The Looks on their Faces and the Festive Gift of Disappointment

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Aright. I’m a sucker for Christmas. I love the wooden Advent calendar. I adore dressing the tree with the kids. I melt when they sing Away in a Manger. Cor blimey, they’re just lovely.

It’s the look on their faces that gets me. The magic. The anticipation. The innocence. The joy! But this year, I sprinkled something left-field. Disappointment.

We don’t do the Elf on that Shelf (I could launch into how the damned Imp is a manifestation of greater and greater extraction of unwaged female emotional labour at Christmas time. How an old bearded white dude gets all the credit for hours of toil, thought and effort of mothers around the world. But I’ll spare you).

No. This year, they had a dose of festive disappointment when the ‘elves’ didn’t bring a sweet for the Advent calendar one morning*.

But it’s ok. I improvised.

Lucky you! You got the gift of giving!

When the elves don’t put a sweet in the box, that’s your cue, sweet children. Go fetch a toy or a book or a game that you no longer play with. And think about how some children don’t have very much. 

What? You mean you can’t possibly choose something? You mean you love all your things so much? You want to start playing with that plastic thing for the first time in 15 months? 

Well, my children, you’ve had the gift of gratitude, then, too. 

It took an hour, but they got there in the end. I’m going to make this a festive ‘thing’ each year.

Merry Christmas everyone x

*I fell asleep on the sofa. Then stumbled to bed without dutifully placing Christmas-themed icing sweets behind door number 16. Parenting fail #623

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Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement is out now.

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Christmas tree image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/55922608@N00/4188833422/in/photolist-7o9SeU-iYQ6MM-vgCfC-95Dcvy-4uodn3-4uqkx7-P59c6e-4dfD3Z-aTQdFD-91aEWg-b4ETEz-BYv7DX-b2so8x-iAorcn-8Y1Q3L-7vMLdq-Nkpx5R-b1Fkgk-qBLX3D-i4zA9g-5KK3T3-9aETw9-5J7Z1m-96FJSQ-83ty9-iPoWVq-aKLhPR-75Tedo-4ujQp7-P465yA-CzZQ2x-4eGFCe-5KRmXe-i3ywL1-CvRmRA-DtXbbn-dX3mua-dEzvrq-i4zBTN-BFmrgj-CnZ41b-7vYv4M-j2Ngx7-9zLfn1-iVChPS-dCMLrE-dwrPHh-AWP2EN-aYT4n4-dxrgCx

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The Question of Maternal Loneliness. The Answer is Connection.

Lonely leaves don't get to ride the carousel
Over the past couple of days I’ve posted about the issue of isolation and lack of support of mothers.
Channel 4 has prepared a documentary about loneliness. And becoming a new mother is up there.
I will say this. There are struggles when we become mothers. Our ‘seat’ may have been in a city away from our homes – so when we have babies, we are thrust into a social environment where we know n.o.b.o.d.y.
We may not have family locally. Our partner is ‘out at work’. Children’s centres are closing. Pressure is on to ‘get back to normal’ and ‘get back to work’. More of our contemporaries are doing just that.
The fact is, becoming a mother is a life-changing event for many women. We deserve a period of recovery in which we are nurtured, in the ‘fourth trimester’ for the benefit of our babies and ourselves.
Yet, many of us are left in the immediate care of a male partner who, quite frankly, will have not a clue about what we have been through. Neither of us may be familiar with the intimate and relentlessness of caring for a tiny babe. We may be struggling to breastfeed. We may well be carrying physical and/or emotional wounds from labour.
However.
And it is a big one.
It shouldn’t be this way. We are not supposed to do this alone. However, this is usually translated to ‘we are not supposed to do this – hand the care over to someone else’.
Post-partum support of mothers, and skilled breastfeeding support and sensitive compassionate care of new mothers is shown to reduce the rates of post-partum depression. If we feel that we are ‘part’ instead of ‘separate’ from the ‘real world’, that would be a start. If we have a circle of practical and emotional support around us, that would be justice.
For many, being a mother is not oppressive. It is the conditions in which we are expected to mother which can make it so. Financial pressures, social pressures and isolation and lack of support.
Once I found ‘my tribe’ my sense of shell shock eased. Over time, I have found a real vibrant, supportive, accepting and warm circle around me. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I experienced such connection beyond my immediate family and close friends. And I am grateful for that. It has made a difference to me. I know that I am not alone in feeling that way. Motherhood has relieved something in me – individualism.
Loneliness in our modern culture is not a symptom of motherhood. It is a symptom of disconnection. We thrive in communities. Women can thrive in the company of supportive women. We all need to be cared for at some point. New mothers are no exception.
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Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement, is out now from Womancraft. Get your copy online or from lucky indie bookshops.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/5201470880/in/photolist-8VCU5q-7cLECh-pxpLm-tuCCzt-eLjNSH-ehasxD-cGATgU-7vCtu7-3wyYX-ujxHoF-bqzGhE-v4EbVQ-bTdPWa-bEj6dh-tuydEg-4buwmk-9Yvbnf-bAq48a-viVXB7-4buzwk-5h1A2F-ckfjwh-A6p4xC-8K79cK-8HyWqP-eFbVXL-FasM5K-B4pC26-gCjYTG-A6p3PJ-e8XRbB-8KabN7-B4pKk4-6yJVM9-FYSqZH-9dGS1K-d5GWQ9-7vLdN1-A6x5hM-tcYADL-tuCuMe-bTdPCK-bTdPDg-6cRKoT-rmvFE6-fA9134-6ZJw8r-6ZJwfx-ehgnjw-ehgj1J

