Category Archives: current affairs

Let’s take back ‘nice’

I am enjoying being part of a world where Gareth Southgate is cool.
It’s not that I have some kind of waistcoat fetish , but I just want to live in a world where nice is celebrated . Where quiet , calm and understated is appreciated.
I have always been uncomfortable with nice. It’s a description that has been used about me a lot right from being young. It’s often been in quite a negative way though.
The word nice was banned as a descriptive word in English classes at school so sorry Mr Brown but I’m about to write a whole blog post on it
In Primary school I always had to sit next to the troubled boys , the ones who wanted to kick the living shit out of folk rather than sit and do their work. They’d not cause trouble next to me , I’d be nice to them. So I had to attempt to do my learning besides the chaos that was reigning supreme beside me and barely be able to concentrate. That was where nice got you.
In later years I was always the one tasked with looking after people . New people at school , new people at work. As I was nice , I’d look after them . Which of course I did but that extra responsibility that I’d never asked for and was never asked if it were ok. It’d just be presumed because Kelly is nice she’ll do it.
I realise now that nice is often a synonym for doormat.
Nice has been used to mean –
She won’t say no
She’ll not kick up a fuss if you treat her badly
She’ll do way more than is expected of anyone else what with her being so nice
She’ll put up with guys treating her terribly so as not to hurt their feelings
She’ll forgive way too often and way too easily
She’ll back down in a confrontation so it’s fine to bully her a little bit
She’ll keep quiet about awful things you do
She’ll keep quiet about most things actually.
Us ‘nice ‘ folk need to take back the word. We all need to actually. Let’s revolutionise nice.
Let’s use nice to mean considerate and compassionate , kind and empathetic , tolerant and patient.
Not doormat but just decent human.
We can all do that.
A while ago I decided not to be around ,if it was at all possible, people who didn’t make me feel good. It has done me the world of good. So let’s add that . Nice doesn’t have to mean you put up with other peoples toxic crap because as well as being kind and compassionate towards other people we have to do the same to ourselves!
Brash and loud has been at the forefront for a long while you only have to watch any reality tv show to see that. Shouty , sweary “look at me ,I’m so wild” has become something to replicate. All well and good but are any of our lives going to be enriched by being more shouty , sweary , brash?? Well quite possibly but I’m not going to give it a go.
Surely aiming to be a little more quietly tolerant and compassionate might enrich you though. I’m definitely going to try harder.
If nice is coming back into fashion (thanks Gareth) let’s do it on out terms!!!

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The teens have got this

Teenagers get a bad press. 

Have had since the dawn of time. 

Thugs , hooded louts who roam the streets terrorising us in their packs, off their faces on legal highs???

I don’t recognise those ones though . I’m the mum of 3 teenagers and I’m offended on their behalves by lazy stereotypes and negativity. Course there will be horrid teens ….but there are horrid people my age too but I don’t think I can be judged by their behaviours! I’m a single mum so pigeon holes rub me up the wrong way as it is but I certainly think our teenagers deserve much more credit.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a wave of teen activism which is way more familiar to me as the kind of teenagers I know . The bravery of young women speaking out against sexual harassment as part of the #metoo movement. Reclaim the Night here in Manchester hugely driven by the Student Union. These I can identify with as the work of teenagers rather than those anti social grunters , succumbing to rickets due to lack of daylight and screen addiction (though even I had to admit to being at least on nodding terms with those guys too on occasion!)

On the wake of yet another school shooting in the US we have seen a group of people rise. To take on the NRA and the gun entitled of America. A group of people so very passionate about protecting kids in school. A group not wanting to fight gun crime with more guns but less.

This group are not the parents of children fighting to keep them safe , not the grandparents saying enough is enough , too many children have gone to school never to come home. This group , being loud , being vocal , being heard are the kids themselves . The ones who have seen their friends gunned down ,who have been wounded themselves.

Emma Gonzalez has become the face of these people. An intelligent , articulate,passionate  young woman  . Watching her speech gave me hope ,it’s here if you missed it.

This woman is taking on a president who wants to arm teachers , she’s taking on a mindset that puts the right to own a gun over the right for people not to be shot. The movement “We call BS” is formed and these young people want to be heard.

