Cooperation Is Overrated

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I had a surprising moment of parental pride this morning at the school drop-off.

Hazel, my oldest, has just started Prep. Her brain is exploding with new ideas and discoveries. She already has her first crush (on a much older boy) and is enthusiastic and fearless about trying new things at school. She comes home each afternoon excitable and bursting with stories, which often can’t distinguished between fact and fiction, but also tired and emotional. These are trying times. She’s pushing boundaries. She’s finding her place, and challenging her place all at once. She watched the Labyrinth for the first time recently, and now we hear a lot of “It’s not fair!”

In fact, I’ve been a little worried lately about the extent of this defiance. I’m told it’s normal, a consequence of beginning a structured school routine, but the strain of arguing with a five-year-old over every little thing is taking its toll and making me nervous. Have I raised an entitled brat? To her credit, her defiance is almost always about her independence; wanting to make her own choices, challenging me when I say she can’t do something, or when I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to do (like tidying her room). And while we often have to remind her about selfishness, thoughtlessness and talking back to her parents, I can proudly say that I have never had to tell her off for being unkind or violent to another living soul.

Last night at the dinner table, she told us proudly that her teacher had given her two smiley face stickers. I asked what this meant, and she explained that there is a class Smiley Board and each time a student does something good, the teacher gives them a sticker to put next to their name on the board. Yesterday, she got two.

“What’s ‘doing something good’?” I asked her.

“Oh, you know. Tidying up. Being kind. Cooperating. Being quiet.”

Standard classroom behavioural things, other words. I thought no more of it. I was glad she did something kind or cooperative to earn two stickers. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be for tidying up.

As I was leaving the classroom after school drop off this morning, I noticed the Smiley Board and took a look at Hazel’s progress. Scanning through the list it seemed almost half the class had a lot of smiley faces, and the other half had significantly less. Looking at each name, I realised that all of the ‘good’ students were girls. In fact, it seemed that every girl except one was way out in front of every boy in the class.

Every girl except Hazel.

Hazel was positioned just one smiley face behind the best-behaved boy in the class. A little smile crept onto my own face.

Don’t get me wrong, kindness is a major parental goal of mine and I feel pretty good about having taught Hazel kindness in all the right ways. She has an abundance of empathy, and is in the habit of comforting people when they are upset. She’s great with babies and younger children. She doesn’t say cruel things, and is genuinely baffled when others do (“Why would they say that, mum?”) But cooperating, being quiet, tidying up… those things are all great things, until they’re not great things. They’re great things when both boys and girls – perhaps more pertinently, men and women – are expected to do them and when they’re not taken for granted. But unfortunately, we still live in a world where women are expected to cooperate in support and men are expected to disrupt and leader. When women are leaders by nature, their lack of unconditional cooperation is considered aggressive, when men are supportive by nature they are are classed as weak. This is a big topic, much bigger than a paragraph in a blog post. It challenges so much of what we culturally consider to be feminine and masculine behaviour. It challenges what is acceptable in women, but undesirable in men – and vice versa. In spite of the huge progress feminism has made in recent years, here is a 2016 Prep classroom split right down the middle with cooperative little girls and less cooperative little boys (and Hazel). These are behaviours they learn through watching their peers and their role models. It will take time for all the little girls in the world to see women challenging the status quo so that they will learn to do it themselves. It will take time for all the little boys in the world to see more men cooperating and supporting others so that they will learn to do that, too. Without shame.

Knowing that I am her primary role model, I walked out of the class with a little spring in my step, recalling my days raising hell and eyebrows in mandatory Religious Studies class. Unquestioned cooperation has never been my idea of a good time. And long may it be so for Hazel.

Right after she tidies her room, FFS.

There Are Easier Ways Than Freezing Them Eggs – A Viable List

BarbaraKruger-Your-body-is-a-battleground-1989Image by Barbara Kruger

Have you ever felt that there could be some other way that businesses could step up to the modern challenges of ensuring diversity in the workplace? Organisations taking the lead and looking at real opportunities to ensure that high-performing female employees can continue to thrive in a corporate landscape whilst also choosing to have children?

