Straight up for equality

I am straight, so it doesn’t affect me. I don’t have any particularly close gay friends.

But I am voting yes on Friday.

Yes, for equality. For basic dignity.

Who knows, whether my children will turn out to be gay? And if they are, then I want to be able to say, I did something that made a difference. Even just a small thing.

The outcome of the referendum won’t affect straight people. It won’t negatively impact on anyone if it is passed. But it will have a massive impact on the gay people of Ireland, now and in the future, if it fails.

I am not wholly confident of it passing, I see the no posters tugging at heartstrings and preying on people’s fears. I see the narrowing margins in the polls. I think there are no voters who don’t admit to being no voters, they may claim they’re afraid they’ll be villified for it, but really they just don’t want to be called upon to justify their no vote, because there simply aren’t any decent and justifiable reasons to vote no.

Vote, and vote yes.  We have a chance to make this country better for all the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of society. Let’s not fuck it up.

I’ll be at the polling station on friday, with my children along with me so they learn about the voting process – I’ve already talked to my daughter about it and she’s gone to preschool wearing her yes equality badge. I *may* encourage them to choose rainbow clothes to wear on the day *ahem*.

But most importantly, I’ll be voting, and then waiting and hoping for a good result. Vote – every single one will count.

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What do I want to be when I grow up?

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My four and a half year old daughter knows what she wants to be when she grows up: a doctor in space/doctor astronaut. The doctor who goes on the rocket and looks after all the other astronauts if they get sick, she elaborates. I love both her ambition and her surety.

I’m almost thirty years older than her, and I still don/t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a good sociology degree, but, you know, it’s sociology. Not the kind of area that links easily to a particular career.

I have plenty of experience facilitating – but I am an introvert who finds group facilitation pretty exhausting. I could do it fine when I had no kids, so I could have a quiet evening after a day of it, but coming home to my house, AKA the madhouse, would be a different story.

I loved doing the research project part of my degree. Doing research, analysing the results, writing up a dissertation. I would love to do that. A dusty office, a career in academia, perhaps? I think it would suit me.

I am interested in biology/bioscience, particularly areas like nutrition and immunology but I’d need a job to be able to afford to go back and study it. Because I already have a degree – even though I paid for that degree myself because it was part time study – I would have to pay fees if I returned to Uni to do another undergraduate degree. The other thing putting me off that option is that I’d be in a class with a load of 18 year olds. I live next door to students. I don’t think I could handle any more of them in my life until my kids reach that age. So perhaps I have already become an old curmudgeon? I love that word. It’s so grunty and huffy.

I might be a bit of a social justice warrior too. That’s a term used on some blogs/sites in a disparaging way to refer to people who give a shit. I’m quite happily misappropriating it. I AM a social justice WARRIOR, yes, thank you very much. I want a fairer, more equal world.

Perhaps, I can do academic research, in my dusty office, that proves beyond all doubt that more equal is better. Then I will transform into a social justice warrior superhero, and change the world.

Maybe I haven’t grown up that much after all…

Beautiful unusual things

I love unusual things. Quirky, funky, one of a kind, daring to be different.

I find different ways to express this, while on a social welfare payment income (it’s easy to have unusual stuff if you can commission artists, I’m sure, but half the fun is in the challenge). My walls are adorned by affordable art and photography(often gifted, as I have many talented friends and family members). I’ve also picked up a few pieces in charity shops, such as this

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– it’s made of thread woven and looped around many little pins. I love that it’s just a bit different.

My own clothing style is what I affectionately refer to as Charity-shop Chic. In fact, I have no idea what’s in fashion most of the time and the notion of wearing something dictated by a man in Milan or preening models in Paris seems too akin to the days of the dismal school uniform. I wear what I like, and what suits me. Again, this also has the advantage of being affordable.

As I’ve blogged about before, I like unusual clothes (especially ones that don’t conform to gender stereotypes) on my kids as well, some bought new but mostly bought in charity shops or preloved kids’ clothes pages on Facebook.

Then there are the toys.  I’m slowly turning into my mother, realising that wood is better and more beautiful than plastic. But even wooden toys are mass produced, these days, so being original requires a bit of effort.

Charity shops to the rescue! For example, a fabulous book that I’d otherwise never have heard of. And my latest find was in a second hand furniture shop. Look at this beautiful and unusual rocking horse

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I love it, and it fits right in – this is a chair I got a few years ago when my daughter was about the age my son is now (another charity shop bargain)

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Ok, so the bamboo is a slightly different shade, but I’ve never been much of a nitpicker about that sort of thing.

