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The weight of gender November 13, 2010

Posted by Amanda in Fashion, Observations, Personal, Uncategorized.
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Is it a boy or a girl?

It’s the first question someone asks when you have a baby – or even before. These days the gender question might be answered well before birth. It goes along with “do you have a preference for what you have?”

It must be so common to find out the sex of the baby that we had to ask what we’d had in the delivery room because no-one told us.

But since the moment they said “It’s a girl”, I’ve felt the weight of responsibility for bringing up a child of the female sex.

If you had asked me in my younger years whether I wanted a boy or a girl, I probably would have strongly preferred a girl. There are a number of reasons for this – I only have a sister, I went to an all girls school. I didn’t really grow up with boys and I think for a long time I didn’t really ‘get’ boys.

But when it came to realising that we were actually having a child, it mattered less and less. My only reason for preferring a girl was that we could agree on a name – something that eluded us for a boy.

Unlike many other cultures, it seems the preference for girls in western nations is quite common. I was surprised at the number of people who expressed a hope that I’d have a girl and I’ve heard parents almost defending why it’s good to have boys.

The marketing of baby goods is strongly skewed towards girls – go to any clothing department or baby market and the products for girls outnumber those for boys many times over.

I feel real pressure in bringing up a girl child. How do I instill in her the strength she’ll need to stand up for herself in this world where men still have so much of the power and influence? How do I help her to avoid the crippling problems of self-esteem and body image that I suffered? Can I let her know that being intelligent is a good thing for a girl and playing dumb isn’t a way to get through your teenage years?

Perhaps these are all problems that I’d have to teach a boy as well, but having a girl, I directly relate it to my own experience.

But the first issue I have to face is dressing this little being – I’ve never been a ‘girly-girl’. I remember loathing pink throughout my childhood and now I eschew anything that is overly feminine or that might cast me in a role of femininity that is contrary to how I’d like to be perceived.

During my pregnancy I was quite outspoken about my feelings about pink and haven’t been given much in that particular hue. But within me there is still a battle in my mind as to how we dress her.

When she was in hospital, she wore mostly gender neutral suits but on the day we brought her home, I put her in a dress for the first time and it shocked me to have her put so clearly into the gender box. Do I just accept that I dress differently from Chris and that’s the way the world is, or should I avoid the fripperies of so much female clothing? And then there’s the aesthetic part of me that wants her to look good – anyone who’s seen my wardrobe would understand that it’s something I care about and enjoy.

I suppose the only thing I have to fall back on is my own upbringing  In my recollection, my parents never tried to strongly put us in the girly camp. My dad took my sister and I hiking and surfing, and we requested and received more lego, car tracks and sporting equipment than we did dolls – or at least I recall preferring those toys.

Perhaps that’s the model I need to take with my daughter – don’t ask her to be feminine or not, just let her be what she is.

 

 

A new journey November 10, 2010

Posted by Amanda in Blogs, Observations, Personal.
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“Carry the bags” was a phrase that Chris used when we were headed overseas for six months of travelling. Sometime he’s a reluctant traveller until he is actually on his way so he complained one day that the mammoth journey wasn’t for his benefit, he was just going to carry the bags. It became a bit of a joke between us, but really the phrase has a lot more weight than just a flippant comment.

There are lots of journeys in life and we have just embarked on one from which we can never return – parenthood.

Of course the phrase ‘carry the bags’ is one that’s very applicable to any western parent because all of a sudden it seems our life has been invaded by more ‘stuff’ and more ‘bags’ than we’ve ever had before. We’re the type who travel for six months with 15 kilo backpacks and yet now we’re lucky if we can leave the house with equipment that weighs less than that.

And yet of course the blog title is also apt considering we really are on our way to destination unknown – does parenthood even have a destination? Or is that just the desperate hope that you will live to old age and die before your offspring?

Perhaps now this blog can be an occasional drop-in point for my thoughts on this trip of a lifetime.

Many of our friends were surprised, if not shocked, when we said we were having a baby. We’d managed to cultivate the impression that we were quite happy with our two cats and yearly overseas jaunts. The truth was that although there wasn’t the desperate need to have children that some people experience, it is something we had long hoped for, but for a while it didn’t seem like it would happen and we were in the process of accepting that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

I found out I was pregnant in February and it was a big surprise to both of us –  a pleasant one, but it was hard to believe. In fact I stayed in denial until the day our daughter Freya was born one week ago.

I had meant to blog throughout the pregnancy, but it just never happened. I was fortunate to have the easiest pregnancy of anyone I know – no sickness, no cravings, no real exhaustion. Even though I ended up having an emergency caesarean after about 24 hours of labour, I can’t even say the birth was something I look back on as being particularly eventful until the last hour or so. It was frightening when the baby’s heartbeat dropped low enough to warrant the emergency button being pushed and being rushed in to surgery but maybe the drugs have made the rest a bit of a blur.

