29 December 2016

Stupidity fatigue

2016 has taken heaps of our favourite celebrities. It's not even an age thing because they've been aged everything from 27 to 99, and I don't mind admitting that I really hope that somebody is sitting next to Betty White ready to punch the Grim Reaper in the face if he even glances in her direction.

It's also taken a bunch of really clever people like the guy who invented the Heimlich manoeuvre which is a very effective way of stopping somebody from choking and a whole bunch of scientists that invented things I take for granted. A lot of them were really old and they had had, as we say, 'a good innings'. Which is probably true but I suspect the cricketer still feels a bit bummed when he gets out. 

And we've had the whole rise of facism thing going on. And politicians accusing the elderly and the differently abled of being leaners, when they get a quarter of a million dollars a year for life just for doing their jobs. We have people saying things or people or ideas are un-Australian with no irony at all despite our failure to recognise the first Australians in our constitution.

We have people saying that Muslims hate women as they send obscenity laden emails to women suggesting they needed to be raped or violated to teach them a lesson. And they don't even see how moronic they are. We have women heaping hatred upon other women for their views, views they can only have come across because they are too ugly to fuck. Those women don't need feminism clearly because they are as good as the men at using sexual violence or innuendo to silence other women. 

And we are protecting our borders and keeping people from dying at sea, by killing people in our government sanctioned concentration camps and we still think somehow this is good politics, good for the country and good for our souls. 

Now everybody doesn't obviously think as I do because Trump, Brexit, Hanson, Bernardi. But the conundrum I have been struggling with is why do people have so much hatred for others?

I hear the answers. I listen as hard as I can but there is nothing that people are saying that makes any
sense to me. 

They say we can't have Muslims 'imposing' their way of life on us? But firstly, we did that to the First Australians and it was okay? Secondly, they aren't. 

They say refugees are violent, disrespectful of women and don't follow our laws. Yet they don't contribute to our statistics of one women dead a week. They're not the footballers or politicans being jailed for rape. They aren't the Obeids or Oliver Curtis or any of the other entitled going to jail for breaking the law. 

We can't have marriage equality because Beazley and Howard put that in place. If we want all our citizens to be equal we need to spend millions of dollars. We can't provide foreign aid even though we are the third wealthiest nation per capita in the world. We can't be feminists because Julie Bishop doesn't want to be one. We don't know why our children are racists when we refer to 'bloody Chink tradies' or say 'It's our bloody country' as we stand with our foot on the neck of First Australians. 

We spit bile and quote the Telegraph. We forget the IRA - the non-Muslim terrorists, we forget the Crusades, we forget that some of our favourite footballers and celebrities came here as refugees. We suck on the tit of xenophobic media and blame somebody, anybody for our misfortunes. We don't blame the people we are electing to look after us and build us a better country. We blame the poor folk who have had to leave their countries because it's been annihilated, bombed into nothing.

I am listening. I promise you. But there is so much evidence. Scientific evidence. Government evidence. Expert evidence that points out that a harmonious society, one focussed on people not power, means that everybody is wealthier. Happier. 

And it's possible to change your views. I used to be the person that could explain away racism and sexism and all the other 'isms' by citing political correctness, it was just a joke and so on. But I don't anymore and that's because I started to read. And listen. And learn.

And I learned that I was wrong. That I needed to change what I had absorbed, what I had been taught and what I took for granted. It didn't happen over night. I'm still a work in progress, I still get it wrong sometimes.  I'm all for doing things like growing the economy and having a great political system and having a laugh - but not if it means we're shitting on the most vulnerable whether they be our elderly, our very young, our refugees, our most fragile. 

I haven't written about this for a while because I haven't been able to articulate the fatigue of having to constantly counteract people's stupidity. It is draining to stand up and call people out on bigotry but if I don't, I'm part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I don't exactly know exactly what the solution is. But I do know this tendency to be proud of our stupidity, determined in our ignorance, and actively hateful, is not it.

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15 December 2016

Goodbye to childcare

Today is my baby girl's last day at childcare. Over the last six years, between the two of them they have spent just over one thousand days in childcare and just over $250,000 has been spent on that care.
They said to label anything we didn't want to lose
Butter wouldn't melt right?
That would pay for four years of high school for Prince William.  Before extracurricular activities obviously but still, it practically makes the girls princesses right?

And it's worth it. I wrote a love letter to childcare in January 2014 and despite moving childcare centres shortly after nothing has changed for us. We remain strong advocates for the role of childcare in the lives of young children.

Childcare has been a brilliant investment in our daughters and in our family.  Childcare has been the place where they developed their first friendships. Friendships which have taught them about acceptance, negotiation, humour, fun and love. Childcare has given our daughters their first tribes and these support networks exist for them outside of childcare as much as they do inside.

