Objectification total

I’ve got stonewash grey tight jeans, white Adidas high tops, a navy hoodie. Straightened long dark hair (flipped over to the side), minimum makeup (saving my face for tonight). A handbag over the crook of my arm, iPhone clutched in hand.

I stop to take a selfie. Cue pout.

I went running this morning, did some planks. I’m going to the library to study (digital advertising). I’m going out dancing tonight.

I could be anywhere between 14-40, living in New York, Paris or Sydney. It’s so iodine, so middle of the road, so zeitgeist.

Yet the whole thing makes me feel so normal. I feel so in-line with my generation, so strangely connected to what I’m “supposed” to be doing. It’s unreal.

I’m usually covered in children, toddlers, stains and shouting. This week we had nits and intestinal worms (not the first time for either). Broken stuff, shouting. Running from A to B to drop and pick up children, guitar lessons and after school clubs. Food smells and grubby floors. Chaos, total imperfection.

Selfies and straight hair and my i-Phone and looking hot make me feel in control for the first time in a  long time. Belonging to the external world, having value in the external world through objects and the image they project of me. Objectification total.

Of course, the world that gets played into is manipulated, highly consumer and very external. Does nothing for my soul. But habits and routines that ground us in their repetitive simplicity – in the feeling that we are all doing it – they reassure you.

It reassures me to have clean, nice smelling clothes, to have material things that are unbroken, that are mine. I feel I belong to myself.

In this world, where does parenthood lie? Where do chaos and bad smells and mess and parasites and sleepless nights and never going out lie?

It lies at the other end of the value spectrum. It has no value in this external world, it is worthless, just an impediment to the real stuff, the stuff we want and are taught to want.

And so we feel trapped and impeded and held back by our kids, they become another thing to manage, to get done so we can get on with living, and run the risk of making them feel worthless and annoying.

Objectification of the self, objectification of life. Sweet illusion of control. We cling onto it sometimes, like a raft before going under into the (inevitable) undercurrent of chaos again.

Today is an exceptional day.

Objectification total

Tech-haters gonna hate

Look how happy he is!
Look how happy he is!

I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’ve bought my kids tablets for Christmas.

I’ve had so many incredulous looks and even a “I don’t like that” proceeding that utterance that I feel as if that is some kind of sick statement akin to “I’ve bought my kids machine guns for Christmas”.

But it’s not. And if I need to defend myself (do I? I feel I do): a) they are not going to have unlimited access to them, b) I am getting the use of my iPad and laptop back (which they hog), and c) last but not least they are gonna LOVE them. Win win.

I am for the record a hands on mum (again, why the need to justify?), I cook, craft and read to my kids. My kids in turn love to cook, craft and read. And game and watch. Yes, they love to watch cartoons (gasp!) and play computer games (bite me!).

Yes, I know Steve-bloody-Jobs’ kids weren’t allowed a lot of tech time (mine get about up to 2 hours but not every day), they had big, calm, talk-filled family dinners *instead* and that’s great, fine and dandy. I totes respect that and I also respect all the nannies and cleaners that made that even more calm and nutritious. But I do let mine use tech, and it doesn’t make me a bad parent.

Let’s talk about this word *instead*: let’s just break it down here. It implies (and this is the underlying implication) that you are either the “type” of parent that is strict on tech, has family dinners and are generally holistic with their kids OR you let them use tech and are slack and lazy. Something smacks of judgment here, and that’s how I feel these days, very judged.

It’s also made me realise that I’ve done some judging. I’ve judged kids on phones and consoles on buses when they are with their parents (something I think I wouldn’t do). How the heck do I know how that parents’ day has been? How do I know how that kids day has been? Don’t you ever want to just play, or chat over messenger to relax? Does that make any of us bad or – worse – unintelligent, because that is also one of the underlying messages here: that uneducated, lazy parents let their kids use tech. Clever, concious middle class ones don’t. And there you have it, smack-bang judgment.

So with all these subtle messages I feel that I’m being judged as a mindless, lazy parent by giving my kids tablets. And I don’t like being judged, especially for my parenting. Ouch.

And at the same time I know I’m anything but.

So, I have to use these feeling to analyse my OWN judgment, and also surrender and just remember that #hatersgonnahate.

And they are gonna LOVE them 🙂 (as well as the books, crafts and other “real” toys they get)

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/evilpeacock/13235511974/”>evilpeacock</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Tech-haters gonna hate

Islamophobia: why has that even become a word?

Ditch the phobia, we are brothers and sisters :)
Ditch the phobia, we are brothers and sisters 🙂

 

Today I read an article in the Guardian saying that Islamophobia is racism, pure and simple.

Too right.

Whenever you generalise about a community as large as Islam/Muslims/Arabs you can be sure that there is some racism going on there. Because a) phrases like “all xyz” are usually finished with derogatory statements, and b) to generalise about people in such a way is derogatory in itself. Pure and simple.

I can think of some other examples of this:

All women…
All Americans… (I live in Europe people, this one is pretty common sadly)
All hippies…

So many things in our culture right now (and leading up to right now) are pitting us against each other, and especially against “all Muslims” or the very wide ranging term “Islam” or even “Arabs” (who are not necessarily all Muslim anyway, but that’s another kettle of fish).

