The ideas of white supremacists are not new. The belief that whites are superior to others has existed since time immemorial. What is new, however, is the prevailing climate we have today. An idea, like a seed, in order to grow, must be nurtured. Then, and only then, will the holders of this idea be so brazen as to act on it. Whether it’s in the attack of Muslim women on the streets or the callous slaughter of worshippers as their pray, it all begins with a tiny seed.
So how did we get here? How was this white Australian radicalised? What induced him to become a brutal terrorist? What emboldened him to act on his twisted ideology?
It was our leaders. It was John Howard, who cultivated the land by making it easy for us to hate after his fabrications that refugees and Muslims are the types of people who throw their children overboard into raging waters for some perceived benefit. Who after sending our military to war based on false intelligence, went on to belittle his mistake, describing it as embarrassing and by doing so relegating the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives as a small blunder.
It was Tony Abbott, who planted the seed when he declared that “all cultures are not equal”. Who thought that Australia should stop “tip-toeing’ around the religion and that ASIO needs to be “open and upfront” about the danger in Islam. Abbott, who stated that there are massive problems with Islam, that it needs to be reformed and who had no qualms about publically proclaiming this.
It was Malcolm Turnbull, who irrigated it in his famous phone call to Trump, where he reassured him that 80% of the refugees in a prospective refugee swap would be Christian, as if non-Christians, namely Muslims, were sub-human and born with an innate tendency towards violence. Turnball, who later stated in a national security address that “our success as a multicultural society is built on strong foundations, which include the confidence of the Australian people that their government and it alone, determines who comes to Australia.”
It was fertilised by Hanson who rebuilt her political career on the back of Islamophobia as she warned Australia that we are being “swamped by Muslims”. Hanson, who referred to Islam a disease we need to vaccinate ourselves against, and demonising Muslims whenever given an opportunity to do so.
And lastly, it was further nourished by Morrison who in late 2010 urged the then shadow cabinet to capitalise on the public’s concerns about “Muslim immigration”. Who late last year, felt impelled to call out “radical, violent, extremist Islam that opposes our very way of life” stating that the “greatest threat….to this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam” and further claiming that Muslims, and in particular Muslim leaders are not doing enough.
Is it really surprising then, that a sadistic individual would be spurred on to inflict as much damage as possible upon those who he was taught to hate? Is it really that astonishing that this fertile ground would give rise to an opportunist to create a name for himself? Is it any wonder, with our history of arousing hatred and Islamophobia, that a ‘cute little blonde boy’ would grow up to be a monster?
Late last year our Prime Minister said “There is a special responsibility on …leaders to protect their…communities and to ensure that these dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here. They must be proactive, they must be alert and they must call this out, in their communities and more broadly for what it is”.
It’s not often that I agree with Morrison, but this an exception. I agree with him one hundred per cent, we do have to call it out. Morrison and some of his fellow politicians have created the climate that allowed these dangerous teachings and ideologies to take root here and all we see now is the fruit of their labour.
My first attempt at toilet training was an absolute nightmare. As a relatively new parent, I took everything I read a little too seriously and I was keen to wait for the perfect time to avoid the dreaded regression. Going through all that hard work, succeeding, and then ending up where you first began was something that I wanted to avoid at all cost. So I waited for the perfect time.
The problem was that the perfect time took a long time in presenting itself. We were looking for a new rental to move into and for some reason it was taking an unusually long time. I also was pregnant with #2 and was acutely aware that yes, a new baby also caused regression. So by the time we found a house, moved in, had #2, and I felt human again over a year had gone past. Suddenly my son was 3 and a half years old and very set in his ways. Toilet training was the last thing he wanted to do and he fought it every step of the way.
A few months later I was with a group of mums who were discussing experiences with toilet training when I received some of the best advice I’d ever had. My daughter was probably about 8 months at the time and she suggested that I start sitting her on the potty. “Now?” I asked perplexed. “Yes, just sit her on the potty when you change her nappy.” I’m sure the confusion must have shown on my face, but after my first experience I was willing to try anything to make the process easier, so I did it.
