186 articles Articles posted in Personal

How Are Women Supposed to Trust the Police?

How Are Women Supposed to Trust the Police?As a white English woman, I’ve always tried to be aware of my privilege. I don’t get profiled by the police for crimes because of my skin colour or religion, I’ve never had to teach my kids strategies for dealing with overly aggressive law enforcement and I’ve largely felt that the police were on my side and could be trusted. I could be pulled over in my car and not have to worry about it.

Sure, there’s been a long-running culture of police protecting their own, but closing ranks isn’t unique to one profession. I’ve got good friends in the police force, people who I’d trust with my life and I know I’m lucky to have been in this position.

Since hearing about the Sarah Everard case earlier this year, my feelings have started to change. I live in the sticks and I’m the only driver, so I spend a lot of time driving along quiet country lanes by myself. Just this week, I had a police car driving behind me at night and I felt very unsure. If I were to be pulled over, what should I do? I’m the last person who’d engage in a high-speed chase with the police, but at the same time, would I feel safe being pulled over at night on a deserted country lane? Not any more.

Sarah Everard’s killer abused his privilege in every way imaginable. He used his police credentials to stop her, he got her into his car under the pretence of an arrest and he had the chance to destroy evidence ahead of being arrested because he knew there were colleagues of his posted outside his house.

His colleagues also failed. Stories have emerged that not only was he reported for indecent exposure on more than one occasion and was never properly investigated, his fellow officers at the station where he worked branded him “The Rapist”. If you had a colleague about whom you had serious concerns like this, a colleague with powers to allow him to control other people, what would you do? Probably go to the authorities, right?

Oh…oh dear.

So, what do I tell my kids to do now? Husband and I are probably bordering on the psychotic when it comes to the safety of our kids, but that’s how we’ve always done things. When we’re out in public places, the lesson has always been “find a policeman” if we get separated or something bad happens. We’ve brought our kids up to trust the police and go to them in times of trouble.

I legitimately don’t know if I can do that anymore.

I’m aware that one “bad apple” (and I’ll be honest, I hate that phrase and really don’t think it does justice to refer to a murdering rapist in such louche terms) doesn’t mean that every police officer is untrustworthy, but the whole system of ignoring criminal behaviour and turning a blind eye for fear of alienating colleagues really does not do much for my faith. I don’t think I would be so quick to tell my daughters to be totally trusting of the police anymore, that’s for sure.

Since I started writing this, the Metropolitan Police released some guidance on how women should react if they’re stopped by a lone police officer – their solution is for women to try “shouting out to a passerby, running into a house, knocking on a door, waving a bus down or, if you are in the position to do so, calling 999.” – they also said that women should feel able to challenge an officer and ask to see their credentials. I really fail to see how this would help, given the fact that Sarah Everard’s killer HAD police credentials and she trusted his actions in arresting her. This also is completely useless if you’re in a secluded location.

I’m not trying to say that I understand what it’s like to be part of a marginalised group of society like the BAME community does, not by a long shot. However, being a woman can make you feel incredibly vulnerable at times. There are already things I can’t do, places I can’t go and certain times during which I should be safely locked indoors, but without feeling like I can put my faith in the police, that window of opportunity feels EVEN smaller to me.

But, the point I’m making in a very roundabout way is this – if I don’t feel safe telling my daughters to go to the police for help and put 100% of their faith in them, what the hell do I tell them now?

Summer’s Here – It’s Time For A More Positive Outlook

There aren’t many people who can say they’ve enjoyed the past year. The pandemic has been hard, and has had a huge impact on most people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

But with things looking more positive at the moment, it’s also time for you to start looking on the brighter side, ready to enjoy a great summer and get your health back on track.

Shake off the past year with the following tips for ensuring a more positive outlook this summer.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Make plans

After a year of not being able to make many plans, it’s time for plans to come back on the menu! Keeping busy ensures you don’t stay at home moping, and instead gives you the chance to go see friends and family as well as enjoy different experiences. Spend time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself. Check out some great things to do this summer and start making plans!

