The Motherhood Equation

It  won’t have escaped any of us that the older we get, the more of our peers wants to start families.  It tends to hit in the late twenties/early thirties bracket.  Your friends start trying.  Some succeed.  Others don’t.  Some conceive without meaning to.   The story is different for everyone.  The feelings less so.  There often seems to be shock.  More frequently, happiness.  Sometimes fear, sometimes awe, sometimes relief.

We live in a time where information exchange and self promotion rule supreme.  Anyone on Twitter can publish their innermost thoughts for the world to see.  Anyone with a blog can write, and their words be read across borders, time zones, five, ten fifteen years from now.  Hit Publish, hit Send, and what was initially a feeling, a thought, an opinion, goes global, becomes public property, jumps from your head into the head of someone who, more often than not, has never even met you.

Here’s an equation.  (Being  25 to 40 – children) + the advance of social networking = If I See Another Discussion About Breastfeeding On Twitter I Will Have A Rage Blackout.

(I jest.  Of course, if I had a real problem with it, I could always stop following, or stop reading, and stop making witty little equations.)

It’s not just breastfeeding, by the way.  It’s not just what pram to buy and what things are needed in the hospital bag.  I can imagine that if I were pregnant, I’d probably want advice about things, too.  Things and feelings and what the hell to do.

The issue is this. A narrative has developed in the media, in blogs, on Twitter.  A narrative based around how mothers have it so extremely tough, how they struggle, how living with a baby is the hardest job in the world.

I have tried to understand and be patient.  This post, however, has been brewing for a while.  Sometimes rage inspires a post, and it simmers, and it cools, and I don’t feel the need to let it out.  But this one?  This one was a slow burner.  This one took hold of me months ago and hasn’t let go.

You’re not a mother.  You don’t understand. 

That is correct.  I am childless.  There are many reasons why that remains the case.  But despite my lack of offspring, I can still have an opinion about motherhood.  Just like I can have an opinion about racism, when to date I have never been a victim of it.  I have never been subjected to a string of sleepless nights and wiping up sick and clearing up toys eight hours in a row.  That is true.

But do you know something?  I still hope, despite that narrative persuading me otherwise, that when, or if, I ever have children, I will just…er…get on with it.  Be exhausted, but just raise them.  Like my mother.  Like her mother.  Like so many of our mothers.

I don’t doubt for a second that being a mother is bloody hard work.  Bloody hard work.  But, come on.  The hardest job in the world?  Seriously?  Firstly, that’s belittling any achievement a woman makes that isn’t becoming a mother.  How about brain surgery?  How about conflict negotiation? How about being a nurse?  And secondly: being a mother has always been hard work.  Arguably, it’s easier in 2012 than it’s ever been.  For the most part, we are better educated and more affluent.  Our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers didn’t have the support systems (financial, institutional and otherwise) that we do.  They didn’t have the medical knowledge to which we have access.  They didn’t live in a society that was as tolerant of women making a choice between going back to work and staying at home with their child.  They didn’t have the choices that we are lucky enough to face.

But they did it.  They raised us.  Without complaining.  Without that overriding sense of being hard done by.  That’s what grates.  The sense of mothers today having it so rough, when they have so much, so very very much, there to support them.

In the vast majority of cases, having a child is a choice.  One that few people make lightly.  There’s enough information out there in films, books, the media, about how much being a mother changes your life.  For the most part, people have children because despite the difficulty and the significant lifestyle changes, they want a baby.  They want to create another human being with someone else.  Another human being.   I know evolution got there a good few years before me, but seriously?  That concept never fails to blow my mind.

And this, I think, is the crux of the matter.  Rather than being sensible about it, reading what’s already out there and weighing up BABY vs HUGE LIFE CHANGES on the giant scales in my head, I have become scared.  I have seen what motherhood has done to people.  It’s like it’s become an excuse to stop striving, to stop pushing, to stop stepping up.  Rather than think “I want to be a successful, strong woman who is also a mother” I have started to think “I hope I can be a mother who is successful and strong”.

When did that happen?  When did I start doubting that the two went hand in hand?

Where is the space for women, married or otherwise, from the ages of 28 to 40 who, at some stage, want children, but for whatever reason don’t want them yet?  Where is the space for them to be able to say “one day, I will delve into this world of motherhood, but right I don’t want to read about nipples every day and you know what?  I want to be a mother who doesn’t lose perspective and remembers that life goes on”.

I could really do with reading a blog post, or an article, or a tweet from that woman.  I could really do with reading about how she just got on with it, sidestepped all the crap, and kept striving, kept achieving.  They’re out there, I know they are.  We’ve all got examples of women who had babies and kept their careers, or had babies and stayed sane, or had babies and remembered there was another world out there, one that kept turning, one that remembered that women do remarkable, astonishing things every day that isn’t being a mother.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Life Experience, Our Favourite Posts, Written By Anna, Your Favourite Posts
289 interesting thoughts on this

283 Comments

  1. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    My mother in law made a comment that’s stayed with me. She was talking about an acquaintance she’d known for a long time, who’s her age & so with adult children. Her words were along the lines of ‘She was so busy/involved/consumed with being a mother that she forget to be/how to be a woman.’
    Second thought. As humans do we tend to talk openly about what we find hard but the gorgeous lovely bits we keep to ourselves. For example when we’re dating & feeling insecure about a new man do we talk & talk it through with our friends but when we’re secure with our partner we don’t share so much? We don’t share the lovely gestures, comments. For some is it similar with children?

    • Clare
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      I think that’s a really valid point JHD – we do tend to share the negative points more than the positive points…but if people wrote posts about how wonderful their lives were with children, would that be equally annoying? I think that there was a bit of a backlash a while back, from all of the mums asking mummybloggers to tell ‘the real story’ and stop presenting these ‘picture-perfect’ lives, which just serve to make everyone else feel inadequate.

      Oh womanhood. It’s a fine line.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Isn’t ‘keeping it real’ what AOW is about? We don’t want women to keep quiet, do we? Even when it might be uncomfortable/ socially unacceptable to speak out.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

          Yes. Agree. Not relentless moaning to get attention though, but definitely to ask for advice from others / tell people what the real story is.

  2. Katielase
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Hm. I don’t think I really agree with this. My main issue is, the women who came before? Our Mums? Their Mums? I don’t believe that they didn’t complain. They had no outlet to complain publicly, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t complain to each other. Or that they didn’t feel overwhelmed in themselves, with no outlet for it. I think all that’s happening now is we’re hearing the voices of mothers who, in the past, struggled alone or shared and cried with their friends.

    I think I would argue that all modern blogging mothers do is express how they feel, and in doing so, probably make it easier to carry on acheiving. Having an outlet for their fears and struggles and desperation is actually one of the ways they are luckier. I can’t, personally, find a problem with that.

    I do agree that there is a tendency in today’s social media soaked world to complain too loudly, and that we have a culture of entitlement to an easy life, but I don’t think that applies solely to mothers, rather to everyone. Perhaps, though, my twitter feed is different, perhaps I’m different. I appreciate the honesty of modern mothers, its better than being told motherhood is easy and feeling like a failure when you struggle.