Have you found any beautiful, bargainous, original things? In charity shops, or online, or elsewhere – please, share :mrgreen:

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“Feminine”

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The word feminine conjures up soft, blurry visions of tender hugs and tearyness. Cuddles and kisses. Gentle touches, kind caresses. PINK.

Why? Dictionary.com defines it first and foremost, as pertaining to a woman or girl, then continues into having qualities “traditionally” ascribed to women. AKA, soft and gentle.

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Being female does not always mean being soft and gentle. I don’t mean in a patriarchal capitalist bullshit “Women can be soldiers too” kind of way. Being female can mean being FIERCE.

For me at least, the fierceness in my femininity comes from motherhood. In the sense that motherhood brought be very close to my inherent animalistic nature. I am a mother: if you try to harm my child I will fucking kill you. Like a mother tiger or wolf or bear.

Being a mother can mean softness and squishy cuddles. But it has also brought out a power I didn’t know was within me.

The feminine power: the fierce tiger within. I am female, I am fierce.

Society – media and the powers that be behind it – encourage the idea of the softness and pinkness of femininity. It is pretty girls laughing in short skirts and high heels. It is an airbrushed version of motherhood – no baby puke, no sweat, just a well groomed mother gazing adoringly at a placid baby. It is makeup. It is a whole load of things that we can buy.

My femininity is purple. Not pink. It is vibrant and intense. And fierce.

Toys to build a relationship with

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I was chatting to a friend today about kids’ toys. She commented on how today they seem disposable, whereas in our day (ah, the 80’s!) we built up a relationship with our toys.

Do today’s kids have too much STUFF?

Do my kids?

It’s hard to resist. There is a compulsion, online and in real shops, to buy-buy-buy!!! Capitalism at its finest. Manipulating us, every day. Creating a want, then arranging it to be perceived as a need.

My daughter certainty gets a lot of stuff from their dad. Cheap stuff, the kind that beckons from the stand by the till in petrol stations.

I’m a meanie. I don’t buy her that stuff. I just say no. It can result in tears and tantrums, and that’s difficult. Especially when tired in tesco! But I honestly don’t think there’s any benefit in getting her something she’s just spotted and taken a fancy to, that minute. The toys, the cheapie spur of the moment buys she comes home from her dad’s with, are disposable. She doesn’t have any attachment to them. She’ll play with them for ten minutes, or ten days, but they’re easily forgotten.

She has a few favourites. In particular, certain dressing up clothes : she loves role play, to play pretend, so these are the toys she’s attached to. I wonder what her favourites will be as she grows older?

As a toddler she didn’t bother much with toys – I thought she had too many, but perhaps it was just her personality. The boy does like some toys – especially his ride on car. But a box full of toys is of little interest to him either. He’ll turn it upside down or fling toys out of it one by one, but therein lies the fun! He doesn’t want to do anything else with them.

I’m trying to remember my own favourite toys as a child. I mostly think of my dressing up clothes, my books and comics, my tree house. The tree swings. I had a few dolls (the one that i really remember fondly was the original barbie doll that had been my mother’s as a child. I pierced her ears and cut her hair…oops!) and I’m sure there must have been toys. But I don’t remember them. They clearly weren’t special.

A couple of years ago, daughter had set her heart on a toy hoover in a charity shop. I told her to get it, she had to donate one of her toys. One in, one out – we lived in a really small house, this was pretty soon after I split from their father. She was two and a half. She swapped her Noddy car for the hoover. And now, two years later she still talks about the car and how she wishes she still had it. The charity shop has long since closed. I’ve browsed eBay, toying (pun intended!) with the idea of replacing it. I’m undecided as to whether I should or not – but in hindsight she probably was too young for the concept of that swap.

I wonder which toys my kids will remember, when they’re older? What will they get attached to as time goes on and their personalities develop?

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The Key to Surviving as a Stay-at-Home-Parent

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There is a very simple technique which is key to survival – even success – as a stay at home parent.

The key is: STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Do not stay at home. Do not be in that environment where the dirty breakfast dishes vie for your attention alongside the toddler. Where the four year old has the option of changing her clothes a hundred times because suddenly it’s too hot or too cold or too something. Get out and about. Be busy!