Get outdoors

Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health. It can help you feel a lot more positive after spending a long, wet winter indoors. From going for walks to dining al fresco, there’s a lot to love about spending time outside. If you want to boost your fitness this summer, you can also check out some outdoor workout ideas to keep you busy. Get that vitamin D and spend some time in the sunshine – don’t forget your sun protection!

Think about your future and your goals

The past year might have meant that some of your plans have been put on hold, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay on hold forever. Start setting some goals for yourself that will help give you motivation, serving as a positive way to move forward. You might want to consider going down a more spiritual route with Psychic Lights and see what your future holds. If you’re feeling particularly lost or unsure of your future, you could also consider speaking to a life or career coach, who could help you think about things differently.

Prioritise your mental health

Your mental health is important, but like your physical health, it needs taking care of. Find ways of reducing stress so that you can enjoy life, and making sure that you don’t bottle up your feelings. Don’t put pressure on yourself and make sure you take enough opportunities to relax – isn’t that what summer is all about?

If you are struggling with your mental health for whatever reason, make sure you speak to someone or seek help.

Summer is when a lot of people will feel more optimistic and hopeful. The longer, brighter days can work wonders for your wellbeing, as well as help you get out and about more. Give more time to yourself and let go of all of your negativity so that you can really make the most of the summer months.

Feel Good Contacts (review and discount code)

Last year, when I started going to the gym a lot, I quickly became aware that wearing glasses and lifting weights were not very compatible – there’s nothing quite so precarious as positioning yourself under a bar to do some heavy squats, only for your glasses to slide down your nose. You have the choice to either re-rack your bar and push them up (only for it to happen again as soon as you lift) or try to hold the bar with one hand while balanced on your shoulders and push them up. Trust me, neither are good options, and I realised that I’d need to give contact lenses another go if I wanted to carry on lifting.

For me, the best option was to have my eyes tested and have a contact lens consultation at a high street optician, and then use my prescription to buy my lenses online, which is what I’ve now been doing for over a year, however the lenses I’ve been using have been getting progressively more uncomfortable, so I knew I needed a change. As luck would have it, the guys from Feel Good Contacts got in touch as asked if I’d like to try some lenses from their range, so I jumped at the chance!

Feel Good Contacts packaging

Feel Good Contacts is the cheapest online retailer of contact lenses on the market and due to their Price Match guarantee, customers will not find their lenses cheaper anywhere else online, or on the high street. Feel Good can save customers up to 50% on their contact lenses. They also offer a ‘matching service’ which helps you to find an alternative to the lenses you already wear, giving you options. They also offer Next Day Delivery when you order before 7.15pm, which is amazing service!

The lenses that Feel Good Contacts originally wanted me to trial turned out to be unsuitable because I have an astigmatism in one eye and need a toric lens, but they were able to recommend some lenses for me (Coopervision Biofinity and Biofinity Toric) and they were absolutely spot on! I’ve been wearing them for almost a month and they’re the most comfortable lenses I’ve ever worn. Feel Good Contacts sent me a lens case and some solution with my lenses too, making it a perfect little package with everything I need. Delivery was really fast and everything was beautifully packed to fit through a letterbox so you don’t have to worry abut not being around when they’re delivered.

I have enough lenses to last me until the beginning of April, but I will 100% be using Feel Good Lenses to buy my contacts when I need to get some more as the combination of the price, the delivery and the customer service has all been amazing. If you’re thinking of making a change to your contact lens provide, I can highly recommend Feel Good Contacts and as an added bonus I have a discount code for Mum’s the Word readers to use, giving you an additional 12% off of – just enter STAYCOMFI12 at the checkout. Oh, and do come back and leave me a comment to tell me what you think of Feel Good Contacts, too!

You’re The One! Easy Ways To Feel Confident Again!

The way that we talk about confidence can often be kind of weird. We talk about it as this “thing” that you either have, or you don’t. As though it’s something that you can just pop to the store a pick it up on your way home from work. In reality, confidence is an incredibly fluid concept, and for a lot of people, it’s something that they struggle with every single day. This can be especially tough for those who might once have been very confident, but something has happened that caused you to lose it. This could be a change in your appearance, having a baby, a bad break-up, or any number of things. No matter what the cause, losing your confidence can be one of the most demoralising things in the world. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that you can do about it. The truth is that confidence is a skill that can be learned just like any other. It’s not some magic quality that only a select few were born with. The truth is that if you’re willing to put in the time and effort required, you can often find yourself feeling far more confident and open than you ever even thought possible. With that in mind, here are a few simple ways that you can go about getting your confidence back.

