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Archive for the ‘motherhood sux’ Category

This a lovely piece of writing from my friend, Sarah Burnside in”What I’m Reading” in Meanjin. You can read my own contribution to the Meanjin reading series here, where I, too, have coincidentally mentioned reading children’s books aloud.. but in my case it is also about sex as a single mother.

An excerpt from Burnside’s piece is below:

I’ve always found ‘Waltzing Matilda’ unbearably grim, but we have it in book form and it has become a firm favourite (if you were wondering whether it’s jarring to hear a two year old solemnly intone ‘drowning himself by the coolabah tree’, the answer is a resounding yes). Dr Seuss’ wordsmithery is brilliant and I’m very grateful to him for helping me raise my children, but I can’t escape the feeling that he sometimes rested on his laurels. Alongside the mastery of The Lorax he has gems like Yertle the Turtle, a marvellous little tale of revolt against a tyrannical monarch. However, he’s also given us the likes of There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, about which the less said the better.  Further, the Cat in the Hat is an unmitigated jerk and the Fox in Socks can get bent.

However, I’ve developed a deep respect for the craft that goes into picture books: the rhyming, the humour, the vivid characters, and the way the narrative tends to begin in a matter-of-fact way without any explanation. The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont simply begins by stating that ‘once upon a time there was an elephant’ who one day went for a walk and ‘met a Bad Baby’. We don’t know why the elephant is at large in a town or why the baby is hanging around seemingly waiting for passing animals to pick him up with their trunks (where are his parents?). None of this, clearly, matters to small children; the point is that the two companions go rumpeta rumpeta rumpeta all down the road. Stories end without any need for an overall resolution; it’s often sufficient to note that everyone went home for tea.

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For mothers with toddlers and preschoolers… “For the fuck of shit, children” at The Modernity Ward. 

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There has been a lot written about poverty and its effects on how parents feed their children – food affordability, cheap calories, risk-taking and new foods etc – but this article picks up on something else important that hasn’t been said so much…

An overwhelming majority of the wealthy parents told me that they routinely said “no” to requests for junk food. In 96% of high-income families, at least one parent reported that they regularly decline such requests.

Poor parents honored their kids’ junk food requests to nourish them emotionally, not to harm their health.

Parents from poor families, however, almost always said “yes” to junk food. Only 13% of low-income families had a parent that reported regularly declining their kids’ requests.

One reason for this disparity is that kids’ food requests meant drastically different things to the parents.

For parents raising their kids in poverty, having to say “no” was a part of daily life. Their financial circumstances forced them to deny their children’s requests — for a new pair of Nikes, say, or a trip to Disneyland — all the time. This wasn’t tough for the kids alone; it also left the poor parents feeling guilty and inadequate.

Next to all the things poor parents truly couldn’t afford, junk food was something they could often say “yes” to. Poor parents told me they could almost always scrounge up a dollar to buy their kids a can of soda or a bag of chips. So when poor parents could afford to oblige such requests, they did.

Honoring requests for junk food allowed poor parents to show their children that they loved them, heard them and could meet their needs. As one low-income single mother told me: “They want it, they’ll get it. One day they’ll know. They’ll know I love them, and that’s all that matters.”

Junk food purchases not only brought smiles to kids’ faces, but also gave parents something equally vital: a sense of worth and competence as parents in an environment where those feelings were constantly jeopardized.

To wealthy parents, kids’ food requests meant something entirely different. Raising their kids in affluent environment, wealthy parents were regularly able to meet most of their children’s material needs and wants. Wealthy parents could almost always say “yes,” whether it was to the latest iPhone or a college education.

With an abundance of opportunities to honor their kids’ desires, high-income parents could more readily stomach saying “no” to requests for junk food. Doing so wasn’t always easy, but it also wasn’t nearly as distressing for wealthy parents as for poor ones.

From “Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthy?” by Priya Fielding-Singh in the Los Angeles Times. 

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SMILF-CraveTV.jpg

Much of the darkness stems from the cultural and economic quicksand in which Bridgette Bird (Shaw) finds herself: As a would-be hookup says to her late in the first episode, “You’re living in a small room with a 2-year-old.” Working as a part-time nanny while going on acting auditions—all while trying to raise her young child, Larry—the show follows her efforts to simply keep her little family afloat, even as she makes bad decisions, acts impulsively, and tries to renew some semblance of a sex life.

While the episodes are distinctly carved up according to various misadventures (Bridgette is stuck at work while her child needs a clinic visit, Bridgette scrambles for cash to pay overdue rent), much of the ongoing narrative unfolds like an earnest indie film, inserting abrupt character backstories and plot complications at a sporadic pace. We gradually learn that Bridgette struggles with an eating disorder, that she has nannied for the same cluelessly bourgeois family (led by a reliably great Connie Britton) for years, that she has talent as an actor. But a big part of her identity is bound up with the feeling that she’s stuck, too. After being encouraged to start a vision board by a wealthier acquaintance who assures her it will help “actualize” her dreams into reality, she asks to borrow magazines, tape, scissors—then quietly adds, “I’m gonna need a dream, too.” By the end of the third episode, the strange admixture of lacerating humor and downbeat drama has gelled into something more potent and politically savvy than the sex-centric first episode might suggest.

