Matt is a knob

An unexpected side effect of becoming a parent is unnecessary smalltalk. As an introvert I probably languish in silence for longer than other people find acceptable.

Now I’m not a knob (like Matt) I’m quite willing to go along with whatever bullshit chat / make believe Emily’s ‘new best friend’ at the playground wants me to go along with. But I also don’t see the point of mundane parent chat with a stranger for the sake of it. If my child is happily hanging with her new mate and doesn’t want me I would rather waste my attention on the black pit of social media, thanks.

Matt doesn’t agree, I can’t even remember what boring chat Matt got into with me…just that he can’t for shit make a decent job of pretending to eat the ‘chips’ our daughters had kindly cooked for him.

What I do remember is that Matt and Matt’s wife were tag teaming parenting that day.

Oh man I get jealous of the parent tag teamers. They get to go to the toilet when they want to, they get to drink coffee inside when the other one is on duty in the rain, the joy! I was quite happy when Matt tapped out and I got new best friend’s mum instead. She could role play, she could hide and seek.

The girls were having such a good time that Emily got promoted from new best friend to sister after just a couple of hours (my daughter is excellent company). I thought this was super cute but it seemed to trigger a load of only child guilt in new best friends mum who seemed fucking knackered by parenting and entirety unenthusiastic at the prospect of doing it all again (I hear ya).

I obviously never miss a sob story so when I was asked if Emily was a single child I said yes, my husband moved out when she was a baby. I got the initial ‘oh wow you’re doing so well’ thing which suddenly got flipped into a ‘lucky you at least you don’t have to parent a man and a child at once my life would be easier without him’ speech. Wow.

I don’t normally shy out of the self pity Olympics / my life is more tiring than yours / I sleep less competition. I actually refrained from the desperate urge to point out all the time she spent in the peace of the indoor coffee area of beautiful silence while I stood in the pissing rain playing make believe with woodchips.

Instead I did a VERY BAD THING and excused her husband on the basis of it being hard for all mums as toddlers always want mum first. Which is a shit move on my part as:

  • Not all toddlers want their mum over dad, that’s massively sexist and a result of the fact mums tend to do more parenting. Some toddlers prefer their dad (granted, a minority)
  • If her toddler prefers her to Matt (as do I) then maybe Matt should do some other fucking work instead, rather than having his hard working baby mama feel like she is caring for both a toddler and man child.
  • I should have pointed out that what she described is absolutely not cool. She should only be raising her actual child and if she feels like she is happy with one child then that’s the only child she should have (no more babies, no more Matt).
  • The fact her little girl is so capable at making friends suggests she is doing just fine as an only child, that contrary to popular belief only children do just as well (if not better), in almost all respects than their siblinged up counterparts (see One and Only by Lauren Sandler)
  • The fact that it isn’t an absence of siblings that damages little girls but the normalisation of a loveless, resentful relationship becoming the benchmark of what to aspire to. That mummies do all the work and that’s just what happens.

Being a single parent is hard but if you genuinely think that your partner makes life even harder than that then seriously, buh bye Matt.

I know I am coming from a place of privilege in that, even as a single parent, I earn enough to afford childcare so that I can work. Also I live in a house I own and other things lots of women won’t benefit from if they were to go it alone. But seriously, an unhappy marriage will destroy your soul.

Now I know souls aren’t measurable but life expectancy is and marriage increases a man’s life span but knocks a year off a woman’s life see here if you don’t believe me.

The bastards steal a year from us! And yet men who don’t marry are bachelors, when we are spinsters or left on the shelf? Errm, shall we rephrase that single men are prematurely aging and single women are winning at life?? We are literally winning more life.

(by single I mean non-cohabiting, as Katherine Ryan cleverly points out we are all far too young to have men in our homes. Sex is still non life threatening as far as I’m aware.)

And the one year life loss is just an average, stats are still pending on how much life they sap out of you when things get so bad you start slagging your man off to strangers at the playground.

So now I’m a guilty feminist again. The avoidance of social awkwardness won out, I should have told you to leave your baby daddy (or at the very least insist he acts like a parent/adult). Hopefully the next mum she complains to is both a feminist and an extrovert with a higher capacity for brutal honesty than me.

My wholehearted apologies to my daughter’s sister’s mother.

