I am Saving Myself Thanks Mum

Kiera Knightly this week broke the interweb with her announcement that she has banned her three year old daughter from watching The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.  She feels that they teach her daughter wrong and even misogynistic lessons; that you need to wait for a man to save you and that you must give up your voice for the man you want…

Kristen Bell has issues with Snow White because of how consent is conveyed in it.

Fair enough.

Who are we to judge? If these Mamas don’t want to let their kids watch these movies, that is absolutely 100% THEIR DECISION!

In fact, the portrayal of women in Disney is something I have discussed with my students many, many, many times, and while I agree that many of the traditional “princesses” are frustratingly meek and mild and oh so obedient to their hearts and menfolk, I also am aware that the stories are not the cause of inequality and misogyny in our modern society.  They are only stories; fairytales, make believe… it is HOW we read them that is important.

Yes you can say that Prince Whatshisface kissing Snow White while she was sleeping is wrong.  Of course it is, but why do we hone in on that rather than the previous 60 minutes where she was a servant and cleaner and feck knows what else,  for seven little men?  (And does that not insult men, suggesting that seven of them together couldn’t function without a teenage girl to look after them?)

Yes, Cinderella needed magic and spells and fab shoes to get her prince.  And ‘tut’ to her that she needed a man to save her, but such was the world, the IMAGINARY world, in which she lived.

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Shakespeare wrote some of the most incredibly females in history. Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to “unsex me here” because obviously she couldn’t be evil as she was a woman. (Any men getting offended here?)  And then he also wrote Ophelia, who is worse and more weak and frustrating that ANY Disney Princess in the world. Don’t start me on Ophelia…

Why did Shakespeare write her?  Because he was a woman hater? NO.  Because that was the society and cultural norm in the time in which he lived.  And actually, he had his Portia save the day when a crowd of men made a mess of everything, and then she married her Prince Charming, after saving his ass.

But we don’t ban our teenagers from reading Shakespeare do we?. In fact, we encourage it because we know that they can recognise the injustices and gender issues for themselves. Because we’ve given them those skills.

As for the Disney classics, remember that Cinderella and Snow White and The Little Mermaid were written in the early 1800s… of course their messages and social concepts are different to ours.

We however, get to choose how we read them.

And while there are valid arguments about the negative messages some of the classics send out, there are also plenty positives…and a few weird things, to pay attention to.

Cinderella was good and kind and she felt good in new, sparkly shoes. She also spoke to mice and birds.   Snow White was happy that Prince Whatshisface kissed her. He saved her. She wasn’t dragged off kicking and screaming to the castle to live happily ever after, was she?  The Little Mermaid was a defiant strong-willed rascal, who followed her heart.  Her best friends were also a crab and a fish… so let’s differentiate reality from fairytale.

Our daughters are no fairytale princesses.  They will not NEED a man to save them.  They will be able to look after themselves. They will be self-sufficient and well able to provide for themselves, to follow their dreams, to be “anything they want to be”… but can we stop already with telling them that they DON’T need to be girly?

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This teeshirt made me mad when I saw it a few weeks ago.  Yes, by all means encourage our daughters to believe that they can achieve anything they dream of and work for, but why do we need to tell them that being girly or wearing pink or dreaming of being a movie star are signs of weakness?  What the feck is wrong with wanting to be a movie star?  Are Megan Markle or KatyBaby failures because they found their Princes?

My daughters love dresses.  They love sparkles. They love makeup and dressing up and singing and being all round princesses.  They also love superheros, dress up as Hulk,  football and Pokemon and they play ninjas and wrestle.

There is no “That is for girls” or “That is for boys” in our house.

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Because that is not how to teach our children equality.

I like football. I like MMA. I swear more than a lady should. I train along with the menfolk in Jim and I prefer Marvel movies to Chickflicks.  In my work and projects, I take no prisoners and do not see any man as better than me.  And yet, I love to do all things “girly” too. and I love to dress up and I like sparkly shoes.

Does that make me less? Does the fact that I like pink and glitter and girly stuff make me weak? Because it seems to me that we’ve gone beyond telling girls they can be anything, we’ve gotten to the point that being girly is snubbed and scoffed at and actually looked down upon.

