tactless idiots

There’s been a thread of holier-than-thou judgement of my parenting in a few comments left of late.

It’s made me afraid of using my own space in the way that I find most therapeutic– spilling all my secrets into the digital Neverland. I don’t like being afraid. These are comments that pick and pluck at the spot where I am weakest– my own parenting skills, and the way I navigate life with two little people. The possible damage I may be inflicting on my children. 

I think it’s the soft spot of all parents. We’re all hyper-aware of the responsibility of raising little people. We know we will be judged. From the moment we reveal we’re carrying a baby, until long after we’ve passed away. Forty years from now, should our child break all social codes and do something terrible; one of the first places people will look for answers will be with us. Where did we fail? In what facet of parental responsibility where we so inept that it can explain what went wrong with our children?

And we are judged on the tiniest, most inconsequential endeavours. It seems so socially acceptable to comment on the parenting of other people and the probable fate of their children; and to do so with such casual study of their situation. There’s a self-justifying benevolence in the social sport of picking apart another mum because she works, or doesn’t; or smacks, or doesn’t; on whether her children are well-behaved and polite, or not. The behaviour of children is seen as an obvious manifestation of their parents child rearing skills, or lack of them. And we seem to encourage ‘keyhole judgements’– taking a tiny slice of a story and attributing it as the rule, when it just may be the exception.

I think, perhaps, that’s one of the elements that digs at me so much, in regard to comments left here lately. The arrogance of assumption of people feeling that because they’ve read my blog, they then have the right or the obligation to comment on my parenting; on the lives of myself, my mum, and my children.

You only know what I tell you here. Judging me on what I choose to share with you is the online equivalent of judging a parent at a local playground after watching them interact with their child for two minutes. It doesn’t give you enough information to make calls like you do, to look down on someone else because they’re not doing it the way you consider to be ‘right’.

I share a lot of my life on these web pages. I write without thinking much about how I’ll be perceived. I tell stories about my children and myself. That leaves me inherently open to judgement… that’s okay. It’s part of the give and take of blogging. People have every right to voice their opinion, particularly when there’s a comment section inviting that very thing.

But this isn’t so much about me, or my ‘emotional state’. This is about the bullsh*t judgements people feel they have a right to make, when you never know enough about a another’s person life to make that call. Whether you’re their best friend or they’re someone you see for thirty seconds in the local supermarket, or because you’ve read what they’ve chosen to share with you.

It’s about how we make parenting, mothering in particular, into some righteous, beautified social test. It’s about the way a mother and her actions are considered wholly objectified public property. It’s about the way women are expected to ‘embrace mothering’ and your children are supposed to be your ‘whole world’. The way mothers are crucified and shamed if they don’t hold up to other people’s ideals of what a ‘good mother’ should be.

It’s about the way we’re not allowed to say what sometimes might be the truth. That you can love your kids desperately, think they are the most awesome little people… and still not like being a mum very much at all.

My kids aren’t a burden. As I’ve said– they are awesome little people, and I’m honoured to be able to spend the bulk of my time with them. But changing dirty nappies, making school lunches, being yelled at, moderating temper tantrums, listening to whinging, and all the other stuff that comes with small children? That’s a burden. I’m not fond of it. Not at all. I don’t have to be.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some bits of parenting that I thoroughly enjoy. Deep conversations and answering questions. Showing my kids new things, taking them places. Watching their face light up with new concepts my new knowledge. I love playing video games or curling up on the lounge watching movies with my son. I love playing with my daughter’s doll-house (sometimes I even let her help) and painting her fingernails. I like doing the fun stuff. But I find the hard stuff really difficult. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that.

I became a mother, not a martyr. Giving birth didn’t provide me with some selfless gene that made me suddenly enjoy being every aspect of raising kids. I’m inherently selfish. Most people are; we just find ways to temper that against the realities of life and the needs of the people we love.

My children are the most important people in my life. They always have been and probably always will be. But I allow myself to have a life, and a personality, outside of being their mum. I’m devoted to them, but I never want them to be responsible for my happiness. I want to teach them that all of us are responsible for finding our own. I’m happy to sacrifice things. But I keep things, too. And I want to teach my children– my daughter especially– that that’s an okay thing to do. Women are expected to give and give and give until there’s nothing left of themselves but a shell that functions, providing for people’s needs. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m the first to admit that I find spending time alone a necessity. I’m okay with that. I’m also quite happy to admit that I do spend whole weekends with my boyfriend. I’ve confessed to temporarily running away from my kids and wanting to leave for good. I’ve stated– and I stand by it– that some days I just cannot handle my five and three year old (which I’m fairly sure shocks absolutely no one) and everything falls down in a screaming heap.

Why do any of those things have an influence of the effectiveness of my parenting, anyway? Do you have to spend every second with your kids, to parent well? Or is it that you can’t have other focuses in your life? Do you have to enjoy every aspect of motherhood in order to ‘embrace’ it? Are you allowed to like parenting without being particularly enamoured with the really-little-kid phase of it? Can you love your kids without liking being a parent at all?