Raising Our Voices, Raising Our Children

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On Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking at the Mothers At Home Matter 25th Anniversary Conference about Liberating Motherhood. I was touched by the warm reception I received.

It was so wonderful to have my mum and my daughter there too. I don’t think I’ll forget seeing my three year old daughter’s face, watching and listening to her mother speak about the importance of mothering, children and mothers. Just as my son had shown pride in his mother at my book launch, my daughter seemed intrigued to see her mother stand in front of a microphone and speak to an audience in London, away from home. As I say in the book, hearing our mothers’ stories is a feminist act. Telling our own is another.

It was wonderful to connect with other mothers, some at a similar stage of life, others of different generations and life circumstances. Thank you to the Committee for inviting and welcoming me to the Conference. I am so grateful to you for your support.  I so admire your work and dedication.

Since the conference, I have been busy with family commitments, breastfeeding support and the (recently quite intense) daily needs of my young children – the irony – and so it has taken a while to sit down to write. I have also been trying to digest recent media delight in deriding the care of mothers at home. We are failing our children, you know, by failing to promote their development in absolutely crucial things like holding a pencil.

We have an uphill struggle.

No one of us can promote the issue of maternal care alone. Join and support Mothers at Home Matter, join the Purplestockings Movement, join All Mothers Work, engage with campaigning groups and speak out beyond sympathetic ears. We need to be heard. We need to raise our voices.

Since starting my own campaigning and writing – together with my commitments in my local community as a breastfeeding counsellor in person, on the phone and online – I have had to confront the question of how to limit the intrusion of social media and screens into my day-to-day life with my family and how to limit writing and reading during ‘family time’. How to restrict online activity, comfortably miss online debates on news and articles or the opportunity to share pieces of interest, or keep up with messages and notifications. I sometimes feel guilty for being absent from threads, neglecting to respond to tags or for failing to post more regularly about the issue of mothers. However, in truth, we can only do what we can do.

On reflection, writing and promoting the book took a huge amount of time and energy and I put a huge part of myself into it. It was a vulnerable and exhausting process. Now that the book is born, I need to give myself permission to rest, recuperate and recover. A kind of literary post-partum period.

I am hoping that the book will take on a life of its own, too. Those of you who are reading it, please take it out there, spread the word and share passages, photos of pages, whatever you feel speaks to you. A movement needs momentum!

My book satisfied part of my need to be heard. I will still raise my voice when I have the time or irresistible need, online or at events. I am also looking forward to a secondary campaign nearer Mother’s Day – with some wonderful events coming up where I will be speaking about the book and meeting mothers in different parts of the country.

In the meantime, motherhood awaits. It is, and always will be, family first. The Purplestockings Movement starts at home after all.

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Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12644262@N03/4255363605/in/photolist-7u2Rm2-qeRn1-ciQVUh-ciQv9E-7u6L5m-5LGGpU-e4Jdr8-jnaU7-59K9gb-zke67-5LGGKY-59EVqX-5LCpnZ-duJF4n-4aToKH-59EVot-59EVBD-HTz6r7-5Q4GGG-jSBn9-LRwhXW-59K8VA-BcgDv-5LCqG2-MFCHRv-7DEKQ4-9DPayJ-yVQAqu-MKZByj-neBn11-59K8Yb-59EVRM-oBmjb3-5LCr1e-jTyPB-dwqAfp-59EVQn-cLtApf-59EVNX-dpL6WS-hK7Ao-zFAuu-9jMUSx-g13SM1-59K93J-59K8Fm-59EVTc-59K9aw-aM2W4t-a7Yj8Q

Video of My Speech at Calder Bookshop Theatre

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A huge thank you to everyone who could make it to the signing yesterday at Calder bookshop theatre. It was lovely to sign copies and chat to you all and what a fabulous space in the Theatre for my little talk, too. Well and truly under the spotlight!

Here is a link to my speech.

The book is now available at lucky indie bookshops, amazon, the book depository and Womancraft Publishing.