Smile!

Image Source

We’ve all heard that old cliche about how smiling actively improves your mood. Whether or not there’s any real evidence to back that up, it is definitely true that smiling has a big impact on the way that people around you perceive you. It’s a simple fact of life that people are more likely to engage with someone who is smiling than someone with a scowl on their face. Smiling is like yawning: it’s infectious. If you walk into a room with a great big smile on your face, then that can have a big impact on the way that everyone in it feels. Of course, there are those who aren’t particularly happy with their smile, in which case you have access to everything from whitening gel to Invisalign that can help you embrace your pearly whites again. Remember, smile and the whole world smiles with you!

Change your style

One of the things that has a serious impact on a lot of people’s confidence is the way that they dress. It can make you feel frumpy, outdated, and boring where you once felt vibrant and exciting. Well, there’s nothing to say that you shouldn’t be able to find a new style that you find a bit more fun and interesting. No matter what stage of life you’re at, you always have the chance to try new things and experiment with your wardrobe a little bit. Whether it’s a subtle change that only you can notice, or something serious drastic like a total wardrobe change or a radically different hairstyle, mixing things up can make a huge difference to how you feel on a day to day basis.

Change your surroundings

Image Source

It’s a sad fact of life that there are going to be people around you who don’t want you to feel good about yourself. This could be because they are unhappy with their own lives and want to bring you down to their level, or it could simply be that they’re petty and cruel. However, just because these people are always going to exist doesn’t mean that you need to keep letting them impact your own life. If there are toxic people around you who make you feel worse about yourself, then it’s totally okay to cut those people out of your life. You simply don’t need that kind of negativity, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to walk away from it in order to feel better about yourself.

Get to know yourself

One of the main reasons why many people end up lacking in confidence, especially when it comes to their physical appearing is because they have a skewed image of themselves in their minds. Of course, there are extreme cases where this can be seriously harmful, but many of us struggle with some form of this distorted perspective on the way that we look. One of the best ways to combat this might also be one of the most unlikely: selfies. One of the best things about selfies is that they allow you to get to know your appearance in a way that you might never have been able to before. They can help you get away from the things that you dislike and focus more on the things that you do like.

Fake it til you make it

Image Source

Of course, there’s one simple secret to being confident that most people rely on to get by on a daily basis: fake it! You would honestly be very surprised to see just how many people who seem extremely confident in public are actually a lot more shy and insecure that they let on. The reality is that presenting yourself in a confident way is often a great first step on the road to actual confidence. “Fake it til you make it” might sound like an annoying platitude but it really does have some truth to it. You should treat confidence like a habit. Sure, it’s something that you may have to put a lot of effort into at first, but over time it becomes more and more natural until you’ve spent so long pretending to be confident that you actually become confident in reality as well! This is something that takes time but is absolutely possible for just about everyone.

Of course, doing these things isn’t going to suddenly provide you with endless amounts of confidence that you’ll never lose. The truth is that there are always things that have the potential to knock it back down again. But hopefully, by taking this advice to heart, you’re going to be able to get yourself back up again rather than ending up back at square one.

Jayne’s Addiction…to the Coffee Machine!

Back when I started trying to get my weight in check and live a healthier life, I realised a few things. Firstly I realised that I had a fairly serious addiction to food, which might sound like a cheesy way of saying ‘greedy’ but it was more than that. Buying and eating food gave me a buzz like nothing else, so kicking the habit was going to be hard. However, giving up carbs seemed simple compared with the prospect of giving up my other love – COFFEE!

Coffee is something that I would seriously struggle to give up. I usually get at least one latte per day from the coffee machines at my local Waitrose, as well as using our drip coffee maker at home all day. I’ve recently also looked into buying a milk steamer so that I can have my own lattes at home, but the market is huge and I’ve struggled to work out which one would be best for me. The beauty of my diet, however, is that coffee is positively encouraged, so I’m okay!

