Thursday, 4 February 2016

Challenging Motherhoods

I am fortunate enough not to have Facebook anymore. I kissed goodbye to my daily dose of former colleagues and second cousins (together with any potential opportunity to become addicted to candy crush) after an old acquaintance who I hadn't seen in twelve years posted a picture of a poo that their toddler had done on the stairs and about 27 friends and relations celebrated this natural but still very personal bodily function with an abundance of cyber thumbs up and a generous smattering of emoticons conveying laughter of the most hysterical kind that it had reduced the users to tears. I'll leave you to mull over whether there were any actual tears or indeed so much as a real life smile in your own time. 

So anyway I missed the onslaught of the 'Motherhood Challenge' but did catch the tail end of the commentary on social media. Now, I don't identify with any one particular group when it comes to motherhood, womanhood, or I suppose even life in general. I was the same at school and I've been the same ever since and I suppose it's resulted in me having fewer (or, at any rate, varied) friends than other people have, but at least it's always prevented me from being part of a clique or yearning to be part of a clique.

Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that anyone shouldn't be proud of their children. That they shouldn't ever share any special moments or ever dare to be seen enjoying themselves. But nothing good can come of turning it into a competition. 

I suppose what I am surprised at is just how many people are saying that the media is to blame for the uproar; that the media pits woman against woman whether a mother or not; that the media is solely responsible for creating an 'Us v Them' divide. The media can be cheap, lazy and ruthless and will exploit the tiniest chink in anyone's armour but i think it's either short-sighted or vain to believe that women don't play any part in this. That we are somehow all innocent victims who are constantly unfairly vilified from all quarters and can't win no matter what the situation, simply by virtue of the fact that we went forth and multiplied. 

Did none of you go to high school? Do you really think all the other mums out there are angels who give a shit about you just because they 'like' your occasional brelfie? Women can be bitchy. Women can be bitches. Mothers can be bitches. And you only have to hear someone say "Oh you don't have kids, you wouldn't understand" once with dismissive patronage or frustration to know that there's nothing quite like the smugness of motherhood to bring out the absolute c*** in a woman. 

We're all guilty of it. No, don't try and look all demure and surprised and say you're the exception because you're not, any more than I am. You're reading this via social media for a start so I know you've posted a few stealth brags in your time. It's nothing to be ashamed of but I don't see why people claim faux shock when they're called out on it.

I'll be honest: I get a kick out of people telling me my child is well-dressed. Other people get a kick out of their beautiful monochrome nurseries and their cherub being a rep for an online woodland print legging brand or whatever the cool thing is to do, which I wouldn't know about because I have the trend awareness of a medieval hermit. 

"If you've got it, flaunt it" the saying goes, and the same applies to happiness too. Happiness, energy, circumstances and means. We all make a choice of what to show social media. Mercedes Benz key fobs and fresh shellac, not a daysaver and marigolds. #OOTDs not a dressing gown with dried eggy bits on. Perfectly behaved toddler drinking out of a grown up cup in a tearoom, not head butting you by the front door while you try and zip their anorak up. 

And that's ok. We all do it. Edit out the shitty bits, focus on the best bits. Let's just not be naive. We want to capture these perfect moments as the overriding memories. To show we did a good job. That they had a happy childhood. That it was all #goodtimes. And we will remember the good times with or without pictures. So will the children, who - believe it or not - don't give a shit about social media. We certainly don't have to prove it to the world. Yet that's precisely what we're doing and to hell with how it makes anyone else feel. 

We want everyone to know how naturally happiness comes to us - even if the slightest of good days eludes them, how we've got our shit together - even if they are struggling so desperately that they are ashamed to ask their own partners or parents for help. Read our bios: SAHM; Single mum of three; working mum; wife (oh so she really has got it hard because we all know what absolute dopes men are lol). Acknowledge us. What do you mean we're making other women feel self conscious or inferior? Its not my fault if someone else has got PND and they struggle to get out of bed and make it through the day. What's not to love about these pics of my perfect family? It's just an everyday frolic through a bluebell glade before gymnastics and our gluten free pretzel-making workshop at 11am. 

Seriously? Do you seriously think your posts and pictures don't make other people feel like a bag of shite even just a teeny bit? Are you that ignorant that you feel absolutely no responsibility for your role in this much-touted 'great divide of motherhood'. You're saying "my life is fab, look at me". And good for you, girl, good for you. But personally, I think if you've got the balls to post it then you should have the balls to own it. 
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