I watched the classic 80s film ‘Back to the Future’ with boychild last year: in one part Syrian terrorists attack them with machine guns. I don’t even remember that part from when I was a kid, but it must be there in my mind, in the department that society has created (is creating) under “all Muslims are… terrorists/evil/bloodthirsty/scary…”

Iron man has “bad Muslims” too….and there are SO many more examples. KIDS’ movies.

We talked about how Islamic/Muslim/generic Arabic people are portrayed in films, how it’s not like that in real life. Yes, there are a very small minority who become terrorists. There are crazy and desperate people in all cultures. I talk to him about cultural stereotypes, but they are still there, what can we do.

We are being groomed to hate these people. What annoys me most of all about this is its NOTHING to do with the actual people (families, workers, your average Joe in the street, like me, like you, just getting on with it) it’s about our governments and what they want.

How much easier to control people, to start wars if we are already primed to hate another “type” of person?

I actually SHUDDER to think and remember other points in history where nations were systematically brainwashed to hate one another. One word: genocide. We think it can’t happen. We cannot let it happen.

I hope Muslim parents, teachers and anyone with an open mind in Afghanistan, Irak, Syria or the UK, France and Germany (and the US) are teaching their children that “all westerners” or “all Europeans” are not bad and against them.

I wonder if their films and media industry are tirelessly portraying us as…as what…What would they show? Tanks and drones and bombs and troops? Would that be a fair representation of me, or you?

Since when has Islamophobia become a legitimate word? A word we recognise and use? Are we saying we are actually phobic of a religion?! Christiophobia, Judaiophobia, Buddophobia…seriously?

Why don’t we just call a spade a spade: racism, pure and simple.

*I use the terms Islamic, Muslim and Arabic interchangeably. I am concious NOT ALL Arabs are Muslims, and that Islam itself has varying minorities and communities, etc etc. Just sayin!

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/awaywego210/8488534221/”>AwayWeGo210</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Islamophobia: why has that even become a word?

Click Power

Each click makes a choice: I wonder what types of choices this internet user is making?
I wonder what choices this internet user is making? By sharing this image, have I just supported something I disagree with?

I have a friend who loves a sad story about kids, another who has a thing about the abuse of animals, me, well I seem to have a penchant for stories about disrespecting women.

Hang on, this sounds really weird, I hear you say, kind of sick.

Well, dear reader, I’m just reflecting on The Things We Click On.

Come on ‘fess up, we all do it. Not because we “like” sad stories, but because we can’t resist them. The sadder, more depressing, miserable and shocking ones get the most reads. Negativity is a magnet. We are like moths to a flame.

“Social services criticised over baby xyz case”

“Animals kept in inhumane conditions before slaughter”

“X% of women under 18 say they have been sexually assaulted”

These are he kinds of things that garner our attention.

Now, I’m sure many of you are up to date with the law of attraction: what we see, hear, read and think about tends to manifest in our lives.

What happens then when the whole world is reading things like this?

Buddhists say that we actually create our world with our thoughts. It’s very easy to see that we create the internet with our interests, and with our clicks.

With every click we make, search engines and data analytics pick up on who follows the links, how long we spend on the articles, where we click next. Things that are clicked on grow and grow. And that’s not even the things that are actually shared and go viral.

It’s like neural pathways in the brain: the more they are used, the smoother, faster and easier they will run. And the stronger they will get. That’s how the internet is, things that are clicked on grow in strength, come up faster in searches, become part of our collective consciousness.

I’m not saying we shouldnt be informed. It’s crucial to be informed and the internet is an amazing tool, allowing us to communicate with each other as never before and pull the mask off many powers that be, as well as activate change and exchange vital information.

But, it is part of reality, a plastic ever changing organic entity, and we all have the power to create what type of reality it is.

Just as we can be wise and noble with our thoughts, we can be conscious with our clicks. Because they count.

PS Thanks to Daniel for making his photo, entitled Click-click, free for use on the Creative Commons.

Click Power

Sweet, sweety, sweetalicious fun

I think nutrition is something most of us think about, worry about. At the moment it seems sugar (avoiding of) seems to be a hot topic. In my house we cook most of our food from scratch (avoids large amounts of hidden sugar), we allow the kids sweets once a week at the sweet shops (memory making, I think) and a free for all at parties (don’t want to make sweets “like diamonds”).

I also just let it roll that they eat sweets whenever offered really (banks, shops etc give them out here in Spain), plus the occasional treats when family are here, special occasions, or just ‘cos we feel like it. I try not to control, I think it almost always has the opposite effect in the long run.

But, of course I worry and I stress that I give them “too much” sugar. Sometimes it feels like there are endless birthdays and outings that involve large amounts of the sweet stuff which is, btw, more addictive than crack apparently. So I do talk to them about healthy balance. Sometimes we take a look at the food pyramid that’s pinned to our fridge and see, like a game, if they have had their portions of this and that for the day, usually it pans out more or less.

