I hope everyone had a magical Christmas – especially if there were little ones amongst the celebrations. It feels like Christmas is the last frontier of innocence.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the sons being raised in this current climate, as they are being bombarded with the same damaging images and ideals. These lead boys and young men to feel pressure; to work out who they are in this world.

I have always believed that boys and men can pretty much do whatever they want, without judgement (unless they do something unintelligent, of course) – wear whatever, do whatever – and generally with a band of merry men in their team or by their side, making the rules and saying, “Yes, you can.”

However, the pressure to conform to social norms, especially in this current pop-culture, is seeing our boys being demonised for having any ‘feminine’ traits and are subsequently pigeon-holed into a small corridor of what it means to be all ‘man’.

The biggest issue is (obviously), how this is being represented – especially in the places our youth gravitate towards – watch – and learn. This is when neural pathways are formed and entrenched.

A curious point: When I was young (the 70s), I used to feel sorry for boys. They couldn’t do what we could do – we could wear the same things as boys AND dresses and we were encouraged to play with whatever we wanted. They couldn’t play with dolls.

They’re still not encouraged – not ‘manly’ enough, it seems.

A very sad testament to our intelligence, that we keep teaching the same stereotypes; continually being pushed.

As one of two daughters, I found that my father had a positive influence on my sister and me – opening up another world. We played with toy cars, had a train set and a figure 8 race car track, Dad showed us how car engines worked and we rode mini motorbikes and three-wheeled trikes. This just added to the rainbow of how we played and developed, on top of our world of dolls and other ‘girly’ pursuits.

You probably would have categorised us as ‘Tomboys’. My maternal grandmother was one. So was my mother. At the time, and as I grew, I wore the label with pride – but not anymore. I just think I was being me.

I look at my two daughters now and I see more of the same. My 6 year old LOVES cars and Spiderman. My 10 year old LOVES dinosaurs and space.

They also love playing with their dolls and ‘cooking’, are sporty, draw, play Lego etc. but it’s the wonderful mix that’s important. Funnily enough, my sister got a sticker book for my 6 year old (sticker nut) for Christmas and had to get her the ‘boy’ book which is called ‘Brilliantly Blue’ and has a little photo of a boy on the cover. It’s HEAPS better than the ‘girl’ one – in that it better matches my daughter’s likes and interests.

IMG_4037

Isn’t it cool?

Buying presents this Christmas for kids was quite disheartening, as the girls were saturated in pink, dolls, prams, easy-bake ovens etc…all with photos of girls only enjoying the toy.

What about the boys?

Boys will turn into men, who may have children. Boys will turn into men who can, and do, cook.

So why is it discouraged?

More importantly, what is being encouraged through boys’ toys?

Violence?

The following quote is from the Huffington Post:

“Girls are typically given dolls while often boys are discouraged if not entirely prohibited from playing with dolls. This is gendering. Playing with dolls is one way that children can learn to nurture. Why then would we only teach half of the population to do that? … Our popular culture continues to equate violence and intimidation with power, for males. This is consistently seen in television, movies, video games and the news. As long as physical prowess and violence are legitimized as paths towards power, we will continue to see extensive male violence (of which mass violence is just one form)… from constant images of war, both real and fictional, first-person shooter video games and the proliferation and normalization of other images of violence throughout the culture, it is not surprising that people have become desensitized to real-life violence. People can’t understand how a man could stand before a child and shoot them, and while it feels inconceivable, it needs to be addressed in the context of larger issues of desensitization… While certainly not all boys and men are violent, all of the mass killings that have terrorized the nation–even before Columbine and through to Sandy Hook–have been committed by males. This simply cannot be ignored. “

Question #125: When will we do something about how our children’s lives are being directed towards stereotypical and limiting likes, wants and lifestyles?

Deep Breath.

x

Our bad judgement.

September 22, 2012

If you’ve ever passed judgement on a mum – because of her child’s actions…

(I’d say that about covers everyone – including me, of course), then read the following article:

Click here.

It’s true, isn’t it?

Just another way in which both genders pick on women – ESPECIALLY by other women.

Sisterhood.

It’s the only way.

Big kiss.

x

Mothers’ Day.

May 13, 2012

Here’s to you.

Here’s to Us.

To the lives and households we run;

To the families we are raising – teaching – guiding…

…the same families who drive us insane!

1. FOOD – We think about what everyone will eat – all. the. time.

  • What needs to be done:  *Write shopping list, *Do shopping, *Put away shopping, *Cook, *Bear 2.7 questions an hour from children about what they can eat, *Organise food for meals and snacks whenever outside the home…etc.

2. APPEARANCES – We worry about the state of our family’s clothing and general grooming issues.

  • What needs to be done: * Remind children to put dirty clothes IN the basket *Soak clothes, *Wash clothes, *Hang clothes, *Bring in clothes off the line, *Iron clothes, *Take clothes to corresponding rooms, *Go shopping for clothes, *Shower/Bath routines, *Hair Brushing, *Finger and Toe nail appearances…etc.

3. CHILDREN – 24/7.

  • What needs to be done: *Remember…EVERYTHING, *Continually Repeat All Instructions/Statements…over and over again, *School Matters – Sign notes + know what days Library Day/Sports’ Uniform Day fall on, *Coordinate dropping off and picking up from Day Care/School, *Organise Holiday activities and playdates *Doctors’ appointments, *Sickness…etc. etc. etc.

4. BED-TIME ROUTINE – Yes, it’s a dot point on its own!

  • What needs to be done: *Remind children of their expected routine – with 5 minute reminders, *Be prepared to be asked to listen to something REALLY important, at this time; every night – it goes something like this, “Muuuum?” “What.” “Can I tell you something?” “Go to bed.” “Pleeaaasse?” “What.” “Uuuuummm….”, *Have about an average of three things each child has ‘forgotten’ to do, that comes to mind at this time of the night…etc.  ._.

