WTF is wrong with some men? And why are we letting them get away with it?

I’ve reached a point where I hardly dare open the news apps on my phone each morning. Not because it is necessarily bad, but because of the increasing number of stories about men murdering, belittling and shaming women (or others that oppose their views).

Found on Pinterest from movemequotes.com

I dread to think how this news is impacting our kids. Cross that: I know exactly how it is affecting our kids.

I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of speech – obviously – but like so many of life’s more obscure areas, I also believe that its parameters can’t be set in stone – particularly when it comes to a democracy in which each of us (supposedly) has a voice.

For example, there is a level and a tone of speech that is acceptable to me when it comes to the personal opinions of others. Let’s call it a tolerance level – where Israel Folau and white supremacists don’t register, and Alan Jones is maybe a 1 – purely so we can analyse and ridicule his verbal twattery.

I write a lot of op-eds, so it would be wrong for me to judge people for having and voicing their opinions, but even I draw a line in the sand when it comes to my moral code when writing. I would like to believe that others will show a similar respect. I’ll give you an analogy: In the same way that no one is forcing devout Christians and Catholics to have abortions once the law in NSW is updated, I do not condemn them for their outdated opinions.

Sadly, that gene or part of the brain is missing in many men in the public eye, who like the sound of their own voices and appear to have forgotten the weight of responsibility they carry. Even worse is the number of media channels that condone their vile hate speech by using the freedom of speech argument – when we all know that what it is really about is clickbait and money.

Like children who misbehave for attention, the vitriolic words of these men who get off on bulling a sixteen-year-old for her views on climate change, who insinuate that a sex worker is somehow deserving of her murder, or who suggest putting a towel down the throat of a woman to shut her up – and a respected, female world leader at that – are not ones that we should be endorsing in these progressive times, in much the same way that we don’t sensationalise the murderers of women by disclosing their names.

I am watching the SBS series, “The Hunting” at the moment – a chilling awakening about the power of social media in the wrong hands, particularly in relation to the shaming of women. Frankly, the ramifications of such abuse are quite terrifying and this series highlights again the need for this growing sense of entitlement among SOME of our young men to be addressed, or the number of murders of women, such as Michaela Dunn’s, will continue to increase.

As the mother of young adults, I know a thing or two about the shaming and hounding of girls in school and afterwards, and at the root of the problem is often privilege – and primarily, the privilege of being a man, (and more often than not) being white and middle-class.

As this series points out, it is not the girls that we should be teaching how to behave, it is the boys and their mentors who need to be taught how to respect them. By endorsing men like Alan Jones, there is very little chance of that ever happening.

Is It Normal To Hate People Who Go On Exotic Holidays All The Time? Asking For A Friend

This is a follow on from my last post in which I discussed my chances of dragging my husband away on an exotic holiday this year. Thank you for the abundance of awesome recommendations (for anxious, middle-aged couples, with zero interests in common) that you kindly left on that post, and which have since been dissected, over-thought and (no doubt) put on the back burner until I force him to make a decision.

Image found on Pinterest from awakenmindset.com

I should point out that I have warned him that his refusal to commit is exactly the sort of thing that middle-aged couples divorce over, and in response he asked me when I am leaving.

I am not, by nature, a green-eyed monster, so I find this whole travel-envy thing to be quite peculiar. Indeed, I have always denied the impact of social media on my happiness – made easier in this case, I imagine, by our move to the other side of the world to a wonderful country that offers a wealth of different landscapes and natural beauty.

I was, (and still am), committed to the financial choices the old man we have made to semi-retire.

However, it does leave us with a very limited budget for holidays and lately I’ve started to get itchy feet, thanks to all of those inspirational memes about travel, adventures and growth that fill my FB home page, as well as the bunch of our friends that are starting to take advantage of their new empty-nester status and are therefore ALWAYS on fucking holiday.

So what’s changed? I suppose that when I entered this stage of my life I still had the arrogance of the European who feels like they’ve seen the world – when the reality is, I’ve visited a couple of European countries a lot of times. I may have lived in Europe for forty years, but I didn’t have the wisdom back then to make the most of what it had to offer.

