Category Archives: Feminism

My Ex-Boyfriend Loved Me. Everybody Told Me So.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

My ex-boyfriend was a really lovely man.  Everyone told me so.  He adored me, he cherished me, he valued me.  He thought I was special.

I know this is true because everyone told me so.

My ex-boyfriend was gentle and sweet, he was shy.  He had very little family and had been badly treated by those he did have, so he was vulnerable and needed to be loved.  He was insecure but full of heart.

Everyone told me.  Everyone.

Wasn’t I lucky to have a man like him, a man who so clearly was good and kind and loving and gentle.

So.  Fucking.  Lucky.

He loved me so much when he shoved me into walls.  He loved me so much when he hit me.  He loved me so much when he twisted my arm until I cried.

When he shouted in my face for smiling at the waiter.  When he wouldn’t let me leave the house or talk on the phone.  When he punched the walls so hard his knuckles would bleed then showed me the blood, blaming me for making him so frustrated.

He loved me so much when he raped me.  When he sent me upstairs to our bedroom to wait for him.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Feminist Blog, Feminism Blog, Blogger, Feminist Blogging

Photo credit Ninocare

He was so vulnerable, so insecure.  When he interrogated me about everything I said to my mother, what her face was like, how she interpreted it.  Whether I had implied anything negative about him.  Whether anybody knew.

He was such a good man.  I know it’s true.

When he found out I had a lesbian friend on Facebook and nearly smashed my laptop.  When I smiled at the man in the chip shop and he accused me of having an affair and screamed in my face.

I crept downstairs once.  He’d sent me to wait for him and had been gone for a long time.  I found him watching violent porn.  I ran back upstairs as quietly as I could.  That was a bad night.  He loved me so much.  Everyone told me.

I knew nobody would believe me.  Why would they?  I had no proof.  And he was a good man.

When I eventually got away from him I broke his heart.  I left him crying.  He cried a lot.  He cried when I tried to talk about how much he hurt me, why would I want to upset him like that?  I was talking as if he was an abuser, why would I do that to him?  He cried when I left.

He cried to his female friends.  They hated me.  Hated me.  They told me so.

I didn’t appreciate him.  I couldn’t see how much he loved me.  How special he was.  How gentle, how good, how loving.  I had a vendetta and I was cruel and selfish.  I was a liar.

He loved me so much.  Everybody told me so.

My mum believed me.

Every time I was brave enough to tell her a little bit more she believed me.

She had thought he loved me.  That he was a good man.  That he was gentle and good and kind and vulnerable.

My mum believed me.

When I was having the nightmares, she comforted me.  When I cried, she held me.  When I struggled, she paid for my counselling.

My mum believed me.

He was such a good man.  Everybody told me so.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Raising Children With A Sex Not A Gender

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, not their gender.

To explain I’ll describe what I mean by each.  Their sex is what they are.  The girls have vaginas and XX chromosomes, the boy has a penis and XY chromosomes.  Obviously there are other physiological differences but that’s the basics.

Gender is something else.  Gender is what each sex is “supposed” to be interested in, “supposed” to like, think and feel.  It’s the boys like pirates, girls like princesses, and boys like football, girls like ballet, school of thought.

So, how do I raise them with one not the other?  And why?

They need to know their sex.  There are medical issues that could come into play for one thing; they need to know their body parts in order to describe any pain or discomfort.  They need to understand the changes that they’re going to experience on their bodies, things that will happen to them because of their sex.

Whilst I definitely believe we all need to know the physiology of the opposite sex, when it’s going to happen to your own body what you learn needs to be more intense.  I’ll be teaching the girls about periods; how to use tampons or pads, what pain relief works best.  I’ll be teaching the girls about yeast infections and what to look out for, what treatment to use.  The boy needs to learn about erections and testicular pain, about his voice dropping.  These are basic simple biological differences that will manifest as they grow and experience life.

But gender is unnecessary.  And in some cases it is harmful.

There’s a flow chart floating around social media that is spectacular at explaining why children do not need gender.

IS IT OPERATED WITH GENITALS?

/                                   \

YES                                             NO

/                                                              \

THIS ISN’T FOR CHILDREN                      YOUR CHILD CAN PLAY WITH IT

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series. Rose And Mum And More Blog, Parenting Blog, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Cheryl Holt

Nothing that children play with, watch or wear is restricted to their sex.  Absolutely nothing.  There is absolutely no reason boys can’t play with My Little Ponies, Barbies or hair dressing sets.  There is absolutely no reason girls can’t play with dinosaurs, trucks and footballs.  And when we teach them that it’s not the case problems happen.