Facebook and Apple have apparently recently introduced their own solutions to hold on to their best workers, with latest news reports on the interwebs reporting that they are offering to pay up to $20,000 for female employees to freeze their reproductive eggs.

Hold up a second.

So, it’s BIOLOGY that needs to drastically tampered to solve this issue of workplace equality? Oh of course! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s our bodies that have been doing it wrong all these years! It really was just staring us in the face this whole time. Women clearly haven’t been pulling our weight in the evolution department, and so the solution to ensuring we can work longer and better is to step in and meddle with our bits.

*FOREHEAD SLAP*

WHY are we doing this? Are we so far removed from reality that this is actually a viable option? According to Jennifer Tye, marketing lead for Glow, a mobile application aimed at helping women avoid pregnancy or conceive, it most certainly is.

“Egg freezing gives women more control,” Tye stated.

“When I turned 30, I had this notion that my biological clock was ticking, but I didn’t know what my options were.

“These employers should be commended.”

Gulp.

Can I just say firstly that we have no issue with women choosing to freeze their eggs, but we really have an issue with companies incentivizing it rather than taking a good hard look at why they make women with children such pariahs. Secondly, I don’t believe for a second this is giving women more control, it’s doing the opposite. The employer is telling the woman that her biological makeup needs to change, not the business structure. REAL empowering Jennifer.

So we made a list of ways industry could solve this issue WITHOUT resorting to surgery:

1. On-site child care centres. DUH

2. HIre the correct number of people for the actual amount of work

3. In busy times, give people the option to work late, or start earlier, and pay the MONEY for those hours. Keep child care support on hand at that time so that the option can be taken up by parents. Creating a culture of expected unpaid overtime is at the root of this issue.

4. Stop seeing having children as a woman’s sole responsibility, but respect her if she chooses to stay at home forever. It is no different to her going on a holiday to Italy, and loving it so much that she wants to quit her job and move there.

5. Offer REAL up-skilling or training as needed for any employee who takes up leave to care for their children. If there is a knowledge gap after having 4 months off, address it. Equip them with the skills they need to do the job well, without having to fall into the overtime trap.

6. Stop comparing the capabilities of female employees who have/don’t have children. Neither of you are better at your job for having/not having children. We don’t question whether men who have children do their jobs better or worse, they just have them.

7. Focus on making real cultural change in the workplace. Invest money into this, not egg freezing.

Please add to this list as you see fit. Humans are continuing to make this life way harder than it should be, creating more obstacles than a steeplechase in the big world of business.

By going down this path businesses are literally trying to own their employees, body and soul. Viable solutions are out there, so why are we offering these instead?

 

Bollocks to that

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Dear Grant, (@grantfeller)

Oh man, where do I begin with this?

So I read your article in Sunday Style Magazine (Why Men Make Terrible Mothers, 28/10/14) and I’ll be honest: I had to close the magazine and go for a walk in the fresh air. Because, really. Are we still doing this? In 2014? In the face of actual real life statistics that prove what we all inherently know – that the bond between an adult and a child is profoundly influenced by the quality time that they spend together, not whether or not the adult has lady parts or man parts – you still want to get out of nappy duty by playing the gender card.

Oxytocin – the love hormone – is a wonderdrug. It helps women grow healthy babies in their bellies. It helps them get those babies out. It masks the pain and trauma of childbirth. It forces a bond between mother and child so that the child won’t be abandoned. It assists with the creation of milk for those babies. That’s a whole lot of crazy shit, but it all happens over a very short space of time in a new human’s life – 6 months, 12 months, or for the hardcore amongst us, a couple of years. But what’s a couple of years compared with the 18 that you are legally obligated to take care of that child? Or the lifetime that your heart compels you to be there for them? Women get a head-start in the bonding department – absolutely. But without constant and consistent time spent with that child, a bond won’t form on its own. Love grows and continues to grow long after the maternal oxytocin wears off. And men produce oxytocin, too. Why do you think that is? So that they can bond and connect with fellow human beings. Think about the people in your life whom you love – do you honestly think you love them less than the women in their lives?

