Saturday, September 16, 2023

Almost Old #1 My mother turns 100

Apologies for changing the name of my blog yet again. But I have decided to write elsewhere about child estrangement and to make this a place where I can talk more broadly, with a focus only on ageing, something that matters to all of us but starts to matter more, especially for women, after fifty, the age I am at currently, an age I think could be described as 'almost old'. 

My mother turning 100 last month hasn't helped, though the cake was nice or should I say cakes.

They tell you you are only as old as you feel but when your mother reaches three digits that makes you feel even older than your are. I have to hasten to add to everyone who finds out my mother is 100 and there mouth snaps open in disbelief that she had her kids LATE, all three of us in her forties, me the middle one but of course. 

Then there is menopause, the most self-harming age for women, statistically speaking. It's not just teens that are vulnerable. They have their youth to fall back on after all. Society is generally very pro youth. You don't learn that till you are over forty or fifty, especially as women. 

I don't want to go into too many details, but the blood situation becomes extremely erratic and intense before it stops. It goes down with a fight, why, nobody knows. Possibly to tell women they are done with baby-making.

But despite all the concerns of ageing and menopause I reckon there is an 'age edge' too, an idea I am working on for the stand-up stage for a show I might call 'Almost Old' too. I'll let you know how the idea sits in a week or so.


Saturday, August 12, 2023

#3: Making men: Too sensitive; too smart

The Pikachu our son once loved
When my firstborn was four (and loved the Pikachu pictured), as his gifted-ed ('Small Poppies) teacher turned the number '99' over on her wooden abacus he leapt to his feet and in perfect ecstasy exclaimed: 'Oh my goodness! What an enormous number!' Only he lisped at that age, so 'enormous' became 'enormouth', adding to the wonder-boy vibe. 

It was an open day at the gifted-ed for preschoolers he attended and a dozen or so prospective parents, mostly mothers, and their possibly-gifted toddlers were watching. And when they heard this from my son who was small for his age their jaws, as one, dropped open. I, meanwhile, swam in an ecstasy all of its own maternal pride a child of your blood and body doing well. 

Then, in his second week at school, after he had just turned five, he appeared on daytime TV in a documentary on the gifted-ed centre. On that show hosted by a famous young mum he multiplied two double-digit numbers together on paper, carrying the ten, and then read the four digit answer out. Again jaws dropped, perhaps across the country. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder (and dog) as portrayed in 'The
Little House on the Prairie' TV series.

At eleven he came second in the country in maths in his year and also provided one of the winning answers in the national lit quiz as the only 11-12-year-old who knew Laura Ingalls Wilder was the answer. He hesitated long enough for others to give the answer if they had known. They had not.

Again my maternal pride soared when I learnt about this (I wasn't there), especially as I had read him and his sister and younger brother all of Laura's extraordinary US frontier memoirs, loving them myself and even learning my craft (of memoir) from her. The TV series 'Little House on the Prairie' I absolutely loved as a child is based on her memoirs. All children should read, or be read, these books.

At 12... he (my first) appeared on New Zealand's Brainiest Kid and made it through to a tie-breaker in the semi-finals. His question was which two countries built the Concord, and his opponent, a Chinese girl, had to give the word for memory loss. My son knew immediately he heard her question, after he had answered his incorrectly, that he had lost, and he was right. 

But he was so gracious about losing when interviewed on camera after the show that everybody loved him for it and he was invited onto Breakfast TV to talk about being on the show, just him and onne of the female finalists - a female won the title, NZ's Brainiest Kid - not the girl who beat him. He was funny and entertaining on that show too.

But after twelve, the usual story, in his early teenage-hood he began to change, not wanting to read so much, so getting bored and missing that substantial brain stimulus that only good books can provide, wanting to do more computer, not sleeping as much, and so on. We, he and I, the two kind of 'big picture', maybe you could say 'big brained' people in the house, argued increasingly, especially around the family dinner table, which was not good for his sister and brother. I knew that but I had to try to reign in his young male arrogance. It felt like my job. I did not, ultimately, succeed. I paid for that trying with estrangement. 

I also had to get him off the computer for two afternoons a week at least. I succeeded for a while, but he was so surly on those afternoons that eventually I had to stop policing them. Then he grew out of my ability to discipline altogether, though I still tried. 

He lived with us till he was 24 but at twenty-ish he imported a couple of MAGA hats from China and wore one to the Sunday dinner table. When I reacted predictably he laughed. It was very childish.

We fought constantly, though there was a breakthrough of sorts when I got him a job at a computer start-up and he loved it. The first computer job I got him he didn't like. But then the good job fell through after about a year and he drove over a stray tyre on the day he was told they were letting him go and his spirits never recovered from those two blows on one day.

That was in 2017. Then in early 2018 he moved to Perth to live with his girlfriend who he had met online - of course. He returned for Xmas that year, but when his brother returned from Dunedin where he, at 19, had spent his first year away living with a group of male friends, the brothers did not get on, the younger being cockier and probably more charismatic than the elder, though the elder was probably smarter. The younger's intelligence was much more creative, which is harder to both hone and measure. He might be even smarter than his older brother. He certainly knows more about classic cinema than his older brother does and than most other people his age do.

