Posts tagged #mummy

Gender Rules

"Let me walk a mile in your shoes"

"Let me walk a mile in your shoes"

Mummy I want the pink glittery gumboots with the unicorns on them. Mummy, I want to put makeup on just like you. Mummy, when I grow up I’m going to be a girl.

Having boys has forced me to question a lot about society and a man’s place within it. I’m not sure how to respond to statements like these. After all, some boys do grow up to be girls and there is no valid reason why a boy can’t wear makeup or don pink boots. In my heart of hearts I don’t care at all that my son’s favourite colour is pink and that he likes to play with makeup and have his nails painted. I’m pretty sure most boys his age do too – probably because it’s fun and pink is great and they haven’t yet been told that being a boy somehow means they’re not supposed to enjoy these things. But the social survival part of my brain questions my responsibility as a parent to ensure he understands the social ‘rules’ around gender roles. I don’t want to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but I do want to ensure my child is well-equipped to deal socially with his peers.

I want to be part of the movement that is fighting against these gender stereotypes. I don’t want to hear the words “Don’t be such a GIRL” or “MAN up” uttered in my presence…though I’m sure that both statements have come rolling off my own sub-consciously programmed tongue at some point in time. Shame on me. I want my boys to feel free to express themselves in whatever way they see fit. But…and there’s always a but…I want to protect them. Kids can be mean! Adult society can be even meaner. Right now I don’t think it’s an issue. My boys are only 2 and 4 years old. But is there an age when it becomes your responsibility to at least warn them that wearing pink sparkly shoes to school might result in them being teased? I’m all for supporting your children, propping them up, loving them and backing them no matter what choices they make…but can failing to warn them about their sparkly shoes be likened to the parents of children on those talent shows who have been included in the ‘outtakes’ (I hate that part of talent shows by the way – celebrating social ignorance and bullying makes me feel sick)? You know the kids that have been told their whole life how brilliantly they can sing and dance and have no awareness at all that their audience is laughing at them not with them? When does saying nothing equate to not fulfilling your responsibilities as a parent?

My son has pink boots, and ‘girl’ toys, and we always save the pink cupcake for him. I’ve painted his nails and let him try on my lip gloss and powder his nose. We don’t plan on changing our attitude, but I do feel conflicted about when and how to approach the subject of gender stereotypes without serving to perpetuate them further! Ideally, I would find a way to raise my boys to be confident enough to feel free in their creative expression of themselves, with awareness that not everybody will share the same views or opinions as them. I want to raise boys who stand up to those who are being bullied, who will question social stereotypes even if they themselves fit neatly within them. This is another parenting moment where I wish I had hold of the secret formula - the guaranteed way to ensure you raise balanced, socially aware, self-confident children without buying into and reinforcing the social ignorance of stereotypes and gender rules.

Being the "Bad Guy"

"You spoil all my fun, mummy!"

"You spoil all my fun, mummy!"

I’m a naysayer, a wet blanket…I am officially a killjoy.

I had not anticipated the impact on my state of mind that being the ‘bad guy’ would have.  “No” is not a word I like, and one I rarely needed to use pre-children.  Now it seems it’s in every other sentence that comes rolling off my tongue. 

There are times when I just want to cry because it feels like all I’ve done for 12 hours is take things away, say no and put the brakes on anything that looks remotely like ‘fun’. 

I know it’s all part of the gig.  You have little lives in your hands…you can’t very well let them run around with scissors, eat chocolate for breakfast or test their new wings from the roof of your two storey house.  But it is really hard not to let it get to you! 

I’m an optimistic, easy-going (mostly!) person by nature…but at times it becomes hard to separate your personality from your parental responsibilities.  It’s difficult not to absorb the negative rhetoric.  You start to feel irritated and frustrated when it seems like all you’re doing is putting up barriers.  It’s tough not to begin thinking of yourself as a blocker, a naysayer, a wet blanket, a pessimist, a killjoy …

But I guess I’ve just got to suck it up and take this one on board.  If I wasn’t being the ‘bad guy’ sometimes, I wouldn’t be doing my job, right?  I’m providing safe boundaries, I’m teaching them valuable life skills…and I’m keeping the alive.  I think I just need to remind myself of these things when I sense an impending tail spin at the end of a long, hard day of saying “no”.

The Up Side

The Up Side Mama Pyjama

I am often reminded of the quote: “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about”.  Like the other day when my three year old said to me, “I’m happy with what I’ve got…Are you happy with what you’ve  got Mummy?”.  Or today when he stood gazing down our humble, semi-suburban street and turned to say, “Look at the lovely view mummy.  Isn’t it just lovely?”.  He says and does this sort of thing often.  We call him an old soul.  We say he’s beyond his years.  We stand marveling at the depth of his understanding, the magnitude of his empathy…put simply - the way his mind works.

This is one of the wonderful gifts that parenting brings.  It's the ability to see through the eyes of the young.  To view the world again as if for the first time.  To be reminded of what’s really important and what really warrants our energy.

I talk a lot about the challenges of parenting in my blog, so this week I’d like to focus on the great things. 