As I’ve got older, I’ve got more of a taste for strong, properly brewed coffee from a machine; in the past, instant was okay, but I blame that on working in a lot of offices where freeze-dried coffee was the only thing that got us through the day! Now that I work at home, I’m able to be a lot fussier about it all. There are so many different blends out there and I do look out for the stronger ones. I’ve even been tempted to look for a Sage coffee machine as I know they’re one of the best you can get, but they are a little pricey.

The funny thing is, even though Burrito Baby is only 3 and a half, she already loves coffee! Just the other day, her lunch request was “plain toast and a cup of coffee” – I joked in Facebook that it was like having another 33 year old in the house! Obviously, we make her decaffeinated coffee because, you know, we do like sleep sometimes, but having coffee from a young age is pretty normal in other parts of the world. Husband’s family is German on one side and they think nothing of letting their little ones have a milky cup of coffee each day.

Coffee is proven to be beneficial in many ways. As well as being packed with antioxidant, which fight off disease and the ageing process, it’s also shown to be good for digestion and studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases. All of this seems like a perfect reason to continue my coffee consumption with gusto – I almost wonder if my lack of broodiness is because I never want to go nine months without caffeine again!

Are you a coffee lover? Do you use a proper coffee machine or is instant good enough for you? I’d love to hear from any fellow coffee addicts out there, so do leave me a comment below!

Parenting Groups: Five Reasons for Quitting

parenting groupsFor a fair while, I’ve been part of a few different parenting groups on Facebook, places where mums and dads can go to ask questions about anything from “does this rash look like chickenpox?” to “which shops have Hatchimals in stock?” and largely it’s been good. I’ve asked plenty of questions myself and try to help others where I can. But, as of yesterday, I’ve removed myself from these groups (all but The Motherload) because it’s just messing with my head. There are questions which get asked over and over and OVER again and they’re things which make me so cross that I can actually FEEL my blood pressure rising. Here’s just 5 of those questions:

1. Vaccinations

This was the one which prompted me to remove myself yesterday and it’s probably the one which makes me the MOST angry. Someone asked “Have any other parents refused vaccinations for their kids and has is caused them problems with school and nursery?”. The comments are full of people who think they know better than the World Health Organisation (despite the fact that they get their info from American websites with URLs like VacTruth.com and nothing with any basis in actual science). Just in the last month, I’ve seen people cite the inclusion of mercury and aluminium in vaccines as a reason not to give them as well as one woman who claimed that the flu vaccine contained MSG which is, WAIT FOR IT…WORSE THAN GIVING HER CHILD COCAINE. (FML)Another woman claimed that she knew all about herd immunity and it meant that her child didn’t need vaccinations, thus proving that she actually knew nothing about fucking herd immunity.  I was one step shy of spamming the group of pictures of kids with smallpox, so I decided it was best to step away.

2. Baby Names

I’m aware that what people on random parenting groups name their kids is absolutely NONE of my business, but every time there was a “can I have suggestions of names for my unborn child?” thread, I’d read through with my head in my hands, feeling really sorry for the future generation of children who were going to have names like “Aliviyah” (pronounced Olivia, just in case you were wondering) and feeling like I was living in a real life Idiocracy.

3. Nub Theory

“Oh hi everyone. Can you look at this scan picture of my baby (who is probably too young to have even properly developed reproductive organs yet) and guess what their gender might be based on a totally theoretical and unproven method of working it out?”. Nub theory is a THEORY. Asking strangers to guess the gender of your unborn child is stupid.

4. Keeping Up with The Jonses

Do you know what I found myself Googling the other day? Matching Christmas dresses for me and the girls. Thanks to the people on Facebook parenting groups who go absolutely fucking OVERBOARD every Christmas with their EXPERIENCES and their CHRISTMAS EVE BOXES and their “BOOK-A-DAY” ADVENT CALENDARS and ALLLLLLL the other overblown shit that everyone MUST do and MUST talk about at length so that they can lord it over everyone else, I am seriously considering matching outfits for myself, my eight year old and my two year old for Christmas Day. And I’m pretty sure that makes me a massive twat.

