Today I am grateful for parenting blogs, loud voices, honest approaches and anyone who made themselves vulnerable by telling the truth online.
Remember parenting back before social media?
Back when you were lucky to see a TV ad that had a flawless mum spouting “parenting is tough!” before launching into a jingle about how your fabric softener could bring your family together and that was real as it got.
Imagine parenting without social media.
Tough luck if you didn’t have fellow mum mates to get real with.
My family was there but they knew me.
What would other people think of me?
I remember telling my sister I was too scared to talk about my depression incase my son got taken off me.
That’s how in the dark I was about this parenting gig. That’s how skewed my perception was.
I should be 100% happy 100% of the time.
As a single-20-year-old-first-time-mum, all I knew was “I should love this”
And sometimes I didn’t and I didn’t know that that was OK.
That feeling isolated me more than even just being a 20 year old single mum.
Remember that condescending voice people put on when they saw you looking terrible and they would say shit like;
“oh you look tired. Hows the baby?”
And you’d say;
“hes not a great sleeper but we’re getting there. I’m so lucky”
But what you wanted to say was;
“well I haven’t slept in 6 weeks & I cant remember the last time I washed my hair because he cries EVERY TIME I put him down so, just showering is hard and I feel like I could really use 12 hours to myself & 3 shots of tequila”
But fear of judgement kept you quiet. Complaining meant you were failing.
I remember being at a kids birthday party and desperately hoping that one of the other mums there might slip up & be all “fuck this is hard” so I could finally breath and high five her & we could talk about how much we loved those little rascals even when we were at our wits end.
Which was frequently and alarming and not at all in line with how we imagined parenting would be, but that was OK because we were still all doing our best and our kids were thriving.
But instead, we talked about what age our kids started walking.
Why the did we do that?
Why does that even matter?
My son didn’t walk until he was 16 months old. .
I don’t deserve your raised eyebrows & head tilts because it is totally irrelevant.
Hes happy and healthy and look at him crawling on those chubby wee legs.
Remember when the perfect-mummy-brigade was at the forefront of parenting and if you weren’t keeping up with them, you weren’t doing your best as a mother? Behind the scenes they felt just like you but wouldn’t dare admit it. Being a mum is your whole world. Perfect perceptions mean everything.
And how awful you felt every time you had the feeling that you might not be doing the right thing.
When it was all just gut instinct and that may or may not be OK and everything was kind of overwhelming but you just plastered that smile on your face and had that “I’m fine” response down pat.
Remember when parents started getting real on social media? People came out swinging at those perfect perceptions.
When someone said “I have a great kid who’s sometimes an asshole and that’s OK”
Remember how fucking liberating it was to find your people and to discover it wasn’t just you, that this was normal. The struggle was real. You weren’t failing.
You were able to convey those emotions to people who weren’t going to judge you but would congratulate you on all the little things you were getting right instead and that just made the parenting journey so much easier.
You weren’t just a horrible mother after all and with that knowledge came great power.
This is why I do what I do.
So – to everyone out there who has ever gotten real in public;
To everyone who has admitted to wiping a snotty nose with the cuff of your shirt, forgotten to buy nappies, brought wine to a kids birthday party, used regular washing liquid instead of the sensitive kind, wound the clocks forward to get the kids into bed an hour earlier, been proudly imperfect & responded with “fuck sake” when youve been “mum’d” at for the 57th time in a day;
On behalf of someone who read it and related to it and needed it –
Thanks for keeping it real
Thanks for the support.