Writing is like parenting

boy-child-childhood-235554

Photo credit: Pixabay (Mother and child pointing at map)

As I lay on the carpet beside my baby’s cot at two a.m, my wrist aching from the repetitive pat pat, pat pat and my jaw locked into the pout of a persistent shhhhhh sound, I thought to myself how lonely this parenting gig can sometimes be.

In truth, I thought to myself, ‘I must be the only person in the whole universe who spends at least a portion of every single night patting, shooshing or feeding my baby back to sleep, only to be woken up three or so hours later to do it all again.’

My logical brain knows this is absolutely not true. Every parent the world over can sympathise, empathise and bring up stories of their own seemingly endless sleepless nights. But still, our ego has this funny way of catastrophising things we cannot control. When I am dog-tired and ready to tear my hair out, but too stubborn to ask my husband to take over, I tend to throw a little pity party in my own honour and think of all the ways my life is not great.

I do this with my writing, too. I can’t tell you the number of times I have thought to myself, I must be the only person in the whole world who…

  • Can’t find any time in the day to write
  • Has no energy at the end of the day to write
  • Is flushed with ideas but can’t seem to get started
  • Gets stuck in the middle and wants to give up
  • Fantasises about being published instead of just doing the damn work
  • Reads books about writing as a way to distract myself from the activity of actually writing
  • Thinks I’m actually really rubbish at this writing thing and will never be published
  • I could go on… The excuses are endless.

Again, my logical brain knows this is not true. I’ve read enough blogs, spoken to enough writers, and heard enough podcast interviews to know that every single writer and author can relate to at least one of these things I tell myself on a daily basis (probably more).

Yes, writing is a solitary activity for the most part, and this can mean it’s a lonely endeavour too. But not if you don’t let it be.

There is a wonderful community of writers in every corner of the globe, just waiting for more peers to join them. It’s not about if they exist, but rather, where they exist.

I have built a wonderful community of writer friends through Twitter and in real life. I’ve been along to events and conferences and met people who are or have been at every single stage of the same writing spectrum as me.

Much like my mother’s group is the place I post about my sleep deprivation and frustrations with toddler tantrums and nappy explosions, Twitter is my place to share the highs and lows of the writing life. It is a place I can go and know that I will be listened to, supported and offered advice and friendship. For all of its downfalls, social media can also be a place of great respect, love, support and admiration.

It’s all about finding your people and filtering out the stuff that isn’t for you.

So yes, much like how parenting can feel relentless, lonely and never ending (it’s not), writing can also feel this way. It’s up to us to find our people, to share in our joys and our sorrows. To motivate one another, to vent when we need to, and then to push on.

Nothing in life happens if we don’t make it happen.

How my humble veggie patch taught me about slow living

Slow living is on the rise in Australia, with the release of books such as Slow by Australian author Brooke McAlary and others such as Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner. I’m new to the trend and yet to find out what ‘slow living’ really means. Though I assume it’s somewhat a combination of lifestyle choices, such as practicing meditation, limiting screen time and social media, and growing / preparing your food from scratch.

Jodi Gibson reviewed ‘Slow’ over on her blog recently and it piqued my interest. So the idea of slow living has been on my radar for a few weeks. However, I’ve been dancing with elements of the slow living movement for some time now. I had a stint with baking my own sourdough bread, and I do grow much of my own produce – as I posted about here. I am a sucker for anything that reduces waste and maximises my time, and I know there is still more that I could be doing.

As I was crawling out of bed at six o’clock this morning, where the temperature gauge on my phone had already hit 30 degrees Celsius, I thought about how my poor veggies would suffer. The mercury is set to skyrocket into the mid 40s today, and all I could think about was keeping those plants alive. I nurtured and nourished the seeds, watered them and sheltered them until they were ready to be planted out. Now I’m seeing the fruits of my labours with a bounty of cherry tomatoes and fat zucchini’s.

We had always intended to set up proper irrigation from our water tank to the veggie plot, so as to reduce the effort of watering in Summer. But we only managed to lay one dripper line to the tomato bed. The three other beds rely on my commitment to watering by hand. We don’t even have a tap close enough to use a hose, so I am watering with a watering can.

As I filled the watering can for the fourth time this morning, picking cherry tomatoes while I waited for it to fill, I realised; I’m so happy. This is what happy feels like. Sure, I could have laid irrigation, but then my efforts in the garden at this time of year would be limited to turning on a tap. Instead, while the rest of the house was sleeping, I was in the garden, enjoying the coolest part of a scorching day. The birds had begun to chirp and I filled some buckets for them. Placed them around the backyard so the wildlife would have access to water throughout the day.