I’m predicting that even writing that last paragraph is enough to have me labelled as unfit mother– one who’s probably causing deep, awful emotional agony– in some people’s mental filing system.

Again, I’m (surprisingly) okay with that. If you’re that attached to the concept of martyred parent that it personally offends when someone else doesn’t live up to it… I kind of feel sorry for you.

To the commenter who wrote this one; and anyone who feels the same…

I originally had a few hundred words written here, defending myself and my parenting. Then I decided, f*ck it. I have no obligation to justify myself to anyone.

So all I really want to say is this.

Get f*cked.

And bite me.


I know a lot of you have been following the story of Darrell and his struggle with his employer, DFAT. The following was written by Aaimi, Darrell’s mum.

I just… don’t even know what to say.

What a massive pack of cowards.


As a result of Darrell’s continuing battle against bullying within DFAT ranks, Darrell’s parents (Darrell Snr and Aaimi) started their own campaign to make the interested parties aware of the unacceptable level of leadership and management within DFAT and other public sector institutions. Their campaign flag ship is the Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia (ABDLA). Under this banner and with the aid of social media, they began to spread the message of their son’s plight and the inadequacies of a range of senior level Australian public servants. In order to further their crusade, Darrell Snr and Aaimi obtained, through a family member, some pointed but reserved merchandise (T-Shirts, pens, pencils etc.,) advertising the following message, ‘Stop Bullying in DFAT’. This material was sent to a number of politicians from both sides of the House to inform and to engender a reaction. In addition, a number of individuals were sent an e-mail as follows:

“As part of our anti-bullying campaign we have produced numerous promotional items to raise awareness of bullying and discrimination issues in Australia. Particularly, as we understand, conducted by yourself and others in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

We are freely distributing this material widely (internationally), noting you as a person who contributes to bullying and harassment in Australia and potentially the international community.


The Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia”

Meant to be provocative, Darrell Snr and Aaimi to date have not received a single reply or rebuttal to these e-mails.

In addition to the above actions, a partition to stop the bullying in DFAT was also started via social media, which has received support from people both here in Australia and from overseas.

Without any reasonable preliminary investigation, Mr Peter Varghese, Secretary DFAT, through Mr Chris Moriatis, First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division, has suspended Darrell Jnr pending an investigation into possible breaches of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct.

Darrell Snr upon hearing what had happened to his son attempted to contact Mr Varghese in order to clarify that his son had nothing to do with the Anti-Bullying and Discrimination League of Australia activities. Darrell Snr was told that there was no one available in Mr Varghese’s office/area, but someone would return his call. Darrell Snr is still waiting for that call. The office of Senator Bob Carr (Minister for DFAT) was also contacted, but Darrell Snr was told the matter was an internal DFAT issue that should be referred to Mr Varghese. (Somewhat difficult when he won’t accept your call!).

Darrell Snr and Aaimi will continue to promote the fight against bullying and discrimination in the workplace and demand leadership from executive level APS throughout Australia. Further attempts will be made to reverse the suspension of their son and to seek assurances that bullying is investigated and offenders and their supporters are held accountable.

Who is responsible for bullying in the workplace? There at least three groups responsible for bullying in the workplace; the actual individual who initiates or continues the bullying; those that are aware of the bullying and do nothing; and senior management or in the case of DFAT, the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and Executive level officers. In the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Enterprise Agreement 2011-1014, the following statement is made:

Harassment, bullying and discrimination are unacceptable in DFAT and contrary to the APS Values and Code of Conduct. The department is committed to providing a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace, where all employees are responsible for promoting a work environment free from harassment, bullying or discrimination. Managers and supervisors have particular responsibilities for implementing the department’s Workplace Diversity Program as set out in the HRM, being alert to diversity issues in the workplace and taking timely action in response to reported or observed harassment, bullying or discrimination. The department does not tolerate behaviour which undermines morale and productivity and which, if not dealt with, can harm the wellbeing and performance of individuals and work units.

The fact that the Secretary and his senior executive team cannot honour this laudable sentiment indicates that they have failed in their responsibilities as the appointed leaders of the Department.


My challenge to Aussie journos still stands… does anyone have the balls for this?



by Lori Dwyer on January 16, 2013 · 4 comments

I get a stack of PR emails. Most are awesome. Some are not. The one I received recently titled something along the lines of  “How To Look Hot After Birth” was most definitely in the ‘not awesome’ category.My response, as seen on Twitter, went as thus.

Click image to embiggen.

And obviously, I was quite smug and happy with my response, yes… thanks for asking.

But it bitches at me in the most unpleasant way that, for every response such as mine, and for every twenty other people who received this email, rolled their eyes and moved on… there is probably at least one woman who didn’t.

At least one woman who didn’t dismiss it and return to thinking about more important things than looking ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘reclaiming a pre–pregnancy figure!’.

