Monday, 17 October 2016

Taking a No Kidding break

I’ve been a bit AWOL the last couple of weeks, from blogs and blogging, and I apologise to my readers - I have a number of longer posts I’m still working on and cogitating over, but they’re not there yet - and to those bloggers I normally read - I will try to catch up on my comments, though it might take a while.

Since I started blogging in 2006 (coming up on my ten years in a month or so), I’ve taken a break from blogging every single year, when I’ve taken a trip or holiday. (Note: I also took blogging breaks when I travelled to care for my mother, and although that used to be fun, it became increasingly stressful and emotional the last year or two leading up to her death this year, so I don’t think that these counted as a blogging break). This year, a particularly stressful and emotional year that’s not over yet but has already been (probably) the second worst year of my life, I haven’t had any breaks (apart from my ankle/knee, boom boom!*), so when some other things required my attention, I didn’t feel guilty (okay, maybe a little, hence this post) about turning away from blogging or commenting for a few weeks.

In some ways the freedom from the self-imposed pressure to blog – other than Microblog Mondays, of course  -  has been a refreshing mental break. I stepped away from thinking of myself as a woman without children for the purpose of blogging, even in last week's rant about the the status of women in general. Sometimes, I think I need a break from being No Kidding Mali, and instead just need to be me.

Although I know that's not a bad thing, I think I'll be ready to resume normal programming again soon.

(*   Tell me in the comments if you get the reference)

Monday, 10 October 2016

A disappointed woman

I regularly feel as if my head will explode as I observe how women are still being treated and judged, and today - after watching the latest Bridgett Jones’ movie with a friend this morning, seeing the predictable and "happy" ending where she has no job, but has the man and the baby so obviously, what more could/should a woman want? - feel motivated to write something that I've written before, and no doubt will write again.

I am fed up that leaders of nations and those who aspire to be leaders of nations can only see women as sexual beings, or in the context of their relationships with men (as wives, daughters or mothers), rather than as real, conscious, responsible, intelligent, contributing and equal human beings

I am furious that so many men only feel personally offended by poor treatment or attitudes towards women if they think that their “wives and daughters” might be treated badly, but didn’t feel any concerns or were not motivated to do anything about it previously when their wives and daughters or all the other women around the world were and are still denied the right to make decisions about education, or family building, or their own bodies.

I am overwhelmed with frustration at the fact that women are still criticised for sounding strident or aggressive when a man will be called strong, that their ideas, thoughts, and voices are dismissed until a man comes up with the same idea, that their diplomacy or tact is seen as a weakness, and that these are all injustices that I have endured, and that I have seen my female family and friends endure.

I want all girls and young women (including but not only my nieces and daughters of my friends) to grow up and inhabit a world in which they are seen as individuals, not as extensions of men as wives and daughters and sisters and mothers, and not as women whose value is determined by their size and shape, their looks, or their behaviour that has to conform to a different standard than that of the men around them.

I want all girls and young women (including but not only my nieces and daughters of my friends), to have outstanding role models of both genders who are respected and fairly treated and free of judgement and harassment and stereotypes, and to grow up knowing that they are free to choose their own paths in the world, in their everyday lives, and private lives.

And I want all boys and young men (including but not only my nephews and sons of my friends) to see women as individuals in their own right, to respect and treat them fairly, never to judge and harass and impose their will or ignore their voices, to be confident enough in their own skin to never put a woman or girl down because of their gender, to see their friends and colleagues and family and community members who are women as equal as their friends and colleagues and family and community members who happen to be men.

Thirty years ago, I was a new graduate, a young feminist, who was full of hope that all this would and must become a thing of the past, and now I am a jaded, tired and disappointed woman, but still, and always, a feminist.

Cross-posting this on A Separate Life

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Sympathy and grief

There is a lovely article in the New York Times about the art of condolence, or how to express sympathy, with some great advice, covering lessons I’ve learned from reading beautiful condolence notes from others, and through my own experiences, both good and bad.

I love that it says there is no time limit on sympathy, as I think we all know how easily the bereaved are forgotten. When my father died 11 years ago, and I got back to Wellington after the funeral, two friends arranged to take me out to lunch one weekend — that meant a lot to me.

I love too the “Get Real” advice, as sometimes “it sucks” is about the only thing that can be said.

These are lessons to remember when we look at others too. The “No Comparisons” advice is a good one, and one we all particularly need to remember in the infertility world, beset as we are with the Pain Olympics competitions (“I tried for many more years than you” or “my losses were worse than yours”), the accusations (“you chose not to have children, so what are you complaining about?”), and sometimes the inability to put your own shock and hurt, fears, or even jealousies aside. 

There’s another article that’s circulated in social media the last few years about the circles of grief, and this is also one that I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some stage, whether as the grieving or the perpetrator.

We all might know these things in theory, but they might not come to us when we need them most, and so I at least appreciate getting these regular reminders.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Trying to be inclusive

I’ve been thinking why the No Kidding amongst us sometimes feel so isolated from much of the rest of the ALI blogging community. It’s not just the fact that we have had a different outcome to the one that most of the community is focused on. I think too it’s the fact that we often have the benefit of time and distance.

We can, I think, objectively look at the issues around the fertility industry, because it doesn’t feel disloyal to us to assess, and perhaps criticise, an industry that might have created our family. We can, I think, objectively look at the issues around the fertility industry, because many/most of us we once had a vested interest in it, but no longer do. We understand what it is like to desperately want treatments to work (or to be available to us), yet we do have the benefit of experience and hindsight.

We also have the benefit of either facing/moving through/completing the process of coming to terms with life without children, that I think gives us a wider more view of society, one that many (certainly not all, including many of my lovely parent/pregnant readers) of those focused on becoming or being parents are simply unable to have (due to circumstances, perspective, and sheer time and focus).

What I think we do have to guard against is entering into an us vs them situation, though I do think that this becomes easier with time.

Monday, 19 September 2016

The pressure to find a substitute

Many people like to offer solutions to someone who expresses sadness. So when we might mention that we didn't choose not to have children, we get the standard suggestions, one of which is to work or volunteer with children - as if that is a suitable substitute. It will, at least, they think, keep us satisfied and most importantly, quiet!

Although I love interacting with my nieces and nephews on a one-to-one basis, being with children doesn't come naturally to me. My mother also was never very interested in other people's children, and by saying to me, "oh, it's different when they're your own," I think she gave me the confidence that I would have been a  loving parent, despite the fact that I was never very comfortable with many young children.

That gives me the freedom now to say that just because I wanted to be a parent, it doesn't translate that I'd be any good at volunteering with or working with children. Just as, on the other hand, there are also wonderful, talented, inspiring teachers/coaches/nurses who work daily with children, but who are perfectly happy not to have their own.

How do you feel when people say that we should volunteer or work with children?