Archive | August, 2011

Little Things

29 Aug

I just discovered this blog, and I’m in love.

I do this all the time. It's why I suck at jokes and pranks.

 

A list of little things we should all appreciate

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How more technology means less technology

28 Aug

A couple of days ago I got my first android smartphone. It’s low end, but I love it! I have had my piece of crap cellphone for several years – it’s so crap it even freezes when I text. And that’s all I do – text, use the alarm, and receive calls. I didn’t even make calls because it was too pricey. Not anymore. I scorn gadgetry… but now I am rather chuffed with my smartphone.

Here’s why I think it’s good for me and my son:

I spent too much time on the computer. I know this, yet I feel helpless to resist. As a single Mum, the computer is often my only contact with the “outside world”. When you live alone with a toddler who goes to sleep about 7pm every night, it can get pretty lonely. And even throughout the day I find myself checking emails a lot, even when he’s awake, because frankly, his conversational skills aren’t up to much. No matter how much you love someone it can be exhausting being with them all the time. And a 17 month old is very demanding of attention!

I feel pretty guilty about this. I feel guilty because my son deserves my attention and he is learning that the computer is pretty important to me. I feel guilty because sometimes I sit him on my lap and let him watch Sesame St songs on one half of the screen while I do things on the other half. I never wanted to plonk him in front of a screen. I feel guilty because it does stave off my boredom, and if I didn’t have that, I’d probably think of more creative things to do that would be better for the both of us.

So here’s how my new phone helps with all that. I have synced my Gmail and Facebook accounts to my phone. This means that I get a bleep every time I get an email, as well as texts. I don’t even have to read the emails, but I can see who it’s from and what it’s about, and decide to ignore it or check it, without going back and forward to the computer. Yesterday I was having a conversation with my friend on Facebook and I decided to take the baby for a walk. I didn’t have to stop the conversation, I just took it with me! My son was perfectly happy walking along without my talking to him all the time – in fact I think he’d prefer if I left him to it! Both our needs were met.

My computer time has been drastically reduced. It’s much easier and more discreet to check my phone than to check my computer. And I’m not replacing computer screen time with phone screen time, I’m just not having as much screen time full stop. I find it easier to completely forget about it all until my phone bleeps, and even then I am able to ignore emails more than I would if I was on the computer.

And of course it has other cool features.

So that is my story of how my smartphone has helped with the thing I feel most guilty about – time on the computer.

Moving house again

24 Aug

I can’t quite believe I’m shifting house again, when I only moved here 3 months ago. The truth is, it sucks living by myself. I know some people don’t mind it, and some people love it. I’m not one of them. I am much too social to live by myself. I don’t even need to be talking to someone all the time – I just like to have someone else around. Two of my close friends are also single mothers (one with a toddler two weeks older than my son, and one with a 6 month old baby) and we have decided to get a huge house together.

I am really looking forward to it. I know having flatmates can have problems, but I prefer it to living alone. (I know I don’t technically live alone, but my toddler goes to sleep at 7pm every night and it gets a bit lonely. He’s also not much help with housework…) We already look after each other’s children when needed, and it would be a lot easier to help out with childcare when we all live together. Even if it’s just popping out to the supermarket for half an hour once the babies are in bed. It doesn’t seem so much of an imposition on each other if we are at home anyway. Not to mention splitting the bills, much cheaper rent, and sharing the housework and cooking. And the children will have each other to play with. They’ll each have their own mothers’ devoted attention as well as pseudo-siblings. Best of both worlds, really!

We have been offered a 6 bedroom house which also has a study I can use for my business. It’s a really cool house; it will be by far the biggest place I’ve ever lived in! It’s also in the same suburb as our other best friend and her fiance and daughter.

In fact, I’m so excited about it that I’m not even dreading the shifting too much. I’m not attached to my flat, and having shifted so recently I know it can be done in a day with a few willing hands.

 

 

Dylan Moran on Consumerism

17 Aug

I love Dylan Moran. Because he’s funny, obviously.

Check out his bit about mornings too.