    K x

    • Clare
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I think that the other point to remember here is that women two generations ago had entirely different expectations for their lives. Very few (I know there were some) had expectations other than to get married and have babies. Now we’re also told we should be back in shape, have interesting hobbies, and have successful careers. That’s an added pressure.

      On top of that, we are now having babies later. For women a couple of generations back, they (mostly, again, I know I’m generalising here), went to school, worked for a year or two maybe (probably not in a senior role), and then got married and had babies. They had not had time to experience other ways of life. They’d not been able to whizz off travelling, or even pop out to a restaurant for dinner on a whim, or sit in a coffee shop on a Sunday reading the papers, perhaps extending to brunch with friends, or (most importantly) progress in their career. It’s a hell of an adjustment to get used to – none of that being possible for the foreseeable future. I absolutely don’t deny that we are luckier nowadays, with maternity leave, and washing machines, and more shared parental roles etc etc, but *psychologically* I think we find the adjustment from our old live to our new life, much harder now. Hence our whinging.

      Thanks K for writing this post though. I’m sure there are other people out there feeling exactly the same as you, and who don’t have a forum to say so. I know I was ABSOLUTELY one of those people just 18 months ago. I was actually looking forward to ‘stopping work’ and ‘having a bit of a break’ for nine months. *laughs and shakes head shamefully*.

  3. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    I used to feel like this until I had a child. I ‘what are these women harping on about being mums it cant be that hard’. I was SO wrong.

    It is the hardest job in the world because you’re on call 24/7 and unlike being a brain surgeon you cannot separate your emotions from the work you are doing. There is no professional distance and this makes you even more exhausted. I have chronic back pain from carrying the baby round and feeding and when I had this when I was a work last year I had three weeks off but now I just have to cope as I don’t get sick days anymore. I’m just downing painkillers like sweets as I cant stop carrying or feeding the baby.

    When you have just had a baby and on maternity leave that is your life. You hardly go out at the start and your entire existence revolves around this tiny person who is dependent on you. You don’t really have anything other than the baby to talk about and you are constantly second guessing yourself and I rely on the support I get from other mums on Twitter.

    I know this time is the most acute time when it comes to childcare and when I go back to work I will be continue to develop my career, our CEO is a mother with two children so it’s not a barrier to success. But for now I am a mum and that’s what I’m being paid to do, so you have to give me and other new mums a break because its freaking hard work and incredibly lonely at times and no-one tells you about that.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Abbie, you absolutely get to be the first person to shove this post in my face and go HA! really loudly if I find I can’t cope with kids.!

      • Clare
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        I think that’s the key thing. There is no ‘can’t cope with kids’. You don’t get to change your mind and say ‘I can’t cope with this’. We are all Just Getting On With It. And moaning about it :-)

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Clare is totally right you do just cope because you have to, but it’s the biggest shock you will ever have. You find out that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. I think you hear the negative stuff more as it’s a way of people asking for help without sounding like they can’t cope. Sometimes you just need to feel like you are on the right track and just need a bit of support. But I can assure you the good stuff totally outweighs the bad.

  4. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Agree with most of that, KL, but I’d also say I’d have equally as much of a problem with someone who had a job that they complained about every day. Its not really about the twitter feed – I can change that after all! Everyone is entitled to vent and as you say, blogs allow us to do that. It’s the constant negativity that gets me I think.

    Rach – yes yes yes. I just want to hear about the gorgeous lovely bits too!

    • Katielase
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Fair play, although I guess you can change your job (or try), it’s much harder to back out of motherhood. I think Rachel is right, human nature means we will always hear more negativity than positivity in public forums, which is a shame.

      K x

  5. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I have to say I’m with Anna on this. Mummy updates generally make me feel the same way I did at school when everyone had those awful Adidas track suit bottoms with the poppers and I thought they looked ridiculous but everyone had them so I still put them on my Christmas list and my poor grandma went everywhere looking for them!
    Some people (Clare) walk the line beautifully and I live having those little glimpses into her world, but I’ve actually hidden some of my friends Facebook updates from my timeline as I just don’t need to know how many hours sleep their kids got every night, just as I’m sure some people have hidden my updates as they don’t want to be bombarded with feminist news articles and updates on the latest twattish thing Chris Brown has done. Horses for courses and all that.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Yes! I think that’s it. The assumption that what someone has to say is relevant/interesting/important to people that will read it. When for a large majority (have you been through your FB friends list recently?) won’t give a damn. And why should they?

      Actually this makes me sad. Where is the real life contact these days? When was the last time you saw friends every day like we did at school/university? I don’t mean colleagues who for the most part are people you’d never normally spend time with. Real friends. Gah! Please say it’s not just me.

      • Beth
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        Yes! Only the other day Lucy I found myself longing for all those hours and hours of time I used to spend with my friends at university. I don’t want to go back in time but the luxury of doing nothing with people you love rather than intensely diarising every clutched weeknight dinner or weekend coffee would be bliss.

        And I think this hints a little bit at what this might be about. I think it’s about community and finding people to closely identify and empathise with. Finding that community is harder at some stages of life than others. Now that people reach out online, there’s a greater chance of comments being read by, and jarring with, someone who’s just at a different stage or in a different place entirely.

        The friendships that endure across those boundaries are really special though. We all just women, muddling through, forging ahead, trying to live with what life throws at us, after all. When people say “you wouldn’t understand” or “you’ll see” seem to have lost sight of that, perhaps.

        Great post Anna. I love that AOW reminds me to think beyond the end of my own nose.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          I can relate to that. There is no way I’d want to go through my degree course/ school again, but I am still in mourning from a friendship point of view. Even though, like Anna says I have made some beautiful friendships with people online and in my adult life. I hate slotting people in, but it’s a necessary evil when everyone is so busy with work, hobbies, other relationships etc. and that must be what is so attractive about social media. It is always there.

          AOW does make us think beyond the end of our own noses. Great summary. Also possible new tagline?

  6. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I agree with Katielease, other women almost certainly had complaints. Also, I’d argue that in the most part mothers had better support networks in the past. Larger families who lived closer together would have meant more women on hand who could help, teach, support. As for medical advances, whilst undoubtedly this is true, the majority of the hard stuff I’ve seen/heard about is not about medicine. It’s humdrum, routine, practicalities. So I’m not surprised that people talk about this in the public domain anymore than I am when someone tweets about their commute, their dinner or other domestic drudgery. As far as I can see it, one of the major principles of baby raising is timeless – it takes more than one person. Yes, single mothers can manage. Yes, couples who live miles from their immediate families can get on with it. But no, neither of these situations is ideal. I know couples who move back to be closer to their parents when they have children. And I don’t think that’s a backwards step. I think that’s common sense (if the couple can make it work, work wise).

