Dear Stupid Parents,
This morning, via the channels of social media, I became aware of a frankly, hideous article on The Daily Mail website all about 6 female bloggers/authors/entrepreneurs who apparently take great delight in being ‘slummy mummies,’ much to the utter horror of the writer.
You’ve probably seen it by now – you might even have seen the brilliant backlash from other woman online. Women who, like me, turn to Instamums and the mum blogging community for a bit of humour about the tough parts of owning children. Because that’s the thing; parenting is 24/7 for life – you’d have to be a complete numpty to think that for the rest of your days, the ratio of great to shit will be a billion to none. It’s simple maths and it’s life. Life isn’t always rosey.
But you know what is a bit rosey? When you find someone who is willing to tell you that they too have a hard time occasionally but are still willing laugh about it all.
The reason(s) I started blogging during my first maternity leave is because a) I love writing, b) I was quite often bored and mostly c) because I was up with my son in the middle of the night, every night, sometimes for hours and found so much solace in blogs I discovered via Instagram written by other women who clearly love their children but who aren’t afraid to say that they’re hard work and not always that much fun. I decided that if I wrote about this parenting gig and one other person read it and thought ‘thank fuck it’s not just me,’ that’d be pretty awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not under the impression that I’m an internet sensation or anything like that and I’m not planning on jacking in the day job and making a go of this writing malarkey for real, but I’ve had a lot of messages from people who tell me they relate to what I’m writing about and that the honesty is something they appreciate.
And that is exactly what I plan on doing for as long as I write about/tweet about/talk about my experience of it – be honest. I really do think we’ve got a real responsibility to other people to tell it like it is so that no one ever has to think they’re fucking up because they don’t ever see another woman with breast milk all over her top. I’m not glamourous in real life, I’m not going to pretend to be glamourous in online life. I sometimes wonder why I’m so bad at this or find my children mind numbingly dull or think about running away to a far off land made of comfy mattresses, so I’ll write about it.
One thing the writer of the Mail piece takes umbrage with, is the idea that these women are giving the impression that they’re struggling with parenthood when they’re not – in fact they’re all obviously middle-class (whatever the F that’s meant to mean) and successful with children who are clearly fed, kept clean and cared for so therefore, it’s nothing but misleading to say they yearn for a glass of wine at the end of a hard day grappling with kids who, to be fair, can be freaking exhausting – and the rest. But THAT’S THE POINT!! The struggles of parenthood do not discriminate. Feeling lonely or angry or suffering from a massive identity crises after becoming a parent can happen to anyone at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re loaded, if you have a nanny and only see you children for half an hour before bed time each day, if you’ve had the most perfect upbringing imaginable, becoming a parent is a headfuck (is that four F bombs now? Sorry, I’m a bit cross) it’s a big old, scary, intimidating, exciting, terrifying, glorious headfuck and sometimes it’s really bloody nice for someone else to agree with that so you feel less like a monumental failure. And other times, it’s really really nice to celebrate the fact that you’re only one messy bath time away from sitting on the sofa with alcohol dancing through your bloodstream by posting a picture online and have other people say ‘I hear ya, sister.’
I can only just imagine the bullshit, verging on misogynistic headlines that the Daily Mail would write about me if they witnessed one day of me living my life:
‘Mother rolls eyes at needy toddler.’
‘Mother ignores crying baby so she can finish her lunch.’
‘Mother calls husband 500 times in twenty minutes demanding to know where the fuck he is.”
Because obviously there’s nothing worse than a mother who doesn’t always find having children the most delightfully life-affirming thing in the world. Ugh – so we get bored sometimes, so we like wine, so we have other things we want to do that our children get in the way of and we get annoyed about it – BIG DEAL. We still go to bed at night and beg the universe to be kind to our little ones, we still have to fight back tears when we see them learning how to negotiate during a stand-off over a toy car with another toddler, we still hug them a little longer than they want us to because that moment is absolutely everything. We are mothers and we are people; capable of rage and boredom and sadness and love. The human experience is loud and proud in motherhood.
I’ll leave you with this one last little anecdote to finish: about 4 months ago, I was in my local park with both my sons, the baby was in the sling, screaming because he was hungry but I couldn’t stop to feed him because my toddler was intermittently running away from me at top speed and lying on the ground screaming, kicking his legs and shouting “noooooooo!” (Remember, baby is in the sling, so I can’t very easily pick him up and wrestle him into the pram.) A woman, presumably a mother, walked past, looked at me trying to fix it all but probably making it worse, and said “some days are just really shit, aren’t they?” That’s all – she didn’t ask if I was ok, she didn’t offer to help, she left me with that gem and I so appreciated it because it reminded me that this is something we ALL have to deal with, I’m not a parenting disaster, my kids are wonderful and they can also annoy the shit out of me but we’re all doing fine and I do live in a bit of a love bubble most of the time.
So there, Stupid Parents – that’s my two pence worth on the nasty idiots. We’re all doing the best we can and that’s bloody well good enough. If you doubt yourself and wonder if all you’re doing is ruining your children’s lives, your relationship and your sanity, and if it maybe would’ve been better not to have had them at all – holler at me – I’ve been there and I will be again and none of us have to be ashamed of that.