Some stories about mothers after Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day – my first as a mother. Some people say you become a mother when you become pregnant, but that wasn't the case for me. I loved Amelie when I was pregnant with her, but she was an abstract, a concept that I hadn't fully developed. I had no idea what was to come, and how much she would change me. I had no idea how much love I could feel for someone whom I'd only just met.

Amelie helping me open my present on Mother's Day.

Amelie helping me open my present on Mother's Day.

That said, I was scared of losing her from the word go. I've talked before about how long H1 and I had to wait for her, and I couldn't – still can't – believe my luck. Mine was a high-risk pregnancy, but thankfully, overall it was pretty easy and both Amelie and I got through fine. I had amazing medical care, and I used to joke with my care team that I was the lowest-risk high-risk pregnancy there was. I felt cared for at every stage, and I knew that if anything turned out to be wrong with either of us, we would be well looked after.

It seems that's not the case everywhere. This story from ProPublica, about a mother who died after her child's birth, made me cry and is well worth a read (just don't venture into the comment section – people are the worst sometimes). To me, the behaviours exhibited in the story are the same ones that lead to abortion being illegal, because in lawmakers' eyes, an unborn baby is worth more than a woman. They're the same ones that literally blame mothers for climate change if they use formula (I have so many feelings on this, mostly based in rage, but for now, I think it's enough to say that if you're a man who wants to talk about breastfeeding, you need to sit down, shut up and listen to the ones who find it harder to have their say, because they're sitting on the sofa, trapped under a baby who is feeding).

They're the same ones that lead to stupid names for mothers doing things that men do, because – well, I'm not quite sure actually. Is an entrepreneur who also happens to be a mother too threatening? Do we really need to make it less scary by saying mumpreneur? 

They're the same ones that lead to mothers' opinions, feelings, concerns being automatically dismissed, because they're just mothers.

That last one happened to me recently, from a nanny agency no less – a business you'd think would be used to dealing with mothers, and would take their responsibilities seriously. The shock I felt as I listened to a woman on the phone insinuate I was an overwrought mother, and that was where the problem lay, made me feel ill. I don't think I need to tell you that was not where the problem lay – it lay firmly in the lap of a negligent nanny and this woman who rudely told me she didn't believe me, despite the evidence I had. And this happens all the time, to many women the world over, with consequences much more severe than those I've experienced. 

Come on. We need to listen to mothers. 

Some more good thoughts about mothers:

The autumn capsule

And here it is. The capsule I've been wearing for the last month and a half, nearly.

Autumn 2017 capsule wardrobe.

Autumn 2017 capsule wardrobe.

This does, I must say, feel like a total non-event. After all, I know these clothes inside out – I've been wearing them for six weeks! But obviously this isn't the case for you.

I also look at this and instantly feel that it looks a bit boring. But that's the point.

Not to be boring, but to be realistic about what I like to wear, who I am, and what I do. And I'm very pleased to say that so far it's working out great.

So what's in the capsule?

  • White t-shirt
  • Black t-shirt
  • Blush-pink t-shirt
  • Blue/white Breton top
  • White peplum top
  • Blue/white striped silk shirt
  • Beige merino jumper (not pictured)
  • Grey merino cardigan (not pictured)
  • Blue/white polka-dot shorts
  • Light-blue boyfriend jeans
  • Black ankle jeans
  • Dark-wash skinny jeans
  • Black dress
  • Beige trenchcoat
  • Navy raincoat
  • Black flats
  • Patterned D'Orsay flats
  • White sneakers
  • Black boots
  • Mushroom boots
  • Black floppy hat
  • Beige patterned scarf
  • Blue patterned scarf

Most days I'm wearing something really simple - a t-shirt and shorts/jeans when it was hotter, with sneakers or flats, and a jumper or top/cardigan and jeans now it's cooler, with boots. When I feel the need to make my outfit a bit more interesting I add a scarf or a hat. And because I'm at home with Amelie these days, I sometimes just wear activewear all day (activewear, underwear, singlets and pyjamas are not included in the capsule!) Most days, though, I'm in a proper outfit, and I've worn the black dress twice, which is twice more than I thought I would...quite happy with that.

This capsule is acting as a bit of a reset for me, allowing me some distance to get a better feel for my style, and hopefully help me make better spending decisions in the future. I've learnt some interesting things so far, like just how much I enjoy not thinking about what I'm going to wear in the morning. I've also encountered the opposite a couple of times though, where I've felt bored and just wanted to reach for something else, rather than put the effort in and work out how I was going to override that feeling with what I had to work wit. And the few times that has happened, I've realised something interesting – the feeling of boredom was less with my clothes, more with my plans for the day. I do get bored not working (and university isn't exactly a dressed-up place). And I think if I weren't doing this there's a good chance that boredom would get resolved through shopping. In other words, this approach has already paid off.