The next day I dragged the potty out and was ready. After removing her nappy and cleaning her up I sat my 8-month-old on the potty. As expected nothing happened but I thought I’d persevere at least a few days. The next change I did the same thing, removed her nappy and sat her down. But this time something did happen, much to my surprise there was wee!! Naturally, I was so elated! After all, there is nothing like toilet training to bring about a disturbing level of excitement for body waste. I may have been a little over the top in my celebratory gestures, clapping and cheering like crazy but I wanted to make sure that my daughter knew how proud I was of her! And she did, she was beaming; her little gummy smile as wide as can be, she was super proud of her achievement- we both were.
If I suspected that this could be a fluke, the next attempt proved otherwise – success again. Over the next couple few days, she was weeing in the potty more often than not. And it wasn’t before long before she also added #2’s to her repertoire. I was over the moon!
What I most loved about this technique was that it was completely stress-free. If she did something in the potty that was great, but if she didn’t that was also perfectly fine. Because she was so young there was no pressure on either of us to progress, any improvement was a bonus. She was able to slowly, at her own pace build up her control.
This was not an all or nothing endeavour, there was no need to do this at every nappy change. When I was free and had the energy I would just take a few moments to sit her on the potty. While there I would maybe tidy up a little for a minute or two before removing her and putting her nappy on.
When she was older and we were both ready, toilet training was considerably easier. I won’t say it was it was a piece of cake, but because she already had control half the battle was already won. The physical hurdle had been accomplished over time in a steady fashion, devoid of stress. Now all that was left to do was tackle the mental hurdle.
I have no doubt that over the years and through my journey of toilet training an additional four children that this advice has saved me countless hours of stress and frustration. I am forever grateful for her simple words of wisdom.
KonMari and decluttering in general seems to be the latest fad. Fueled by the current show on Netflix people are lining up to throw out their possessions. There something oddly liberating about getting rid of things, perhaps only matched by the joy of purchasing them in the first place. When we release this clutter, along with them we release years of frustration. The frustration of not being able to find objects, seemingly forever lost in a sea of clutter. The frustration of not knowing where and how to store excess goods, moving them in desperation from one place to another, unable to find them permanent homes. And finally, but perhaps most significantly the frustration of not being able to keep our homes tidy. In this way throwing things become therapeutic, and indeed makes us less anxious and stressed.
I first came across the KonMari three years ago. I had a clutter problem and wanted to use the extra time I had in the school holidays to tackle it. Through my attempts of using KonMari on and off for the past three years this is what I have discovered:
1) It’s not always wise to throw everything out that doesn’t spark joy: My toilet brush, for example, doesn’t particularly spark joy, but it’s not something I necessarily want to let go of. On a more serious note, even if we’re dealing with clothing, for example, I don’t recommend throwing out everything that doesn’t spark joy, at least not initially. There are some things in my wardrobe that I don’t really love, but they do fulfil a function. If my budget had no limit I would consider replacing them, but even beyond money, it would also take valuable time to find something that fulfils that same function that I really love. Truth be told, I’m so fussy that it’s possible that it does not even exist. So I recommend that unless you have unlimited time and money, maybe hold onto those practical things, and consider replacing them when your circumstances permit or as you find a replacement that you love.
2) Take what she says about books with a grain of salt: Marie Kondo recommends limiting yourself to 30 books. This one area that has been widely criticised recently and rightfully so. Reading and books should be central to every home. Ideally, children should grow up surrounded by books. Being read to and seeing their parents reading is invaluable, as a former English teacher I can’t stress this enough! Even just having books around for little ones to flip through and ‘read’ before they are able to, is something you can’t put a price on. My oldest daughter, now an avid reader, at the age of three, carried approximately five books around the house with her at a time. She would pile books up so high on her bedside table that I was afraid that they’d fall and crush her when she slept. Was it annoying? Yes. Did I love having books scattered throughout the house? Not at all. But I was raising a reader, and that was more important to me than aesthetics, so I encouraged it and quietly placed piles of books on the floor beside her after she fell asleep.
If however, you have a ridiculous number of books, no children, and you don’t even read, then yes, its probably a good idea to get rid of most of them. If you are not a book person, as I suspect is the case with Marie Kondo, then keep what serves a function, or what will fit in your bookshelf. There is probably no need to keep your university textbooks from decades ago, or the highly outdated book on how to make a website. Be realistic and practical; if you don’t love it, will never use it, ditch it.
