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 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’m Sick of all the labels Mum

So what’s the “Perfect Mum”

 

Baby-wearing Mum, Carry her Mum,

Co-sleeping Mum, Cot-sleeping Mum,

Room of his own Mum,

Still in my bed when she’s 4 Mum,

Who cares as long as he sleeps Mum?

A Disposable Nappy Mum,  Cloth-Nappy Mum,

Dodee Mum, Suck the thumb Mum,

A  baby monitor Mum, Check her twenty times Mum,

Camera in the bedroom Mum,

I’ll hear him if he calls Mum,

Baby-lead weaner Mum, Organic food only Mum,

Puree it myself Mum, Buy it off the shelf Mum,

Feed them anything Mum,  He won’t eat it anyway Mum,

Fish finger Freezer Friday Mum,

Leftovers in my tum Mum

Always positive parenting Mum,

Doing it all in heels Mum,

Never tell them No Mum

Child is in control Mum

Boundaries help them Grow Mum

Nurture them and Love Mum

Ask patience from above Mum

Shower him with kisses Mum,

Temper is in pieces Mum,

Cherish every second Mum,

Will bedtime ever come Mum,

Reading her a story Mum

Playing with his toys Mum

Letting her be bored Mum

Cuppa always cold Mum

Helicopter or Lawnmower Mum?

Let them fall and run Mum,

Breastfeeding Mum, Bottlefeeding Mum,

Whatever as long as they’re fed Mum.

Screaming and exhausted Mum,

Need a shower and pee Mum,

Calm and zen and ‘Got this’ Mum

Stay-at-home with kids Mum,

Go to work, Work from home,

Have to pay the Bills Mum,

Married, single, step-mum,

Co-parenting, need some help Mum,

Foster mum, adopting mum,

Holding on to friends Mum.

Trying Mum, Lost one Mum,

Wish with all my heart for one,

Happy mum, Sad Mum,

Frustrated at myself Mum,

Crying mum, Laughing Mum,

Fitting everything in Mum

Mum Buns, Mum Tums,

Stetchmarks, hormones and Bumps Mum

Afterschool, Sports and Pool, Taxi everyone Mum,

Homework Fun, Housework Done

Trying my best every day mum.

Kids come first,  Mum’s the worst,

Will this bubble ever burst?

Give your kids the love they need

And to the labels give no heed…

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Say what now?

 

I could keep going.

Mums are amazing.  We manage to be many of these Mums at once, but NO ONE can be all of them.

If you are putting yourself under pressure to fit a label that doesn’t fit you, cut it off.

As long as your kids are loved and fed and cared for, you’re doing just fine Mum.

It can’t be perfect all the time, neither can you. But remember that usually, the flaws you see in yourself, are only seen by you.

To your kids, YOU are their Perfect Mum.

And I am the perfect Mum for MY kids…even if you don’t agree with how I do things.

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.

I am Sucking the Dodee Mum

Mammy is chancing her arm tonight and going with the flow…or maybe making a HUGE mistake?
 
Mammy has been aware recently of some tuts and raised eyebrows recently about the fact that her almost-Threenager Beast-Baby still has not only ONE dodee, but THREE of them, attached to her “Dodee-cow”. (the adorable cow head with four weird tags onto which the precious dodees are attached and adored.)
 
And despite Mammy’s usual “not-giving-a-singular-fuck” attitude towards what others think of her parenting style and choices, Mammy has recently heard herself making excuses and explaining that they’ll be “going shortly”.
 
Why?
 
Fuck knows. Because let’s be honest, she won’t still be sucking at them and carrying them around when she’s 11, will she?
And really, they’re doing her NO harm whatsoever. They provide her with comfort. She rubs one on her cheek while the other one hangs out of her mouth like the fag (cigarette) of a 75 year old Popeye-type, and the third hangs as an emergency back-up at her belly.
 
I try not to give them to her during the day. And we’re down to “in the car” (if I want her to sleep) and “bedtime”. because I like to sleep…)
At playschool she doesn’t have them at all. In Granny’s, she doesn’t even ask. But when her lovely teacher tells me that she caught her over at the shelf they sit on, having a wee sneaky suck, I’m reminded that she is still a baby and if she gets comfort from the blasted thing whe I’m not there, if only for a few seconds, what-the-feck-ever.
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And so I HAD decided not to panic about taking them off her just yet. I HAD decided that she can hold on to them until she turns 3 anyway, and if they’re not gone before then, I’ll use some clever Modern-Mammy technique (lie) like Elf on the Shelf or the Dodee fairy and they WILL be gone by Christmas.
 
But then tonight, we left them in Granny’s. (Well, I THINK they’re in the car, but I’m sticking with my story…) And so rather than a heavy, dirty, taggy-toy with 3 dodees hanging off them, (one of which is split so she uses that one for her cheek), she has gone to bed with only ONE tiny, solitary, lonely, pathetic little doddee.
 
And so far so good.
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So while yes, I am not worrying about it too much, I’m also doing what we Mummies do best… I am IMPROVISING and hoping and praying that maybe this might just work and that maybe I shall get rid of the dodees without any real forethought or planning or stress.
 
Because sometimes, (OK rarely, ) but still, sometimes, shit works without us trying and we get little Mammy wins handed to us…
 
But tomorrow is a long way off and I might not be as smug in the morning…