Boss Baby

Is it possible to rule the roost and rule the country? Our Prime Minister thinks so.

Jacinda Adern is clearly a very ambitious women. She has become the darling of the political world, both nationally and around the world, in relatively rapid time. Her rise through the Labour Party ranks may not have been as meteoric as the media might have us all believe, but her ascendancy to the top job, elected or not, came on a rocket-ship.

And thus, Jacinda Adern was thrust into the limelight. Prime Minister. Leader of a political party, leader of a nation. Our nation. My country and the one I am raising four children to live, love, grow, work, fade and die in.

Now our Prime Minister and her First Man, Clarke Gayford, will shortly be doing just the same; raising a child to grace these shores with it’s beautiful presence. Congrats and all that are due. Never mind whether it is appropriate or not for the leader of a nation to be taking some time out for the birth of a child. Don’t worry over the rights and wrongs of not informing the populace, effectively her employers, of any pending pregnancy.

Adern will stand by her right not to have to divulge that information and on principal, such a stand has to be accepted and applauded. She must have faced quite the dilemma, discovering her pregnancy at a time when the political whirlpool was in vortex, sucking everything and everyone in, as the last election seemed to do. She made her call, it can’t be changed now and to my mind, Mark Richardson’s abilities as a clairvoyant aside, the point is kind of moot.

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Richardson got lambasted in all this, complete with stern, unhappy teacher face and waggling finger, and while it is important to avoid the temptation to make cricket analogies, it seems our First Man has been left out of the playing XI all together.

Clarke Gayford should be offended . Miffed at the least. The question keeps getting raised, time and again, in our mainstream media, in opinion pieces and blogs, in twitter rants and wherever…will the Prime Minister will struggle to do both jobs.

Damn right she will. She is clearly an ambitious and extremely hard working woman and must come with the verve, drive and energy required to get to the position she is in. It is going to take all of that and more, to get through the next year or so from here, relatively incident free.

But, I ask from the cloistered confines of full time fatherhood, why is it we seem to be neglecting, no…failing to herald, Clark Gayford’s role in this?

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Hasn’t the man put his hand up, stating his intended lead role in the raising of the Clarke/Jacinda bub? Are his abilities so doubted we have to question his wife and hers?

Let’s get real here, it ain’t easy raising a child, no matter who you are, what gender you have assigned yourself (that’s how it’s done these days isn’t it?) and certainly no matter what you do for a living. I don’t imagine the Clarke/Ardern household is struggling financially, I can’t see them being under a great deal of pressure in providing all that is needed to give their little one every opportunity. I would also like to think they have a nurturing, close and supportive wider family and social network. Our nations Prime Minister will not be flying solo.

And neither will  Clarke. If nothing else, a rapt nation will be kept well and truly over informed on the progress of bubs, Mum and yes, maybe, just maybe, Dad will get a mention too. Breakfast show TV will be all over it, Mark Richardson or not. But in reality, this baby is going to spend the first few years of it’s little life, essentially without a strong Motherly influence.

Adern will be busy running the nation, a task I am sure does not leave a huge amount of time for full nappies and rolling over and sitting and those all important first steps. Not to mention teething. I wonder how much time it leaves for breast feeding. Are we going to see our P.M. with a baby on the breast in parliament? Not for the first time and bloody good to see being accommodated and readily accepted, just as it should be.

So, to my mind, there is no question of whether or not Jacinda Adern will be able to cope, juggling motherhood and the leadership of this nation. She is only going to be doing the one job full time. The one with the paperwork and the negotiating and the press conferences and the pressure and stresses. The pressure and stress her husband will be under are far different, but you sure as hell won’t catch this guy belittling them.

The real debate is who is going to be working the hardest. I reckon I know the answer.

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The Benefits of Boobs

My wife is a strong supporter of ‘breast is best’. And I have to agree.

Jugs.

Melons.

Jars.

Hooters.

 

Tits, boobs, breasts. I think that about covers it.

It doesn’t matter how you describe them, how you refer to them. Boobs are boobs, in all their varying shapes and sizes. Impossible to ignore, inappropriate to comment about.

Well, I am going to do just that. Comment. I am going to, ahead of The Big Latch On, take note of, and explore, some of the things that are truly wondrous about the relationship between a female mammal and its offspring.

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The first thing that strikes me…convenience.

Ever tried breast feeding a stroppy baby on a bus? A train? No, nor have I and I am never likely too. Just imagine trying to placate said little one without the benefit of body temperature milk on tap. It is going to take a pretty accommodating driver that allows you to plug in your travel kettle. All those bottles and bits and pieces that need sterilizing, the milk that needs heating.

Okay sure, that is a slightly ridiculous scenario, but I have been in many others, accompanied by my dear wife with any number of little ‘uns in tow and rest assured, it can be no mean feat getting a feed in a baby at the best of times, let alone when out and about.