3) The KonMari method of folding is not as great as it seems: Don’t get me wrong, I do really like her folding. But its not the magical solution she makes it out to be. Suffering from a severe lack of drawers I was unable to utilise this method for my own clothing, but I did trial it for two of my children. While I loved it to begin with it was more time-consuming. Furthermore, I found that when in a rush or one of the kids got something out of the drawer, it quickly got messed up and had to be tidied up fairly regularly. This tidying process was also more difficult and time-consuming than usual. So although it may work well for an adult, it does take a little longer and it needs some regular maintenance when it comes to children’s clothing.
4) Don’t feel the need to talk to your possessions: In her book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, Marie Kondo suggests communicating with your possessions. I can love some of my objects, I can appreciate them, but I’m not about to talk to them because somebody says I should. It might work for some, but I’m just not a talking-to-things kind of person, and that’s ok, I don’t have to be. As with everything in life, I adapt things to suit my personality. I don’t believe in trying to be something that I’m not and I don’t believe it will make me more productive. On the contrary, I feel that it’s so much more difficult to do things when you are not being genuine, you’re much less likely to persevere.
5) Don’t insist on doing it all in one lot if you feel it’s not possible: One of the first things I knew when I started reading Kon Mari’s book is that I wasn’t going to be able to do it in one go. Despite being on holidays, I still had kids that I had to care for. I had to feed them, deal with their toileting and break up fights. I also had to do some basic housework (dishes, washing and general tidying). With 7 members in my household at the time, just the clothing category in and of itself would take me a week.
I understand her reasoning for trying to do it in one go. It’s a great idea to ride that initial wave of excitement, to put in the hard yards early on and then enjoy the fruits of your labour. However, for me, this all or nothing mentality was damaging. It was damaging because from day dot it set me up as a failure. This is not only the case for mothers, but anybody trying to fit in KonMari with a full-time job, or other major time constraints will face the same dilemma.
In a response to this problem some, such as members in this FaceBook group, have generally adhered to the KonMari method but developed a program that can be done over an extended period of time. This is very useful for those of us who can not spare so much time in the initial decluttering phase or those who have an overwhelming amount of clutter.
Systems such as KonMari offer hope. The hope of a beautiful home, full of only well-loved possessions. The hope of greater productivity and organisation. And the hope of a simpler and stress-free life. It does not have to be all or nothing, take what suits your values and lifestyle, and tweak it to suit your circumstances.
KonMari is not the first program I have attempted in my pursuit of organisation. From Getting Things Done to FlyLady, I have tried a few different programs, but the promise they initially held never came to fruition. Each system was useful in its own way, but none of them was the perfect fit for me. They provided inspiration, motivation and the proverbial kick up the backside but little more. They each included some good ideas, some I have adopted sporadically over the years, but I have yet to find a perfect system, particularly one that would work for everybody.
At the end of the day we all have completely different lifestyles and circumstances, it is not surprising that there is no method of organisation that is suited to everybody. Is it really that remarkable that I, a homeschooler and mother of 6, will not find success in the same methods as, for example, a single executive? Naturally, these things will be influenced by the amount of free time one has, their responsibilities and the resources they have available to them, just to name a few. So instead of getting excited by one particular method, I think a far more useful approach is to ask yourself what you want to achieve, do some thorough research of various methods and techniques, trial different things and incorporate that which best suits both your personality and your circumstances.
She sleeps like an angel. Her blond hair covering her face, her big blue eyes gently closed. She is so tranquil and so very beautiful, far cry from the bundle of energy she is during the day. Watching her sleep warms my heart.
The peace is short lived. It begins as a whimper. I hear it and a feeling of dread creeps into my heart. Should I go comfort her? Will she fall back asleep if I do? Or will I just wake her more? I hesitate for a moment, unsure what to do. Then I realise that she is at the point of no return, she will not fall back asleep on her own. I’m still unsure, deep down I know but I still pray it isn’t the case. I go to her bed and she comes to me, but as soon as I wrap my arms around her I realise.