I can’t help but think how much my appreciation for life’s simplest activities has grown since I started growing my own food. And how often we take our food for granted.

How often do you consider where your food has come from? How much effort took to produce it? What challenges did the growers face to get that food to the supermarket shelves? And how much are they being rewarded for their efforts? These are all questions that we need to keep in mind when we take a trip to the supermarket. Our choices reflect back on the market and the farmers that have worked hard to make that food available.

Food for thought, I guess.

I’m keen to keep exploring the idea of slow living, and for the revelations it will no doubt continue to bring.

 

Thoughts on Marriage and what it means in Australia

In October, I will celebrate my seventh wedding anniversary. At the same time, Australia will most likely be in the midst of a national voluntary postal vote to potentially decide* whether same sex couples should be recognised in the Australian Marriage Act.

There has been a lot of debate about the topic, for a good many years now. And it’s true, Australia is “behind the trend” when it comes to comparing our laws around marriage equality with other countries.

Seven years ago I was married in a Catholic Church. Not because I am a practicing Catholic, but because I liked the idea of tradition. My parents were married in that same church. I was baptised there too. I was quite young and had a very naïve view of the world. If we’d had a vote back then, I honestly don’t know how I would have responded.

On both sides of the debate, people claim to be ridiculed and to feel too intimidated to share their opinions. In the media, it seems to be skewed to people who say they will vote against allowing same sex marriage into our Marriage Act; they feel that they are being ostracised for this choice. It must feel like a slap in the face for those people who identify as LGBTI+ who have been ostracised for their sexuality since, well, forever.

For the record, I don’t believe that all people who choose to vote “no” must hate gay people. Many of them argue for the traditional values of marriage, which by default excludes same sex couples. But in reality, they are not arguing for traditional marriage as it stands, they are arguing for the idea of traditional marriage. That man and woman will remain loyal to one another until death parts them.

But let’s be honest, the rate of divorce continues to increase in Australia, and the rates of marriage are actually decreasing. More people are choosing to bypass the expensive wedding ceremony and head straight to having mortgages and children together. Because we don’t need to be married for such things to occur. I’m aware that this is an incredibly privileged position to be in, and I’m in no way trying to downplay or trivialise marriage equality. I’m simply trying to point out that the majority of conservative arguments that I’ve heard are redundant.

Some will argue that marriage gives children the best chance at life, to be able to have access to both a mother and father. Who says that same sex couples would disallow that? At the moment, men can donate their sperm and women can buy it to impregnate themselves. Children as a result will be denied their father. I’m not saying that Team No agree with this loophole, just that it exists and nobody had to vote about whether it could or not.

There’s also an assumption that people who marry automatically want children. Again, times are changing and more people are consciously deciding not to have children. Arguing ‘parenting’ in relation to the Marriage Act is far too simplistic and not at all helpful.

Someone on my Facebook posted a video recently with a status that questioned whether anyone who was voting yes had actually read the proposed changes? She questioned whether it would open the gates to allowing paedophilia and incest. Thankfully, she was very quickly shut down. The article she had shared was from Pauline Hanson’s people and was clearly scare mongering. What baffled me more was that this is the same person who once criticised me for sharing a video showing slaughtered calves on a dairy farm, claiming that “most Farmers don’t undertake this practice.” Her argument at the time is no different to my argument now (except that the slaughtering of calves is a common practice in most commercial dairy farms – but that’s an argument for another day).

It’s disappointing to see these sorts of posts floating around, because it influences people, or at the very least, gives them fuel for their already biased arguments. Being gay does not equate, nor open the doors to, incest, paedophilia, or any other extreme and rare case of the like. Nothing else in our existing Marriage Act is set to change except for allowing two people of the same sex to wed. They can’t be underage; they can’t be related. And the assumption that they would want to is downright offensive.

At the end of this voting period, I hope that Australia proves to be an overall forward-thinking and progressive country. I hope that my children and the generations to come will inherit a more open, caring, considerate, compassionate and respectful country in which all people – no matter their race, gender or sexuality – are not only accepted, but welcomed.

I’m voting yes, and I hope you do too.

*In order for the laws to change the Bill has to pass in the Senate. The public vote is being used to gauge the Australian public’s opinion of whether the law should change. Some conservative politicians have said that if the results are overwhelming yes, they will change their vote to yes in the Senate.