The Guilt of Motherhood

5b9b65e0-f880-4a85-9ff1-483130dc5446Some days, I find myself shouting: screaming and swearing like a fish-wife and, as I do so, in front of me stands a crying child. Quite obviously terrified, quaking, in case I actually reach out and hit someone. This is all due to: being late for school, again –  or someone hasn’t put their socks on, brushed their teeth, or is still: playing lego/drawing/reading/singing on the piano… while the minutes, just literally dissolve into a black hole and we are late, again.

I shout in vain for them to: ‘get a bloody move on’, jumpers unfound, toothpaste strewn down shirts, hair in a tangle and all, for, what?

Conformity.

As we drive silently in the car – my anger slowly draining from my body – the children: quiet, tense, the day just unfolding.  I resolve, silently to myself, to apologise and hug them as tightly as I possibly can before they go into school.

I do.

The rest of the day is spent in a grey fug as I feel drenched in dark mother-guilt about my: outrageous behaviour.

And I wonder: did my mother, ever, do this to me?

Yet sometimes, and I have to make this point to you, this is not a regular occurrence, but just, very occasionally, (honestly),  I am so lost in anger. I. just. Cannot. Stop. Even when: right in front of me, I can see the destruction I am manifesting in my children.

Motherhood has revealed the darkest side of me: the anger and venom that gently froths, darthvaderlike, just beneath my conscious…Waiting for some unknown trigger to set free the raging torrent  across the still-ish waters of family-life and establish literal tsunamis of pain, tears, anxiety and, quite probably: therapy-inducing permanent fuck-up fuelled futures…with an over-priced psychotherapist proferring instant coffee…

And, as the days from that jarred, hurtful, venom-filled moment pass – I carry the wake of churning guilt and bitter after-taste disgust within me. I cannot believe I can behave this way to those I love more than any other beings on the planet…

What is that?

I apologise, again, many days later and desperately seek forgiveness – it is waved off.

But that anger is really, truly, not fine, sometimes it is truly scary and I’m in it and I cannot find a way out.

 

Reaching for the Moon

“I cannot wait to start my periods mummy!” Declared my nine year old last month on our way home from her first visit to the Red Tent.

Can you imagine feeling like this as a young girl standing on the brink of puberty? Actually being excited and in awe of the future periods that will be yours? It seems preposterous – but is entirely possible.

It is within our reach to completely change the perception of our daughters, nieces and god-daughters bodies and their monthly cycles by simply preparing them. By introducing a positive and exciting spin on the incredible gifts we are given as women: our bodies, our monthly cycle and our divine legacy to create and give life!

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My daughter, who is nine, took part in a Girls Celebration Day, hosted and run by Lou Press of the Woolley Valley Red Tent.

The morning began with the five girls, aged 9-11, creating a mandala of seeds and rice, whilst Lou told them gentle stories about coming of age. The girls then calculated how many periods they would have over the course of their lifetimes!

Following this simple calculation:

Estimated age I stop my periods: 55, minus, estimated age I will begin my periods: 13 = 42.

Minus:    Estimated number of children I hope to have: 3 (this is what my daughter said!) x1.5yrs (for each child no period for 9 months pregnancy & 9 months breastfeeding) = 4.5yrs.

42 – 4.5 = 32.5 x by 12 and a quarter (average number of periods a year) = 459 periods in my lifetime.

Extraordinary! Don’t you think – did you ever realise how many you would have, are having? And how few that actually seems!

The afternoon was spent with the mothers and daughters, the girls were sewing small felt lockets as the mothers revealed stories about their first periods. We giggled and were in awe of everyone’s different experiences. We shared pictures of us at their age, with our silly hairstyles, dreams and 80’s sweatshirts. As the girls stuffed their lockets each mum wrote a special message on a note for the girls to hide inside the felt lockets and then they sewed ribbons to create a necklace. We each chose a few words to describe each other, from mother to daughter and from daughter to mother, we listened to each other and, finally, we presented our daughters with their hand-sewn locket.

The girls left joyously excited about their unfolding young womanhood.

The mothers left changed women. Having opened our hearts to our daughters and to ourselves and having begun to glimpse the changes ahead, of our daughters as they begin to walk their own paths and become wise, understanding females.

Our Future:

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If you are not fortunate enough to have a local Red Tent but you would like to give this gift of confidence, understanding and openness on the journey of beginning menstrual cycles then I heartily recommend Lucy H Pearce’s beautiful, gentle and informative book for girls: Reaching For The Moon.

Beholden to the boss

IMG_4200France, our perennial adversary, recently unveiled plans making it illegal to send work related emails to colleagues after the working day has finished. Yes, you heard me right – it will become illegal to write, open or send emails after 6pm.

This people – is downright bloody genius, don’t you think? Hang on I am just going to google this and check I have it right…

Ohhhkay – so it will not be actually illegal per se – but the Gallic country has indeed introduced new rules designed to ‘protect’ workers in media and consultation. These rules ask workers to switch off their work phones and stop checking work emails after 6pm and before 9am.