Added to which, I came back from our last exotic trip to Bali in two minds about foreign holidays. I was pretty shaken up by the level of poverty – in what I had been led to believe was a paradise – hence, I spent much of our time there stressing about the families on scooters, food poisoning and feral dogswhich always made a beeline for me.

Unsurprisingly, our next holiday was to Forster.

I’m not certain what is behind this current attack of itchy feet. Is it an innate fear of time running out? Am I missing a diversity of culture that simply doesn’t exist on the Northern Beaches of Sydney? Or is it simply that I’m scared that I am cruising through life and getting boring?

While there are many benefits to working from home – the main one being that my desk is close to the fridge – one of the few downsides is that life can become very insular. And when you struggle from anxiety, the fact that you rarely have to leave the house can cultivate the problem.

Interestingly, when I think about my dream holiday, it isn’t about swanky hotels, exotic beaches or even two-for-one cocktails like it used to be – we have some pretty nice beaches here. No, the appeal is more linked to new experiences, new cultures, the challenge of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and growth. It is about sharing those experiences with my soulmate – rather than the typical mundanities we share each week, like when the dog last went out for a poo.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very content to get comfortable in certain areas of middleage-dom. I wouldn’t trade flat shoes, nightly Netflix and separate bedrooms for anything! But I can’t ignore that little voice that keeps nagging me to keep on exploring.

How To Cope With An Internet Outage With Millennials

bruno-gomiero-94171-unsplashMy sympathies lie with the businesses that were affected by Telstra’s latest outage last week. My own family has been at their mercy for the past two weeks, effectively in lockdown.

Any parent will tell you that there is no greater pain than watching a child suffer, and that is exactly what we have been forced to endure during the outage. While for the old man and myself – hardcore Generation Xers who were brought up on The Famous Five, Cats Cradle, conkers, and – dare I mention – books, it has proven to be more of an irritation than a personal loss, our two young adults have experienced immeasurable grief.

While Kurt’s body has completely lost the ability to function – withdrawal seeing him pace the house like a caged animal to metamorphose into a frightening hybrid of Gollum and the Hulk – NC has refused to come home or return my calls.

And yet, perhaps more terrifying than the sight of two young adults in a perpetual state of despair is the grey pallor and twitching of the parent that is responsible for fixing the problem.

Suffice it to say, the old man has been forced to use his home blood pressure monitor more than usual over this past two weeks. So, when a friend caught him chained to the fencing of the golf club, refusing to go home, and promised him that “cable is three times faster than anything else, mate,” desperation forced his hand and he made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision.

He ordered cable.

In hindsight, I will admit that our expectations were stupidly unrealistic, not helped by the events of the night before during which Kurt managed to use up five precious gigabytes of data within the space of an hour – apparently, that is a lot in data-speak, particularly in a house that prioritizes data over food. So it was with bated breath that we watched cable guy do his ten-minute reconnaissance of our joint and set to work, first in the lounge, and then up a pole on the other side of the street – which foolishly, I interpreted as a positive sign.

And when, finally, he placed the magic card in the old man’s hand with our new passcode – which, it is no exaggeration to say, was the equivalent of Charlie’s golden ticket, (so much so, the old man has since tattoed had the number tattooed his chest) – I can only compare the euphoria to seeing Buble perform his complete collection of Christmas songs live…and naked.

Obviously, being ever the practical one of the family, he held cable guy captive a little longer as he tested and ran through every nuance of the new technology with him, and cable guy was generous enough to humor him, even when he asked some (frankly) very stupid, Generation X type questions.

But I will admit that the sound of my husband’s whoop of joy upon his discovery that the new speed of our new internet thingy, (insert appropriate technological jargon here), far exceeded our expectations was a beautiful thing, comparable I would say to his reaction to the births of our children – although he didn’t do a celebratory lap around the block naked either of those times.

In fact, we remained high on life even when cable guy left our home to save some other poor family in similarly dire straits.

Until, the call from upstairs the wild, that no father wants to hear.

