Monday, 29 April 2019

A letter to Josie Cox

I read a Guardian article written by Josie Cox last Sunday. The piece focused on why 'commitment-phobic millennials' are choosing to have dogs instead of having babies.

It made me cry, it made me really angry, and it really really hurt. I won't be the only person it had that effect on, and I need to write about why it was so upsetting.

That journalist will probably never read this, but I hope it'll make me feel better if I get it written down and out of my head.



Dear Josie,

I want you to know how damaging your recent article was. I'm yet to figure out if you published it purely to generate clicks or if you genuinely believe what you wrote, but either way it was hugely distressing.

I felt a range of strong emotions when I read your article, but I've decided to focus on five of the most upsetting and frustrating elements for the purposes of this letter.



1. It's not always a choice  

You state that 'whether or not to reproduce is probably the most personal decision you will ever make.' Unfortunately, not everyone will have the privilege to make that decision of their own accord. When you're growing up, you never think that choice will be taken away from you. You assume you'll get to a certain age and decide whether you want children or not, then you'll take the necessary actions or precautions depending on the decision you make.

However, this isn't the case for everyone. I can personally tell you that it feels like a sledgehammer when you realise you no longer have control over that 'personal decision'.

You insensitively published this article just before National Infertility Awareness Week. My own circumstances are quite rare, but 1 in 8 couples are faced with infertility. That's a lot of people who have no choice in the matter. Some people, like me, have definite reasons for their infertility which they have to come to terms with. Other people will never know why it didn't happen for them and will have to keep wondering for the rest of their lives, and others desperately wanted children but never ended up in the right circumstances.

Not everyone has the choice.



2. What gives you the right to act as if you're better than everyone else because you chose to have a baby?

This article is dripping with condescension and self righteousness, and the tone was just as upsetting as the words themselves. Choosing not to have children, losing a child, or not being able to have them in the first place doesn't make someone a bad person. Plenty of people will decide they don't want children for hundreds of different reasons, and that's absolutely fine. So what if people are 'travel-obsessed' or 'career-prioritising'? You don't have the right to criticise other people's priorities. Believe it or not, women (and humans in general) don't exist purely to reproduce.

You talk about 'the lady I'd identified as childless' as if she's mind-numbingly stupid. You describe her as 'doe-eyed' and scoff that she can't possibly take part in your conversations about looking after your newborns because she's only got a 'fur baby'. It probably took that woman a lot of courage to turn up to your gathering because of this very attitude. Why shouldn't she talk about her new puppy? Just because she hasn't got 'the burden of raising a tiny human', that doesn't make her a bad person and it doesn't invalidate her experience.

You describe people who haven't got children as 'commitment-phobic' and 'scared of lifelong responsibility'. You've already stated that it's a personal decision, so what gives you the right to be so condescending? You made your choice, so please let other people make theirs.



3. A pet IS a massive responsibility and an integral part of the family

You imply that it's laughable when people compare having a dog to having a baby. I know people who have both, and they're very ready to admit that some elements of having a dog are comparable to having a child.

My dog relies on me for food, water, exercise, toilet breaks, entertainment and clean bedding, and always will for her whole life. You state that having a child means 'bearing full, unconditional responsibility for a person's basic survival', but that's also exactly what it means to have a dog (or any pet). The sense of responsibility doesn't diminish just because my dog isn't human.

You say that 'canines don't exterminate your social life in the same way as mewling tykes tend to do'. Actually, it could be argued that dogs affect your social life even more and for a much longer period of time. It's more than acceptable to take your baby to most places, but dogs aren't so welcome. When we want to go anywhere with our dog, we have to make sure there are dog-friendly walks, pubs and restaurants nearby. I'm yet to see a sign anywhere that says 'babies and toddlers not welcome'.

I've had my dog since she was 14 weeks old, and we've shaped many elements of her little personality. I'm fully responsible for her 'physical and emotional wellbeing', just as you are for your child's.

You flippantly say 'fine, call it part of the family.' My dog is 100% a part of our family and has been since the moment we brought her home. I sign her name on all the cards I send out, we celebrate her birthday every year, she has Christmas presents like everyone else in the family, and she's a massive part of our lives. So don't tell me that having a dog bears absolutely no comparison to having a child.



4. You've never even had a dog, so how can you possibly comment?

You state in your article that you've 'never had a dog'. So what qualifies you to talk about this subject? How would you know about the guilt I feel when I go out and leave my dog on her own, or the terror I feel when another dog growls at her, or the sheer joy I feel when she bounds towards me with her tail wagging, if you've never experienced any of it?

You clearly have no idea how much comfort a dog can bring, or of the enormity of even owning one in the first place. You say that 'parenthood is all-consuming', but how do you know that having a dog isn't all-consuming if you've never had one?

I'm not pretending to know what it's like to have a child, because I haven't got one. But I do know what it's like to have a dog, and you're way off the mark. You can patronisingly extend your 'bless you, fur mama' comment to me if you like, but how can you possibly comment so strongly on something you know nothing about?



