Archive of ‘Thoughts’ category

Lost…and found.

This weeks writing challenge was about lost art. It seemed rather prescient as I had recently been thinking about the lost art of the catch up. Meeting up for a coffee, afternoon tea, evening drinks, dinner with friends, even long phone conversations. I’m sure plenty of people still do this, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I did. And a quick survey of my friends reveals I am not the only one that draws a blank. Which is strange, as in my late teens through to my mid twenties, I was a constant fixture at my local cafes (and it wasn’t like it is now, all hipster and shit. They were still daggy 90’s style with cappuccinos so frothy you’d put a flag in the top like Everest). But, slowly, as life started to get more hectic, work become more demanding, time just started slipping away. The friend I used to meet weekly for coffee, I then saw monthly, and then we were lucky if we met up every couple of months. The semi-regular dinners with one group of friends turned into a twice yearly thing- Easter & Christmas get together. Meeting for drinks on a Friday or Saturday night just disappeared off the radar together- the victim of a combination of a lack of interesting (read: non RSL club) drinking establishments locally, terrible traffic to get into the city to better places and an overwhelming desire to simply stay home in my trackies with takeaway.

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But we were still catching up, right? On the phone, via text…but then the long conversations on the phone phone that were a weekly thing to replace the coffee date turned into a quick text. Then the text turned into a short Facebook wall post after perusing that persons profile to glean details of the key events in their lives.

Then came parenthood and all bets were off. Sure, there was the occasional paying a friend a visit, or texting back and forth, or in the case of a few close friends, a game of phone tag, where after three days of a constant stream of missed calls (and one you ignored because your kid was screaming blue murder and had no intention of stopping and you didn’t think it fair to subject anyone to that), you’d just give up.

It seems that I am not alone in this. I don’t know wether it’s endemic of my age group or just our generation in general, or society at large but all too often you hear people lamenting how its ben so long since they saw this friend, or they haven’t spoken to that friend in months. We can blame social media to a point- Facebook and Instagram have made it all too easy for us to feel like we have already seen what people are up to and have “virtually” caught up with their life in their timeline, but that is only part of the problem. Another factor is the “busy syndrome”- everyone’s every waking hour seems to be filled. Are we really that chronically busy that we have let friendships fall by the wayside? Most people I spoke to seemed to have core group of a few family/friends they spoke to and saw regularly, the rest kind of drifted into a sea of “sometimes”. But no one, myself included, could put their finger on just when or how we got so “busy”. And what it is exactly that we are busy doing.

All this came to head for me last week. I was in the city and I walked past a place where there was once a bar I frequented in my misspent youth. It’s no longer there and I can’t even remember the name of it, despite the fact it was one of our favourite and most visited venues. But it reminded me of the good times (possibly too good, given the memory loss) I had and one of my very good friends who was part of those times. She moved interstate years ago and for a while we had been good at catching up- infrequent visits punctuated by long calls and texts. But then we kind of lost touch and I realised, while standing in the middle of Pitt St, that I hadn’t spoken to her in over two years. It wasn’t like we had a fight, or drifted apart due to vastly different lives, it was just a case of us both being so caught up that we kept thinking “oh, I must call her” and never getting around to it. And I did exactly that and kept walking.

Then the following day I was at a local coffee place getting my morning elixir of life (incidentally one of the many hipster hidey holes which didn’t exist back in the day when I actually used go out for coffee) and as I was waiting for the takeaway flat white I did what we all do when killing time waiting for our barista:  scrolled through Facebook. And another friend, whom I used to work with, and loved dearly, cropped up. And I also hadn’t had a conversation with her in two years either.

The kicker for me was that neither of these two people, who I really valued and cared about despite the circumstances, had ever met my daughter.

So I stopped scrolling through the pictures of acquaintances’ holidays and videos of cats and wrote them both a message. I decided then and there to revive the art of the catch up. Be it a good, old fashioned ear burning phone conversation or after work coffee or a lady lunch, I was going to get through the list of people I wanted to see, starting with those two beautiful ladies. One of them I managed to organise lunch date with this long weekend and the interstate friend, after a few long messages and some phone tag I finally managed to have a hour and a half phone conversation with, with a definite long lunch planned for Christmas time. Then when I got home, I called one of my closest friends whom I haven’t seen in two months and finally had a chat to her and organised a play date for our kids. Then Monday after work I stopped by another friends for afternoon tea.

I haven’t got to everyone, but I think for a week I’ve made good headway.

So here’s to reviving the lost art of catching up, whatever from it may take. Long lunch, afternoon tea, fancy dinner, pub crawl, bar hopping or simply a coffee.

Wedding Krashers

Here’s some minor news you might have missed over the weekend: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got married.

Kim who? you ask.

Well, I think this New York Post article reports it as accurately and succinctly as possible.

