Attachment parenting in a disconnected world

Archive for August, 2012

Shades of something sinister?

Ok, so I thought it was about time for a book review…  Everyone seems to be reading them, and far be it from me to pass judgment without having direct experience, so I borrowed the trilogy that they are all talking about, and in between trying to get AltD2 down for her naps, I spent some quality time with Mr Christian Grey.
I was shocked, I tellya!  But not particularly by the sex, the whips and chains, not even by the repetetive language or confusing use of British English in Seattle.  
As I read on, I became increasingly frustrated by the protaganist Ana.   She was supposedly an intelligent girl, but she repeatedly demontrated a complete lack of realisation to what the heck was going on.  The plot, for those who have managed to be safely under a rock for the last six months, involves a naive university graduate who falls for a troubled millionaire with a penchent for elaborate gadgets in the bedroom and a natty taste in interior design (flogging bench, anyone?).  Can she soften his heart?  Can she “save him” from himself?… can she change her abuser?  Because ultimately that’s what he is.  Maybe Ana should have checked out “the Couple Connection” before she got in too deep.
I found myself almost shouting at the character when, on honeymoon in London, and left alone for an afternoon while her husband attends a business meeting, the most interesting thing she can think of to do is stay in the hotel room and shave her pubic hair off.  So much for “I’ve always wanted to visit London!”.  Bristish Museum, British Library, maybe the V&A, but no, instead she reaches for the bic disposable.  I think the term is #facepalm !
The sex scenes are repetetive and I found myself skipping past them towards the end.  In fairness, without them the books would be a far quicker read! 
The hope of course is that EL James’ readers are sensible enough to know the difference between fantasy and reality.  If not, and certainly there will be some who are not, then some of the scenes, including one where Christian asks Ana to resist him, give a frighteningly damaging message to impressionable readers.  This is, as described by Clare Phillipson, director of women’s refuge “Wearside Women In Need”, an abusive relationship portrayed as a love story.
But at the end of the trilogy the author has written an epilogue. Reading that part was when I got really angry.  
Two years down the line, Ana and the millionaire are married with a child, and have one on the way (I’m fairly confident I’m not giving too much away here, after all, it’s pretty much the plot of Twilight).  The following passage is reproduced here without permission and solely for the purpose of this critique:
“What is it?”  Christian tilts my chin back.
“I was just remembering Ted’s birth” [first child]
Christian blanches and cups my belly.
“I am not going through that again.  Elective caesarian this time.” [NB this is CHRISTIAN SPEAKING, not Ana]
“Christian, I -” 
“No, Ana.  You fucking nearly died last time. No”
“I did not nearly die.”
“No.”  He’s emphatic and not to be argued with, but as he gazes down at me, his eyes soften.  “I like the name Phoebe,” he whispers, and runs his nose down mine.
“Phoebe Grey?  Phoebe… Yes.  I like that, too.”  I grin up at him.
So by way of a bit of background, “Ted’s birth” involved a caesarian after 15 hours of labour.  The mother has been resisting a c-section, the doctors are not impressed, and when she finally agrees, there is much eye rolling all round.  “About time.”  says Christian Grey.  
I was interested and surprised when I did a little bit of research into the author of “50 Shades”, E L James.  She is English, and has two children.  The reason I was surprised is that having had two children, she is more than likely to have come across women who have undergone an emergency caesarian with their first baby.  For many women, there are health concerns that require subsequent childen to be born also by caesarian section.  However, for most of the women I have met where their first baby was a C-section, their hope for subsequent births is that they might be a vaginal delivery.
I was lucky in that both of my children were born by (fairly uneventful) normal vaginal deliveries.  I think Ana, in the passage above, would agree with many mothers who say that to have a VBAC [Vaginal Birth after Caesarian] is something they would really like to be able to do.  She’s trying to argue with her husband for a VBAC and he is an inconsiderate, controlling idiot, in denying his wife the opportunity to bring their child into the world in a way where she has control of the situation.  She denies that she almost died – she has no medical reason for a C-section to deliver her second baby.
50 Shades has been criticised all over the media for many things, but as far as I can see, nobody has mentioned the way Christian’s control over Ana extends to the delivery of their children.  I thought she was supposed to be intelligent, I thought the premise of her character was that she refused to be his submissive… apparently not, after all.
For information on abusive relationships and domestic violence, including how to spot a controlling, abusive partner, see and
If you would like information about VBAC, here are some links that might be of interest:
Quickfacts (US site)
And if you’d like to read the 50 Shades Trilogy, and make your own mind up about Ana and Christian, there are plenty going on ebay!
I would love to hear your comments.


Expect the Unexpected

Sometimes you just have to go with it, right?  We can plan whatever we like, make arrangements and sort everything out in advance, and then the kids arrive… it’s all steam rollered and you kind of have to start again!
My life changed quite a bit last January (2011) when my job was no longer available to me.  Despite first reservations, it has turned out to be for the good in the long run.  It wasn’t what I’d planned, certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, but actually, so far, it’s all working out ok.  You can’t buy back the time you have when your children are small, and AltFather and I know that the benefits of me being with them at home are going to far outweigh the cost of the things that we are going to have to go without to allow that to happen.  I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity, which I know isn’t available to everyone, and isn’t the choice that everyone would make, but I love it.
Every day is full of the unusual, often preceded by a small voice telling me:
Unfortunately, Mummy…” in that funny grown up way that AltD1 has of speaking.  She’s so serious!  This blog isn’t usually all about what I have been doing with my day, but last Friday was an amazing day I just wanted to share.
AltFather had the day off work, and we made a trip to a fantastic local outdoor Lido.  Olympic size main pool, heated and sparkly, with two children’s pools, a fountain and icecreams.  If you’re ever in the area, it’s well worth a visit!  We swam and we paddled, jumped in and out, splashed and sploshed in the sunshine until our heads were heavy and our eyelids drooped [and that’s just AltFather and me!] and it was time to go home.  
AltFather fancied a bike ride so we dropped him off half way and I drove home with my sleepy girls in the car.  Small snores emanated from the back seat almost as soon as the engine started, and they carried on all the way back to our house.  And so they continued from AltD1 as I carried her in and transferred her to the sofa.  AltD2 pottered happily on the carpet.  She had woken refreshed, her batteries recharged in the manner of a Nokia mobile phone – just enough from her 15 minute snooze to keep her going for a while more.  After about an hour, the doorbell rang and slightly muddy AltFather had returned.  The girls were both awake, we were all a bit hungry, it was a beautiful balmy evening…
AltFather dashed through the shower, we scooped up a blanket and two small girls, popped them in the car… and headed up to the Common for fish and chips and this:
“It’s rather lovely to be going out after bed time, isn’t it?” AltD1 could barely contain her excitement!  It was spontaneous and spur of the moment, but one of the best days of the summer so far.  I’m so glad we just went with it!  Shame the late bedtime didn’t lead to a lie in the next day, but ho hum.
All too often I find myself muttering under my breath the parental mantra “This too shall pass, this too shall pass”, often in response to an explosive and passionate moment with AltD1, or a strange and unexplained babyphase from AltD2.  The thing is, it will pass, all of it, the bad and the good.  What we’ll remember best are the things like exciting evening picnics of fish and chips on the common after bed time, or the fact that Mummy was able to spend the summer before AltD2 arrived just doing stuff with AltD1. 
Even if it’s unexpected or unplanned, it might just be for the best in the long run.  Because life isthe long run, and it will all be ok in the end – and if it isn’t ok yet, then it isn’t the end!

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