    But having said all of that I know hearing about something that’s not relevant to me can wind me up. You have a different perspective, another frame of reference, which others don’t. Take the example of someone tweeting about their experiences of cancer in a similar way. I’d like to think I’d deal with it in a certain way, my frame of reference is having seen two loved ones deal with it in a calm and dignified way. I don’t see cancer as the worst thing in the world, what about abuse? What about mental illness? I always think there’s someone, somewhere who is worse off. I mean, how can one illness be the worst? It’s how you deal with it that counts. But I have no idea if I could/would stand by that if it was happening to me. And like Rachel says, maybe we just don’t hear enough of the positive life affirming stuff to balance it out.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      L-Sten,the family point is a good one and one I hadn’t considered at all. We are more lonely these days, aren’t we, what with communicating online.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Definitely, isn’t that sad?

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          But on the flip side, I’ve made some of the best friends of my life. At 30.

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            But not all however many of people who follow/you follow/friend are those best friends. I suppose that is the problem with social media.

            In real life if someone you care about tells you this stuff, I’m willing to bet your reaction would be different. Not because you would necessarily change your point of view when in a face to face situation (although it might cast a different light on things) but because you’d have the chance to properly talk about it.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      This is beautifully put. May I add to it, slightly less eloquently, that the majority of people use social media to moan. The people on my FB feed now moaning about their toddlers were moaning about their colds three years ago or that they got pipped to the post on that ebay auction. The cumulative effect of this is that even when people are just talking about baby things, if you can’t relate, you get that Pavlovian reaction of “oh here we go again….” Your tolerance is just lower for things you don’t understand/haven’t experienced/have no intention of experiencing/would love to experience but for whatever reason can’t (and that’s a whole other angle)

      Px

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Exactly this! I just woke up, checked Twitter and discovered 300 people are cold on their commute. “Get on with it” I could have said but I didn’t. I just scrolled down.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          One of which was me! Oh the irony…

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      This is the point that jumped out to me too, Lucy – I think people have far less support now than they did in the past. Individual families used to be part of a big, interdependent community where there was always someone to keep an eye on your kid while you nipped to the shops or pass on a little bit of mothering wisdom when you were tearing your hair out. The modern world’s obsession with “independence” and the small family unit in its little bubble is incredibly isolating and no institution in the world can compensate for that. Sadly, I don’t know what the answer is – how do you build a real-life community? Perhaps that’s why people lean so much on their online communities.

      That said, I could not care less about someone else’s child’s bowel movements so Anna K, I’m with you when it comes to the endless oversharing. You know about STFU Parents, right? RIGHT?

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        I like how you carefully navigated the glaringly obvious pun in that last paragraph Kirsty.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Here here.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        My problem with the “mommy blogger” movement, for lack of a better word, is that in a society where those traditional backup supports- close family, ‘the village’, etc- are no longer there for most of us, there is a push towards the “woman alone” as ideal, as archetype, as “the way it is” that cannot be changed. This is from women with partners- to whom I say, if its that bloody hard, WHY AREN’T YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT THE LAZYASS OTHER PARENT WHO’S LETTING YOU DO ALL THE WORK?

        Yes, it’s hard to look after an infant on your own, but for G-d’s sake most of these women aren’t on their own, and that’s what gets me- they’re complaining about something they have the means to fix, or else completely overlooking the other parent in the equation.

        (I can’t imagine how it feels to be a single parent and read all the self indulgent whining that goes on. Must make you want to kick people.)

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

          What a load of bollocks!

          • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Right. Taken a deep breath and a walk and have come back to add to my angry ‘bollocks’ comment.

            The reason I think this is bollocks is because in most relationships where one person is at home with the child, the other person is working very hard earning money to make that a possibility. They leave early in the morning and return late in the evening. This is sometimes one of the causes for the person at home to feel isolated and alone and as if they have put their career on hold whilst their partner is still progressing in their job.

            No one is calling the other parent a ‘lazyass’ or saying that they are ‘letting them do all the work’ because that is completely unecessary. We unfotunately, do not live in a society that makes joint parenting easy at all. Flexible jobs and decent part time work do not exist on a big enough scale yet for that to be possible. I would never, ever accuse my husband of being lazy or letting me do all the childcare BECAUSE HE WORKS TO PAY FOR OUR RENT AND THE BILLS AND TO FEED US!!! If I worked full time I would mostly be paying for childcare and travel expenses. Please tell me what the point of that is? When I can be at home teaching George and looking after him as his mum and not leaving him every day with people that are not family before he is school age. I know children who have accents completely different to their parents because they are in full time care of someone else. That is not what I want for my son and that is why you will never hear me complaining about my husband being ‘a lazyass other parent who is letting me do all the work’.

            With all due respect, I really think only someone who does not have children could have made this comment. It is hard bloody work. I took a very deep breath when commenting yesterday but this comment has made me very, very angry.

            • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

              I have to agree with Anna here. The other partner in most cases is probably doing everything possible to help already, that doesn’t stop a full time mother (or father!) feeling isolated and finding it hard.
              Although I do think (agree) that some of this discussion has highlighted why being a single parent would be really very difficult.

            • Katielase
              Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

              I also have to agree with Anna. When we have our family, my husband will work and I will stay at home. This is determined by the fact that I cannot afford to support our family alone, and he can. Both of us will be making sacrifices in this scenario; I will be giving up parts of my career and he will be losing time spent watching his children grow up.

              My Dad worked incredibly hard my entire life to provide for me and my brother and sister. He missed out on a lot of our childhood, working late to support us. I know he feels he missed out and he regrets that, but it was necessary. My Mum stayed home with us a lot, and she missed his presence but she knew he wasn’t lazily abandoning her with the kids, he was working as hard as she was, towards the same goal, just in a different way.

              K x

            • KateQ
              Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

              Very much agree with this. I know that I will be doing all the night feeds and the large majority of the child care because my husband works extremely hard to look after our family. A partnership is about all of it and whereas I’ll be dealing with lots of nappies my husband has an equally hard time worrying about making sure we are ok financially now and in the future.

  7. KateQ
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I totally get this. I keep getting the “you’ll see…” comments and the “just you wait”. I’m not naive and I know that babies take a lot of effort but it just works out somehow. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared about it all because I really am but I’m just sure I’ll manage just like everyone else does.

    Although I’ll be the first to admit my current job is ridiculously easy so this will prob be my hardest job so far!

