It is easy to forget that many men with mental illness are fathers, too.
Social worker John Clark only came to recognise the effect depression was having on his parenting 12 months into his illness.
“I avoided the kids by getting up after they’d left, and getting home late at night. I tried to stay in bed on weekends. They were too much for me; too many words, too boisterous, too active, too demanding,” he said recently.
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There was a really excellent point made by a comedian once in one of those deliciously low brow English lad mags which I, errr, borrowed from a friend.
The comedian deconstructed the old insult “I screwed your mother” and asked the perfectly valid question whether the line actually worked as an insult. Put it this way, argued the comedian. If a bloke claims to have had sex with a woman 30 years his senior, surely he’s damning himself worse than anyone’s Mum.
OK, so that’s clearly a light-hearted take on a pretty serious issue. It’s obviously both tacky and disrespectful to insult someone’s Mum in any way. Western Bulldogs player Will Minson admitted as much yesterday after he made an uncouth remark about Port Adelaide player Danyle Pearce’s mum, and has duly been suspended for a week. All the same, there’s an argument that there are double standards at play here.
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Like every good feminist mother I said “no” when my five-year-old daughter demanded a Barbie. I said “no” and I said “no” and I said “no” again.
Then (like every other procreator who is a fatally flawed human rather than one of those superior, mechanised parental no-bots), I caved shortly after pester number googol.
“OK,” I said. “But just one. With brown hair. And the marginally thicker waist Mattel introduced after 1997. How about African American Boot Camp Barbie? Her functional khaki trousers and radically articulated limbs are on par with separatist lesbianism given the feet-bindingly narrow domain of the Barbie-verse, wouldn’t you say, Alice?”
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When I was pregnant with my second child, the 19 week ultrasound brought potentially devastating news. Our child had a growth on the lung which could kill them. At that stage, doctors were unsure what would happen.
The growth could get bigger, squashing internal organs and killing the baby. If that happened, they could induce the baby at about 26 weeks so doctors could try to operate. Or it may not grow any bigger and the baby could have it removed after birth.
News that a couple had the wrong twin aborted at 32 weeks when one was diagnosed with a serious heart defect brought these memories flooding back. This poor couple ended up losing both children, which is horrific for all involved.
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Paul McCartney: Maybe I’m amazed at the way you love me all the time. Maybe I’m amazed at the way I love you.
Jewish Mother: What, so maybe you’re not amazed?
Van Morrison: Have I told you lately that I love you?
Jewish Mother: No. And you haven’t mowed the lawns either.
Bette Midler: I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.
Jewish Mother: Don’t think I’m letting you go up there.
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In the wake of this week’s public parenting spats, here’s a timely word of advice to those who feel the urgent need to pass judgement on others’ parenting skills: Pull your head in. Seriously, just back off. No one cares what you think. Especially us parents.
See, here’s the thing. Unless a kid is subjected to an unimaginably cruel form of care worthy of Community Services’ attention – like being forced upon the toddler beauty contest circuit, or made to watch Elmo’s World – then the rest of the world should butt out.
If you’ve been asleep all week, here’s what went down. First, some radio lady with a single letter surname bottle fed her baby while she crossed the road. Like that was somehow worse than half the tasteless stunts she pulls on radio.
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I’m a fat girl. On my wedding day I remember feeling that our special day would have been perfect, if only I was a couple of kilograms lighter.
I berate myself daily for the piece of chocolate I ate or the steps I didn’t climb. Guilt and shame are my constant companions.
The strange thing is, I’m not overweight. Never have been. But this small fact hasn’t stopped me feeling fat at every stage of my life.
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Are you 32 years of age or over? Are you having trouble sleeping and starting to worry more? Are your grocery bills getting bigger? Do you find yourself tuning into to daytime soaps with alarming regularity? Or turning in early so you’re fresh for the morning? Are you scolding people around you for leaving socks on the floor? Do you write thank you notes?
Don’t panic. You are not losing your mind. You’re just entering the stage of life Hallmark calls “mum-metamorphosis.”
By definition: an “inescapable stage of life” starting at 32 years of age where people are most likely to start inheriting maternal mannerisms, behaviour and in many cases, repeating their mum’s most favourite spoken lines.
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So, radio personality Jackie O crossed a quiet, leafy, Double Bay pedestrian crossing while bottle-feeding her six-week-old daughter and made the mistake of being photographed.
Mothercraft and Nannies director, Jenni Waldron, tut-tutted in the Daily Telegraph that “it would be best to sit comfortably in a chair and hold your baby correctly while feeding”. She was probably caught off guard too.
Jackie felt compelled to explain herself on air: ‘I was running late and Kitty was screaming…’. Yes. I feel like doing that myself when I read stories like this.
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‘Delighted when hubby hung his first load of washing on the line,’ noted a Facebook friend. ‘Less delighted when I realised he didn’t use pegs.’
A domino run of comments followed, with women chortling over the guy who didn’t turn the iron on but flattened a shirt with it anyway, and the time a friend bet someone a bottle of Moet her partner wouldn’t notice if she didn’t wash his clothes for ten days.
As far as short cuts resulting in more work go, the non-use of pegs is right up there with the least thought-through of ideas. My 12-year-old did the same thing with her sister’s Pumpkin Patch bikini recently (last seen in the dog’s mouth, as he belted gleefully behind the pittosporum hedge).
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It’s not often that Warren Truss gets much of a look in. In spite of the small detail that if Tony Abbott wins the election Truss will be the deputy prime minister, the Nationals leader isn’t exactly high profile on the mainstream radar.
But this weekend the erstwhile half of the Coalition agreement pulled his leader up on the promise to introduce a wildly generous and inequitable paid maternity leave scheme - sort of.
I’ve written before that Tony Abbott’s plan to tax (sorry, levy) our biggest companies to pay for a scheme that would see women on $150,000 paid $75,000 when they had a baby, was only going to deepen the irrational battle going on between women over how they choose to raise their children.
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