23 April, 2024

Otherhood is coming ...

It is so exciting! Otherhood: Essays on being childless, childfree and child adjacent is available from 9 May. As I've mentioned before (here), I have an essay in the book, and can't wait to read all the other essays. I'm sure to find a lot of food for thought in the perspectives of others who are Not Kidding in New Zealand. No doubt there will be a lot of blog posts as a result too! I'm eagerly awaiting for my copy to arrive in the mail.

It was also exciting to hear a review of it here on Radio New Zealand this afternoon. A positive one, too! You can find the brief but interesting discussion from 08:43 minutes into the recording. Also, it was interesting to hear the announcer mentioning the reverence for having children, and how that affects those who do not have children, for whatever reason. (I've written about him before - here and here.) What is encouraging is that these conversations are now more normalised - at least on this father of four's radio show - and he is increasingly showing growth and understanding of the issues and nuances of not having children.

Back to the book! Publishers will ship internationally, and e-books should be available soon after. I'll provide updates.

Pre-orders are available here: https://www.masseypress.ac.nz/books/all/otherhood



Of course, ironically, in writing this post, I was reminded of my Otherhood. I was trying to find my other blog posts about the book. First, I looked in my MS Word document filled with published blog posts and drafts. It wouldn't search for "Otherhood" as a freestanding word though, would it? No, all my results were "motherhood." Argh, MS Word! I'm shaking my fist at you.





16 April, 2024

Feminist concerns don't end with childlessness

My littlest niece turns 16 next week. 16!!! I’ve been more disturbed by that than my other nieces/nephews growing up. Maybe because I’ve had more to do with her. Maybe because she’s the last niece/nephew. There are already great-nephews on the scene; the oldest has his 21st birthday next week too. Good grief!

I was recently watching a teen drama, and couldn’t stop thinking about my niece being in each of the situations portrayed. Then yesterday morning, I read a NYT article that shocked me. I guess the fact I don’t have kids has protected me from the realities of teen life in the 2020s! Then again, because I don’t have the same bond and bias as a parent, maybe I can look at all these events and social patterns without quite so much personal involvement, and certainly without the fear of judgement of my parenting skills, or the often-delusional belief that “my child would never xxxx” that I have heard in the past from so many friends and family. I sent the article to my sister and chatted about it with her – she’s open to my comments as long as I’m restrained and tactful about my opinions! (It helps if I keep them generalised, rather than niece-specific!)

The thing about this article that disturbs me though is the lack of progress that women (or young girls) have made in terms of their sexual relationships. And men too, for that matter, as the article talks about peer pressure to perfect these acts. It stuns me that still, in 2024, certain acts are prioritised over female consent and pleasure, even by the young women themselves. And that what we might have seen as abuse is accepted by a majority today. Is it because they think it’s cool? That they have to, to be seen as desirable? That it fulfils some kind of female role? And some kind of male/female dominance/subservience role? Argh. Or is it just a lack of education, of discussion about gender and sexual roles? Is it just ignorance and peer pressure? In the meantime, in the practice discussed in the article, women are suffering ongoing health implications, and even death.

I don’t have to be a mother to be disappointed and disgusted by that. I don’t have to have a genetic stake in the next generation to be concerned about the future for young women and girls, and the way formerly abusive behaviours are being normalised. I despair that so little progress has been made. I could start into a much longer rant about my views on this, but I will spare you that. I'll just say that in this case, my bond with those who are subject to society's still biased gender assumptions and roles is far closer than any perceived distance between those who are parents and those who are not.

09 April, 2024

No Kidding Guests

We have guests coming for dinner tonight. So I've no time to blog (and clearly didn't plan in advance enough) because I'll be baking a cake (my first real cake* in a year or more), and scurryfunging (my new favourite word - see note** below). It's good having visitors - for once the house will be clean and tidy. And that lasts after they're gone too. So will the cake!

Our guests don't have kids either. So there will be no talk of kids and/or grand-kids. Rather, we'll be talking about adventures, past and future. Giving and receiving tips. Living the lives we have.

I.e. Not a cheesecake, lemon slice, mince pie, or baclava, none of which qualify as cakes if you ask me. 

**Scurryfunging = the frenetic cleaning before visitors arrive

01 April, 2024

A No Kidding Long Weekend

It's the last day of Easter. Tomorrow everyone goes back to work, except those in education, who historically get another day off. The country has been on holiday.  

My sister-in-law posted a photo of a big gathering at her house – her kids and friends kids all together. She loves to entertain, and as she rightly said, her house is a great party house. I had a little twinge, I will admit. But in a few years, all her kids will have left home. She’ll probably still throw parties - who needs kids to do that? These days, most parents I know have kids who are grown, and living far afield. Their Easters will have been quiet too. Most of us don’t have parents around anymore. Many of us don’t have siblings or other relatives in this same town, where so many migrate to work, and then stay. So we spend the time alone, or with friends, as we might otherwise spend any weekend. So it’s all about maintaining perspective. 

Yes, I have a few close friends whose families still live around them, and they spend public holidays together. But most of us make do. Some years we might travel to see family. But most years we stay at home and undertake house maintenance (Easter is a huge gardening time in NZ!), some years we might meet friends for dinner, other years we curl up and read. Some years we do all of the above!

I mentioned a nice meal I was making. “Just for you and Mr Mali?” another sister-in-law asked. “It’s only ever me and Mr Mali,” was my response, “so if we want to eat a roast dinner we do it.” And damn good it was too!

That’s how we spent our Easter. I made only four little Easter eggs, because that’s all we needed. We’ve been out for coffee and done some furniture window shopping. I’ve cooked up a storm, and chilled out on the couch watching a Midsomer Murderathon on one of the cable channels here. It’s so dark in the mornings now, we’ve been sleeping in longer. I started a furniture covering which I’m hoping to make progress on after I’ve written this. I’ve been on a walk this morning. It was a normal, No Kidding, long weekend. And it has been lovely. There’s nothing wrong with that.