‘I’m just a mum.
I don’t follow a plan, I do my best, I parent from the heart.
I don’t look down on others (I know they are probably doing their best too).
I listen and try new ideas but I don’t define myself in such a way to appear superior.
I respect other people’s choices.
I am me.’
That’s what I wrote on my Facebook personal wall earlier. I’d just read an article on ‘Crunchy Mums’ and how a mum was judged for admitting to a group of friends (I should have friends in inverted commas really) that her child watched TV.
She left as soon as she could (after the incredulous judgmental questions and comments from the other mums) to go home and cry.
Oh my gosh this makes both incredibly sad and angry.
Having had 4 children and 1 miscarriage, depression, anxiety, money worries, children with SEN, many nights of feeling ‘I cannot do this anymore’ coupled with days of ‘will this hell ever end..?’ I do feel able to comment on raising children. I’ve cleaned I don’t know how many dirty bottoms, cleared up sick that’s been spread through our house over multiple levels whilst the child being sick found us (rather than the nearest toilet). I’ve experienced the most enormous lows whilst loving the euphoric highs that parenting can give you. When your child searches for you at the end of the day in a crowd of people, when they make eye contact with you and they smile: that’s what makes my heart jump.
What I don’t like is the many different collective groups that mums can affiliate themselves too (and invent yet another ambiguous collective noun for). They are like secret clubs that if you knew the password then you you’re allowed to join but no one really lets the password be known.
‘Emma, you’re not baby led weaning as you’re using a spoon…’
You’ve given them a bottle so you’ve undone any breast feeding you might have done…’
‘You’re giving up breastfeeding (after 16 months and F was self weaning) -why so soon?’
These are not the comments from supportive group members to a mum who’s struggling a little, these are the judgement calls that mothers who belong to a defined group make when they see something that doesn’t conform to their group ideals.
Please don’t think I am cross at one group rather than another. I am not singling out any group as they all have issues as far as I can see. I don’t like the fashion that is very fashionable at the moment for parents to say that it’s so awful having children that the only way they can get through it is to make jokes about ‘wine-o’clock!’ and post long essays on Facebook really slating their children for, well, being children. The odd post is fine, we all need a release but there are pages out there dedicated as much to making sure people follow the rules of baby led weaning (‘NO SPOONS EMMA!!’) as there are fashionably slagging children off.
Don’t get me wrong I have had the most amazing support from fellow mums who’ve helped me through those days where it just couldn’t get any worse. being a parent these days isn’t easy and many new mums arrive home fresh out of hospital only hours after giving birth. The realisation that hits these stunned parents is that there is indeed no instruction manual and ‘winging it’ is sometimes as best as you can hope for. Some of us have no parents near to swoop in and help, some have parents who don’t actually want to swoop in and help and all this takes its toll.
It could be said that parenting really hasn’t ever been so complicated and confusing…
Maybe I should start my own group. I don’t yet have a snazzy collective noun so bear with me but we can start by just calling it the
‘I’m doing my best..’
Everyone would be welcome.
Every way of cleaning up the sick on multiple levels will be discussed, every way of feeding your baby will be accepted, every co sleeper can rejoice in the sheer joy that is hearing your child breathe but every mum who can’t sleep with their snoring little gorgeous bundle will be understood as to why she has put her baby in the room next door. Mothering will not be a competitive sport and no medals will be awarded just a knowledge that all mums are fabulous.
But most of all every mum will feel as if she is the best mum in the world doing the very best job that she can.
I’m not the best mum but then again I’m not the worst. I’m just one who is doing what she can to bring up her 4 little people.
Who wants to come and join my group..?