovely; it is intolerable; it is both.

I am tethered by many things: the baby’s nursing schedule, the three-year-old’s attention span. To read an adult book is out of the question. To sit quietly for a moment with no one touching me is out of the question. To poop alone is out of the question. Showering is something I have to ask my husband for time to do each night. A lot of nights I am too tired to even think about showering and I just go to bed dirty. I do not brush my hair every day because what does it matter if my hair is brushed? It is possible I am clinically depressed. It is also possible that taking care of small children is just really hard, and in the last six months we have had a move across country, a baby in the hospital for a week, and my new book come out. Maybe I am just frazzled and it will get better on its own. Or maybe it won’t.

From Rufi Thorpe’s “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid” in Vela.

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Even airports are more relaxed on Sunday mornings. The place is full, but no one is running across from the carpark or pushing their way to the front of the queue.

‘Wish I was getting on a plane and going to Spain,’ I say.

‘Well,’ the mister says, ‘Come through Abu Dhabi on the way and we can go to Spain.’

‘Oh, no, I want to go alone.’

He laughs. It is a proper laugh and I wonder how he does it. How he loves a person who is so often absent, who so often retreats. It seems never to injure his love for me, never to bruise his heart.

Anyway, it isn’t true. I don’t want to go to Spain. The thought of that takes me by surprise, although the truth of it does not. It is time for me to be still. That’s why I’m here, isn’t it? That’s why I’ve moved back to Adelaide. To bury my roots in something more than sand.

From writer, Tracy Crisp in “Sunday” on her blog, naive psychologist.

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It was impossible, I said in response to his question, to give the reasons why the marriage had ended: among other things a marriage is a system of belief a story, and though it manifests itself in things that are real enough, the impulse that drives it is ultimately mysterious. What was real, in the end, was the loss of the house, which had become the geographical location for things that had gone absent and which represented, I supposed, the hope that they might one day return. To move from the house was to declare, in a way, that we had stopped waiting; we could no longer be found at the usual number, the usual address.

And

“I kept waiting for the children to ask to go home,” he said, “but in fact it was I who wanted to go home: I began to realise, in the car, that as far as they were concerned they were home, at least partly, because they were with me.”

That, he said, was the loneliest of realisations…

And

I thought often of the chapter in Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff and Cathy stare from the dark garden through the windows of the Lintons’ drawing room and watch the brightly lit family scene inside. What is fatal in that vision is subjectivity: looking through the window the two of them see different things, Heathcliff what he fears and hates and Cathy what she desires and feels deprived of. But neither of them can see things as they really are. And likewise I was beginning to see my own fears and desires manifested outside myself, was beginning to see in other people’s lives a commentary on my own. When I looked at the family on the boat, I saw a vision of what I no longer had: I saw something, in other words, that wasn’t there. Those people were living in their moment, and though I could see it I could no more return to that moment than I could walk across the water that separated us. And of those two ways of living – living in the moment and living outside it – which was the more real?

From Rachel Cusk’s brilliant novel, Outline. 

 

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I am close to someone who had her first baby through IVF and who is attempting a second baby and all I can say is… I see that what you go through is excruciating and all my love to those battling along.

These are beautiful demystifying links on IVF.

This from Dan Majesky.

And then we wait.

You’re warned against taking pregnancy tests because they measure hormone levels, and after taking all sorts of weird shit all month, you can trigger a false positive. So you wait. And there will be spotting. Is it spotting, or is her period starting? You don’t know. So you wait. And you wait.

And you wait.

And sometimes her period comes, and you start over. Step one.

And sometimes it doesn’t come. But the second line doesn’t appear, or the plus, or the whatever these tests do.

So you wait. And it’s negative, but you hope, and you see your friends getting pregnant, and you get a little sad. But you get mad at yourself because you want to feel happy for other people, and that’s not fair to them. And then the 17-year-old across the street gets pregnant, and you get a little sadder. And your cousins get pregnant, and you get a little sadder.

And you see people scream at their kids, and beat them in Kroger, and you just want to die because you would give anything to have a child throwing a tantrum in the cereal aisle.

You don’t want to hate people. You don’t. I think babies are beautiful. I think kids are awesome, but you can’t help the jealousy. The envy. The resentment. It really creeps up on you. And you search for positive things. And you talk on end about your capital-O Options.

And then you see people on the internet post screeds about how dare anyone assume that they would want to have kids because not having kids is the best – which is fine, have at it or don’t have at it, I really don’t care – but we want to be procreating, and we want what you could have, but are choosing not to use.

And we want to tell you, but people don’t talk about it. Because you don’t want to talk about it.

Because you spend all day thinking about it, managing it. Trying not to cry. Trying to not turn into HI and Ed from Raising Arizona, stealing babies in the night.

And this over at Essential Baby from Macy Rodeffer.

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Many of the fathers I spoke to admit that showing vulnerability to other men can be difficult. Daniel, the divorced dad in Brooklyn, recalls that, growing up, mealtimes with his brothers were a kind of “blood sport”. Even now, he observes an “impulse to snuff out every manifestation of weakness as it’s being expressed”. So it makes some sense that many men set their sights on having a son. Raising a boy affords fathers a chance to be both strong and sensitive, to be powerful yet tender. With a son, a father may believe he has been delivered an adoring male ally in an atmosphere – the home – that often feels like the domain of women.

This profound sense of kinship comes with a similarly profound sense of responsibility. Many of the men I spoke to said they understood it was their job to guide their boys through the choppy waters of adolescence. “It’s just a responsibility assumed,” says Tom, a father in his late 50s with one teenage boy. “Sometimes my wife will say, ‘Hey look, I would like you to talk to our son about such and such’, but really it’s not something we even need to talk about.” Louise, the mother with a teenage boy in London, agrees that “the father’s influence with a boy is absolutely key.” She adds that male friends with sons have confided to her that they are more apprehensive about abandoning their families. “They worry more about the guilt and the damage they may cause.”

This entire article, “It’s a boy thing” by Emily Bobrow in The Economist’s 1843 is fascinating and.. disturbing. The preference for sons by fathers has been analysed from multiple perspectives but I find the one above some of the more interesting for me. Parenting taps into something profound about sense of self. It does not surprise me that men, as fathers, might feel a particularly strong attachment to sons given the opportunity it presents for them to be safely close to another male and to also repair some of their own childhoods as emotionally isolated little boys by recreating them and re-imagining them.

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