Where was that last holiday you had? Lovely wasn’t it. Now picture it with a hungry baby. How about the last time you went to the movies. You found all the explosions and flame in the latest Hollywood blockbuster quite artistic. Now head back to the cinema with bubs…

I can see you are getting the idea. The convenience factor. Boobs can accompany you to the movies, the stadium, they can just jump in the car, or on the bus, or a tandem pushbike. Boobs can hike and row boat and boobs can go to a bar. Boobs fit whatever clothing you might like to bring for the occasion or as the weather permits.

Boobs are so handy, don’t  you think?

And even then, after all that simplicity boobs bring to everyday life, there is still so much more.

Here is where I mention all the documented health benefits of breast milk. However, that is all I will do, make mention. I am not the expert in the family. I am married to a Midwife/Lactation Consultant, complete with all the knowledge and training and passion. I have heard so much over the years, I could probably quote a good deal back right now. I won’t though, suffice to say breast really is best.

Boobs look good. That is as an established and accepted fact and yes, I could maybe be sold on the idea that they are functional and should therefore be de-sexualised.

How very liberal of me. How very new age or hip or on trend or whatever. Certainly very politically correct.

Liberal of not, I’m a bloke and as such I see boobs, breasts, jugs, nang-nangs as a little more than a means to feed a baby.  A woman’s breasts are also a big part of the ‘shop window’ and while that might sound shallow, I can assure you I am only talking skin deep. Boobs look good to guys, fact. Big, small, somewhere in between, great big, low slung swinging things and yes, engorged, hard, full breasts.

Personally I think a woman looks stunning when pregnant. Watching a body change and adapt to the parasitic creature growing inside is impressive and a beautiful thing to behold. All that taught roundness, the genuine ‘glow’ and yes, boobs…where before there may have been none!

All of which means people look.

Breast feeding mothers can have it rough. What is a perfectly natural process, one that every mammal does and has been doing since Adam gave up a rib, can be viewed with displeasure, even disgust. It can also be viewed with a little too much pleasure. I’m not going to go there, whatever floats your boat and all that.

I never gave it much thought, but I know there can be concerns from both mothers and their partners about getting a boob and accompanying nipple out in public.

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Your own sensibilities aside, as a mother, there are many out there that are not fond of the idea of a boob, no matter how subtly presented, being offered to a hungry, fussy bubs. Sadly, these are the same types that are most likely going to complain when your child does kick up a starving stink on a plane, in the library, the cafe. At the other end of the scale, there are whole communities, mostly in the dark recesses of the online world, that like nothing more than a lactating boob.

Somewhere in the middle is where I sit. A baby can be fed compassionately and without the need to spray warm, sweet milk all over walls and ceiling and those seated nearby. Nature in action, at it’s very best. And if you don’t like it, don’t look.

Some do. Look.

I have caught oldies not looking impressed, as one of my crew sucks on my dearest. I have seen teenage boys more than a touch curious, ogling eagerly in anticipation my wife will inadvertently flash a display of perfectly rounded, pert, milky white breast at them.

And it has happened. More than once folk have seem my wife’s boobs. Not normally in tandem, as a pair, but if they know us well enough, they will have seen both her breasts on multiple occasions. My wife has breast fed our children, all four of them…wherever and whenever. Some have recoiled at the sight…a mate freaked when he saw her distorted nipple through the opaque rubber of a breast pump. I even had guys comment on how much ‘fuller’ she looks.

She does, look fuller. My wife looks great and guess what, so do the kids. Each one of them a healthy and happy, content, little creature that thrived on what was provided to them directly from their mother. Nutrient and nurturing.

Fellas, it ain’t sexual.

PCers, it ain’t immoral.

Suckle, wet-nurse, nurture, nourish and feed. call it what you will, breast feeding is all natural, all good and happening near you, today.

So get out there ladies and give everyone a thrill….especially those little ‘uns of yours.

 

Caveman

Tonight is our chance, fellow men, to be just that, manly men.

It has been a bit of a bugbear of mine for a while now. The emancipation of man. Not humankind, men.

I guess first you have to ask yourself, as a man, do you feel oppressed, downtrodden, neglected, swept aside, ignored? Harsh language, even excessive maybe, but to my mind, a necessary question.

Manhood, for want of a better term, has been trapped in a kind of malaise, a trick of the space-time continuum. I feel it, not as a loss, but something missing nonetheless. A lack of definition, that quintessential ‘thing’ that it means to be a man, in this modern time of change.

For a large part this is a very personal question on a very personal level. I was raised in a single parent household, an absentee father very conspicuous by that very thing, his absence. Not a hurtful thing then, nor now. Just the way I grew up. My Mother was legendary in her efforts, as most single Mothers must surely be. But she was just that and no more…a hard working, dedicated and above all, loving Mother.