This whole backhanded ‘Women: The Altruistic Wonders’ argument is precisely the kind of manipulative shit that keeps women from pursuing the same social privileges as men. Because why bother hiring a woman if she’s just going to exercise her natural instinct to go off and have babies? Why bother educating her if she’ll never fulfil that potential? In fact, why bother letting her out of the house in the first place if all she’s ever going to do with her life is raise children because she naturally wants nothing more than to live it in servitude to her kids?

As nicely and jovially as you tried to put it, you essentially said that women belong at home and men belong in the workforce. Bollocks. Humans belong where they are best suited, whatever bits they have between their legs. Gender roles are a dangerous social construct that only serves a small few (but perhaps you are one of those few). This constant suggestion that women have a set role to play isolates and limits them, and in turn isolates and limits men. This is problematic for both of us; it causes deep-set anxiety in women who find themselves not enjoying motherhood as intensely as society expects them to, and it breeds a sense of powerlessness and obligation in men. What will men do without the women in their lives if they are so inherently incapable of taking care of the kids? What if they are unable to provide for their family? What control do they really have over their own offspring as mere men? God forbid they actually enjoy caring for their children and feel emasculated by doing something they love.

Insistence of set gender roles has darker and more sinister undertones, too. There is a proven link between the respect and authority that women have in society as a whole and the incidence of violence against them. In communities where women are represented in a diverse range of roles and responsibilities, and revered in positions of authority, lower instances of domestic abuse and rape are recorded. And it’s not just women who suffer from the crippling social expectation of strict gender roles. The most common cause of death in young men is suicide. Men, who are taught that feelings are something they shouldn’t have, would sooner die than talk about what’s troubling them. This is not a coincidence. I want to be part of a world where women have more choices, but I also want to see men living long, happy and healthy lives. The two can’t be separated.

I’m gonna level with you. The job you’re doing – being at home as the primary carer of a child, while also trying to nurture a fledgling business – that shit is HARD. It’s not hard because you’re a man, it’s hard because it’s HARD. I know. I do the same job and I’m a woman. I was legitimately surprised at how shit I am at this job. The suggestion that you’re not good at it simply by virtue of being a man is a cop-out. And if that’s the case, what’s my excuse? Women are expected to be good at raising kids so they pretend they’re happy, even when they’re struggling (#lovemyjob). Men are not expected to be good at it, so are either praised when they manage a basic task, or excused if they drop the ball. But it’s all unfounded bollocks; if you’re not enjoying it, or you’re finding it hard, the problem and its solution lies with YOU. If you’d rather be at the pub than at a play date, it’s not because you’re a man, it’s because those are your priorities. And OK. No judgment. I’d rather be at the pub some days, too. It might get better with time or it might not, but ultimately you have choices – far more than I do over here in the same boat – that you can exercise to better your situation. If your choice is to walk away from being a primary carer, have the courage to say that you couldn’t make it work. Not that you are a man and all men are incapable, cleverly ridding yourself of the disappointment and responsibility that you might actually have to face.

I grew up with less choices than my male counterparts on the basis of my gender. I want more choices for my daughter. And more again for the granddaughters I may one day have. I want my son to never feel trapped or emasculated if his favourite film isn’t Full Metal Jacket. Please, be part of the solution. It’s easy, even trendy, to stand up to blatant sexism and misogyny – those lines have long been drawn in the sand. But it is so hard for women like me to stand up to the kind of everyday sexism that you have displayed in your article because you either think it’s a joke or it makes no difference. Please, it is not a joke and it makes a difference. It’s puts women in their place, with a smiley face.

You’re doing a hard job. I’m doing a hard job. We’re neither of us particularly good at it, or enjoying it as much as we’d like, but we’re doing our best. And for fuck’s sake, let’s get on the same side here because we’re all in this together.

