Waiting for Agnes

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Oh, how we laughed! August 3, 2010

I am a little bit stubborn. Well, mule-like could be more accurate. When I’m in the mood I will argue the toss for the sake of it, baselessly insist on being right on topics about which I know nothing and resist suggestion until I can work out a way to do it so that it looks like it was my idea in the first place. Obviously I am going to get a real kick out of arbitrary, blanket rules being proclaimed by experts, celebrities, politicians, or just about anyone.

Things that have been giving me a giggle this week:

Gisele Bundchen declaring that there should be a world-wide law making mothers breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I think breastfeeding is excellent, nourishing, nurturing, life-saving in areas of contaminated water supply, it bolsters the health of women and babies and can even be fun. From a thoroughly personal perspective, I often have trouble understanding why more people don’t do it purely on the grounds that it’s free and portable and no-one has to do the washing up afterwards. I can also attest to breastmilk being useful if you need to soothe a jellyfish sting, amongst other medicinal boons. Should we do more to support women who want to breastfeed? Yes, unequivocally. Should it be mandated? Not on your nelly. Hilariously, the poll attached to this story is currently showing the following results in response to the prompting to ‘Rate Gisele Bundchen’s Call’ – 29% say Excellent in an ideal world, 43% say Daft if the mother is unable to breastfeed and a mere 27% say Up to the mother. Seriously? Now I know the Brisbane Times and its readership aren’t necessarily representative of, say, the world. But over 5000 people have already responded to this poll and the majority are more concerned about women’s potential breastfeeding abilities than their freedom of choice.

Sadie at Jezebel critiquing Maia¬†at Feministe on child-free spaces. Many, many people have responded at length to this article. Many people writing about how they shouldn’t have to be made uncomfortable by other people’s noisy spawn cluttering up bars and R rated movies. Some, generously, commenting on how it’s not their smallness and youngness, but their behaviour that is the reason for excluding them. Some defensively stating that they don’t and shouldn’t have to like children. Some just bitching about Maia and her writing. But mainly a whole lot of whining about being made to feel uncomfortable. Since when did we all become entitled to feel comfortable all the time? There are many sources of discomfort in this world and they’re not all under eighteen.

Dr Wootan via drmomma at peaceful parenting. I’m all for attachment parenting. I love reading about it, talking about it and practicing it on the small person… that is I like the bits I like and I don’t bother with the bits that I don’t. I don’t see it as a program that I’ve signed up for, or a contract that I’m obligated to fulfill in its entirety. I used it as a starting place, from where myself and my partner could develop our own parenting style. I don’t think it should be yet another source of angst and guilt, or another weapon for parents to hit themselves and other parents over the head with. Talking over mugs of tea this morning with my friend, mother of M and her smaller sister L, I described Dr Wootan’s proposal that no mother should leave her child’s side until they are three unless the child is asleep. She just looked at L, who is almost three and alternates between being incredibly sweet and grittily defiant. As we watch her she is trying to upside-down herself onto a rocking horse and ride it into the wall, whilst simultaneously eating her body weight in mandarines. ‘Oh no’ she said, ‘you’ve gotta have a break from that’. We had a good laugh and peeled a few more mandarines. And for us it is true. We love our children dearly but we also love being able to step away for a moment, for whatever reason, even if our children are awake at the time.