Archives: greatest hits

Boot cut

You may recall the dark despair felt when I realised my old maternity jeans were long gone. Determined to unearth a secondhand pair of Citizens, I stalked the interwebs until one day there was not one but two listings beckoning from the screen. Unsure of size, I bid on both, 28s and the 30s, thinking a roomier spare pair wouldn’t go astray. And won them both.

Well, they’ve arrived. That’s the good news, I guess.

The not-good news: They’re boot cut.

Yep, you read that right. Boot-bloody-cut.

Hideous*.

Boot cut? What was I thinking? Surely this was mentioned in at least one of the listings. I can’t believe I willingly wore a pair of boot cut jeans even ten years ago.

Boot cut. What sane woman reads these words and thinks, “hmm, yes, I want to revisit 1998. I’m thinking boot cut jeans.”???

Boot cut. Not even enough pizazz to aim for a full retro flare.

Boot cut. The cut that says “forget these calves, check out what this proportion-illusion does to those thighs: they’re not all that slender, are they?”

Here come the boot cut jeans

Holy fucking first world maternity fashion problems. At least the denim feels nice. That’ll be appreciated when I’m gardening in them.

 

*And the 28s may have been shortened, too, so they flare around a high ankle. Nice. I could be wearing my son’s pants.

Fork your pom-pom

By request, we are venturing deeper into craft territory.

Mini pom-poms: child's play.

Mini pom-poms: child’s play.

 

A friend asked me to show her how to make these, and we were too busy lounging on the beach to get around to it last weekend, so here they are.

How to make adorable little mini pom-poms.

  1. Place a single thread of wool across the middle tines of a fork. Make it long if you want to use it to tie the eventual pom-pom onto something.
  2. Wrap wool around and around the fork.
  3. Tie the original thread once, as tightly as you can.
  4. Slip it all off the fork, and tie again. Tightly.
  5. Cut through the “folded” edges, fluff out, and trim with scissors to a fuzzy sphere.
  6. Voila!

 

The pink machine, and why I won’t tell you my baby’s sex

 

Oh yes, I have a problem with pink.

 

We had our 20-week scan last week, and for the first time in three pregnancies, I wanted to know what gender this little toad’s turned out. Not so I can bake a cake and colour the sponge pink or blue, or start stockpiling ruffled pink bloomers or macho blue truck-print onesies. No, I just reckon it’s been enough of a bloody surprise, this later-years’ pregnancy, and right now I’m over the surprises.

The Envelope

So, after the scan, we had the sex written down and sealed in an envelope. We opened it on Easter Sunday, just our immediate family. (Exactly half of us had guessed correctly, if you want to know.) And it will be a limited reveal. For a reason.

It's a...

I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but, if we are expecting a daughter, the last thing I want is visitors turning up with pink presents. Pink singlets, dresses, blankets, stretch headbands. Etc.*

It’s not the femininity that grates. It’s the colour.

Because pink has become a symbol.  Colour as hyper-simplified semiotics.

Pink = “girl”.

The commercialization and commodification of our kids has produced a corporate “pink machine”, and to a lesser extent, a blue one, but it’s pink that’s the most rigid. (And purple, that “other pink”. The ever-so-slightly tougher, yet still female-prescriptive, colour.) A corporate code to sell stuff. Segmenting the market by hue. Those racks of pinkness in clothing stores: pink, fluffy, feminized. I cannot remember more defined gendered children’s clothing in my 4-and-a-bit decades on this planet.

Girls are taught, from birth, that they have one colour, and their colour is pink.

Which would not be such a big deal if this was restricted to a rather dull fashion palette. But the pink girl-branding continues across all of a girl child’s consumer options. Clothes. Stationary. Kids’ yoghurt. Furniture. Toys.

Toys.

Walk the aisles of your local toy barn. Note the aisles that glow pink. It’s a little scary.

I have two sons. I’ve not had to face the pink machine, yet. As a mother of boys, I can avoid, with a certain smugness I confess, those toy shop aisles that glow in their Barbie rosiness. The “girls” aisles. Even non-gender-specific (or traditionally “boys”) toys are re-branded “for girls”. Pink-tinged blocks. Pink guns. Pink fucking Lego Friends.**

Girls are taught that pink (and sometimes purple) is their colour. And then they’re presented with a lesser range of toys branded “girl”.

