Motherhood Challenge*

Firstly, it is not a dare.  A dare involves a degree of self-inflicted embarrassment  (e.g.) dressing as Aunt Polly Tumble** for a day or speaking only in CBeebies theme tune lyrics for an entire playdate without ever explaining yourself.  Or completing a whole transaction in a shop in the style of a Mister Maker “minute make”.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a dare.  Or at least not a very good one.

Secondly, it is not a challenge. Motherhood poses a lot of challenges but posting a picture of your beautiful children is not one of them.  Day to day life with little children certainly provides challenge enough sometimes; but posting a picture of your beautiful children is not up there.

Women who have to battle with depression have a challenge.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge. Women who do a lot or all of the parenting alone have a challenge.  Women who can’t or who have trouble joining the “motherhood” club have a challenge.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge.

I guess the latter is why I personally take issue with the whole “motherhood” dare/challenge thing.  A picture of beautiful children with the words “Motherhood Challenge” would have left me so upset and annoyed five years ago.  It would have felt like the poster didn’t appreciate what they’d got.  I would have been so frustrated that they didn’t realise (or care?) how much it hurt to not be part of the “motherhood” club. I felt so left behind as the pictures of parties were slowly replaced with baby after baby picture.

I have been very lucky as I have two children, but it took nearly four years, miscarriages, an ectopic and ivf to get there and the whole dare and challenge thing quite frankly grates.  I can still remember the pain and feel sad for the people feeling it now.  I know there will be people facing infertility who may be happy to see these pictures with the words “Motherhood Challenge”, that are able to share in others’ barefaced joy when they’re hurting.  I genuinely admire these people and have come across a few.  I hold my hands up high and proud – I wasn’t one of them.  I would have hidden the lot of you from my newsfeed with tears in my eyes.

Essentially I am working on the logic that if you think, experience or do something, there are probably a fair few others in the same boat, even if it is one of the least talked about things. (Unless you are seriously considering the “minute make” dare, in which case you are just weird.)  With one in eight couples affected by infertility there must be a fair few people out there feeling how I did and feeling it right now.

So a facebook without baby pictures?  Is that the vision?  A ridiculous idea and not what I’m suggesting; life moves on and Facebook is about sharing and celebrating amongst other things.  But a bit of sensitivity would be lovely, a bit of thinking before you “speak”.  For me trying IVF was my moving on, deciding that we were having a family one way or another and accepting we just didn’t know which way yet was moving on.  But it was a tough challenge and this would have rubbed so much salt in the wounds.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge.

If you do post a “Motherhood Challenge” photo lets be honest with ourselves and others.  Let’s call a spade a spade – it is a baby brag and an insensitive one at that.  It is not a (decent) dare and it is not a challenge.  And please remember infertility really hurts so think about the others in the room.  Motherhood is a challenge many are desperate for and scared they’ll never have.

 

 

*I wrote this as its been flaring up in my newsfeed lately.  Since writing I have googled to see when it all started, seems there was a bit of an uproar back in February!  What can I say?  I was never the cool kid on the latest trend.  This rant is however all from my own hip/heart.

**I lack as much imagination as I do coolness and couldn’t think past CBeebies for dares.  If you are not in the UK or don’t rely on the CBeebies babysitting service I apologise.

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Dear grumpy mum,

 

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I wasn’t that miffed about you blocking me from the softplay exit today; not until you assumed that I was miffed. The moment you pointedly started telling your buggied up one year old how patient he was, was the moment I got miffed. Before then it was just my vacant face. I hadn’t even said anything rude in my head. Promise.

You see the thing is…

….I had an appointment to get to and I could see that if you put your older child’s shoes on just a bum shuffle away, I could get by your buggy. I didn’t say anything because I could see that whilst you were super jolly with your kids, you were perhaps feeling harassed on the inside….

….I had to go and pick my friend up from the station. I really don’t want to be late for her, she’s not got kids and I always seem to be saying “Sorry, I’m late T hit M with a toy hammer/pooed his pants” etc, etc….

….I had just given my two boys snacks and told them that they could ride back to the car without their buggy straps on.  I had the time it takes for them to eat said snacks to get them out of softplay, into the carpark and back into their carseats. And they eat fast. I was living on the edge…..

Insert from the above whatever works, I’m sure you get the drift. Basically I had stuff going on as well.  I know what it’s like to be so tired that you feel like you have used up all your nice, positive energy on your kids.  When all your brain power is spent just getting them from A to B.  But play fair, throw me a smile or a knowing eye roll at least, parenting toddlers is best played as a team game after all and I was batting for your side.

You can probably tell that I can do grumpy mum too.  So while I’m on a roll – one year olds don’t do patience, my money was on a dirty nappy.

You can go your own way

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Apologies.  This post is way too obvious but I need reminding.  I started it whilst trying to distract myself from the fact that my sister was giving birth – how do people cope when their daughter is giving birth?  I was going out of my mind as it was!

Anyways…..

