Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.
Today Ani* brought me back.
*Ani difranco (musician/ poet/ songwriter/ producer/ women's activist/ mother)
Lately I have been wanting to write another blog post. I used to do a lot of personal journal and poetry writing, but it was for my eyes only and not public - and so blogging is still a strange concept that I am coming to terms with ( which is why 99% of the posts in this blog are from Oli and not me!) - I also think it odd that someone would want to read my thoughts -but In the spirit of International Women's Day that was earlier this week - it seems fitting to blog now while i am inspired by Ani's lyrics.
Normally I hate to admit that I am tired or "not coping"; however this past week Kai and I have been sick with a cold and it has drained me totally. I feel as Kai's mother, caring for him without pause should come with effortless ease. I still fall victim to the stereotype that I can be a "wonder-woman" -functioning on little to no sleep or food, catering to his every need with limitless patience, (regardless of how demanding he is), yet still looking youthful, still making time for myself, and for friends. whilst staying in "control" 24/7.
Even as a write this I realise that to someone in my shoes, I would give the advice that to be a good mother, you need to make time for yourself, because if you burn out - you cannot support anyone - including your child.
I realise that my own mother is one of these "wonder-women", as so is my sister; but this week my sister ended up in hospital from severe burn out. She is a mother to a two year old, and one of the strongest and most hardworking women I know ( head of a large stockbroking firm, travels all around the world). Yet, I got a call to say she collapsed at the beginning of this week. Naturally everyone was echoing the same thoughts, "a high power job is not worth it, you need to slow down and take care of yourself", you will leave your son without a mother if you don't stop working so hard" -and so on.
The irony is I give her advice I do not take.
I am scared to slow down myself, even though I have been feeling exhausted. However since the beginning of 2011, there have been a series of events that have forced me to admit how tired I actually am -to myself and to Oli.
People also have noticed I am not myself. I also have lessening patience for Kai, I have started forgetting things more and more, (like leaving my EC card in the cash machine, losing wallets and handbags etc)
I also have been losing a sense of who I am, as an individual. Kai has been extra demanding -whilst sick he has been breastfeeding even more, not wanting to be put down - needing the extra comfort -and I feel I have lost my body and my sense of self -over to him.
I needed a jolt to bring me back to the fact that whilst I am a mother and nurturer first and foremost, - there are so many other aspects that make up who I am as an individual.
With his first birthday approaching, I realise that I have not been physically apart from Kai in a year. ( a year and eight months if you count pregnancy!)
Since the moment he was born, I have ' worn' him on me, (either in a sling or carrier) ( my pram comes in handy for groceries),I have breastfed him every few hours ( which he actually still does now).
I have taken him from a baby into a fast paced and cheeky little boy. I know this amount of constant contact to some mothers is strange, (just as to followers of attachment parenting - it is the norm.) - however I have just done what felt natural to me. Which included to co sleep, to let him self wean, to sleep on demand and not to a routine, and to breastfeed him at least until he turned one and beyond if he wanted it.
However it has been a bigger journey than I describe.
what I do not want to be the type of parent that "measures" and weighs up the pros and cons of being a parent, or measures how much they have lost or sacrificed in order to raise their child and yet I seem to be doing that. I do not want to be the parent that whines about how tired they are all the time, or how their baby is so demanding, ( babies ARE totally dependent and needy by definition) and yet I have been doing that too -and I know it is only because I have not taken my own advice, and have let myself get too exhausted.
This exhaustion is temporary and I also realise that it is healthy for Kai to have distance from me, to spend more increasing time alone, and at his own pace - learn his own independence...but perhaps that is a blog for another time..
Finally - in light of justifying this post a little further - I have reasoned that I am sharing Ani with more women and men- who can be inspired by her.
I have been empowered by all her work, since I was a teenager, her work never fails me. Luckily tonight Ani managed to sing me into a new state of perspective.
"My IQ" - Ani Difrano
When I was four years old They tried to test my I.Q. They showed me a picture of 3 oranges and a pear They said, which one is different? It does not belong They taught me different is wrong But when I was 13 years old I woke up one morning Thighs covered in blood Like a war Like a warning That I live in a breakable takeable body An ever-increasingly valuable body That a woman had come in the night to replace me Deface me See, my body is borrowed Yeah, I got it on loan For the time in between my mom and some maggots I don't need anyone to hold me I can hold my own I got highways for stretchmarks See where I've grown I sing sometimes Like my life is at stake 'Cause you're only as loud As the noises you make I'm learning to laugh as hard As I can listen 'Cause silence Is violence In women and poor people If more people were screaming then I could relax But a good brain ain't diddley If you don't have the facts We live in a breakable takeable world An ever available possible world And we can make music Like we can make do Genius is in a back beat Backseat to nothing if you're dancing Especially something stupid Like I.Q. For every lie I unlearn I learn something new I sing sometimes for the war that I fight 'Cause every tool is a weapon - If you hold it right.