They’re belittled of course , you can’t stop these shootings .You’ll never see gun control in the US , hush with the youthful optimism and just accept the status quo.

Thankfully they’re not listening .

Femi Oluwole is a UK activist , co founder of the ‘Our future , Our choice ‘ movement. An anti Brexit group passionate about the fact that young people voted heavily to remain , the thinking behind the campaign being that in the 20 , 30 years it’ll take to fully see Brexit , make our own laws ,secure trade deals that Brexit will no longer represent the will of the people.

I won’t get into the argument behind this or Brexit at all here . What does make me happy is young people sticking their head above the parapet and demanding to be listened to.

Teenagers are hushed often , told their views are invalid as they don’t know much. The young people in America standing up against the NRA have been mocked , have been accused of being actors in a bid to silence them . Femi Oluwole has been shouted down by middle aged presenters who are supposedly interviewing him. I just hear a big hush , a ‘sit down and shut up ‘ when young people articulate themselves.

The thing is though. You can’t silence young people in 2018. Our teenagers use social media like we do oxygen. They can mobilise an army of like minded individuals with one tweet. They can and they will make themselves heard and I for one want to listen. I want to hear their thoughts on their futures , I want passionate people involved in the shaping of our world. We , as older people , expect to be listened to simply because we’ve been on the planet longer. Though looking at it from a young person’s eyes we picked Trump , we voted Brexit based on a promise on a bus , we haven’t stood up and spoken out. No wonder they are frustrated.

I saw a tweet from Barack Obama in the wake of the Florida shooting which resonated with me 

Teens – we’ve got your backs .
You’ve got this.


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Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman – a rant

Its been quite the week for female rants in our house . Quite a collaboration too , all 3 of us females here have each had a whinge about one thing or another .

Share you say ? Unburden yourselves ?

Dont mind if we do….

Earlier in the week teen girl came home with a touch of the outrage about her. This is nothing unusual but this time she had something pretty meaty to get her teeth into. 
An initiative in school had been launched to encourage more elder girls back into sport and exercise . Teen girl is the sporty type and was happy to have something new to try. However …this initiative Fit for Prom was a lunchtime fitness class for elder girls a brilliant idea with an awful name and message. Teen girl and her friends found the Fit for Prom message to be nothing more than a dangerous message that actually if you weren’t slender , toned and ‘fit’  then you shouldn’t really be going to prom. It gives me hope that this group of girls saw fit to take it up with the teacher.
Thankfully the girls PE teacher agreed with them wholeheartedly and said she felt uncomfortable with it too! Apparently this initiative was funded to allow school to put on these extra fitness class. They agreed to keep the funding ,drop the name and keep the class. Worryingly when researching Fit For Prom I found hundreds of articles on how to lose weight quick for Prom , how to tone up for your dress (all aimed at girls of course the boys just need to show up) 

I’m all for encouraging teen girls into sport but using the kind of body shaming that stops them participating in the first place is beneficial to no one.

So….we’ve dealt with this best we can. 

Then comes….lady Doritos….

*Sigh , tut, eye roll , bang head against wall*

If you missed it there was much talk of a new kind of dorito being launched , just for us ladies. Handbag size bags , they wouldn’t crunch loudly or leave ‘dorito dust’ on your hands . Us feminine ladies do not like crunchy crisps or licking our fingers don’t you know!!!

As you can imagine this went down a storm in our house. 

Me : Bloody patriarchy trying to literally silence us.

Teen Girl : Well I’ll just get crunchy ones and crunch triply loud.

Small girl : Licking your fingers is the BEST bit!!!

We don’t want lady Doritos here!

It transpired that these were not going to become a thing , everyone involved denied all knowledge and it was all a big misunderstanding (of course) I’ve read maybe it was a publicity stunt ,get us girls talking about Doritos. I’ll not be getting them again.

Sigh…..let’s see what this week brings in the way of female rants…

PS Dear Doritos,

If you really want to improve your product I’ve a few suggestions:

a) Make it so your razor sharp edges don’t dig right in your gums.

b) Add a slight curve to aid salsa dipping

c) Ditch the BBQ rib flavour

d) Don’t big yourself up with your noisy crunch. Wheat Crunchies blow you out of the water.