Childcare has given them a love of learning. It has taught them that everybody can learn but that people learn differently. It has given them an insight into topics they might not have come up otherwise. They head off to big school with a smattering of paleontology, astronomy, engineering, mechanics, musical theory, musical application, geography, literacy, numeracy, humanities, creative expression, nursing, teaching, archeology, acrobatics, horticulture, domestic sciences, anatomy, magic, indigenous culture, languages, and 27 different ways to describe a fart. To name but a few.

Childcare has taught them resilience. Real life is not for the faint hearted. Sometimes people can be unkind. Sometimes you can be unkind. How you move on from the knocks and acknowledge your role in making somebody else's moment less than perfect is an important life skill. A room full of small, determined people means you have to learn how to process the things that happen around you and bounce back or you miss out on the fun. You also need to learn how to respond when you get bumped, kicked, pinched, bitten or broken. And as parents, you learn you need to stick to the speed limit on the odd trip to the hospital.

Childcare has taught them the negotiation skills required for a hostage situation. It has also taught them to remember anything any adult has ever said so they can contradict your lame excuses or white lies. It has taught them that Chef Clair is a much better cook than Mum or Dad and perhaps there is life beyond beige food.  Childcare has taught them to put on sunblock and hats whenever they go outside. It has taught them how to grow vegetables. Raise chickens. It has taught them hygiene. And that boys can have long hair. It has taught them about different family structures. Private parts being private. That piranhas love bananas and that sailors go to sea sea sea. It taught them how to make didgeridoos out of cardboard and a solar system out of balloons.

Childcare has given us community. It has given us a support network. It's given us the owner of a cupcake factory. A hairdresser. HR consultants. Lawyers. Tennis coaches. Caterers. Business owners. Clients. Suppliers. A place to live. Most importantly, friends.

So many many friends. Beautiful, funny, lifelong friends.

Even if working had not been a financial necessity for both of us, I like to think we would have had the good sense to invest in childcare. It has been an investment which has repaid itself in millions of tiny ways. We have been abundantly blessed with carers and teachers who have given so much love to our children. Carers and teachers that we now call friends.

Each time I dropped my girls for the first time at daycare, I cried. When my Tully finished last year, I cried.

I will cry again today. It is a milestone. An ending and a beginning.

My gorgeous feisty Cassidy is going to big school in six short weeks. She's ready. So very ready.

Farewell childcare. And thanks for the memories.

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6 December 2016

You can never take too many photographs

I came across a photo album this week that featured a snapshot of my life from 1993. It was the year I moved out of home, the year I broke up with the long legged truck driver and started dating the curly haired uni student. It was a year where I attended parties, went to the coast, went to the snow, went hiking, went caving went to the first of my friend's engagement parties, studied, lived.

It was the year I was 18. I would turn 19 in the December.

The photo album features faces that I will never see again. Not long after this year one of the faces in the album commits suicide. This year two more of the faces in the album have died - one from cancer and one from a heart attack. 

There are faces in that album who were the friends that I couldn't live without who I know only see on Facebook and faces in that album of friends that I couldn't live without and don't. There are the faces of my younger siblings snapped when I used to visit mum and dad's house and the face of my older brother with his then girlfriend, now wife of fourteen years. 

There are faces in that album of people who had already at a young age lived through the death of a child and who are yet to marry. Faces in that album of friends who had lived through unspeakable child abuse who never said a word until years later. There are faces in that album of friends who were just friends back then but are now married and parents. There are faces in that album of best friends that no longer speak to each other.

There are faces in that album of people who lived so close but now live so far. There are faces in that album that dreamed of a life that never materialised and there are faces in that album of people whose lives have been so much more than they ever dreamed.

There are faces in that album eating Big Macs who are now vegetarians. There are faces in that album that thought they were fat but weren't. There were faces in that album who were desperately in love and still are and faces in that album that were desperately in love and now aren't. There are faces in that album that never thought they were enough but they were. 

There are faces in that album that are carefree and laughing. There are faces in that album that are asleep. There are faces in that album who have never since touched Wild Turkey and there are faces in that album who were wild and reckless and now drive their children nuts with their rules.

I look at all the faces in that album and I think how it all seems like just a moment ago. Memory is such a slippery beast, sometimes tender and evocative and sometimes viciously demoralising. Photo albums provide such a powerful link to the people that we were. The gloriously imperfect versions of ourselves. 

You can never take too many pictures. I look back at the 300 pictures from that year and I know they don't even come close to capturing all that happened this year. The dizzy heights, the painful lows. They don't display the pain of breaking up with your first love. They don't show you the arguments with your first housemates about the washing up. They don't show you the bellyaching laughs around the campfire or the mud you vomited after a mud fight went rogue and you ended up swallowing more mud than you threw. 