But both, I think it is fair to say, are too sensitive, even the cooler younger one, and too smart. Smart people are supposed to struggle to be happy. I think that is what our sons are doing, and so are we, being too sensitive and too smart too.

Ultimately the estrangement at Xmas 2018 of both of them was all but inevitable, especially when you add his brother's story, as they estranged us together. I will get to 'son 2' and finish 'son 1' another time, I am busy checking the proofreader's work on my latest book that I hope to have published in November. But proofing the proofs for 187 single-spaced pages is proving slow work. And it's getting late (8.58). I'd better get back to it. 

Till next time, 

S. Jones

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

#2: A smacking

Today, a reprieve-from-parenting poem. Though you are always parenting, whether writing poetry or missing your long estranged sons. In that sense there is no reprieve, even if they leave this world. You will be their parent until the day you die, hopefully long before they do. 

Still, you can and must lean out of the parenting world, especially if they are estranged, and lean into your own creativity and personal journey, for want of a better phrase. Tonight (Wednesday) I am leaning in to poetry...

A smacking

I love the lapping of the flames,

the crackle, a smacking of lips.

The wood so hot it burns enthusiastic

I love the cat, classic on the lap

coiled and mottled soft,

listening to the fire

I love the room, four walls plus anti-chamber                     

lead-light lanterns and Turkish rug,

two guitars, three chairs and a jug

I love the warmth, melting my muscles

soothing the cold out of its stiffness,

the silence out of its stillness

I love the man, Wordling on his phone,

stoking the fire with primal deft,

reading Sam Neil

I love the night garden beyond

lit in yellow here and there,

a leaf, a sturdy flower, a stare

I love the squabs wall to wall,

an invitation to flop,

to spread yourself out. To stop.

I love the children on the walls,



Monday, July 10, 2023

#1: Sugar kills sperm

Welcome to the inaugural "'Dead' Parents Society" blog, a blog dedicated to my reflections as a long estranged mother of two sons now 30 and 24, and more recently one daughter (28) on child estrangement, the experience, the studies and some thoughts on what's to be done to lessen the pain and bring about change... I'm a parent poet and I don't know it - perhaps that's the problem...

Our parenting experience beyond our marriage (when I was 21) began with infertility. For three and a half years we tried and failed to make a baby. Many things were wrong the specialists told us. My husband's sperm had motility and quantity issues. My fertility was fine but not bursting, they said, considering I was only 23-6 yrs old. 

However they were wrong. My husband's sperm at a later test was found to be much more motile and the count average. And I was about to be retested when we had to move cities and decided not to pursue that. Instead I read up on male infertility and eventually came across the claim that 'sugar kills sperm.' As I was a crazy sugar-obsessed bulimic at the time I knew on the spot that no matter how much of my sugar binges I got rid of there must be enough sugar in my system to be killing or at least dizzying my husband's sperm. I gave up sugar and binging that was boring without it and three months later, the recommended detox period, I had conceived our first son.

Our three, circa 2001
We got lucky. Because none of the fertility experts we consulted or books read had thought to ask about my diet and I was such a compulsive bulimic still recovering from my years of obsessive ballet dieting, that if not for wanting to make a baby so bad I would never have been able to kick my sugar habit. So we got lucky when I came across that strange piece of information while researching, as it happens, for a university essay I was writing on eating disorders.

But as it turned out, that was the easiest part of parenting. The rest of it was one challenge after the next, relieved by much joy and parental pride and fun, but all culminating in the abrupt and brutal total estrangement of that son and his five-years-younger brother and partially his younger sister too. 

What went wrong? Well everything and nothing, really. That's what this blog is going to be about, reflecting on the whys and wherefores of child estrangement through my personal experience as well as some study of the estrangement phenomenon that one expert has recently described as 'the silent epidemic.' Certainly we are far from the only parents to have been thrust into this state of limbo and longing for our children, and to the point that it does feel a little like a death. As if we are only half alive while waiting to see if our children ever come back to us. 

But at the same time the four to five years since the boys' estrangement have been energised by a sense of life is short and there are things to do, by wanting to live as long as possible and keep fit to be there for them if and when they do change their minds and want to get in contact. One feels more alive too somehow. It's a strange business all up.

But that is enough on it for now. My hernia is playing up after our fish and salad dinner. I need a quick walk and a stretch to relieve the trapped gas. I'm healthy and fit but middle-aged and menopausal. That's the deal.

Hope there might be something here for other estranged parents out there to feel supported and free to share their experiences in the comments. I'll do my best to moderate and respond.