 

Caroline says: Yeah, what she said ^^^. Grant, I’d be happy to catch up with you during the day to lament together how our businesses aren’t traveling at the warp-speed they could be because we chose to have children. Let’s whine in unison over a soy flat white in a (pram-friendly) cafe and compare notes on how boring sheet-changing really truly is and how we just aren’t congratulated enough for those little jobs around the house. Friends got a promotion and a new car? What about us? My kid is rolling like a trouper but where is my thanks? We can congratulate each other Grant, cos lord knows we deserve it. But let’s please do it as people, as parents and as ourselves. Not as sweeping generalisations of our gender. Men and women deserve more than that.

Sleep Deprivation – Tortured Delirium or Creative Genius?

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I’ve always been a great sleeper. I love sleep. I sleep well. I sleep long.

Correction: Slept.

Lately, August has been enjoying his “babies being babies” status by waking every two hours overnight to feed. I’m talking ravenous feeding. He’s little, he’s growing, and it’s just not an option for me to refuse to feed the little tyke. So I’m up. A lot.

As the days wore on and my maximum length of slumber at a time peaked at 2.5 hours in a 5 day period – I hit delirium. And this is where it gets interesting. I think I found a correlation between creativity and sleep deprivation. A positive spin on a shite situation – yes indeed. Could it just be the delirium talking – quite possibly.

I can only liken it to that level of drinking when your barriers come down, you get all loosey-goosey in the chatter department, and you suddenly become a champion pool player. I have proof that after approximately 3.5 glasses of wine, I “get my eye in”* and start sinking balls like I’ve joined the professional circuit. I once got someone to take a video of me executing some crazy shot that included ricochets, jump shots and 3 balls sunk, just so I could show people my mad skills in the harsh light of day. Amy and I once went away for a weekend to write an ebook (still in progress), drank a couple of bottles of red, befriended the local pub owner and creativity positively sparked out of us. We think.

I started to see this side of me emerging around 3pm each day, but now my mad skills extended to heightened wit and crazy styling ideas. And there was no booze involved. I had inadvertently “got my eye in”** by not sleeping.

My self-editing went out the window, with any idea getting airplay. I was spinning puns and weaving wordplay without pause, and thoughts were streaming out of me. I also got totally over-emotional, like a drunk crying into a beer. But this was a small price to pay for flashes of brilliance.

A lack of inhibition has been characteristic of many creative greats, with an ability to tap into ideas that might never have seen the light of day had they allowed editing to occur. I can totally understand the need to chase this feeling, this crazed state of heightened everything where it just seems easier to work. Sure – you’re dancing (sometimes flailing) to the sound of your own drum. Sure – timeframes go out the window and strangers give you polite smiles and start to back away slowly. And SURE – your partner/family/dog are a little unsure as to why things are getting made when there are chores to be done. But all just a byproduct of the delirium. A small price to pay.

For a spell at least.

We know that sleep deprivation also does a whole heap of bad stuff to your body if it continues for too long a stretch.*** You shouldn’t drive, operate heavy machinery or basically do anything that requires refined motor skills and quick judgement. And we don’t CHOOSE it (that would be taking it one step too far).

But you know what? Two nights ago, August slept from 9pm to 5am. I awoke with both the fear of God that something had happened to him, and the pain of Zeus in my engorged breasts. After I’d checked that he was indeed totally fine and happily gurgling to himself in the cot, I realised that I felt like a new woman. I felt great! Good Morning World!!

But I also felt something was amiss. I sat down to try to plan my day, to write some more and plot a moodboard. And struggled a little. Then it hit me. My eye was out. I was totally rational and rested. And although I was so relieved to have been handed this delicious stretch of sleep, I was also a little sad that my loose crazy genius had also retired. Now I really had to think.

For the time being at least. August is nothing if not unpredictable.

 

 

 

* not scientifically proven

** also not scientifically proven

*** this is totally scientifically proven but I just don’t have time to Google the appropriate reference. Soz

 

The God Spotlight

Throughout my life, I have experienced moments that I have come to refer to as ‘God’s Spotlight’.