Girls toys are coloured pink, and appear to be reverting to the 1950s. Boys toys aren’t just blue, they are every other colour.

Because pink designates girl, and then dutiful girls choose from the pink toys. Pink sections in toy stores encompass the traditionally “female” toys: the nurturing ones. Baby strollers and toy kitchens. Not superheroes or cars or tools or action figures.

Few traditionally “male” toys are coloured, or packaged, pink. Why is this an issue? Because a girl less likely to play with a construction set is less likely to want to be an engineer when she grows up. Or it may be harder to imagine being a scientist when you’re flouncing around in your pink gown and tiara, pushing a pink toy stroller. A girl caught up in the princess fantasy is less likely to play the hero in her own daydream, and rather more likely to seek her handsome prince saviour.

And please, lower those itchy trigger finger fingers from the reply button, mothers of girls. I understand that some girls actually choose to wear pink. That they want the frilly feminine. I get that. I, too, have friends whose gender-neutral raised daughters reached for the pink, frilly, tutu girly-ness as soon as they could assert their taste. Pre-kids, I may have claimed to be a “nurture above nature” feminist who believed that every bit of gender-stereotyped behaviour could be ascribed to societal influence. Then, of course, I had sons, the universe’s special gift for feminists, boys who turned into blokes despite my best efforts to keep life gender-neutral. Who turned sticks into guns when our house was gun-free.

I now think there’s a bit of nature AND nurture defining kids. But at the moment, girls are shoved by the mainstream onto a one-way gender conveyer belt.

My daughter, when she has an opinion (if she’s a she), sure, she can dress in pink or play with as much frilly pinkness as she wants. But until then, I plan to show her some options. I don’t remember pink owning kindergarten fashions during  the 1970s. (And the photographs, if I can find them, shall prove me right…) But I do remember being castigated for not spending enough time playing in doll’s corner (uh, puh-lease! What fun was there in a dusty space containing a toy cot, an ironing board, and a rack of smelly clothes?), choosing to hog the tractor instead. But that was 1974, for Uma’s sake! FORTY YEARS AGO. Are we sending out daughters back to a colour-coded dolls’ corner?

Because, as Rebecca Hain writes in her blog, the pink princess marketing is forceful, and is outstripping the choice that little girls used to have to choose pink or not.

And there it is: It’s not the colour, it’s the lack of choice.

My sons’ toys come in all shades. Girls toys rarely do. By reducing a girl’s perceived choice, gender roles are prescribed before the child even has a chance to choose how to define herself.

If you walk into my house with that toxic Disney Princess crap, it will be walking back out with you. Please don’t think me ungrateful.* I’d be delighted for you to visit the baby. She’ll have enough stuff (we all do!); you don’t need to bring anything at all. Please respect a feeble tilt at the commodified mainstream, and help me to keep her mind uncommercialised as long as I can. Babies and children are not just mini-consumers, and feminity is more than a colour.

 

*In fact, please don’t bring us any thing! Just turn up and have a cup of tea, and maybe hold the baby while I change out of my PJs at 4 in the afternoon. The best gift anyone gave me was a friend turning up when I was frazzled with my brand new firstborn, who looked at me and said, “please let me hold him while you go have a shower”.

**Ah, Lego Friends. Let’s go there in a later post.

 

Want more?

Since I’ve been working on this post, which I started a few weeks ago, I’ve stumbled across a number of articles across this theme. Here’s a tiny selection.

Analysis of the pink machine

Seeking a non-gendered McDonalds Happy Meal

Laura Nelson v gender apartheid in London

The fightback against gendered toys

It’s the marketing, stupid

The Baby Gender Diary

The pro-pink posse

What’s the problem with pink anyway? 

Everything pink is not lame

 

 

Culinary heritage

CC, my nearly 8-year-old, informs me he needs to create a recipe to cook something representing his “cultural background”. By the end of the week. With pictures. Which means we have to cook the bloody thing this morning, before school, as we’re tied up for the rest of the week.

