Kirstie Allsopp and nesting

Finally a woman has had the balls to say women should not be expected to do everything and this is from a feminist standpoint.

Kirstie Allsopp’s views have divided opinion, like all views on life choices, there is not ‘the best’ choice and KA is by no means suggesting that women should give up entirely on higher education, it is simply a matter of priorities and like it or loathe it, most women would like to have children so why not do it earlier rather than later? Why should we bust a gut getting qualifications, salaries and everything else ticked off before children? Only to then exist on an endless and exhausting merry-go-round of work deadlines, bedtime routines and house-work, by which time we are too tired (and a bit too long in the tooth) to enjoy any of it?

In an ideal world, men would also carry babies and deliver them so partners could play swapsies with career progression and childcare. However we still live in a society where it is less acceptable by men to take a break from work and look after children, therefore women take up this role in the majority of cases. I believe being a mum is the best job in the world, but it also helps to have a bit of money coming in, not lots, just enough to pay the food bills and mortgage and enjoy  the occasional break and holiday. Not many couples can afford to do this on a single income. To get a job that pays 20k plus, most employers require a degree, so then we are back to square one again.

Hopefully degrees will not be such a pre-requisite for high-paying jobs and the value of experience, on the job training and apprenticeship schemes will once again come to the fore. This approach will help people who are young and unsure which career to follow. So many are under pressure to make these decisions at 17, work hard to get a degree in the relevant subject, only to be completely disenchanted when they enter the world of work.

I think my advice to my daughter and son would be to do what they enjoy and work and careers will come and find them . As for relationships and babies, i think these are better left unplanned because none of us ever start life knowing when we will meet the right person or whether we can have children, so to start life expecting to have this ‘ticked off’ by a certain stage in life is doomed to disappoint. If it happens, it happens.

If you make plans in life, God laughs.

Just like the Mummy and Daddy bluebird who returned home tonight to find their Oak tree gone and their nest full of babies gone with it. My husband thought he had checked the dead Oak before he felled it, but obviously not close enough. As he glanced down he saw a nest and three babies on the ground, one dead the others still alive. Cursing their misfortune and blaming himself, he moved the nest to the nearest safe place. Life happens and rarely in the way you had hoped or expected.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

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Happiness is perfect yet perfect isnt happy

I read an article by actress and stand-up comedian Francesca Martinez. It was brilliant and inspired me to order her book ‘What the f*** is normal?’ It also made me re-evaluate some of my views, particularly relating to parenting disabled children. I had always thought that parenting a disabled child overwhelming, although I could never have brought myself to abort a baby based on a predicted disability forecast by health professionals – a predicament that would have no doubt finished our marriage. My husband’s views on bringing up a disabled child are in contrary to his own childhood, which was marred by severe hearing loss due to brain damage.

Francesca looks at it from a different angle, ‘Most parents-to-be still fear that their beloved Newborn will turn out to be -oh, the horror – disabled. My personal fear is that my future child will turn out to be unhappy. I don’t care what he or she can or can’t do, how they talk or walk or how many fingers and toes they have. Because I don’t think that is a good indicator of happiness. Forget aborting babies because of the suffering they might endure. What about the suffering they will create? Wouldn’t it make sense to develop a test to check for the arms-dealer gene, the advertising executive gene, the corporate-overlord gene, or the gossip-magazine editor gene? That would eliminate quite a lot of suffering.’

I wish I had read Francesca’s article in The Guardian before I passed judgement on my daughter’s maths test mark. She described the scale of marks to me with 6 being the top score. I cant pretend that I was disappointed she had got a 3, they then get a sub mark in the form of letters, with A being the lowest and D being the top. Her total mark was 3B. I couldn’t hold back this disappointment and said that I didn’t  think her mark was ‘that good’ and that if she wanted to get into boarding school (her wish not mine) she was going to need to get a 5 or 6. What made me suddenly turn into a mother with the support and encouragement skills of an amoeba? Why did I turn into one of those pushy mothers who focus so much on grades they don’t recognise their daughter’s anorexia and anxiety attacks because of this unnecessary pressure to perform. Most parents say they just want their child to be happy, but also gets lots of qualifications and a high-earning job, the stress of which will put them into an early grave? I managed to halt the destructive path I was proceeding down when she explained to me that she had done her best and I later described it to Daddy in front of her as a ‘good’ mark, to which he said, ‘well that’s OK, it’s average’ gah! So I quickly added that no doubt Mummy and Daddy would have scored a 0 or a 1 if we had taken the same test at her age. Then I thought about the research that found those  who doubt their own maths abilities pass this down to their children. A fine case of how not to support the school life of an 8 year old. Next time I will apply duck tape to our mouths.

So tests are meant to give the teachers a steer on how the child is progressing and what additional support the child needs. I just wish teachers would give parents a steer  as to how we handle the news of the scores and whether we do nothing, praise regardless or encourage to try harder.

I agree with Francesca that kids and adults should just aim to be happy, so why as parents are we so f***in obsessed with perfection, when we are anything but.