My Mum is a woman, funnily enough. A strong and capable one. However, as Eric Clapton said in his epic track Motherless Children, sister will do the best she can, but there are so many things a sister can’t understand.  

So what is it to be a bloke then? Define manliness, being a male.

It is easy enough to throw all the cliches out there, the stereotypes. There is nothing wrong with that kind of response, don’t get me wrong. After all, a stereotype can only come about because of what is deemed a norm in society. Being stereotypical is not inherently a bad thing therefore, it is just the common thing.

Personally I can’t help but feel that a great deal of the definitions already out there, telling us what it is to be a man, are made up by women. We, as in us, as in guys/blokes/dudes/fellas/bros have been convinced that what a woman would like to see or have in her man, is what defines him as being male.

And too many neo-liberal, politically correct, wishy-washy, feel gooders have meekly caved to that premise.

Before you all start (I use the term ‘all’ euphemistically-six followers does not an ‘all’ make), I am not referring to feminists or feminism. If I was referring to one or either of those things, I would have said one or either of those things. I sincerely believe that the ideal of feminism is not to denigrate, isolate or deflate men and manhood. Feminism, as has been established, is about equality and that is not what I am trying to drive at here.

Perhaps I am talking more about identity. Manhood is so diluted I feel it is difficult to actually pick where the issue begins and ends. So let’s take a look at the things, in this country at least, that might readily be and have been, associated with maleness.

Rugby – too broad and wide ranging an impact on this countries collective psyche, be it for or against, for me to want to delve into here. Besides, I made a vow never to touch religion in my blogging. Leave rugby alone then, set aside with the note of Colin Meads being the iconic image our national manhood benchmark could be set at.

*The above is done in the manner you might test for the most intelligent animal on the planet, excluding primates for having a perceived unfair advantage.

Colin Meads gives us terms like big, strong, tough, resilient, powerful. There are many other figures like that, presented to us in popular culture. Hollywood loves the strong, silent type. Think Russell Crowe in Gladiator, all long, slow and I am sure, deeply meaningful silences. The picture of a man being heroic, stoic and resilient. Of being right, morally superior.

But Hollywood also loves an anti-hero. The morally confused but ultimately good guy, the Han Solo. No better example than Chris Pratt’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy. The ‘cheeky chappy’ that the Brits fall so in love with. Robbie Williams.

Or are we meant to be Chris Hemsworth? All bulging muscles and gym honed body, not a hair out of place, smooth skim, maybe some designer stubble just to man things up a bit, a perfect fitting suit with matching accessories. But take a look at the images that come out from that guy. I have no idea how much he is told to do it, coached to, how much he is ‘touched up’ in an editing booth/suite or there is a little bit of his own thing going on, but those beautiful blue eyes are hard, piercing, just a little bit sinister, like there is the hint of an edge underneath all the metro-sexuality. A hint of manhood? Of manliness?

All that is more of what we, as men, are told to be. What we are fed by the image-makers, shaping far more of our society than they have the right to. We lap it up, don’t we? It sells watches and cars and beer. So enough of Hollywood and the marketing people, who will just take us to the other extreme with their next breath, giving us guys swinging chainsaws wearing short shorts and steal-capped work boots, wiping the sweat from their grime covered brows as they set about tackling ‘manly’ tasks.

Hair product means nothing to me and many like me. I have no hair. I have one suit in my closet but rarely do I have the opportunity to wear it.

Looks aside, imagery aside, what of intellect? What about emotive qualities and content? What about sheer personality? We are fed the idea that the academic is awkward, a clumsy and shuffling fool, bumbling about from one mishap to the next. Just remove his glasses and you have a hunk. Or has he got elbow pads sown into his sports coat, a peppered beard and silver hair, chin in hand as he leans in to listen, only breaking away so he can top up your Central Otago Pinot.

Either way, great strides apart from a sheep under each arm, straddling a fence in the middle of a paddock in rural New Zealand. But any less masculine for it? David Beckham, does he manage the cross over? Model, sport-star, bit of a poxy ponce, attentive Dad…

So much of what it means to be a man, the identity of manhood, has changed, dramatically, from generation to generation. How we are portrayed, how we are perceived, how we act and think. Some is voluntary and for the better. Some is placed up us and even then, quite possibly an improvement.

I have only asked half the question, let alone found any answers. I was kind of hoping you ‘guys’ could do that for me. With me.

Actually, I have raised more questions than I ever intended so I will, for now, leave it here where it lies and come back to it, perhaps as a bit of a recurring theme…

SO tell me, are you less of a man because you can’t service the car? Change the tyre even? Should we all be taught to shoot and stab, reclaim our role in the hunter/gatherer partnership? Does fumbling with the knot on the fishing line make you feeble, effeminate? Do real men eat quiche? Cry?…

Most importantly maybe, does raising my kids, being the home hubby, the go to carer, make me more or less of a man? I know my answer to that one.

To be continued…

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