How much equality is there in raising a child? A Women’s Day ramble

burning-bra Yesterday was Women’s Day in South Africa, which means today is our day off from work. I often laugh at the public holidays in South Africa, but I sort of like Women’s Day. Okay, I hate all the marketing that goes along with it, and the fact that one day has become an entire month, but it’s nice to see women celebrated. There is so much that women do, that women are expected to do, and even the most staunch feminists among us fall into that trap. And I can feel myself doing it.

Being pregnant has made me think about these things a lot more. How will I raise my son/daughter? How will I teach him/her about gender, about how to exist in society, about how to be his or her own person and not cave to social norms? I am very happy to have a husband who appreciates me, who treats me with respect, who loves me completely and is totally supportive of all my endeavors. However, I wonder if even he will fall into the same gender traps.

Sure, I know that he will be an active part of our kid’s life. He will change diapers, watch the baby so I can go for a long shower or bath, or maybe even take care of things to give me a night off.  But I wonder what the balance will be. I plan on breast feeding and expressing so that he can also help with feeding, but I wonder what the proportion will be of boob and bottle. I am fairly confident that he will watch the munchkin so I can attend events or have a “night off”, but how many nights off will he have in a week? It’s not me being resentful of him or questioning priorities. It just seems to me that even the most empowered women I know seem to do more of the childcare than their husbands.

So, how much equality is there, really? I work from home, which means that in theory I should be able to look after the little one and still continue working. But how will that actually work – I already see my work not taken as seriously as his because I can do mine in slippers and pajamas. Will that only get worse once a baby is in the picture? Will it also mean that I can do nighttime feedings alone because “at least I’m at home all day”? The assumptions just seem to spiral out in my head and get me rather nervous.

Plus there’s that big question – what sort of feminist would I be if I DID take on the lion’s share of raising the child? What sort of feminist would I be if I did sacrifice more of my career to raise this child than my husband will? Is this yet another reason that I’m a bad feminist, or is it just the reality of life that someone needs to make time to take care of a baby and it’s simply more cost effective for it to be me? Also, supposedly mothers “just know” what their babies need – food, rest, a nappy change – so won’t it also be “easier” for me to just do it, even if that flies in the face of gender equality?

On saying and doing “the right thing”

me and deanI have only been publicly pregnant for a couple weeks now, but one thing has already become abundantly clear – everyone thinks that they know more than me. More than me about parenting, about being pregnant, and about all the things that I should or shouldn’t be doing.

Okay, not everyone. And some people really do know more than us and can offer some helpful advice and ideas. But mostly… wow. I get strange looks when buying my husband his tobacco, and even stranger looks when buying beer and wine for the house. I have people questioning if I’m allowed to eat this or that, or straight up telling me that I shouldn’t. I’ve been advised to adopt all kinds of radical diets, to read up on the dangers of vaccination, and that certain decisions that Dean and I have made simply aren’t right, especially keeping our cats who are apparently going to smother the baby.

"But mommy, I'm your baby!"
“But mommy, I’m your baby!”

The best advice I’ve gotten has been from a few moms: in the end, ignore everyone and just do things however feels right for me and Dean. So that’s what I’m doing.

Yes, I’ve been eating sushi and camembert. I also occasionally have a small splash of white wine in my sparkling water or a sip of Dean’s beer if it’s a nice Kilkenny. I plan to swear in front of my child and promote gender equality in all forms, even if it means fighting for his or her right to wear a school uniform normally reserved for a different gender. I also plan on teaching my kid about all things gaming and tech and want Dean to teach him or her the basics of coding from an early age. You can think I’m an idiot, I think plenty of people are, but this is what feels right and so that’s what I’m doing.

And sometimes, it feels like a horribly lonely experience. Dean isn’t known for saying anything right – it’s something we often joke about. He does things right and looks after me so well and makes me incredibly happy, but he simply doesn’t say the things I want to hear when I ask him for it. But the other night, he said exactly the right thing at the perfect time.

I was getting changed and feeling overwhelmed by a new discomfort in my stomach after eating. My boobs were sore, my stomach was uncomfortable and I was fighting a headache without the help of any pain meds. It was not a good moment for me. And after being tough all day and pushing through, I stood there in our bedroom, naked, and I started making those pre-crying whimpering sounds.

Dean came in and asked what was wrong and I told him. He held me close, giving me a huge hug and simply said, “I know this sucks right now, and it’s going to be shitty for a while. But you’re not alone, we’re doing this together.”

And suddenly I remembered that we had planned this together, that we are an unbeatable team and could get through anything. Of course I then had to fight him off from trying to manhandle my nipples (he takes his “training for breast feeding” job incredibly seriously), but I felt so much better just knowing that I won’t have to do any of this alone, no matter how it feels some days. I have an incredible husband to help me, as well as wonderful friends and family who really are full of the best intentions and some really great advice, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

 

 

Is this all worth it? A first time pregnant fear

someecard pregnancy

I am growing a human. As I type this, there is a tiny creature inside me, leeching off of my energy, my nutrients, my wellbeing. No, I haven’t felt miserable throughout my pregnancy; for the most part I’ve been able to carry on doing things that I enjoy, except for eating dinner. But I do occasionally suffer from crazy mood swings, and when my awful but normal migraines come, I’m not allowed to take my awesome narcotic painkillers to make them go away. It’s tough but not horrible and I’m getting through. I just have this niggling worry.

