My mother doesn’t take shit from anybody. She is kickarse in all the ways available. She is an empowered and balanced and amazing woman. If she weren’t my mother already, I would wish that she were. Probably. No offense to my other, hypothetical mother. As far as role models go, she is the cream of the crop. She is a woman doing things in multiple STEM fields, being a caring and supportive mother and grandmother, and looking young and hot always.
Sometimes life calls for a summary post. It’s not always easy to make the words come out in the right order, especially if you’ve been giving them to NaNoWriMo instead.
Six months ago we went to Georgia’s teacher in desperation, to have a go at figuring out why she’s lonely and sad. Last week we got the results of the school’s monitoring and subsequent assessment. Now we have a list of new people to go and see and ask the same questions to. In the meantime, Lily outstrips her in all social and creative endeavours, whilst Georgia’s various neuroses seem to be overwhelming her (and me).
I have some. Now I’m going through the rigmarole of specialists and blood tests and ultrasounds and I don’t recommend it very much at all.
I’ve slowed to a halt on NaNo, but I have 18,000 words I didn’t have before, and now I’m investing that energy into a 10 month intensive first drafting course. Hopefully this time next year I will have something of substance. I think you’ll like my main character. She’s insane.
Sam Simmons on Ramsay Street
I finally launched this! It took a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears, and this is the first episode in a series of ten. They get more hilarious and absurd as they go on. I think you’ll like* it.
Now that you’re up to date, go and see what amazing things Eden is doing in India and then make this creme brulee cheesecake because I did and it is like a spiritual awakening disguised as a cake.
I was Facestalking today, as I am wont to do, because I still vie for the affections of people who inexplicably didn’t like me in high school and probably still wouldn’t because let’s face it I’m kind of irritating.
I’m turning 30 in a few weeks, so it follows that a lot of people I was at school with are also at that milestone. And according to Facebook, the popular girls have decided to mark the occasion by all going to Byron Bay together to sit around and look far less tired than I.
At first I was like this: “Those vapid whores! Bitches, the lot of them! I can’t believe they still hang out with each other after all these years! How tedious! How awful! How suburban! Haha they are so Adelaide!”
This is because I am continental and live in The Big City.
Then I realised that one of them was holding a baby. A couple more were pregnant. Three had been married in the past 6 months. And there they all were, sitting together and smiling as though high school was yesterday.
I sat down for a quiet breakfast on my own this morning, and was rather enjoying myself when a toffee-nosed woman in her 60s sat down at the next table.
“WAITER!” she bellowed. “I WANT A GLASS OF WATER!” The waiter was a very nice young man, bordering on meek if I’m honest, and he rushed to bring her one. “UGH. I DRINK HEAPS OF WATER. GET ME A CARAFE.”
I tried to helpfully explain to her that no one has asked for a carafe since the mid-90s, but she was busy admiring her eyebrows in a tiny gilded pocket mirror.
Less than a minute had passed when her daughter – in her 30s – arrived.
“Sorry mum, have you been waiting long?” Her voice had the lilt of the long-suffering.
Seeing her opportunity, the mother sighed heavily and folded her hands as she would if she were in her coffin in the ground due to neglect from her children and said, “Oh, a little while. Ten minutes or more.”
“Liar!” I yelled*.
“Tell the waiter we have to order quickly,” mother barked. She had the breakfast salad. Her daughter chose scrambled eggs (“Do you really think you should order them after the trouble you had finding a bathing suit last week?”).
“So, Julie** will be in court next week. You know they’re saying she murdered her husband?” Pause. “Did I tell you about my plastic surgeon? He’s moving to Malvern East. Ugh, how vile! I’m going to have to find a new one.”
I felt pangs of pity for the daughter. Briefly.
“Oh, gross. I don’t even go to Glen Iris anymore! Hey, I think I should take these pants back and get the smaller size. She tried to get me to buy the size two, but I said I thought the four was better.”
Laughter. “Sales assistants are bad at their jobs! Anyway, here you go. I wasn’t sure how much you wanted, so I just took out two thousand.” Mother passed the money across the table, pausing for a quick glance around to see who was looking.
“I guess that’ll do.” Long sigh. “I can’t believe the waiter didn’t bring a carafe.”
I cleared the residual cough from my throat. Both women looked at me with fire in their eyes. I met their gaze. They visibly recoiled.
“I think we should move tables.”