5. I'm well aware that a dog isn't a substitute for a child, but I love my dog with all my heart. Who are you to ridicule that?

Throughout your article, you emphasise that having a dog is nothing like having a baby and that 'nothing can substitute for that'. You ram it home that having a dog can never be a substitute for having a child. Don't you think I know that my dog can never be a complete substitute? I'm well aware that I'll never know what it's like to carry a child and give birth to that child, and that knowledge still hurts every day.

My dog means the world to me and she came into my life during my darkest days. I call her my baby and I treat her like a princess. You ridicule people who buy 'only the finest for the little darlings', but I'm always going to buy the best things possible for my dog to make sure she's healthy and happy, just like you undoubtedly do for your child.

However, I love my dog in her own right and not because I see her as a substitute for what might have been. Although I believe there are similarities between the two and I love my dog like a child, I don't 'pretend that a canine companion is the same thing'. Having a dog will never fully heal that ache in my heart, and articles like this rip open that wound and leave it fully exposed.



I hope this letter has gone some way towards explaining to you why your article was so hurtful. You might have 'had a chuckle about it' when you flippantly said your piece, but I can assure you that it had the opposite effect on me.

Monday, 22 April 2019

My Easter weekend

I've been looking forward to the Easter weekend ever since we got back from Venice last month. Who doesn't love having four days off with no need to use annual leave?

The weather was beautiful for the whole four days which made the long weekend all the more enjoyable. Here's a summary of what we got up to, along with a photo of Jessie looking EXTREMELY excited about the whole thing.






Good Friday 

I've had a busy few weeks and have been feeling pretty exhausted and stressed out for a while, so I promised myself that I'd have a relaxing day on Good Friday. Neil was working so I had the house to myself. I had a lie in, took Jessie for a lovely walk in the sunshine, caught up on Neighbours and read an entire book. I usually use my days off to blitz all the tasks and chores I don't have time to do during the week, but I felt well-rested and much calmer at the end of the day so I definitely needed the break.






Saturday 

Neil was working again on Saturday, so I took Jessie for a walk in the morning then drove to McArthur Glen to meet Nicola for a long awaited catch up. We had lunch in Frankie and Benny's then wandered around the shops for an hour. I popped to Morrisons on my way home to pick up some (more) Easter chocolate, then we had an evening in with Jessie and Netflix.






Easter Sunday 

Neil took Jessie for an early morning walk before it got too hot for her, then we had Easter bunny crumpets for breakfast before going to the cinema to see the live-action Dumbo film. I cried sad tears and happy tears and I absolutely loved it. We stopped in Five Guys for a burger and chips, then we went home to eat some chocolate and to give Jessie her Easter treats. The three of us went for a lovely walk once the weather was a bit cooler, then we watched the first Avengers film on DVD. We're aiming to watch the first three films before we see Endgame in a couple of weeks!










Easter Monday 

We took Jessie for a morning walk then continued to eat all the stereotypical Easter food by having hot cross buns for lunch. We then went to Cardiff Bay to do our food shopping for the week and to wander around Wilko without buying anything (does anyone else do that?). We popped in to Costa for a coffee and a hot chocolate while we were there, then started on all the household chores when we got back. My house to-do list was massive as a result of my relaxing few days, but it was well worth it. Once I'd finished, I sat down to eat some well-deserved chocolate and to write this blog post!







We had a really lovely weekend where we spent lots of quality time with each other and with Jessie, and it felt like a decent break. I'm also very proud of all the Easter food we consumed, but slightly relieved that I'll be going back to the gym in a couple of days. 

Do you want to know something exciting? Only 4 days to go until next weekend! 

Monday, 15 April 2019

A recap of this year's blog posts

I've had a busy few weeks which means I haven't had time to come up with any new content for a little while. So, rather than leaving the blog blank for a week, I thought I'd put together a recap of this year's posts instead.

My blog stats have been quite disappointing for the last few months and I'm not too sure why. Hopefully this summary will remind my readers about posts they might have missed, giving my stats a much-needed boost at the same time!


Christmas and new year 

My first few posts of 2019 were all about Christmas and the new year, as you'd expect. I blogged about our Christmas and new year celebrations and my Christmas sale bargains, as well as my annual 'best of 2018' blog post which summarised all my highlights from last year.





New York 

I went to New York in December which meant some of my blog posts from that holiday spilt over into 2019. I posted a mouth-watering summary of what we ate in New York, and I also blogged about what I wore in New York.





Lifestyle 

I've written one very personal post this year about remembering what makes me 'me'. This post has had three times as many views as my other recent posts! People are nosey and we all love scrolling through a good personal post. I've also blogged about rediscovering my reading mojo, as well as blogging about why I love having a dog last week.