Options include, visiting a friend (like your home, but better, because you don’t have to do any housework and someone else has to clean up the mess afterwards; though usually they will return the favour by calling to your house the week after and letting their kids mess up your home); a walk in the park, a walk on the road, a walk around the shops (this one can be precarious as the kids might then want you to buy stuff). These all have the benefit of being free! If you’re going for a walk anywhere, remember to bring snacks and drinks. Even if it’s just a five minute walk. Children like to eat little and often. Very, very often. And nothing sets off their hunger pangs like the rustling of a bag with no snacks in it. Better to have the snacks and not need them than to not have them and need them.

Of course there are other options as well, that cost money. Swimming, soft play, open farm. These have the advantage of novelty and being quite interesting, but of course the aforementioned disadvantage of costing money. If you’ve already been to the park three times this week and it’s only Monday afternoon, though, then spending money starts to look like a really good idea. Especially compared to staying at home, where my desire to unstack the dishwasher has to be balanced against the toddler’s desire to push a chair over to the cutlery drawer and start throwing the sharpest knives around. The more time he spends at home, the more time he has to figure out how to get around my attempts at childproofing the place. So keep busy and keep out, I say!

Cravings

I gave up smoking when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. That’s more than 5 years ago now. However, in the last year or so I have fallen off the wagon on occasion on nights out. It’s probably for the best that I only get a night out once or twice a month!

I had a friend around with wine on *good* Friday. The obligatory catch up over alcohol on the holy day when it’s banned (well, its sale is banned, due to the archaic, rooted in catholicism laws in Ireland).

I wasn’t hungover, but I was really tired the next day and I felt a craving for a cigarette. Not a wicked one, not one that there’s any danger of giving in to. But a little pull in that direction. The wee voice whispering, “A cigarette would make you feel better, you know”. Even though i remember horrific hangovers when I smoked, and the cigarettes made me worse if anything. Hacking up a lung with a headache and nausea is not helpful.

Still. It reminded me of this KD Lang song.

I remember when this album came out. Conversations went a little like this:

-KD Lang, the lesbian, she’s done a whole album about FAGS

-Snigger

– I mean cigarettes.

– Harhar.

– Childish giggles.

A Beautiful Children’s Book.

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My mum picked up a really wonderful book for my daughter. It’s unlike any other children’s book I know: it’s called “The Flower” and it’s amazing. It depicts a dystopian future, where everything is grey.

Brigg lives in a grey world. He is alone: my daughter wonders why he has no parents. Nothing of beauty seems to reside in this world, except in Brigg’s bravery and desire to create something different. He takes a forbidden book and learns about flowers, and goes on to try to grow one.

We talk about this book the whole way through. She’s been listening to me, or my mum, read it for over a year now, and the questions she asks and the conclusions she comes to herself about the story change as she grows older.

I love to read future dystopia novels. My favourites include George Orwell’s 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale and the Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

I get so excited by the idea of my daughter being drawn in to this world through this book. That in the future, we’ll have something in common. Well, as long as the future we live in isn’t a dystopian one where we aren’t allowed to read books, of course…

Image from Inis Magazine

There’s an App for that.

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I love living in the digital age.

I recently changed electricity suppliers. My new supplier sent me an email asking me to read my meter, and submit the reading, before they issue my first bill. I can do it online on the laptop, OR I can download an app to my phone and do it that way.

Via the link in the email I go to the Google play store, download the app, install it, log in and go check the meter. Submit the reading. Done.

So easy.

Quality time

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It’s difficult sometimes, to be the mother to two kids. I imagine it gets more difficult the more kids one has.

I know they’re each getting a sibling, and that’s wonderful. And yet I feel guilty for my big girl, who became “bigger” overnight by virtue of having a baby brother, and none of it through her own doing. My big girl who has had to learn to share me.

I feel bad for my baby boy, who is never had the level of one-on-one time that my daughter did. Who was basically slung in a sling and mostly ignored, just popped on a boob and wrapped in cute cloth nappies and not focussed on the same way she was.

She lost having me all to herself; he never had me all to himself. I feel bad for both of them. It pulls my heart apart. And yet when I see them start to play together, as he grows older and more able, it fills me up with warmth and joy. Perhaps even enough to push away the guilt?

I try to spend one-on-one time with my son when daughter is at playschool. Its easy to get caught up in housework and errands. But it’s lovely to sit and sing to him, read to him, play with him.

As he grows older and can handle being away from me all day, I try to make time to have girly days out with my daughter. Yesterday we had a whole day together. We went for ice cream, saw Paddington at the cinema, and went to a big park for a big adventure. I kept my face out of my phone. We had a lovely day together.

She may be a big sister, but she’s still my little girl. I just need to remember how young she really is.