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Monthly Archives: April 2013

So I have finished both my attachment parenting book and How Not to Fuck Them Up. I’ve now read four books, various bits of each were helpful, and various bits of each were not helpful, and then various bits of each were actively angering or upsetting. I’m glad I read all four, but I’m not happy with any of them.

First of all, and this is the easy one…what’s up with parenting books assuming you’re religious?? Two of those books (I’d just like to point out, those two had American authors) mentioned getting your children to pray as no big deal, just assumed that such a thing would happen. One of them had a chapter about how to get your child to church and said something like ‘all good parents want to impart spirituality to their children’. WTF mate?*

*sidenote, because lightening the mood is always good, this is what I think of whenever I say WTF mate: 

So now we’re into the more difficult problems. This may take a couple of posts.

First, by far the most disappointing, was How Not to F Them Up by James Oliver.

There was some good information in there. For one thing (my sister the PhD in psychology is checking this out for me cuz she disagrees with his research), he offered a lot of studies showing nannies are better than daycare. We had been planning on daycare because it’s kind of like the default option here in the UK, especially in London. But after reading that I started looking into nannies (just to mention, I was looked after by nannies for my entire childhood) and realized they are not as much more expensive as I thought. So we are probably going to go with that route now.*

*should I manage to get pregnant, bla bla…just assume every time I talk about this stuff I’m caveating that I might not get pregnant or it might not work in some way – I certainly am thinking that in my head.

But there was a lot in HNFTU that I was not a fan of. First of all, it claimed to be neutral on the subject of working mothers versus stay at home mothers. It was NOT. Basically, it’s attitude was, it’s good for mothers to work if they will otherwise be depressed. But having a non-depressed mom at home until the kid is 3 is the best option. WTF mate I say again!

Not, oh, women might value their career and the work they do and they way they contribute to society. Not, self respect and interaction with adults is important to the happiness of adults, and having happy adults is important to children. Not even, having a parental carer at home is important so one of the partners should stay home (BTW not ONE book I read ever even considered the idea that the parents might be same sex partners). No, there was actually list of preferences that said: ‘mum is better than dad is better than grandparent/relative is better than nanny is better than childminder is better than daycare’. Several times he referred to dads as being “substitute carers”. So, what, moms are the only primary carer? Dads (or non-gestational parents) are just substitutes?

What. The. Fuck.

And the idea that the only valid reason for a mother working being preventing depression is SO INCREDIBLY OFFENSIVE! Try, I want my child/children to view women and men as equal, I want to be a good role model for them and I want them to know that work, work that you love, is important. Try, I want to be happy myself! And work, for all its stresses, is something that makes me happy!

The idea that having a mother at home making children more likely to be happy and successful later in life (which was part of his research and argument) is TOTALLY WORTHLESS IF MY CHILD IS A GIRL! Because if she’s a girl, she’s just clearly supposed to get pregnant and stay at home, who cares whether she’s successful!!!

Ok. So that was a very angry rant. It turns out, I really am very angry about this book. I’m going to leave it there for now and come back to the rest later. And just to say, I am glad I read it. But I’m also really angry!

 

 

I’ve been so busy planning how we will parent I haven’t actually paid much attention to how we will get pregnant…especially as it is so far off since we have our first appointment in June. But having found this blog: http://mamadeux.wordpress.com/ and read about the long long LONG wait they had for NHS treatment, and the fact that they then went private…I’m thinking about it.

Our GP told us that the wait would be something like 2-3 months for an appointment (accurate) and then 2 months or so before we’d be able to try for being pregnant. I’ve (vaguely, in theory) prepared myself for the idea that it won’t work the first time, or the second time or maybe at all. But I haven’t really thought about the idea that we won’t get to try for like a year!

A straight couple have been using the fertility services at this hospital, and they’ve suggested the doctor’s timeline is relatively likely but that there might be additional tests that might delay things – that would be ok, though since there are (so far as we know and the initial tests indicate) no problems with my fertility hopefully that won’t be the case. But…what if it makes a difference that we are a lesbian couple?

My doctor has said several times that he and the surgery as a whole have referred several lesbian couples to this fertility service.  We are in that very lucky minority of lesbians who have won the postcode lottery, in that our treatment as a same sex couple is funded, and we have a very reasonable number of free tries. And as an American I know how lucky I am to have anything funded at all! I just hope that the wait times are actually in line with what our GP has said.

I guess we shall have to wait and see…we have an introduction evening soon, so I will definitely be asking about timelines.  We can’t really afford to go private first (we might be able to fund one or maybe two tries privately, but I am much more comfortable having as many tries as possible. So however we do it, the NHS is for us. But oh! I want to be pregnant soon! I don’t want to wait for a year before we even start trying!

I realized I had to post them poem after writing about the book that uses it in the title. Philip Larkin is awesome.

 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you

 

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

 

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a costal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

All my (obsessive) reading of parenting books and planning of how things might work when there’s a baby in the mix have been all about this question. How do we do it the right way, the way that leads to our kids being happy and healthy and sane? I’ve always been desperately worried about this element of parenting – I don’t want to screw up my kids.

