Monday, September 7, 2015

Mama Bird

My husband turned 30 at the weekend and he did it in his typically understated way, with no great ceremony and a hell of a hangover. It's a funny thing turning 30 because every time you hit a decade people like to make out like it's a big life event... happily forgetting that we invented the decimal system and made tens important. Hell, we invented counting. Also birthdays.

I asked him if he was feeling nervous about being in his thirties, myself being a spritely 28 and I am feeling secure in the knowledge that the future has never arrived before and therefor I will always be in my twenties.

He said he wasn't and asked me if I thought he should be. A sure sign he's an excellent husband, as I really feel my opinion ought to be sought frequently by many more people than it currently is.

I thought about it, and I decided he shouldn't be. I think at the rate people, societies and generations are changing there is nothing set about what a certain age should mean. Perhaps it's always been thus, but it feels to me like there are so many different avenues to take now that the times we are "supposed" to do anything become less and less set in stone with each passing year.

We got to talking about generations and the fact that we weren't too sure what a generation is. My husband, we'll call him Alan, said that he didn't think generations could be marked other than in a family. I thought even that could be complicated... for example the age gap between my eldest sibling and my youngest is nearly 13 years. The eldest has two children (6 and 3), a dog and a husband... the youngest is just starting his second year at university. Could they be considered two different generations? Certainly they won't be doing the same activities within the same time spans - is that more what a generation is?

Alan thought about it and then came out with something that did make me pull up and wonder a bit. He said, "The thing is, my mum was 22 when she had me. So I really remember her 30th birthday, because I was already 8."

This was something that made me stop and wonder about ages and meanings. Being a woman, particularly one who has just got married, I get asked a lot whether we want to have children. When I say we do but we are going to wait a few years people, mostly older people, look at my stomach and tell me I mustn't leave it too long, as though I might accidentally forget basic biology and try and leave it until I'm 90. I'm not sure I have the energy to play lego with a child all day now, let alone when I'm 90 - please save your concern that I'll leave it too late.

The thing is, I very strongly feel that I would rather mess myself up by missing the boat and not having children at all, than mess a child up by having one too early because I was scared I'd miss my chance. I don't want to have one until it's all I want to do... and at the moment it's not even the second or third thing I want to do.

Alan and I live in a one bedroom flat we can barely afford with jobs that we have to fight daily for and give up any sense of dependable lifestyle or timetable just to keep the rent paid. People seem to think that issues like that will melt away the second I germinate. Perhaps a hormonal compulsion to breed also attracts money from somewhere? I suspect not.

As much as my brain and I are on the same level with where we're going with our lives, one part of me is desperately trying to tug us towards the maternity section. I have noticed a compelling urge to nurture things. I am hopelessly addicted to garden centres and other people's dogs.

Today at the garden centre I bought another 10 litres of compost and two new pots and two bird feeders.

I do not have a garden.

I do not even have a porch.

I have 6 oversized houseplants lined up on a radiator in the front room next to the only window that gets sunlight during the day. They sit their with their Baby Bio, their new pots and their mother's love.

I have hung one bird feeder on a ribbon by the kitchen window, and am currently unsure what to do with the second one because, as I may have mentioned, I do not have a garden and I'm not sure Alan will let me have a bird feeder in the bedroom. Amy Adams he is not.

I suppose this must mean my body wants something to look after. My nephews no longer suffice to keep my raging hormones at bay and even my wee sister's recently purchased Jack Russell puppy is not near enough to whet my appetite.

I suppose now it's bit of a race against time to achieve everything I want to achieve before my brain catches up with my chemicals and we all want a baby. Until then I suppose I will make do with the sight of 30 wild birds a day flying head long into my kitchen window while I recreate the Amazon around Alan in the front room. He's a lucky man.

Friday, September 4, 2015

You Could Be Them, No Not That Them, The Other Them

I've just accidentally got caught up in a Facebook debate about the refugee crisis. I say "accidentally", I mean the following steps happened:

1. I saw something that annoyed me in someone's status.
2. I waded in with the answer and sat back waiting for them to reply with "You're right".
3. 18 other people got involved with even weirder (to me) statements.
4. I spent 30 minutes trying to individually persuade them otherwise like some keyboard based messiah.
5. I wrote on my blog like a true activist.

Something came up, though, that put a lot of things into perfect clarity for me.

Someone in the debate, who was very pro the UK taking more refugees, said something along the lines of "we should and will do loads to help but as usual it'll be us normal people doing it while the rich sit back and do nothing".

My first thought was... "But, compared to these refugees you are insanely rich. Like, crazy rich."

Then I thought, "but he doesn't feel rich because he's in this country where he's in the middle of it all."

Then I thought, "I don't suppose most rich people feel really rich, because they'll always know people with more than them."

Then I thought, no one feels like what they've got is more than they deserve. Everyone believes that the sum of money they've amassed, or the home comforts they've gathered around them, are the very least of what they should have for the hard work they've put in.

Then I thought, well if the "normals" in this country feel a bit put out about having to give up that hard clawed privilege to people who have far less, that explains to me why we're currently fighting for an NHS and basic welfare.

It seems to me that there are quite a lot of people out there with this opinion:

UK Person: I've worked hard for my money and my house, I have earned this through my hard work. I did it in this country and so I don't see why I should be called upon to help people who have not earned the same stuff in this country.

But, doesn't that strike you as extremely similar to this opinion:

UK Person: I've worked hard for my money and my house, I have earned this through my hard work. I did it in this country and so I don't see why I should be called upon to help people who have not earned the same stuff in this country.

The first opinion is someone unsure about whether or not we should be offering so much help to refugees.
The second opinion is someone unsure whether or not we should have a large welfare state.

The problem is, we're very quick to be able to say that the rich have had help becoming and staying the rich:

- Rich parents,
- Best schools,
- Nepotism,
- Financial security should risks fail,

We scoff that that rich don't seem to understand that they're rich because they had everything handed to them to make it SO much easier to stay rich.

But, what we don't see is that we have all had those advantages if we're talking about the global community. We all had relatively rich parents compared to a lot of the world, we have some of the best schools compared to half the world (curse you perfect Scandinavia!)... we are the totally unaware rich in the world stage.

There's a real issue with us believing this media/society/capitalist trope that how successful you've been is a marker of how hard you have tried. Refugees escaping a war that's been raging for 3 years are not doing so because they can't be arsed to get on Monster and get a job like you did.