28 March, 2023

Childless NOT in the media

I was listening to the news last night as I was cooking dinner. I was already annoyed at other news I'd had to listen to all afternoon, at disingenuous male politicians gaslighting the rest of us, and was feeling annoyed. So I guess I was primed to be bugged. Then I head a news item that said that "about 80% of New Zealanders are not confident that their loved ones will get the care they need in aged facilities."

This infuriated me for a number of reasons, not least because the aged will not get the care they need/we will need. Although that is no surprise given the funding and staffing difficulties that beset the sector. But the report itself annoyed me. (Having already reached a heightened level of grumpiness, due to the aforementioned gaslighting, poor reporting, and grammatical errors driving me crazy throughout the day.) But this report annoyed me for three main reasons:

The first is the very lazy reporting and statistics. Current statistics (or at least, those from 2021) show that 19% of the population are aged 14 and under. "80% of New Zealanders" effectively means every single Kiwi aged about 16 and over. So essentially, they are saying that every single person in my country is concerned about aged care facilities. It sounds horrifying. But think about it another way. If you were asked the question, "are you confident that your loved ones will get the care that they need?" would you answer "yes"? No-one can be 100% confident of that. So of course they said they weren't confident, or perhaps answered, "not sure" (which of course, qualifies as "not confident"). That's normal! After all, most people haven't even thought about it. I'd like to see the study itself. But as it was presented, it was a meaningless question, and becomes an even more meaningless statistic.

Secondly, maybe they asked about "loved ones" purely to increase their database of respondents, rather than focusing on a smaller group. But they assume that all the elderly, or those needing care in aged facilities, have loved ones who may help them. It deliberately erases the needs of those who don't have "loved ones" as not worth reporting. It doesn't even consider them. Doesn't even imagine that there might be people who are alone. That's what really annoyed me. Because of course, as a No Kidding couple, the Husband and I won't have "loved ones" there to vouch for us, to look for good care, to ensure we are safe and comfortable and happy. But it is easier for researchers and the media to pretend we don't exist. After all, when writing headlines and appealing to the masses to sell advertising, it is easier to prey on the emotions of people who will think about their own parents or grandparents in a vulnerable position, rather than some invisible childless people no-one knows or cares about. We don't make headlines. We're not good clickbait.

Finally, why didn't they ask the people who were actually facing this prospect in the next 10 or 20 years? That would deliver a much more accurate picture of the perceived state of aged care in New Zealand. Maybe they should have approached those in the age groups who had begun to think about this - if not 50 and over, maybe 60, or even 70! They are the ones who will have to consider their needs, and how they live out their old age. Talk about ageism in action. Not to mention the pronatalism of assuming that your only value is how other, younger, people are related to, and feel about, you? 


21 March, 2023

Speaking up for the non-grandmas

I talk about speaking up for childless women, and I do it when I feel it is appropriate. But I'm often torn. Example: yesterday on Fbk, an online friend ranted about the onslaught on libraries and librarians in the US. Another US No Kidding friend had noted to me recently that this was happening in her school and area too, and that tension had dramatically increased over the last year or two. I am appalled for them both, and glad (so far, touch wood!) that I have not heard reports of it here. So far, we are all in sync. My online friend then took it too far. 

"I'm thinking that we need to organize groups of grandmas to go and protect librarians from ignorant yahoos. Seriously. If you have gray hair, wrinkles, and love books, if you raised your kids to embrace learning about the great big messy world, if you would rather encourage all children to be kind and smart and open-minded, then we need to step up for librarians."

I qualify with all of those characteristics except the "grandmas" and the "if you raised your kids."  Why did she have to exclude me and focus on grandmas. One of our mutual friends, who is or at least was extremely close (in person) to the original poster is also not kidding, though she is childfree by choice. But she, like me, would agree with all these sentiments other than being a grandma. 

It made me annoyed. Initially, in a light-hearted way, I was going to respond, "you don't have to be a grandma to want all that" but didn't want it to come across a) overly critical, and b) detract from the important point she was making about libraries. So I said nothing. For several days.

But I'm still thinking about it. Hence this post. I don't want it to be just a "woe is me, I feel left out" post, so I'm thinking through possible responses. Any ideas? Maybe I should just say, "do you have to be a grandma to join this movement?" Pointed, as she knows I am NOT a grandma, and she knows I write about my No Kidding not by choice life. But polite. 

Still, I worry that it's too reticent. I don't think we should make too many allowances to people who don't think about the others in their society, who except for our non-parenthood state, share almost all our other values. I'm tired of making allowances for the majority. She needs to practice what she preaches, and "embrace learning about the great big messy world, ... and be kind and smart and open-minded ..." And yet, she probably has no idea, and has never thought about it.

I'm thinking maybe a combination of the two. "You don't have to be a grandma to want to join this movement. I'm in!" I'm off to post it now before I chicken out!