She is not soothed by my presence as she should be, on the contrary, it excites her more. She pushes me away, at first yelling, but slowly her voice rises to a scream…a piercing scream. Her eyes are wide open, a look of horror on her face. She looks startled and confused. I don’t know what to do. The more I try to hold her the more afraid she becomes. The more I try to understand her the more she pushes me away. She stiffens her body, every muscle tensing up. I can’t hold her, I can’t comfort her – I am powerless.
I sit there stroking her beautiful blond hair as she screams out “MUMMMYYYYY”, “NOOOOOOO”. I want nothing more than to comfort her. What is she so afraid of? What is she saying “NOO” about? What does she dream that is frightening her so? She pushes me away again, I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’m scaring her? Maybe she’ll sleep better without me? I get up….”NOOOOOOOOOOO” she pulls me in near to her again and tightly wraps her arms around my neck, only to push me away again. I’m desperate to know what she wants, to know how I can help her, but from experience, I know that this is not possible. All that is left is to try my best to comfort her. I know it’s not good enough, but that’s all I can do.
Eventually, she wears herself out. Her screams slowly quieten down till they are nothing more than a quiet moan, and then eventually nothing. Every now and then she still lets out a sigh until she is fast asleep. I lay there for a while, exhausted and relieved. Afraid to get up prematurely and squashed in her tiny bed. Finally, I slowly remove her hands from me and when she does not move I know it is safe. I quietly raise myself up and walk away, thankfully she is still asleep. I look back, she is my beautiful angel again.
Many years ago my daughter was one of the 10-15% of children who suffers from night terrors. This episode was played out in our home on a regular basis. Initially, I didn’t think much of it until as it wasn’t unusual for her to have periods of waking and distress throughout the night. It wasn’t till I mentioned it to my maternal child health nurse at the time that she casually said: “that would be a night terror”. There is nothing casual about it! It’s so horrible to see your child so scared and confused like that, especially when there is nothing you can do to make it better.
I had initially learnt about night terrors years earlier as a psychology student at university. I had naively thought of it as something that happened to other people, to other people’s children – not to my baby. Contrary to what every parent who faces this feels, night terrors are actually a normal part of the normal range of development of deep sleep patterns and apart from immediate distress they bring they are nothing to be concerned about.
Night terrors occur when children partially wake from a state of deep non-REM sleep. During these episodes a child’s mind is asleep, but their body is awake. Often, as was the case with my daughter, their eyes are open and they are talking (or more often the case screaming), leaving parents such as myself very confused.
Perhaps the most difficult part of witnessing these episodes is that there is very little that you can do as a parent. Since the child is not awake any effort to comfort them should be gentle as waking them is counterproductive, often just confusing the child and aggravating the situation. The best thing to do is to gently comfort the child, making sure that they are safe and not in danger of hurting themselves until the episode subsides, at which point they are likely to fall back into a deep sleep fairly quickly.
For the most part night terrors are just a phase that some children pass through and often there is nothing you can do about it. But there are a couple of things that you can try. Firstly, do your best to ensure that your child is sleeping enough. Having a good bedtime routine and regular sleep times can help if this is an issue. If this doesn’t work or if your child already sleeps well you can try ‘scheduled awakening’. Night terrors usually occur round about the same time every night, if you wake your child half an hour or so before it is due to occur, it may reset their sleep cycle, and by doing so hopefully avoid the night terror.
If these attempts do not help do not hesitate to seek further assistance from your doctor. Especially if the night terrors are violent and you feel that your child may injure themselves, that the night terrors are happening frequently and significantly impacting on the families sleep, or if your child is very sleepy during the day.
It’s been over 10 years now since we last experienced night terrors, but once you’ve gone through it you never forget the feelings of powerlessness and helplessness in the face of their anguish. As with all phases it eventually passes and one day you wake up and breathe a sigh of relief with the realisation that night terrors are no longer a part of your life. But the experience of being unable to comfort your child is one that rears its head time and time again, after all, life is full of hurt and disappointment. Sometimes all you can do is gently hold them knowing that you can’t do or say anything that will make things better. And as with night terrors, sometimes, despite all the will in the world to make things less painful, all you can do is be there for them and wait for them to feel better on their own.