Is this all worthwhile? People say parenthood is like nothing else you can experience in life, that motherhood is amazing and that the love I will feel for the little thing growing inside me simply doesn’t compare to any other kind of love. I’ve felt it in small moments – seeing the little legs kicking on the ultrasound, or that moment when I realized that one day a little human is going to call me mommy. But then those moments pass and I just feel gassy and queasy and not quite myself.

I keep telling myself that it will all be worthwhile, that the love I will feel when little Harley or Mason is born will make me forget all about this time. But then I realize that the first few months also might not be much fun when he/she is just crying and pooing the whole time. Oh, and sucking on my boob. I will be sleep deprived and need to find the ideal position for breast feeding while still gaming. It’s going to be tough and I then start to wonder why I signed up for this.

But then I remember all the fun things I want to do with this tiny life that’s growing inside me. I can’t wait to give the little baby a bath and play with those itty bitty feet. I can’t wait to read him or her all my favorite bedtime stories, and a chapter each night of the Odyssey or other classic mythology. I am so excited to watch this little person who is part me and part Dean grow up into a real person – someone who will tell me I’m an idiot for not liking The Hobbit, or crazy for loving Doctor Who the way that I do. Someone who will be excited for the new game release, who I can buy little geeky dolls for over the holidays. I am so excited to have such fun experiences with the tiny life growing inside me, and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s going to be a fun adventure. Sure, there might be exhaustion and discomfort in my future, but that’s not the only thing. There will be new life and a tiny person who will be a part of this world only because Dean and I loved each other and wanted to take this step.

Geez, I just hope this isn’t a giant conspiracy from all the procreators out there. I hope the good outweighs the bad, because at the moment, I’m only have the icky experiences and I could really use some incredible ones.

Popping my Zomato meet up cherry on a preggy belly

zomato palate cleanser

I have been quite lucky thus far. I have somehow managed to survive my pregnancy without any morning sickness. However, I do suffer from some degree of evening sickness. No, I’m not hugging the toilet or anything, but you simply couldn’t pay me to eat once the sun goes down. There have been a few nights when I managed, but I’m usually unable to eat. Unless, that is, it’s a food I’m absolutely craving. Luckily, my first Zomato meet up matched those cravings. Mostly.

First, I must explain. I absolutely adore Zomato. I installed it way before I ever used it to write reviews. It was my on-the-go way of finding a place to eat or drink. When out in an unfamiliar city (or even just a new shopping center), I could find my nearest breakfast place, or ideal locale for sushi. Then I started using the app to write reviews, take pictures of my food and I was hooked.

Zomato likes to reward the people who make their app worthwhile, those people who do tons of reviews and interact on the platform to help map out cities and show the possibilities of what to eat. They organize foodie meet ups as a thank you to the community, as well as a fun way for their foodies to meet up with each other and eat some tasty food. I did exactly that last night at Simply Asia in Benmore Gardens.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. Simply Asia is nice and all, but I always thought that it was just a bit of a trashy takeaway. Instead, we had some incredible treats. From spring rolls to a sushi workshop and even chocolate spring rolls for dessert. I was very happy to eat those.

I made this myself!
I made this myself!

Of course, the little Krogan had to object to some things, like all the mains. But that’s okay, I was still so full from all the spring rolls, sushi and dessert that I was feeling full when I woke up this morning. Besides, at least I got to take part in the social side of things too, meeting fellow foodies with a range of other interests, as well as the actual Zomato crew who are responsible for making the app which I use all the time. Plus, it was nice to go out to eat without feeling awkward about taking pictures of my food.

If you aren’t already using Zomato, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way of finding some hidden gems in your neighborhood, as well as helping others find out about your favorite local eatery. And if you do it enough, you might get to join for the next meet up and sample even more delicious morsels.

How big is my baby? (15 weeks)

apples and oranges

I’ve been following a bunch of sites that are supposed to help me understand how big my growing baby is. It’s not that it really matters – he or she is stuck inside me for a while still. But it’s nice to visualize and it adds some kind of continuity to the experience. However, the internet sucks and the comparisons just don’t work for me.

At the moment, I’m about 15 weeks into my pregnancy. Depending on which site I frequent, that means they are telling me the little leech is approximately the size of an apple, or a navel orange. But this is like a Platonic reality question – if I say apple to ten different people, they will probably visualize completely different apples.

So, I decided to use the actual measurements that they give, which is that the munchkin is approximately four inches (10 cm). Ever the investigator, I decided to find things in my home that are four inches. And I found the perfect example.

grunt

This is Grunt, one of my favorite characters from the Mass Effect trilogy. He’s a Krogan, one of my favorite races, and when I saw this Funko Pop Vinyl figure I had to buy it. Like most Funko Pop Vinyl figures, he measures about 4″ tall and has an oversized head, much like the creature growing inside me.

So this is how I’m visualizing my growing spawnling for the next week or so. It’s Grunt, and I love Grunt, so I love my little Krogan. In fact, it probably looks just as fish-like and weird at the moment, and it feels like I have an alien inside me some days, so it seems quite fitting. At least now I don’t have to think of him/her as a piece of fruit, dangling off a vine inside me.

grunt 1