Feminist Fail

I’m in a not so good mental health zone at the moment, lots of self criticism but then my distraction from this tends to be Instagram or reading…and both fuel my general hatred of men. Shockingly neither hating men nor yourself is the key to a contented life. I have Bupa approval for some CBT so maybe at some point I’ll get round to booking sessions in – in the hope this will give me some tools to jump off the negativity spirals before I fully go fully insane.

I have definitely mentioned before that I have massive jealously and life comparison issues. If you think I haven’t been on Instagram much I absolutely have not kicked the habit, every time my phone is in my hand my thumb automatically opens the app and resumes scrolling. I’m not joking it is actually very, very bad but also exactly what some very smart people in California designed it to be so i’ll ease off on the self guilt on that front.

What I did do is almost lose my shit, decide not to lose my shit and just mute everyone my thumb scrolled upon one Sunday afternoon that made me feel jealous. That turned out to be pretty much everyone who isn’t either a general man hater or English Heritage. So now my feed is largely feminism and castles, which sounds pretty good but makes me long for some kind of all female fortified commune where men are temporary and time restricted sex visitors only (if you don’t know about the Mosuo women already then check out this Guardian article and I’ll meet you in China).

But for now I’m going to have to continue having conversations with men. One of which recently took great joy in mansplaining my own feminism to me. Apparently I’m not a great feminist as I try to look thin, and as much as I hate to agree with a man there is a point here. Women are expected to look small as to be feminine is to be smaller than men, so that they can feel big by comparison. Food is wonderful and we restrict that to inflate men’s egos so that they feel all masculine standing next to our dainty little lady selves. They eat all the carbs, use the word ‘bloated’ approximately 4000% less (fact checked) then spread their legs wide and get comfy. We monitor what we eat, hold our stomachs in then sit compactly with our legs together.

Take up less space please ladies, it needs saving for the men folk. It sounds ridiculous but that is literally what I’m doing.

I love the body positivity movement but my internalised misogyny is so well entrenched I can’t help but equate weight loss as success – I enjoy seeing my app confirm I am underweight, the more shit my life is going the more important this is. I am five foot nine (175cm), which by British standards is taller than 98 percent of women. I’m three inches taller than the average Dutch woman – the tallest of the tall people. Despite all logic I feel as though being tall is another reason I need to be slim, as if it is only acceptable to be one type of big. Being tall and fat would be unacceptably large (as a woman). Whereas tall and skinny is willowy and that’s OK, you might be big but a weak fragile looking version of big that isn’t quite so intimidating to men.

Intellectually I want to shake off the slim preference but in reality I don’t want to see my body looking fat and it makes me feel like a hypocrite.

I love @clementineford she is a single mum, journalist and mega feminist. She gives out caps that read ‘Leave your husband’, she is fighting the good fight. But even Clementine recently admitted on her podcast that she eats differently when in public and doesn’t clear her plate as if to demonstrate to any onlooker what a restrained person she is, that she deserves to be small – that she puts effort into taking up less space. That shit is hard to shake off (side note that her podcast Big Sister Hotline is excellent).

And I wish it stopped at weight. I have yet to meet a man who is cool with full body hair (I’m talking legs, armpits, moustaches, monbrows). I know most aren’t pedantic about full scale pube removal but if you add up the time it takes up in a year to do the rest of the crap I reckon you’d be pretty pissed off about the unread novels / naps / wanks that could have been accumulated in that time.

And yet here I am…a relatively hair free lady.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg…imagine if the patriarchy refunded us on our lifetime make up spend? The cost of wedding guest outfits because women feel like they’d be judged for rocking up in the same dress every time. I’d also like our hourly salaries for the time spent researching said outfits…(gender pay gap adjusted where applicable).

As always I’m not entirely sure what the conclusion of this rant is. But I did at least feel validated that I’m not the only feminist doing stupid shit to fit into gender stereotypes because patriarchy has influenced my preferences for how I like to see my body looking.

If anyone is further along the road to hairy (@rubyrare), bigger body friendly (@bodyposipanda), make up optional  life (@florencegiven) than me then they might want to check out these ladies accounts for body positivity plus all sorts of good stuff.

And in the meantime I guess I’ll keep on being the dumbass who weighs herself before deciding whether a Monday morning mcmuffin is advisable. Fucking patriarchy.