Well not on my watch.

I dress up and get my girly on, for me. Not for my Him or for anyone else.  For me. Because I am comfortable with who I am. And let me tell you, there is NO ONE who has watched as many Disney movies in their childhood (and still), as Me!

And my daughters will do what they want, how they want, Prince Charming or no Prince Charming, but they certainly will not be banned from watching Disney Movies, because all they see is a mermaid who sings songs and fights evil octopus monsters.

It’s a movie.

If you want your daughters to grow up strong and independent, teach them to be strong and independent…point out how old fashioned some of those Princesses are. (not all of them, for the newer ones are WICKED!  Merida, Mulan, Ana?)

And teach them that to be feminist does not mean hater of men.  It means equality for all. It means being able to stand up for themselves and to be a strong and independent woman, who can change the world and kick ass…whether in trousers and flats or in a skirt and glittery heels.

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Otherwise, they’ll end up offended by every man in the world and will need a big box of Man-sized…sorry, “extra large” Kleenex to wipe their offended eyes. I wonder when Manchester is being renamed? Peoplechester has a ring to it, don’t ya think?

Wear the pink, wear the glitter, wear the lipstick. Or don’t if you don’t want to … But be yourself and be strong and don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. And then you might just live happily ever after.

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I am Some Real Men Mum

The award for biggest Twatsickle of the week goes to the very wonderful specimen of the 19th century man, that is Piers Morgan.

For he is manly and strong and opinionated, and makes about as much sense as a pubic hair in a microwave…

WTF S-Mum?

What kind of ridiculous and far-fetched and non-sensical image is that?

Well it’s ALMOST on the same level of fuckwittery as the opinions of Old Man Morgan and his prehistoric views that men who carry their babies are emasculated.

He berated Bond actor, Daniel Craig in a Twitter post which has caused interweb meltdown and given the old gobshite far more publicity than he deserves.

Tell me.

HOW could a man, who is a father and who is caring for and carrying his offspring, possibly be described as emasculated?

HOW can this man of the world not understand that actually, there is nothing MORE MANLY than a man who looks after his child.  For the children, believe it or not, belong to the father too.

And before anyone jumps on the “Not all men are good fathers” train, that is NOT what this post is about.  Of course some men are twatholes.  But, so are some women, so let’s not go off point.

To me, there is nothing more wonderful and adorable and god damn SEXIFUL as watching a man being a dad; doing what he can for his kids, being a role model to his kids, taking on whatever job needs doing and stepping up to the mark.  And that includes the Dads who carry their babies… if anything, there is nothing MORE MANLY than seeing a Dad being a DAD.

But off you go back to your cave, you pillar of Gobshitery.  Back to your chest beating and grunting.  Back to your prehistoric notions.

You are not able for the men of our society, who know that raising chidren is NOT only the role of the woman.  Who know that the sign of a real man is not to think himself above the mundane realities of the domestic word. Who know that Dads don’t “babysit”, they simply parent…

Well, the real men anyway…

Justice however was served in many ways, from online photobombards of real men carrying their babies, to high profile Dads hitting back at his embarrassing comments, to comedian Harry Hill throwing a pie in his face “for Ross Kemp and for Daniel Craig” and all papoose-wearing fathers on Good Morning Britain! 

But hey!  There’s no such thing as bad publicity is there?  I don’t think that starting an international conversation about how many wonderful dads and “real” or “masculine” men there are out there was this Turbotwat’s intention, but it has certainly been the result.

So here’s to the Real Men.

Mammy x

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I am Sorry, but Yes You Will Mum

“You will , you know!” 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

“Everyone is the perfect parent…until they have children.” Who said this first? I have no idea. Who says it now? Me. Every single day!

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I am the proud and enthusiastic Mama bear of a 6-year-old Drama Queen and an almost 3 year old Dictator. I spend my days winging it through EVERYTHING… breakfast, school runs, work, homework, dinner, bedtime, marriage. Some days, I feel like I NEARLY have my shit together.

Most days, I want to stomp my foot, throw and tantrum and call for my own Mammy! To many, I seem like I hold things together.

Those closest to me, know I’m a fraud.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t deal with everything in a calm and mature fashion.