For every one of us who hears sentiments like those and feels a bit disgusted, a bit cheated out of the ripeness that should be a feminine birth right; there is at least one new mum who feels fat and inadequate.

For every grown woman who views her body as a soft place, a miracle, a playground; there is a teenage girl who’s convinced, positive, that her bum is huge and life would be better if she were just that bit prettier, if her hair was that bit longer.

For every handful of us who find ourselves angry at such irresponsible, un-sisterly bullsh*t; there is at least one media outlet– social or mainstream– who has taken this PR approach on, who is promoting it, who is saying it’s a good idea to fill the heads of a million impressionable minds- male and female- with this crap. At least one publication who’s allowing this kind of unhealthy, detrimental pressure and focus to continue to seep into the spot where women are most vulnerable, where insecurities lay stagnant in dark crevices of the soul.

And I know (thanks, those in the peanut gallery– shut up already, this is my show), that by addressing it here I’m quite possibly giving it a voice, giving this platform attention it certainly doesn’t warrant.

But if I have a voice here, the let me use it. And if for nothing else, then let it be to ensure, every now and then, that things like this don’t seep into the female psyche so… quietly.

If this idea is to be presented to us as valid, then let there at least be a voice that speaks otherwise.

And so, to every woman reading this, to the mothers who are and who will be, to the grandmothers, aunts, best friends and cheer squads, to the millions of my sisters around me who bear the weight of being female, who feel all the weight of the immortal responsibilities of reproducing, nourishing and rearing, to you; let me say this…


Eat… gloriously. In health, and good fortune, in company and pleasure. For sustenance and growth, for love and pleasure.

There is no hunger that compares to the famishment of a new mother, her body shell-shocked, tired arms cradling a baby freshly birthed. All energy has been spent, used, burnt– labour, birth, the body pulsing and recovering, retaining shape slowly like strong tempered rubber, producing food perfectly weighted and optimally nutritious. There is no meal that tastes as good as the first you eat following childbirth, no hunger that could possibly be so demanding nor so satisfying when satiated.

Babies eat and suck and chew calories from their mothers, swallow kilojoules in slurping breaths, literally and figuratively sucking your life away. Mother’s milk, enough to sustain life. Compound the exhaustion of constant waking, continual watching, always worrying. Then babies grow to toddlers and they move, fast and unpredictable, with you the only one to catch them and still their tiny feet. You the only one who’s energy is eaten and resources drained by the constant thought processes, the constant re-prioritizing that’s required to keep up with hundreds of questions, the mental fog of attempting to stay one step ahead and quench that frantic curiosity, that intense drive of seeing, doing, thinking, being; a constant sponging of information from the world.

And toddlers, eventually, they become children. And still it’s hard work, still it’s constant. Playing, running, making, hugging, cleaning, building, doing. It feels as though it’s been five years since I sat down, relaxed and put my feet up… maybe it has been.

Being a mum– being a woman, in general, I believe– it requires energy untold. I’m always tired, always slightly shabby. My body always feels as though it needs that little bit extra nourishment, something that bit more to get me through. As though it needs a big cuddle and warm blanket, a bad rom-com on DVD and a big plate of soft lasagna, with hot chocolate and marshmallows to follow.

There is, so they say, three guaranteed pleasures in the human existence– sex, sleep and food. Primal, tribal, biological…. urges that cannot be ignored.

So I say, mothers, ladies of all ages and denominations… let us eat. Let us eat breakfasts and brunches, lunches and suppers, dinners and teas and snacks and midnight feasts by fridge light. Let us eat food real and rich, cooked and raw, prepared or thrown together, freshly cooked or lukewarm and waiting for hours. Munch, nibble, graze, chew, masticate, relish, swallow and suckle; dine, pig, nourish, gorge, pick, fuss and tuck in. Eat real food, and enjoy every mouthful. Taint it not, for today, for right now, with weight and calories and peer pressure and pairs of size-eight jeans.

Just eat, the way you did as a child– ripe peaches held with both hands over a scratched stainless steel sink, flesh stuck between teeth and juice flowing down china, streaking the backs of forearms and pooling tangy iridescent on elbows. Sticks of fairy floss bigger than your head that leave sticky pink spiderwebs strung between your fingers. Mangoes eaten in bathtubs filled with tepid water at the humid height of a bushfire summer.

If you are, or plan to, or have been providing with every piece of yourself in order to nourish a new life on this planet; recognize the divine in that, and worship that divinity with the pleasure of food, eaten messily and hungrily and without care of who’s watching on, in the sunshine of the altar of life.

No mother needs to ‘look hot after birth’. Especially not by starving herself, by punishing herself with exercise that’s excessive to the detriment of herself and her child.

Nurture yourselves, ourselves.

Be kind to ourselves, and one another.

Being ‘hot’ is such a relative concept. As is being ‘healthy’.

But beauty comes from within.

And so I say- ladies, women, sisters… eat.

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