 

New York Post article. Source Unknown

New York Post article. Source Unknown


The New York Post doesn’t seem like a publication I would normally read. But I’m starting to think that perhaps I have misjudged them.

I can’t tell you how much I love this article. Because, quite frankly, I couldn’t care less that these two people got married. I have an irrational hatred of anything associated with the Kardashian family. I know, it makes me uncool. It means I am out of touch with the cultural zeitgeist. But I don’t give a fuck. Quite frankly, whenever I see a news item about any of those people, I despair for humanity. That a woman with no discernible talent, who has contributed nothing to society and has no profession or occupation to speak of, is famous for being, well, famous is unfathomable to me. She made a sex tape. So did Jenna Jameson and at least she had the good sense to get paid for it.

The Kardashians and Paris Hilton and the like before them, are a dangerous phenomenon as far as I’m concerned. What kind of message are we sending young girls when the media and society at large worship a woman like this? Once upon a time, little girls wanted to be nurses and teachers. Then we told them they could be lawyers and doctors. We started to worry when they said they wanted to be actresses and models. Now, it is downright alarming when all too often the answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is “famous”. Famous isn’t an occupation. It is, at best, a byproduct of certain other professions. To be honest, I don’t even think its anything desirable, to be constantly recognised and  have your privacy eviscerated. But Kim K has made it into a career, an industry even. And it infuriates me. At least Paris Hilton had the good grace to go away fairly quietly and Nicole Ritchie became a jewellery designer and a mother. Kim, on the other hand, has shown no signs of looking away from the spotlight. This farce of a wedding is proof of that.

In contrast to this parade of narcissism and vacuousness is another woman that has graced our news feeds over the last couple of days. The death of Maya Angelou is sad, not just for the loss of a great human being. But because she is the very antithesis of what the Kardashian empire is. May she rest in peace and continue to inspire another generation of women.

The Mother Load

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day here in Australia. This always produces an avalanche of thought on the role of mothers and their importance. Social media is flooded with people thanking their mothers, signing their praises and signalling their gratitude for being a mother. Another not so recent event was A’s first birthday. This is a big milestone for any mother, but in resonated with me as it coincided with my (part time) return to work. Its been a big year and if you’ve read this blog you will know that along with the many joys there have been a few challenges. But we survived the first twelve months relatively intact.

Mother’s day wasn’t always a joyous event. A couple of years ago, it was preceded by my three unsuccessful IVF cycles. Watching mothers being deified is crushing when its the only thing you want to be and the one thing you can’t. Its not that I think that we shouldn’t show appreciation for mothers, we absolutely should. I just think that we need to be conscious that the rhetoric that comes with a day like that can be a knife through the heart for many and often that rhetoric is empty and useless to the very mothers it claims to love. It is a little hypocritical to, on the one hand, put mothers on a pedestal for a day, then the rest of the year tear away at them in myriad of ways. From mummy wars, to poor childcare resources, to unsuitable working arrangements. The ways in which we can actually support mothers rather than the tokenism that one day of the year offers are many and varied. I’m sure many mothers would prefer affordable, accessible childcare over flowers and flexible working arrangements over a dressing gown. Often we separate mothers’ issues form women’s issues, when often they are one and the same.

Which brings me to my next thought, about our identity as mothers and wether we can be considered separate from that big part of ourselves. I think we often find it hard to identify ourselves as more than the parent of our children, particularly if you are a stay at home mum. A lot of who we used to be is lost in the transition and we often just call ourselves someone’s mum. When really we are much more than that. It seems to be a rising trend to take on motherhood as the whole of our persona and dedicate your entire existence to mothering. You are a “bad’ mother if you have interests outside of your child. If you have a desire to work outside the home or resume your career. Its also tied to being a “better” woman, if you’re a better mother. Which is offensive to those that are trying to be and can’t, and also those that have no desire to be at all. Motherhood has become a contest of who does more for their child, whose sacrifices are greater. This competition doesn’t interest me. I enjoy time out from my kid occasionally, so I guess that disqualified me early on. If I’m brutally honest, I do sometimes miss my pre-child life. I often feel that I can’t say that due to the difficulty I had in falling pregnant. But just because my journey to motherhood was more difficult, does not mean that I do not share the daily frustrations that someone who fell pregnant on their first try feels.

Everyone know that motherhood comes with a massive life adjustment: everything is turned upside down. I wasn’t nearly arrogant enough to think I could fathom what that would mean, but I was silly enough to think I knew what I didn’t know and that finding answers would be easy, if you knew what you were looking for. I know for many, their experience of first time motherhood can be scary and overwhelming but generally they get the gist by about 3 months. I feel like I have been at this for a year and only now am I starting to see some order among the chaos (but still no sleep. Sleep is for the weak, according to my daughter). This is one of the hardest jobs in the world. But, for me at least, the best.