So that's that for now. Just three more weeks, and then the semester is over, and I am off to NYC for nearly all of June. I'll be capsuling in NYC too, as everyone does on holiday by default, and when I get back, I'll put together a capsule for July, August and September (I am cold just thinking about it) using the lessons I've learned from this one (there'll be another update post about those lessons once May is over, also). I'm looking forward to it!

 

A few good things

It's been a nice week around here, for the most part. Teething + separation anxiety + trying lots of new food = some rather trying moments with the bébé, shall we say, but all is very well for the most part! Amelie is a bundle of fun (when she's not yelling at me) and only gets more so. We've worked out that she's usually in a good mood if she's out and about, so we're getting out of the house a lot – yay for the mostly nice weather we've been having! 

Coffee at Elisabeth in Kingsland. This place does desserts and they look phenomenal – very keen to return for a treat one day!

Coffee at Elisabeth in Kingsland. This place does desserts and they look phenomenal – very keen to return for a treat one day!

These two are becoming best friends and it's so lovely to watch.

These two are becoming best friends and it's so lovely to watch.

These gorgeous persimmon twigs are from our local florist, Jasmine Flora Design, who always has the most amazing flowers.

These gorgeous persimmon twigs are from our local florist, Jasmine Flora Design, who always has the most amazing flowers.

Playing with family in the sun in Parua Bay.

Playing with family in the sun in Parua Bay.

Bought this the other day and now my house smells amazing – it's the Parakeets and Pearls home fragrance.

Bought this the other day and now my house smells amazing – it's the Parakeets and Pearls home fragrance.

I read this interesting piece on the end of capitalism the other day. The whole idea that capitalism may not survive alongside new technology is so interesting to me; it means some big changes for policy (and technology maybe)? The intersection of new technology and policy is where my main interests lie, so it was particularly relevant to me, but it's a very good read regardless. I'm looking forward to checking out the book.

In other technology/art news, this made me laugh and laugh. The changing world does seem to inspire some great art. Did anyone else find the idea of Simon Denny's piece at the Venice Biennale a couple of years ago quite amazing?

Finally, if you're in Auckland the Metro Top 50 Restaurants list came out recently (aka the Bible). So nice to see some new places on the list! It's been rather stagnant the last few years. It does mean that I've now only been to a shameful 17 out of 50 though – I would say I will work on that but the baby means it's not as easy as it once was. Nevertheless, I paid a visit to Pasta e Cuore the other night and it was magnificent. Can highly recommend! 

The balance

Hello! Hope you all had a good Easter weekend. Mine was lovely – I had an assignment due on the Monday, so spent quite a lot of it studying, but managed to fit in some fun around the study. We were in Mangawhai with friends, and on Sunday we drove up to my parents' gorgeous new place in Parua Bay – a small village by the sea in the Whangarei Heads. They are (finally) living their rural dream and are very happy. It's wonderful to see.

Parua Bay.

Parua Bay.

Playing at Grandma and Granddad's new house on Easter Sunday.

Playing at Grandma and Granddad's new house on Easter Sunday.

 

The drive up to Parua Bay was the scene of a Very Serious Conversation between H1 and me. It was a good conversation, but it wasn't easy. The topic was hard, and kind of stupid. It was a conversation that surely all couples sometimes have, especially when they've got small children. It was about the Balance.

My study is quite intense, even though I only do it part-time. I'm working on my Master of Public Policy. Once I have that I want to go on to do my doctorate, so I work extremely hard at it – I find getting an A kind of devastates me these days, because it means I didn't do well enough to earn an A+. I'm absolutely too hard on myself, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to change. I'm just not happy unless I know I'm doing my absolute best, and this is my future career. I want to make sure I excel.

Added to the study is Amelie, obviously. Not just Amelie but Amelie and H1. My little family means the world to me, and I'm never happier than when the three of us are together. Weekend mornings make my heart sing. Amelie comes into bed with us and has her milk while we have our coffee, then we play for a little while before all getting up to start our day. It's the greatest. I refuse to let it be compromised. I refuse to let my family be compromised, really.

These two! Love this little family of mine so much.

These two! Love this little family of mine so much.

Finally, there's work – not yet, but soon. I really like my current career – sometimes I even love it – but it's not my forever career (it definitely feeds into it, though – it's far from wasted!) I know I can do more, be more, earn more with it. The question is, do I really want to?