I don’t adore my children every single second of every single day. I don’t always have the schedule sorted.

I don’t always remember everything I’m supposed to.

I don’t always know what’s wrong with the baby, just by her cry. I don’t always have a sparkly clean house. (Actually, I don’t EVER. Who does?)

I don’t always remember to wash the uniforms.

I don’t always want to get my No Diggity on in the bedroom. I don’t always feed them homemade meals.

I don’t always give the right answer.

I don’t always say the right thing.

I don’t switch off my brain, even when it’s His turn to get up with them.

I can’t. Because I “Mammy” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sometimes, I yell. Sometimes, I bribe. Sometimes the fridge is empty. Sometimes, I’m so exhausted that I let them eat breakfast cereal for dinner. Sometimes, I pretend I don’t hear the monitor and carefully kick Daddy so he’ll have to get up instead. Sometimes, I let them watch TV…a lot. Sometimes, I swear.

Sometimes, I wish it were bedtime at 3pm. Sometimes, I cry so hard that my Husband doesn’t know what to say. Sometimes, I like being at work because I get to finish a coffee in peace…and I don’t feel guilty. Sometimes, I get a babysitter and go out for dinner.

Sometimes, I hand the baby to Himself as he comes through the door and go for a run, or a pee. Sometimes, I feel like I’m so utterly useless that someone, somewhere will certainly report me to an authority of some kind.

But ALWAYS, I love.

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I am NOT a Stepford Mammy. I will never get it ALL right. No one can, because a perfect Mammy doesn’t exist, and as long as I love my girls fiercely, I’m already doing it right. The moment that a Mammy realises that there is no such thing as “The right way” or “the proper way” of parenting, is light bulb moment.

When you recognise that YOUR choices for your family are NO ONE’s business, a giant weight will be lifted off your tired shoulders. You don’t have to justify your parenting. You don’t have to explain why you breastfeed, or don’t; why you chose this school instead of that one; why you put the baby in their own room at 3 months, or why they still sleep in your room 2 years on.

You don’t have to justify your parenting to ANYONE. The ONLY people who matter in your home, are YOUR FAMILY. And nothing or nobody outside of that matters.

If you are expecting your first Baby and reading this, with your jaw on the floor, thinking “I will NEVER do those things!”, You will you know!?

You will bribe. You will eat leftovers. You will survive on 2 hours of broken sleep. You will use Babywipes for EVERYTHING. You will hate your partner for sleeping. (Sometimes, you will hate them for breathing! 🙂 )

You will enjoy watching kids’ TV. You will have a favourite CBeebies presenter. You will spend your money on the best you can afford for your kids, while wearing a 15-year-old t-shirt yourself. You will be so excited at the offer of a babysitter, that you cry. Oh, and you will cry; tears of frustration, tears of worry, tears of laughter and tears of pure, unconditional LOVE.💕

Because being a Mammy is sometimes crap, but it is ALWAYS wonderful.

And if you are wondering if you’ll be a good Mum?

You will, you know. x

I am Schoolbags, Nelly and Polly Mum

Some days are disastrous.

Some days, it’s hard to be Positive Polly.

All it takes is ONE little thing to start a sequence of events that push us down the hill like a big, crazy snowball…gaining momentum and strength as they roll. And it’s so easy for us to suddenly be out of control, losing direction and heading for a crash.

This morning, I snowballed. And I don’t mean a fluffy, fablis, functioning one.

I’m still sick. I know that, and honestly, I should probably stay in bed for few days, but there’s little time to be lying down when life has to keep going on for everyone else in the house, isn’t there? (And I’m sure there’ll be a Blue Peter badge in the post one of these days, won’t there?)

It was one of those mornings where time seemed to go faster than me, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and where my Positive Polly faltered and my Negative Nelly won.

Finally getting into the car and starting our already late journey, I realised that we’d left Mini-Me’s school bag in the house. Now the Positive Polly in me says “Sure at least you realised when you did, only 300 yards down the road.” I hear her now, but at the time, the Negative Nelly in me was screaming ‘FFS’ and ‘FML’ and ‘Are you fecking kidding me’ and all sorts, while trying to do a 3 point turn on a one-car wide laneway.