Here are six things that my children have taught me:

  1. Self-awareness – aided even more by my 3 year old’s new found love of mimicking me.  There’s nothing that brings about self-awareness faster than hearing your words come out of the mouth of a toddler.
  2. Another way to love – a little corny and a little obvious but it can’t go unmentioned.  The ability to offer unconditional, uninhibited, pure love – no matter what.
  3. Where each and every one of my buttons are - and how to push them!  My children have triggered a great deal of personal development! I thank them for that.  I am a better person because of it.
  4. Fun doesn’t require money, alcohol, parties or presents - all you need is your imagination and the ability to leave your inhibitions at the door.
  5. Forgiveness - There’s little that can dull a child’s smile for more than an hour.  Grudges serve no purpose other than to hurt ourselves and shut us off from potential new and wonderful experiences.
  6. That my limits are limitless – Through children I’ve discovered that there is no limit to have far we can go, what we can do, and what we can achieve.  Children can push you to your perceived physical and emotional limits…but just when you think you’ve reached them, you find you have more left to give.  There is so much power in this realisation.

My children have taught me a lot!

In keeping with today's theme, here are six more bonuses!  Things you can do just because you’re a parent:

  1. Dress up – whenever you want, as whatever you like, in costumes that are way too small for you.  Awesome.  Seriously.
  2. Sing – like ALL the time…anywhere...as badly as you please.  You don’t come off looking like a crazy person or get criticised for being out of tune.  You just get bonus points for being an interactive, fun, loving parent.
  3. Play – you can spend a full day jumping on a trampoline, dancing, playing with dough, colouring in, watching cartoons and building forts…and nobody’s going to tell you to grow up.
  4. Finish off other peoples’ dinner – there’s a lot of leftovers where children are involved, and guess what?  They’re all yours!  This is an especially great bonus at kids’ birthday parties or when it’s sausage roll and chips night at home.  Waste not, want not right?
  5. Talk in third person – a LOT.  It’s a great way to shift the blame ;)  That “Mummy” has a lot to answer for always wanting them to do something to make her “happy”. ;)
  6. Make fart jokes and celebrate bodily functions - complete with cheers, high-fives and sometimes even Smarties.

Voices

"Has that crazy lady gone yet?"

"Has that crazy lady gone yet?"

You know when you hear your recorded voice and think, “oh my god, that’s not ME, I sound TERRIBLE!”?

Well sometimes I feel like I’m living inside a stereo with a recording of my own voice playing over and over again.

Before I had children I was blissfully unaware of the many voices that lay waiting in my voice box for their debut.  There’s:

The Darth Vader in Drag: “Get back here rrright NNNow.”

The Raving Lunatic: You know the one where you’re pretending like you’re talking to them but you’re really just talking to yourself?       “I just don’t understand why I have to ask you sixteen times to do something. I just don’t get it.  I don’t get why you listen to everyone else.  Why don’t you listen to me? It’s driving me crazy……I SAID GET INSIDE NOW!”

The Strangled Seagull: “Stop it, SQUAWK, put that down, SQUAWK, stop picking your nose, SQUAWK, give that back, SQUAWK, get off your brother, SQUAWK, don’t touch that!”

The Town Crier: This one comes out in playgrounds (usually in front of the masses) hollering across a sea of children “You’ve got five minutes until we leave, five minutes!  Ok?!!  Five minutes...say ‘yes, mummy!’ ... Thank you.  FIVE MINUTES!”

The Manic Negotiator: “It’s ok, just breathe, it’s alright it’s alright it’s alright, don’t scream, calm down, it’s your turn next…”

The I Don’t Care Who’s Listening: Usually emerges in the car park shortly following a grocery shop. “GET IN THE CARSEAT!  I’M SO UPSET WITH YOU RIGHT NOW! YOUR BEHAVIOUR IN THERE WAS DISGRACEFUL!!  I SAID GET IN THE CARSEAT! NO YOU CAN NOT HAVE A LOLLLLLLLYPOP!!!!!!”

This is something I definitely wasn’t prepared for!  There are days I actually hate the sound of my own voice.  I had no idea that this was such a big part of the parenting gig!  I had visions of Lullaby Mama, all gentle and sweet (not to mention coherent and reasonable!)…not this Negative Nancy!

But it seems that even if you approach it in a positive manner, offering them options or choices, telling them what they could or should be doing in lieu of what not to do…no matter which way you spin it ultimately you’re still the bearer of bad news.  You spend a great deal of your day trying to convince them that not doing something they want to do, or doing something they don’t want to do, is the way to go.  Despite all my best efforts, I still hear myself speaking and think “my god you’re so annoying!  You sound so negative all the time”.

And how is it that someone so small, and someone you love so much, can push your every button so very well?!  No one else has ever managed to bring to life the I Don’t Care Who’s Listening or the Spitting Dragon (I’ll leave this one to your imagination). 

I’m sure that the voices will die down as my children get older…(did that just make me sound totally crazy?!).  Until then I guess I just need to try to keep the less productive ones in check and look for ways to bring out Lullaby Mama more (I used to get sneaky when they were infants and change the words of songs to vent my frustrations…like Brahms’ Lullaby “Go to sleep, little one, Mummy’s looosssing the plot”.  Yeah, that was a bit of a fail).  So…work on Lullaby Mama, and try to find ways to balance out the seemingly negative banter.  Pick my battles - I’m not going to win all of them.  Try to find a healthy medium between letting them be kids yet ensuring I stay on top of the necessary discipline.  Sounds good in theory, I’ll let you know how I go with it!  In the meantime I welcome any tips, advice or shared experiences!