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Archive for the ‘work and family (im)balance’ 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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No amount of multivitamins, yoga, meditation, sweaty exercise, superfoods or extreme time management, as brilliant as all these things can be, is going to save us from the effects of too much work. This is not something we can adapt to. Not something we need to adjust the rest of our lives around. It is not possible and it’s unethical to pretend otherwise. Like a low-flying plane, the insidious culture of overwork is deafening and the only way we can really feel better is if we can find a way to make it stop.

From Zoe Krupka’s “No, it’s not you: why ‘wellness’ isn’t the answer to overwork” in The Conversation. 

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I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this film, Stories We Tell since seeing it this week. Recommend.

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Remember that whole ridiculousness when Meghann Foye said she wanted maternity leave ‘perks’ for those who don’t have children? And I wondered at the time would Foye feel at all comfortable trivialising bereavement leave or sick leave in the same way?

Anyway, here’s a lovely reply to that sentiment… all this grim loveliness.

Andrea maternity leave

This is maternity and paternity leave: a time of terror, joy, fear, wonder, pain, blood, and tears. A time of leaking breastmilk and sleeping for no more than two hours at a stretch. A time of your partner having to lift you out of bed.

In an era of highly curated selfies, it isn’t easy to show the world what we look like at our most raw. But we want the world to see us, and know us, like this. No, we wouldn’t trade a moment of it, and no, we’re not complaining. We are simply showing the emotional, painful, joyful, unreal realities of new parenthood. We’re doing the work of humanity, and we’re asking you to see and value that work for the beautiful mess that it is.

From “8 Honest, Raw Photos of What Maternity Leave Really Looks Like” by Jessica Shortall in Elle. 

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Here.

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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Andrea O’Reilly is the business. Here, below in the video, she is giving a talk on Matricentric Feminism at a conference in Rome.

Soon, Andrea O’Reilly is coming to Melbourne for the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference. She’s pretty much the queen of this branch of feminism and is responsible for huge leaps in my thinking over the last ten years. If you can see her speak it’s very much worth it. Buy a ticket, you can even get a day-rate ticket if you like. (The questions she is asking about feminism and our failure to properly include mothers around the 10 minute mark in this video are some of the big debates we’re having today).

Also, I will be on a panel at the Negotiating Competing Demands: 21st Century Motherhood conference with Anne Manne, Fiona Giles and Petra Bueskens talking about Mothering Under Neo-Liberalism. To say I am excited to be on a panel with these women, some of my favourite thinkers in the country is a huge understatement.

    

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