Monday, April 29, 2013

Politically correct?

I had the most bizzare conversation with my mother yesterday. I was sounding off a bit about how difficult I find some things when it comes to the split of domestic duties between myself and my husband. We, husband and I, had just finished a little bit of a row started by me when I began stressing over having to do ironing with the toddler at my feet, when my mother turned up early to take me to lunch. Exasperated I asked her how on earth she coped with three small children and if my dad had been much help. Her reply was 'I didn't' followed by her telling me that dad was useless and she did everything and had for years just decided it was easier to do things 'for myself' than stress out about him not doing them. She then went on to question if perhaps I was 'more concerned with being politically correct than finding solutions' and then said she was a bit worried that my marriage won't last the way it is going and that is why she divorced my dad.

I am still shocked by her attitude. Shocked because it seems such a step backward and also because it's not something I ever thought would come from my mother's mouth.

I am trying to get this straight. She couldn't stand my dad's inability to share the load of childcare and housework but was fed up with having continual battles about it so decided to just do everything for herself = they ended up getting divorced anyway. (I know the reality is different, there was a lot more than the housework contributing to the demise of my parent's relationship).

My situation: Get irritated by having to do more than half the childcare (washing clothes, ironing etc) and housework (This is something my husband agrees I do more of) so I continually get upset by it but try to talk to husband about how he could help more = us having arguments = vicious circle = us divorcing?

I tried to explain to my mum that I thought wanting to be able to share tasks equally between myself and my spouse wasn't politically correct it being the 21st century and everything. That what she was suggesting was for me to basically surrender myself to the idea that no amount of conversations about the unfairness of it would help and I may as well get on and keep doing the bulk of it.

Now - I absolutely do accept that my attitude often stinks, I can be a right old horrible moaning cow and I take things out on my husband in an unfair way. I can be snappy and I can be rude and I have the most almighty strops where I bash and clatter inanimate objects and make my husband feel like shit. I hate that this is the way I respond to stressful situations and I really am trying to stop these behaviours. I am tired though, and I am easily irritated when I feel like promises made are never really going to happen ("I'll do that later" for example). For more than 2 years I probably haven't had any longer than 3 hours unbroken sleep, four at a push. I am basically an irritable rat-bag. Yet I still don't see why I should just roll over and accept that the other adult sharing my home is going to consistantly let me do the bulk of the housework and childcare and I am definitely not going to accept that I am being 'too politically correct' or that this 'political correctness' is going to be the reason for my marriage breaking down!

As this goes on I do start to wonder (Having friends in similar situations) if this is a default male position. They just do less, or they know that eventually they will just be allowed to get away with doing less. How often have I and my friends heard a man say 'well, you just need to tell me what I need to do'? It seems to be a common phrase in arguments about housework, that men can't 'see' what needs to be done and then 'need' to be told because they are so useless that they just don't notice the mess we can see or the jobs we think need doing. My thoughts are always why should it be women who have to run around after men reminding them or instructing them? I know not all men are like this but I hear it over and over. I have also read that there is nothing more off-putting than a person who refuses to do tasks that he/she feels are beneath them but who has no qualms about letting another person do them instead. It's an unattractive trait.

I don't think my need to be seen as an equal domestically is going to lead to a divorce, and nor do I think I should just give in and 'do it for myself'. Not if it means that really I am doing it for everyone else and not even getting any satisfaction or reward for it. Maybe I should join those who pay someone else to do the jobs they deem beneath them and get a cleaner? While they may not enjoy it (And there's nowt so queer as folk) but at least they will be getting rewarded. I just have to make sure they are rewarded from both mine and my husband's pay!

This made me chuckle:

Perhaps the reason why I am so shocked is because I thought my mum was a feminist. When I think about it though, I am not sure if I am right. Is she? Was she ever? Where did I get the idea that she was? Since I was about 8 or 9 she has been in education or in work, she raised three children while working a full time job as a social worker, she has been divorced since I was 20ish, though in a long-term relationship for around 20 more years. We were definitely raised to believe that women are equal to men, even if that wasn't the example we were being set. I have discovered in recent years that my mum was completely unaware how much my dad was earning when we were teenagers, they (like me and my husband) had separate bank accounts and from what she says she spent a lot of her own salary providing for us kids when my dad just didn't - at least not until after a lot of persuasion. We were very poor, even when my parents had full-time professional jobs. My mum did most of the... well, most of everything I guess. The cleaning, the cooking and so on though I also remember that we were all pretty well trained to take care of ourselves by the time we were teenagers. Up until I was 8 or 9 my mum was a stay at home mum so I always assumed that this was an arrangement she and my dad had come to between themselves. Maybe it was just circumstance and maybe even back then my dad kept his salary (Though he was unemployed a lot) to himself? I need to ask her more questions about all this really but I don't want us to have a big falling out or a big issue between us. I would just like to understand what was going on with her that has made her come out with the kind of thing she did the other day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

...Really worth remembering - Professor Robert Edwards

With all the hoo-hah about Margaret Thatcher dying and having a state funeral and people dancing on her grave I forgot to mention that someone very special died recently. Professor Robert Edwards was a pioneer in fertility treatment and without his work I would not have my son today.