5. Nastiness

I’m aware that what I’ve written above may seem like a bit of nastiness but this is NOTHING compared with some of the vile behaviour I’ve seen from grown people in parenting groups. There’s a LOT of stuff which gets discussed that I don’t agree with but I always try to be respectful and give replies to people based on actual knowledge and not just knee-jerk reactions. Often though (I assume on days when there’s a full moon and everyone’s menstrual cycle is syncronised) things can get NASTY. Simple threads about bottle feeding can lead to struggling Mums being called c*nts and being left wishing they hadn’t asked in the first place and it’s that kind of behaviour that I just don’t want to be a part of.

Are you a member of any of these kid of online groups? Do you find that they enhance your life or do you step away from your phone or PC feeling like your head is going to explode? I’d love to hear from you!

No Time to Read?

Time to ReadAs soon as I was old enough to read, I became something of a bookworm. The Hobbit was the first “proper” book I read when I was about 6 and it was an ongoing love affair from then. When I was in my early teens, I’d wake up on Saturday morning, go into town to buy a new book and then spend the rest of the weekend reading it, usually finished by Sunday afternoon. My mother was so concerned by my lack of interest in being a street-raker that she actually consulted a doctor about my behaviour (although I think most  parents would be delighted by a child who chose to stay at home and read, but hey, sometimes you just can’t win).

The last time I read a book was a couple of years ago now. Carrie, by Stephen King if I remember rightly (which I highly recommend, if you haven’t already read it. In fact, read ANYTHING by Stephen King.). But since then, I’ve not picked up a book. I have plenty of access to books and I also have a Kindle, so that’s not the problem.

I keep claiming that I “don’t have time to read”, but that’s not really true, either. I have plenty of time for Facebook and Netflix and Candy Crush and all of the other things which hog my attention. I might CLAIM to be time poor but that only seems to apply when it suits me. I think the problem is inside my brain…what I once loved about reading is the thing which is making it hard for me now. Bear with me while I elaborate.

One of the appeals of reading a book was that feeling of slipping inside the story, losing myself in the words and in my own imagination and being taken away from reality into a finely-woven tale which could completely consume me. These days, I seem to have an absolute inability to disconnect myself enough to lose myself in anything. Even when we’re watching a film or TV show, I’m picking up my phone to browse Facebook or Reddit or occasionally Twitter (I say ‘occasionally’ because, is it just me, or is that place just tumbleweed central these days? No-one seems to chat on there like they used to).

People have noticed how attached to social media I am and it’s become a bit of a running joke, but it’s also starting to worry me. It seems like my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has become all-encompassing. It’s definitely a lifestyle thing; when I was young and single, I literally NEVER turned down a night out or a chance to socialise. I could be settling down in my pyjamas, get a phone call and be in the pub in half an hour flat because I couldn’t bear the thought that people were having fun without me, and I think Facebook has become a substitute for that – I can still be sitting in my pyjamas, not NEEDING to go out and still be connected to everything that’s going on in my friends lives.

I’ve seen other people take a social media detox and I genuinely wonder how they do it. Going on Facebook, either by app or desktop, has become almost like a reflex, something I do as a matter course and I really feel like I need to take a break. The main fear is that, because so much of my work is social-based or reliant on a social media scoring, stepping away means losing money but I think I need to give it a go and see before I let it consume me. From next week, I’ll be removing the app from my phone and only accessing Facebook via my laptop, and I’ll only be using my laptop during “work” hours.

I need to re-learn how to read. How to watch a TV show without picking up my phone every two seconds. How to interact with my kids and Husband without there being a screen between me and them.

And the stupid thing is, the thought of it fucking terrifies me.

“You Look Like a Girl”

boy dressed as princessThe other day, I needed to buy some new pillows so I went to the supermarket and was wandering around the clothing and home wares department having a browse. It was pretty quiet in there as it was only about 9.15am and there were only one or two other shoppers in the whole place. One other customer was a woman, probably in her mid-to-late twenties and her son, who obviously wasn’t quite school age yet, but still looked roughly 4-ish.