It’s a little hypocritical of me. I don’t really believe in God. Not in any traditional sense, anyway. I guess I would call my morals and values non-denominational Christian but, if I’m honest, that’s simply because Christianity is mainstream in my environment so it’s the religion I know the most about. I’m fairly certain that these same values that I live my life by are the backbone of most religions. And, um, the law.

Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Be kind. Love one another. Ya know?

I also support a lot of things that most religious denominations, in practice anyway, typically don’t. I’m Pro Choice. I’m Pro Marriage Equality. I’m a feminist, too which isn’t sacrilegious as such. It just gets under their fingernails a little bit. I rather reluctantly went to a Catholic School and was an argumentative little hellraiser in mandatory RE class. “But Miss, how can you believe that God loves you when he drowned EVERYONE!? Even the ANIMALS!? I’m sorry, but that guy can’t be trusted.” But when all’s said and done, I guess I believe in a ‘God’ (poor ‘God’. He will always be an inverted commas kind of thing for me). Maybe it’s not a him or a person at all that I believe in but a force, that’s both within me and also everywhere. I don’t know. Whatever. I like it. It suits me fine.

So anyway. In my life, typically my childhood, I often had moments whereupon my experience of a situation was inexplicably heightened. They would be moments of little or no spectacle, forgotten quickly by the others right there sharing the same experience. But for me, it was as though a spotlight was shining and the moment would be recorded by my mind with such precision so to never forget. I have a catalogue of them, many of which I’ve never truly analysed for their potential meaning. I’d like to go through that catalogue one day and try to figure out exactly what it was they (or He or It) were teaching me at that moment. But my favourite and most important one was this:

It was 1992 or 1993. So I would have been 11 or 12. I had gone with my aunt and uncle and cousins to a holiday house on a river at a tiny little place called Tunnel Bend on the Howqua River. The house was a shack deep in the bush. There were blackberries everywhere. And a really cool badminton court. And a river with a fairly strong current that travelled around in a circle through a man-made tunnel that had been cut from the earth during the Gold Rush. The shack backed onto a small stony beach where we’d paddle downstream to the tunnel on lilos, drag them up through the dark tunnel over rocks and rockpools, and then resume paddling on the other side, arriving right back where we started.

We had all set out one mild morning – not hot, I remember that – to a spot further up the river that had a nice stretch of stony beach, where the current wasn’t too strong for kids to swim. We didn’t drive or walk, we got on lilos and floated up to the spot. I shared a lilo with my cousin. My uncle kayaked.

We splashed around for a while, but I felt a bit cold so I jumped out of the water and sat on the stony beach wrapped up in a towel next to my sister and my aunt who wasn’t there to swim, so she was wearing jeans, shoes and a jumper. My cousins and uncle were still out in the water. I turned away for a split second and before I knew what was happening my aunt was in the water – in her jeans and her shoes and her jumper. I heard her yell something beforehand, but I didn’t hear what. I looked out into the water at her four boys swimming, but for a moment I couldn’t see my uncle… and then, within seconds, his kayak flipped up out of the water and he was there again. My aunt was still swimming out to him, fully clothed. She must have looked up and realised he was OK and stopped, treading water, for one electric moment while we all looked on a little confused. Then she waded back to the shore and my uncle followed her.

“I saw you go under,” she said. “I thought you were drowning.”

He looked at her with a proud smile and said something along the lines of ‘you silly sausage’, gave her a kiss and a hug. She was drenched, her jeans and her shoes and her jumper. And she was magnificent. A woman who had leapt to save her husband, without thinking of the consequences. Without a care that it wasn’t a particularly warm day and she had no other clothes. Without a care that she might look silly. She jumped in the river! In her jeans! In her shoes! In her jumper! She didn’t waste a moment to consider whether he was perfectly OK, perhaps not drowning at all. It didn’t matter.

THIS. Said ‘God’. Pay attention to THIS.