They don't show you the peaceful moments where you hung out with your friends listening to movies or the crazy nights where you moshed at the ANU bar. They don't show the nights you lay on the ground and watched the stars or the boring days where all you seemed to do was work and study. They don't show you the moments that were inexorably making up the future you. 

But in the gaps all the moments are there. The photos conjure up the moments and memories not captured on film. The album is full of my history. It's full of a shared history. There are formative moments captured in that album even when they are not captured on film. 

You can never take too many photographs. You don't know when those photographs are going to have a relevance to you or somebody outside the moment you took it. Every time you take a photo you capturing not only that moment but the experience. The year. The relationships. Daily life. 

You can never take too many photographs. Trust me on this. 

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1 December 2016

I know stuff

Most mornings I walk my girls to school. Sometimes we have grand old chats and sometimes it's just 15 minutes of me bellowing -
The days we have grand old chats we cover off some pretty important stuff. You know like how does water know which way to go in a pipe? What is a blue room? What is a green room? What does superimposed mean? Why do some people have no grandparents and why do some have eight? Why can't you marry your cousin? What is genetics? Why do people litter when they know it will make the world stop turning and we'll all die? Why doesn't swimming Barbie come with a hat and sunscreen?* How many sleeps until Christmas?

I enjoy these chats. I love how random my daughters' minds are. I love the reminder that so much of my knowledge had to be acquired at some time. I love the evidence that they are learning things from other people and by just watching the world around them. I love it when they explain something they learned that day to me or tell me why Pluto isn't a planet anymore even though it was in the olden days. Ahem.

In their eyes, because I'm their mum, I know stuff.

And sure I do. I mean you totally want me on your quiz team when they ask you to name all six of Brangelina's children. And I'm a dab hand at saying something authoritatively even if I don't have a clue. But on the other hand never ask me about geography unless it's Australia.  And even then, don't ask me to do more than name the states and territories.

As a parent I'm relatively lucky. I very sensibly didn't have children until Google had been invented and become a verb in it's own right. If I don't know something I can look it up on my phone. I also have a fair amount of common sense and I'm fairly easy going. Which means I say things like "Yes you can go barefoot to the shops" and "no you can't not wear a seatbelt because if we crash you'll die and make a mess of the car."  Which is why they keep asking me things. I don't always say "No" and I talk to them like functioning human beings and not numpties.

Despite my example my kids have never profaned - woohoo!
I like talking to my children. I find most of what they say interesting and quite often, funny. Even when they don't mean to be. I love how they make statements to demonstrate their understanding. Always at top volume and always somewhere entirely inappropriate in most cases, particularly if it's about private parts.

I know that this period of them thinking I know everything will pass. I know that there will come a time that I say I don't know something will be seen as a parental failing rather than the truth. I know there will come a time when they don't come to me for information but talk about things with close girlfriends or google it for themselves.

But in the meantime, I'm going to delight in their quirky thinking and their lush imaginations. I am going to enjoy being 'knowledgable'. I'm going to enjoy all the things in their brainboxes in the hope that it will outweigh me tuning them out when they talk non-stop for fifteen minutes about Shopkins, or making excuses not to push them on a swing endlessly because quite simply it's as boring as.

I'm going to enjoy knowing stuff. Because Colin only knows, it aint gonna last.

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*  I tweeted Mattel with this question and they are going to pass the suggestion on to their design team! 

17 November 2016

Friendship is weird

I've been musing lately about the strange beast that is friendship. 

Don't ask - I'm in therapy. I muse on a lot of things if the truth be known.

Some people have friends they've known all their lives. Literally. Admittedly most of the people that I know who fall into this category are currently only six years old, but you meet people whose parents met in the labour ward and their friendship is going strong 30, 50, 80 years later. 

On the surface, friendship makes more sense than family. Family is compulsory. Friends are optional. It makes sense to spend some time choosing the people you really like and making the effort to keep in touch with them. 

But then, the old adage, friends are in your life for a reason, season or a lifetime is true too. I look back at my late teens, early twenties and some of the friendships I considered more vital than air have passed into nodding acquaintance or Facebook only contact.  It's not that I don't like them, it's just that life has moved on and we moved with it. The world is very black and white when you're younger. It's only when you become a walking cliche and put some years under your belt that the world is way more than fifty shades of grey. 

But then there are the friends you have nothing in common with at all. The ones that have got your back so fiercely from day dot. That love you with the kind of abandon that comes from knowing everything there is to know about you and still thinking you're wonderful.  You could never explain why you are friends, it just clicked into place and boom.

There are the friends that hold a special part of your heart no matter how long you go without speaking. These are the ones that when you pick up the phone after six minutes, six months or six years, start chatting to you as if they only just left the room. 

There are the friends that you share a unique experience with - a tragedy, a trip or a celebration, and just like that. You're friends. You endeavour to catch up when you can, but keep in touch when you can. What you've shared with them is unique and so is the bond. 