The kid was wandering around fairly unchecked and at one point started to try things on from one of those free-standing jewellery and accessory displays that turns – you know the ones, right? Anyway, he became particularly enamoured with a pair of novelty sunglasses which had red, heart-shaped frames. He put them on and after admiring himself in the tiny mirror for a few seconds, turned to his Mum and, with huge amounts of pride and happiness said “Mum! Look at me! I love these glasses!”.

The mother turned to him, narrowed her eyes and with pure vitriol in her voice said “Oh my god, take those off, you look like a girl”.

My initial reaction was one of sadness as I watched the boy, clearly deflated after being rebuffed by the mother from whom he’d so wanted a little bit of praise and affirmation, take off the glasses and put them gently back on the shelf. He looked really sad, and not in that “I wanted something and Mum wouldn’t buy it for me” way that kids do, but in a genuinely confused and upset way.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the madder I’ve felt.

Firstly, what is it about red, heart shaped glasses which is designated as a GIRLS ONLY thing? Even if you do subscribe to the (bloody annoying) notion that colours are somehow gendered, surely red is a pretty neutral colour? And hearts…I mean, do only girls have hearts?! Err, no.

Secondly, even if you do think that red, heart shaped glasses are ‘girly’, SO WHAT if he does look like a girl? How is that somehow a negative thing? Is it really so bad to let a child experiment with what they feel comfortable in and form their own notions of femininity and masculinity? I know loads of guys (Husband included on one or two occasions) who’ve worn pink and absolutely rocked it. They didn’t look like girls, they looked like MEN IN PINK, just like this little boy simply looked like a boy in heart-shaped glasses. There’s a big difference.

Also, I genuinely thought we were getting past the days of negative gender stereotypes? I see little boys on my friends’ Facebook timelines playing with dollies, pushchairs, vaccums, ironing boards; all toys which, even in my lifetime, would have firmly been in the girls toys aisle and equally, I see MANY girls playing with Thomas the Tank Engine – Burrito Baby got her own tool kit and farm vehicles for her 2nd birthday whilst Sausage’s favourite things are Pokemon, Match Attax and her NERF guns. But these are “boys toys”, no? Or, is it possible, that we can just have fun with things we like, regardless. Well, yes, obviously it is.

It makes me so sad to think that little boys are having their joy, their individuality and their creativity squashed by parents with an archaic notion of what it is to be a boy and I really dread to think about the issues that this could cause them as they grow up. As a parent, I strongly believe that, although it’s our job to guide our children in terms of morality, safety and care, it’s also really important to allow them to develop their sense of self.

What do you think? Would you allow your sons to wear red, heart-shaped sunglasses? Or do you think that boys should be boys and girls should be girls and that the old-fashioned line in the sand between the two genders should remain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Almost a Third of my Life…

Today is a bit of a special day here in the MTW house – it marks the exact day TEN years ago that Husband and I became a couple. Ten years have passed, not without some major ups and downs, but quite honestly, I think Husband and I have basically beat the odds. No-one expected us to last as long as we did, especially when we announced our engagement just six weeks after meeting, but a decade later, almost a third of my life, one dog, two babies, eight house-moves, new careers and a whole load of life in between, here we are. As much as I’d like to remain dignified in my self-satisfaction, what I actually want to do is give a MASSIVE middle finger to all of our doubters.

via GIPHY

I think most people who’ve been with someone for a whole decade will agree that marriage takes work. Unless you’re one of those weird couples who never argue (and I’m not sure they truly even exist, if I’m being honest), there will always be friction. Sometimes that friction feels too much to bear and I’m terribly guilty of failing to communicate at times, but Husband and I both work to make sure our relationship stays strong.

What I will say, though, is that although we sometimes argue, although things aren’t 100% perfect all the time, I’m still convinced that I made the right choice. I still find Husband absolutely hilarious, I still love our shared interests and tastes in music and films, as well as our differences and the fact that we learn from one another all the time. And, obviously, I still fancy him rotten *blush*.

With all that in mind, in honour of a DECADE of not killing one another, I thought I’d write some new vows for the next ten years together, just because no relationship is completely unchanged after ten years and I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was 21.