At that moment, Nelly wanted to fight Polly… And trust me, Nelly would have won. This morning, Nelly would have battered McGregor.

Then as I tried to get us to the bus on time, every dumbass driver in the area pulled out in front of me and of course it was THEIR faults that I was later and later and later.

I cursed some more, genuinely stressed more than I have been in a long time, balancing the need to be cross at Mini-Me for walking PAST her fecking schoolbag on her way to the car again, and the need to make her feel loved and fecking secure before leaving Mammy for the day. I lost at this too.

I tried to start conversations.

“Are you looking forward to PE?”

She refused to answer me. She glared out the window, ignoring me. Positive Polly whispered, ‘Leave her be. She’s upset too’. Nelly however roared “Answer me when I’m speaking to you!” Herself got thicker with every mile and Mammy got more and more upset.

Leaving her off, I got a half-arsed hug. Her usual smiling and repeating “Bye Mammy” and excessive waving off, was replaced by the back of her head storming into the room. Mammy tried to make her smile by sticking out my tongue and winking at her. Nope. Her Negative Nelly was winning too and she glared at me like a teenager who’s just been grounded for a month…

The other one gave me a big tight hug, for all her-not-even-threeness, knowing that Mammy needed a cuddle and making me feel a bit better.

I got back into my car and drove out the gate. Mini-Me always runs out to wave as I pass. I toot the horn and wave back and I always leave for school with a smiling face etched in my mind.

This morning? Well, she came out alright, but only to punish me more by NOT waving.

She then turned her back on me as I tooted and waved like a demented Twatso… at the back of her thick wee head.

Negative Nelly was just bitchslapped into her box and this Mammy drove to work in an absolute state.

The guilt. The anger (at myself). The shame.

My daughter went to school upset. I fucked up royally, all over a school bag and my own general shittiness.

There was no one to make Mammy feel better and Mini-Me certainly didn’t give a damn if Mammy felt loved and secure as she started her day. Why would she? That’s not her job.

But if punishing me and making sure I berate myself all day is her job, she’s CEO there already. A child’s ability to punish and destroy its mother, is a skill that can only be matched by the mother herself.

It lingered in me all day. I had to teach a poem about a mother’s love for her child first thing. I just about got through that. Thankfully, my pal at work could smell that I was stressed and a quick hug and a wee tear later, I was less mental and more able to function. But still. When I think of the emotional wreck I have been today, it makes me worse again as I can’t imagine what she was like.

Negative Nelly doesn’t rear her ugly head much with me in fairness. And after today, she can piss away off. Tomorrow is another day and it’ll be so much nicer with Polly. As will I.

And as it happens, she still loves me and a hot chocolate and a cuddle can solve all the problems of the world, for both Nelly AND Polly.

Failing to Fail

Why are we so determined to make sure our little darlings never know what it’s like to fail?

Why do we expect everyone to be a high flying “success” at everything?

When did failing at something become so terrible?

I grew up failing.  I failed plenty. I’m still failing.  And yet, each and every one of those failings was, and is, a learning.

Sometimes, no matter how many times I try and try and try at something, I fail.  Maybe I’m not meant to do it.  Maybe I’m not good enough at it.  Maybe, it’s not within my skill-set.

If it’s not happening, I have two choices;  I can keep going until I (maybe) do succeed. Or I can be proud that I tried but move on to another project, accepting that it’s just not going to happen

But either way, I’ve learned something.  I’ve either learned the right or successful way to do something, or I’ve learned something about ME; about my abilities and my limitations. Because, it’s OK to have limitations. And shock horror, it’s OK to know what YOUR Limitations are.  It actually helps.

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If they don’t run, they won’t fall… so how will they learn not to?

There is a massive problem in our society and it’s not just with our children.  There is and has been for many years,  a mistaken perception that we should teach our children that they “can do anything”; that they “can be anything”; that they can not lose or fail at anything.   That failure is not an option.

Well actually it is.  And I’d go so far as to say that failure is necessary.

