We are still telling Mums how to feel?

I feel like I needed to share this. Not just to moan about feminism and stereotypes (though there is some of that) but because it irks me that the message isn’t yet clear. For some unknown reason we still feel it’s our right to tell other mums how to parent. How to feel. We are still putting mother’s in boxes of ‘she should’ or ‘you’d think she would….’

So to put this into some context for you, my daughter started school the first week in September. It’s her first year. Before covid she was at preschool 4 days a week, but since covid she’s been home with me since March. No childcare because preschool didn’t reopen until September either, by which time she was ready to start school. The most common questions I’ve been asked since people learned she was set to start school are 1. When are you having another baby? And 2. I bet you’ll hate it when she’s at school won’t you?

Note question 2 is in fact a statement, posing as a question. An assumption based on zero background information. It’s only merit is that because my daughter is starting school the presumption is I’ll have too much time on my hands. I’ll be bored. I’m her mother so I’m bound to miss her implicitly when she isn’t around for any length of time, but more so when that time is spent at school. Right?

Well sorry to act offended at your presumption but it does in fact feel offensive that you assume my life is less fulfilling when I am not around my child. There’s an undertone that when I state how, in fact I’m excited for her to be starting her new journey, and I’m excited for me too, getting to have some time to myself again – it’s as though I’ve implied in some way that I don’t love her or I don’t enjoy being a mum.

What’s more disappointing is that these statements are usually made by other women. Perhaps women who do love being at home with the kids. Which by the way is perfectly fine. There’s no right or wrong way to be a mum. You might love being with them so much that you’re going to feel a sense of loss when they go to school. Nostalgia for their infancy, and that’s perfectly acceptable, but so is looking forward to them going to school, looking forward to snippets of alone time or getting back to work and routine. A lot of women have to work nowadays in order to support the household, and this means we have to leave our children, but just because we have to, doesn’t mean we can’t want to at the same time.

I love the quality time my daughter and I spend together but I also love time to myself.

My circumstances might be unique because I’m chronically ill, and this often means I need to lean on people for support with childcare, sending her to school just means less relying on others and more time to recover. I’ve waited a long 7 months for some rest and I will wait less than 6 weeks at the start of term, for a week off with her when half term comes around.

The climax or crux of this article is this. We all parent differently, we all feel differently about our children as they grow. Some long for the baby stage whilst I love the here and now stage. The one where’s she chatting, drawing me pictures and telling me she loves me. Just because you don’t miss your kids every minute of the 360 she spends at school a day, doesn’t mean I love her any less than the next mum. I feel like we need to get better at normalising feelings of discontentment in motherhood. Feelings of normalcy. Feelings of desperation and in this case the lack of feelings in regards to empty nest syndrome or ‘school mum life’

As mothers we are weighed down with responsibility, organisation, emotional reactions, not least the physical endurance that is required to keep up with our mini me’s. We don’t need to feel the weight of someone else’s judgement whoever that someone is, but particularly less from another mother. We’re part of the same club now hun. The Mum Club. And I think we should try and make it wholly inclusive. What do you think?

Motherhood is…

I wrote this poem to get behind an Instagram campaign called #Riseofthemumpoet it’s a fun and expressive way to write and share your story. And everyone knows I love, writing… AND sharing! 😂

Motherhood is

It’s not a day in a mums life if you were only asked twice,

For us mums can be asked the same thing as many as 50 times.

It’s not because we aren’t listening

That they continue to keep repeating

It may be that we’re cleaning up dinner plates,

Or god forbid finally eating.

It could also be that we’re scrolling aimlessly

Staring at our phones

Watching all those perfect mums

You know the ones who never feel the need to moan.

But being a mum is more than just annoying questions of course.

It’s wiping shitty arses and kissing grazed knees

It’s wearing a constant smile even when it feels forced.

It’s reading a story then lying still as a statue in the dark next to their bed

Pretending to be fast asleep and simultaneously stroking their head.

It’s pretending to be brave when you feel really scared.

It’s sometimes sacrificing yourself so their feelings are spared.

It’s leaving the house with sick on your clothes.

It’s wiping green snot from a runny nose.

It’s missing your favourite programme repeats

You’ve had to nip out to get milk & after dinner treats.

It’s staying up late making costumes for school.

It’s accepting that motherhood doesn’t have rules.

It’s forgiving yourself for sometimes messing up

It’s begging the stars to grant you good luck.

