We Have Been Your Equal…

There’s a lot to be said on Sexual Equality, a subject I am no expert in but as International Women’s Day (8th March) came and went I was drawn to thinking about this and what the future might hold.

By 4-years-old our children have decided that there are colours, clothes and jobs for girls and different colours, clothes and jobs for boys. I have tried to explain to my daughter that this is not the case and there are just colours, clothes and jobs and she and her friends can wear and do whatever they want to when they grow up.

Gender stereotyping can be a battle; one I feel I have already lost. But does my daughter’s love for Disney Princesses mean that she is not going to want to, or be able to do a job in science, technology or engineering when she’s older? I’m not sure it does.

But I do worry about her future because gender stereotyping has had/is having serious consequences. I don’t want her to grow up thinking there are certain options that are not relevant to her just because she’s a girl?

If we want to see change, want to make a difference, the most significant thing we can do right now is talk openly to our children (yes our boys as well as our girls), anyone believing that sexual equality is a female only challenge, is demonstrating the problem right there. Shifting a long-held perception on any subject takes time and this change will not be brought to the fore by us but by our children. And like any other revolution, it must start somewhere. It must start with us, now.

There is a way to go, battles still to fight. Young women are still being sexualised, objectified and ridiculed for not looking a certain way. At the same time, older women are criticised for growing old ‘ungracefully’ There’s the pay gap, lack of flexible working, gender parity in business, domestic violence and sexual violence. Things that all need to be addressed in all walks of society, by the media, and by our governments.

And whilst it’s easy to feel disheartened I want to for this moment, focus on what we have, instead of what we don’t have and what we have achieved, instead of what we still have left to do. The disrespectful noises coming from the USA to me are like a rallying cry, I can hear drums in the distance; The girls are coming

Superhero

But I am no man-hater, far from it. I feel lucky to have been surrounded by wonderful men all my life, men who have offered love, respect, and support. Something I know not every woman can say. These men; our fathers, partners, brothers, friends, and sons, have made a difference though and will continue to do so. Because they all represent a small piece of the puzzle of equality, it’s a big puzzle, it’s going to take a lot of perseverance to finish, and at this point, there are some pieces missing (we should probably look under the sofa). But it’s starting to take shape, it’s starting to vaguely resemble the picture on the box.

Because from my corner of the world, I tell you, I have seen great things from Womankind, as have the men that have stood next to us, as our allies, they bear witness, they have seen that:

We have been strong.
We have been fearless.
And we have been brave.

We have fallen like them.
We have been in pain like them.
And we have cried like them.

Yet we are not equal?

Our bodies and minds have been broken by carrying and bringing children into the world.
But we have survived.

We have picked them up when they’ve been down.
We have cradled them.
And we have told them that everything will be ok.

We have paid our way.
We have voted and marched.
And we have had a voice.

Yet we are not equal?

We have felt undervalued.
We have felt unappreciated.
But we have carried on.

We have made sacrifices.
We have put our careers on hold and taken jobs we are over qualified for.
And we have stayed in unfulfilling roles because it’s the right thing to do for our families.

Yes, we have needed their help and yes we have needed their strength.
But they have also needed ours.

No, we have not been perfect and we don’t deserve anything we haven’t worked for.
But we do deserve the chance and the opportunity to show we can.
Because our rights are not a competition.

To Mankind; We are different to you in many ways but it doesn’t make us unequal.

We may not have half the top jobs, yet, and we may not earn half the big money but we have in so many other ways been your equal. We should not be judged on job titles, money, status and physical strength alone. These are not the only things that define us and should not be a basis on which to conclude that women are somehow inferior to men.

Because, let’s not forget that men and women will stand here together, side by side, until the end of time. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. We all have our own personal contribution to make.

With this I am hopeful that as our empowered and educated children go out into the world, the future they create will be one where they can feel confident in their ability to do any role and where people are defined by their skills and not their gender. Where women are paid equally and recognised for their contribution, as 50% of the world’s population quite rightly should be.
  
   

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Alfie White Space Explorer

Round the planets, round the rocket and round the fire. What’s in the rocket ship? So so so off we go! Is what my daughter sings to me when I tell her we are going to see a show about a Space Explorer. I think that means she’s excited?

On arrival we are transported to 1967, the era of the big Space Race. Not important to a 4-year-old, it could have been set in any period of time but to the more advanced in age, this makes sense.

We meet Alfie White, a young boy obsessed with space. Alfie lives with his grandma, in a flat on the 8th floor and is scared of alien invasion. His dad mysteriously disappeared 2 years ago and he’s a bit of a loner. His classmates don’t really share his love for space and all this makes him quite naturally a bit sad. But, he gets by.

