The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

International Women’s Day 2016: “Pledge for Parity”

This International Women’s Day, I have taken the #PledgeforParity for a better gender balanced world. I have specifically pledged to take women’s and men’s contributions equally.

 

There is no question that there is global gender inequality. From salary gaps and career opportunities to the access to education and the perceived value of the lives of girls and women.

 

I want to be able to read the newspaper and not be faced with articles of Doctors in some countries offering their services for free to parents who know they are expecting baby girls to stop them from choosing abortion. Of war torn countries using violence against women and girls as a weapon. To read that education is not a basic human right but a long hard fight for even the most minimal level of education.

 

 

Gender inequality is a great many things. Power, tradition, carelessness and a lack of action to help those around us.

 

As a parent of young children, a boy and two girls, I see the gender differences in the way they like to play, what they like to play with, how they like to dress. It never ceases to amaze me that #1 almost seemed genetically coded to like anything with wheels attached to it from the get go. Whilst #3 having been surrounded by toys, colours, television programmes for both genders has always without fail chosen the most frilliest, sparkliest thing she can reach out for. Pink was the first and only colour she learnt. Out of the three, she was the only who ever raided my make up bag before she was 2, wanting to make herself look pretty.

 

I thought I never actively encouraged this gender specific differentiation but when buying something as simple as water bottles I’ve reached for the pink, purple and blue ones. Every time it makes me uncomfortable as I question my contribution to this fight for gender quality. Sometimes there’s no choice in the matter, it’s very much either one or the other.

 

But I do have control over the positive messages I give out to them and to people around me. Language is a very powerful tool for a start and constant reinforcement that you are capable and allowed to be whoever and whatever you want to be.

 

 

Gender stereotypes were starting to creep into play with #1 declaring that certain Extra Curricular Activities were for one gender or another but school plays a big part in knocking down those perceptions as well.

 

What the children like to play with should be viewed as exactly that. I wouldn’t want to say you can’t do this or that because it’s for girls or boys. It’s for everyone.

 

There are times at home when one of us is seen to be doing more of the domestic household chores. Is that gender inequality? Or just because one of you has more time than the other? Or perhaps just one of you needs to remember the milk is running out and there’s no bread for packed lunches the next day. Should we clearly split our household duties down the middle so we’re clear who’s doing what or can we rely on a more holistic approach?

 

I think you do within couples need to remember to show consideration for what makes everything work well in your lives. If you fall within a pattern of specific roles then why not so long as you’re both comfortable with it.

 

 

I am very fortunate to live in the times that we do, with the opportunities that are often taken for granted. A good level of education, being able to drive, have my own bank account, choose to marry whomever I pleased, have a career, read a book, wear what I like and say what I like. I am more privileged than I know and what am I doing with it?

 

For starters, it’s important to reinforce those positive body images and achieving one’s ambition in #1, 2 and 3. It is also equally important to teach them kindness, compassion and respect for themselves and others. It’s about them as people and they deserve to fulfill their potential and we are in a position to help them with that.

 

Speaking up for all those who don’t have such privilege is our responsibility. Regardless of their gender.

 

The World Economic Forum states that closing the global gender equality gap will not happen until 2133. I’ll be 159 by then. That’s like three generations away at least. It’s pretty ridiculous isn’t it.

 

So whilst it is International Women’s Day,  take the #PledgeforParity not just for women but for men too.

  

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Just this one Mother’s Day Gift please

Although chocolates, flowers and trinkets are very lovely gifts to receive on any occasion let alone Mother’s Day, yesterday I put in a special request for something that I really, really wanted.

 

Now of course I know it’s rude to ask for something when all gifts should be a surprise but sometimes you just have to try your luck. I brazenly asked #1, 2 and 3 if for Mother’s Day they could for the whole day not bicker,  fight, tell tales on each other, scream or shout.

 

Too big an ask? Really? Yes really. But if we had such a day, it would be just one of the best gifts you could give me. It’s not like they are really at each other all the time but even the slightest winding up of each other, whine and retaliation can just accelerate your tolerance levels from zero to minus 10.

 

I have no answer for when I walk through the door and the first thing any one of the three tells me is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appriopriate) pushed me/was mean to me/hit me on the head (delete as appropriate.)” The tragic thing is that once Husband walks through the door, the first thing I say to him is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate) pushed/was mean to/hit #1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate.)” I mean what do I expect Husband to do? We both were not around at the time and it’s just one’s word against the other! But in a show of solidarity I need Husband to share this perplexing daily state of affairs.

 

On the whole #1, 2 and 3 have been very good so not much to report on that. Unlike yesterday. For the amount of bickering going on, I made #1 and 2 hold hands until they stopped irritating each other. The more they protested the longer they had to hold hands for. I actually saw someone post a photo of their own kids doing this and at first glance it looks like two siblings who get along amazingly well and never have a cross word for each other. Until I read the Mother’s explanation that whenever they fall out, they have to sit on a step holding hands until they stop it. I’m not really sure if it helps but it does look cute and makes me stop being annoyed by whatever petty squabbling is going on.

 

Oh actually did I say they’ve been on the whole very good today. I’ve just remembered at one point during afternoon tea that Husband suggested next year, the best gift would be to give me $100 to go off and enjoy afternoon tea by myself! All the best goodies were fast gobbled up by #1, 2 and 3 whilst spinning around on their chairs making me dizzy. But then we lost them for some peaceful minutes as they went off to explore the vast hotel space.

 

Then to really tired them out, we took an early evening walk along the promenade overlooking Marina Bay Sands, one of my favourite places to be in Singapore where they proceeded to climb columns and cling on like koalas.

 

I’m very happy to have these three running amok around me. As much as I am getting to know them and their changing and differing personalities, I also see that they are getting to know parts of me too.

 

I love how #1’s Mother’s Day card was filled with Tie-fighters, snow speeders and X wings with tic tacs, presents and Go WWF Go!

 

 

I love how #2’s Mother’s Day card is filled with hearts, flowers and a sweet message that’s she’s been working on for a couple of days.

 

 

I love how #3’s Mother’s Day card has hearts and a snake on it which I won’t spend too long on with interpreting the subliminal messaging going on there.

 

 

And as soon as they’ve gone to bed, I look forward to sitting down quietly and calling my Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day. It’s a bit later than usual that I call and she’s already out and about. I’m about to say that I’ll call her another day but she quickly says “No, no, I can talk now.”

 

 

And that’s what Mums do. They give you their right nows.

 

 

I know I could be a whole lot better at giving #1, 2 and 3 more of my right nows.

 

 

A timely reminder from my Mum.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums near and far and to all sons and daughters who make today special.

 

  

  

 

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