I am basically giving myself a good talking to about being all “when I had my first baby…..” with my sis.  Which will be HARD – I want my sister to have as easy a time as possible.  I found having a baby for the first time SUPER HARD  but I need to remember that having an easy time is not built on people bombarding you with what they did, it’s about a confidence in your own choices. Finding your own right way.

Ultimately what works for you might not work for them anyway; sure it’s great to read books, blogs and talk to people but its not great to be told what is best.  I know I get a bit bossy in this blog sometimes but I do it in the mind that it’s easy to ignore the ramblings of a woman on the internet should you so choose (especially since my blog has only had one visitor as I write this!).  But its SO tough if it’s a friend or relative in your face, your all time most exhausted ever face.

An early memory of unwanted interference for me is my running in and out to the car with a grizzly baby in my baby bjorn – he was basically in need of a nap.  Our well meaning (?) neighbour offered to hold him; fine to offer obviously, but fine to follow up (to what was my best polite, friendly thanks but no thanks) with “when I had my baby I let everybody hold her all the time, it was good for her to be with lots of different people”??  A bit of a body blow when you are a few weeks into parenting and don’t know what you’re doing.  Challenging do-gooders (I’m joking….a bit)!  Just what you need with all those hormones and insecurities.

I could go on but I don’t want to offend or upset people that have probably meant me well when my blog becomes really famous (lollllll) plus I KNOW I have said some really stupid things myself and just not noticed.  Basically everyone wants to say something or offer something.  Because everyone finds it hard with a new baby and they want to share and help make it better.

So with this in mind I will try and stop ranting…..but….no….must stop…..because these memories aren’t really important or helpful as it is not really about other people; it is about you.  So whilst I need to control myself if I don’t want to be that person to other people; I also need to control myself to not let other people be that person to me.  Nod, smile, say “thanks for the tip” (and mean it) but go your own way.  Maybe you will take the tip when you get chance to think, maybe you won’t.  If advice is pressed explain your point if you think it beneficial, discuss if you think it is appropriate and interesting or simply tell them firmly.

And if the boot is on the other foot try and jump into their shoes and ask if they want to know what you did.

Having this confidence and strength to go your own way is tough after bringing a new person into the world.  But remember what people do is rarely rooted in their perception of your strengths and weaknesses, it’s about them wanting to help with their experiences and knowledge.  With parenting it is often about everyone wanting to believe that what they did or are doing was or is the right thing for their children (and thus believing it’s worth sharing).  And we are all exactly the same; it really does take one to know one (even when I think I’m not doing it I probably am!).

So back to my sister’s new baby…..I plan to (hopefully) be forever reigning myself in from interfering as I become that person who has ‘been there before’ in particular for my sister and hopefully future grandchildren.  I want to share in their joy, be there for them but keep a bit mum….unless I think it’s a real golden nugget…..or a health and safety thing……or too good not to share…..sorry everyone!

Plodding along

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I’m having a plodding along kind of a day.  This morning I did not get my normal pleasure from catching up on last night’s dishes (I normally take way too much pleasure from this, especially if it is someone else who has done the catching up).  Today my smiles at my boys’ constant stream of hilarity is a bit painted on to be honest and the little challenges of the day seem that little bit daunting.

I’m trying to suck up some of the advice that I have dished out to some of the girls that I have taught over the years.  The occasional girl who might have come close to tears over something very little, especially if I’ve noticed that she seems to have had regular teary (and sometimes testy – or both!) times.   For every girl like this there are probably ten or more who are better at hiding it.   What I tend to say is “Write down how you feel and when you feel it, as you might see a pattern, and if you do you can plan for it and be extra kind to yourself.”  Obviously I check they are getting some decent help too if needed, my knowledge tends to get quite patchy once I leave Pythagoras and numbers.

Anyway I’m pushing forty, and plodding along days do (luckily I guess) follow a pattern for me and I don’t have the same fear of the feelings that you do aged fourteen or sixteen or even twenty.  I’ve gotten kind of good at piling on that kindness…today I’ve let myself play on my phone behind a cushion while the boys are watching TV for that little bit longer….I have managed to squeeze in a bath before my husband left for work..I’ve snuck a few extra bits of dark chocolate (dark chocolate doesn’t count right?)……I’ve basically focussed a bit more on me and a bit less on the little two (and I don’t think they’ve even noticed!) and I’m plodding along. One foot in front of the other at all times (nearly), just keeping the little things going….food, fresh air and now TV!

I think I’m probably lucky not to get many plodding days and touch wood not too bad a plodding day.  I can afterall still plod.  It seems to be a bit of a lottery – we are a bunch of hormones and chemicals and mine are pretty kind to me.  So I’ll embrace the plod, won’t pile on the pressure (for this read messy house, messy hair, freezer tea) and I’ll let stuff go.  But these two won’t put up with this for much longer so I best go and set up the trains!   Be kind to yourself and plod and as an old housemate used to say “let the bus go” (think I know what she meant).