‘DAAAAAAAAAD! The Internet doesn’t work on my phone!’

We are back in lockdown. An immediate state of emergency has been called in which we have hourly meetings to discuss possible emergency action such as new routers, a different bedroom… perhaps even a new house?

I am confident that we will work through this difficult time, folks, but in the meantime, we would be grateful for your prayers.

*Reaches for wine.*

 

A Day In The Life Of Donald Duck… Erm Trump

It’s so discriminating when all you want to do is play a round of golf with some celebrity or white supremacist and minor events, like the funerals of the latest teenage shooting victims, get in the way.

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And then there are those persistent (and frankly, annoying) rumors about being in bed with the Russians and several strippers, which means Melania refuses to talk to me, in spite of the new gun I bought her by way of an apology. Note to self: put the parenting controls back on the internet, or before I know it, she’ll be bleating on #metoo as well. Also, ask Bill how he handled this type of situation.

 

I can’t even moan on Twitter these days without some official rapping my knuckles. And they call this privilege.

 

How’s a working-class man supposed to unwind from his responsibilities? When is a man to find the time to perfect his swing and complete his Seven Kingdoms empire?  There’s far too much crap to deal with in this job – gay marriage, equal pay, gun control. Before we know it, women will expect control of their own bodies as well.

 

Imagine the reality of that – no baby Trumps to go out and fuck the world over.

 

It’s not like my election was ever meant to happen. The campaign was only a ruse to start with, to make sure Ugly-Dyke-Clinton didn’t get in, and to meet the challenge of that n… Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes, I’ve-Got-A-HotAF-Wife-And-I’m-Black. Is it any wonder that Osama got in with all the black voting power he let into the country.

 

We can’t let that happen again. A black president – what was the country thinking? Anyway, I kind of miss those blackface parties. Soon we’ll be taken over. They’ll be climbing that wall like White Walkers if we’re not careful – although obviously, we’ll have to call them Black Walkers – ha-ha! Are Mexicans even black? Which reminds me – do I need to cancel my lunch at the gun club to check on the height of the wall again – if only those migrants could add up.

 

So much to do, so little time to play golf.

 

Note to self: Book a tee-time tomorrow before the paps get up and read the fake news first. Check that no recent disasters (for which you will be accountable – boring), need attending to, and to be safe, anesthetize your tongue.

 

 

The Power Of The Voice

crawl-1076324_1920I shared an article on my MY Midlife Mayhem Facebook page the other day, written by Clementine Ford, called “We need to move past the idea that everything is up for debate”.

 

For those who don’t know Clementine, she is a writer, a leading feminist and advocate for equal rights in Australia, as well as a graduate of gender studies. She has had several books and numerous articles published on the subject. The reason behind this particular article was her dismay at being pitched against a panel of similar experts (?) in the field recently, in front of a live audience, that turned out to be completely ill-informed on the subject.

 

As she says, ‘fair and balanced commentary around, say, climate change does not mean that we have to counter the weight of an actual scientist and their quantifiable research with the opinions of someone who loftily refers to themselves as a “climate change sceptic. It’s an insult to the time and energy spent by people working at the forefront of their fields to suggest their expertise is little more than one side of the story.’

 

Thanks to social media, each of us has a voice now as well as a forum to use it, which fundamentally, I still believe to be a good thing. Even if the majority of Trump’s tweets make us wince at their ickiness and ignorance, some insight into the machinations of the crazy brain that is currently leading the Western world has to be useful. (Let’s ignore the Trolls for a moment – the bullies and aggressive naysayers, who have nothing to contribute but bile ie. the abuse of the empowerment provided by technology).

 

NC and I were at a talk the other night by Anna Krien,.who recently published an essay about climate change called The Long Goodbye. She raised a similar point on this topic when challenged (again – yawn) about whether climate change is real. For a lot of reasons – many of them political and therefore the result of spin – some people still continue to argue against the scientific evidence behind global warming that has been determined by years and years of research and government investment and carried out by the top brains of our countries. These people believe that because their voices are louder – or because they have the verbal dexterity to spin their words better than the average nerdy scientist locked up in a lab all day – that what they say is right.