Naturally his death has meant a lot of discussion about IVF and fertility. I have written about this before but am always so fed up when people call in to radio shows to bleat on about why the infertile should adopt. Such utter uneducated rubbish is trotted out. Worse are those people who call in to say that IVF is an abomination because embryos are destroyed during the process. There are some truly stupid people around.

I wanted to write a bit about the process. IVF itself, as in the sperm meeting the egg bit (the bit that people think is an abomination), is really just like natural conception only it is done outside of the body. Once you are pregnant it is no different to a natural pregnancy, in labour you are no different to any other woman in labour, once the baby is born he or she is no different to any other baby. The hard bit is the getting the egg in the first place. I don't know if I was just lucky or if I am particularly hardy but I didn't find the treatment terribly invasive or hard. Maybe it was because I wanted it so badly or because I knew I was only going to get one shot at it? Though I am sure EVERY couple going through it must want it so badly so I guess I was just very lucky. Yes, the injections did become tiresome and yes, I did get some side effects like bloating and ovary pains but I rarely felt sick and soon became an expert at the injections. I think by the time I got to the egg collection I was so far through the process and so resigned to it that I let it happen to me and stopped worrying so much. The hard bit was over, now I just had to wait to see if it had worked. of course, because it did work I didn't get the tougher bit many couples experience when it fails. I am truly grateful to science, although in general I have no interest in science at all.

For all those people who think there is something futuristic and frankenstien about fertilising an egg outside of the womb I would just like to say that although it is not the 'natural' way of doing it, it still manages to create normal babies just like babies born through the luck of natural conception. IVF children are not freaks of nature, they don't go through life experiencing anything differently to the millons of babies born the natural way. They are not an abomination. The conception part of a baby's begining is such a very small part of their history; my son still spent weeks growing inside me, nourished by me, cared for by me. He wasn't in a test-tube in some holding area waiting until the nine months was up. He came out the normal way too, as did his cousin. Also, when you are carrying an IVF baby you don't spend 9 months thinking of him/her as an 'ivf baby' - IVF is the means to an end and while of course you feel so lucky to have been successful you don't spend 9 months referring to your 'ivf baby' - it is just a baby, just a pregnancy, just a labour. We love our children just the same as other parents love theirs. Maybe sometimes we think 'I am so lucky' when we are staring down at their soft heads as they feed or watch them sleeping or when they run up to you and throw their arms around you. So lucky to have had the chance to experience being a parent, so lucky to have been successful. Doesn't every parent think that too?

My son will know that he was born through IVF, he will learn that children are made in different ways and some parents need more help than others; he will probably know he is an 'IVF baby' long before he knows the 'facts' of life. Bottom line is that his fact of life is going to be different to some other facts of life and I am glad.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Maggie Maggie Maggie, gone gone gone!

As it says, Margaret Thatcher is dead. In her 80s and suffering with dementia in her later years, she died this morning. When I heard my first reaction was arms in the air and a big 'Whooop' followed by a little bit of a guilty feeling for celebrating the death of someone's mother. I am a mother and my own father is dead so these days I do wince a bit from public celebrations of public deaths. However now that the news has been broken and my friends have all commented on their facebook pages and so on I am starting to think that a great big street party might be in order.

I guess what has changed my mind from thinking we need to be respectful to wanting to dance on her grave is the amount of tributes that have been paid in the media; the people citing her as a great politician and the incredible announcement that she will have a ceremonial funeral. Really? Paid for by who? Why? Does this mean that when Tony Blair goes, or John Major, will they get a ceremonial funeral? How much of a step-down is this from a State funeral?

Apparently there are areas of the country where the pubs are filling up with people celebrating her death. Places like the Welsh Valleys, Scotland, Yorkshire - basically anywhere north of London; the parts of the country that were decimated in the late 70s and 80s as a direct result of policies brought in by the Thatcher Government. Now I can understand why these people have a perfect right to throw their hands in the air and 'Whoooop'. I get it. As a 43 year old I am just young enough to have missed being that involved in her election but am old enough to have known about the 'milk snatcher' and the 'out out out', old enough to have protested about nursing cuts, closure of coal mines, the falklands, and nuclear power.

this is always a good thing to watch to remind yourself why she was such a horror.