Sep 06

Be nice.

Is it possible to have babies, be a good mama, enjoy a career and be successful at it? Of course it is.

But is it possible to have babies, be a good mama, enjoy a career, be successful and be liked for it? Much more unlikely.

This is just one of the many great points in Sheryl Sandberg’s brilliant TED talk, but it’s one that really resonated with me.

So is it the men we have to worry about? Will other men despise us and use their insecurities as fuel for a good bitch session? No. But other women? Yeah, they’re the ones we’ll have to watch out for. Isn’t that awful?

We’ve all been there though. We’ve all judged other women, whether we meant to or not, at some time in our lives. We’ve all had the ‘bitch sessions’ with our girlfriends. (“Oh my GOD did you SEE what she was wearing?”) We’ve all felt unsure about our decisions at some point, unsure about how our hair looks at some point and a little dissatisfied with our bodies at some point. And now that I’m a mama, I find that the concerns, dissatisfaction, guilt and bitching can easily get worse if I’m not careful. Not only within myself, but to other women too. I’ve already found myself questioning other women’s decisions. Wondering how I could go back to work, torn between admiring and bitching about the women who do.

Adele wrote a brilliant post today about Sheryl’s talk and summarized some of a recent discussion we’d had about career women vs stay at home mums. Why is it that the biggest critics of our own choices (to add on top of our own inevitable guilt with whatever we choose to do) is other women? And the media doesn’t help – in Hollywood movies, the ‘career’ woman is almost always bossy, cold-hearted, man-hating and single. The lovely, warm, beautiful and funny women are chasing men, marriage and babies.

On the weekend I went to see a screening of Miss Representation – a documentary written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom about how the media is educating women and young girls that a woman’s primary value lies in her youth, beauty and sexuality—and not in her capacity as a leader.

I went to see the movie with Ivan and before the movie started I noticed that he was definitely a minority in the audience with at least 90% of the attendees being female. Surely the movie would be preaching to the converted? But the lightbulb, slap in the face moment occurred towards the end of the movie when I realised that we aren’t the converted at all. We’re somewhat blissfully (or not so blissfully perhaps) unaware that we are a huge part of the problem.

In this NY Times article, Kelly Valen talks about why she swore off sisterhood:

In the two decades since, I’ve been a full-time lawyer, a working mother and a stay-at-home mother. In each role, I’ve found my fears about women’s covert competition and aggression to be frequently validated: the gossip, the comparisons, the withering critiques of career and mothering choices. We women swim in shark-infested waters of our own design. Often we don’t have a clue where we stand with one another — socially, as mothers, as colleagues — because we’re at once allies and foes.

And in this Time article she answers some questions about a survey she conducted that fueled her book: Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships.

I could probably keep talking about this for ages. I have a daughter who is 5 months old and (like Sheryl Sandberg says) I want her to grow up with the choice to contribue fully to the workforce or at home and to not just succeed, but to be liked for her accomplishments. And I need to start with myself. Being a good parent means being the best version of yourself that you can be. I’m certain that version doesn’t include bitching and comparing.

Let’s be nice to each other then eh. If women don’t stand up for each other, who will?

Nov 16

hot milk

Being pregnant doesn’t mean wearing boring underwear. my friend james sent me a link to hot milk lingerie, a lingerie company that make sexy maternity & nursing bras as well as nightwear and camisoles.

They distribute in a few stores around auckland and I found them in Avokado yesterday, a shop in new market that sell underwear for ‘larger busts’.