  8. Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Wow thanks so much for writing this. I have been thinking about putting into words something of this sort, and did not really know how to, if I do not want to be sensible and not hurt anyone.
    Truth is, I find it specially annoying when women, grown up women, with access to university level studies and science, choose to get pregnant, plan for it and then go on to complain about oh how bad it feels. I do not know if it is a cultural thing. I am mexican and I grew up knowing that pregnancy is for the least (and to put it lightly), uncomfortable, it is just the way it is, it is how the body works, how it reacts to hormones and to a little being growing up inside your body. It is a huge deal, so of course, by any means, it is not easy. I am also a vet, so, well, probably I am not grossed out by things that seem to freak out lots of girls are there. But like you said, our mothers, and grandmothers and great grandmothers did it before us, and probably they complained to their peers, but most probably they endured it (and in those years there was not even birth control). So it really really gets me when I read (and I’ve read it quite a lot) that pregnant women feel oh so bad and start calling the foetus things like parasite, tumor or alien. First of all, they voluntarily got pregnant and had access to all kinds of information about how it would be. A parasite looks like this this or likethis and is defined by being a member of a DIFFERENT species and goes and grows within your body and against your survival. Your offspring will ensure your survival, on an evolutionary point of view. A tumor is characterized by disorganized cell growth in detriment of your own organism. There is nothing more perfectly organized and engineered than the growth and development of an embryo. And as for the alien definition, well I guess that is obvious but your child is anything but alien. It is made of you and your partner, you can not get any closer to anyone than that exept if you have a twin. Maybe this has to do with reading / watching too much Twilight, but it really gets to me.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      I don’t really like the parasite comparison that people use either, but I can understand it somewhat now – I think it’s for many people the most eloquent way of expressing how those first few months feel, when the embryo/foetus is constantly growing and getting bigger, and, if you’re suffering from morning sickness or whatever else, you can feel like you’re comparatively wasting away (I actually lost weight in the first two months of my pregnancy).

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        I understand it is hard, I tried to made it clear in my comment, but it still bothers me. It’s not even the baby causing the morning sickness, it is the hormones made by the placenta. It just really rubs me the wrong way.
        Maybe we could just say *how we feel* and leave it at that.

  9. Jen
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    This post has really provoked a strong reaction in me! I used to think in exactly the same way but now, with a six month old baby, I am guilty of doing exactly what you are complaining about. There is a reason I talk about the hardships of being a mother on twitter. Because I know that my friends without children think similarly to you and so I dare not admit that actually at the moment all I think about is my baby. That being a mother is far far harder than I ever imagined. Yes, harder than studying, harder than going to work. It’s not that it’s more difficult but as Abbie said above, it’s the 24/7 nature of the job. So I don’t moan to my friends because they will no doubt think the way I used to. I go on twitter and say it instead. Because it helps me feel less isolated to hear from others who are in the same situation or who can tell me it gets better.

    I haven’t stopped striving. I will return to work in a couple of months and I will strive to work as hard as I can to help the people I work with and balance that with being a mum to a child under one. And if it’s hard? I will turn to my friends on twitter who I know will understand and support me but most importantly not judge me for admitting it.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I think twitter is a support and a curse, isn’t it. I nearly didn’t write this because I haven’t had kids therefore how can I really know how hard it is? As Abbie said, brain surgery isn’t 24/7. And I’m using a social media platform to have my say, same as the mums are! No one can win!

  10. Chloe
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    This post is excellent. For me, as a new Mum it has certainly made me stop and think about how much I moan about how hard it is being a Mother AND how much I ‘just get one with it’.

    For me, the internet/ forums are a place of support and sanctuary. Living in Asia, miles away from my real time support network I seek other forms and today’s women have the internet. And wonderful places like AOW which women of a generation, two generations ago didn’t have. It does make an awful lot public and open for comment. But for me it’s helped through some of the longest days and nights of early Motherhood. So for that, I am very grateful. Hearing how other women find it tough makes you feel less alone and a lot less insane.

    I, like Clare, would never have really believed all this ‘blah-blah’ about it being tough but Motherhood IS enormously hard work. One of the things that I find the hardest is exactly what you are referring to – just getting on with life regardless. I have always been an over-achiever, a go-the-extra-miler, please clients, delight friends, organise parties as well as have a thriving career. Pre-baby I could do this, I could work until late and get up early. Work weekends. And I still do, all of this. But having a baby too – well, I never appreciated how exhausting it could be.

    On the flip side, I also think we often can’t win. As a photographer, I am always taking pictures of my little boy, often in the sunshine, doing lovely things like eating cake with his besty Emmi. Here in Malaysia. One might say, embracing the loveliness that is Motherhood. Sharing the happiness. But on more than one occasion snide comments have been made about a ‘charmed life.’ What to do? Just get on? Absolutely. Stop sharing the highs and the lows? I hope not.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Ah, you can’t do right for doing wrong Chloe. I love seeing baby M on FB, please don’t stop posting!

  11. Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Honestly? I haven’t found motherhood that hard at all. *ducks*

    • Clare
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Write us a post! Do you know how long we’ve wanted to find somebody to write that post?!

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        That it isn’t that hard? Er, that might be taken as smugness or glibness? I also know that I’ve been lucky to have an easy going boy. But truly, some people do love the drama of how ‘hard’ it is.

        • Chloe
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          I agree with Clare – I think there are a good handful of pregnant women here who would like to hear about the joys of Motherhood and not all the hideous ‘way too much information’ stories which can often be saved for your NCT buddies!

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

          Kirsten. Seriously. Write. We want your post. You’re arguably much more “qualified ” than me to hold that opinion!

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

            Hmm. *can open… worms…. everywhere* ;)

            I’ll have to think about how to word it if I do write a post. Very fine line to walk!

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

          Interested to know if you work?

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            I’m a wedding photographer, Anna, so no, not a standard 5 day working week. This is what I mean, whatever I say from my point of view, someone will have it way harder… (Although I have had to turn weddings down, purely because we have no family nearby and therefore childcare is a big issue). See, even I can moan if required ;)

            • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

              Half my comment got cut off. I think you’ve answered my question anyway- you sound like you do a job you love and have a good mix of work and childcare. Were you already a photographer before you were a mum?
              I’ll stop asking questions because I’d like to read your post. I just think everybody’s circumstances are so different. I’m trying to write a reply to this post but it’s not coming out right. Will come back later,

              • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

                I was a photographer before, yeah. I think maybe being an older mum has helped because I panicked less than I might have done when I was 25. I think that we all have vastly different experiences because of so many different factors: money, family around, a supportive partner, your age, the temperament of your child, health issues, etc. That’s why you should never compare yourself, I guess, to others. It’s not ‘like with like’ ever. So yes, my initial comment was flippant and may have come across as smug but I didn’t mean it to.

                • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

                  I really don’t think you’re being smug, I’m happy for you that you have a good balance and can honestly say you don’t find it hard. Good for you. I think so much of this is subjective and so emotional depending on each persons situation.

        • Jen
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          I wouldn’t read it as smugness! My baby had bad reflux and cried every moment he was awake for his first three months. I’d love to hear some more positive stories and that this isn’t the standard experience of babies!

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

            Max had silent reflux too. Oh god, maybe this WAS all hard and I’ve blocked it out?! ;)

            • Jen
              Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

              Wow! How did you not find that herd?! Would love to hear that story!

              • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

                I suppose it was at first. Once he got diagnosed and started on Infant Gavsicon, he was INSTANTLY better though.

        • Kirsty
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          Please write a positive post about having children!! All I hear from people is how hard it is. It makes me think that maybe I’m not capable of having children. I feel that I’ve failed before they even exist!!

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            Yes! Exactly. And the “you’ll see” moments when you DARE to suggest that you hope to keep living life that has some resemblance to what you have been doing… Please, tell us it CAN be done!

