Work division in the home and single parents

Posted by Saraline , Friday, May 17, 2013 11:37 AM

When discussing feminist parenting, division of labour in the home comes up quite often. Who wants to be a slave, right? Sharing housework and childcare responsibilities is an important part of women's liberation. I have a lot of mom friends who live with their kids' dads; some of them have partners that make me feel lucky to be a single mom. Others have great partners who recognize the importance of sharing work in the home.

Breaking the law to protect future generations

Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:35 PM

As I'm sure most of you know, Montreal now has a bylaw banning masks at protests. Mayor GĂ©rald Tremblay asks, "When a cause is just, why is it necessary to hide behind a mask?" When asked about protestors who use masks to protect themselves from teargas, a lawyer representing the police said that teargas is only used at protests that have been declared illegal. There are, of course, reasons other than hiding your identity and protecting yourself from teargas to wear a mask and one of those reasons is being adorable.

Hey Charest! You're a big LOSER!
My son Eliot breaking the law at yesterday's demonstration.

Okay, so teargas is only used at protests that have been declared illegal, but when is a protest declared illegal? According to Quebec's new loi 78, if there are 50 or more people and the police did not receive notice in writing with a map of the route eight hours in advance, the protest is illegal. Loi 78 does not comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and we cannot sit back silently while it is enforced. We cannot hide inside while terrasses full of innocent bar patrons are attacked by the police, elderly people are penalized for honking in support of protestors,  and unarmed protestors are pepper sprayed in the face. This is not the kind of future that I want for that little panda up there, or for the other children in Quebec.

There are many legitimate reasons to oppose the tuition hikes in Quebec that existed even before loi 78 and the voice articulating these reasons should not be silenced. The need to stand up to this special law is urgent. It is not just the students who are impacted by the new restrictions; Jean Charest's government is punishing Quebec as a whole for the student demonstrations and Quebec is taking notice. Louis Masson, president of the Quebec Bar Association, called the bill "a breach to the fundamental, constitutional rights of the citizens." The union representing STM bus drivers has denounced loi 78, asking bus drivers to refrain from driving riot police to demonstrations and reminding them that they have had protests in the past which would now be considered illegal under the special law.

If we don't speak up, we are sending the government the message that we're okay with laws like this, so stand up and let them know that we're not; future generations are the ones who will suffer if we are silent. Defy loi 78, join the protests, and show the government that we will not be bullied into following ridiculous laws.

A disconnect between "mother" and "feminist"

Posted by Saraline , Monday, April 4, 2011 10:04 PM

"What does a feminist mother look like?" This is a question that I'm sure many feminist mothers have asked themselves and it is a question that has been asked over at blue milk along with the following ten questions. I feel like maybe I've answered them before, but I can't find this anywhere in my blog so I'm answering them again or maybe for the first time.

This post has been brought to you by cigarette cravings

Posted by Saraline , Monday, March 21, 2011 7:31 PM

According to popular opinion, parents who smoke cigarettes are the root of all evil. It doesn't matter if a parent steps outside and walks twenty paces away from their house before lighting up. They still suck and everyone feels sorry for their children.

A little story not related to parenting but related to tobacco: a town in the area where I grew up was recently a candidate for CBC's Hockeyville. They did not make the top ten. The local hockey team also has a picture of a tobacco leaf on their uniform. Does anybody think that this is a coincidence?

Anyway, to get back on topic, everybody hates smokers, especially smokers who have children, because parents who smoke are jerks.

I am pleased to announce that I am officially no longer a failure as a parent because I quit smoking for good two months ago.

You have probably heard that smoking while pregnant is also a bad thing to do. I quit for the first time while I was pregnant. After doing some research online, I discovered that I could not chew nicotine gum, use a nicotine patch, or use any medications to help me quit smoking because they are all bad for pregnant women and fetuses. I did read that cutting back gradually would probably be okay and gave myself a week to do so.

My week was cut short a couple of days in when I saw a rather terrifying commercial on TV about how your entire uterus gets filled up with smoke every time you take a drag from a cigarette. If you are pregnant and you want to quit smoking cold turkey, I recommend watching commercials about smoking which have the intention of scaring the crap out of you. I gave the rest of my cigarettes to my neighbour. Since I still wasn't telling anybody that I was pregnant at that point, I told her that I had given up smoking for Lent and she believed me.*

I did not smoke for my entire pregnancy, but I did politely ask for a cigarette while I was in labour.** Once I was a new parent, I was very stressed out and at a loss when it came to coming up with solutions for dealing with my stress. My son's father would come to my house to see the baby and after ten minutes would sigh and say, "I need a break. I'm going out for a smoke."

And dammit, I wanted a break too. I stole a cigarette from my ex three weeks post-partum. I wanted more, but I also did not want to go all the way to the store because I had just had a baby and it still hurt to walk. I asked my neighbour, who was pregnant herself by this time, to go to the store to pick up my cigarettes for me. I am certain that anybody who saw her buying them thought that she was buying them for herself and they are probably still judging her to this very day.***

So then I recently quit smoking again. This time I'm using the nicotine gum, but sometimes it's not enough to just chew the gum; sometimes I have to stand outside while chewing the gum so that I feel like I'm having a cigarette. Sometimes I have to write an entire blog entry about cigarettes because I cannot stop thinking about them.

