Browsing Category: Parenting

Dreams for a bun in the oven

night kitchen

Even while being worried last night about what the future might hold, I had a brief glimmer where I imagined holding that little baby in my arms. It was exactly what I needed and a beautiful moment to pause and realize that in a few short months, the life I’m growing inside me will be out in the world. And in that same moment, it made me think about when he or she is out in the world at large. The little life that isn’t even fully formed yet, growing inside me, will one day go out and talk to people, make friends, fall in love and maybe travel the world.

I have all these things I want to do with the little rugrat while he or she is growing up. I want to read all my favorite stories with him or her, as well as teach mythologies of all kinds. I’d love for the kid to be fluent not just in Greek or Norse mythology, but also in Lovecraftian mythos and Star Wars lore. It’s the combination of all those ways of explaining the universe that help us create our own mythology; our own way of interpreting the world and how we want to behave. Continue Reading

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Happy? Who’s happy?

There was a running joke in my family for years. You see, my parents didn’t get along well with their parents, and the acrimonious relationship led to some rather awful comments over the years. Now, I’m not entirely sure what the context was or even whose parents said it, but all I know is that at some point my parents were arguing that they just wanted to do something and be happy together, to which one of their fathers said, “Happy? Who’s happy? You think your mother’s happy?”

It’s one of those awful quotes that made us laugh for far too many years as we wondered how anyone could be so blatantly and proudly unhappy. It’s been a joke we whip out whenever one of us is saying how something might make us unhappy, or how all we want is to be happy about something. Continue Reading

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How do you raise a book worm?

matilda

I learned how to read at a rather young age, and I still consider myself an absolute book worm. In those rare moments when I don’t have a book to read, I feel adrift and lost, even if I barely have time to read and only manage a couple pages (or sentences) a night sometimes. But I’ve always loved reading, and it’s a gift that I want to pass on to my kid.

I read an article about why reading is so good, and basically the reason is… all the reasons. Reading is good for building empathy, improving social skills, lowering older people’s risk of dementia; the list seems to just go on and on. I love to read, and I read books across a range of genres. But how do I pass that on?

read to kids

 

My first way is quite obvious – I will definitely read to the kid every night. I have grand plans for all the books that I want to read to the little munchkin, from large scale works to adorable bedtime stories. But is that enough? That might make bedtime more fun, and teach the kid that being read to is loving, but how do they make that leap to wanting to read by themselves, and continue to enjoy it?

I remember reading a comment from Neil Gaiman about that moment when his youngest kid was no longer interested in reading with him. She wanted to finish The Lord of the Rings by herself instead of reading it together. He was both incredibly saddened by the fact that he wouldn’t get to read the book to the end with her, but also so proud that she was ready to read it by herself, and wanted to do so.

I suppose that’s what I want one day, and I just need to figure out how to achieve it. I’m sure reading together is a big part of it, but will it matter that I’m the only one who reads for pleasure while my husband doesn’t? Does it matter whether we encourage reading in digital or physical format? There are still so many years to go, and I’m sure even more awesome kids books will be on the market by then, but I suppose it’s all part of the teaching that this poor little one will be subjected to. Geez, between all the games I want him/her to play, and all the Disney movies Dean wants to watch with him/her, I’m definitely going to need to carve out a chunk of the day for books. And, you know, all the other activities kids will need and want to do.

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A generation gap in the making

TMNT new

Over the weekend, Dean and I went to see some friends. They already have a young kid with a second one on the way. As seems to be the case now that I’m knocked up, the conversation inevitably turned to childbirth, and then the prospect of raising the little rugrat. Of course Dean and I are excited to show the little one all the things that make us excited, but I’m already seeing signs of the generation gap.

Sure, some movies and books and games are timeless. Dean will probably get to live his dream of showing all the Disney movies to the little one while I make some excuse to be out of the house for a while. Or I might have a decent shot at sharing some of the awesome kid’s books (A Wrinkle in Time, anyone) or games – Tetris and Mario will never lose their cool-factor.

But then there are things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or whatever new show will be running by the time the kid is old enough to get into a series. Have you SEEN the new version of TMNT? Gone is the 80s animation, with a whole new style for the modern age. And Dean was horrified! He was determined that our kid would only watch the “quality” TV that he knew and loved, like Gummy Bears and original He-Man.

So it hit me, this is where generation gaps come from. At some point, all those games I played and series I loved were the cool new thing. He-Man and Thundercats and all those awesome shows were made for my generation, and I loved them. But that doesn’t mean that little Harley or Mason will. Sure, some stuff will translate well, and I’m sure Dean will grow to love watching the new Marvel or DC stuff with the little one, plus any excuse to watch Chowder will be accepted with open arms. And I’m jealous of my kid getting to grow up with the toys-to-life genre as an established and awesome gaming genre for kids.

It’s just come as a bit of a shock already. I knew that not all the stuff I like would be appealing to a kid, and I knew that there would be shows and music that wouldn’t be what I grew up with. It’s just a bit mind boggling to see the generation gap in action, before the baby growing inside me is even born.

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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?

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