 

I have a similar analogy as the parent of a child with ADHD, and the cynicism from teachers, medical professionals, and FRIENDS levelled at the condition and its validity – that, in spite of the millions spent on research, the documented evidence of the condition since the early twentieth century, or indeed its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It seems that if the Daily Mail says the condition is a myth that has been a) invented by bad parents or b) created by the large pharmaceutical companies, then it must be so. I do wonder if the same journalists that have poured petrol on the fire ever consider what that cynicism does to the parents of these kids, who are already falling apart at the seams?

 

For the record, I parented NC as badly as I have Kurt, and she is now model child material.

 

Not that we want the pendulum to swing the other way or for our voices to be shut down. Anyone who is lapping up The Handmaid’s Tale like I am and trying to ignore the uncomfortable comparison of the Republic of Gilead to our own society will understand how dangerous it can be when that happens.

 

What I am trying to say, (and as Clementine Ford much more eloquently put it), is that we are entitled to an opinion and we have a voice to air it publicly. However, that opinion needs to be substantiated; to be informed by facts and evidence.

 

I’m not saying that every scientist is right all the time. They make mistakes, too. You only have to look as far as the atom bomb and Thalidomide to know that. (And let’s hope Bill Gates isn’t right this time in his prediction that bioterrorism could wipe up out 33 million people in less than a year).

 

Now, I am no expert, but the following are facts – substantiated by research:

 

Fact: The Barrier Reef will die, no matter how many plastic bags we replace with paper. If we do switch to renewable energy, we might save twenty percent of it – max.

 

Fact: ADHD is a real condition. The naming of the condition is unfortunate, granted – and I will hit the next person that tells me how active their child is – but these children’s brains do not function in the same way as ours, in much the same way that the schizophrenic’s mind doesn’t.

 

Fact: Trump is a racist, bigoted c**t.

 

 

Is Menopause To Blame For My Poor Concentration As Well?

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‘Just call me a homing pigeon,’ said the old man smugly as he traversed the narrow streets of our neighbourhood, Italian Job-style, to avoid the traffic on the main arterial road to the city. 

I’ve never had and homing skills, a fact that was proven only a few days before when I got a bus to meet NC and ended up twenty kilometres further north. I had to call her anxiously to tell her I was lost.

‘I thought you told me that all the buses go to the city,’ I said accusingly as I dug around my handbag for my glasses to check Google maps – only to realise that I’d left them at home with my brain.  

‘Where are you?’ she asked me, sounding like my mother.

‘Fuck knows,’ I answered in a bleak voice, praying this was just another one of ‘those days’ and not the early signs of dementia.

I’ve never had a great sense of direction. I blame it on the timetable clash at school between Geography and Art, but I still like to think that my current issue is more linked to a distraction problem than short term memory loss.

I find it more and more difficult to concentrate these days, particularly when I’m not interested in what I’m supposed to be concentrated on. I zone out, I drop out of conversations, (or more rudely, I attempt to veer them in the direction I want them to go). Even watching Netflix, I struggle to maintain focus on complicated plots and and I catch my mind wandering to tomorrow’s dinner or my plans for the next day. 

I can concentrate on my writing, on reading books and articles on social media – the pastimes I enjoy – but the rest of the time it feels like I’m running around in a permanent fug.

Can I blame menopause? Apparently so. You see, it has been universally acknowledged that hormone fuckery and lack of sleep contribute to poor concentration in both peri-menopause and menopause itself, which means – I hope – that I’m not in the early stages of Alzheimer’s after all.

Perhaps, it’s simply that I struggle to relax. Like most women, I made a career out of multi-tasking, but in recent years my life has become less hectic and my body is still acclimatising to that change. It isn’t used to being able to sit still for periods of time.

‘Breathe, Mum,’ NC advised before she hung up. I think it’s time to take her advice.