Update: Instant gratification! This is her comment to me: 

"You are absolutely right! I foolishly limited the pool of volunteers there! Anyone who loves books, wants young people to grow up to be kind, smart, and open-minded ... "

She said exactly what I would have wanted her to say. And all her friends saw her say it too. I'm so glad I didn't stay silent!

13 March, 2023

We are worthy: finding wisdom in unexpected places

I just watched the last half of the Oscars. It was a little mind-destroying! Let's celebrate mothers, the winners kept saying. "This is for All the Moms." "Without them none of us would be here." (No Kidding! lol)  "So, you're celebrating biology then?" I thought. But the irony was lost on them, because they then went on to thank people who had helped them, all those who had collaborated and worked together regardless of whether they were parents (or getting the kudos and rewards for their labours). The clearly not-a-mother winner celebrated her sisters and parents, and other winners celebrated teachers who had given them inspiration and confidence and a sense of understanding and safety. So, it wasn't all about "all the moms." So why did they have to say it? Has it just become an expected, socially imposed uttering that loses sincerity because of its ubiquity?

"They should watch Mom," I thought. I've been watching a bit of Mom lately because a) I love Allison Janney, and b) I'd watched snippets in the past, and started it just wondering what the first episodes were like. Yes, it's silly. Yes, it's light. But I've also found it has been quite interesting about addiction, as well as being occasionally laugh out loud funny, and short (so an episode can be squeezed in before bed). 

But in a totally unexpected way, it also addresses who women are without mothers, and without being mothers. It doesn't make me feel bad about not being a mother. On the contrary, it points out that motherhood is not easy. And it makes me feel good about simply being me. It addresses friendships between women, and finding your tribe. It gives a lot of sensible advice, advice that I find relevant to those of us who don't have children. ("It's not all about you," "their comment says a lot more about them than it does about you," "you can only control what you can control," "you can change how you feel about things," etc). And overall, it reinforces that women have worth just because they are here, because they exist, because they are trying to be better. It emphasises that women deserve to be happy and respected. All of us. We are worthy.

07 March, 2023

Mixed emotions of No Kidding blogging

The mixed emotions of blogging. I wrote a long post last week. The reason it was so long is that I added several qualifying paragraphs to pre-empt any criticism. I was telling my DH, and he said “you should just write what you want and think, and don’t worry about others.” But I’ve had criticism before, and whilst I don’t mind it (and it can lead to very interesting conversations), it can distract from my main points. And so it is often easier to explain myself beforehand. That said, sometimes all the explaining in the world doesn’t avoid people misinterpreting what I’ve said, or to whom I have said it, or who it is about. I’m tempted to revisit the post, take out all the qualifications, and then see how long it is! But still, having all those qualifications in there, the explanations of the differences between the various stages of grief, the things that I have tried and what worked or did not work, can give legitimacy to my theme too. I’m definitely not being blasé about healing or dismissive of grief. I think about these things, and I think about their impact on us. So then I try to explain that. Apologies for being long-winded sometimes, and thanks for bearing with me.

My labels are out of control! I am so frustrated. How can I ever get them in order? There are 247 different labels, which is a ridiculous number! I am going to try to consolidate them, so it is easier for me to find posts that I know I’ve written, but can never find. I think I decide on labels at the time of posting, thinking about what people might be searching for (and how they might spell it in the US vs NZ vs UK for example), which explains why I have so many. Of course, there are 826 posts on this blog so far. Actually, this one makes 827. That’s a lot of writing about not having children, being childless or childfree (depending on my mood), and not kidding! On reflection, I started this paragraph feeling overwhelmed, and I’ve ended it feeling quite proud.

Now I’m embarrassed. I have a topic I’ve been meaning to attend to again every Valentine’s Day. As usual, I think Mel might have started it, writing Bloggy Valentines for other bloggers. I did it once, here, eight years ago. Each year I see a note about it, but each year I've missed the date. It's now March, and I forgot again. Oops. Maybe next year. (Yes, I need to put it in my calendar.)

I’m back to blogging frustration, with a degree of annoyance thrown in. I’ve read a little Rebecca Solnit on plagiarism, stealing ideas, or people copying ideas but using their own words. I’ve seen this happen in blogging. I’ve seen some of my posts or ideas repeated but without reference, over and over again, sometimes with disturbingly familiar turns of phrase. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing for 10+ years, and I've covered all the bases? Maybe it’s coincidental and inevitable that we all come to the same realisations and conclusions. But maybe it isn't that innocent. And so others get more attention for their work based on my ideas/words than I do. It hurts. All the pain and effort I’ve put in to develop my ideas, my blogs, my approach to my No Kidding life. A blogger’s dilemma. It is hard to prove. It would be nice occasionally to see a reference back to my original writings, as I try to reference any blogger that inspires me to want to think more deeply, or to expand on their original (appropriately credited) ideas or where I might find a twist using my own experience. I don’t accuse my own regular readers of this. You are all too nice. But I do accuse some others, who know of me and my work, but don’t comment or interact here because they're focused on their bigger platforms. I’m not sure if I want to finish with a sigh, an anguished argh, or an angry grrrr. Maybe all of the above.