Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Winter Staycation

Our winter holiday has come to an end. This time my plan was to have a good rest. We’ve mostly stayed home, resting. Perhaps a little too much. Our meals have become haphazard and slap dash. We remind each other to change out of our pyjamas if someone is coming over to visit. We remind each other to wash. Some days, that has taken all day.

Last term we had a few bouts of illness. The kids were each sick twice, in turn. I started last term with a bad back and ended with an infection that took three courses of antibiotics to get rid of (if it has in fact been cleared). Banjo has been doing bladder training. We’ve just been looking after our bodies. Haircuts and teeth. Back to basics.

Because it has been a break from school and uni I have been aware that this has been my chance to attend to a few jobs. We’ve been decluttering and cleaning. We’ve been making crafts to sell at the school fete. And I’ve read some books (that aren’t textbooks!).

I’ve been nodding my head in agreement at the two books I’ve read: Night Waking by Sarah Moss and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

Night Waking is about a family who is staying on a fictional island on the west coast of Scotland. The mother is an academic who is supposed to finishing her book on childhood in Victorian Britain, but whose partner is studying puffins on the island, leaving her manage the children, a night waking toddler and a son who worries more about global problems than is healthy (and probably has Asperger’s). There is much whinging about motherhood, much about the history of raising children, issues of class and the environment, and someincidental tips on academic writing. I enjoyed reading this, but I wonder how women stay married after writing such a scathing account of parenting with a constantly criticised male partner.

How to be a Woman is part memoir, part rant on the current state of feminism by UK columnist (I didn’t know who she was until I read the book) Caitlin Moran, whose photograph on the cover is part muppet, part Munster (and she wouldn’t mind me saying that.) I can identify with her childhood (large family), and most of the cultural references. Her take on feminism has three main points. You can call out sexism as rudeness. If the men aren’t doing it, why are women? And we can deal with feminine expectations by shrugging them off or laughing. Say no to wearing high heels, to Brazilians and cosmetic surgery, to g strings and trashy gossip mags. Say yes to women being funny. She talks about a few issues that are rarely addressed:masturbation, the joy of having a hairy muff, and abortion when already a mother (now there’s a topic no-one mentioned in the reviews - scares people off!).

We’ve had two little events to punctuate the holiday (because it is so sad when the children have to write about their weekend, and the highlight is going to the laundromat). Banjo celebrated her 7th birthday with a Pippi Longstocking afternoon tea, and we saw the musical Mary Poppins. The first big show for Clancy and Banjo. I’d say half the audience at the matinee we attended were children. Very lucky, affluent children.

So now, back to the madness of middle class mothering. My routine includes two school drop-offs most mornings, going to the gym, and studying. It’s going to a busy term - the children have lots of performances to prepare, there is a lot going on at school this term. And also this week, back to the doctor (my hip has been hurting for months, and lets see how that infection is faring) and, at the first opportunity, seeing Harry Potter. Can’t wait to see how the story is finished, and what is left out - because there just isn’t enough time to finish telling that story. And as much as the children would love to see the movie, we're holding fast to the ratings on this, and agreed they can watch the PG version when it appears on tv instead. All in good time.

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