Pressure, perfection and parenting

Prompt: ‘We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.’ ~ Joan Halifax

A friend of mine recently wrote Sunday Funday — Bad Mum Cooking, about her struggles to be the perfect mother.

Everything I do is to try and be super mum, super business partner, super partner, super ‘Stepmother’ (oh and no one can say that with a tone quite like an 11 year old girl).

The school lunches, the dinners, the healthy treats .. it’s a big part of it. Like if I can just make the gluten free, nut free, low sodium, sugar free crackers that taste just like BBQ Shapes (aka kid crack), then I can take a break. Everyone will be happy and I will be a good mum.

On Sunday I wrote a letter to a friend of mine from Writing.com, who is expecting her first child. I dared to give her advice, even knowing that soon-to-be mothers are inundated with so much advice (and much of it contradictory) that they can’t possibly use or even remember it all. I still couldn’t help myself.

The advice I gave Aly was much the same as I wrote in my comment on my friend’s entry.

There is no such thing as the perfect mother.  That person doesn’t exist. If you persist in trying to be that person, you are setting yourself up to fail. You will exhaust and depress yourself trying to achieve something that simply cannot exist.

I remember my in-laws telling me about a friend of theirs who insisted on making all her own baby food from scratch.  She was exhausted.  And with exhaustion comes stress and depression.  How can you being exhausted, stressed and depressed possibly be good for your child?  It can’t.  I can understand wanting to give your child the best possible start in life.  I’m a mother.  Trust me, I get that.  I’m not immune from the internal pressure.  If you think I haven’t cried because I thought I wasn’t good enough at this motherhood gig, you’re dead fucking wrong.  Maybe that’ll surprise some people.  But it’s true.

I’ve cried after shouting at my kids.  What sort of mother shouts at her children like a fucking fishwife?  A bad one, right?

I’ve cried when I’ve run out of money and my child had to eat sandwiches for dinner for a week because we had no money for hot meals.

I cried when my teenage son told me he’d been suicidal for a while in primary school, thanks to bullying.  I cried because I hadn’t intervened early enough to prevent him going through that anguish.

I cried when I left my three month old daughter with a caregiver and went to work, and then read on Facebook that a friend had written ‘No amount of money is worth more to me than this time with my children’.  Clearly working mums are bad mums.

I still make mistakes.  I always will.  Because no one is perfect.  No one is a perfect mother.  A perfect father.  A perfect wife or husband.  A perfect sibling or child.  My children are not perfect, my husband is not perfect and I am not fucking perfect.  But my children know I love them.  My children know they are important to me.  My children know that I will always do what I think is best for them, even if sometimes I’m wrong and it doesn’t turn out to be best for them.  My children won’t remember the week of sandwiches.  They’ll remember that I fell on my ass trying to ice skate with them.  My children won’t remember that I shouted at them.  They’ll remember how I nearly threw up after going on the scary rides with them at Rainbows End.  My children won’t remember that I wasn’t able to help out on school trips because I was working.  They’ll remember me spending hours helping them make a journal, bake a cake, do homework, draw a picture, do a cartwheel, whistle, or a thousand other things.

Ultimately, I believe that what children truly cherish is your time and attention.  The rest is important, yes.  But only up to a point.  It’s not worth making yourself miserable over. It’s okay to be the fun mum.  Honest.

History in the making

Prompt: What event in history do you wish you could have witnessed, and why?

There are so many moments in history that people live through, and it is only on reflection that we realise how significant and important they were. I saw the 9/11 terror attack unfold on my television screen, and although the events were shocking and dramatic and, yes, I wrote about them in my blog at the time, I could never have guessed that the date would become synonymous with that event forever after. There was the Global Financial Crisis, but that didn’t feel like an historical event, it just… It was something we lived through, and it lasted a while, and it trailed off, there was no sudden end, but… I lived through the Global Financial Crisis. It has a name and everything.

For me personally, one moment that screamed historical significance at the time was when New Zealand gave gay couples the right to marry.

Others we realise at the time. For me personally, one moment that screamed historical significance at the time was when New Zealand gave gay couples the right to marry. I was cheering from the sidelines and so pleased to witness that moment in history. When Barrack Obama was voted in as President of the United States, I knew that was an historical moment.

Many historical events in history are negative things. Wars. Tragedies of all kinds. Very few monumental moments in history are positive.

The prompt is worded in an interesting way. I was alive when Prince William and Kate Middleton married, but I sure as hell didn’t ‘witness’ the occasion. Unless you mean I saw it on TV. Does that even count?

When I first read this prompt, one event came to mind. Then I went and Googled historical events and waffled back and forth, but ultimately I ended up back where I started. I did consider personal events, like meeting my older brother who passed away before I was born, meeting my maternal grandmother who passed away before I was born, and so on and so forth. But I figured that’s not really the idea behind the prompt. So here goes…

On 19th September 1893, 87 years before I was born, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant ALL women the right to vote, irrespective of race, class or wealth.

On 19th September 1893, 87 years before I was born, New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant ALL women the right to vote, irrespective of race, class or wealth. That was a pretty epic moment in history right there, and what’s more, it was MY country that did it. I think witnessing that moment would be seriously cool. While I was on Wikipedia, I also found this fun fact: From March 2005 to August 2006, the Head of State (the Queen), the Prime Minister, the Governor General, the Chief Justice and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand were ALL women. That fucking rocks. Right? The five highest positions in the country all held by women at the same time.

So yeah, that’s my answer to the question. Witnessing the actual moment with my own eyes, or just being a citizen of this country when this historic moment occurred. Either way, that was pretty cool, and I’m pretty damn proud of my country.

The consummate host

There’s dust on the welcome mat
but the door stands ajar,
that awkward push-pull dynamic
as your people pleaser battles
(oh so politely)
with the introvert screaming at us
to fuck off.

The commentator on the telly
rolls out the old cliche
about it being a game of two halves,
and I gratefully accept a drink
while noting that the door remains     ajar,
a reminder
that I haven’t left yet.

Canon Open Day

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Went to the Canon Open Day in Ponsonby today with Mum.  Was great fun.  We took our own cameras, but didn’t end up using them.  They supplied cameras and lenses that were better than ours, so we took advantage of that.

We did macro first.  We were a little disappointed in the selection of things to photograph, but I loved using their macro lenses.  I want one!!  Pretty please, Steve, can I have one?

We were told they had a live model in the portrait room, so we went there next.  The model was beautiful, and very good at posing.  She kept moving, so each photo was different from the last.  They had the lights set up so she was properly lit, and I found it easy to snap amazing photos of her.

They had a really nice Jaguar car there, and it was all set up so it had the proper lighting.  The only problem was that you really couldn’t experiment with composition much.  You had one position you could get a decent photo of the car.  I got a photo, but didn’t feel like I contributed much to it.  Like, my photo was the same as everyone else’s, you know?

I had lunch with Mum, then she went home and I went back to take more photos.  They brought in a young girl and a puppy to the portrait room, so I got some different shots.  I went back to the macro room too, and got some better shots when there were less people crowded in there.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day.  Was great fun, and I got some good photos out of it.