Stephanie – Three Kings.
“Oh, I mean the first thing that springs to mind would probably be giving birth, but I think there’s moments of pride on a daily basis.
I think when you’re a mother and you’re raising a toddler, it can be really small moments of achievement that can create pride. Maybe it’s a Kiwi cultural thing, but I would find it hard to think immediately of something that I [am] instantly proud of, not that I am not proud of myself. It’s just not the way I would think.
I wouldn’t know where to start. I have a bit of an eclectic growing up, a sort of childhood experience in the sense that I have been all over the place with parents who did anti-apartheid work in South Africa. So I did spend a lot of my childhood on that side of the world, and being half German I have spent a lot of time with my German family over my lifetime.
I have been raised by two people who have always asked me and challenged me to question the world around me. I would say that’s probably a big part of who I am; having grown up with two different cultures in my family and being blessed enough to have experienced different cultures in this world, and then ending up in New Zealand which is such a multi-cultural country.
I think that’s probably a big part of my childhood and being asked to constantly, not in a bad way, challenge yourself and ask yourself different questions. And because there are so many different people living together in the communities that I’ve always lived in you often come up against different challenges that are purely cultural or religious or individual.
I’ve always wanted to be a mum. It’s a dream that I’ve kind of always wanted. I’ve always really liked children. I’m naturally someone who mothers people and I don’t think you can be prepared for children. I think I’m blessed enough [that] my husband and I wanted children and actively tried to get pregnant, but apart from that I don’t think you can prepare yourself completely for children, because they’re human and they’re so individual and they’re crazy. They’re mental. Being a parent is insane. It is such a mixture of emotions and moments of both awesome ones and completely confusing ones as well as terrifying ones, but I’m only two and a half years in so ask me again in three years.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned as a mother and how I want to raise my child, having a daughter in the world that we live in today and being a woman myself, I’ve actually spent a lot of time thinking how I would like to prepare my daughter for the world she’s in. I’m someone who spent a lot of my teen years, in my early 20s, doing a lot of protesting for student rights, women’s rights, better job situations, higher pay, global issues; all over the place. That was a big part of how thinking what did I want to teach my daughter and my children, future children, I only have one child now, but my future children.
I want to teach them about the world, how to be in this world and what’s important, because I think one of the biggest problems globally facing us is apathy, and so a big thing for me was how do I teach my children to fight against that? How do I teach them healthy ways to be in this world and a healthy way to be a person, and having healthy relationships with your partner, or special people, with family members, but also with your community. I think the only way I can do that is to lead by example and I think it’s important for me to remember that my daughter is, as a parent, young and little and she’s still learning, but she’s still very much a person.
So she’s just at the beginning of asking questions and figuring out how to be in the world and how to form relationships and how to hold onto relationships, and how to decide what she wants in the world, and that little bit of give with a little bit of take, and I think the only way I personally, I speak for no-one else but for myself personally, is leading by example, and I think that in itself fights against things like apathy where you just have to be more engaged in the world that we live in. It’s so easy not to be.
I think we are living more and more in a world of screens and more and more in a world of not having to move, and I guess that’s our challenge; to teach children the importance, and people around us, of relationships and community and getting to know people, and to have healthy relationships with them in the sense that it’s important to be involved in your community and to sort of help friendships and things develop, but also you’ve got to be aware of yourself in what you need as well, and finding that balance.
There’s a few things that I try to specifically do, because my daughter is a girl, and because I am a girl; I think it’s important that my daughter sees through me the importance of how I treat my female friends, and how important girlfriends are. I think as females particularly have a different relationship socially than boys do I think it’s quite different. I don’t know the science or anything behind it, but females socially are quite different to males socially, she says as a female!
I think it’s really important to show girls how important it is to have female friendships and to nurture them and to support other girls and to bolster them up and have confidence in your girlfriends, and for your girlfriends to comfort you and I think that sort of particular friendship is really important to show; lead by example.
It’s important to me that my daughter doesn’t see that I’m in competition with my female friends, that I never belittle them. I try really hard not to speak badly of any of my friends in front of my daughter, and children pick up on a lot more than you give them credit for, and that’s quite a big one for me; that my daughter sees the respect that I have for myself and with my friends within friendships.
Yes, self-respect I think is a really important one to teach children. I protest. One of my biggest ones was protesting against the Bangladeshi fires in the sweatshops. I personally went to that protest because I felt as a female in this world, I have always been given great opportunities and I have a voice, and I have a voice that is allowed to be heard both legally and just in general in our culture and I’m allowed to be heard as a female and as one who likes clothing and [is] interested in clothing and also had worked at that time in in the retail industry. I felt that I had the responsibility to literally stand on a street corner and let my voice be heard on behalf of those whose voices weren’t heard.
Labour laws I found interesting at one point, because a lot of them were [about] females in countries that they could not speak out for whatever reason, and I think it was very relevant to our global western consumerism market, to pay attention to that side of things. As a woman I think I will forever feel that I have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak out. I don’t know how much I’m going to change, but again that is purely the least I can do to fight apathy, which I think is the biggest killer in our world, personally. I’d like to be more involved, I think.
It’s a question I have asked myself a few times. Being a parent I think it’s important for myself and our family to also put a lot of effort and time into our own family; into our own daughter and making sure she gets raised well.
How do I also give back to my community? I think I would like to be more involved in the community. In particularly areas we have behind our house [where] the quarry is being dug out and 16,000 homes are going in, and my husband and I felt very strongly about that and did make a point of being part of the community group that spoke out against that.
We didn’t get that far, but it was I think quite important for people in that community to speak up and to be a part of that, and I think being more involved is something I would like to do especially as I raise my daughter more, so I can also show her a little bit more about how to be involved in your community, and searching those things out.”