            • Clare
              Posted December 5, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

              I think the ‘you’ll see’ comments are generally meant in a lighthearted way, and are down to the fact that the person saying it ALSO felt exactly the same as you, pre-baby. I know I was so guilty of thinking that ‘I’d be a bit tired for a while’, but that generally, my life would carry on as is, just bringing the baby along. It didn’t. It changed dramatically. Anyone who knew me pre-baby would know that I am not the type to be gushy, or who would get overly involved in ‘babybabybaby’ but it’s pretty inevitable, because for a while, it’s all you have the time and mental capacity to focus on.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        We all want to read this Kirsten!

  12. Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Interesting post, Anna. I agree with what Katielase says so won’t repeat what she’s already expressed so eloquently, though I do entirely understand your point about the negativity – I feel somewhat overwhelmed at halfway through my pregnancy by just how much out there on the internet is screaming “IT’S SO HARD!”, so I’m ever-more appreciative for my close friends who have children who counter that with stories of why having children is brilliant (without being all misty-eyed and rose-tinted). Equally, I am grateful for not going into motherhood thinking it’s going to be all chubby cheeks and baby giggles.

    In many ways we are more supported, that’s true, but in many ways we are less so. For a start, there’s definitely a school of thought that seems a lot more vocal these days about viewing maternity leave as a year’s holiday where you just swan around the house feeling smug about having a child. Which is ridiculous, obviously, but in light of this it’s hardly surprising that women are speaking up and saying “well hang on, it’s bloody hard.” When I first got pregnant I read Naomi Wolf’s Misconceptions, which is an excellent book that I’d really recommend, and she talks about how in more traditional cultures women are supported by family during the first difficult weeks and months (and beyond) of motherhood, which means that they’re able to recover more quickly from the trauma of giving birth (by which I mean physically) and to get to grips with the new baby with people constantly on hand to help – this often means little more than having people constantly holding the baby so that the mother can get a bit of sleep. Years ago, of course, women here would have lived much closer to their families than many of us do, and often with their families, which, though they were restricted in other ways, meant that motherhood was less of a lonely thing, and you had the older women in your family on hand to immediately help and support you. Nowadays, you’re far more likely to have a child miles and miles away from your family, and so the ways in which you are supported (or not) are very different.

    And despite all the choices we have, it can often feel like we still don’t have very many choices. I won’t have a choice about whether or not I go back to work – it will come down to what we can afford to do. With both of us earning the same, and not huge amounts at that (that’s what you get for being “creative”), and with London being so expensive, we won’t be able to survive off one salary. I won’t be returning to work because I have a choice, but because otherwise there is no way our family could survive. That’s quite shocking to realise in this day and age. And I think a lot of the talk about motherhood being the hardest job in the world is more about striving for some recognition for the hard work that motherhood entails – because fundamentally, it’s unpaid, it’s all-encompassing, and it’s fairly unsung – in a society that still essentially sees it as being something that should be easy because it’s “natural”.

    I think there’s also probably a certain amount that we just can’t understand until we go through it ourselves. You just have to look at the reaction to the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy – there’s a whole load of people out there going “she’s in hospital with morning sickness? That’s ridiculous!”, but I’d bet my bottom dollar that most, if not all, of those people haven’t been pregnant. I would probably have fallen into that camp before I was pregnant, but having suffered from morning sickness – and nowhere near as bad as Kate has it – and having now read extensively about it, I can completely understand. Call me naive, but I really didn’t expect pregnancy to be as all-incompassing as it has been – I really thought I’d be feeling like the same Emma, just with a growing stomach. But I don’t – and so much of this feels so massive and new to me that it’s good to have a support network of other pregnant women to turn to and say “is this normal?”. And I guess it’s the same with motherhood – it’s just the internet means that people’s opinions can be instantly broadcast into your living room or onto your phone.

    (I should also point out – and then end this incredibly long comment, finally – by saying that some people share too much. I find it helpful to hear that breastfeeding is hard work because that prepares me for it not necessarily coming naturally, but I really don’t need to see a picture of your baby suckling at your breast.)

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Emma, you are so wise.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Those Kate morning sickness comments are so infuriating! Will drove her to the hospital and they sacrificed their secrecy before 12 weeks, they’re really not going to do that for something minor are they. Grrrrr.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Someone I know put some cr** on Facebook about how when she had morning sickness she was working every day blah blah blah

        It makes me cross when women are so unsupportive of each other. Morning sickness isn’t the same for everyone!

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          This is not just morning sickness, why can’t people do their research? Also, she’s carrying the future King or Queen. Of course they are going to look after her in the best environment they see fit. Who cares if they could have treated her at home, people who have private healthcare plans tend to use it, no?

          • Fee
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            The 2 friends of mine who had HG were both treated in hospital – it’s driving me mad it’s being turned into a class issue by some media.

            And as someone who had 24 hour ‘morning’ sickness for 5 long months, I wouldn’t trade places with someone with HG for a second. It sounds dreadful.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        I retweeted Jeremy Vine (!) this morning who was saying the majority of people moaning about Kate being in hospital with “morning sickness” are men.

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Then I’m guilty of the overshare….but then that’s my choice. I’m just delighted to be able to feed my baby myself, considering it an achievement, that I’ve shared it just the same as any other achievement in my life.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        And you should absolutely feel proud of that! My personal opinion is that I’d rather not see other people’s body parts (call me a prude!) – baby related or otherwise – but that’s just me. But just as I can say “I’d rather not see that”, you’re entitled to share things like that with your friends/the people who follow you etc – and I’m sure there’s many other mothers/friends/mothers-to-be that would find that encouraging, helpful or just plain beautiful. The great thing about social media is that we don’t *have* to engage with everything if we don’t want to…
        (Sorry if my original point about this felt overly harsh – it wasn’t aimed at you or anyone in particular!)

  13. Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I am coming from a horribly personal and thankfully rare position on this but I do have thoughts.

    I do know exactly what you mean. Unfortunately now, when I hear that it’s the hardest thing in the world to have a newborn, I have something inside me that wants to shout ‘Really? Want a bet?’. I know this is a socially unacceptable thing to say and about me rather than them to a degree.

    The reason I find it hard is because it’s so often followed with ‘But it’s the best thing in the world’ – I would say that for anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss late in the second trimester, or indeed any kind of loss/fertility problem, listening to a rant about the trials of motherhood followed by a contemplation on how on wonderful it is, is something akin to absolute hell.
     
    But that’s probably a whole different post!

    And also, thanks to said social media, I was so worried when I was pregnant as I was fully expecting to be completely miserable from lack of sleep etc etc for a good few months when my baby arrived. That can’t be good. Sometimes I wish friends of mine would remember who they were talking to and just ‘get on with it’ as you say. Ironically, I wish I was now catatonic from sleep deprivation. But like I said, I’m in a rare position completely lacking in relativity.

    Well written Anna, I think things so often go unsaid if they might provoke a reaction – especially on this topic.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Fee, I have those exact thoughts, and I haven’t suffered your loss. Can’t imagine how upsetting it must be.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        I really worry about commenting on anything pregnancy/baby related as I don’t want it to look like I’m a laying down a ‘I have the worst story’ card (because I don’t have the worst story sadly, not by a long shot).