I promise…

…to do my best not to turn into my mother.

…to try to keep my tendency to over-react and be passive aggressive to a minimum

…to avoid rolling my eyes when you tell me how much you hate washing up

…to try stay awake through at least ONE film per week

…to be considerate of the fact that you’re not a happy passenger in cars and not take it as criticism when you point things out when I drive

…to never use the kids as a weapon or use you as a method of discipline when you aren’t here

…to put up with your farts…as long as you put up with mine

…to serve you smaller portions of dinner because I KNOW you can’t not clear your plate

…to try to stay young at heart and enjoy each other as the years go by

Romantic, huh? Maybe not, but sometimes it’s the practical considerations that we make for one another that remind us how much we’re loved. The fact that Husband knows how I like my coffee, or when he hoovers the car out even though I’m the one who let it get disgusting, or when he listens to me talk endlessly about the dramas which have turned me upside down over the past couple of years, always remaining on my side. That’s love, that is.

So, here’s to another ten years with my best friend and the best Dad I could wish for, for Sausage and Burrito Baby. Now, if he’d just vow to put his clothes in the washing basket, life would be perfect…!

Maldives, August 2006Look how young we look! (Ignore the random Maldivian man in the background…!)

Raising Pragmatists – Parenting Without God

It’s pretty safe to say that religion is not something which factors very highly on mine and Husband’s list when it comes to parenting our girls. We’ve taught them the basics about what each of the major religions involve and have told them that, if they choose to, they’re welcome to explore faith if it appeals to them, but we certainly don’t follow any religion ourselves and usually strive to separate the girls from these kinds of teachings. While this may seem like our household is “lacking” in something because of our aversion to faith, I actually think that it makes our jobs as parents a lot harder, in two specific ways.

Firstly, there’s the issue of death. When Husband and I have broached this subject in the past with Sausage (BB is still far too young and is mostly only concerned with cake and Mr. Tumble), we don’t have tales of fluffy white clouds and angels with harps to pass on. Husband and I feel that humans have energy and that energy is reabsorbed into the earth when we die, but beyond that there’s nothing. It’s really hard to look your child in the eye and tell them that we won’t live on together in eternity, as much as I would love that to be the case. Expecting a child to be pragmatic enough to deal with the thought that, one day, we won’t be together anymore and we won’t be skipping around in Heaven together is really quite tough.

When my stepmum passed away in 2011, Sausage was just three. Lorraine was another pragmatist and had a Humanistic funeral, presided over by a minister who talked not about God but about people and life and living as a good person. When we spoke to Sausage about her passing, we were careful not to say “Lorraine has gone to Heaven”, both as a way to respect Lorraine’s wishes but also to convey our own views on the situation, but whenever anyone else mentions death around the kids, they tend to soften things by saying that the person had gone to Heaven. While I respect people’s views, I can’t help but wonder if they’re making things easier for themselves because they don’t have to broach the subject of nothing after death, just as much as they are softening things for the kids.pragmatism

The other issue, whilst still Heaven related, is the issue of morality. Husband and I can’t teach our girls that if they aren’t “good” then they won’t go to Heaven or that bad people get their comeuppance in Hell. They don’t have the looming threat of eternal damnation keeping them in line, they simply have to self-moderate and apply what we’ve passed on in terms of ‘how to be a good person’. Anyone who knows our girls knows that they’re both really decent little people, with kind hearts and mindful attitudes (again, I’m talking about Sausage here more than BB, she’s still a work in progress!), both of which have been achieved without religion. It makes me really proud of Sausage to know that, when she’s being a good person, it’s not for the sake of a Heavenly trade-off, it’s because she’s a genuinely good person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing people who’ve got faith and pass it on to their children; I’m all for personal choice and as long as people respect my right to live without faith, I’ll respect their right to have it. All I’m saying is, religion must make certain aspects of child-rearing a lot simpler.

What do you think? Are you raising faithless pragmatists? How do you broach the difficult subjects without making things seem too stark or scary? Do you use the phrase “going to Heaven” even though you don’t believe it? I’d love to hear your views, please leave me a comment below.