Having never been a ‘baby’ person, I was a little concerned about how I would relate to my own child. I can’t say I’ve felt the overwhelming rush of love for my child that many seem to experience in the delivery room but it’s certainly something different and deeper than I’ve felt before. There is something special about holding this little warm bundle who is totally reliant on me.

I thought I was having that moment of ‘falling in love’ with Freya late one night when I was in hospital. I had just fed her and she was sitting in my arms looking into my eyes for what seemed like a very long time. I really was overcome with wonder that this small child was mine and she was staring into my soul. Then I realised she was actually concentrating on the enormous green production in her pants. But perhaps that’s the first lesson in how children keep you grounded.

She’s asleep now and will soon wake up needing to be fed. This isn’t the post I sat down to write but it’s an introduction to how I might use this blog from now on. I have no intention of becoming one of the myriad mummy bloggers and it’s more of a place to sort my own thoughts and make some sense of what’s happening to us.

I’m glad I called this space “Carry the Bags” so long ago. It might just be a place to dump all my mental luggage as well.

 

Drip please. October 6, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal.
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I am not good at keeping my fluids up. For some weird reason I put off having a drink until I am really thirsty. It would be much easier if I could have intravenous solution all day every day.

Right now I need water so I guess I will go get some.

Slack July 25, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Blogs, Personal.
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Work, starting at 4am, moving house and the lack of a computer have conspired to have me neglect my blog.

I resolve to do better in the future. 

A year ago … June 30, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal, Travel Diary.
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It is one year today since we left to go on our six month journey around the world.

In some ways I feel really sad that it is over because it is unlikely that I will be able to do something on that scale again. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life. And the other best experiences involve travel as well. It is my obsession.

I find it hard to look back on travelling in some ways because it is such a highlight that it feels like nothing will ever be as good as that and everyday life can seem very ho-hum. It is like I have reached the peak and am now on the inexorable slide.

But before you think I am completely maudlin, I have been thinking about what we have achieved in the last year and that is quite satisfying. Of course there was the trip but as well as that, we have moved back to Brisbane and settled in, I have finally finished my studies and am now doing some work that I have wanted to do for a long time. And we have bought a flat- that is something Chris has wanted for ages. I think that when you add all that up, we haven’t done too badly in twelve months. 

Working for the Aunty June 19, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Media, Personal, Uncategorized.
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It is 362 days since I did any paid work but today I succumbed. I was trying to make it to a year.

Not that I am complaining because I have wanted to do work like this for a long time!

I produced a radio program on my own for the first time- YAY!

Google yourself. March 21, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal.
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Did you know that I am a character in a Marilyn Monroe movie? I have known that for a while, but I didn’t know that I am also a band in Spain and have a Myspace page.

To add to my accomplishments, I am a clarinetist in the US Air Force “Band of Liberty” with a PhD in Musical Arts, an award winning agriculture scholar at the University of Maryland and a cancer nurse specialist in Shropshire. I seem to have some presence in the Bronx, New York as well but I don’t know much about that.

I went to Hamilton Girls High School in New Zealand and JCU in Townsville and I think I won a prize by shopping at a butcher on Semaphore Street in South Australia.

Who knew? At least I am not a criminal.

Everyday ethics March 12, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Observations, Personal.
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I faced an ethical challenge today. When I took my Stella McCartney for Target purchases to the counter, the shop assistant didn’t scan the skirt I was buying. The skirt was priced at $99.99 so it is a fair whack of money for most people and certainly for me.

I admit, I hesitated. A part of me just wanted to walk away with my free skirt, but it wouldn’t have been free because everytime I wore it, it would stick in my mind. I would rather live without that sort of baggage.

I think we have a responsibility to live as ethically as we can. I am lucky to have a husband who really tries to do this- he thinks about the ethics of almost any situation and it has made me step up to the mark as well.

The pay off of being honest is that life seems simpler without having to feel guilt or remember if I have told the whole truth. So far it hasn’t had too many dire consequences either- even when you are admitting a mistake at work or whereever, people seem to appreciate it when I am up front and are less inclined to come down hard.

It is like getting out of debt, I feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders and it is one less thing I have to worry about. It also makes me a bit of an evangelist for living this way, but I will stop preaching now.

The Book List February 20, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Books, Personal.
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Thanks to Sonia for this- an internet survey I am interested in doing and the results of!

Here’s the drill… Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read, italicise the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of. I’ve left unformatted the books to which I feel perfectly indifferent.

You will notice that I have a bent towards classic literature and a loathing of fantasy! I could have added categories for those that I have started and never finished and those that I read when I was a teenager and would never touch now, and those that I read while travelling because I was desperate.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. +To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. +Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. + Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. *The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. +The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. *Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. +1984 (Orwell)
35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. * The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. *The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. +Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. +The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. *The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. * The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. + The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. +Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. +War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. +One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. +Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. +The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. +Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. * The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. * A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. * The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. * Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. + Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. + Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. * Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. * Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. * The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. *The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

 

 

Toni Collette and me February 20, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Personal.
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Toni Collette

When people meet me, they often say I look like Toni Collette. I have never been able to see it, until I saw this picture!