        But if I’m going to comment about this stuff, I figure AOW is the place to do it!

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          I’m glad you commented. Your thoughts are always valued here.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Hugs to you Fee and thanks for stating this.. I totally get you (we’ve been dealing with unexplained infertility and it is hard). I fight all the time not to make it about me, and force myself to be positive, which most of the time I am, but yes, it gets to you.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Fee, your thoughts on this are v much appreciated. I have often thought of you in recent months and hope you’re getting on ok. Your comment about wishing friends realised who they were talking to was an excellent point.

  14. Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I found this post really refreshing – great to have a different, honest perspective on a subject spoken about so much.

    I too have not had children yet and am keen not to be scared off by how much I hear/read/see about how incredibly difficult it is. I am in no doubt whatsoever that it is an extremely hard job – exhasuting, emotionally testing, all consuming – but I think it’s important that it doesn’t have to define your personality. Yes you are a mum, but you’re a woman too with thoughts and opinions and interests of your own as well. Surely it’s these things that will make you a really great mother after all.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      . I feel like so much of my blog is positive about motherhood- I post up fun stuff we’ve done and adventures. On Facebook I only have about 50 friends who are pretty much all family so I post up photos of George which they love. I only put negative stuff when it’s funny- like nearly breaking your leg on Lego! (Again)

      I think those things allow me to say that I’m not a social media whinger. If anything I’m annoyingly enthusiastic. But I do know there are women out there who do not speak to another adult all day and Twitter and Facebook are a place they can go and talk. I do not for one second believe our mothers and grandmothers did not complain. They did. They must have done. They just did to their friends at each others houses or at playgroups.

      We are just getting on with it. Like I just said to Penny, I’ve just read about 300 tweets about how cold the commute is and about 20 on how hard job hunting is.

      I did that in my pyjamas watching Aladdin with a bowl of Ready Brek.
      No-one’s going to thank me for tweeting that when they’re cold.

      • Chloe
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        Hilarious! Please write a post about Motherhood for AOW. I would simply love to read it. I often think back to my old life whilst I am running around like a frantic lunatic trying to be a great Mum and a great photographer. The times when I would have been doing something completely different – being woken by an awake baby thinking its the morning at 5.30am instead of an alarm clock getting me up for my hour drive to work, and managing my little one and my piles of editing to be done instead of managing my pain-in-the-rear boss and my piles of boring paperwork. When push comes to shove – I know which life I prefer :) Mmmm Ready Brek, we don’t get that here. x

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Anna, your blog is brilliant. It’s firmly in my Favorites list and I read it weekly, as are many blogs written by mothers. Its not mother with baby stories I’m averse to, I love stories! No one can take umbrage with a positive mother who occasionally has a meltdown. That ‘s firmly in the “unreasonable “camp.

      • Katielase
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Everyone has different problems. I think the main thing is that complaining doesn’t stop you getting on with stuff. As I said on Twitter, I imagine I will face motherhood like every other thing I have ever done: absolutely terrified, screaming in panic, but blundering onwards and dancing in the good bits. Sometimes I’ll complain, sometimes I’ll bounce around in excited joy. Sometimes I’ll say nothing at all. None of it will stop me carrying on.

        I don’t think the problem is motherhood, it’s the constant stream of communication that causes the overwhelm. And the difficulty of relating to someone else’s issues when your own job hunt or chilly chilly frozen nose are more pressing to you. The world just needs more empathy, I think social media can squash empathy a bit, it’s too remote sometimes for you to truly engage with the emotions of another.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          I think the lack of empathy is the thing. I think we don’t always go to social media to connect, sometimes we just go there to say “me, me, me” (i know I do sometimes) and then get annoyed when other people seem to be there with thier own problems. I think it is about flipping that on its head, but that is very hard.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          This is so true. Sometimes that little whinge is enough to get it out and then get back to getting on with it.

          Agree with you on the empathy thing completely. I also think younger people who are starting out with all this technology are at risk of being stunted in that way.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        I love the way you post about George and about your life. I think you have a wonderful balance. This is why I love your blog and follow you on twitter/instagram. I know (from yesterday’s post) that though you might not feel like you have it all together but I really find it an inspiration for what kind of mum/woman who is a mum(?) I might like to be, if this makes any sense?

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Thank you Siobhan.

          The Internet is a strange place really, it’s so easy to filter out what you want. For example, when I put up photos of my house there is 9 times out of 10 a pile of mess behind me that I’ve moved out the way. I would hate anyone to think cor that Anna has got her shit together. Because most of the time it’s not true!!! I just don’t put the mess on the Internet.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        I think you write about you and George wonderfully Anna!

  15. Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I have had to take a few weeks sick leave at work due to acute morning sickness too (pregnant with twins, vomiting constantly) and everyone was a bit funny about it. So I’m actually quite grateful to Kate M for making it a more understood thing! But it’s also hard with balancing my work-persona, I never EVER thought I’d have to start making decisions this early about balancing work and family life – I’m a pretty high achiever and the idea of sacrificing work is just never-ever something that I would consciously want to do.

    But unfortunately the sheer physicality of the whole thing has just forced the decision much more than I was expecting. I guess it’s the luck of the draw and even though I went into this completely consciously (heck, fertility treatments aren’t exactly a ‘whoops! I’m knocked up’ moment) I still didn’t realise how much I would be forced to choose between work and motherhood.

    I’m not at all happy about taking my foot off the gas at work but it just had to be done, there’s really no ‘just getting on with it’ when you can’t really see straight for the dehydration. I know it will have some longer-term implications career-wise for me, and these worry me a lot, but there’s just nothing I can do whilst I’m so sick. I am aware all this ‘it’s so hard’ stuff will be more so with twins. It doesn’t take away my desire to keep striving professionally but at the same time does limit my ability to do so.

    Anyhow, actually mostly I completely agree with Anna’s post, and really and truly do not want to forget everything else I used to care about in terms of politics, work, social justice etc. So it’s been quite a huge identity adjustment to have some of that taken away by slightly extreme circumstances.

  16. Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    This is insane amount of comments for 9.30am… Anna you sure know how to provoke a response!

    Very interesting. I am 22 and childless so can’t comment on motherhood really and am not surrounded by peers having babies or moaning.

    However I do think that social media does encourage people to attention-seek. You don’t write a fb comment or tweet and hope no-one reads it and finds you funny/witty/informative/interesting etc… I have friends on facebook who always post ‘woe-is-me’ comments so who knows how it will be when their lives are actually hard?

    Maybe they need the community? If their friends are in a similar position to them it’s the same as me going to moan about how writing that last bit of my dissertation was hard and all my coursemates backing me up. I know it’s not the hardest thing ever. But I’ve achieved something and I want recognition, companionship and to know I’m the same as everyone else.