Our cultural background is Anglo-boring. I write “Australian” on census forms, but that’s not what out school wants. It’s an awesome multicultural school; its motto is “We all smile in the same language.” How can we compete with the exotic menus of his classmates?

We’ve been here before, last year, when his brother the S-man was in grade 3. He presented his Scottish ancestry with Shepherd’s Pie. Easy enough, with forewarning.

CC has chosen to reference some minor European heritage, which I may occasionally claim with skewed weight: the French. (I think my sons’ genetic makeup contains about 6.25% French DNA. And another 6.25% Algerian. But there’s a tangent for another time.) Well, French he’s chosen, and it sure beats making haggis.

Oi, Oi, Oi... Oui, Oui?

Oi, Oi, Oi… Oui, Oui?

Now, what masterpiece of French cuisine can we whip up before school in order to get some pictures printed?

To my culinary relief, he has decided he wants to make French toast.

A quick pray to Google informs that French toast is, indeed, French (also Roman, and is found in the heritage of many other nationalities, including the Roma, who probably aren’t even allowed to claim eggy bread, or anything else. But let’s not peddle bread-pedantry). It even has a real French name, pain perdu. Lost bread. Meaning stale bread. We’re going to tell his class that we eat stale bread.

The only bread in the house, stale or not, is multigrain, which doesn’t seem very legit. Tough.

Where's Tassie?

Where’s Tassie?

We jazz some of it up with biscuit cutters – eat your heart out, Organised Housewife. A rectangle between two triangles becomes Tie Fighter toast. This is an example of a superior parenting tactic, something those clever parenting books call “encouraging your child’s imagination”*. I am officially an Excellent Parent.

The force is (not very) strong on this plate

The force is (not very) strong in this one

*through crappy representation

The big reveal

The Big Reveal? Or the slow drip feed. The latter was so effectively put to use by Deb, my old friend, that I didn’t find out about her pregnancy until last Tuesday. That’s the day she was scheduled to give birth via caesarian. Deb’s a week older than me. Maybe I should take her lead…

So how to let it be known? There’s the “scan pic across social media” approach, but they all look a little too amphibious. That’s already on the Facebook page, and even I’m a little grossed out by it.

I thought the fact that I’d posted pictures of baked goods on my personal Instagram would have been enough of a hint, but friends can be dim these days. It must be our encroaching middle age.

Let’s see how others handle the reveal.

There’s this film clip.

There’s the horrible picture of a soft toy and a wee-soaked stick.

That's just wrong.

That’s just wrong.

 

There’s the picture of pasta sauce.

Pasta sauce

However, I know how to pronounce “prego”. And it ain’t “preggo”.
It’s in there… maybe we can work with that…

 

There’s a world of cringe out there.

Seeking a pithy statement of my own, seeking that crucial social media cut-through. Like a quiver of cheesiness, all prefaced by Guess what? 

Guess what?

“I’m not getting fat, I’m four months pregnant”

… edited to “Not fat. Pregnant” – T-shirt ready…

 

Guess what?

Those mood swings weren’t early menopause, after all.

 

Guess what?

We’ll never be able to afford a holiday involving air travel again! 

Daddyo and I settle on a trickle approach, leaving the kick-off up to our boys, who tell their school friends. A couple of phone calls, some face-to-facers, SMS’d scan pics, and we’re away.

I set up a blog, shimmy it out across social media, and back-date a stack of pre-written posts.

 

It’s awesome to finally embrace this event. I stick my due date into babycentre and sign up for the emails. (Finally.)

Now: to celebrate with a vintage Oaxacan embroidered dress. Hello, Ebay!

Ice cream

Q: Does ice cream count as a craving, or am I being a greedy little piglet?

 

A: Yes.

 

IMG_2154

Limbo angst

Angst

This limbo, somewhere around 9 weeks, where nobody knows save him and me and a couple of medical/allied folk. This limbo, it’s almost like the baby doesn’t exist. All smoothly rolls; I’m a little tired, nothing noteworthy. Nobody would guess. Sometimes, not even me.

Until this morning.