Venice 

Lastly, we went to Venice at the beginning of March and I managed to get three blog posts out of our lovely trip. One was a photographic summary, and I also blogged about what I ate in Venice and what I wore in Venice.





Hopefully there'll be some brand new content on the blog next week. In the meantime, feel free to catch up on any posts you've missed! 

Monday, 8 April 2019

5 reasons why I love having a dog

If you're a regular reader of my blog or a stalker of my social channels, you'll already know that I've got a beautiful corgi called Jessie who I love with all my heart.

Jessie turned 2 last week, so I thought it was the perfect time to blog about why I love having a dog. 





1. There's always someone waiting for you when you get home 

I love it that Jessie is always enthusiastically waiting for me when I get home, without fail. She's usually sitting on the windowsill eagerly awaiting my arrival, then her nose appears by the front door as soon as I open it the tiniest crack. She's always tail-waggingly delighted to see me whether I've been gone for ten hours or ten minutes, and I love knowing that I'll be seeing her beautiful little face after a long day. 






2. You absolutely have to leave the house to go for a walk, even when you don't feel like it 

When Jessie first barreled into our lives, I wasn't in a great place. I was off sick from work and some days I just wanted to hide under my duvet and stay there all day. However, having Jessie meant I had to force myself to get out of the house every day to take her for a walk. It did me the world of good, and I'll be forever grateful to her for pulling me out of that slump. Taking Jessie out for a walk is brilliant exercise, it gives us lots of fresh air, it makes us appreciate our beautiful surroundings and, best of all, it makes her super happy. 






3. She loves me unconditionally whatever I've done, whatever I look like and whatever I feel like 

I know Jessie will always love me even when I look terrible, when I'm grumpy, when I'm ill, when I've said and done silly things, or when I just feel rubbish about myself. She's never judgmental or two faced, and she loves me just the way I am. The phrase 'dogs are a man's (or woman's) best friend' makes perfect sense to me now that I've got a dog of my own, and Jessie is an integral part of our little family. 






4. She makes me smile every single day 

Jessie is unintentionally hilarious, and I'm sure all dog owners would say exactly the same thing about their fluffy companions. The more earnest and serious she tries to be, the more she makes me chuckle. She never fails to make me laugh and smile, whatever mood I'm in, and I'm so grateful to her for bringing so much joy and laughter into our lives. 






5. Unlimited cwtches 

I always said I wanted a cwtchy dog, and Jessie is exactly that. In the evenings after her walk, she loves nothing more than to snuggle up between us on the sofa and nuzzle her nose into my pyjamas. She's the fluffiest and most affectionate dog I've ever met, and she's the perfect size for sofa cwtches. I genuinely can't remember what life was like before she took over our lives (and our furniture). 



There are plenty more reasons why I love Jessie which I could talk about all day, but I thought I'd stick to my top five for this blog post!

Monday, 1 April 2019

What I wore in Venice

I've blogged about what I ate in Venice and posted a photographic summary of our trip, so now it's time to blog about what I wore in Venice. I really love the steady stream of content that presents itself after I've been on holiday.

I checked the weather forecast religiously for about 6 weeks before we went away to make sure I packed appropriately. As the weather was set to be a few degrees warmer than back home, I took a couple of denim jackets to wear over my day dresses rather than taking any big coats. I also packed some nice dresses for the evenings along with my new favourite baby pink jacket. I took a raincoat just in case, but we didn't see a drop of rain for the whole holiday so it stayed safely inside my suitcase.

Once I'd made a final decision on all the clothes I was taking, I decided which bags and shoes to pack. Are you starting to realise why it takes me so long to pack for a holiday? I took far too many pairs of shoes considering we only went for 5 days, but I did wear them all at least once so I don't feel too silly.

I've linked to the items photographed below wherever possible, but most of them are either years old or out of stock by now. During the writing of this post, I realised that only one of the items below was bought at full price which made my thrifty heart very happy.



Day outfits 



Every item that made up this outfit was massively discounted... 
the dress and boots cost £15 in total! 
Denim jacket, dress and boots from New Look, and bag from Kate Spade New York. 




Denim jacket and ankle boots from New Look, 
dress from ASOS, and bag from Kate Spade New York. 




Denim jacket, ankle boots and dress from New Look, 
and bag from Kate Spade New York (bought with my Ebay profits!).
I used this bag as my hand luggage bag to save space in my case. 




Denim jacket, dress and boots from New Look, bag from Kate Spade New York. 



Evening outfits 


 

Jacket and dress from New Look, bag from Ted Baker
(one of last year's Christmas sale bargains).




Dress and shoes from New Look. 
The dress was a massive bargain a couple of months ago at £10.  




Dress and shoes from ASOS, bag from Kate Spade New York. 
I've got the same dress in white because I like it so much!  




Dress from New Look. You can't see it clearly in the picture, 
but it's delicately glittery and I love it.  



I think I've finally run out of holiday content, so there might be something completely different on the blog next week...