    Xxx

  17. Caroline
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a conversation for 10am!!

    I just have one thought really, on the language we use about this issue. I wonder if calling motherhood the “hardest job in the world” underrates both motherhood, and the efforts of those with really tough jobs? I’ll explain – I’m not sure I see montherhood as a job, it’s a life choice, so to call it a job almost doesn’t do it justice. Stopping calling it a job would also allow those with really tough, all encompassing jobs (that are 24/7, 7 days a week – even if unofficially) to take credit for working as hard as they do. I say this becasue I have huge respect for anyone that even tries to balance being a parent with keeping up their lives, but I also feel that, actually, I’ve done some pretty hard jobs in my time, that kept me awake at night, that had me working 20 hour days seven days a week, away from family and friends. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it sometimes feels like a competition over who’s got it hardest – maybe we should try to agree that we all have it quite hard, and quite easy, in different amounts, depending on the choices we make, which are up to us really?

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Oh yes everything seems to be a competition these days! But strangely never for who has the loveliest life, always the hardest or shittest – what’s that about?!

      • Fee
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        I want to be part of the loveliest life contest! I may need to tidy up a bit and buy some new shoes first.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          It’s just so sad to me that people don’t spend enough (if any) time celebrating all the nice things that happen to them, but dwell on the not so good, but insignificant bits. If we focused more on the lovely stuff, then the others wouldn’t seem quite so important – I’m sure of it!

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

            Yes, Hollie, agree. I’ve unfollowed people on Twitter for being unnecessarily moany and negative on a daily basis. About boring shit that we all have to deal with (bus is late / post office messed up a delivery / someone was rude).

            • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

              Me too! Let’s celebrate the good stuff

              • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

                Indeed! We all have crap going on – some of it’s bigger for some than others I admit – but we need to be helping each other see the lovely things in life. BECAUSE LIFE’S JUST SO BLOODY SHORT

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            Yes, exactly, celebrate the little things. Do not spend too much time dwelling on the negative. Finding stuff to smile about even on hard days, perhaps more so then.

  18. Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Oooh this is a tricky one because on the one hand I totally agree with you, but on the other there are parts that really don’t.

    I guess for me first and foremost it’s actually two separate issues – about social media users in general rather than just mothers (as I think so many people are guilty of this not just women with children!) Whenever I log into facebook or twitter there are people moaning about something – their commute, late train, horrible boss, lack of sleep, how it’s too early for xmas decorations etc. For people that are generally negative in their outlook I think they just offer a way of getting a response, some sympathy or support – and instantly. You don’t really get that elsewhere. Personally it’s not how I like to use social media (not all the time anyway, sometimes you need a good moan!) and do find it a little bit depressing to be constantly reading everyone’s gripes with the world. In my experience there is no way this is limited to mums.

    In terms with the ‘getting on with it’ part of motherhood, that’s exactly what people do – you don’t really have a choice do you? But if you’re at home all day while your partner works (if you have one) and you haven’t spoken to an adult all day it’s not surprising that women turn to an online support network – in my mind that’s far better and healthier than being completely miserable and isolated.

    Being 32 weeks pregnant and living a plane ride away from friends and family with a small network of childless friends here, I know there will be times when I need to vent to someone who understands – and if that’s online so be it. Sometimes you need the support of someone who’s in the same boat or has been there and done that. It’s hard because I hate the oversharing nature of the culture we now live in – I’d REALLY hate it if a friend announced their pregnancy to me by uploading their scan picture as a profile on facebook, which is now apparently routine – but I think if it’s a genuine conversation going on on twitter where you direct your tweet to someone in particular, there’s nothing wrong with it. I

    It’s a fine line though because I genuinely think a lot of the way mothers talk to each other online now is due in part to a backlash against the perfect mummy blogs etc. At one point you couldn’t move for photos of perfect mothers and small babies who had slept through the night from day one, whereas at least now it’s a little bit more real. Sadly the balance has swung in completely the opposite direction and it’s made to sound as though motherhood is a living hell by many women, but as others have pointed out you can’t win either way. You’re either too smug or too moany.

    Sorry this huge comment doesn’t actually have too much of a point… I guess we just have to do the best we can and muddle through, making it up as we go along – I know that’s what I’ll be doing in 8 weeks time!!

  19. Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    There’s a different motherhood equation here:

    Parents/parents-to-be* + talking too much about it whether positive or negative stuff + shoving it out there constantly via social media + people who are trying to conceive / going through a sad personal time =not a bloody good combination.

    *can be substituted for people getting married and/or buying a house.

    Sorry but it’s true. Will be back to comment later properly.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Totally agree with you. I think lots of people spend so much time focussing on themselves that they completely lose all perspective on other people’s situations and feelings. Social media can turn people into the most self-centered people imaginable because you can literally talk about yourself all day long if you so wish, which is pretty dangerous. As someone (Anna I think?) said, it’s pretty scary to think how young people who have had social media as a constant presence in their lives will end up communicating with each other.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and then on top of actual good things happening to people (babies, house buying, job promotion, whatever), there’s also an element of FICTION to some social media updates. A sort of ‘I’m actually quite unhappy but I’m going to present my life to be picture perfect’

        What a minefield for us, but especially for teenagers. I don’t envy them.

  20. Sarah
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I think what I was going to say has already been said by Emma and others far better, so I’ll try and keep it short.
    At 20 weeks pregnant I’m pretty terrified about how I’ll cope, even though I’ve got a supportive husband; and friends nearby. I think this terror stems from all I’ve read on blogs etc about how hard being a mum is, particularly in the first few months – debilitating lack of sleep, loneliness, not being able to do a single thing for yourself. Part of me is grateful for the honesty and for the pre-warning(!) but part of me would like to enjoy being in a bit of a pregnancy bubble of excitement. I also agree with Emma again that women are expected to take pregnancy completely in their stride nowadays – ‘it’s not an illness’ and also work right up until the due date. I was firmly in this frame of mind before, and am still trying to carry on completely as normal, to save face, but it is much harder than I expected.
    Also, having not gone through motherhood, I still sometimes fall into the ‘how hard can it really be?’ camp. It’s just an alien concept to me. I agree with Clare – until now I’d still been holding on to the hope that maternity leave would be -amongst other things- a nice break from work. Not necessarily easy; but the chance to indulge a bit in being domestic for the first time. Someone told me the other day that, while they were on maternity leave, they used to rage at their husband when he came home from work and made himself a sandwich, because she had not been able to eat a SINGLE THING all day. I’m not questioning her – she’s perfectly sane and normal and not prone to exaggeration – I just don’t get how that happens. I guess I’ll find out in about four months’ time….!

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Sarah, just don’t listen to those people whinging they haven’t showered in three days. It’s ridiculous. Newborns sleep a LOT. I don’t get how a 5 minute shower is impossible to manage. Sorry, but that kind of martyrdom really winds me up.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      See my reply to that would be if it’s that bad and baby’s fussy etc, strap the baby in a baby carrier and make yourself a sodding sandwich! Yes baby might get crumbs on it’s head while you eat, but that’s never killed anybody… Also make your husband make you a sandwich too!!!!

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha ha!