Ageing, Cosmetic Surgery and Harmful Vacuousness

As I lay on my bed nursing my hangover and reading the papers on Sunday, I  knocked my phone onto the camera setting accidentally and got the most horrific above the shoulder shot. Sometime recently, it appears, my chin has sought sanctuary within the very generous folds of my neck. 

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All About Cosmetic Surgery by Ian Smith from flickr.com

It’s ugly but it’s one of those genetic things that my dad kindly passed down, which I suspect I in turn have passed onto NC because sometimes we have chin fat selfie competitions to see who can look the most gross.

 

If I’m completely honest and I had the money, if there was no pain or time off work involved and I knew that the old man wouldn’t ridicule me for my vanity, I’d get it sorted with a two-for-one deal to include tummy tuck.

 

Even though I know that in certain circles cosmetic surgery is still as frowned upon as having an ADHD child.

 

Which I get…to a degree. Because I’ve never really understood why women resort to cosmetic surgery unless there is some medical reason behind the decision, although I am open-minded enough to think ‘each to their own’. I spend far too much of my hard-earned cash on cushions and a lot of my friends don’t get that either.

 

Although some do.

 

The discussion about cosmetic surgery cropped up over lunch at the weekend when a friend told me about a friend of hers (yes, she was asking on behalf of a “friend” !) who wanted surgery because her husband likes big boobs.

 

And therein lies the rub, because on absolutely no fucking account would I have surgery because someone wanted me to, to improve me, mainly because (and you can call me old-fashioned) I’d assumed that falling in love was about the whole package. What the fuck does it say if someone can no longer commit unless you fix one small part that is not quite perfect?

 

The last time I researched thoroughly, women don’t have the option to change men’s penis size, so what right do men have to sculpt out perfection in their partners?

 

Many middle-aged actresses in Hollywood have finally begun to fight the sort of sexist ageism that has pushed so many of them in the past under the knife, in order to secure work. Because we now know that one of the main reasons teenagers suffer from such poor self-esteem is because they aspire to be like their idols, and the problem is further compounded by the way boys judge women from what they see on porn movies.

 

It’s one thing for Her Vacuousness, Kim Kardashian, to bang on about there being nothing shameful about nudity as she gets her body out for the media for the gazillionth time in a day, but it’s quite  another when you flaunt your fake assets as something attainable and real.

 

It’s misrepresentation, actually, and particularly damaging to vulnerable young girls who are at an age where they are desperate to fit into society.

Why Women Are Owed Celebrity Dick Pics

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It’s a penis, FFS!

In case you haven’t heard, the actor Orlando Bloom – the very same hunk of gorgeousness who sparred and smouldered his way through LOTR as Legolas, went on to marry Miranda Kerr, and is now dating Katy Perry – got papped with his kit off last week. 

 

As in FULL FRONTAL. PENIS.

 

You might also be aware that it’s huge news when a celebrity gets caught in the buff, but even more so when it’s a male celebrity, because there aren’t equal nudity clauses in movie contracts when it comes to men and women, so the penis has become somewhat hallowed in its appearance.

 

Whereas we’ve been exposed to the complete smorgasbord of tits and fannies through our lives – I used to have to look at them on page 3 of The Sun every morning at breakfast – which makes it a rare, and frankly fine day, when you get a cop of a non-sexual dick pic.

 

Somehow we ended up playing an improvised game of Charades at the dinner party we attended on Saturday night and I chose ‘Orlando Bloom’ for my opposing team to guess, (kinder, I believed, than someone else’s suggestion of ‘lasagne’), and was somewhat surprised to see that none of our middle-aged friends had heard about Orlando’s ‘paddle’ photos which had trended on Twitter and broken all records on social media.

 

Which is probably because my friends are not as a) desperate b) sad or c) bored enough to get titillated by penis photos of a celebrity – and TBH, even I’m not sure how I justify my frantic search for the uncensored photos, so I acknowledge that some might see it as rather louche for a fifty-year old mother to seek out unsolicited pictures of a young man’s dick. And definitely a case of double standards.

 

But my interest wasn’t about his dick exactly…because like the majority of women, I am appalled and affronted by the invasion of privacy when phones and computers are hacked and nude photos of female celebrities are leaked.