I recently had a conversation with someone one Twitter who’s raising her little boy as female now.  I assume that doesn’t include learning about the medical reasons he needs to know about his body, I don’t suppose she’ll be teaching him about period cramps and how to get blood stains out of knickers.  She’s raising him as socially female.

She tweeted that every birthday and Christmas he asked for dolls, and every year he cried when he was bought trucks.  I asked why she couldn’t just let him play with dolls?  Why not let the kid have what he wanted?  She said because he was teased for it, made fun of, laughed at for liking girl’s toys.

She taught him that the bullies were right.  She taught him that the bullies were right and he was wrong.  That something is wrong with him.  She changed him, not the bullies.

He is now on a path.  He’s being raised as a girl now.  He’s on a path that leads children into puberty blockers, a life time of medication, hormone therapy and, if he chooses to go down that path, surgery.  Or if he’s like high profile trans child Jazz Jennings who went on puberty blockers, he’ll find that his development is so damaged that not only is he unsuitable for surgery, but he’ll also not develop fully and he’ll grow older with an infant’s penis on an adult body, with nothing anybody can do to help.

Because he wanted a Barbie.

With other parents that could be my children.  Miss Rose is not a traditionally feminine girl in a lot of ways.  She likes her hair short, she loves football.  She plays with bricks and cars and super heroes.  With different parents she could easily have been taught that they are boys toys, that there’s something wrong with her wanting those things.  The more traditionally “girly” things she enjoys could have been hyped up, she could have been forced to grow her hair long and wear frilly pink dresses.  She’d be uncomfortable, she’d feel she was wrong.  She’d be told that only girls like these, only boys like those.  But she likes those.  You can see how their little brains make that leap without any slight concept of what they’re getting into.

Gender stereotypes being imposed on children starts them on their journey to adulthood in a way that is just not healthy.  Fifty years ago that meant little girls grew up to be housewives.  They were forced to play with make up sets, ironing boards, and dolls being groomed for a life of servitude, beauty and motherhood.  Little boys were forced to play with weapons, cars and blocks, preparing them for a life of adventure, money making and dominance.

Photo credit KlimKin

We started to leave that behind.  Movements like Let Toys Be Toys highlighted that any child can play with any toy.  We’re becoming accepting of little girls who like adventure and little boys who like domesticity.  We’re moving towards embracing both facets of our personalities, little girls like Miss Rose loving toy cars and My Little Ponies without any concept that she could be wrong in doing so.

But the more tolerant we become of celebrating differences, the more intolerant we become of those who are different.

Now it’s more tolerant to believe a little boy who likes Barbie is really a girl.  It’s more tolerant to think a little girl who likes her hair short and doesn’t wear pink is really a boy.

Gender stereotyping is getting a resurgence in popularity but under a new name, and instead of those who are against gender stereotyping being the progressives, it’s those who will strictly conform to it to the point of medicating their children who are applauded.

My children will be raised to know their sex.  To know their bodies, to understand what they do and how they work, how they’ll change and what to do to be healthy.  They’ll be taught to love their bodies, respect their bodies, nurture their bodies.

My children will not be taught their gender.  They’ll never hear from us “that’s a girl’s toy” or “only boy’s wear that”, and if they hear it from others they’ll swiftly be reassured that it’s nonsense, that they’re perfect they way they are.  If they’re teased for their differences I’ll never side with their bullies.  Ever.

Femininity and masculinity are both fine.  Women and men are both fine.  Girls and boys are both fine.  It’s okay to be anywhere on the feminine to masculine scale regardless of what sex you were born.

I’m raising my children to know their sex, but not give a flying f*ck about their gender.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Strength In Numbers

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When a famous man is accused of sexual abuse crimes and rape, it always seems that once one woman has made an accusation, others come forward with similar tales of abuse.  It has happened in high profile cases, the Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby type cases, time and time again and it is always met with the same criticism.  The same accusations.  They are “jumping on the bandwagon”.  If it had really happened they’ve have come forward sooner.  They’d have spoken out.  They’re just trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame and a financial handout.

I have never gone to the police about the abusive relationships or experiences I’ve had.