From “SMILF is a good show with a horrible title” by Alex McLevy in AV Club. 

I really liked this series. It captured lots about the single motherhood experience – the suffocating combinations of financial and time poverty; the lack of adult space; the penalties for sexuality; the cost of childcare ‘help’ from family; the vulnerability to judgement for your parenting; the intense intimacy between mother and child.

It’s not perfect, and it’s quite dark, but I think it is probably the best series about mothering while poor since Roseanne

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I have a teenager and a near-teenager and I’m going to say something really loud so it’s really clear: Parenting a teenager is the hardest, loneliest, most emotionally trying phase I’ve ever experienced as a mother, and by far puts the biggest strain on my marriage, and our family as a whole.

There. I said it.

And it’s LONELY. Did I mention that? Because there seems to be an expectation or idea that the kid is “already raised,” that they’re “done.” That since they can bathe and dress and feed themselves, parenting them isn’t as difficult as caring for a newborn.

Of course this isn’t Parenting Struggle Olympics, but I have to say, in my experience, newborns don’t have shit on teenagers. Okay, they may literally have shit, and newborns are physicallymore exhausting, but when it comes to emotional and mental toil, teenagers have proven significantly more trying than those tiny bundles of squishy milk breath.

And here’s why: Setting aside postpartum depression and anxiety, newborns are relatively simple. They’re difficult, but overall, kind of simple. They need clothing, holding, feeding, changing, bathing. It’s an incredible amount of work, but it’s a clean difficulty, a straightforward work, and if we surrender, and stop trying to control the little monsters every waking moment to FIT INTO OUR EXCEL SPREADSHEET OF BABY, we settle into a little groove.

And oh, they offer so much in return, and so immediately: Smiles, coos, new developments every damn week. Baby breath. Chubby thighs. Their little bottoms in the air when they sleep.Omg I want another baby.

And babies, well, they tend to not go for the jugular.

I can’t recall a single time my infant said a thing that touched my deepest insecurity as a parent, a personality trait I’m ashamed of, a real flaw I have that is suddenly being held against me by a human whose cell phone bill I pay for.

From “Why aren’t we talking about parenting teenagers. I’m lost AF” by renegademama. God, I really, really appreciated finding this post. I have been feeling so lonely as a mother of a teenager and have been trying to finish writing a piece about all this stuff for a while now… but, man, it is hard.

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You say, Did you put your lunch in your bag? Unfortunately children are banned from putting their lunches in the first time you ask, so they haven’t. Your little kid says, We’re not allowed to take anything in packets anymore. You take all the lunch out of its packets and put it in an old McDonald’s bag and just shake it as hard as you can, being sure to quickly step in the cat shit. You type GET PAPER TOWEL into your brain calendar.

The children GET OUT THE FRONT DOOR after you yell it into their faces six or seven times. In the car, they argue about what radio station to listen to. They argue about what Spotify playlist to listen to. Your little kid kicks the back of your big kid’s chair. Your big kid looks at her funny. Your little kid hates him. Your big kid tells her she doesn’t have any friends. You play a funny prank which is to drive your car into oncoming traffic.

You’re halfway to school when your little kid tells you she forgot to bring the poster you made for her homework. You tell her she has to learn to take responsibility for her own things, while chucking a dangerous u-turn and going back into the house and finding the poster under every Shopkins toy ever made. When you get back in the car she’s crying because your big kid told her horses made of marshmallows don’t exist.

A man cuts you off and then gives you the finger. You think about following him to work and shouting at him about it and then hiding in the staff room to eat Arnott’s assorted cream biscuits while someone else worries about what your kids are doing.

This whole piece, “School Run: a horror story” by Anna Spargo-Ryan is terrific.

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She said some of the cases she heard involved women who sought police protection from domestic violence, only to end up in jail for unpaid fines. Other reports involved children “being born on [jail] cell floors”, and mothers under anaesthetic giving consent to the removal of their children.

Ms McLeod said there needed to be significant and “obvious” changes to laws and sentencing practices that led to Aboriginal Australians being thrown in jail for minor offences.

“If you jail people because they’re disqualified from driving, but they need to drive, they’re going to continue to drive. If you assist them to get a licence, then you solve the problem,” she said.

“If you’re jailing a kid – in NSW for example – for stealing a bottle of soda water, [you should] install a drinking foundation so they can have a drink on the way home. These solutions are so obvious that they have to be seriously taken.”

From here in The Sydney Morning Herald by Michael Koziol.

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