The friends that you have known so long that even though you know logically that now you would never have a reason to connect, they are so vital to the person you were, or the person you became, that to lose them would be to lose a limb. Or your mind. 

There are the friends that share similar passions, ethics, values. One where you bond over intense discussions about righting the world. There are the friends that make no sense even to you, but who you like to have in your life and that's okay, friendship doesn't always need to have a logic.

There are good friends. There are bad friends. All of us are imperfect friends. 

Strange as it sounds, I like all my friends. Even the ones in England that said they would come and visit and haven't.  Even the ones that voted Liberal or admire Trump or think that Crocs are acceptable fashion wear. I have friends with thermomixes. Some that do cross-fit. Some that like maths. Some that don't understand the appeal of Colin Firth. I have friends that enjoy fishing. Or spending the equivalent of a mortgage on visiting fancy pants restaurants. I get it. We're all different.

I don't need people to believe all the things I do.  

I just try and make sure my friends are not arsehats. 

It's not an exact science, sometimes I get it very wrong. But mostly my friends are only arsehats occasionally. And I think these days my own personal acts of arsehatery are occasional rather than torrential. Occasional Arsehatery is a very human condition in my mind. 

Like most people I have friends from all over the place. Some are family. Some I have met at school or studying, in Venturers, at Rovers, travelling, at antenatal classes, at one of the companies I've worked for, at bus-stops, through business, at conferences, online, rollerskating, via boyfriends, via friends, via Dad!, outside libraries, volunteering, living with them, hobbies, in queues, at parties, at weddings, and so on. In fact, some of the friends I love the best in the world I had no interest in meeting at all. 

Friendships are born of connection. However random. 

I don't think you can ever have 'too many' friends. If you like people, why not have them in your life in one capacity or other? Every friend I make teaches me something I didn't know. Whether it is about life, or them, or myself, it always adds value. And I like having people that think differently around me.  I like the ones that think like me too. Which is actually strange considering how incredibly odd my thoughts are most of the time. 

I mix my friendship circles - sometimes well, sometimes not well. If I like you, I just assume everybody will. In the interests of full disclosure - this is not always true. It is however ALWAYS awkward.

And you never really know why people like you. It's not like you can say 'the ONE thing I like about this person is this'. You'll like them for lots of reasons. They'll like you for lots of reasons. Those reasons aren't always the same. 

Friendship is weird. It's probably what makes it so damn appealing. 

But it's still weird. 

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25 October 2016

I like my children

I like my children. They're good kids on the whole. Not perfect but none of us are.

I'm proud of the girls they are turning out to be. They're funny and focussed. They are stubborn and cuddly. They are kind. They take genuine delight in other people. They will tell me if they feel they have been wronged. They can rage with all the rage. They are amicable. They can be fierce. They are gentle. They are cheeky. They have great imaginations. They get hangry. They are loving. They are creative. They're bonkers.

Like all children, their positives overwhelmingly outweigh their negatives. Children by and large are pretty good fun to be around. And my own children, well they make my heart happy.

I enjoy spending time with them. But I love that they are sleeping in their own beds now. I like that they get each other up in the morning and play happily together without needing us, their parents, to be there for everything. I relish that independence even when I see the chaos that results from them playing happily for two hours before we wake up.

I'm also done with being apologetic about liking my children.

If I can't say great things about my child. I'm a shit mother.

Not because they are the greatest kids ever* but because they are my children. If I am raising children I don't like, that I don't delight in, that aren't the very best versions of themselves - it's because I'm an arsehole parent.

And you can quote me on that.

I want them to know that I always believe in them. I want them to say when they get older, "I knew my parents loved me even when I wasn't being very loveable." I want them to know that their parents always talk up them up to others, that we rejoice in them.

Trash talking your own children is shitty parenting. It's small minded. It's mean. It says so much about your own imperfections and prejudices and very little about them.

I'm not talking about acknowledging that they've been contraceptive some days, or that they're driving you demented, or any of those things which are a normal part of relationships at any age. I am not talking about keeping it real or setting boundaries for them as they grow.

I'm talking about the parents that always find fault with their children. That speak about them disparagingly in front of them. That only share the stories retelling negative experiences. The ones that roll their eyes or tut righteously whenever they launch into a tale about their offspring.

There is so much joy in children and the adults they become. As parents our role is to focus on the positive and teach them to manage the negatives. It's our job to love them stupidly and without reason. It's our job to raise children we like. How can they be resilient adults if they are surrounded by negativity the whole way through their childhood?

All the science shows that being an arsehole to a child stays with them and informs their inner voice as they grow older. It affects their confidence, their sense of worth, their ability to form healthy relationships.

So no. I choose not to be that parent. The one that belittles their child. That doesn't rejoice in them. That judges my child for their imperfections.

