Aug 27, 2013


Today's post is a bit of a downer, and I'm sorry about that. I'll probably regret posting it. But I just cannot shake the sadness right now.

I have two beautiful, funny, loving, interesting daughters. One of them is pretty and funny and clever but is going through her own battles with anxiety and self-loathing (which naturally I feel guilty about - I don't think I model these [really!] but she did get my crappy DNA). The other is happy and resilient and popular and is also tall and thin and lovely; this makes her shorter sister jealous and her father go on and on to me about how gorgeous she's going to be, both of which things irk me no end. But at the same time sometimes all I feel too is an overwhelming anger at the world's treatment of young girls and their egos, and I worry how I can protect her and how she can preserve her happy confident self in a world so threatening and unsafe.

I know, glass half full, right?

I'm not normally like this, I'm really not. I know I can't keep my children safe from all harm, and I also know they are not likely to meet it. I know parents project their own worries, regrets and failures onto their children. I know kids are their own special people and have strengths and abilities we underestimate, and that kids are not just the sum of their parents.

But the past week has contained this:

  • Syria
  • Our corner milkbar was robbed in daylight and the lovely woman who runs it with her husband was attacked and stabbed - she is unable to work and will need multiple operations and plastic surgery to recover. She had to run into the street, bleeding and crying, and flag down a car for help. Her attacker was caught, but she and her family are traumatised. Her husband is manning the milkbar alone, and their lives are changed. These are good, lovely, excellent people. I cannot get over the fact this has happened.
  • Vandals spraypainted all over the school. I know it was just high school kids who used to go there and it's no big deal, but it's still an ugly thing.
  • My daughter A had a big old meltdown at school and required an intervention from two teachers and the visiting psychologist to help her. They did help her, and she's OK, and all is OK, but still.
  • Another horrible, horrible gang rape in India. While it's been only 4 months since the gang rape of a 5-year-old there, and the countless other rapes happening every day
  • Miley Cyrus getting attacked all over the internet with the usual vicious ferocity that rains down on any twenty-year old trying to shake off a cutesy childhood past and try on the sexy.

 I heard Colleen McCulloch on radio once talking about her life, when her autobiography was published, and she talked about the different feelings she had when her son and her daughter were born. With a son, she said, you felt his life and future were so full of promise, that he could do anything and be anything. With a daughter though, you feel a bit like, well, here's someone else who's going to go through all the same shit.

It keeps seeming like things are getting better, and then it seems obvious they are not. These are times when seeing any gorgeous, happy young girl makes me anxious, protective and angry. I know that's not right or helpful, but it does. When I see grown men salivating over girls in their teens, or children playing games where the girls self-censor or are censored by their playmates for being tough, strong or heroic; when I see my girls, and all girls, in all their beauty and promise about to step up into a huge, exciting, wonderful and dangerous world, I am overcome.

How do you shake off sadness?


  1. I don't have kids and will thankfully never have any.

    However, how to shake off sadness - for me it's all about looking for the gook. Yes, aknowledge the crap, but also go out there and look hard for the good.

    And teach the girls that it's their responsiblility to make the world a better place - if they're doing everything in their power to do this - as well as looking for the good in things - can't hurt at all. Sometimes it's a matter of perspective. Case in point - the shop keeper. Horrible stuff, but she is alive and will be okay. A got help when she needed it (which is excellent) Paint can be painted over.

    Unsure what we can do about Syria and India - though the eyes of the world are on these countries urging them to sort out their bad behaviour.

    Be the change you want to see - that's what Gandhi said - I try to live by that.

    1. Thank you. Very helpful and I needed this! You are right, of course. Good point about teaching the girls - thank you.

  2. And that first line was meant to read look for the good - not look for the gook.

    Oh, and Miley - bless her. Okay, not pretty, but at least she looked in control - unlike a lot of others.

  3. I never worried about my kids while they were growing up except just once when we moved to Adelaide and my oldest girl started at a new school and was immediately bullied by the current reigning "queens". She refused to go to school one morning, so we went with her and saw the school counsellor who declared she'd had enough of those two and immediately separated them into different classes and banned them from spending time together in the school yard for a month. all was well. I worry more about them now they're all grown, but they're adults in charge of their own lives, there's not much I can do. Thankfully they're all good kids with good jobs.
    I saw Miley Cyrus in our newspaper, she's growing up and trying on different personas to find the real her, as she should.

    1. You know, I really do think we worry more now than parents used to, and it's not a clear-cut good or bad thing. Maybe we know more, maybe we are more distracted or feel less in control - I don't know.
      Good to hear your daughter's school took a swift and sensitive approach to the bullying. That wasn't always done in the past was it. These days schools are all over bullying, but it still goes on, of course.
      I agree with you on Miley Cyrus.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting - I needed a bit of a pep talk today and thanks to Blogger and Twitter I got it :)

  4. All things for concern but we cannot save the world. I can't really imagine what it like to be female, and young. My world is full of women who act and behave as equals and are treated as such. I think it is sad that Colleen thought like that.

    As for males salivating, I agree. If they want to look, ok, but be a bit discreet. For men to look admiringly at young women is quite natural. For old blokes to salivate at teenage girls is sick making.

    What happened when you had a melt down at school?

    1. Thanks Andrew - you are correct of course. In my better moods (which is honestly most times), I see young men and women interacting as equals and I am especially heartened by young men's attitudes to women compared to the attitudes I encountered from guys my age 20 years ago.
      And yes, of course it's natural for men to admire lovely young women, I just feel so protective of kids and teens.
      It was my daughter who had a melt-down. She has been a bit depressed and anxious, and a perceived (not actual) slight tipped her over. Basically just tears and anger and not able to continue in class for a bit. Her teacher and the student welfare officer were fantastic, and she was well looked after and I got a phone call, and everything was OK. Just one of those things, I think. We'll all get over it!
      Thanks for visiting and commenting, I really appreciate it.

  5. Hi Jackie,

    All of those things are terrible and it is enough to make anybody sad.

    I've witnessed meltdowns first hand, particularly Mrs PM, who suffers from depression and occasionally suffers when things get too much. There's nothing more that can be done other than offering comfort, a good ear and wrapping her up in cotton wool and cats.

    Mostly they are a storm in a teacup and she realises this - it makes me extremely sad when it happens and, ever the optimist, I try to convince her (and myself) that things will get better - and they usually do.



    1. Thanks so much PM. I love that, "wrap them in cotton wool and cats". Mrs PM is lucky to have you. And you're right, it always passes. This is what I keep telling my daughter, so I need to remember it myself :)

  6. At times it seems all life serves us up is crapola. Never regret posts like this they do us all the world of good - a chance to get it off our chest so to speak. Many of us can relate.

    1. Thanks Jacana. In fact I have been so glad I posted this, because it did help me a lot, to get it off my chest but even more than that all the lovely comments and advice, which were very helpful. You're right, sometimes life is just crappy. Fortunately some of it passes.



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