I was 11 or 12. I didn’t know anything about love. I knew I loved my family and they loved me. But I didn’t understand this kind of love, or this kind of fear of loss. I had no context with which to process this moment but my naive little mind, yet to experience love or hurt, opened up and swallowed it all.

That little spotlight film has played and re-played in my head for many years. Throughout my teens, when love was confusing, it taunted me like a puzzle I couldn’t solve. It would be years before I began to see its relevance. That spotlight has helped me to recognise when someone loved me. And it has helped me recognise when someone maybe didn’t. It taught me to leap without fear of being wrong or looking silly. That even when you are wrong or look silly, you are still magnificent and brave. It taught me that the magazines, with all their advice on playing it cool and keeping your cards close to your chest, are wrong. Most importantly, it taught me that women are not just the objects of love; we are capable of loving with the same ferociousness and foolishness as men. Simply put, that moment taught me how to love.

And so I credit this funny little moment with so much of the love that I have in my life. So thanks ‘God’. If that really was you, it was a darn cool trick.

Eccen-trip Melbourne | Queen Vic Market

↑ This kid and her fruit! Checking out the produce at Queen Vic Market ↑

One of the things we want to try to do more of is getting out and about around Melbourne town with our kids. Maybe you like indoor play centres – no judgement – but I don’t. I want to get out and experience this great city of ours and I want my kids to do the same. In fact, Hazel has taken to asking me on a Thursday morning (our traditional day together, when I’m otherwise working) ‘What adventure will we go on today?’

This particular post is about my family’s regular, weekly adventure. It’s something we decided to start doing this year because a) going grocery shopping SUCKS but b) going grocery shopping is essential and c) lovely weekend family time is at a premium so c) let’s do a weekly family outing to the Vic Market on Sundays and kill two birds (one sucky one lovely one) with the one stone!

This one was a particularly special Eccen-trip because it was my birthday. The best part about that is that I led us around the market in a completely haphazard way, as is my wont, and John had to kinda cop it. We’d usually be a little more organised, a little less whimsical. But it’s my birthday and I’ll ramble if I want to.

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↑ Current favourite – Blood Oranges ↑IMG_0155
↑ Inside the covered Queen Vic deli! We have a ‘cheese guy’ and a ‘butter lady’ among other regulars ↑

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↑ Do not visit the Vic Market without trying a Borek ↑IMG_0162 IMG_0163

↑ First stop for me is always Market Lane for coffee ↑IMG_0170 IMG_0171

 

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You Make Me Feel Like An Average Woman

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Dear Bec,

You don’t know me. At least, I’m pretty sure you don’t. And if you do, then you might know what I’m writing to you about. Yeeeeahhh, about that post of yours….

So, I’m a mum too. It’s both a rewarding and challenging gig, all at the same time. It can be tougher for some, definitely, and there’s a whole generation of mums that are now more exposed than ever, with judgement being thrown about like comical cream pies.

Back in the days without the interwebs (srsly, I was alive for that, it isn’t that long ago), it was our immediate family, friends and neighbours that were free to cast aspersions on our parenting prowess, not people we didn’t know. Magazines had ideals and most of these were based on trying to sell us something, but generally, everyone just got on with it without fear of what someone across the country might think about it. So I agree with you in lamenting the phenomena of mummy shaming.

I know you meant well, but I think perhaps being Rebecca Judd got in the way. I’m one of those ‘average women’ you refer to, whom the Miranda Kerr’s and Giselle’s of the world are “duh”, naturally hotter than. I know that in your world, you are judged by your looks and size. But let’s all just agree to stop bringing this into the real world, where mum’s come in all shapes and sizes and our main focus isn’t to “bounce-back” to our pre-baby bodies. Puh-lease.

Can we also just stop a second and think about why we want to look like we’ve never HAD children? Like we’ve never grown a whole human (in some cases, a third of our actual size – I’m looking at you Amy) and carried it around for 9 months? These bodies should be worn proudly, like badges of honour and those hot scars that women love. I stand by my belief that my friends who have either aged gracefully or had children and are happy (tired, but happy) are looking better than they ever have in their whole life. Yes, that’s INCLUDING their early 20s.