EDIT: I just want to add that I do not think that you are a jerk if you smoke, even if you have kids.

*Everyone always forgets that I'm not religious because I like church music.
**I may or may not have screamed, "Give me a cigarette or I'll kill you!" in the middle of a contraction.
***Sorry, Wendy.

Review of the Nanny Business

Posted by Saraline , Friday, March 18, 2011 2:00 AM

Last Saturday, the Philippine Women Centre of Quebec (PWC-Quebec) presented the Nanny Business, a documentary which focuses on the experiences that women have had with Canada's Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).

The viewer is first introduced to Edelyn. In an attempt to provide for her family financially, Edelyn has left her three children behind in the Philippines so that she can obtain work caring for another woman's child in Canada. She hopes that she will be able to bring her children to Canada once she has completed the requirements of the LCP program; she must live with her employer for 24 months within three years. She has borrowed money from a loan shark so that she could pay an agent to find her employment in Canada and for her plane ticket. She has a contract with an employer who she has never met. When she arrives in Canada, nobody meets her at the airport.

Edelyn finds her agent and it turns out that her employer does not want her services after all. She is now in an unfamiliar place with nowhere to live, very little money, no job, and no way to complete the requirements for the LCP. Later on in the film she speaks with Melanie, the woman who was supposed to be hiring her, on the telephone. Melanie offhandedly tells her, "I thought that I was going to need you but now I don't."

Unfortunately, Edelyn's story is not unique. The viewer follows Susan McClelland as she does research for an article that she is writing about nanny abuse. She learns about the many problems that women encounter within the LCP at the hands of their employers and agents. The nannies are often forced to work long hours for little pay and asked to do tasks that are outside of their job descriptions. For example, one woman in the documentary had her employer ask her for a massage when she arrived home from work. The women in the LCP are not protected from abuse and they often find themselves in vulnerable situations when their employers threaten to have them deported if they do not do what is asked of them.

The viewing of the documentary was followed by a discussion of the issues within the LCP. The 24 month live-in requirement is a huge problem; those 24 months must be spent with the same employer. If a job situation does not pan out for someone, she has to start the 24 months all over again with a new employer if she wants to stay in the program. For many women, this means an even longer separation from their own children who they are hoping to bring to Canada once they have completed the program. While there are laws in Quebec protecting the live-in caregivers from being fired for no reason, an employer can get around this by saying that they can no longer afford to have a nanny. The live-in requirement also makes the caregivers more vulnerable to exploitation; if they are living with their employers, they cannot just go home at the end of a shift. They are essentially on call for 24 hours a day. If they end up working 18 hours in a day, they will probably still only be paid for eight hours.

The members of the PWC-Quebec also shared many opinions about the situation of the caregivers in the LCP. One person said that Canadian women, in a bid to obtain their own freedom and follow their careers, are oppressing other women so that they may do so. Mae, one of the founders of the PWC-Quebec, pointed out that nannies are being paid low wages for long hours because caring for children is traditionally a woman's job and it is still not valued as legitimate work.

Since the documentary was filmed, one change has been to the LCP; the 24 month live-in requirement is now within a four year period instead of a three year period. This small change does not even begin to address all of the abuse and exploitation that occurs because of this program. There is a lot more that needs to be done to protect the people who come to Canada through the LCP.

Eliot dances along to the guitar marathon

Posted by Saraline , Sunday, February 27, 2011 9:42 AM

My son Eliot dancing along to his Grandpa Duane's 48 hour guitar marathon. The guitar marathon is still going on for another 10 hours and you can watch the live stream here:
Duane is raising money for the Camp Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre.

48 hour guitar marathon

Posted by Saraline , Saturday, February 26, 2011 11:20 AM

Webcam chat at Ustream

This is a live stream of my step-dad Duane's 48 hour guitar marathon. He is playing his guitar for 48 hours to raise money for the Camp Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre. This is happening right now. If you're in Ontario and in the Haldimand-Norfolk area specifically, head on down to Fred Eaglesmiths Hobo Java Robot Cafe in Port Dover and check it out! Here is some more information about Camp Trillium.

If you're in Quebec: how did you find daycare?

Posted by Saraline , Tuesday, February 1, 2011 12:19 PM

Parenting comes with many challenges and it is essential that we help each other. A huge issue for many of us is finding a daycare.

I posted a few months ago about how I found a spot in a $7 a day daycare in Quebec. One person sent me an email telling me that she tried the same thing and going to a CLSC did not work for her.

I would like to hear stories from other people about how they found daycare in Quebec. You can comment on this post or send me an email. The goal is to be able to give other parents some ideas about where they can start when looking for daycare. So what worked for you? What didn't work? Tell us everything!