So yes, I love my children. I am happy to tell you that. I'm happy to share all the things about them that I love and delight in. I will shout from the rooftops about things they say or do if I am so inclined.

Because I want them to do that for other people.  And how can they do it if they don't experience it?

I choose love. I choose pride. I choose happiness. I choose to embrace the people they are and the people they will become.**

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* They are actually the greatest kids ever.
** Even if they grow up to wear crocs, vote conservatively and start a velour fashion label.

18 October 2016

Cars, colleagues, racism and why we need to ban American crime shows

It took just a moment on Saturday morning for two peoples days to be ruined. As the sickening
crunch of metal indicated that two cars had collided, and the cars bounced to a stop, there was that moment where even the birds seemed to hold their breath before the regular noises of the children's playground and passing traffic continued on uninterrupted.

The front of both cars was missing, fluids ran down the road, and while somebody helped the driver out of the silver car, I physically wrenched the door open of the black car and helped the driver out. Both drivers were in shock, one had chest pains and one had a clearly broken arm.  I called out to a guy standing by to call the police and an ambulance.


I think I can be forgiven for thinking very profane thoughts about people's stupidity and the overindulgence of too many Australians of American crime shows in that instant but I just replied "No, triple zero."

I wandered about helping where I could - rescuing groceries, pulling bits of car off the road, reassuring the driver with the broken arm, turning off the cars. Emergency services and tow trucks arrived. Cars were removed, roads cleaned, paramedics inserted drips, daughters arrived to collect parents and grandparents, and the police were there looking as if this was business as usual, not that exciting at that.

During all this I was at one point standing with the driver of the black car making polite chit chat and hoping he wasn't going to pass out before the ambulance arrived, some people standing along the fence line watching the goings on, were chatting about what happened. They speculated about what had gone on and then as clear as a bell one said "Bet it was that guy that was at fault, bloody Asian drivers!."

I felt the guy, whose name I now knew, stiffen slightly before the heat ran to his face.  I raised my voice and continued talking to him but I was fuming. Had I not felt at the time that it was entirely inappropriate to start a fracas beside an injured individual I would have had something to say. I settled with a dirty look in the right direction and right on cue the ambulance arrived, along with what I am happy to tell you was the most reassuring paramedic in Australia.

Accidents always make me feel discombobulated. People just continue driving around them, or watch from the sidelines. Even if the accident isn't huge, it has a lasting impact on the people involved, whether its just inconvenience of a missing car or something more serious.

What continues to discombobulate me time after time is the blatant racism people with non white skin experience. This was an accident. Whatever happened, nobody intended for it to happen. Whether it was a momentary distraction, a poor judgement call re speed, whatever - it could have been any one of us. Our ethnicity is definitely no indicator of driving ability, or anything else for that matter.

I was cross with myself I didn't say more to the idiot commentating, point out the added distress he caused to an already injured man suffering from shock.

The following afternoon, I was catching up with a friend as our children played together. She was talking about her business and how frustrated she has been with blatant racism recently. There was a toilet damaged in the block and one of the other business users accused her and her staff of squatting on it. Just because they are Australians of Asian descent. Turns out the damage was caused by an Australian of Celtic descent and all of a sudden it was no big deal.

I was in disbelief that somebody would come out and accuse people they work alongside, and have worked alongside for a long time, of damaging a toilet based on the possible toilet habits of non-Western countries, based on race. Totally flabbergasted. Appalled. Horrified even.

My friend said it happens all the time. When they opened a shop into one suburb, her husband who is an Australian of non-Asian descent, was told by some of the locals that they were glad it wasn't 'one of those Asians' opening the shop.  And this in an area where the accents are still thick with the European countries from whence they came once upon a time.

None of us are local - bar the 2.4% of the population that have lived here for the 60,000 years or so prior to colonisation.

My friend said she was used to it. She had hundreds of examples - not all so blatant, but all leaving their mark. We moved onto other topics because like all gatherings of girlfriends it is possible to sort out world peace in a two hour catch-up, but her experiences have sat with me along with the driver from the black car.

I'm still dumbfounded by all that I learned this weekend. I really believe that ultimately people are good. I know we all have different experiences and that influences our outlook. But racism is so senseless. It just exposes ignorance.

I am aware of my white privilege. I am. (And if you're one of those that don't understand what that is read this great article to get yourself up to speed.) But I need to be more than aware.

I should have spoken up and called the man in the park on his words. I should not have allowed any doubt in the mind of the driver of the black car about whether or not I was secretly agreeing. I need to be vocal in my support of my friends so that they know that support is there. I need to call out casual racism in meetings, in conversations, in jokes.

I might not change people's minds.

I might offend and I'm okay with that.

Because the ramifications of indifference and inaction are unacceptable. History teaches us that time and time and time again.

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11 October 2016

Can we stop with all the movements?

I recently read this article titled Inside the growing group of women who wish they'd never had kids.

