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Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

It grew very quiet for a time, high up there in the stillness of the bush with its greys and blues and greens and my daughter glowering at me. Her ‘this is too hard’ had morphed into ‘you are too hard’. I told her about how magical it would be at the summit, I told her we had come this far and we had to keep going, I told her that she could do it.

After a time, I urged my boyfriend to go on without us. My daughter was wailing and cursing by then, like someone strung out. She was digging in hard, all resistance and hopelessness, snot and tears. My boyfriend walked off up the trail and disappeared around the bend. I imagined all the second thoughts he must be having about us, about binding himself to this crazy, broken thing.

From “What you really see when you climb a mountain with your child” in Essential Kids. 

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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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It is With a Heavy Heart That I Announce Am Having My Parents Pick Me Up Early From This Sleepover at The Onion.

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When did two drinks a week become 14? A few things happened between then and now. These days I’m a parent of two young children, whose acute dependency upon me makes socializing around a glass of wine or beer at a friend’s toy-filled house often the best choice. I live in California, where wine is available on tap, and sold in nearly every neighborhood grocery store. I can afford a few bottles in the house, whereas before I’d run out to buy one only before a party or dinner. Heck, I’m a writer.

I live at the place where these circles meet: I am the Venn diagram of drinking as habitual and easy entertainment.

You might say, “Why worry?” Much of the epidemiological research out there is pretty decisive on the benefits of moderate drinking, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends a daily limit of one drink for women and two for men, says that recent research on health benefits is inconclusive.

Here’s the thing: At this middle stage of my life, I can easily make out the slippery slope where two a day becomes three; when you split a bottle of wine and open another; when you go out for a special event and three drinks doesn’t do much because you’ve built up a tolerance and it takes four or even five drinks to achieve a celebratory state of inebriation. Perhaps I think more about these borderlands because though my husband is also a moderate drinker, he has a strong family history of alcoholism. For him, the slippery slope is more like a cliff.

But my inquiry is not about the descent into addiction. It’s an attempt to investigate more deeply the middle ground between the poles of addiction and abstinence, at a time when our culture is sending out dueling messages.

From Bonnie Tsui’s very nicely observed “Drinking by Numbers” in The New York Times. 

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I’m not personally a home-birther, but I strongly believe there is a fundamental feminist principle at stake here. Women give birth at home, always have and always will, whether you like it or not. (Mammals are in the habit of being very determined about their birthing).

As I’ve said before.. here’s the thing about home birth, like abortion the real issue is not whether you would choose home birth yourself, or not. The issue is that some women will choose a home birth and that home birth has always been around and always will be, and given all that, how do we want to legislate for the reality of women’s lives?  And do we not feel the tiniest bit suspicious of motivations to criminalise women’s lives? Good long read from Petra Bueskens in New Matilda.

This problem is fundamentally about the paradigm war between a women’s rights perspective and a medicalised perspective on childbirth, and while these two need not be mutually exclusive, they often are. The one group – independent midwives – assume birth is a normal physiological process and support women’s bodily autonomy, up to and including their right to choose a birth that is deemed ‘high risk’, and adapt their clinical expertise around this; the second group – mainstream medical practitioners, namely obstetricians – assume birth is “only normal in retrospect” and want instead to adapt birthing women to the medical model of risk, health, and illness. The latter group, it has been repeatedly observed, see the first group as risky and cavalier by definition – hence the constant reporting.

The other key dimension here is the massive power difference between independent midwives and the medical and media establishments – evidenced most clearly in the fact that independent midwifery is disappearing against the will of the midwives themselves and the women who want homebirths. There is no level playing field between these two positions; no sense in which accused and maligned midwives like Gaye (and many, many others), are able to present their case with clarity and equanimity. They are a maligned group with no access to a voice that reflects their interests in the mainstream media or medical establishments; many have blogs but these are ignored or cherry picked to ‘prove’ their ‘extremism’.

If, as Marx said, ideology is the mechanism through which the powerless experience their reality systematically distorted – “upside-down as in a camera obscura” – then the representation of independent midwives, and homebirth more generally, is a perfect illustration of this. The ‘dangerous baby-killers’ are the very midwives advocating strongest for women’s rights! They are the midwives on the vanguard of social change and whose human rights perspective is the international standard, notwithstanding that they are often treated as an aberration.

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