(I appear to have invented a word! Like Harriet and her wedhead!)

I’ve always found the idea, that being a stay at home Mum or an attachment parent is anti-feminist, an interesting one. In some ways you can see the angle, that staying at home or always being there for your baby are more in line with a 1950s view of the role of women. On the other hand, someone choosing to stay at home or attachment parent, despite what would seem to be pressure in the opposite direction to go back to work and do a job that is more valued by society, is surely a feminist act – just as a woman can be an astronaut, so can she looks after her kids full time.
Having said that, it’s hard to unpick the societal pressures on those decisions – I think it fair to say that you see few stay at home Dads because there are societal and cultural pressures for the father to be the provider and work. So if, as a parent, you believe that your kids are better off being raised solely by you, then it tends to come down to the mother taking on that role.

If you would rather stay at home raising your kids and rather your partner worked then, yay, feminist. If you would like to work more but your partner’s job or boss or perspective doesn’t allow for that then, boo, anti-feminist because you are being controlled by his decisions.

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An alien in Stockport

OK, it’s London not Stockport but Stockport rhymes with New York better so suck it up! (See how American I am – I talk about diapers and strollers too).

Celine has pointed me to an interesting series, mostly about Americans bringing up kids in foreign countries including the UK and another about foreigners bringing up their kids in America.

It was an interesting perspective and made me think about how careful I should be to not do down what Elphie is doing just because we have a culture of understatement.

So just so we are clear, Elphie is a genius musical prodigy heading for Olympic Gold. Obvs.

UPDATE: Pondering more on this post, it struck me that the comments from Matt Taylor’s family on him landing a probe on a comet were particularly British: don’t feel bad that you haven’t landed a probe on a comet, he can’t park in Sainsbury’s – at least you can do that!


Our first guest post!

Hi. I’m Rebecca, and I’ve been invited by Cath and Elly to write a guest post for the blog. I hope you won’t consider me an impostor. You see, I understand that ‘Having Kittens’ is all about being a parent and the highs and lows and ‘aargh, which choice do I make’ moments that come with that honour. Elly and Cath have both shared their experiences from the early dilemmas of pregnancy, to first birthdays and beyond. They have loved their sprogs since the pink line appeared, and have cooed over each little milestone. I’m going to tell you about a different route into parenthood, from a different angle. You see, I’m what they call a ‘prospective parent’ – in other words, I’m not actually a parent at all. There’s no pink line, no scan picture, no cute photo of a child pulling a silly face, and no anecdotes to share yet. But I hope one day there will be – some of those things at least.

I’m preparing to be a parent. I’m preparing to adopt.

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What a way to make a living

It happened – the day finally came when I could put off the return to work no longer – after 15 months I was returning to the grindstone.

Work was a continual spectre over my maternity leave – the guilt about returning while Elphie was so young; the length of time she’d be in daycare; how much she’d miss me; how much I would miss her. My decision to extend my maternity leave was largely powered by this guilt and the overwhelming concern that someone else would see her first steps (ironically I missed them anyway – Fred saw them in our kitchen while I was busy cooking). Now she was walking and although still breastfeeding, was becoming very independent and survived a few “Keeping In Touch” training days with grandmama so seemed like she would cope – the question was whether I would!
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Waiting for the wind to change

Trying to conceive is an exercise in frustration – you ponder for months, years even, on when to have a baby and you psych yourself up for it and decide you are going to start trying. Out goes the birth control and then… Nothing. Months of nothing. Why were you ever worrying if you missed the odd pill when you can miss 100 and still not be pregnant?!

Selecting childcare is proving to be a similar object lesson in frustration.

First you reject other options; because childminders have too high a ratio of childminders to children with limited facilities and nurseries are too institutional, long hours, and dens of disease with too early closing times. But you only decide this once you have visited all the options in the area – just in case one was different. (To be fair, we found a nursery we liked – where the kids didn’t look like they were from Stepford and they took them out in a huge wheelbarrow thing to play in the park, but it closed at 6pm and with both our work finishing at 6pm, that put a bit of a spanner in the works).

Which leaves nannies as the only option – able to work in your home, to your childcare philosophy, to your hours. But they are properly expensive – especially once you have paid their tax, their national insurance and your employer’s tax – a going rate of £10 per hour quickly becomes £14.50, and this to be paid largely from your post-tax income (unless you can persuade your employer to pay you the amazing £28 per week, i.e. 2 hours’ worth, in childcare vouchers that you are allowed as a higher rate tax payer and find an Ofsted registered nanny to take them).

But you decide that your child’s happiness is the most important thing, and that it will be an investment in your career because you will be able to give it more focus as you won’t constantly be off with an ill child or having to leave early to get back in time to avoid penalties, and so a nanny it is!

After all that soul searching, you rather hope that the perfect nanny will drop from the sky when the wind changes. So far, no such luck…

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Sleeping through

OK, OK, I am writing a post, I just am getting distracted by my impending return to work, no childcare solution and another holiday (we haven’t had enough, I am sure you’ll agree).

But in the meantime read this other blog post instead – mine will be less funny in any case.

Breastfeeding: a winning goal – for life!

This phrase heralds Worldwide Breastfeeding Week alongside lots of celebrities demonstrating you can mix nursing with a model / pop singer / movie actress lifestyle.

My favourite has to be this one of Gisele being coifed while one year old Vivian nurses contentedly in her lap. (Have I posted this before? I feel I have…)

This picture would only apply to Elphie if she was asleep, at any point before that the stylists and manicurists would have to dodge the flailing arms and legs that accompany a nursing session, alongside the occasional “pop your head and / or entire body up to find out exactly what’s going on”. But maybe that is because I haven’t got Elphie used to the idea of me being coifed by an army of beauticians, and hence she doesn’t realise that the five minutes of hairbrushing, occasional misadventure in make-up and attacks on my nails with her baby nail clippers, should each be accompanied by her peacefully breastfeeding in my lap as opposed to using these opportunities to “stroke” (read whack) the cat or eat her food and/or litter. Must rectify this immediately with army of stylists…

Was that the message the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action were after?