 

Although… in Orlando’s case, his public unveiling did take place on a beach, in broad daylight, with the blessing of Katy, in front of other bathers…and it was quite a beautiful sight.

 

And how many of us would do that if we really cared about the fall out?

 

Personally, I think that the phenomenal interest in these photos is about more than titillation. It’s because we’ve been starved of penis in the media as well as a statement of women’s desire for some catch up –  as in ‘tit for knob’ (as opposed to tit for tat). Sure, we know that it’s an invasion of privacy when we feast our eyes salaciously on Bloom and Bieber’s bits, but we also feel entitled to a bit of equality here. We’d like men to understand for once what the full glare of sexual exploitation means, and if Orlando, (like a handful of other actors who have whipped it out for their craft, apart from you, George) is prepared to play ball, I have all the more respect for him.

 

It’s a penis, FFS!, and in case you’re itching with curiosity, a nice one at that.

Feminism, Body Image And The Curse Of A Big Gob

And in other news to (WHAT THE FUCK?) Brexit…I’ve noticed this week and am very proud to announce that (in spite of our dysfunctionality), we’ve managed to nurture this raving feminist for a daughter, someone very close to Germaine Greer on the radicalism scale. barbie-458618_1280

 

You see, unlike her vanilla mother when it comes to fighting for the people, NC has made it quite clear to us recently that she refuses to simply settle for equal rights, she wants to quash every aspect of blatant male privilege imposed on women.

 

As she explained to me last night, ‘you can’t effect change within the current constructs of society, Mum, society needs to change.’

 

So every day some new book on feminism lands on our doorstep from Amazon, so much so that the postman now leaves them in front of the gate, and the old man is getting a major complex from the amount of shade she throws at him, even when he’s not (knowingly) being a sexist twat.

 

Of course, he blames me.

 

Frankly, I’m surprised that the Astronaut has survived this long, although she does keep him safely at arms length on some secret government mission in Canberra.

 

She’s been growing out her armpit hair for some time, (although that might be due to winter), but this week she informed me that she’s decided not to wear makeup any longer – ‘because if men aren’t expected to, then neither should she’, and when I looked at her drained face, the black rings and lank hair (because she’s been working long hours recently) and asked her if she was sure … she stomped out of my room, came back and lobbed a copy of The Beauty Myth at my head.

 

I suppose I must be more influenced by body image perfectionism than I thought. I wouldn’t describe myself as shallow, always believed that what’s on the inside is more important … but then I do love clothes and lipstick and shoes and I do try my best to stay slim, within the unfair boundaries set by my hormones.

 

Admittedly, one of the most liberating parts of middle age is to go out in public without makeup, freak out the local kids and seriously not give a fuck. Nevertheless, sometimes I still like to put my face on. Not because I feel more confident, or for the old man’s benefit (who frankly wouldn’t notice if I had a face transplant), because I honestly feel more empowered when I don’t have a mask on, it’s just that occasionally I like to feel feminine and pretty, which I do when I conceal the rings, the veins and the Rosacea and pluck the stray foliage from my eyebrows.

 

And there’s nothing wrong with that, according to my daughter, because feminism is about having choices. Just as it’s okay to opt for plastic surgery, even though personally I’m like WHY?

 

Cynics will accuse me of being indoctrinated, of course, and they have a point. I’m the biggest sucker for women’s magazines, love those shots of celebrities when they get papped without their face on, but for me it’s not about cow-towing to the demands of society or men, it’s like the secret thrill you get when you wear new lingerie. No-one’s going to see it an no-one but you knows it’s there, but it still makes you feel good about yourself. And men are not immune to using props to improve confidence and appeal.

 

Understandably though, with the evolution of social media and the popularity of the selfie, there are concerns about where this obsession with body image will eventuate. Body Dysmorphia, conditions like Anorexia and women’s growing obsession with surgery are not trends that should be ignored.

 

Mentioning our kids’ weight these days – in particular the F word – is almost as reprehensible as feeding them processed meat or pretending that ‘I feel sad’ is a normal emotion that doesn’t require an intervention from social services.

