Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Holidays with Children

This summer I experienced my first family holiday with a toddler. I've seen pictures of my childhood holidays and it always looks like we were having fun, so I wanted to make sure my child experienced some of the same. We chose to go to Lundy, my husband had been once before and said it was a quiet and relaxing place. I'm not sure anywhere is completely quiet or relaxing once you have a child with you, but Lundy was certainly a nice break from the everyday. We live in a busy area, which is great in many ways, we are never short of things to do, but it was nice to go somewhere where we could all slow down a bit.

And we did slow down, stopping at puddles and to point at sheep, stopping so I could photograph flowers, reading books when Merry was in bed. I think I read three books! That's more than I'd read since she was born, Rich even read some of his book too and he's carried on since we've been back.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that holidaying with children is never going to be the same as holidaying as a couple, but you can relax, you will have fun. It does require slightly more organisation and preparation but once you are there, it's fantastic.

Now we have to decide where to go next...

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

One Day Young - Portraits by Jenny Lewis and why they are making me RAGE.

A couple of months ago I came across some portraits by a photographer who had decided to photograph women and their newborn babies one day after the birth. I was interested, I wanted to relate to these women, but on looking at the images, I found that I couldn't.

Not all of the women were immaculately dressed, some of them looked a little tired, but they were all at home, with their unblemished bundles, and none of them looked bedridden.

Xanthe and Louie - By Jenny Lewis

As a mother, I look with interest at artwork depicting motherhood, but the problem I have with these photos is that they have excluded a vast amount of mothers with valid birth experiences. They don't show the C section mother, the mother that is without her newborn because it is stuck in an SCBU, the mother who is still in hospital following other complications, the mother of a premature baby.

I decided to write about this because I today saw an article about the photographs (and book) in Oh Comely magazine, whos demographic is young women. These photographs will be seen by young women who do not yet have children and they will show a reality that is unachievable for many women. By only showing women who were lucky enough to have a good birth experience and be home within 24 hours they glamorise birth and make it appear easy. Yes it may be easy for some women, but many women, especially first time mothers, experience complications.

 Nicola and Jemima

I may be sensitive due to my own experiences of birth and recovery, but I can guarantee I am not the only one. When will we start to see images and programmes which show a range of motherhood experiences, rather than one extreme or the other? On one side of the scale we have these beautiful, well lit images of women at home with their babies, on the other side we have programmes like One Born Every Minute, with hospital beds and bright lights and epidurals. When will we see that there is a huge range of experiences?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

To my Facebook Friends

I don't need to tell you I've had a baby, by now you know. Unless you blocked my updates whilst I was pregnant of course.

Yes, I've had a baby and my life has changed. I post pictures of her and write status updates about things we've done together, new things she's learned to do and ways in which she compares to bringing up a kitten. Something I did the year previous to becoming a mother.

You may think that becoming a mother has changed me for the worse, some of you may even have commented on it. All I write about is her! Who have I become? I'm one of those mothers. Before long I'll have a whole hoard of children and I will have become a shell of my former self. You pity me. Whilst you are out having a life, drinking, working, having political opinions about things which don't involve children, I'm at home, in my pajamas, changing 100's of nappies a day, cleaning up spaghetti (because let's face it, it's always spaghetti), sobbing into my cereal at what my life has become and staring lovingly at my snot covered parasite.

Actually no. That's not what I'm doing. Believe it or not, my life rarely involves cleaning up spaghetti. 

I do have opinions, I've always had opinions. Becoming a parent has not stopped me having opinions, it has only widened the range of opinions that I have. I rarely post anything political or overly opinionated on Facebook, because I know a variety of people, some of whom would agree with me and some of whom would disagree and I don't need to have arguments over the internet, because it is difficult to come across well using text and I don't seek to get involved in internet 'dramaz' on my facebook profile. Having a child has not made me less political or opinionated. I didn't post those things before and I don't post them now. Maybe having a child has given me a little less time to waffle on and waste my time posting rubbish, but that's it. It hasn't stopped me from signing petitions, writing to MP's or being angry about things. If anything, bringing up a baby has given me more things to fight for and be angry about. I just don't post it all on Facebook and when I do, it tends to be in closed or secret groups.

Having a baby has made me feel empowered. I do not feel a shell of my former self, or that my life has been taken over. I am busy, yes. Looking after a baby takes up about 80% of my time, but that only makes me feel that the other 20% of my time is more precious and worthwhile. I write, I paint, I cook, I learn new things. I meet new people. I have as much as a life as I had before if not more.

I do post pictures of my child yes. It's because bringing up my baby is what I am doing right now. Just like when I was at University I wrote about that and no doubt posted some shots of nights out and student goings on. Now my life is about my baby and I want to share what she has taught me, what a wonderful awe inspiring person I am seeing growing up and what a life changing experience I am having, and dear Facebook Friends, if you are not interested then you can stop following my posts, you can delete me, you can scroll past and ignore me, but please don't pity me, because I've never felt so empowered. 

I'm a mother, yes, but I'm still a person.