And I wish I hadn't. 

Not because of what the women interviewed had to say, we all find ourselves somewhere we didn't mean to be sometimes, and kids are a fairly permanent reminder of choosing the wrong ending for your game of life.  There is probably no easy way to say "I reckon life would have been better for me if you hadn't been in it". It is going to sound selfish because women are supposed to love being mothers and have failed at life if they don't have offspring. 

You quite often hear people say "But who will look after you when you're old?" to people that don't want kids. Which is probably more selfish than not having them in the first place. Breeding just to ensure your aged care home bills are paid sixty years down the track is pretty bloody selfish too.

No the reason I wish I hadn't read it is that I am sick of the plethora of articles at the moment turning everything women say or do into a bloody movement. 

Civil Rights - that was a movement. Women's Liberation. End Apartheid. You get the drift. Movements are about large scale societal change which leads to the betterment of things. Movements move things from ONE place to ANOTHER place. You know like from you having no rights for no good reason bar the colour of your skin to you having the same rights as your fellow movement. 

That's a movement. 

But we currently see five articles on Knitting and all of a sudden we have a 'movement of professional women seeking zen through the rediscovery of lost domestic arts'.  

Some women say "I don't believe in feminism" and all of a sudden it's a movement of women rejecting all that Emily Pankhurst and her ilk fought for. Or its a random bunch of women who have taken their privileges for granted and have no understanding that the race isn't yet over but now we've gone and made such a song and dance about 'the movement of women rejecting feminism' people are sharing stories about how they like to be objectified and wolf whistled and otherwise subjected to overt displays of misogyny they can share on Instagram. 

Or more men stay at home as the primary carer and all of a sudden we have a moment of women who are rejecting motherhood for money.  I could go on but I'm sure you can think of about sixty billion examples right now off the top of your head. It's insane. 

It probably wouldn't be so annoying if they did it for men too. I mean men start growing beards again and instead of being envious that they don't have to wear makeup because you can't see their faces, we package the whole thing up as brand "hipsters" and change our entire way of eating to accommodate their need to eat more cleanly so as not to drip in their beards. Deconstructed EVERYTHING anyone?

No-one calls it a movement. There isn't a movement of 'men not wanting children' or 'men rediscovering a passion for XXXX in an increasingly confusing world' or 'men that secretly wanting to wear lycra'.  Okay, my bad - there is Comic Con. 

But really and truly, can't we just let women share some commonality without forcing them into a box we can label, pretty up with a bow and present without causing offence?


Or do I need to start a hashtag - #themovementofwomenagainstmovements #womenwhodontknowhowtobelong #irritablebitchsyndrome #ifmytrafficstatsshowaninfluxofpeoplelookingforinformationaboutbowelmovementsIamprobablygoingtocry.

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22 September 2016

35 Australians for you to love that will annoy Senator Hanson

Look. If the poll saying that 49% of Australians agree with Pauline Hanson about banning Muslims is correct, the main question we have to ask is why they weren't in charge of the census?  Their response rate is miles better and we're all keen for the results to influence the future of Australia.

Apparently. Or it's total horse-shit which is more likely in my view.

And then that stink ball man with a pen that The Australian insists on employing, drew a cartoon depicting our LGBTI community as nazi-esque. If you don't know why that's offensive, start reading a paper other than The Daily Telegraph or The Australian, or at the very least review your 20th century history and the people that were victims of the holocaust.

Bigotry in Australia is not new.

First we turned up uninvited and hated on the indigenous population because they were black and didn't speak English.

Then we hated on the Chinese because they worked really hard at the jobs white Australians didn't want to and also didn't speak English, wore their hair long and wore pyjamas.

Then we hated on the Irish because they were all criminals and Catholics and knew all the lyrics to
'Molly Malone'.

Then we hated on the Germans because they didn't like the English and we had to go to war.

Then because we had nobody to hate for a few weeks we went back to despising the indigenous and started stealing their children and banning anybody that wasn't white from coming here.

And then we got to hate the Germans again, and the French and the Russians. Then Japan got into it so we were able to hate the Japanese and anybody Asian just in case they were Japanese.

Then we hated the Italians and Greeks for coming here because we'd bombed the bejeezus out of their country so they turned up here and were prepared to work hard.

We also hated on rock 'n' roll for a while too just to mix things up again.

Then we hated the Germans for coming. Then we hated the Japanese for coming because even though the war was over we have long memories here. And we hated anybody that might be communist and we definitely hated on anybody that might be getting above themselves.  So basically black people and women.

And we started hating gay people because they started mentioning they were gay rather than it being the love that dared not speak its name.

And we hated on the Vietnamese because they turned up and wanted to work and not be at war.

 Then we decided to hate on the Lebanese and the Indians and the Pakistanis and the Sudanese and anybody that was coming here and making a go of it.