Do ask your library and local bookshop to stock it. If you’re enjoying the book then spread the word and get the purplestockings movement moving! Looking forward to speaking and signing copies at the Mothers at Home Matter conference on 17 November in London. Then? Rest!

My Book Baby No Longer Belongs To Me. It Belongs to You.

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I’m now at that point – unfamiliar territory for me as a debut author – where my book baby is out in the world and being read, talked about, critiqued, enjoyed and shared. Yes, I know, probably criticised, too. Even the best books have their worst critics. And I know where mine are to be found – they were part of the driving force behind the book, to be fair! But the launch experience over the past month or so has also brought home to me that there are so many of us who are in agreement and many who are relieved to be reading something which speaks to and for them.

Which means I’ve also confronted something I never anticipated: the good wishes and encouragement from supporters and admirers who don’t know me but who are responding from the heart to my words.

So thank you to the many of you who have taken the time to tell me directly that the book has made you cry, made you laugh, brought a fresh realisation about something painful or emotional, made you angry, made you happy or made you determined to share the message.

I’m excited and starting to feel relieved and a little lighter. Because the book no longer belongs to me. It belongs to you.

If you have enjoyed it, felt a connection or transformed your thinking in any way, please do share your views. Tell others. This is a book which – from a debut author and an indie press – is reliant on a circle of readers sending ripples out into the world. From grassroots it will grow.

Please also do review the book online – it helps encourage people to read it. Get talking in person and online. Proclaim yourself a Purplestocking! I’m amazed to hear of sisters connecting with the book outside of the UK: in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the US and beyond – we are a global movement. And I’m privileged and humbled to be part of it. Thank you.

“… when jobs are being lost to automation; when wealth is accumulating in the 1%; when the workplace increasingly encroaches on family life; and when women remain at higher risk of poverty because they have cared for their families, feminism has to start to ask itself: are we ever going to find creative ways to protect, support and empower women beyond simply pushing for paid employment? We must start to recover some of the intellectual and creative verve of the original women’s movement: we have to return to discussing redistribution of wealth and the fair organisation of labour. We don’t need to agonise over labels of socialism, conservatism, radicalism or whatever. We just need to put humanity at the centre. Because the fact is that many mothers remain trapped by the market either as workers or as unwaged carers, and are marginalised by reason of being mothers. We have to get political. We need to find ways to value care, to support carers, and put money into the pockets of those who sustain and nourish the human race. At heart, we need to support the right of mothers to frame their lives in the way that is right for them: we need to liberate ourselves from conditions which get in the way of this most fundamental of women’s rights. Mothers, our time has arrived”

#MothersOfTheWorldUnite #Purplestockings #LiberatingMotherhood

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Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement, is out now. Get your signed copy at Calder Bookshop Theatre this Saturday evening between 6pm and 9pm, or from amazon, book depository, Womancraft Publishing, and some lucky indie bookshops. Please do ask your local library and bookshops to stock the book, too. 
 

22nd October London Book Signing

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I am overjoyed to be signing Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement, at Calder Bookshop Theatre in Waterloo.

I will be there from 6 til 9 pm. Do join me for a hello, a chat, to buy your signed copy, and a reading – around 7 – in their little theatre.

https://www.facebook.com/events/569320653255136/

#Purplestockings #MothersOfTheWorldUnite!

https://politicsofmothering.wordpress.com/
http://www.womancraftpublishing.com/liberating-motherhood.html

Planes, Trains and Hostility to Children

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Recent news about child-free sections on flights led to an interesting article from one Julie Bindel recently about how, like, annoying children are and stuff.

I wrote to the Guardian. They printed my letter, here.  Granted, they edited the letter to remove observations about hatred, women and cats. And how mothers are being thrown under a (child-free) bus, but the point is made, nevertheless.

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Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement, is out now.

From amazon, Book Depository, Womancraft and some lucky indie publishers.

If you are enjoying the book, please feel free to review it online, eg amazon. And share the word! Do also ask your library and local bookshop to stock it!

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/7184867255/in/photolist-bWUjHD-vkPCgF-rAHpAb-aivZxT-cegH5S-tZQy2B-at42i4-7ZJNPs-dYi3Kc-xKdE8H-5WZkiY-5WF5Gz-bAk2zT-5XvP51-cAUokA-y2J8o6-7ZJNLf-7ZJNDQ-5Y3mwz-atd2iS-7BBu1H-xu3Yiq-ier32A-saSezY-Hbm1S-onF2Cc-oiTdAh-ciPVhs-saS9Ru-7m6VX-gmd74z-fhm4NV-iwjJyj-2LYY5Y-HZFFDd-x5GRVd-s5Nmuw-y1Rfkm-uYx2az-9KhW1C-aUBtXP-5AD79U-rt5FiZ-atanpr-daYjjv-cN3PbG-t7V2vP-CYraLF-hbJFvW-65KTa2