5. LOVE LIFE – We worry about our relationships with our partners.

  • What needs to be done: *Well, every relationship is different – you know what you do.

6. WORK – A juggling and balancing act.

  • What needs to be done: *Aaah…Juggle and Balance – whether full-time, part-time, job-sharing, casual, shift-work  – it’s another complicated job.

7. TIME FOR YOU – Few and far between.

  • What needs to be done: *Find time! Really. Get out and have time away from it all – even for a little while…I’ll babysit for you!

8. ETC. ETC. ETC. – Everything Else.

For all these areas, there is help – some mothers get more; some less – but everything is ALWAYS a part of a mum’s thoughts.

And the quality that weaves through all of us is:

Strength.

I think what we do as mothers is simply gob-smacking.

It’s the toughest gig there is – but when those windows of sun and wonderfulness bathe us…well, we understand the why; enough to keep going onwards.

I only hear stories of what’s ahead and it sounds like this ride never eases up – bring it, I say!

I salute you all.

Mothers of all ages.

All my Love.

x

This post is dedicated to my mum. Un beso grande, Mamá.

PS…

May 6, 2012

Thank you for the supportive comments that I’ve received so far about my sometimes ‘hostile’ environment at home. I take some comfort in knowing that it’s normal for siblings to go at each other, over everything – especially when they’re in the mood for it…but there’s one important thing I forgot to add to the last post – which I think I alluded to, but didn’t quite spell out.

And that is that I hate the person I become when they finally tip me over – and that it’s the ‘mother’ they see more often. I worry that with the frequency in which I find myself refereeing, setting boundaries and/or disciplining, will create (is creating) a negative experience for all three of us.

Them – because they’ll see me as continually being unhappy with them and in a bad mood;

Me – finding myself not wanting to be around them. I hate having that feeling…but I shamefully feel it.

My youngest now mirrors the way I act when I lose control – she shouts and screams so loudly, you’d think she was being attacked. But as head-strong as she is, she learned it from me.

I know it has to start with me…but after days of me doing things in the ‘right way’ with them – I get angry when I don’t (think I) see an effort being made by them.

That’s when I feel like a fraud – because my intellectual mind knows what needs to be done, I do it…and then it doesn’t work. My head then spins into…

WHHAAAAATT????…What did you just say to me??…You did WHAT??…

…but then, they’re only kids – so young. I know.

Question #41: Would mothers really sign up for this, if we actually knew what it would be like?

I know the answer to this is ‘YES’…because we would always think that it would be different with our kids.

I talk to my mother often about this and after a few responses of, “I know” from her – I asked her why she had never told me what it was really like to raise kids. Well, the simple truth is, I wouldn’t have listened because my girls are my one and only lifelong dream – come true. Having kids was all I EVER wanted.

Time to take a deep breath…again.

x

Your wisdom.

May 5, 2012

I just came in from hanging out the washing – on this magnificent day in Sydney. Clouds are starting to come over now – but that sun is yummy, when it pokes through. It’s made a weekly chore a pleasure to do; in that peace and warmth.

The best part is – my children aren’t here.

This is hard for me to write admit because I’m going through a very challenging time with my girls – especially my youngest. She’s 5.

I need your advice.

I never thought motherhood was going to be such a tough gig. I know in my heart that I couldn’t imagine a life without my girls…although on days like today, I cherish not having them around – so I can reboot.

Sometimes I feel like a great mother and I think how lucky I am – and at others, more often than not, I feel a despair and think, “What am I doing?” I hear a lot of mothers really sound like they are having such a positive and wonderful experience with their kids, and I feel like a fraud. Sometimes.

Basically, our home is one of fighting. The majority of the time, it’s the girls with each other but it always trickles down to me. They fight about everything – about who hurt whom, who took what they were playing with, who’s not letting them have a turn – everything. Hubby and I rarely fight – and if we do, it’s not in front of them – so it’s just a battle with each other…and me.

I have alone time with both girls, for about 3 hrs every afternoon. Some of the time, it’s a battle-of-wills with my youngest – who always says, “No” or “Awww?” to just about every instruction or statement I make. Now, I’ve always had a short temper – but I truly believe that I have improved over the years (it takes longer for me to get worked up) because I want to have control over it and model it to the girls.

So, I’m making the best of efforts, to be a better role model – by expressing what I need to, without anger – and positively reward their good behaviour. I do that with a spontaneous show of affection (lots of kisses), tell them I love them, say a, “That’s the way!” when they do a good gesture toward each other…I even took them to see Mirror, Mirror last week, as a treat…

…but on some days, I just reach a stage where I lose my block. It’s always verbal (shouting); we don’t smack – but when I lose it like that, I think it’s just as bad as a smack – just as damaging. I sometimes feel like I have an out-of-body experience, watching my behaviour show my daughters how to deal with tough situations –  in 3D; with Dolby Surround Sound; on an IMAX screen!

On days like these – I feel like it’s all for nothing because of the GIANT leap backwards, we just took – thanks to me.

But it’s incessant – the asking, the asking again – even though the reason was calmly given with the answer, the whingeing – when they know it might not go their way, the debate – loathing sentences that start with, “But you said…”

Let me say, that they don’t get their way – especially if they engage. But that’s the biggest problem – I don’t let up and they don’t let up. Especially my youngest; when she latches on, she’s on tight for the ride…

Every. Time. About. Anything.

It’s exhausting.

I need enlightenment from my sisters – of any age.

Question #40: Are there any wise words to impart?

I saw the name of the image below, The Wisdom Path, and loved it.

…looks like a long trip, doesn’t it?

Deep Breath

x