 

The fear of failure is everywhere. None of us want our children to experience rejection or failure.  It’s evident at the school sports days, where we make them “race” and “compete” but then give them ALL a certificate or medal.  We see it in dance classes or drama groups, where they audition but ALL get onstage anyway.  We see it at football training,  or where the only options are “win” or “a tie”, so that no one has to lose.

Of course,  equality and inclusion are inherently important  in schools and clubs.  And most of these societies and organisations have individualized and tailored policies and programes in place to include everyone.  And so they should. Inclusion is not what I am talking about here.

But when in general, we are not rewarding the “winners” for fear of upsetting the person in 2nd place, or indeed 24th place, what we are creating is a generation who feel entitled.

We need to stop telling our kids that they can be “anything they want to be”.  We should be encouraging our children to try and try.  We should be telling them they can be what they want to be… IF they have that ability and are willing to work for it.

What is wrong with encouraging them to learn what their strengths and passions are?

What is wrong with encouraging them to try and to work to earn and to deserve the end goal, may that be a degree in medicine or a place on the football team?

What is wrong with our children knowing what they are good at and recognising what they are not so good at?

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How are they supposed to work towards improving and learning if they simply think they are entitled to an ‘A’ in an exam, or to the place on the team, or to a certain job because they’ve always been told they can be anything or do anything they want to do?

We do not all have the same skills.  We do not all have the same strengths. I can teach Shakespeare to a brick, but I couldn’t be a math teacher for all the tea in China, no matter HOW much I work for it.  And I wouldn’t be able to be a Doctor or surgeon, because I am way too emotional for such a job (and I’m probably not that academically able!)

Does that mean I am a failure?

Eh no.

Every Irish dancing feis I didn’t win, was a lesson.  It spurned me on. Every time I saw that a certain ‘Leah’ or ‘Clare’ was there, I knew that I most likely hadn’t a chance of anything higher than 3rd place. Did that mean I couldn’t dance? NO.  It just meant that those girls were better than me. They trained harder.  They had more talent. They deserved every medal and cup they won. They inspired me to push harder. Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn’t. It’s called life.

When I tried gymnastics, the day that I gave myself a black eye with my own knee was the day that I decided I was done.  Funnily enough Mum agreed.  Did I fail? No.  I was just shite at gymnastics!

When I got average results in my Junior and Leaving Cert, did I feel like a failure?  No.  I got what I deserved and I got out what I put in.  I had done my best.  And as long as I did my best, that was enough for my parents and it was enough for me.

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However, when I have won, or achieved or succeeded, it was celebrated.  Because I bust myself and try and graft and work and any other synonym you can imagine. And if I do succeed, I am proud of it, because it is mine and I have probably failed ten times before managing it.   If you burn the omelette and don’t try to make it again, how do you eat?

Every failed friendship I have, (and there are many), while heartbreaking to deal with, have all been for the best.

Every failed romance (yup many of those too!) teaches us something else important about ourselves and the person who is not right for us.

Every failed job or project or application or interview teaches us something.

For me, every time I auditioned, and was rejected, for a part in a show, , broke my heart a little.  Of course it did (and does). Let’s be honest, if I didn’t want the part, why would I go for it?  But rather than stomp my foot and think myself too good to return, I pulled up my big girl knickers and still joined the group; may it be to a smaller role or into the chorus.  Because I love it.  I don’t have to be the leading lady to have fun.

And our children need to understand that they don’t have to always win to be winners.  That they don’t always have to score the goals to be important to the team.  That even though they are doing their best, sometimes the person beside them is just a little bit better.  And sometimes, THEY will be that person and someone else will lose to them.

When we started to walk, we all fell…

And then we learned how NOT to fall. And eventually we walked, all by ourselves. (And sometimes, we still fall!) If we keep carrying our kids and our young people over every obstacle, how can we expect them to learn how NOT to fall?

Direct them, encourage them, support them.  But let them feel disappointment sometimes.  Let them learn to accept the success of others. And when they DO succeed, celebrate with them.

We have to sometimes fail to really appreciate succeeding.  We’re not entitled to anything.  We have to work and try and earn things.  Life will not simply give you things because you think you deserve it.  You get out what you put in.

And while we don’t want our kids to repeat our mistakes, we have to let them make their own, so that they walk by themselves.

Who knows, they might even fly.

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