Stop the presses: Mummy Wars do exist! I know this because I am currently having one. It is a battle of epic proportions. Literal tears have been shed. Each morning I wake with a sense of foreboding, wondering how many men I might lose. I can hear the air raid siren now.
But here’s the thing about this Mummy War: I’m having it with myself.
I’m one of those dastardly mothers who chooses to do “everything”. They call us “women who want it all”. In this context, “it all” means “a job”. It has also been known to mean “an education”, “some friends” or “new shoes”. Women having it all is quite different from men having it all, in that no one has ever muttered such words in all of history.
At any rate, I am currently sick with the same thing that everyone else has – one part cold, one part cough, one part heavy fatigue. I lose my voice overnight, hack up some insides for a while, improve marginally throughout the day and then become incredibly bad company at around 8pm.
Because I am a woman who wants it all, I am not taking the easy way out by sleeping off this minor illness. I am working. I’m not in the office sharing my germs around, but I am sitting at my desk, doing very strenuous things like replying to emails. Because that’s what women who want it all do. I feel like a bit of boiled ham floating in a pool of tepid milk, but that’s the price you pay in this Mummy War. If the other mothers knew that I was taking it easy so as not to end up with pneumonia, they would laugh about me at pick up time!
This morning I dropped the kids off at before care (very late, due to my failure to rally the troops prior to 7:30am). The before care lady took one look at me and said, “No offense Anna, but you look like shit. Like, all pasty.” Recognising her as the enemy, I told her how little time I had to commit to recovery due to my having it all. She didn’t miss a beat, deliberately sabotaging me by suggesting I “sleep it off”. Yeah, you’d like that! All those hours of missed pursuit of it all! What would the other mothers think? “There goes Anna. She gave up having it all in favour of sleeping.”
Later on, a well-meaning friend sent me an incredibly insulting email. “You should have a rest,” she said. “What about if I just get a haircut?” I shot back, expertly implying that I could afford both money and time for a haircut due to my having it all. “No,” she said, “you have to actually rest. Like, with your eyes closed.”
Then I realised. I’ve been speaking like Joan Rivers for six days now. I can’t remember driving home from school this morning. I can’t swallow anything harder than orange juice. I am losing the Mummy War, and the only person who gives a shit is me. Because I’m the only person in the Mummy War. Because there is no Mummy War.
There are mornings with children that are not unlike punching yourself in the eye over and over.
Then there is this morning, which was a bit like if I’d dipped my fist in a bucket of acid piranhas covered in nails, and rather than just punching myself in the eye I had ground said fist backwards into my lower intestine.
Three different people have since offered me chocolate, which means it’s likely I’m literally crying without realising. And I ate that chocolate – for breakfast – but it didn’t help. In fact, it made it worse. Now I’m all hopped up on caffeine but still totally miserable which is so much worse and just means I’m POWER CRYING instead of ACCIDENTAL CRYING.
Seriously man, some days, fuck adulthood. Pass the bong.
Firstly, GOOD ON YOU women speaking out against this kind of bullying. I think that rocks, because it’s not okay to bully anyone for anything. But, yet again, the media has sensationalised something in this space, like the “mummy wars“, that serves only to perpetuate the notion of bitchy, panicky, insecure women being unkind to each other.
There is a lot of chatter at the moment about the perceived abuse of mummy bloggers. It seems geared slightly toward those who make money from the gig, but there is mucho complaino* about it everywhere.
I have a couple of thoughts that may just come out as further mummy blogger bullying, but I’m going to give it a bash anyway. Obviously I am not speaking about anyone specifically, but the notion as a whole.
Let me start by qualifying myself as a kind of mummy blogger. The mean, angry, weird kind, maybe, but a mummy blogger nevertheless, because I blog about my kids, sometimes in ways that are not flattering to any of us. People have said things to me that have got under my skin or made me have a small teary or given me reason to consider flouncing away from the internet FOREVER. So I’m not just kicking mummy bloggers with hurt feelings in the shins and telling them they are a bunch of dicks.
That being said, the very nature of blogging is to put yourself out there. It’s a kind of celebrity, in the same way that being a politician or an author or a sporting team mascot is a kind of celebrity. As soon as you give your work to the public, they are within rights to scrutinise it. If you don’t want to be scrutinised – which means taking the good with the bad – then you should keep your writing private.