Thanks , a lady x


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Me too

Let me start by saying that so much has been written on this by people with way more depth of knowledge , by better ,more articulate writers but holding my thoughts on this in are starting to drive me nuts . So this is merely the 2 pence worth of a blogger with an opinion.

Everyone has seen the #metoo hashtag over social media the past couple of days. In the wake of the Weinstein allegations and Rose Macgowan’s subsequent suspension from Twitter over a tweet she sent about another actor a call for women to boycott Twitter in protest went up.

The point was raised and I agreed wholeheartedly that by reacting to women being silenced by voluntarily silencing ourselves was not quite right . That instead let’s speak out, let’s shout,lets flood Twitter with our voices telling our stories.

#metoo is women telling their stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in a bid to show exactly how widespread it is.

It’s also women not wanting to , some not able to talk about their experience. Not wanting to give light to their trauma but using #metoo just to stand in solidarity and say yes this has happened to me too.

I truly believe that there are very few women who have never been subject to harassment and abuse of this kind. Most of us have numerous occasions we could talk about. When I first heard about me too I immediately off the top of my head recalled half a dozen occasions. That was without even sitting down and thinking about it. Most women I know would say the same I think.

We’ve been yelled at out of cars and vans , felt shame at the “nice tits” comments and immediately yanked up our tops.

We’ve been rubbed up against on public transport , our space encroached on ,our bodies forced to make contact with an unwanted crotch.

We’ve been touched inappropriately yet felt too ashamed to cause a fuss!

We’ve been in one on one situations with creepy guys and felt so intimidated we’ve nervously laughed off inappropriate comments and behaviour, worried what the consequences of not would be.

We’ve been pushed further than we want to go sexually , pressurised , bullied to get us to do things we’re not comfortable with.

We’ve been raped.

Out in the street we should be safe walking down.

In our own bed , a place that should be full of comfort, by a man who we’re married to  who says he loves us as he abuses us.

By relatives , by friends , by co-workers.

These things , all these things have often happened repeatedly , they’ve been happening since we were teenagers.

We’ve often never spoken about them .

We feel ashamed and embarrassed.
We blame ourselves , we know others will blame us too.

We can’t articulate what’s happened or we downplay it.

So if just by saying me too that makes other women feel less alone  or shows how many of us have suffered then just those words can be strong.

I hate leaving a post on a depressing note but on this one I can’t do any other.

The thing is , I think in ten years time nothing much will have changed.

I don’t have all the answers . I wish I did.

I fear though that our daughters , our friends , our neighbours in a decades time will still be saying #metoo

 

 

 

Bringing up Georgia

 

 

A little bit in awe of teen girl , an instinctive feminist…

My teenage daughter , she won’t mind me saying , has previous for being a bit of a pain in the arse. I wrote this a while back about why , although it can be frustrating I don’t necessarily see it as being a solely bad thing.

I suffer great mum bias of course but as well as being kind and funny and beautiful and ridiculously cool in a way I certainly was not at 14 she just seems to ‘get it’. 

I would certainly label myself as feminist and maybe some of my preaching that I often feel is falling on deaf ears to all 4 of them is filtering down after all but she’s an instinctive feminist. I think I learnt feminism. I think I saw things happening in the world I didn’t like and then looked to people more knowledgeable than myself to ask questions to and to ask what I should be reading and what I could do as an individual to help.

Eldest girl though , she just seems to know it , she feels it . I’m in awe of that.

The other day we were walking back from the shop. Chatting about the new bank notes. She mentioned there hadn’t been as much as a fanfare about the new £10 note as there had been the £5. I , said ah that’ll be because there are no men on it! We then spoke about what a struggle it had been to get Jane Austen on the note. I told her about all the vile abuse and threats that campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez had received throughout the campaign to get a woman on the note. 
My daughter’s response came immediately.

 “Well you know why that is don’t you?”

“Because those men took offence to being excluded” I offered.

“Well yes , but especially excluded from being on money . Those kind of men who behave that way see money as power and certainly don’t want replacing by women.” 