A talk about “treats”(!) and how we have them “from time to time” inspired this snippet from my switched-on 8 year old:

Me “Sugar … yada yada yada… empty calories etc…so, really in conclusion, sugar doesn’t give you anything, does it.”

Boychild “Well, yes it does, it gives you a nice taste.”

And that’s it really, absolutely true. It gives you a nice taste, actually let’s put this even better: it gives you an amazing, delicious, uplifting heavenly buzz on the tongue, its lovely, it makes you smile and your taste buds shimmer, yey!

And food, apart from food being The Building Blocks Of Life, and The Cornerstone Of Good Health, is also about pleasure, enjoyment…and just (GASP!) tasting nice.

Whats’ wrong with that?

Sugar is not toxic, it is not evil. It is food that brings pleasure, and when taken in ‘normal’ amounts is fun and tasty.

Pass the cake please!

 

 

 

Sweet, sweety, sweetalicious fun

Safe from harm

I have this weird thing, this weird feeling every time a close friend approaches her due date. It’s a kind of excited but fretting feeling, watching her prepare for the (lets face it) unknown realm of birth and postpartum… we have all been there, it’s like trying to pack for a surprise holiday with no idea how long you will be there, what the weather will be like, or if the locals will be friendly.

The apprehension felt is totally subjective if you are already a mum. It’s either “I hope it goes as well as…” or “I hope it’s not as bad as…”.

I have been both of the above. After my first child (homebirth, empowering, very whole experience. Postpartum: like being on the best drug in the world, pure heaven!) I was keen to ‘help’ friends to have the same. I advised, spoke about natural birth, baby bonding, breastfeeding, I tried to help. It was about wanting to share a good experience, to share the love. (This of course didn’t always work out and in one instance that plus my intrusive full on breastfeeding “support” left a friendship in tatters).

After my second birth (homebirth, exhausting, defeating, hollowing. Postpartum: unravelling, slight PPD) I wanted to help people to avoid this experience. So all my pregnant friends got the warnings and advice about how to handle the second time round, as if they hadn’t heard enough moaning already.

I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to protect them at all costs. (In fact, I wrote about it a few years ago here). I wished that what had happened to me would not happen to my friends. Around due dates I would get really jumpy and overinvolved (just for the record…sorry!) and also in the postpartum…I didn’t know if I should call, or stay away. Sometimes it even brought on flashbacks of the hard times I had been through, quite painful.

I wanted to support them and protect them from their possible pain….as if, even if I could (oh, the lofty ideals), that that would be desirable…

Yes, pain hurts, but pain makes you grow as well. My second experience was tough, but it shifted emotions and feelings in me and forced me to grow in ways I will always be grateful for. Imagine if someone had cushioned me from that experience (how?), I wouldn’t be the same person I am today…

Even if it hurts, we get through, and we grow, and we all have a right to own that and walk it for ourselves.

I’m writing this with someone in mind, you know who you are. May your impending birth be empowering in it’s delight but also in its sorrow, for birth is the ultimate portal through which we have the privilege of higher knowledge. And really, I wouldn’t want to take that away from you, even if it hurts.

(PS. For the record I have 3 kids. Number 3 birth was also at home: self directed, delightful, enjoyable (not quite orgasmic, but I can believe it!), satisfying, fast, healing, and a family affair witnessed by number 1&2). Postpartum: completing, whirlwind, precious, enjoyable, busy!)

 

 

 

 

 

Safe from harm

Inclusive parenting

There are so many ways to be a good parent, so many ways to get it “right” (or right enough), and while many of these ways may be different, even contradictory, they are all equally valid.

I want to focus on this point of view rather than the usual ‘this way is the right way’ rhetoric. I feel that we have got to a point where there is a standoff between what may be called ‘routine’ or ‘traditional’ parenting, and ‘alternative’ or ‘attachment’ parenting. When did we start to put ourselves on one side of the parenting fence or another? Is there really a need for there to be a ‘fence’ at all?

I think parents as a community could think much more about the ‘many ways to be right theory’. After all, we want to live in a society were we can all be different but equal, and equally accepted. Why shouldn’t it be thus whilst raising our kids?

Therefore I propose that whether you birthed at home or at hospital, bottle, or breastfed, cried it out or bed-shared, made the baby food or bought it, carried your baby in a sling or a buggy, wherever the hell you schooled your kids, whatever childcare arrangements you made, whatever you do and did was simply one of the many right ways to do it. Enough with the polarised views, up with supporting the myriad of choices.

Far from being stressful, it can be an exciting and enriching exercise to look at all these different perspectives and ways of doing things. We don’t need to have to the upper hand, to compare against our own experiences, in actual fact there is no competition, just observed difference. We can all be happy knowing that we ‘did it right’ even when we did it differently to someone else, because there are so many right ways to do it right.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be concerned about your children and how you raise them. I’m saying that most parents are concerned, very much so, just concerned in different ways about different things…and that is ok. Kids can turn out pretty much ok in pretty much most circumstances. So let’s take a journey looking at life through the lens of inclusiveness, observing even celebrating different approaches, and creating a compassionate view of our own and others’ parenting journey.

Inclusive parenting