It’s hard to justify spending $160 on a bra & undie set for myself, but maybe if I drop enough hints to ivan (cough cough) he’ll consider it 😛

Nov 15

yoga bellies

last night i went to my first prenatal yoga class in nz.

today i am in a LOT of pain.  the good sort of pain though (yes, there is a good pain) that makes me feel as though i’ve done something and my muscles are like ‘hey! look at me! i exist!’ and i’m like ‘that’s great!’

the class was a little funny.  not because of the postures we did, but because of how much i sucked at the postures.  the other women in the class were all HUGE.  huge enough for me to be slightly concerned that they might go into labour during the class.  huge enough for me to freak out about how huge i am inevitably going to grow.  but somehow, despite their hugeness, they were still able to be better than me at pretty much all the postures.  i know, i know, yoga isn’t about comparing yourself to others, but it’s hard not to notice when i appear to be the most nimble in the class but i can barely hold a sun salute pose for more than 5 seconds.

so i’ve committed to 3 months of yoga 3-4 times a week.

here’s to being one of those strong, sexy and flexible HUGE women in 3 months time.

Oct 14

exercise & weight gain

one of my best friends is currently avoiding sugar for health reasons and in trying to help me understand how hard it is for her to avoid sugar she said ‘it’s like you not being allowed to exercise’.

it’s true, ever since i was 14, i’ve used exercise as a means to stay sane.  when i would get home from school and mum would ask the same boring (but clearly nice-cause-she-cares in hindsight) question ‘how was school’, i would mutter ‘fine’ and then proceed to get changed into different clothes.  i would then walk/jog up our street which happened to consist of a mighty big hill.  at the top of the hill, i could see for miles and miles and it was a glorious feeling – both the feeling of making it to the top of a big hill and the feeling of freedom as the wind rushed over my hot face and i felt on top of the world.  arriving home, i would always be in better spirits.  from here, i’m sure of it, my addiction to exercise (and climbing hills) was born.

so being pregnant has definitely slowed me down and it’s quite a mentally hard change to make.  the first month of my pregnancy i hardly knew i was pregnant, so I continued to exercise as normal.  into the 2nd month, i got hit with this awful morning/all day sickness which left me bed-ridden for at least 4 weeks.  i lost weight, couldn’t keep food down, and pretty much did nothing for  4 weeks.

in my 3rd month i started walking a bit more.  typically into town and back (about 6kms a day) and started feeling a bit better.

i’m now half-way through my 4th month and i’m starting to get the exercise bug again.  thanks to a heavy dosage of morning sickness pills (i’m still feeling it pretty bad), I am able to eat again and am growing increasingly aware of my increasingly growing body.  I have only gained 1 pound so far (half a kilo) but I suspect that is about to change.

so what IS it that pregnant women can do to stay fit and healthy?

any website will tell you that swimming, walking and yoga are ideal for pregnant women.  i tried prenatal yoga a while back and it was hard.  all the intense breathing made my nausea kick in quite badly and it wasn’t overly enjoyable.

the local swimming pool has become my haven.  sometimes, i get the urge to be in water so badly, i imagine that my whole body has become liquid and that i have ice water behind my eyes and i can taste the pool water in my mouth.  weird i know.

but quite seriously, swimming is heavenly.

so i try to do something every day at the moment.  even if it’s a 20/30 minute walk.  they say not to ‘overdo it’ when you’re pregnant and that’s probably a hard thing to manage.  i’m used to listening to my mind rather than my body (so even if my body hurts i usually tell myself to just keep going) and so i haven’t become very good at understanding when my body has had enough.  It’s something that i’m going to have to quickly learn I think…

So far, my routine looks something like this: (the days might be different, but it’s about what i’m doing)

  • Monday: 20 minute jog + Gym workout (arms)
  • Tuesday: 30 minute swim
  • Wednesday: 20-30 minute walk
  • Thursday: 30 minute swim
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 20 minute jog + Gym workout (arms)
  • Sunday: 60 minute walk

It’s no doubt going to change as my body continues to change.  Running will probably become harder and I’ll probably try to incorporate yoga as my nausea dies down.

so yeah.  that’s the plan. none of my friends are pregnant at the moment, so i’m sure none of this interests them in the slightest BUT when they get pregnant i bet they’ll wanna talk about it.  so that is why i wrote this post.