I have a lot of guilt for that and I carry it with me.  I cling onto the notion that it was just me.  Nobody else went through that under those hands and I would rather not put myself through the horrendous process of reporting abuse crimes for which I have no evidence, which I would be put under an embarrassing and traumatic investigation and cross examination, where it would end up as his word against mine.  Where I would have to face those men again, men with eyes I have done everything I can to never have to look into again.

I am simply not strong enough to face that lonely road.

If others went forwards?  Then I think  would.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More,, Feminism, Feminist Blog

Photo Credit Kauschik Chug

I’m witnessing it happening.  One woman speaks out, comes forward with a tale of abuse and suddenly, like dominoes, other silenced women are holding up their hands.  They’ve suffered the same experiences, they too believed they were alone.  They too thought they were facing the prospect of that lonely road.  But they’re not.  There are women with them, women who can hold their hands and look into their eyes and tell them they are not wrong.  They aren’t making it up, they aren’t faking it, they aren’t lying and seeking fame and fortune at the expense of an innocent maligned man.  Women who can stand together because they have each other and that gives them the strength they need to look into those eyes once more.

If other women came forward I too would stand up.  I would face those eyes, those hands.  But so far it hasn’t happened.

If I’m honest, if I look into those hidden places in my mind that I dare not explore too often, I don’t believe I’m alone.  And I believe that if I did it, if I was that brave woman who stood up and said it had happened then I’d be leading that march down that road and I wouldn’t be alone in doing it.

The women who stand up and make it known are the bravest of us all.  Braver than me.  If I stood up I am almost certain others would follow yet I am paralysed by fear.  I have seen the condemnation, the scrutiny, the abuse these brave women are met with and I am too frightened to face it myself.  His word against mine, and I know how many voices will shout from his side about how abused he is by my speaking out.  And I am afraid.  Those women who face that, who lead the way, they are the bravest of us all.

There is strength in numbers.  It is not a bandwagon.  It is a march of solidarity.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

I Believe In The Sisterhood

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When a woman says she doesn’t think anyone will believe her, it is almost always when she’s speaking out against a man.  And pretty much always against a man with power and influence.

For some reason, the mass opinion of society is that a man with power and influence is far more likely to be the innocent victim of slander, than a woman he has power and influence over is to be the victim of abuse.  There’s the fear that a man’s reputation will be so damaged by the woman’s accusations that his life will be ruined whereas she will continue unscathed.

When men can be accused to some of the most heinous crimes; rape, murder, child abuse, and continue to have successful careers in film, television and, say, presidency, I think we can safely assume that this is bullshit.  And when women who have made accusations have been verbally and physically abused so much they’ve had to change their names and move house, or have been fallen into depressions so badly they’ve committed suicide, it is clear that women don’t get as much out of accusations as people seem to think.

So why do we continue not to believe women?

Why do we enable men to gaslight women into believing they have done something wrong, or invited their abuse?

Why do we enable this pathetic belief that women owe something to men?  That if they want us we are some how duty bound to protect their feelings, even if it sacrifices our own personal comfort or safety?  That rejecting them is an act of cruelty not self preservation?

I believe in the Sisterhood.  I believe that women should be a network of strength for one another.  I believe that when one of your fellow women comes to you and tells you of pain in her life that it is your duty as to hear her.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Feminist Blog, Feminist Blogger

Photo credit Unsplash

I believe that if you flirt with a man you owe him nothing.

I believe that if you go on a date with a man you owe him nothing.

I believe that if a man is in love with you you owe him nothing.

I believe that “consent” obtained through coercion, manipulation, pressure, bullying, gas lighting or guilt tripping is not consent at all.  It is rape.

I believe that anyone, male or female, who would try to convince a woman that she is in the wrong because a man cannot control himself needs to take a long hard look at themselves and then fuck off as far as they can go.

I believe that any woman who would immediately take the stance that the woman in pain is lying and sides with the man accused of causing the pain is seriously and incredibly wrong.

None of this means I hate men, none of this means I support abuse of men, something people often seem to assume.  It means that I believe women.  I support women.

I am here for the Sisterhood.  And God help the mister who comes between me and my sister.  Because I will fight for my sisters.  I will fight for women.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

#allaboutme

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I was tagged by my lovely fellow blogger @SprinkleOfPixie, who writes Baby Pixie And Me, to write a post with ten facts about me that you may not know!

