Deliberately. In the loving care of my parents. For more than 24 hours. We stayed away for a night in a cute little cottage and it was amazing. First, when we arrived, we had a nap. Then we went to an early movie. Then we had dinner. Then when we got home to the cottage, we had baths. Baths! Without a small companion! Then, the next day, we slept in! Then we went out for lunch! Then we went back into Wellington and retrieved our charge.
If you’re reading this and you’re in a childless two-income couple I probably just described something not too far off your standard weekend. OH MY GOD A STANDARD WEEKEND IS INCREDIBLE! Our standard weekend used to be like that, we would do things in the evening – sometimes at home, sometimes out, but the “things” were not “chores”, they were leisure activities. We had leisure! We used to spend time together! Turns out, we get on really well! We’re not just partners in household chaos control, we have things that we can chat about! We have overlapping taste in movies and tv! I’d almost forgotten!
Meanwhile, I’m pregnant again.
Yay for babies!
And ughhhhhh. Ughhh being pregnant is so not fun.
All the time with the tiredness. I’m 13 weeks, and I think by about this time when I was pregnant with the little dude I was basically over the worst… but maybe this time my baseline level of fatigue means that just a little bit of extra tiredness is really really draining?
Ahhhhh, I’m not looking forward to the bit next year where we have a 2 year old and a newborn and sleep deprivation is a major thing again.
So, being pregnant and therefore hormonal, there are lots of things that are annoying me even more than they otherwise would.
Most of them are wrapped up in that ol’ chestnut of attitudes towards women and motherhood and childbearing.
In one corner, there’s National MP Simon O’Connor saying during the first reading of the Paid Parental Leave Bill that he has “philosophical concerns” with the Bill because “having a child is generally not an accident”, and the “responsible state” only needs to step in in “unusual circumstances”. I’m not sure what the fuck that means. Retirement is not generally an accident, but we have a universal pension. Question: can you simultaneously work to support yourself and also look after a 5 month old child? Answer: generally nah, that’s not a thing most people can do. During the time a child is very young, they need constant care and that care is usually performed by a parent, and that parent is therefore not able to work, and that is why there should be government-funded payments to that parent, who is almost always the mother. I don’t get how there is any debate about this! Either it’s ok that tens of thousands of women work for free because wombs, or it’s a major fucking issue that needs to be urgently rectified for reasons of justice and gender equality.
In another corner, we have the mooted proposal to require parental notification for under-age abortion. Those pesky wombs again. I’ve ranted about this before on this blog. Again to recap, I can’t fathom how a health provider is expected to be in a better position than a patient in deciding who should be told about the patient’s health care situation, even if that patient is 15 or 14. But it’s not just giving the doctors permission to tell parents, it would require them to tell parents! Why?! These are parents that the child has identified as being unlikely to be supportive (because otherwise she would have told them, duh), so there’s at least a decent chance that their response will make bad situation worse! And to be really fucking blunt, an abortion is a much less major thing for a 15 year old to go through than a pregnancy and childbirth and parenthood.
Finally, while we were away I read an old North and South magazine that was in the cottage and its cover story was about fertility decline among smart educated women blah blah. And I’m interested in the topic of fertility decline – my hunch is that my generation will be the one in which childlessness among university educated women becomes more common than childbearing – so I read the article. I fucking hate it when I’m reading something which doesn’t have to hate on parents and then boom, there’s a little box with the perspective of someone who is happily childless and she has to go and say all this stuff that makes me angry, like how parents should be grateful that she pays taxes which fund schools. Many of my dearest friends don’t want children, some are not yet sure but will probably not have children, and I totally get the attraction. I have a toddler! I understand why you might not want children! I live daily with the reality of how much work it is to be a parent and how much it limits your other options! I also live daily with the reality of how essential it is to our whole world that it be done a) at all and b) well. If you don’t have kids, and don’t want kids, that’s cool! But hey, being a parent isn’t a hobby you do in your spare time. It isn’t self-indulgence. It’s the opposite of that. It’s rewarding the same way that any other care work is rewarding, but even more so, because it’s even more care and more work. It’s rewarding because you get to watch them grow, and they do cute stuff, but it’s exhausting. We had our first childfree weekend this weekend just gone and it was amaaaaaazing. Did I mention we slept in? On the one hand while we were away I got no toddler snuggle cuddles and no tickle games, but on the other hand, I didn’t have to touch anyone else’s faeces or clean up food from the floor, and I didn’t have to try and discipline anyone for cruelty to cats. Also did I mention we saw a movie?! AND WENT OUT FOR DINNER! AND SLEPT IN!