This morning, when my eldest advises me of a project due TODAY involving printing pictures on vaguearama topics: his culture, his aspirations, as well as the usual family and friends happy snaps. (I can’t find a picture of all four of us more recent than 2009.) The first computer cracks a spaz. The printer refuses to cooperate. I cough on a mouthful of muesli and choke with sudden nausea. Everyone is late. We have no bread. My back aches, and I dread how it could feel with another 10 kilos hanging off it. My breasts ache, as always. I am blue, and angry. Making the boys’ lunch, I try to snap Saladas in half, and they shatter. That’s when I start crying. One son disappears down to the chickens, the other pats my arm, confused.

I can’t do this.

My old body is not up to this pregnancy.

My mind is not ready for the depression I’d forgotten comes freely with pregnancy hormones.

I am not the person to do this. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant the last times: I suffered some depressive episodes both pregnancies, plus PND after #2. I am scared shitless of losing the wonderful positive mental frame I’m in right now.

I lost about a litre of blood with the birth of #2. I am a bleeder. I don’t want to die giving birth.

I don’t even like babies much. I gag changing nappies. I’m not really into kids, either: I don’t like all children, just like I don’t like all people, or I don’t like all dogs.

We can’t afford this.

I will be 65 when this child turns 21. (Daddyo will be 69.)

We were quite content and comfortable as we were. How are we even going to fit a baby into the house? (I’m going to lose my new bookshelves!)

It’s not fair to do this to my sons. Maybe it’s not fair to do this to this unborn little one, either.

Atticus

I like my obstetrician. He’s got four of his own kids: that’s a good sign. One was bass guitarist in a cool Brisbane band for a while, until they broke up prematurely. Some blame Megan Washington, but that’s another story.

Atticus, my obstetrician

Atticus, my obstetrician

He looks a little like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird. This is exactly what you want your obstetrician to look like, I reckon. Atticus saved my life, last baby, 100 years ago (ok, 8), when he dealt with a delayed hemorrhage. It’s pretty cool to be visiting him again. In a rather life-changing manner of doing so.

 

Ancient celebrities’ babies

I compile a list of celebrities who fall pregnant later in life… Then I see this article, which makes me feel uncomfortable. I understand, by having a surprise natural pregnancy now, that I am unusual, but Ms Friedman’s censorious tone makes me feel quite excluded. Or maybe it’s the hormones.

At least Cosmopolitan reports that “each case is different”. And, if I dig around a little, I can find others in the blogosphere who’ll make me feel less of a freak.

 

Ancient, knocked-up celebs

  • Halle Berry, 46 (2nd child)
  • Uma Thurman, 43 (3rd)
  • Salma Hayek, 41
  • Mariah Carey, 43
  • Jane Seymour, and Celine Dion, 42
  • Madonna, 40-whatever
  • Carla Bruni, 44
  • Monica Belluci, 45
  • Maya Rudolph, 41(4th)
  • Mira Sorvino, 45
  • Julianne Moore, 41
  • Kelly Preston, 47 (3rd)
  • Marcia Cross, 51
  • Jennifer Connely, 42
  • Meryl Streep, 4 kids in her 40s
  • Susan Sarandon, 45 (2nd)
  • Annette Bening, 41
  • Molly Ringwald, 45!!!
  • Geena Davis, 46
  • Brooke Sheilds, 41
  • Madonna, 41 (2nd)

You can’t tell me they were all donor eggs.

Oh, this blog is shiny and new and already I’m writing about celebrities. I feel dirty.

But, I’ll take Uma, and Molly. And the most exciting exemplar…


Ursula Andress in a bikini

Ursula. Always Ursula.

 

The winning mature celeb pregnancy is Ursula Andress, who had her first baby at 44, with none other than my high school LA Law crush, Harry Hamlin. She’s also scored some quality doona time with James Dean and Marlon Brando — oh, my teenage self swoons! AND she knows her way around a tiger.

Ursula Andress and Harry HamlinJimmy & Ursula Villa CapriUrsule-Andress

I knew we had more in common than a love of good shells.

And hanging out on coral cays with moustachio’d Scots.

 

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