Personal boundaries

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, December 16, 2010 8:06 PM

I'm currently teaching my two year old son about personal boundaries. This mostly consists of me chasing him around at public events and shouting, "No, Eliot! We use kleenex, NOT PEOPLE!" It's never too early to teach them that no means no, right? So I don't let him pull the cat's tail, I don't let him pick my nose, and I don't let him wipe his snotty nose on random strangers.

There are some adults who don't get the concept of respecting personal boundaries and I hope that he won't be one of them. I could tell you what I think of the response that people have had to the Julian Assange rape allegations, but Kate Harding already did. Words mean things, including the words "no" and "stop."

Google search

Posted by Saraline 11:39 AM

I have a little gadget on my blog that tells me what people are googling when they find my blog. I usually get things like "$7 daycare montreal" and "what's the best hospital to give birth at in montreal." Today I checked it out and discovered that someone had found my blog when they googled "which bronte sister would you fuck."

I guess that somebody really couldn't decide and they needed to find some other opinions.

Just for the record, I would pick Anne. Who would you pick?

Daycare strike

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, November 11, 2010 9:36 AM

The $7 a day home daycares in the Montreal area went on strike yesterday, including my son's daycare. I was a little bit worried because I also had a French test at school yesterday. In the end, my neighbour watched my son while I wrote my test. His daycare closed a couple of weeks ago as well and I ended up taking him to class with me; I thought that he would be too much of a distraction during a test.

This is what the home daycare workers want:

The union wants the employees to receive better salaries, paid vacations and a pension plan. Home daycare providers and those who operate out of commercial spaces both receive $19 a day per child from the Quebec government and another $7 from parents. The union wants another $12 a day so salaries will be similar to employees who work in the larger Centres de la Petite Enfance (CPEs). The union also says home daycare workers work longer hours than their counterparts in CPEs.

It's not a terrible thing to ask for. They basically want the same benefits and salaries as people who are doing the same job that they are. I hope that this is resolved soon; there's a rumour going around that there may be a week long strike if the union's talks with the government don't move along.


Posted by Saraline , Saturday, August 21, 2010 7:44 PM

Well, I've moved to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. I was thinking of changing the name of this blog to "Feminist Mom in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue," but I'm still on the island of Montreal so I don't think that will be necessary. If anyone would like some helpful tips about moving with a toddler, the only sage advice I have to offer is "Don't do it."

I think that I would prefer to have my son grow up in this small town than in the city. The best part about the new place is that we now have a backyard! At our old place we just had a lot of pavement. We did live a couple of blocks away from Jarry Park, which was awesome, but I prefer having a backyard.

In other news, in my Internet travels I recently discovered a free subscription to PETA magazine for kids. No thanks, PETA!

How to get a spot in a $7 a day daycare

Posted by Saraline , Tuesday, May 25, 2010 6:16 PM

We have subsidized daycares in Quebec that charge $7 a day. That's fantastic. A $7 daycare is a wonderful lifeline for low-income families. But how do you get a spot in one?

If you're a parent in Montreal, you know how long the waiting lists are. They can be anywhere from two to four years long. Some people put their names on waiting lists as soon as they find out that they're pregnant. They call the daycares up and say, "Okay, I peed on a stick, can I put my name on the waiting list please?"

I recently found myself in a difficult position when I decided that I was going back to school. I had my son's name on waiting lists in my neighbourhood, but now I'm moving to a different town to be closer to my school. This was not something that I had anticipated when I was pregnant, so I was not on any of the waiting lists there. I put my son on the waiting lists for the $7 daycares in the area before I had even received my acceptance letter. It looked like there was absolutely no way that my son would get into one of these daycares before I started school in September.

Joining the chorus by not shutting the fuck up

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, May 13, 2010 9:17 PM

Canadian feminists have been pretty pissed off lately, and with good reason. Debra over at April Reign has a pretty good explanation about why we're angry:

Throughout history those who seek to reign despotically first seek to silence and disenfranchise the women, this current PM scrabbling after a majority like a junkie jonesing for a fix is no different. He started by all but completely destroying SWC and has continued to show disdain for women with quotes about “left-wing fringe groups” and Bush style gag laws on abortion for women in war-torn countries, and of course he continues to defund women’s groups and programs.

Cyberbullying not just for kids: moms get bullied too

Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, May 12, 2010 5:05 PM

Motherhood is supposed to be like apple pie and a warm hug. Wholesome. Dependable.

But online, it can be anything but. Right next to support groups on diaper rash and the terrible twos are mean girls, all grown up.

It's mom on mom cyberbullying and as the popularity of mommy blogging rises, so do the often stinging criticisms. [...]

Norie said Ally went through psychological bullying throughout school. It made Norie want to speak out to other mothers to prevent that humiliation from happening to their daughters. But going public triggered a wave of mommy bullying that shocked her even more.

"A lot of mothers called Ally a slut and a whore," she said. "It was a lack of parenting and we should have taught her morals and we should have taught her self-respect. Basically that I was a horrible parent and it devastated me because they know where to get you. Mothers go after your mothering."
-from the article Grown up mean girls: Mom on mom cyberbullies by Anna Wild