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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