On having fun

16 Aug

Lately, I’ve been making the most of being young and single. For better or for worse, I’m stuck in this city for a while*. I’m choosing to look at it as ‘for better’.

Here’s how I see it, when I’m not feeling sorry for myself (I only rarely feel sorry for myself, I’m pretty happy). I have enough money to live, and even a bit leftover, if I live smartly. I have a few really good friends; the kind I can count on to commiserate with me, laugh with me, look after my son at the drop of a hat, turn a blind eye to mess or help with the housework, talk frankly, invite me round for dinner, just BE with. My friends are amazing. I have every Saturday night off, when my son stays with his father. This is probably the best thing about being a single mother (aside from, in my case, not being in a miserable marriage). Having that one night off – a whole 24 hours – helps me recharge my human batteries. I can relax for a little bit. I can have a nap (I don’t, but it helps to know I could). I can GO OUT DANCING all night with my friends. I can kiss a man if I want to. I can sit in a cafe and have a leisurely chai latte while I read a book. For 24 hours, I can do whatever I like, with no responsibility. (Aside from the normal responsibility of being a member of society, of course. Let’s be reasonable here.)

I am a devoted mother, and my son comes first in everything. But now that I am getting used to being single, I am rediscovering my own pleasures that I had forgotten. I am becoming more myself again. Sometimes, in a relationship, you get swallowed up in trying to please the other person. For me, there were things I stopped doing, over time, because it was too much effort, or my husband wasn’t interested. I gave up talking about things I cared about, because he seemed to see everything I said as a challenge in some way. Finding myself again is wonderful. I want to say that I will never again let myself be swallowed up in a needy version of love. Of course, I haven’t fallen in love again – yet – so I don’t know. But I hope I will be a bit more sensible about it next time around…

So I’m having fun. I’m learning to love myself. I’m feeling inspired to live a kick-ass life.

“This life is mine. I will live it with all I’ve got. I won’t take crap from anyone, won’t play small, or safe. I will admit that I’m a badass. I can break through after a break down. I can get up after I fall down on my face.” Andrea Owen

I met my husband when I was 19, and we were together for 5 years. That means I have spent approximately a 5th of my life with him. Wow. Now, I am ‘cutting loose’ and all that. I am flirting. It is fun! I spent some money on clothes the other day. I have hardly ever done this in my life. I shaved my legs. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I’ve read Succulent Wild Women (10 times), I know the deal. I am finally starting to live it, instead of read it.

“People with the creative spirit are obssessed with possibility.” Danielle La Porte

But sometimes this little voice crops up and says “This is frivolous. You’re an adult now. You should be saving your pennies and building an eco house.” Or some other sensible chatter.

For now, can I just ignore it? I can keep doing all the good eco things that are a natural part of my life now (recycling, free range, reducing rubbish, natural parenting, etc). I’m only 24. I’m allowed a bit of fun, right?

*I am working towards moving to a self sufficient lifestyle in Motueka with my son, but as it currently stands his father would fight me for him if I moved away. So I’m biding my time. 

Who Killed Economic Growth?

8 Aug

All better now

7 Aug

No more self pity here! Phew.

Wallowing in self pity

5 Aug

Today I attended the second CYF workshop on Ways to Care, which is preparing people for becoming foster or adoptive parents. I’m not going to go into details about that, but I have been feeling rather bummed out ever since. Nothing to do with the workshop, even.

No, I’m feeling bummed out because most of the people in that room were extremely well dressed, in what appear to be solid relationships [I know it is not always clear from external appearances], with important jobs (judging from the amount of phone calls and txts that happened on expensive phones in the breaks). Although I am a fairly confident person and they were all nice, and I contributed plenty of valid ideas, I felt self conscious. Because I was there in my op shop clothes, on my own.

I know plenty of single mothers, and I think they’re great. But I don’t want any of their lifestyles. All the single mothers I know stress about money on a regular basis. I’m not someone who’s inclined to stress, and yet I began to really stress about money when I became a single mum. I think of all the people I know who have several beautiful children, big houses, loving husbands, plenty of money, etc. And I just feel really really bummed out.

