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Archive for the ‘toddlers’ 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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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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When we say vagina, we’re collectively ignoring the visual aspect of female anatomy, the clitoris and the labia, with language. The vagina is the way that guys who have sex with girls come. Since Kinsey’s 1953 landmark book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, we’ve known that most women need direct clitoral stimulation (by a hand, a mouth, or some other object) to have an orgasm. And yet, how many times do we still see, in movies or television, the depiction of a woman’s orgasm as a result of cock-penetration alone? That we call the female gentials “the vagina” speaks volumes about the politics of sex. “Vagina” keeps the focus on straight male pleasure.

Dr. Mithu Sanyal, author of VULVA, a cultural history of the vulva, believes ideas about the body are marshaled through words. “Language is connected to our perception of the world. What we can’t name, we can’t talk about, and ultimately, can’t think about,” she writes. Clinical psychologist Dr. Harriet Lerner calls this phenomenon of disregarding the clitoris and the labia “psychic genital mutilation.” According to her, “Language can be as powerful and swift as the surgeon’s knife. What is not named does not exist.”

Always.

From “Stop calling it a vagina” by Mary Katherine Tramontana in Vice. 

Been Team Vulva for a long time around here.

 

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Whenever I see controversy over any ‘extended breastfeeding’ photos I think about the time I was breastfeeding my three year old and he came home from kindergarten saying he wanted to have his best mate for a sleep over and how it was going to be great because they could both have a breastfeed and then sleep in the bed with me …and, of course, it didn’t happen (are you mad?) but I laugh thinking about how much this conversation would kill the breastfeeding-haters dead. Dead.

Here’s poor old Tamara Ecclestone breastfeeding her daughter, like mammals do, and just blowing a whole bunch of tiny little minds in the process. Keep on keepin’ on.

(I wrote an article about my extreme breastfeeding days here, and also I used to collect glamorous breastfeeding photos here, and breastfeeding while getting shit done all over here).

(Thanks to Jane for the link).

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Writing and children, particularly the toddler variety, are often seen as a bad combination, and in many ways this is true. There is the sleep deprivation, the lack of space, and the ‘million other things’ to do. But for the writer – be it of fiction, poetry or journalism, or in my case, all three – there are unexpected revelations. Your perspective changes – and while at first it may seem much has receded into the unreachable distance – there are, if you remain open to them, new stories and depths of understanding and empathy to tap into. My most recent essay in The Monthly, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Julia the Gorilla, would never have been written if not for the excursions I took to the Melbourne Zoo with my boys. The essay was such an effortless pleasure to write, the story so extraordinary that Longform.org picked it up and it is now being translated into Spanish for the Mexican publication, Letras Libres.

It is as though my height has been altered, and from this different eye-level, I can see underneath things, stories previously hidden, tucked tight into shells.

On writing as a mother by Anna Krien in Writing Queensland.

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