Let’s all keep fighting the good fight, but perhaps pause for a second to make sure we’re not actually contributing to the cause. Cause we’ve all got so much more to do (like dancing, eating vanilla slices, taking photos of our kids and writing letters to celebrities)

Srsly,
Caroline

//————-//

Dear Bec,

Oh hey, I’m Amy the one Caroline referred to earlier. Small lady, big baby? Yeah, that’s me.

First up, I know what you were aiming for with the whole ‘let’s quit shaming each other’ article. I get it. We’re all mums. We’re all doing our best. Let’s hug it out.

But I’m going to point out a glaring omission in your piece. Because, dude, it needs to be said. It’s the proverbial elephant in the room. No pun.

First of all, a basic recap:

Mums who breastfeed are great! | Mums who can’t breastfeed so they formula feed are also great!*

Mums who birth naturally are great! | Mums who know their limits and take the damn epidural are also great!

Mums who partake in pre- and post-natal fitness are great! | GLARING SILENCE.

I’ve heard you say in the past that you’re just ‘lucky’ that you look the way you do and it’s always kinda jarred me a little. Because… I don’t look the way you do. In fact, I was born looking quite different to you. I’m 5 foot tall for a start. I have red hair and freckly skin. And while I’m of a petite and (relatively) proportionate build, I’m no supermodel. By your definition that somehow makes me, um, unlucky. Me and a vast majority of women on the planet. I know, I know – don’t hate you ’cause you’re beautiful. But maybe don’t ignore me ’cause I’m not.

Did I get into physical fitness while I was pregnant with my babies? Nup.

Did I get into it after I had my babies? Ah, not particularly.

Do I feel exasperated by all those beautiful celebrity mums popping up on my Facebook newsfeed with their tales of how they got their pre-baby bodies back? ‘Lil bit.

I live a vaguely active lifestyle and I’m not overweight. I view exercise as a way of being physically and mentally healthy and because of those pesky ‘unlucky’ genes of mine, if I wanted to look like you and Miranda and Giselle and be ‘celebrated’ (or noticed at all) I would need to spend a lot more time working on my body and a lot less time doing other perfectly healthy things I love – like reading, writing, letterpress printing and watching cat videos on YouTube. And here’s the kicker: there’s a lot of money to be made by making the unlucky ones feel like they could look lucky if only they worked a little harder. I think you may even be making a bit of that money.

Just to be clear: I’m not talking about unhealthy behaviours or obesity here. I’m talking about regular folk.

When my body started changing during my first pregnancy I was faced with a choice: I could obsess over my appearance and approach the coming months with fear and dread. Or I could keep living my life. I chose the latter. By your omission, I shouldn’t be celebrated for that fact and I wholeheartedly disagree. That choice was the best decision I ever made. It’s not only great for me, but a great example to set for my daughter who, I hope, will live by my example and not grow up feeling ‘unlucky’. Because she’s a quirky little redhead, too. And she’s FABULOUS.

So, all you ordinary mums of the world, I’m just gonna put it out there – you are great. Maybe you got the lucky genes, maybe you didn’t. Maybe who gives a shit, you are ace. You know that there are only so many hours in a new mum’s hectic day and you’d rather spend your downtime reading all the books on the Booker Prize shortlist than punishing your body to look lucky. You know that you make a mean lasagne. You don’t need to buy into this post-baby body crap because you know that the people who love you don’t give a hoot if your tummy sags a bit after having those beautiful babes of yours. And you are setting an excellent example for them that they are so much more than just their appearance. Your eyes sparkle when you watch your friends having their babies, and it never occurs to you to check out how quickly they snapped back into shape. Or didn’t.

Ordinary mums, let’s get together over a cup of tea, a green smoothie, a full-fat, full-caffeine latte or a straight up martini. And let’s talk about things more interesting than our thighs. Which is, let’s face it, pretty much everything.

With ya not against ya (mostly),
Amy

* I’m gonna add mums who formula feed by choice in here. Because, you know, free will and all.