I was raised by a single mother, and I have never known what it’s like to not worry about money, what it’s like not to feel like it’s a constant battle to ‘get by’, since I knew what money was.

I wanted a big family, and a loving husband, and a nice place to live. Well, I married a jerk (and subsequently left him after his behaviour became increasingly unacceptable), and have never lived in a place I really liked.  My pregnancy was so traumatic that I’m scared to go through it again, and given that I needed so many medical interventions (five anti nausea drugs, two heartburn drugs, various supplements, IV fluids, NG tube, a lot of monitoring and ultrasounds and tests, a cesarean section), I feel I would be unlikely to survive another pregnancy if I did not have access to all that free medical care. Which is entirely possible, given what is happening in the world.

I don’t want to be alone forever. I tell myself: I’m still young. I’m only 24. I have lots to bring to a relationship. But I don’t know how to meet people, how to date. I met my husband when I was 19. I was in the dating phase so briefly that I barely remember the rules. I miss having someone’s hand to hold. I hate doing the housework and I get really bored with the mundane things in life, because there’s no one to do it with. No one to have conversations with or laugh with. I spend too much time on the computer, hoping someone will talk to me on Facebook or Skype, reading chatty blogs – because I’m so lonely once my playgroups are over and my son is in bed and my friends are spending time with their ‘other half’.

I don’t want to get trapped into thinking a man will ‘save me’. I was raised by a feminist, after all. But I don’t think it’s their manliness that I perceive as the saviour. It’s having someone to share life with.

I read this blog post about a mum’s trip to Kenya. And I was struck mostly by the statement: Kenyan women are never lonely. For a moment, I actually felt envious of women whose children have aids, who have to get up at 4am to wait two hours in a line to get water, who live in utter poverty. I envied them their community. I can see how that makes their otherwise desperately difficult lives livable.

I’m trying to move back to my hometown, where I have more of a community, where life will be that little bit easier, but my son’s father will fight me. I can understand why. Believe me, the thought of separating my son from his father causes me endless anxiety and guilt. But I felt that way before I left the marriage, and I don’t regret that in the least. And in all honesty, I don’t trust my son’s feelings to be safe in his father’s hands when he is older. Mine never were. I don’t think he is a good role model. I want my baby to have a Dad who loves him, but actually: I don’t want him to be around all the time. That doesn’t change the fact that I could be facing a long custody battle if I try to move away.

I know that I should count my blessings. And believe me, I often do. I’m not depressed and I’m not angry, I’m just bummed. I know that many of those wealthy well-dressed happily-married course participants would give anything to have a beautiful little child like I do. That’s why they were there. I’m usually pretty positive.

But right now, I’m feeling crap, and I’m wallowing in it.

Outdoor preschools

4 Aug

Last night I came across a link to a Forest Preschool in Canada. Something about the idea instantly captivated me. My son is such an outdoors kid – he really would spend all day outside if he could. Because of his personality, I’m really interested in these outdoor preschools.

Link to What Are Forest Schools?

And here’s an article about one in Scotland.

Although I think it’s a fantastic idea, there are other things that I would personally like to see incorporated. I think it is great that they spend all day outside, but I also think that some other outdoor activities could be incorporated, rather than just being in the bush. For example the children could feed chooks and collect the eggs. They could grow a vegetable garden. I think it would be valid to incorporate a democratic education angle, as well as some quieter activities, like reading. Books can be read outside though! I think they can also have some directed activities, such as painting (easels can be set up outside), playing with things like wooden go-carts, and cooking (eg. mini pizzas for lunch).

I like the idea of having a yurt as a classroom for extreme weather. I think for younger children it may be a nice space for them to sleep in. And of course there would be a compost toilet.

I am quite excited about the idea of sending my toddler to something like this when he is a bit older. It makes me wonder if I should set one up. But although I would really like him to go there, I’m just not convinced I want to look after other people’s children for a living, much as I enjoy children. Something to think about.

Today a friend posted a link to this lovely video which reminded me how magic the natural world is.