Then we decided we'd hate Muslims because of 9/11 even though Americans are quite good at killing thousands of themselves each year all by themselves, and then we decided that we'd hate anybody that tried to escape the war and make a better life for themselves. And when hating them didn't work we just put them in concentration camps to make sure nobody missed that we're arsehats of the highest order.

Then because we weren't hating redheads anymore we voted one into the senate and she said we hate Muslims again and if we're not careful we're going to have a lesbian Asian Prime Minister.

Tell you what - if Penny Wong stood for PM right now I'd be voting her in quicker than Usain Bolt can run 100 metres.

That's quick.

The sweet, undeniable fact is - if we let only people under the age of seven vote and make policies, we'd have marriage equality, we'd have a working refugee policy, we'd have our diversity represented in parliament, on television, in magazines. Because children don't hate anybody. They learn that shit from us.

So here's a fun game for you to help you focus on all the positives that Muslims, refugees and the LGBTI community contribute to life here down under. Let's counteract the hate with a little bit of love.

The following Australian politicians, commentators, cricketers, actors, comedians, FIFOs, business owners, naval captains, army captains, digital wunderkinds, judges, social workers and swimmers are either from refugee families, are Muslim or identify as LGBTI.  See if you can work out who is what?

And then remember that you don't give a shit but at least you've got some positive stories to share next time somebody says "What did Muslims/Gays/Refugees ever do for this country?"

  1. Portia Rossi
  2. Benjamin Law
  3. Anh Do
  4. Susan Cartland
  5. Ed Husic
  6. Carmen Marton
  7. Yassmin Abdel-Magied
  8. Bob Brown
  9. Tim Duggan
  10. Max McKenzie
  11. Ruby Rose
  12. Fawad Ahmed
  13. Anthony Mundine
  14. Cory Paterson
  15. John Illhan
  16. Mona Shindy
  17. Karl Kruszelnicki
  18. Les Murray
  19. Madga Szubanski
  20. Frank Lowy
  21. Jordan Raskopoulos
  22. Robert Simms
  23. Waleed Aly
  24. Courtney Barnett
  25. Mariam Veiszadeh
  26. Bachar Houli
  27. Cate McGregor
  28. Heiu Van Lee
  29. Deng Adut
  30. Michael Kirby
  31. Ian Thorpe
  32. Khoder Nasser
  33. Nazeem Hussain
  34. Usman Khawaja
  35. Harry O'Brien

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20 September 2016

On the road back to me

28 days ago today I was pretty much rock bottom.

27 days ago I wrote a piece about living with depression and the importance of asking people about themselves.

12 days ago the piece was published and like many people I read what I had written, and truth is, I was slightly discomfited by my honesty.

Everybody has a talent!
I would never have been that honest normally. Self deprecating humour or conversation deflection are my special talents.

I don't mind sharing stories about my mental health, but normally I do it when I'm feeling on top of things, not when I'm wading through the debris of my own malfunctioning amygdala.

I don't mind admitting that seeing how low I went scared the shit out of me. Still does.

I'm in a much better place now. A combination my beloved man, new meds, my lovely psych,  and a truly tremendous amount of support from my friends. The kind that says I'm not alone. The kind that has asked what I can I do? The kind that has told me I am loved. The kind that has grounded me when I was not able to ground myself.The kind that has been kind.

So much kindness out there.

So much.

But what I wasn't expecting was the connection. So many people that I knew, but even more that I did not know. They had walked my walk. Cried my tears. Felt my feelings. Wanted to say what I said. Found it hard to articulate. Said nothing.

The heartbreaking stories came from those that had said something and heard nothing but deafening silence in return.

Nothing from their families. Nothing from friends. Nothing from colleagues. Some even heard nothing from their partners.

And that silence made them feel like nothing.

My heart broke for these people. Because that is a terrible way to feel. I know that feeling.

I'm not being smug, it's not like the world changed instantly for me writing so openly. There are many close to me that have not said a word in all the time they know I've been living with depression, and the years and experience have taught me not to expect them to say anything.

But some people did. So many people did. I was the recipient of so much love and kindness that I was, and remain, truly humbled.

So thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you that reached out.

Every word and every action was an extraordinary gift to me for which I am eternally grateful.

Because of you, I'm on the road back to me.

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5 September 2016

The voice inside

For those that have been with me since the heady days of 2012 when I talked about hating tuna, designer vaginas and in defence of Tony Abbott (true story), you'll know that I start blogging because I needed to use my words to talk about things that interested me, and my newborn and toddler were absolutely crap at discourse of any kind.

They still are. Unless it interests them. So I suspect they are destined to be Liberal politicians.

But I think I blog for the reason most no-niche bloggers blog. It's not because we have anything to say that is going to change the world. We have nothing educational to say, we know nothing about parenting despite having children, we only exercise when we have to, we don't care about cooking or paleo or cupcakes enough to write something of benefit to others.