This intentional disconnect is such a bloody fantastic idea. In this crazy century we are in we need to be given permission to have down time, to eat supper without a device, to understand that it is just, no MORE, important to have a life outside of the workplace – and that the internet will not explode if we don’t check it every five minutes.

If you work from home it is exceptionally tricky to locate the off button – much to the delight of your employer – and much to the frustration of your family.

It has become more and more acceptable to work at all hours of day and night. If a client or colleague emails and expects a response, the rub is that if you don’t respond you feel guilty and if you do, you feel pissed off…

We feel beholden to that all encompassing dictator; the internet, all its devices and ways of luring you in.

But what if we were all on the same page – that we could relax in the knowledge that we are having our, much needed, time out altogether – without the fear that someone else will jump on your bandwagon just because you are happily taking a walk or sharing a meal.

This simple yet brilliant idea is one we, I think, should fight to adopt – here on our shores, where working all hours has crept into our lives and is fast becoming the norm.

So are you in with me?

Working nine-to-five

For the first time in four years I have utterly, totally and completely abandoned Fealte & Rosebud. My place of respite and rejuvination. I screwed up: I went and got myself a fucking job. Now I find myself writing for the wedge, not the edge and my friends let me tell you – it sucks. rosey_mother

Well, not the money in the bank every month bit – obvs. But the actual, physical, doing the work bit.

As your very last child crosses the bridge into the eternal abyss of the British schooling system one is left – and bereft. The pressure begins to build…expectations, raised eyebrows and you feel you should move on – your work here is done – hell, let the teachers pick up the slack.

So you scan the job sections, you talk to friends, you fantasize about the perfect job and here’s the rub…it doesn’t actually exist.

The real nux of the problem – is that the school day is ridiculously short. Within that 9-3 window the washing still needs to be washed, the shopping bought, the meals cooked, the old man appeased, the hoovering – jesus, girls how do you do it? Who washes the inside of the pan these days? Who, tell me, puts out the recycling, folds up the pants and pours the wine? And, into this madness, not to mention BTW, the football practice, ballet, play-dates, cubs and all the other social overkill that escalates with school attendance, you have to squeeze your working day in and out and appear, deep breath: measured, on the ball, intelligent: unflappable – not the washed out old bag you really are…

So without employing a cook, a cleaner and a myriad of after-school or before-school clubs, frankly, your just winging it. But in the craziest of ways, it feels good: you can do it: you’ve pulled it out the fucking hat.

Yes – it might be pasta every night and hell, who needs play-dates, they spend all day with the bloody blighters anyway…and, guess what, I can afford perfume now.

Until, that is, someone pukes…or the holidays rear their ugly/beautiful head.

But what I really wonder is – when the day comes that I lie on my deathbed…bear with me …and consider: what was the most important achievement in my life? (Apart from the, as yet, un-published book) it is, without doubt: my children – no regrets.

So, in order to juggle everything – all the minutiae gets thrown out – the sweeping, hoovering, play-dates, hand-made bread, cubs – fuck it all – we will just do the best we can without, compromising the bin lids…and our, very precious, time together.

Moon Cycles – the last taboo

God it’s embarrassing isn’t it? The Curse, periods, that time of the month, on the rag, cousin red, on the blob, have the painters in, the crimson wave, on the flowers, and, wait for it, women’s troubles. 

Oh man, that is the one that really sticks: Women’s Troubles?

Why has the monthly cycle that every single female (more or less) experiences from the moment she begins to enter womanhood become our troubles? Why has this natural cycle become so shameful, so accursed, become literally: the curse?

Is this really the message we should continue to teach our daughters, nieces and goddaughters and, even, ourselves? Why should this be the last taboo – the one subject that men cannot bare to mention, or even women – for that matter, without shuddering or feeling embarrassed.

Yet this natural rhythm follows the waning and waxing of the moon. The moon regulates the movement of liquid on earth and its 29.5 day cycle is very similar to the natural cyclical cycle of female menstruation, which runs between 28-30 days, suggesting that women can and do ovulate around the full moon and that their hormone levels are changing during its waxing and waning.

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How cool is that?

Last week, I was incredibly lucky to be invited to join a women’s circle. It was a wonderful, healing and bonding experience for all concerned. Our cycles were discussed and although a natural embarrassment was felt, we questioned why this area of feminity is so utterly, deliberately cloaked. And why a kind of simple cover-all, men – so often use, when we ladies are stressed, or angry or just plain pissed off – is: “Oh it’s that time of the month is it?” And think they are clever or in touch?

Indeed, several women amongst us revealed that their mothers had never so much as had the courage to explain that this eventuality would happen, they found themselves one day at age 12 or 13 bleeding, and not understanding why, and feeling, naturally, terrified.

But, we cannot blame their mothers, this behaviour was, just a product of the culture of the time. We have progressed since 1970 haven’t we?