Well Oliver James has clearly tapped into this sort of anxiety…

I am only about a quarter of the way through it, but it seems so far like a good book, presented in a psychologically scientific way, rather than the slightly more anecdotal thoughts plus some evolutionary science of the Attachment Parenting book I’ve been reading. Certainly it is a very thought provoking book, making me think about and also wonder about my care as an under 3 year old, which I don’t really remember.

I’ll have to post more about it when I’m done.

 

New Zealand passed marriage equality today. I wasn’t writing this blog when the UK parliament added gay marriage to civil unions (though that is still ongoing logistically, the biil has passed). These moments make me so happy and thankful to be living where and when I am, to have been born when I was.

Whenever I refer to B, I either say my partner or my wife. Mostly, I say my wife. I say we got married. I say she’s the Best Wife Ever, and she says the same thing about me. We (and most of the “civilly partnered” couples I know) have already co-opted the language of marriage. But it is nice to have that made official.

When I was in my twenties, before I met B, before I’d been in love really, I thought this sort of thing didn’t matter. I didn’t believe in marriage, and if I’d ended up with a man, I would never have gotten married. I think the institution is patriarchal, and its history so horrific for women, its very vows based in inequality – I never thought I would get married. And I didn’t get involved in the fight for gay marriage. I wanted equal rights, and I understood the large scale argument about the importance of equal rights, but didn’t really want the institution of marriage for myself.

The ignorance of youth I guess. The ignorance of not being in love, more like. B changed my attitude very quickly. And I guess it is true that the more politics applies to you, the more you care, because I certainly was a lot more concerned with equal marriage after B. Though that being said, maybe it’s just age and experience, because as much as I care about equal marriage, if B didn’t want to, I wouldn’t actually convert our Civil Partnership to marriage – I like the idea of committing to each other forever without necessarily bringing all the weight of the problematic history of marriage along.

But I want the option. And now, if I lived in New Zealand (and in the UK at some unknown future date) I’d have it. Today is a good day.

I am thinking a lot at the moment about the balance between my work and the rest of my life. I am the kind of person who gives my whole heart to the things I do, especially when I truly care about something, and I do truly care about my work. I’ve had bad jobs, good jobs, almost unbearable jobs, but this is the first job I’ve ever had where I truly care about my work on a personal level as well as a professional one. It’s also the first time I’ve been so senior, had so much responsibility, and consequently, so much opportunity to do something wrong, or for things to go wrong and me to be blamed (and while there’s certainly a difference between those two things to me, to my bosses…not so much).

So this job has changed my attitude to work/life balance. I check my emails a lot outside work hours, which I never used to do, because I really want to know. I worry about my projects after work, on the weekend…First thing in the morning, I often go straight into my work email to see what new problem is waiting for me, and I spend the first hour of the morning psyching myself up and getting my ‘head in the game’.

But going on such an amazing holiday has made me look at the way I’m working in a new light. For probably the first time since I started this job, I truly switched off. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t look at emails, I didn’t worry about what was happening without me, I just switched off. It was blissful. It let me truly relax.

Which made me realize, although I love what I do and I like to spend loads of time doing it, the way I’ve been working has led me to never quite turn off, never quite relax. And I think that leads to a sort of resentment, and it certainly leads to a lot of stress.

One of the things I will be doing in the coming months is going off my anti-anxiety meds, which I have been on for many years and have been very happy with. It’s quite scary to me. But the drugs are not good for babies in utero. various problems have a slight increase in probability, which, when the whole point of my drugs is to help with anxiety, seems like it would leave me PRETTY anxious if I kept taking the drugs (which my dr said was an option).

So I’m going off them. But stress and anxiety are also bad for fetuses.  So I am going off my drugs, but I really need to find ways to reduce my existing stress to help my non-medicated self.

I think one way is going to be a real attempt to switch off. To completely leave work at the office, and to not think or worry about it (as much as possible) when I’m not in the office. Last night B and I walked the dog when I came  home from work, which we don’t usually do and certainly not together, and I found that to be a good method. I think Iceland has made me appreciate nature more, and the ability of nature to relax. So , yes, yet another change I’m going to try to make in these next few months…

This has been one of the best holidays I’ve ever had – just a fantastic week and a bit of not being stressed about work, or worried about pretty much anything (which, for me, is amazing).

But now it is over. Last night I struggled to sleep, as all the worries, stresses, and just all the flotsam and jetsam that makes up my job flowed back into my brain from wherever they had been hiding. My job is quite pressured, and though I love what I do, I don’t love the politics or the ancillary bits that make it harder to do the bit I love. I also don’t love the worry about blame, which is currently a big thing for me as a project I worked on is coming to fruition and (through nothing under my control) may end up failing.

The thing about my job being so high pressure, and extremely busy as well, is that I am quite worried about having to take off time for this whole process. I’m definitely not interested in telling my boss that we’re trying, so I’m trying to come up with another reason why I may have to go to a much higher volume of doctor’s appointments than usual. I’m not really sure yet just how many appointments will be involved…I guess we’ll find out at our first appointment.