I am blogging for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

Making a difference in 2013 – lets start with the Bhopal disaster

Hi all, hope you had good christmasses/ holidays and enjoyed seeing in/ sleeping through the new year. My mission with this blog is to raise money for Unicef. I hope to raise at least £100 this year through my blog if not more. I am seeking fellow bloggers to give a donation, no matter how small, to Unicef after reading my blog. If one blogger donated £1 each day Unicef would be able to buy a vaccination for one child – so if I achieve my target of £100 – then lots of children get immunised. Unicef also work hard to protect children in war torn and poverty stricken situations and this money will help their eneavours world-wide. I pay a fee to Unicef for my downtime. This year I will start with £11 as I have not blogged for 11 days over the Christmas period.

Over the past few days I have been thinking about what I can do to help the world be a better place for 2013. What happens to children in care or in families who are unable to buy christmas presents? Are there charities out there that bring Christmas to these children? Either way I would like to know if stores such as John Lewis have some budget in their corporate social responsibility expenditure to donate a few of their toys to children in need in the UK? I am going to look into this and keep you posted.

I am once again going to swim for Marie Curie Cancer care this Spring – but this time an even longer distance in a relay with my daughter and friends affected by cancer. Last year I did 64 lengths so would like to aim for closer to 100. My daughter has recently got her level 3 swimming badge so hopefully she will be able to do a couple of lengths with me along with her friends and my friends – between us we should be able to cover a few miles. I  must invest in a new costume though because the one I have was designed for when I was better endowed (they have shrunk to nothing since breast-feeding ceased) I am still mourning the loss of boob now :(.

I love powerhoop – an exercise craze that tones the midriff through hoola hoping with a weighted hoop. I am hoping to convince my instructor and fellow hoopers to do a rountine to music for Unicef on London’s embankment next to the EDF London Eye (will keep you posted on this too).

Finally I read a gripping book about the industrial chemcal leak tragedy in the eighties that left hundreds of thousands of people dead or maimed. The effects of which are still present today in the form of cancers, infertility and psychological disorders. It happened when I was only four years old yet I didn’t hear about it until now. It should be on the history timeline as one of the world’s greatest tragedies but sadly it isn’t (it should be on the same awareness level as the Titanic and September 11th 2001). I am referring to Bhopal and the American owned Union Carbide chemical leak that suffocated and blinded thousands of indian infants, children, women, men and livestock. What’s worse, Union Carbide paid out a miniscule amount in damages. Carbide’s managing Director, at that time, is still in hiding after the Indian government found him guilty of homicide. The company completely disregarded safety procedures, then tried to lay the blame on Indian workers. What’s worse, the factory is still rotting and contaminating India today. The company that now owns Union Carbide, the Dow Chemical Company, have not made any effort to clear up the mess of the Bhopal legacy and a US court, in all its infinite wisdom, ruled that the Indian Government is responsible for the clean-up – sounds fair doesn’t it?  In the article online there is a picture of Indian people calling for the hunt for Osama,  a few years ago, to be re-directed to the hunt for the Union Carbide president of the eighties – Warren Anderson. Their voice has gone un-heard – why? Because lives of people in the West are more important than Indian lives (of course this is not my belief but the belief of senior American officials and corporate executives who have to date done nothing to help India out of a humanitarian disaster caused by the actions of American industry). To make matters worse, the organisers of London 2012, in all thier infinite wisdom, allowed Dow to be a sponsor – nice touch. Just as nice was letting BP sponsor the event too not long after completely fucking up part of America’s coastline and environment. The consequences for companies who mess with people’s lives, livelyhoods and surrounding environment needs to be severe – allowing them to sponsor is just as bad as letting cigarette companies sponsor events – they aren’t allowed to do it so why should Dow and BP – they contaminate health too. Read more about the Bhopal Disaster on Wikipedia. Read more about the Dow sponsorship of the olympics here.

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year.

A woman’s best friend

A friend very close to me had to put her dog down this week. Just like the film Marley & Me, this dog was special and not like other dogs. He had an ability to soothe my friend’s soul in a way no drug could touch. Marley has helped her through the pain of multiple failed IVF attempts and the deep sadness when she finally conceived but discovered the baby was a downs syndrome and had to terminate the one successful pregnancy she had experienced. Distraught, she turned to adoption, only for her husband to turn his back on the idea when she was due to finalise plans with a social worker. Through all of this her dog sought her hand when she was in despair and gave her comfort. He knew when she was feeling low and knew when she needed him.

The final straw was when her husband announced he wanted a split . Initially this was an amicable agreement until she discovered that he had been having an affair several months prior to the split. My friend was at an all time low but she had her loyal friend, the woman’s best friend to help her out of her grief.

Now he is gone and my friend is at a loss. She turns to her ex-husband who is also sad because the dog’s death marked the end of a life that began when they were a couple embarking on the path to fight infertility. His death marks the end of a difficult life-changing phase. She can find temporary solace with her ex, but of course it lacks depth. Family are also close-by. But she has to go through the firsts alone – the first return to an empty home with no dog to greet you, the first missed walk in the morning and the last walk before bed.

I only hope that the end of one life marks the start of my friend’s life and a positive future ahead – I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to be on the receiving end of some good news.

I am raising money for Unicef and I hope to raise a £1 every day for my blogs. If you can support my campaign, please visit my fundraising site.

Thanks for reading.