What starts with a tall tale gone wrong, turns into a wonderful space-inspired adventure to find Alfie’s dad. And ends up with him actually finding much more; new friendships, a love of singing, dancing & Jazz music and a rekindled relationship with his grandma.

Alfie’s co-pilot for this mission is Meg Harris (the most beautiful girl at school), she ignites a longing in him to find out what happened to his father, so together they set off to look for clues to his whereabouts.

Alfie White Space Explorer

We are whizzed, whirred and rocketed through the story. Spurred on by an old photograph found in Alfie’s grandma’s bedroom, of the mysterious Eddie Dark, who Meg recognises as a Jazz musician. Our pair then land their spaceship at the Jazz club to find important information, they then zoom off (AKA take the bus) to a record shop for more investigation.

The show is incredibly engaging, heartfelt and funny.

The two actors fill the space so well, the dialogue and constant movement are fast-paced and full of energy, holding the attention of my daughter throughout. There really is no time for little minds to wander off, as they do sometimes.

After finding out who his father really is, Alfie is much happier at home and at school. He sings, he dances, he has real friends and is finally comfortable in his own space.

Mission Control: “Thank you for a lovely afternoon”. “Over and out”

Find more family shows from Worthing Theatres here >

1st Day of School: Diary of the Absurdly Emotional

God, what is wrong with me? Well that’s a bit of an open-ended question, isn’t it? Where do I start, or more to the point, where do I stop?

My daughter just started school and I’ve been feeling very emotional about it, which is normal (I believe) but I’m less emotional, more emotional wreck or emotional time bomb; could go off at any second. Jesus, I’m ridiculous, It’s school, it’s around the corner from our house, it’s not like she’s moving to Australia or running away with the bloody Circus is it? So why does the thought of it make me want to grab her and never let her go?

As I think about that I’m visualising how that scenario might go:-
“Mummy get off”.
“But I just want a cuddle”.
“Urrgghh no thank you Mummy” (Yes my child is polite even under duress. Thousands of pounds of nursery fees well spent).
“But I want to go to school Mummy”.
“But I want to keep you close, under my motherly wing, where I can protect you”.
“From what Mummy?”.
“Oh, you know; learning, discovery, new friendships, new experiences. But it’s ok, only for maybe….25 years……”.

She’ll make that face at me, the one that indicates that she no longer understands what I’m saying and can’t work out if I’m joking or not. Then we’ll both laugh (at Mummy).

She is going to be fine, in fact, she’s going to be more than fine. This is not about her, it’s all about me.

It’s just, it’s the end of an era, isn’t it? Those pre-school years are so precious as there are so fewer boundaries (not counting work).

There are so many thoughts (mostly irrational, I know) whirling around my head:

She is so small, she’s just 4 years old for God sake! How can she go to school (who came up with that idea anyway?) It’s for ‘big’ children, isn’t it? Those that can successfully wipe their own bottoms & put on their own socks. And not those that throw themselves to the floor when refused access to the biscuit tin.

And all the new faces. It’s a whole new bunch of people to disagree with on whether you can be the Mummy, the Daddy, the Fairy or the Dinosaur.

Oh and then there is the poo obsession. Please please let everyone else’s 4-year-old be the same as mine. Every role play session ends with the Fairy/Witch/Baby/Dinosaur doing a massive fat poo, doesn’t it? Please say yes?

The ratio of adults to children is purely terrifying. What happens with P.E? I mean I struggle to get two children dressed in the morning and that’s at a 1:2 ratio, I’d estimate on most days 50% of my children leave the house looking respectable (woeful statistics people). How is this even possible at school, by the time everyone is ready surely the lesson is over? The combination of back to front shorts and shoes-on-wrong-feet must constitute a new ‘Reception Year Fashion Craze’.

And how the hell does one teacher and a teaching assistant manage to control thirty 4-year-olds for six hours a day. I can barely manage one and a 16-month-old for two hours each morning. It must be utter carnage?

Poor teachers….

Though having said that, most 4-year-olds are pretty hilarious, their take on the world is often refreshing & enlightening with a good dash of crazy. It’ll be a hoot for the teachers, surely? And then at the end of the day, there’s always wine.
Note to self: Buy teacher wine for Christmas, not crappy chocolates or a mug (my teacher husband receives a lot of mugs….).

OK, here we go.

Day 1: This is how it went….

Arrghhh F*ck it’s raining. I (clearly erroneously) hadn’t considered rain. This means a pushchair rain cover for the baby, an umbrella and a whole load of hassle I don’t need.

I just want to get there, just don’t want to be late.

We arrive, we park (easily! – have I got the wrong day?).

We get to the reception playground and wait with all the other tiny people in big uniform. *Breathe*. We made it on time. Tick.

