Sunday, May 12, 2013

When you're a boy...on Mother's Day

I’d begun writing about Mothers Day last week, as if to psyche myself into the inevitable choice on the day of either brazening it out in the world on my own or cowardly retreat instead.

But today I’ve been diverted, by David Bowie no less, and realised when you’re a boy – Mother’s Day is no biggie.

And David, while you’re about it – when you’re a boy:

You don’t have to form your own Women in Science group at work.
You don’t have to justify why white men just like you are always the best candidate for the job.
You don’t consider it's offensive to call a woman in her early 30’s an "older women" and think it’s actually a pick up line…

But that was last night’s delightful dinner conversation (and thanks M for not being offended by being the token male and bearing the brunt of it!)

So, if I was a boy I doubt I would have written the following in the lead up to Mothering Sunday (or the day that launched a thousand unwanted foot spas, as I like to think of it).

For the past two decades I’ve hated Mother’s Day.

Going forth into the world solo on such a day I feel more of a square barren peg in a round fecund hole than usual.

Public spaces are populated by family groups, the movie queues snake with mothers accompanied by dutiful offspring and forget about catching up with a friend for Sunday lunch, even if they’re free of family duties, finding a table it tough. 

But something changed last year. My mother died. The first mother-less Mother’s Day approached. I cringed, fearing an onslaught of grief, and waited.


Somehow Mother’s Day became oddly sanitized. No longer did it memorialise my own lack of being a mother or living in a country without my family of origin, but a day when I was no longer mothered.

Two negatives really can make a positive

The world is full of mothers and children regardless of the date. I’ve reached the twilight zone where I’m mother-less on either end of the axis. Somehow the sadness from both directions has cancelled out the bulk of the pain.

...and if all else fails today, I'll think like a boy and get over myself.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

ABC Lifematters, Shelly Horton and childfree by choice

Excellent discussion last Friday on ABC Radio National's morning show Life Matters. You can currently listen to the podcast and read the comments on the show's site.

One of the interviewees was journalist Shelly Horton, discussing an article she published in 2011 "Childless by Choice".

If pressed on the subject I retort:''Did you 'just know' you wanted to be a mother? Well I 'just know' I don't''. I'm sure there are other women who feel the same way as me but don't speak up.

I've now travelled to 47 countries. Is that bragging? Yep. Is telling me your son was voted class captain bragging? You betcha. Is one worth more than the other? I don't think so. 

I feel like I have to apologise for my choice. Reassure people I don't lack compassion. I give to charity, I donate blood, I've offered to donate my eggs to a girlfriend and I'm in the process of creating a mentoring group for young female journalists. It upsets me that my choice seems to disappoint people. I don't want people to think I'm selfish. I'd just like my choice to be respected. 

One of the positive surprises related to the article is that Horton mentioned of the hundreds of comments, only one was negative (similar to the experience we've had at this site).

The program's presenter Natasha Mitchell made the point that according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics one in four Australian adults live on their own. Single occupancy houses are on the rise, while the nuclear family continues to show signs of decline. Mitchell commented that with the upcoming election she expects this rising demographic to be ignored by politicians once more, with tax cuts and other voting ploys being targeted at families.

If you're part of this new demographic, what message would you like to give to the political parties. Should they continue to only encourage those who choose to breed and ignore the tax payers who remain childfree?

Update March 2013: Horton's revised and reprised her article on this theme in the Fairfax media. No Baby on Board is a good read for the childfree, childless and parents alike. As always, the comments   are as meaty as the article.