A couple of days ago suggestions of violence were made towards a Facebook friend. This included the address of this person’s workplace and a call for others to join him. The reply directly below this was an image of a gun being held to a figures head at point blank range, blood spluttering from the victim’s head. This post was reported on Facebook repeatedly, but all who reported received the same message. Apparently, it did not breach “community standards”.
According to Facebook’s so-called community standards, co-ordinating harm is not allowed. They “prohibit people from facilitating or coordinating future criminal activity that is intended or likely to cause harm to people”. Further, they claim to disallow “Statements of intent, calls to action or advocation for…..acts of physical harm committed against people”.
Despite this, time and time again we hear of breaches of these community standards. The most serious of these has been the use of Facebook to spread hate speech and incite violence against Rohingya Muslims. UN human rights experts investigating in Myanmar were even concerned about the role Facebook played in the genocide. Even after repeated warnings and promises to act, hate speech and calls to violence still remained, and possibly still do.
The question becomes if these call to arms are clearly prohibited, why is Facebook allowing them to occur? Why, even after being reported time and time again, do posts such as this remain? Why do clear breaches of their community standards go ignored? What is wrong with the system?
The best case scenario is that its incompetence. And as much as I’d like to believe this, given the regularity with which it occurs, I’d say this is highly doubtful. A more likely scenario is that Facebook’s community standards represent a very specific part of the community. It goes beyond the noble and just sentiments suggested in their policies, to a shameful code set by those who are happy to turn a blind eye to bigotry. A code which empowers those who fear and seek to persecute those who are different from themselves.
In short, their community standards represents the worst among us. How many people have to be harmed by their double standards before they adhere to the standards they claim to espouse?
A piece I wrote that was published last week on the ABC News website.
A poem I wrote on consumerism inspired by the poem ‘Be Good, Little Migrants’ by Uyen Loewald.
Be good, little consumers,
Just go to the shop,
Some retail therapy?
Keep going till you drop.
Be good, little consumers,
No money to spend?
Fear not there are methods,
Your source has no end.
Be good, little consumers
This deal’s just for you, Don’t tell anybody,
Just purchase on cue.
Be good, little consumers,
You have no time to spare,
Quick before it expires, There’s no time to compare.
Be good, little consumers,
Your need matters not,
You’ll soon find a use,
Get it now while it’s hot.
Be good, little consumer, Don’t forget the next event, There’s nothing this month? Never mind, we’ll invent.
Be good, little consumers,
Feel the rush of that bargain,
Keep coming for more, Succumb to the jargon.
Be good, little consumers,
Don’t buy into the hype,
Less is not more,
Disregard all the tripe.
Be good, little consumer,
You can never go back, We have science behind us, We’ll keep you on track.
So be good, little consumers, Be proud, take a bow, You’ve reached savvy proportions, You’re one of us now.
One of the things I struggle with is getting outdoors with the kids. I have always had one who wasn’t quite so great with instructions. The one who does a runner at the most unpredictable of times. The one who you have to constantly watch like a hawk. As a result, I have often left the outdoor stuff for the weekends when my husband and older kids are around to help. I just don’t feel it’s safe otherwise.
I had my eye on a nature playgroup for a while. But because I was about to give birth when I heard of it, and then had a newborn to care for, I didn’t take it any further. Eventually, I realised that we had been stuck at home for way too long and I needed to do this. Not only for the boys to spend some much needed time outdoors and burn off some energy, but also for my sanity.
It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision. After coming across a reminder of the playgroup on a Facebook post I decided then and there that we would join. Too often I sit on things, put them off, tell myself I’ll look into it later….and we all know that later never happens. I had just emerged from the newborn haze (which admittedly took longer than usual), and I was itching to get out, so I immediately contacted a facilitator and organised it. After a good nights sleep the panic set in. Am I crazy? Do I really want to take a 4-month-old to spend a couple of hours outside in the middle of winter? Maybe I should have thought this through a bit more. But I knew that getting outdoors more was just what my boys needed, just what we all needed, so I pushed the doubts aside and went ahead with it.