We don't slow our home, we're not musical nerds, we don't speed up our home. We're not good at gardening, we can't teach you anything except hard won advice like how to get a popcorn kernel out of a kid's nose and never go to Hawaii without pre-booking the tourist activities.

We blog because we like writing. We blog because we have opinions. We blog because there is something inherently satisfying about taking the noise out of our heads and shaping it into something sensible, or at least coherent, and casting it adrift.  It leaves room in our heads for more noise or even just different noise.

I blog because all of us find it hard to say things sometimes - even chatterboxes like me. Sometimes it is easier to write about things than it is to talk about things. And if nothing else, blogging has taught me that in sharing my personal stories, it enables other people to share theirs. Because for the first time in FOREVER, they find out that they aren't the only one who thought that particularly daft thing or went down that very dark path.

I blog because I care about certain issues and the only way to possible to connect to a wider audience with interest in the same issues is to put my point of view out there. Enable people to engage in dialogue, tell me I'm wrong, tell me I'm right. I have actually changed my mind about some things I have written about based on the information and feedback I've received.

I blog because I need a community. I'm a bleeding heart leftie with a big mouth, depression and to top it all off I'm an extrovert that works alone.  I don't get to do water cooler discussion. I can't be hating on the Bachelor or railing against xenophobic Australian policies to myself. If talking to yourself is the first sign of madness, turning the washing machine on so you have the comforting sound of company is probably a close second.

I blog because we need to challenge the status quo. Both our own and other peoples. Comfort zones are for losers. If I don't challenge my thinking and opinions, how can I ever grow? If I was still the same person I was at 12 we'd all be in some serious trouble. The mid 80s in Australia were in no way the most enlightened of times.  Blogging gives me a way to put forward my point of view. It gives me a voice.

I strongly believe we all need to stand for something. Or we stand for nothing. I am incredibly aware of the privilege that I have inherited as a result of my birth and I find that blogging enables me to connect with people on issues that I would never have known we had in common if I didn't write about them, because it was never going to come up in casual conversation.

I blog because I believe in the transformational power of stories. I blog because without it I wouldn't have met some of the most amazing friends. I blog because without it I would not have had the opportunities to become a better person, a more informed individual and a more connected individual.

I blog because it is only in this space that I am truly unfettered, free to articulate myself, define myself and sometimes, expose myself.

I blog because of the voice inside.

Disclaimer: This post is part of the Shoebox Timeline competition for ProBlogger Event

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1 September 2016

10 things my children taught me

source: Pixabay
I am constantly amazed how much my children learn when they are away from me. I'm more amazed by how much they learn when they are with me, but that's a whole other story.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what we're teaching our children. Are we doing a good job or a bad job? Should we expose them to the news or keep them sheltered? Should we teach them about this or what until they know more about that? Are they making good choices? Are they making good bad choices? Did they hear that word from me or from someone else?

It's a minefield.

But then at night when they are telling you things to prolong sleepy-time, you realise they are out there soaking up stuff that you haven't even thought to discuss with them. Some if true. Some of it not so true. And some, some very close to true.

And there 'aint nothing you can do about it EXCEPT HOLD IN THE LAUGHS.

This year the girls have told me about the following:
  1.  China's no child policy - "You aren't allowed to have babies in China so because Kate's* parents wanted to have children they moved to Australia so they could have her and her sister. Which is lucky for us right? If they'd not been born we would never have met them. And I'm never going to be Chinese because I definitely want babies."
  2. 'Originals' - "Before white people came on a boat only the 'originals' lived in Australia.  They were doing just fine but we gave them the flu and stuff."
  3. Space - "The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. And Pluto used to be a planet but isn't anymore. They did tell me why but I didn't really care"
  4. Precious stones - "My friend Ruby is named after a precious stone. And so is her brother. And she taught me the names of lots of them - Jade, Amethyst, Turquoise, Sapphire, Diamond and lots more. She knows a lot about stones but nothing about pet rocks."
    source: Pixabay
  5. Volcanos - "Climbing up volcanos is a dumb idea because you'll end up dead."
  6. Beach safety - "Don't swim with sharks. If they bite your leg off your leggings won't fit."
  7. Refugees - "John* said refugees lived in camps. I said he was wrong because camping was fun and you said that Australia isn't very nice to refugees so they are definitely not in camps."
  8. The secret to a good life - "The reason you need maths is because of life. If you don't know maths, life will be hard. If you do know maths, life will be easy. If you're only okay at it, it's probably best to marry somebody who is good at it."
  9. Cooking - "I'm going to be a chef Mum. I want to do really good cooking. Not like you and Dad."
  10. Soccer - "We played soccer today. And I REALLY don't get why people want to play it on Saturdays."
What gems have yours offered up lately?

*Not their real names

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