If you’re thin-skinned about it, you are perpetuating the perception that mummies are pretend people. You know, when you go to the office and people ask what you did on the weekend and you say “WE WENT TO EIGHT BIRTHDAY PARTIES AT AMF BOWLING” and they laugh at you because you’re not a person, you’re just someone’s mother. That’s the kind of person we’re trying not to be on the internet, isn’t it? If we get all “AND ALSO FOUR PEOPLE SAID I AM A BAD PARENT ON THE INTERNET”, we’re even further away from our goal of legitimising ourselves as writers and as people.
But most importantly, this type of bullying behaviour isn’t even close to being exclusive to mummy bloggers, and the fact that they/we are so up in arms about it speaks quite loudly about the egotism at play here (please put down your molotov cocktail). Let’s maintain some perspective. In some industries, women are physically violated. In others, they are ignored or vilified just because of their gender. I know women who have been told to “tell a man to put forward the same idea”, because then it will be a valid one. Women (and men) across all industries are bullied because of their background, their appearance, their intelligence, their race, their religion, their age and on and on it goes. If you go into a traditional workplace, like an office block, and say “Hey you guys my kid totally SHIT ON ANOTHER KID!” they will “bully” you. They will say “your kid is a wanker!” and they will say it to your face. The internet is not designed to protect you any more than it is okay for these “bullies” to hide behind their anonymity. The fact that people – the public – have a direct line to you via social media or comments on your blog or your email address does not mean you are more bullied than anyone else in any other field. It doesn’t mean you are being targeted because of what you do to make a crust. It means that you are a person with an idea who is dealing with other people with other ideas, just as you would be if you were working in a school or an office or a construction site.
I have my knickers in a twist because actually we are very lucky to be able to do what we love and sometimes make money out of it. Bullying anywhere is horrible, but the public doesn’t owe mummy bloggers less bullying just because they are saying things on the internet, does it?
Yesterday, my mum said to my brother and me, “I can’t believe I had these lovely children!” and I remarked that maybe she would be used to the idea after thirty years. “I don’t think you ever really get used to it,” she said.
This is my ninth Mother’s Day. Nine years ago I was pregnant to bursting with Georgia. I was twenty and I was terrified. I didn’t really feel like I was preparing to be a mother. Somehow it seemed more like the baby would come out and then I’d be the cool much older sister, and my own mum would do most of the work.
To the exceptional women I am lucky to call my family:
We are now 12 long years without you. You remain the most courageous woman I have ever known. At 26, in a post-war recession, you became husbandless. You never remarried. You took those children – also women – and taught them how to be good people. You lost one of them. You nurtured a whole family of strong women. You were our rudder.
As a teenager, I sat with you while your arthritic hands knitted toys for foster children. I watched you give hope and faith to people around you who had it so much better than you, who had lived easier lives than you. You never wavered. You only knew how to give love, never spite. You were stoic, but never cold.
We all miss you, but see you in the women you raised.
Womanhood has brought you pain. It has limited your life. It has diminished your joy.
You are so strong. You have buried a child. You have been widowed. You have worked the land. You have cried for the mercy of a man who did not value women, but who you remained loyal to for sixty-two years.
You are much more than you were ever given credit for being. I hope that I tell you often enough.
Could I be any more fortunate in the universe’s choice of mother for me? You are extraordinary. I’ve never heard you say “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t”. You just grabbed your life by its sweaty balls and forced it to give you more than it did. When your father told you that women shouldn’t go to university, you turned on your heel and you prepared children’s bodies for autopsy to pay your way through law school. When that wasn’t special enough, you did it with three kids in tow.
And when that wasn’t enough, you thought ‘fuck it’ and decided to be at the forefront of gender quality in corporate Australia. You carved out a path for women like you. You became an inspiration to so many.
But with humility. You think you are unspectacular.
You could not be more wrong.
My small children.
There are so many things about you that are remarkable. You are smart, quick witted, funny and clever. You are insightful, empathetic, generous of self and thoughtful. You are strong willed, determined, big hearted and ambitious.
You are women.
Unfortunately despite the best efforts of other women who came before you – and me – we still live in a world where you may be hindered by being a woman. People may overlook you. People may take credit for your hard work. People may consider you less valid. People may make baseless judgements about you. People may belittle you.
It will never be because of who you are; it will be because of who they are.
You have qualities that they could never hope to have. Hell, you have qualities that I aspire to. You are an inspiration. You are a wonder.
We have progressed.
I know you will show them all what we are capable of.