From the first session, I was hooked. After a scenic drive, we arrived at our meeting spot, the views were breathtaking. To begin with we went on a nature walk, picking up leaves and other bits and pieces for our craft activity. Our facilitator pointed out many wonders during our walk, different trees, moss, burrows, and we even got to see a mob of kangaroos. After the craft activity, the boys found a tree to climb before being lured away by everybody’s favourite activity, mud play! This is where the kids get dirty, jumping in the mud, mixing it, and making all sorts of goodies. We have mud pies, mud biscuits and mud soup, and naturally, I have to sample each of these culinary delights. My 7-year-old, who is apparently too cool for this session can’t help but enjoy himself, often finding a little nook embedded in a tree where he bakes his goodies, before an imaginary timer informs him that his mud cake is ready.
After spending minimal time outdoors for 4 months I went away from the first session truly exhilarated, and more importantly, the boys both had lots of fun, even though my 7-year-old tried his hardest not to. The fresh air and sunshine did us all the world of good, and we have enjoyed each session ever since.
So if you’re considering a nature playgroup or looking for an activity to do with your little one/s I highly recommend a nature playgroup, you won’t regret it!
My first days as a mother were challenging to say the least. My son was unable to breastfeed, and in fact, did not attach for the first time until he was 4 weeks old. Because of this I basically spent that entire first-month feeding, sadly I’m not exaggerating as much as you would think.
I was advised to feed him every 2 hours so I would try to breastfeed for about half an hour, feed him milk I had previously expressed for half an hour, and then I’d express milk for his next feed, this took around half an hour as well. Every 2-hour block, I would get around half an hour to myself, or to do non-feeding things. I thought I was going to lose my mind.
Things did get easier, we eventually established breastfeeding, and life went on. But I was a mother now, and everything I did reflected that; the clothes I wore, the books I read, and the people I now socialised with. My life had changed forever and I just went with the flow, trying to do the best that I could.
No longer could I just go out on a whim, every outing needed a mammoth effort. I had to pack a nappy bag with extras of everything ‘just in case’. I had to make sure it wasn’t his nap time or feeding time so he was in the right mood. Even if I planned and timed everything to perfection and was finally on my way out of the door, I would often be met with the sudden stench of poo, which typically would be the result of a poosplosion which required a bath and complete change of clothes.
Beyond the practicalities was the mental load. Was I a good enough mother? Should I use cloth or disposable nappies? When should I start solids? What foods should I give? How should I discipline? The questions and concerns never end.
Just when I thought I had it all worked out and starting to gain in confidence I arrived at the next phase, the next challenge and it started all over again. And when the craziness that is motherhood became my new norm I discovered I was expecting another addition, as if the chaos that has was my life wasn’t enough. But I loved it and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Those early days were like a blur. The days became weeks, the weeks became months, and the months became years. Somewhere along the line, I came to a scary realisation. In my attempts to be the best mother I could be, I realised that I no longer knew who I was. In my effort to dedicate myself to my children, I realised that I was losing myself. I didn’t quite know what to do about it, but I did know that if something didn’t change soon I was going to burn out and that wasn’t going to be good for anybody.
So I started thinking of myself and making decisions that in my mind were selfish. I bought myself a nice new camera and took up photography. I toyed with the idea of starting my own business. I took time regularly to just relax and do nothing. I started putting myself first.
All of a sudden that pre-flight safety demonstration that had perplexed me so much as a teenager made sense. In case of an emergency, the instruction is to put an oxygen mask on yourself before tending to your children. It took me so long to understand this. After all, what kind of a mother would put her needs in front of the needs of her children?
A good mother. A mother who takes care of her needs first will be there for her children when they need her. In an emergency situation, a mother who takes care of her needs first will be conscious and able to better assist her children in case of an emergency. In our day to day lives, a mother who takes care of her needs first will be happy and energised, better able to nurture her children.
So the next time you put your needs of yourself in front of those of your children, do not let the mama guilt prevail. Remember that by taking care of your needs you are better able to take care of your children. Just make sure you put your needs first when the oxygen masks come down, maybe not so much when the food trays come out. But sometimes, when they’re not looking, that’s ok too.