Friday, August 04, 2006

Babies and Bedpans

My mother is here from Kenya for the month of August, and I've taken my summer leave to coincide with her visit. She, my sis and I are planning a train trip to meet up in the peak district next week to see my grandma. And my mum just asked if I would arrive as late as possible so she and the other two could go out and enjoy themselves during the day without me and the baby. She's worried about room in my gran's car, and car seat issues.

I feel like a pariah! I picture us sitting around the breakfast table as we plan for the day, my child on my knee, as my fellow holiday makers cross off joys unreachable by them due to my lumpen childladen presence. Ouch!

Why oh why are other people's children so unpleasant to have around? I have a scenario I keep before me whenever I am discussing, say, desirable early childhood and family supportive policies and political stances.

One day I hope to be 95, and someone may need to bring me a bedpan.

And when I need her, this bedpan bringing person, I hope she will be doing her job because she chose it. I hope she will be well paid for it, not because I'll be filthy rich but because it's standard. I hope she will have grown up in an atmosphere of kindness and dignity, in a world that valued human dignity. I hope she will be gentle and unharried, have time to smile, not too many people to take care of, not too long shifts so she won't be tired. I hope she will have seen her mother treated with respect from when she was tiny; I hope she will have seen around her that the young, the weak, the old, the infirm, were treated with care, and with the consciousness that they are people.

I hope I will have helped build a world where she is not worrying, as she walks in, how she's going to feed her children, about her childcare arrangements, about her roof or her energy needs. I hope the political systems I have ushered in over my lifetime have safeguarded her clean water and her pension, and not ripped her off. I hope this reflection keeps me conscious of the impact of my decisions! And I hope it keeps me kind! Because anyone whose kids I'm nasty to may be the great grandparent of that person, I may be helping create the atmosphere she grows up in.

So should I stay home next week, cowering in my house inoffensively with my inconvenient child? Ai. What a world!


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