It’s feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders

And feeling nostalgic as your child grows older

It’s praying to a god of which you may not believe

To look out for your offspring and help them succeed

It’s a feeling of pride you didn’t know you possessed

And wanting every single morning just five more minutes in bed.

You can find all the details about the campaign and write your own poetic masterpiece (or riddle) on Instagram via @Postpartumpoet or by clicking the link here.

Mum guilt and chocolate teapots

Mum guilt, if you’re a mum, you’ve had mum guilt at some point. You may even have it regularly – let’s be real about this, it’s a thing that has blown up in recent years because we (I, in any case) spend far too much time comparing ourselves to other mum’s on social media, at the school gates, during a PTA, at soft play or on someone’s follow Friday post.

A friend of mine called me earlier this week to say she’d been called into school about her child’s behaviour. They were acting out and she felt tremendously guilty. She felt like she’d failed as a mother. Let me be clear here, she is a bloody fantastic mother, but seriously, she tore herself a new one over this. I went away and thought about the times I’ve been criticised or not even criticised as such, but spoken to about Ciara’s tantrums and or her lack of sharing and I’ve felt like the worst person on the planet. I’ve gone on social media to make myself feel better and been faced with everyone gushing about their perfect kids or at least that’s what I’ve taken from it and ended up feeling worse. I’ve been penalised for being ‘real’ for admitting when my child acts like a knob. People have said ‘no wonder if you call your child a knob, they’ll act like one.’ FYI I don’t sit there calling my three year old a knob to her face, but sometimes people, she acts like a spawn of Satan, so she gets the finger when she’s not looking, and sometimes….. she’s cute and shit. If you complain about your child’s behaviour or chastise them, you are branded an awful mother, and if you don’t, you are still an awful mother as you must not even notice or worse, don’t care!

It’s funny because when I thought about this in more depth I thought about our mothers and grandmothers. There weren’t parenting books and baby led weaning, or the Ferber Method. There also weren’t tens of thousands of mums on social media talking about being one. (I’m aware I’m that person too) What I’m getting at is, they had nothing to compare it to accept real life experiences from friends and family. There was hardly even any reality TV when I was a kid. None of this teen mum stuff or one born every minute (which I love by the way) but we all sit there and have a little ‘ooh I wouldn’t of done it like that’ moment when watching. Don’t get me wrong, there are just as many mums taking a stand against mum shaming on social media as there are ‘perfect’ parents, but where does this end.

If your kid acts up these days it’s because they have something wrong with them, or there’s something wrong with you, or you’re neglecting them, smothering them, missing something, and so on!

This is a time when if you kiss your child on the lips and photograph it, you’re branded a paedophile. Has the world gone absolutely bat shit?

My mum always gave me a big smacker before bed, she wasn’t/isn’t a paedophile. The only difference is, back then she didn’t photograph it and post it on social media. We seldom take pictures of our babies cute little bums or let them waltz around starkers because let’s face it, there are some sick people in the world and we’re quite rightly protecting our kids, I wouldn’t ever condone anything that put them at risk, but come the fuck on people, can you not give your child a kiss or a cuddle in public anymore? Loving your child and showing affection in a positive way does not make you a monster.

My daughter doesn’t eat any veg, or fruit, accept in the form of juice. We have tried EVERYTHING! Her eating has gotten worse the older she’s got and it’s a real fight in our house some nights to get her to eat pizza and chips, let alone home made vegetable ragu. I can assure you, it’s not for lack of effort on our part as parents, whether you believe my assurances is another matter.

When Ciara’s tired and in an ‘I want Daddy only’ mood – I wonder to myself if this is because I’m a terrible mother. Does she hate me? What am I doing wrong?

When she forgets to use her ‘kind hands’ at preschool I wonder why it’s my child that plays up, what did I do?

I know I’ll go away after this post feeling liberated for all of five minutes for the rant I’ve allowed myself, and then I’ll get back to wondering why I can’t do better or be better. Why nobody looks at me as an idol, why I’m not up on a pedestal of perfect parenting.

BUT when I look at my daughter each day and see her happy and healthy little face, when she randomly comes and plants a kiss on my cheek or puts her little hand in mine, I’m going to try and see myself from her perspective. I’m going to try and love myself a little more how she loves me, and I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for every day we finish a meal, every time I refrain from referring to her as a little knob, and every time she’s kind. Fuck it I may even get myself a reward chart because I am a good mum. Deep down I know this because my perfect girl is so loved, and guilt, guilt is an emotion I render as useless as a chocolate teapot.

10 things people without children should never say to Mothers.