 

I remember when NC went through the podge period that a lot of pubescent girls go through between the growth spurt and metamorphosis into swan – usually when they give up serious sport and console themselves by eating all the pies when boys refuse to notice them – and I suggested over tea one evening that she might want to eat more healthily, proud of myself for being so uncharacteristically sensitive.

 

She remembers it differently, of course. She says that I told her she was fat.

 

Which I’ve never believed until I heard myself tell Kurt this morning that if he carried on eating ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, he’ll never get Justin Bieber’s clear complexion.

 

I’m sorry, but if your child is obese (and doesn’t suffer from medical issues that cause weight gain) and their health is at risk, you don’t keep harping on about how beautiful they are, or how much you love them just the way they are; and neither do you continue to feed them on McDonalds for afternoon tea or stick your head in the sand – you get them some help.

 

Very soon I will have to affix a very large strip of Gaffer tape over my mouth to prevent me from traumatising my children any further, even though, I assure you, that I have always had their best interests at heart and just suffer from a very bad case of Big Gobbitis.

 

 

 

Parenting Smugness, Social Media and Learning To Let Go Of Toxicity

One of the greatest things I’ve taken away from middle-age so far is the necessity to eliminate toxicity from my life.boy-58985_1280

 

The toxicity that culminates out of everyone’s idea of how best to parent is one of the most offensive.

 

Because I read many blogs, a lot of articles about raising and parenting young children pop into my Facebook newsfeed on a weekly basis, and even though I’ve reached a very different stage of the parenting game to new mums, occasionally I find myself reading about their plights and sighing with relief that I’m no longer stuck on that particular treadmill.

 

Because if parenting isn’t already fucking challenging enough, there’s a tribe of holier-than-thou people out there judging the rest of us on how we parent. If you need any proof, think back to the gorilla scenario of only a few weeks ago.

 

On the surface, it makes sense to assume that young mums have it better than the new mothers of my generation. For starters, I find it impossible to recognise the wealth of gear you can buy in baby stores these days – designed to make the daily lives of modern mums more convenient and efficient. Kids eat on-the-go sachets of ready-prepared organic meals for dinner, and there is a whole range of distracting contraptions to dump them into for the purposes of distraction, while mums nip off to the loo or prepare food. And although there’s still a way to go, childcare facilities and options for working mums are on the whole improving, which means that young mums have more choices.

 

Yet some aspects of parenting young children remain reassuringly unchanged (cackles smugly). Getting your bundle of love off to sleep is still a chore akin to root canal surgery – although the invention of sleep clinics offer a new line of support, something my generation of mums who sat in the hall all night, boobs lactating and weeping uncontrollably as they tried to control their baby’s screams, might have benefitted from.

 

Getting your child to eat solid food was another of those massively competitive parenting milestones, and always the topic du jour at any mother’s group. Some kids refuse to eat no matter what you throw at them, like NC – FACT – and I did end up throwing food at her, many times. She was one of those babies who zipped her mouth firmly shut the minute a spoon containing solid form got close to it, even though I’d have fed her chocolate cake doused in Oreos if she’d have taken it.

 

Things got so bad, I convinced myself that I would be processing her meals through high school. I should mention that her favourite food is now Thai.

 

It was the wisdom of a friend that turned that particular world of parenting pain around for me, when she reminded me that ‘babies won’t starve themselves’. That kind soul saved me from the terrifying belief that my child would be the first child in our middle-class suburb to die of malnutrition, and her words of assurance came exactly when I needed to hear them, at my hair-pulling breaking point, when I’d begun picking at scabs irrationally, banging my head against the wall and the old man was terrified to come home.

 

Perhaps if we’d had social media back then and I’d read a post from another mum with a similar predicament to mine, that might have equally provided me with the comfort I craved – to know that I wasn’t alone in this hellhole called parenting that everyone had tricked me into, and lied about being fulfilling.

