A new home is a clean slate. A new house is even clearer.
We’ve kept the inside as minimal as we can. People often ask if we’ve just moved in – we have one picture up, and a vast expanse in the kitchen that I use for yoga.
We were less confident when it came to the garden – at first we just needed turf, because house builders will happily sell you a house with no flooring and churned up dirt in the garden. Then came the pond (thanks again Linda!). Today we’re getting some more slabs down. I have my heart set on a picnic table and one of those fashionable sail-type shades – Mr HB isn’t keen…
I’ve never been much of a gardener, but this time round, I’m grateful for the opportunity to make this space all our own.
Having trans kids requires a very particular kind of parenting. One of the things that happens – and there are A LOT of things that happen, not all of them are this good – is that (some) people tell me I’m wonderful.
I know! How very dare they?
Thing is, I don’t want, nor do I deserve, a medal. What, for accepting that my kids are who they say they are? I’d like to think, if you’re reading this, you would do the same for yours.
Yeah, maybe I go out to bat for them most days. Sometimes sticking up for them means I get hurt. Lose people I love, distance myself from others. But: I still get to walk around this world as a cis woman. My life is, and always will be, easier than theirs.
That’s part of cis privilege.
The sun came out and
we were allowed to have people over in the garden and
they could be from another local authority area and
I made gluten free vegan brownies and
the kids played with nerf guns and
I hate toy guns and
I didn’t care and
I made tea and
Mr HB made coffee and
we bitched about stuff and
we did the crossword together and
we laughed and
we looked at the tadpoles and
the tadpoles are getting bigger and
they are moving around more too and
kids all played really well together and
later on we went down to the river and
it is really beautiful here and
today it is cloudy again and
I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and
I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.
What is so holy about the blood from a womb?
And am I then, a non-woman, an un-woman? For tabletting these days away with modern medicine we are meant to feel guilty about, because Christianity, because feminized fish?
Because I wear my hair short, never wear a dress flowing red or black, because I do not limit women to cis white sock robots, because I include my trans sisters and my enby siblings, because the patriarchy is delighted when we police each other’s clotted tampons.
When we accidently leave out those who have had hysterectomies over hysteria of a battered woman who needs a shelter, who was never a man in the first place.
All humans bleed. Some more than your soaked gusset, your baby-home-nest clear out. Your curse does not give you the right to cast legislation over others.
Back to normal.
Back to normal by the Spring, they’re saying.
And most of me is delighted,
don’t get me wrong,
I’m in no rush to succumb to a deadly virus,
or bury a loved one,
and I miss the few friends I have left,
and I want to eat cake at Naked Bakery
and wander around Edinburgh again
and visit my sisters
(so I can argue with them face to face instead of online)
and talk to poets
and listen to their poems.
But I’m also thinking
‘what do I want to keep
of this not-normal?’
This slowing-down, even further,
staying in touch only with those that matter,
making things accessible to those who are always home,
no duty events
sloughing off those expectations
– it’s time we visited, we haven’t been for ages –
being home, Saturday, Sunday.
Neither me nor Mr HB have ever liked new houses.
Me and Mr HB have just moved into a new build.
We looked at loads of houses – anyone who’s ever moved knows the drill – driving around your chosen area looking for For Sale signs, etc, etc. There was always something not *quite* right. Like, it had the right number of bedrooms but only one bathroom. We’re just about to have teenagers! Or it was perfect but had a galley kitchen. Anyone who has ever been to my house knows I spend most of every day in the kitchen!
What we realised, eventually, is that ‘modern houses are designed for modern living.’ Yeah, the new house doesn’t have character. But it has everything we need, multiple bathrooms, vast kitchen-diner. And there are quite enough characters inside its four walls…
Listen to Code Switch, 2 Dope Queens, Caught by WNYC Studio, Race Traitor on the Heart, and The Stakes with Kai Wright.
Follow Rachel Cargle and Waste Free Marie on Instagram.
Read Roxane Gay, Alice Walker, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Hannah Lavery, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Otegha Uwagba, Salena Godden.
Read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. Read Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams.
Read this. Read this. Show your kids this. Read Malorie Blackman to your kids.
This is not a US specific thing. Sheku Bayoh: not a name you recognise? More info here.
Find out what kettling means here.
I need to do the work, too. There are not enough books by people of colour on my shelves. I don’t have enough recommendations for follows on Instagram or Twitter. I need good, clear articles at my fingertips. I have work to do.
I mean, of course Karen is not a slur. I was interested, however to find this definition of ‘a Karen,’ that 100% is me (apart from the blonde hair part).
But the value of being these things: entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged and white has not been lost on me.
Ever since I started having to tell the world that no, my child wasn’t a girl or a boy, and no, they couldn’t choose between Miss or Master, and no, they weren’t happy when staff at school used the term ‘girls and boys’ (it’s hurtful because it doesn’t apply to them).
And yes, there would need to be a change or an adaption to the system to make sure they fit. And yes, they (and I!) would require support from many different agencies.
And yes, they were entitled to all of these things.
If you are a keyworker – well, thank you, for a start. Also, this blog might grate a little. Feel free to scroll by!
I have loved and listened to podcasts for many years now, but I thought given that some folk might be at a loose end at the moment, I would write with some recommendations.
First up: Caught. This is a mini series about juvenile delinquency and privilege. It was made in the USA but the take-homes are universal.
A bit less heavy is: So I got to thinking. Juno Dawson (swoon) and Dylan B Jones are going through every Sex and the City episode in order and answering Carrie’s question.
Dead pan comedy: Heavyweight features Jonathan Goldstein mostly being funny but also acting as an ‘interlocutor’ for people with communication issues.
If you listen/enjoy, please let me know!
Whenever you use the phrase ‘Day 1 (or 2, or 17)’ you say the whole sentence in a North East accent like the Big Brother voiceover guy.
If anyone uses the word ‘unprecedented,’ you get a point.
Remembering to remind children to wash hands is the world’s hardest thing to memorise. Even if, like me, you know whole musicals/films/poems off by heart.
There are MANY temptations to become a competitive parent (again). RESIST! We’re all doing our best. And my best bears an uncanny resemblance to your worst, in case you needed to hear that today.
You lose all fear of becoming tech savvy. Yes, Mum, I’m looking at you! And I can, because you have finally sorted out Skype.
There is a mental list of ‘folk you must remember to check in on.’ This list changes every day.