10 things people without kids say to Mum’s that they need to STOP!

1: When I have children I’ll _______ The likelihood is that whatever _______ is, you wont.

2: I’d never co sleep.

When you’ve been up for 15 hours straight with a colicky baby, you’ll do almost anything to make them sleep so you can close your eyes too.

3: I know having kids is hard but everyone does it.

You haven’t done it yet Julie, so why not pipe down.

4: I would never let my kid do that! If we’re talking about eating a happy meal or an ice cream before dinner or even staying up past their bedtime, sometimes Diane, you will.

5: If my kid doesn’t eat their dinner they won’t get offered anything else.

I didn’t believe in giving your kids coco pops for tea or letting them eat off of the floor either, but when they’ve turned their nose up at 5 different meals and found a wotsit behind the sofa that they actually WANT to eat, trust me Wendy, you’ll believe in the power of orange corn puffs.

6: I’m going to establish a routine from day one. NEWS FLASH babies are human beings, that means they have their own brain, and do pretty much what the hell they like. But good luck with setting those ground rules by day 3 Keisha.

7: My kid would never get away with that!!

Ok darling. Keep me posted when they draw all over the walls in pen, punch another child for no reason or eat a tampon, feel free to give your advice on a suitable punishment.

8: All kids are the same.

NO, No they’re not.

9: I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Great thanks for that Rebecca.

Please feel free NOT to give me advice on what you wouldn’t do.

10: You look tired. YES, Yes Stacey, I am so fucking tired, my tired is tired, thanks for pointing that out.

Motherhood is hard. Mums are tired, and hormonal, and sensitive and everything in between. Please be mindful of this when giving out unwanted and it most cases unnecessary, advice.

Try saying ‘How are you feeling?’ in place of you look tired.

Or ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In place of I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Lastly, you could just keep quiet and provide an ear to listen.

My experience so far as a SAHM

Really, another mother fuck load of washing? Really? What did we do when I was at work, wear dirty clothes? Looks like we did, because I sure as shit didn’t do this much washing on the 9-5!!

Oh look a sea of crumbs, but I have literally just fucking hoovered damn it. Knock knock, it’s my neighbour at the door, telling me they are about to do some renovation works, should only last three weeks though. So whilst I’m trying to write a fucking book, I can be sure to concentrate at the sound of hammering and drilling, throw in a whiney toddler and we’re away.

Wow those tiles are grubby, no worries I’ll watch a Mrs Hinch video, then get on with it. Oh is that the time? Time to go and pick the little lady up from preschool, better get something for tea on the way home too, oh shit and I need to post that parcel, it’s that dress I paid over the odds for but am selling on eBay for $3, because, well I need a clear out, better than it going to waste….. Get home, cook tea whilst intermittently shouting at toddler, or rather getting shouted at, for not meeting her unreasonable demands. You know, like she wanted a blue cup instead of a pink one!

Fiancé walks in, serve up tea, eat tea, clear up tea, bath toddler, put toddler to bed, and COLLAPSE.

My point is, I used to look at mums that stayed at home and think they had it easy. They don’t. I used to look at their life and imagine Jeremy Kyle on repeat. I used to think they sat around, smoking fags waiting to pick their kids up. Why was I such a judgemental asshole? How did I judge people I knew nothing about? The people that are the adhesive holding their families together. Running around, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, doing every single errand asked of them, because of course if they didn’t it would look like they really did have too much time on their hands. God forbid they sit down and actually drink a hot coffee. And when they do, on queue comes the question, what have you been doing all day?

Now let us not take away from working mums. They sure as shit have their work cut out too, and this is by NO means whatsoever, trying to belittle what those Boss Mama’s have going on. I just wanted to shout out a little to the ones that stay at home, and basically back track my earlier thoughts of them. I couldn’t of been more wrong!!!

For me, giving up my job was supposed to be a new start on the road to my writing career taking off, whilst giving me time to manage my illness and save on childcare. Of course it has it’s pro’s, I get to spend days with Ciara, and on the days I’m not with her I get to pick her up and hear all about her day first hand. I also get to make sure there aren’t any whites hidden in with the dark wash. It’s like anything, of course, pros and cons. Loads of pros, equally as many cons, but anything a mum does is HARD!! A mum’s job is a hard one. Whether you spend every waking moment with your babies, go to work all day, or sit in your pj’s watching Jeremy Kyle. When you’re doing what’s best for you, you’re doing what’s best for your kids. A happy mum is a happy kid.