This had never occurred to me . Yes I’d concluded that the men threatening to rape and kill Caroline Criado-Perez for daring to campaign for a female face to join the Queen on our currency were suffering from such fragile masculinity that they couldn’t stand to see men removed from on a bank note. To equate that with money and power being synonymous had passed me by. Not her though.

Her feminism gives me hope. 

Her feminism means she rolls her eyes when comment is passed about why she can’t dress more ‘like a girl’ (” I’m a girl , I’m wearing clothes I AM dressed like a girl”)

Her feminism means when the boys at primary school refused to pass to her on the football team as she was a girl her reaction was to win player of the match rather than have a row.

Her feminism means pulling up girls at school who are telling her friends they should be on one ridiculous diet or another. Telling them they’re spreading dangerous nonsense . I’m super proud she told me she did this whist munching on a chip butty but that’s just me.

Her feminism means pink and blue kinder eggs anger her , that nothing irritates her more than being told she’s ‘ too pretty ‘ to play rugby and should be looking after that face , that has rejected gender stereotyping from being a little , little girl.
Yes she likes the last word , yes she drives her brothers mad winding them up just for fun , yes she’s overly argumentative and yes she has a temper and can strop like a toddler at times. 

I’ve always thought and always said though that this girl can and will change the world one day. 

I think maybe she already is. 




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I’m sorry to let the side down, but I am scared 

Since the horrific terror attack on Manchester on Monday night I’ve shed  a lot of tears. Tears for those lives lost  , tears for the families with a part of them now gone, tears for those hurt and injured, tears for those who walked away without physical injury but who have lifetime of mental scars. 

I’ve been moved to tears by acts of kindness and stories that highlight the very best of people. 

I’ve shed tears feeling a city coming together, standing strong, uncowed, unbeaten. When Tony Walsh read his poem, as spoken about here, at the vigil on Tuesday night I felt that poem in my soul I’m sure of it. 

I’ve heard the lines we tell one another. I’ve said them myself. The strong lines.

“we must carry as on normal ”

” we can’t let them affect our daily lives”

“If we live in fear then the  terrorists win”

I am scared though. I am fearful. I’m terrified. 

My elder 3 children are teenagers. They want be out doing their own thing. I have to let them. Sending independent, good people out into the world? Well that’s the parenting goal isn’t it? 

Most anything my youngest at 9 considers a treat is in Manchester city centre. Her birthday was a couple  of weeks ago and for her birthday treat she really wanted to go to the CBBC tour at media city then then go to a ‘posh’ restaurant! You have to book a the tour quite far in advance so this weekend we were due to go. 

I’ve wrestled internally with it. Should I still take her? One half of my brain saying “you must go – you can’t live in fear”. The other half very much shouting “but WHAT IF ….??” Could I let her down and age appropriately discuss my fears? Probably not. I’m mummy. I’m the one who reassures worries. I’m meant to calm her fears, that’s what she expects from me. 

So do I brave it out? Head off to the city centre, try to feel strong and defiant. That “What if??” though, it’s loud and it’s chilling. 

Thankfully the decision was taken out of my hands and I received an email to say tours were cancelled. 

The relief was immense. 

I know we cannot give in to cowardly, vicious bullies. I know that. 
When cowardly, vicious bullies though have no  qualms in targetting families, in murdering children… 

Yes, I’m scared. 

I’m scared my boys might head off to a football match one day and be targeted. 

I’m scared my teen girl may go to a concert with her pals and not come back. 

I’m scared small girl could be out with daddy one day and become some evil, less than human’s victim. 

I’m scared small girl and I could head out on one of our jaunts and leave the elder 3 motherless. 

I know we’re still in the midst of grief and shock right now. I know we’re still hearing about these poor people killed, hearing their stories, seeing their faces. So very close to home it could have been any one of us.  Feeling guilty for daring to feel heartbroken knowing the friends and families of those murdered, those injured are the ones going through a torturous hell. 

Days, weeks, months will pass. This shall never be forgotten but  I’d imagine I’ll be back strolling through Manchester, taking the kids to sporting events, having one of my solo theatre dates. These times will come back around I know. Because love is stronger than hurt. Kindness is the antidote to fear. 

Manchester. You rock. Your strength of character and awesome people are inspirational. 

For now though-for today, for tomorrow. I am scared, and for that I am sorry.