Archive for the ‘single parenthood’ Category

Lovely photo series in The Atlantic on Iceland’s single mothers.

Annie Ling spent two months photographing these mothers in the Nordic country, documenting their daily lives and struggles. “A lack of social stigma and a relaxed attitude towards marriage and sexual morality makes raising a family as a single parent in Iceland more feasible,” Ling said.

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Even now, safely past all that, I am apprehensive about remembering just how exhausted and vulnerable I was. I can describe it no better than this: When you are a single parent, the home you build sits atop stilts and if the structure gets more than the smallest of shakes it begins to wobble in such a way as to pick up its own rocking momentum. A dangerously gyroscopic effect. In this way, even relatively moderate upsets can lead to a collapse in the entire thing.

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Here is my latest article for Daily Life:

And dependence is a funny word to use for older women.

By the time they are claiming the aged pension, paltry as it is, a lot of older women will have raised children, coddled a husband through his working life (that might seem harsh but, honestly, what would you call the fact that she, alone, washed and ironed all their work clothes, cooked the dinners and made him those daily cups of tea), maintained at least one deteriorating elderly parent, and had a hand in also caring for grandchildren.

These women have known some dependency, but you can see it was not all their own. The economy is built upon the toil of unpaid care, largely undertaken by women. That the provision of this essential care work leaves women financially depleted is evidenced by their eventual over-representation in numbers on the age pension, which the Treasurer has so sympathetically observed.

He notes the government pays for these women’s public healthcare, saying it as though governments did not raise revenue from their taxes. Which is interesting, because older women are contributing the fastest growing incomes to the gender income ratio. If women are to eventually catch up to men in terms of income and employment, it may be older women who get us there.

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I am so incredibly charmed by Overland‘s inaugural writer’s residency being offered this year to single mothers. 

If this is you, please please consider applying. It’s a wonderful opportunity including space, resources, money and an amazing mentor in Alison Croggon.

It’s based in Melbourne, so there is that to consider in applying but may many more writing centres in other places consider single mother writers as their pool for residencies in the future.  Because some of my very favourite writers have been single mothers. And I was a single mother and I know it is so hard to write on top of all that.

And basically, this is one of the most feminist gestures I’ve witnessed by a literary journal, go Overland.

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Reasons to be apart: being sick, being tired, staying up late, skipping dinner, having my period and not wanting to tell someone I have my period, not shaving my legs/painting my nails/brushing my hair/pulling my stomach in when I’m naked, being lazy, being bad-tempered, letting ex-boyfriends text me, spending time with friends, masturbating before sleep, wearing PJs, being with my kids, writing. None of this I say; all of this I summarise as ‘being alone’. Why do you need all this time alone, he asks.

Reasons to be together: I love him, I want him, he doesn’t like when we’re apart.

(Notes from last year).

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On snakes

Why must snakes be the fear I seem to need to face? Three snakes have come to my home and threatened the pets since I’ve been alone. Or possibly, the same snake visiting three times. I worry that I’m somehow calling them to me.

(Notes from last year).

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I think, I never want to go through the pain of tearing a relationship apart, again. But I also think, I never again want to resist it either. If the coming apart is to be done, let us throw ourselves to it.

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One day one of my single mother friends sees me at a Christmas party and I am introducing her to Seth. We’ve just moved in together. “You did it”, she says, “congratulations”.

Were we trying to do this? Was the solitude, and love of it, that she and I spoke about not genuine?

“What’s it like to be living with a man again?”

Good. And strange. All the negotiation. I forgot how tiring the negotiation is.

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He reminds me he’s willing to help in any way that he can.

This is supposed to be comforting but actually it feels like a reminder. Memo to me: don’t lose your car again, don’t be a single mother, don’t work so far away in the city. To Do List: remember to thank people for their help, feel less trapped, regain independence.

He groans in irritation.

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