Looking at everything in my life, I know I can't do justice to it all. I won't compromise my family, and I don't want to compromise my study, and the future career that hangs on it. So now I'm trying to work out if I have it in me to ease up on my current career. It doesn't sit well with me, but of the three priorities I have, it's the lowest right now.

This is a difficult thing for me. As I said earlier, I'm just not happy unless I know I'm doing my absolute best. Compromising one thing, by its very nature, is not doing my absolute best. But it seems better than failing at three things.

The more I think about this, and the more I try to work out what's right for our family, the more systemic I realise these problems are. One of my friends will soon also be returning to work from maternity leave. She'd like to go back part-time, but she'd also like a new job, ideally. And you know what? Professional part-time jobs don't exist. They just don't. 

I wonder how much talent is being wasted because of this? And how many people are missing out on things they'd really like to do – career-wise and family-wise. It hasn't escaped my attention that this is all about me having time for my family, and doesn't talk about H1 having time for the same family. There are two reasons for that; my study, which sucks up a lot of time, and because it's just not viable for him to work less than full-time. We need his income. It sucks, and it's not fair, but it's just how it is.

I'm still working on all of this, and I don't have any answers yet, but I think the only thing to do is going to be to compromise. Which is hard, but not the hardest. At least I have these choices to make, right?!

How do you make it work? What works for your families? Whose career is being compromised (if anyone's is)?

P.S. Have not forgotten the capsule, and have stuck to it every day since the beginning of April! It's simplifying things no end and I'm really enjoying it. An update post is coming – remember that assignment I mentioned? It kind of took everything else out, but hey, that's how it goes. Looking forward to sharing an update with you!

Planning the autumn capsule

We're three days into April, so the question is...am I capsuling?

Yes, I certainly am.

I downloaded Un-Fancy's wardrobe planner to help me with my decision-making and found it really useful. It's really hard to look at everything you own and decide what you're going to wear for the next couple of months. Her planner makes it a much clearer process.

One of my favourite looks - a plain shirt with jeans and a light scarf.

One of my favourite looks - a plain shirt with jeans and a light scarf.

Some sections I found really easy to answer (special occasions I need to consider? None! I'm sure the occasional evening out or social event will occur but apart from a baby shower for my sister-in-law, it's all pretty quiet) but some needed a lot more thought – like the word association. Here's the list of words I associate with my preferred style:

  • Classic
  • Neutral
  • Simple
  • Stylish
  • Well-made
  • Subtle interest
  • Quietly expensive

I circled simple, stylish, well-made and subtle interest as my favourites. These ones leapt out at me and felt right. Classic and neutral felt a little 'old' and not quite right. Quietly expensive is an interesting one. I don't think clothes have to be expensive to be nice or look good, and we all know expensive isn't synonymous with ethical or well-made, but most of my favourite pieces were on the expensive side, for what they are. And many of those pieces are old but still going strong. However, I think well-made sums it up better. It doesn't matter what it costs if it's well-made (I mean, budget notwithstanding, of course!).

An ethical, made-in-NZ top.

An ethical, made-in-NZ top.

I haven't included the word ethical, even though it speaks strongly to me. Right now my wardrobe is not particularly ethical – I've put no real effort into it along the way. To me, however, well-made is a good jumping-off point to ethical thinking – something that lasts a long time is better for our environment, and is also likely to be made in a more sustainable and fair manner (although again, that's not a perfect correlation).

In terms of other discoveries about myself, I learned that I really like my jeans, I don't really do colour at all these days, and I now feel id with clothes that are tight around my tummy (thanks pregnancy!). I have bought too many pairs of shoes that I don't like wearing because they're too big around the back of my feet and my feet fall out of them. I have narrow feet and I have to keep that in mind – no matter how much I like the shoes in the shop. When I like  something I'll wear it to death. I prefer the interest in my clothes to come from cut, not colour or pattern. That said, I'm a total stripe-a-holic.

My worn-to-death black dress. I know – no baby in this picture! She was in good hands. 

My worn-to-death black dress. I know – no baby in this picture! She was in good hands. 

I started wearing my capsule on 1 April, while we were on holiday in Hawkes Bay. So far so good...although both Hawkes Bay and Auckland are still very warm. That might be difficult to work with and if I need to, I will introduce some shorts as well, because sweat for the sake of principle doesn't seem worth it.

And where are the details of this capsule? They're coming! I'm still pulling it all together but I am close...and feeling pretty good about where I am, quite frankly. I think this is going to be fun...