1) I have a very rare allergy

I’m allergic  to my own blood.  It’s an auto immune condition where my blood becomes an allergen sometimes.  It can make me come out in an itchy rash, vomit or get very ill with very little warning and is one of the contributing factors to the swine flu nearly killing me whilst I was pregnant.

2) I’m vegetarian

I stopped eating meat for short periods throughout my childhood but gave it up for good when I was thirteen.  In the eighteen years since I’ve only ever eaten meat when served it accidentally.  I don’t miss it at all and the idea of eating meat now grosses me out, whereas I used to love meat when I wasn’t veggie.

3) I met my husband when I was 23

We got married when I was 26 and had Miss Rose when I was 27.  He left when I was 28 and my divorce was finalised when I  was 29.

4) I’ve never smoked a cigarette

When I was a teenager I hung out with lots of smokers in grungy rock clubs but never tried.  I also never smoked weed or tried any other drugs.  People always assume that was my history but it never appealed and never has and I hate the smell of it still.

5) I started modelling for a while

I tried it for a while and a few people wanted me to keep going but I was too short for fashion modelling and unwilling to pose nude, plus I wasn’t the right look at all so I wouldn’t have got much work even if I had really tried.  My heart wasn’t in it anyway, I felt pretty shit about myself when I did it and genuinely wish I hadn’t done it.  It was a silly impulsive idea I knew I wasn’t cut out for and used to validate my feelings of being unattractive and worthless.  It broke my already low self esteem into shreds.  I’d never encourage my daughters to explore that as an option.

6) I am a runaway fantasist

Part of me always longs to runaway.  To just take what I need, leave everything else, and disappear.  Start fresh.  When I was single with my daughter after my marriage broke down I even researched places I could take her and disappear to.  Now is the only time in my life that desire hasn’t been a prominent lingering urge to be ignored.  Now it only pops up in times of extreme stress.

7) I’m a terrible singer

I have no ear for music, can’t carry a tune, and really can’t hold a note.  Even if I could hit an actual “note” I wouldn’t hold it.  That said I sing with gusto.  My mum and I sang to Copa Cabana at a karaoke in Spain and it was truly dreadful but very enthusiastic.  Fortunately I was drunk.

8) I have HPV

My cervix has abnormal cells with the HPV virus meaning my likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly increased.  Three years ago I had to have a biopsy with suspected cancerous cells but luckily they were clear.  You can develop HPV after just one incident of sex without a condom.  There is now a vaccine they’re offering to teenage girls though many are arguing against it claiming it will encourage unprotected sex.  I, however, definitely want my daughters vaccinated.

9) I hated school

I truly loathed school.  So much so that I couldn’t bare the idea of going to university, even now it baffles me that people love it and get excited by it, and so much that I don’t socialise with the group of friends I had even though they’re all still really close.  We aren’t even facebook friends.  I find reminders of that time too hard to deal with.  When I had to look around Miss Rose’s primary school I felt sick. I still feel incredibly awkward going there even though her teachers are super lovely and the school is really nice. I’m scared I transmit my own phobia to her even though I do everything I can to be calm and enthusiastic.

10) Our second daughter was named within weeks of us meeting

You wouldn’t necessarily think two cynical divorcees would be so daft, but within about 4weeks The Boy and I were referring to our future daughter by name.  Even my mum started doing it within a month or so.  When I got pregnant a year later he was so confident that she was the prophesized little blonde girl named so long ago that he wasn’t interested in discussing potential boy’s names because he knew the baby was our daughter.  Turned out he was right.  We found out the sex, she was a girl.  And he’s with us now and she’s a little blondey as he had predicted she would be, with the name given to her before she had even been conceived.

1. Share 10 things about you the person. Not you the parent, the baker or the business.
2. Name check the person who nominated you.
3. Tag 3- 5 others to share 10 things.
4. Enjoy the tidbits of information we all learn about each other.
5. Voila, job done.

I’ll nominate @MrsBaker, @OurRachBlogs, and @Life_Of_Tont

xxx

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

No I Won’t Cover Up

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I am a breast feeder.  I fed my first daughter for nearly 11 months and I’m currently feeding my second daughter who is nearly 8 months.  I have always breastfed on demand, as and when required.  Whether I’m in a restaurant, a shop or the theatre I’ve simply fed my baby because she’s hungry and needs feeding.