Maybe not, apparently in 1997 Johnson & Johnson went looking for a female celebrity to  promote its sanitary towel brand of the time. The company found no celebrity willing to associate themselves with such a product, even the Spice Girls refused; so much for girl power.

But can we gently change this kind of thinking? By informing the up coming fertile and youth-filled girls in our lives, maybe we can alter the path and stop this area of womanhood continuing to be one of shame and anxiety. Perhaps we could celebrate a first period? or is that taking it a step too far, too quickly?

Like the Navajo Indians?

What do you think?

Twin Perks

Getting a ride on the back of my new loves bike was a profoundly altruistic experience, more so because I was five months up the duff, and we were wheedling through heavy Barcelona traffic.

Cycling our way to hospital, “Caballero”, the van drivers yell to my boy: a gentleman they considered him. As he humbly struggled to peddle me around, while I sat fat, blooming, getting a backie.

The twins

At that five month scan, our first – (eventually we had managed to decipher the bureaucratic Spanish health system) – the obstetrician asked whether we had planned our pregnancy.

“Errrr, no Señor”, we sheepishly admitted. He then proceed to interpret the scan image.

“…Your first child is here…” I looked across at my new love – he paled and fell back against the wall, desperatly looking for somewhere to sit down.

“There, there is the spine, the head and the vagina…”

“The second baby. Here, see the head, the spine, here, and the penis…Did you know you had twins?”

Shock, fear, joy and sheer disbelief flooded through me, fortunately I was lying down. Unlike Toots, who was clinging onto the cardboard walls.

“You are very lucky”, the obstetrician proclaimed as he left us in our newfound chaos.

We stumbled out of the hospital and gazed across at the steadfast, azure whims of the  Mediterranean sea.

We clung to each other in wondrous amazement. We were indeed blessed – we were magical. We could not believe this thing we suddenly held between us. Just an hour ago we had one baby and now, incredibly, we had two – we were: a family of four.

It was mind-blowing. More so, as we had met only eight months previously and had nothing between us except for a couple of rucksacks, a laptop, some books, our passports and a great and beautiful love for each other.

Nothing so far in our relationship had been conventional and now fate had dealt us another unexpected card. We truly believed our love was so magical that we had created boy/girl twins from it.

Little did we know at that time how common multiples are becoming as our generation parent much older and as IVF becomes more prevalent.

Eight years from that precious eureka moment Fealte & Rosebud have played a starring role in our lives.

And from those humble bycling beginnings we have continued on our quest for simplicity, knowing that the single most important thing we can ever give to our children is our love.

No need is there of great mounds of ugly plastic destroying our peaceful home.

No need is there of television or high-tech pushchairs, great monstrous high-chairs, massage classes or adidas trainers.

Pencils, paper, lego, books and latterly bikes are the most important tools in their lives.

Barefoot we plant seeds, water vegetables and make-up songs.

Research from TAMBA (The Twin and Multiple Birth Association) suggests that parents of multiples are more likely to separate – citing financial pressure as the main culprit.

But surely twins, or singletons, or three, or four children need as little or as much as you care to give them. Granted the costs of two high-chairs, two cots and two pairs of shoes at once may be great, but that is, surely, what IKEA was invented for.

No parent needs to lavish its offspring with the amount of material junk they do these days. No child can wear more than one pair of shoes at once. No child needs a mountain of DVD’s or plastic gadgets. No child needs to be taken to hand-signing or baby-yoga classes in a huge motor.

The amount of debt and expense taken on for the sake of an innocent child is incredible and cannot fail to rock the foundations of its parents as they struggle to keep on top of this mega debt.

And all for the sake of whose happiness?

The Beauty of Vanity…

Why are so many women unhappy with their bodies? Is it simply the swamping impact of advertising and media constantly portraying the perfect woman at us from all angles?

Or is it more than that? Is it hardwired in us, as a species, to naturally, unconsciously, compete against each other, constantly vying to be the sexual alpha female.

Conditionally constructed to endlessly compete for a healthy alpha mate.

And if so at what moment in our lives can we, finally, let go? Surely, if it is genetics then right after childbearing age we should let it all hang out; let our hair go grey, our boobs head south and our bellies breathe out.

But we don’t – vanity carries us well into old age, along with purple rinses and body-shaping pants.

So it is wrong to be vain? Is it wrong to want to have a slim(mer) body, one which you can, happily, share with your honey? Is it wrong to want to look good – are we really conditioned by the massive slew of advertising thrust across Blighty, or just hardwired to keep it up…Surely, among all this angst and competition we are just trying to be healthy(ier), to look good and do we it for that alpha male?

No. We do it for ourselves.

And that is OK! That is good! Being healthy means being well and feeling more positive and that is all for the good in this age of mistrust and insecurity.

So do it: be vain, eat well, don’t push it – drink wine and scoff crisps, but not everyday – obviously. Exercise, stretch, walk and breathe fresh air; it’ll keep you sane. And, these simple acts of vanity, will help keep your pecker up – and my old mans…

And there is great joy in that.