Sacha the sperm killer

Monday, April 10, 2023

#2 How to argue with a rainbow

It's not easy to argue with a rainbow, as I found out recently when I attended Posie Parker's 'Let Women Speak' rally in Auckland on the 25th of March with the hope of hearing her speak about the dangers of trans ideology for women and children and, if I could, to argue my own case for discussing, in civilised terms, how the claims of TQ+ activists, who now run the rainbow, might be fairly reconciled with the the rights claims of biological women that are being thrown under the bus by the TQ+. 
Protesters against the 'Let Women Speak' rally,
Auckland 25 March, 2023

But the rainbow did not want me or any other woman to speak that day, and ensured we didn't speak by making so much noise with blow horns, piercing whistles and mass chanting, then by breaking down the barriers separating them - more than a thousand angry and righteously energised, mostly young women and men - and us - barely one hundred brave, mostly older, not so energised, females. 

'NAZI' is one of the signs they held against us:

Marriage equality in Australia Nov 2017: Celebrated as
'The best thing that happened today' here as: 'The right to love' 
N for 'Nasty'

A for 'Angry' 

Z for 'Zealot'

I for 'Idiot'

Though they were the ones chanting hateful slogans at women just wanting to speak.

All the while they menaced and threatened us, shouting and shoving, while we waited for Posie to speak, then broke down the barriers and stormed her in their many hundreds, pushing forward to where she was in the rotunda until she and her security decided her safety was at risk and did their best, risking their lives, to get her out of the mob that were openly baying for her blood. The police stood by and did nothing. This image is of Kellie-Jay after she survived the baying mob, but only just. The police only turning up at the last minute. 

The rainbow that I heartily celebrated here in late 2017 with the above and other joyous images, after the Aussies finally granted their gay community the right to marry, is not the rainbow of today. No woman got punched in the eye by a man on that occasion, as one 70-year-old woman was punched, fracturing her eye socket, in Auckland 2023. Nor did any woman get tomato soup tipped on her head the second she arrived to speak about women's rights, or be made to feel genuine fear for her life for presuming to speak against trans extremism, as Kellie-Jay did in Auckland that day, as this image clearly shows. 

This new rainbow appropriates all the good will and gay pride of the old one to bash women, feminists in the main, and children's rights advocates, many of them lesbians, over the head with it, to weaponize the rainbow in what can only be called now, with 'trans women' (men) being the loudest, angriest leaders of the movement, a men's rights movement. It's a rainbow of rage, with a humongous pot of gold for the makers of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones at the end of it. It and they must be stopped, or all our rights will be washed away in the rain that that bow brings.  

Trans women are men


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Sugar and Spite #1: Cake and estrangement

This is my new blog, 'Sugar and Spite'. I could change the url for this site too or start a new site, but for now I am keeping the old site and name. 

I have not run an active blog for years. But I used to be very blog active. For about seven years I regularly 'blogged', usually at some length. I guess I honed my craft that way. But I let the habit slide. 

Everything changes, however, and with all the 'gender' trans v. women politics taking off at the moment and me kind of right in the middle of it as a proud and out 'Terf', which really just means a real feminist, I just feel I must start talking about things with you again, and by 'talking' I mean of course writing, one of the old 'legacy media' forms.

I don't Twitter much but I Facebook probably too much. But I prefer the longer form of a blog if I can find the time.

The sugar is the fun, the memoir highlights, the gossip and the food, not least cake, that I will be discussing with you. Especially the food, as I have just submitted a 100,000+ words on diet and related challenges to Bloomsbury Books health imprint in the UK. Food and me go way back. I will reveal details of this project as we go along. I will probably have to self-publish. Perhaps I can do that here.

The spite of the title is all the less sweet bits of life, from the Terfery and politics more generally, to the spite that too many women have shown me over the years, to the spite my two sons (29 and 24) are currently showing me and their father by estranging from us more than four years ago now, without a word or even an image of communication from either of them since, neither of them being active on social media. 

It is also the spite I feel for them some of the time. I want to hurt them as they have hurt their father, who entirely doesn't deserve this treatment from his sons (I am a slightly different matter, which we will come to). 

Or perhaps 'spite' is not what I feel. Perhaps it is closer to resentment that I feel, mixed with anger, the most common of the emotions, for ripping our otherwise functional and even happy family apart. I have the photos to prove the happiness. 

They are much more angry than me but they got their anger from me, who got it from my father. I never expressed my anger physically, and my older son's anger against me was far louder and more spiteful. I never wanted to hurt either of them but it definitely felt that they wanted to hurt me. Of course they felt I had hurt them, and feel still. And I know I did. Just that it wasn't intentional and I was trying to help them, even if it didn't seem that way. 

I also love them of course, and I think I always will. But those other, less sweet emotions are there too and if they keep it up for many more years I think they will sour.

But for now that will have to do for my first Sugar and Spite. It's late-ish (8.15) and I need to do my after-dinner sprint walk before it gets too dark. It's part of my battle plan. 

Ciao, SJ  


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Thick and twisted


thick, twisted trunks of time

compete for sweets

with timeless tweets

narrow-hipped cyclists

pedal careless confidence 

in the face of well-wheeled,

broader-hipped cars

green-red hedges clipped

thick and slick

stand solid, safe and proud

you want to take a loud bite,

leave your messy mark

on the narrow-hipped site

but you can’t afford another chip