Generally my feeding so publicly and without shame has been met with positivity or, for the most part, not been noticed.  Until now.

There is a misconception amongst those who argue vehemently against public feeding that breastfeeding involves some dramatic wafting of a bare breast with milk spraying.  In reality, in my own case and the case of breast feeders I have been around, it would be easy not to know the baby is having a feed at all.  You can’t see anything as there’s a baby head in the way.  It simply looks like a cuddle.  There’s no wafting breasts or spraying nipples because the breast is behind a baby and the nipple and milk are both in their mouth.  On any Saturday night you’ll see more exposed breast flesh for fashion than you’ll see from a breastfeeding mother.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Breastfeeding, Blog, Feminist, Mummy Blogger

Photo credit Avina Voicu

This weekend we went on a big family reunion to a remote area on the moors outside Buxton.  There were aunts and cousins, grandparents and grandchildren.  On Sunday we headed en masse to a local pub for a traditional Sunday lunch.

The Knight’s Table in Quarnford, Buxton, has an isolated charm.  The wind whipped and the rain fell, but we hurried inside and it was warm and cosy.  Targeted at families, offering children’s meals and with over the top medieval themed décor, it seemed the perfect location.

I was sniffy about the word “Damsels” being on the ladies toilets whilst the men got to be knights, but I put it aside as it was just part of a theme.

With nearly 30 people in our party we took over the majority of the restaurant area.  Those of us with children stationed ourselves at a back table behind a wooden partition, it seemed sensible given the likelihood of strange noises from tablets and games. and I took a seat in a high backed booth style bench with good back support for feeding.  The rest of the family filled the subsequent tables.

In due course Baby Boo required feeding so, as usual, I cradled her in my lap, slipped a boob out of my nursing dress and latched her on, then continued chatting.

“You need to cover up,” cut through a voice.  I looked up in surprise and saw the woman who had previously seated us.

I looked down at myself in confusion, had I accidentally exposed myself?  No.

I looked back at her and she pointed a finger at Boo.

“There are other people here,” she said crossly.  “You’ll need to cover that up.”

Incredulously I said, “No!”

I was furious.

Besides the fact I was tucked in a corner and surrounded by family, besides the fact I am legally entitled to breastfeed in public without harassment or discrimination, besides the fact that even businesses as well respected as Claridges have publicly apologised and admitted fault for similar incidents, I was furious because I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated. I lost my appetite, gathered up my children, and we left.

As defiantly as I refused to give in to her unacceptable demand, I felt ashamed.  As strong as I felt for continuing to feed, I felt weakened. I felt betrayed.  This woman had seen me doing something legal, normal, natural, which her establishment is required by law to respect my right to do, and instead of behaving appropriately had turned her back on both the law and the history of women’s rights.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More Blog, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero

Photo credit Bohed

One look on TripAdvisor confirmed I am not alone in this experience and other nursing mothers have been similarly harassed in The Knight’s Table.

I chose not to make a scene out of embarrassment and the desire not to negatively impact the experience of an extended family I am only just get to know, but part of me wishes I had.  Part of me wishes I had challenged her on it.  Alerted the matriarch of the family who, she later assured me on learning about the incident, would have defended me passionately.

I should have fought at the time,  but I am choosing to fight now.  No woman should be made to feel that way.  Had I been alone or a first time mother the experience could easily have put me off breastfeeding for life.  I’m a defiant, proud feminist with an established history of feeding and a loyal family at my side and it still made me feel crap.  Other circumstances could have been far harder and nobody has the right to that power.

I didn’t fight immediately but one thing I can assure you is that I am no damsel.  I can fight the dragon myself, and I beg of any other nursing mothers who find themselves in The Knight’s Table to brace yourself, then proudly fight that dragon too.

We will not be bullied, intimidated or shamed.  We are not damsels.  We will fight.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Working Mums… Kudos

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Today I experienced on a microscopic scale what “normal” working mums experience daily.

Usually my working life sees me sitting at home in my pyjamas working on my laptop whilst my oldest daughter crashes around the place and my baby daughter breastfeeds.  Now don’t get me wrong, it brings with it it’s own unique set of challenges.  Balancing working and child raising whilst trying to do both at the same time, in the same house, day in day out is uniquely complex and I’ve written before about struggling with it.  I never that my work or my family have had the attention they deserve.  However, I also don’t feel that I’m not getting enough time in the company of my children.  Other than the three hours a day Miss Rose is at nursery, we are pretty much glued to one another.