OK what do we do now, can somebody tell me? *we wait*…..nothing. Am I supposed to just send her in on her own? Really? OK, we can do this. But can we? She looks terrified. I’m going to go for it, I send her in with the instructions of finding her peg and hanging her bag on it, then returning to the classroom.

I watch through the window, she gets to the cloakroom. She’s just standing there, why is she not hanging her stuff? She’s forgotten maybe? She can’t find her peg perhaps? She looks worried like she might cry. Sh*t. This tugs at my heart strings. Somebody help her! Please. SOMEBODY HELP MY BABY!!! Nothing….. *need to calm down*.

Right, I’m going in. I help her with her bag, her name tag was hidden behind another pristine looking school branded book bag. We go back to the classroom. I still have no f’ing clue what we’re supposed to be doing. This is a ruddy nightmare!

She is about to cry, if she does, so will I. I look around and spot colouring and a friend, bingo, the perfect combination. She settles, I leave, with no tears, from either of us. #win

Now, back to the other child (that I momentarily forgot existed), previously abandoned in the pushchair in the playground. Oh dear, how often a parenting win is followed directly by a fail.

It’s fine, he’s fine. Let’s go and get tea and biscuits, lots of biscuits. His little face lights up at the ‘B’ word (that I now realise I have said way way to soon……).

She survives, well she loves it. I survive and the boy forgives me for the abandonment (I imagine….).

Now to my next emotional challenge, which I can only assume is just around the corner.

 

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Blown Away…

We are a family of penguin lovers, in fact, we just had one to stay with us for the summer holidays! We crafted him out of a sock and various pieces of felt, don’t panic.

It was a pre starting-school project for my 4-year-old, so seeing Blown Away, a show based on Rob Biddulph’s 2015 book about the adventures of Penguin Blue and friends, was a no-brainer. And with the additional promise of acrobatics the pre-show excitement levels are high (and that’s just me).

As we wait for the show to start we hear a noise behind us, like quacking, then sure enough 3 penguins waddle past us onto the stage. They immediately proceed to show off their acrobatic skills to the oohs and wows of the little people (and some big people) watching. I overhear one small boy protest that he too can do that move.

Our 3 friends for this adventure are penguin’s Blue, Flo and Jeff. Blue wants to fly, to see beyond their home and so they fly together (albeit unintentionally), on a kite away from the ice and snow. On the way, they pick up Wilbur the (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear called Clive, who, rather fortunately, agrees not to eat them but to come along for the ride instead. We continue on with Clive who ends up in the jungle, where he meets a very cheeky monkey, called, well….Monkey. This is a momentous experience for Clive because he is used to being alone and now suddenly he sees the value and enjoyment of having friends.

Blown Away

As we waddle, dive, jump and swing through the story the acrobatics’ get more impressive, a tightrope walk no less and the accordion (did I mention the accordion?) gets chirpier.

The show is an utter delight, all about adventure and imagination, two of most vital ingredients in the ‘happy childhood’ recipe. It showcases strength, agility, humour, puppetry and wonderfully crafted songs.

“Never throw away a chance for an adventure. Imagination keeps your dreams afloat”. Just one of the lovely choruses we are treated to.

The story draws to a close as despite the excitement of new friends and warmer surroundings, Clive is too hot in the jungle and the penguins miss home. A makeshift boat is hastily thrown together for their homeward journey to the tune of “I want to go home, I miss my Mum, I miss my bed, I miss my ted. I miss the snow; at the end of the day you miss what you know”.

Never has a truer word been spoken by a penguin, an (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear!

Mind How You Go….

For my Daughter, who starts school this September….

Open your book, it’s Chapter one,
a whole new world has just begun.
As you turn each page & breathe the world in,
remember I’m here, should you need anything.

Step out, look up, there’s much to find,
be bold, be brave and always be kind.
I’m excited to see you blossom & grow,
but remember darling, mind how you go.

Everything’s changing but don’t be afraid,
discovering new things is how dreams are made.
It’s ok to feel scared, sad or unsure,
we’ll talk when you need to, that’s what I’m here for.

You only look forward, I understand that,
but Mummy can’t help sometimes looking back.
You see 4 years flew by at incredible pace,
how did so much time pass since I first saw your face?

Have your say and stand your ground,
don’t ever let anyone push you around.
You’ll sparkle & shine, this I already know
but baby please, mind how you go.

So this is it, off we go to school,
I know you’re ready but you look so small.
Ask questions, join in, but also listen a while.
Make friends, make memories, make everyone smile.

I’ll be thinking of you every day,
I’m right behind you if you lose your way.
There’s no limit to what you can achieve,
incredible things happen to those who believe.

Ignore Mummy’s tears, she’s silly as you know,
but do something for me, just mind how you go.

Mind how you go….

Love from Mummy xxx

Mind How You Go....

 
 

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