 

However, social media can be a double-edged sword and some of the ridiculous expectations that are rammed down parents throats in the guise of advice nowadays can also be responsible for increasing anxiety in many new mums, particularly those who live far away from their parents, hence experience the isolation of what they see as personal failure that much more intensely.

 

New mums are exposed to so much information out there that they must second-guess their decisions all the time, whereas in our day, the only real expectation forced upon us was to get on with things without complaining too much. There was much less pressure in terms of judgment from our peers. It was rather like when we were little and went crying to our mums if we hurt ourselves, only to be told to cut it out or she’d give us something to really cry about.

 

Sure, we had family who interfered – the mother-in-law who always got the kids to sleep or delighted in reminding us about how they did things in her day. But we didn’t have Mrs Psycho Smug on Facebook, thankfully, whose child is vegan, walked out of the womb and commences her advanced pure maths degree by the age of ten.

 

In this age where mental health issues are becoming more prevalent, women and men need to support each other more openly. When we find ourselves in a difficult place, or simply aren’t coping with the shite that can smear our lives at different junctures, we don’t need judgment, we need someone to listen to us, to be held and supported in whatever way possible.

 

Likewise, when our self-worth is on the floor and the inflated, glamorised success stories of others begin to make us question our value, we need to discipline ourselves to move away from that toxicity and learn to celebrate our difference and individuality instead.

 

Our ability to raise a child that skips merrily through each milestone without tripping over once is one minuscule aspect of what we have to offer.

 

One of my favourite quotes that I often cite in relation to ADHD is this:

 

Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. (Albert Einstein)

 

Says it all, really.

 

 

 

How Does Facebook Know Me Better Than My Husband Does?

It’s kind of spooky just how perceptive Facebook has become about my personality.

 

The choice of articles, memes and funny/cute dog videos that flood my homepage each day accurately paint a picture of my character (and all its flaws), as well as pander to my quirks and interests far more intuitively than the old man ever has. chocolate-brownie-995134_1280

 

For the man I have shared my life with for thirty years still cannot determine between mine and my daughter’s knickers when he sorts the laundry, nor can he remember that I like weak tea and strong coffee. Yet Facebook unfailingly remembers my birthday, reminds me of the birthdays of the important people in my life, helpfully sends me adverts for clothes for the more mature woman, the latest diet crazes and advice on how to cope with a child with ADHD.

 

Facebook knows that I have an insatiable appetite for any article about mental health issues – particularly in the areas of ADHD and anxiety; it also knows that I have a weakness for wine which looks after my own mental health issues.

 

It knows that I am prone to obsessing about healthy eating and dieting, yet am happy to forgo the latest fad diet for the ‘ultimate’ chocolate brownie recipe, and that although I am concerned about how much alcohol I drink and will do anything to increase the longevity of my life, I am a strict practitioner of ‘living life in the moment’.

 

Facebook has surmised that I am a bit porky and more and more conscious of it, that I am middle-aged and suffer from mood swings, (in fact the full smorgasbord of menopause symptoms), and am well on the way to becoming a candidate for Tena pads. I’m not certain from where the articles on how to improve my sex life emanate, when that ceased to be a priority a while ago, but apparently I also have an interest in lube and vibrators.

 

Obviously, what I thought was a secret obsession with Chris Hemsworth is not so secret at FB Headquarters and prompts many articles about the habits of the middle-aged cougar. I expect to be notified whenever a Hemsworth brother pees. In fact nothing is secret on Facebook, which is why sometimes I choose not to allow my curiosity to get the better of me and click on those articles that may well momentarily intrigue me but which I’m aware could lead to repercussions in the future – I don’t want some employer knowing that I have shown an interest in penis size, lesbian sex or suicide – all of which are obviously topics that I’ve needed to research for my book.

 

Facebook knows I like a good laugh, sometimes at my own expense but especially at the expense of others. It has surmised that I have a serious hang up about being a bad mother, that my kids are my world and hence ‘entitled’, and that I am immature for my age.

 

For some very strange reason it believes it is doing me a favour by suggesting my clients and psychologist as future friends.

 

If only the old man had as much insight.