Today I had a meeting about my book, and that meant I was leaving my girls with their grandma.  Miss Rose adores her grandma and has had time with her on many occasions, but my baby girl has barely been parted from me sine she was born seven months ago, almost to the day.  The only times we’ve been separated have, indeed, been when I’ve been going in the shower or doing Miss Rose’s bedtime.

Bracing myself to leave my baby girl even in the most trusted hands of her grandmother was something that I had to process.  And this was just for a one off, I won’t be doing it regularly!

Then there was the challenge of actually getting ready.

Firstly, I’m a different body size and shape to last time I had to wear anything remotely smart.  I’m queen of leggings and stretchy waist bands, comfy t-shirts and hoodies.  I’m slouchy boots and fluffy socks.  Before Baby Boo was born I was a trim size 8, but having a second baby since then has left me larger with boobs and a bum that weren’t there before, but a wardrobe full of clothes designed for someone lacking in those areas.

Whilst Miss Rose bounced on my bed, pulled the sweaters out from my wardrobe, packed numerous soft toys into her backpack, and sang to me, I tried on so many different outfits trying to cobble together something that was both smart… and I could pull up past my thighs.  I got stuck in a rather fetching emerald green dress.  I nearly broke the zipper on a black swing skirt.  I has my breasts crushed into my rib cage by a nice shirt.  Looking longingly at my drawer that is entirely dedicated to the black stretchy leggings I usually dedicate my life to, I eventually squished myself into a skirt that was both a respectable length and I could get over my bottom, and found a smart sweater that I could breathe in that didn’t say GEEK across the front in huge letters.  Huzzah!

Then I had to attempt footwear.  I have no worn high heels in many months.  Indeed, well over a year.  Well over a year and a half.  I put some on.  Then I fell over.  Miss Rose thought it was hysterically, whilst I cursed about my painful ankle.  Then I reminded myself that I am a proud feminist.  That thinking I should be crippling myself in high heels was just my inner victim of the patriarchy and I am stronger than that.  I can rise above it.

I compromised on a pair of very low heeled Mary Janes, primarily because all my super comfy flats are not in the least bit smart, mostly scuffed, and often with sequins.  My feminist self begrudingly accepted that whilst I don’t agree in the least bit with wearing heels being essential for being professional, I was at least able to comfortably walk and did look smart.  As beautiful as the patent stilettos may be, they’re the work of the devil himself.

Whilst Baby Boo howled that she needed to be fed, Miss Rose crashed around in her underwear apparently oblivious to my shrieks of “ROSE PUT YOUR LEGGINGS ON!”, and I discovered a possible mascara allergy as I blinked my burning eyes frantically in the mirror, I eventually managed to get myself dressed, brushed, and enough make up on that my perpetual exhaustion was masked.

As I sat on the sofa giving Baby Boo a last breastfeed before her stay with grandma I realised just how challenging this must be day to day for “real” working mums.  I thought about my own mother who did this every single day from when I was six weeks old.  I thought about my step son’s mother who is doing this every day now.  I have the luxury of this being an occasional novelty for a short period of time, indeed I was back with her two hours after leaving her, and I still found it challenging on both an emotional and a practical level.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit Gris Guerra

Working mothers of the world I doth my cap to you.  What you do is not easy.  Whether you do it because you love your job and don’t want to give it up, or because you simply have no other choice financially, I know it isn’t easy.  I know that as a half stay at home half working mum I have this amalgamation of both worlds and I am incredibly fortunate.  I know that doing a job I love as much as I do makes me one of the most blessed women in the world.  I know that saying goodbye to my baby girl for the first time was incredibly difficult and I don’t have to do it again for… well.. ages!  I know that you have to do it constantly and, no matter why you’re going out to work, that is something you have to face in a way I do not.

Stay at home mothers are so often pitted against working mothers in a “who is mother superior?” way.  Is the mum at home dedicating her life to her children better?  Is the mum going to work providing for and inspiring her family better?

My limited experience tells me the competition is bullshit.  I was fried and anxious by a toe dipping into the world of the working mother.  I am fried and anxious by my regular half and half life.  Basically being a mum is frying and exhausting, let’s be honest.  But to working mums I say kudos.  I don’t normally taste your world and it sure is hard.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!