      • Sarah
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Well, that’s what I was thinking both…but thought I was being naive! There’s hope I’ll get my lunch ; )

      • Sarah
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Well that’s what I was thinking…but thought I was just being naive. There’s hope I’ll get my lunch ; )

      • Vivienne
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        Bahaha – yes, there has been a few times when T has had kitchen roll put over him while he lays in my arm to prevent him getting too covered in crumbs ;)

        • Jen
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          It’s fine, you get to eat! Just check baby’s ear afterwards, you may find a bit of haloumi cheese in there (whoops!)

  21. Charlotte
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    From the point of view of someone struggling with repeated early pregnancy loss, every ‘motherhood moan’ is a (selfish) jolt to the heart.

    Sleepless nights? Bring ‘em on! Nappies piled up to my ears? Yes please! But of course, when and if my turn does come I know I’ll find the daily strains just as tough as each of the ‘moaners’. It’s hard to put things into the perspective of a hundred other viewpoints, and of course your own situation will colour how things come across..

    What I don’t like is the kind of ‘secret society’ mentality of it all. I grew up the oldest of 5 siblings, and the difference between myself and the youngest is 16 years, so yes I DO understand how stressful things can be, I’ve lived it, albeit not as a Mother but still as an experience. I don’t appreciate the ‘you-don’t-have-kids-you-can’t-possibly-understand’ thing. Of course I realise that having your very own baby is different, but I do think us childless ones can go some way to empathising with mothers without being repeatedly told we ‘just don’t get it.’ I know I’ve felt isolated from (the most well-meaning) friends and they in turn from other childless friends of theirs, who they feel just can’t possibly understand.

    Over and over again I read that being a Mum is the BEST and the MOST IMPORTANT job in the world. And yes, I would never argue that it’s an incredible, challenging and wonderfully amazing thing to do BUT.. there are other incredible things that we as women can do with our lives. How disheartening for those of us who can’t have/don’t want children to read this sentiment repeatedly which ultimately devalues our own achievements and accomplishments in comparison to motherhood.

    Motherhood is one awesome option, but there are so many others. I think we should all strive to support each other in whatever our chosen path is, none of which are ‘lesser’ than the next (moaning or no moaning!)

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Agree.

      We had some happy news this year and have shared it with friends as and when appropriate. A (non-close) friend recently got in touch out of the blue and asked me how life was so I felt it appropriate to reply with the news…in a non-boasty way…and very much asking after her in my reply. This was over a month ago and there was no text back. A mutual friend says that it’s because she is going through a hard time and wants a boyfriend etc and I really do sympathise BUT it’s so horrible to think that people you consider friends are not happy for you.

      I’m extremely jealous of people who own a house but that doesn’t stop me congratulating them with all my heart and genuinely being happy for them.

      So what I am saying is- I agree with Charlotte about everyone supporting one another whatever path they can / can’t / choose to / don’t choose to go down.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        At my wedding a friend of mine got really drunk and upset, asked me to get her a taxi and started talking about how she was going to die alone. Not the greatest end to the day! I think things like that can stir up horrible feelings but you have to be able to be happy for other people too. There’s no happiness quota that means if someone is happy they’re taking away your piece!

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Something that is making me hugely sad is people feeling awkward about telling me they are pregnant. I absolutely understand why they feel that way but for me it attaches another stigma to me that makes me feel even worse. More than ever, I see every baby as a blessing.

        Except the one who was sick on my shoe in Waitrose last week, hee!

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Yes – I guess people want to do the ‘right thing’ but what you’ve said is so true, it attaches more stigma if they’re being worried and awkward about it.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I concur! I actually think all absolutes are unhelpful in anything other than flippant conversation (ie. “Elf is the best Christmas film ever made”) What right do we have to roundly discount or devalue anybody else’s experience?

      Px

      • Becca
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        Urrr…..Obviously being all supportive in a friendly AOW way but…..

        Miracle on 34th Street is the best Christmas film ever made.

        FACT.

        • Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

          It’s one of my all time favourites too!

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            Ahahaha, you see it’s funny because nobody REALLY cares about something as superficial as what the best Christmas film is *sharpens pointy stick*

      • Abi Cowley
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        It IS the best Christmas film ever made!

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      “Over and over again I read that being a Mum is the BEST and the MOST IMPORTANT job in the world. And yes, I would never argue that it’s an incredible, challenging and wonderfully amazing thing to do BUT.. there are other incredible things that we as women can do with our lives. How disheartening for those of us who can’t have/don’t want children to read this sentiment repeatedly which ultimately devalues our own achievements and accomplishments in comparison to motherhood.”

      THIS. Totally and utterly THIS.
      And even as someone who is 6 months in to a wanted pregnancy, these sorts of statements still enrage me, because I took a long time to decide I wanted this. I nearly unfriended my SIL for posting one of those cheesy pictures that said that, and was in tears to DH for several hours.

  22. Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m having a busy day but this blog post has just grabbed me. I really do agree with Anna on the whole but I also agree with what others have said here and on Twitter than there’s far wider issues to do with this annoyance about motherhood-is-the-hardest-job-ever vibe: and it’s over-sharing.

    Call me traditional but I don’t really share much of my life via twitter, Facebook, blogs. I just feel most things are too private to do that. But I am so very grateful for those people that do. ‘listening in’ on pram or changing bag discussions on twitter has been invaluable. Googling strange symptoms I’ve had and seeing on forums that others have them has really helped me. And so much more.

    But I agree that in ‘this’ world of women’s / wedding / mummy blogging its a bit of a cliche about it being so sooooop difficult etc etc etc. but it’s probably true.

    The only bit of Anna’s piece I disagree with is the last paragraph. While I agree that as a mummy you should still have other stuff to talk about (ie. I also want to be a caring friend, wife, daughter, auntie – as WELL as a mum) it’s also very important in my opinion that if you’ve chosen to have children, that ought to be the most important thing going on in your life.

    Sorry if that’s not popular but as an early years teacher, my belief is it’s true that children need to be put first, their emotional and physical wellbeing is paramount. Not the career advancement of both parents (nothing to do with going back to work for money, more to do with going back to work because you need ‘YOU TIME’ and for a sense of satisfaction – but why have you had children?)

    On that last point, some friends told me that in Africa, babies having colic is virtually unheard of, because babies are carried around by their mums all thetime, and kept close. Yet in our society,’ YOU TIME’ is this huge massive thing, which these Mums in Africa probably don’t even know about. They will get ‘their time’ when the children grow up perhaps?

    Sorry I’m being deliberately harsh and argumentative but it’s what I say time and time again – we talk about ourselves in these discussions, but not the children and what is best for them.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      As usual, moderation should be the keyword here, I think. Of course the baby should come first, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean that mum isn’t due SOME me time. Surely a balanced, happier Mum will be a better mum.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Oooohhhh… Controversial point!
      Personally I agree with you, I do wonder about the people who have a baby and go straight back to work and don’t get back until they’re asleep and let their children be brought up by daycare. What’s the point? Surely you WANT a baby, not an accessory…
      But then I don’t want to be completely dismissive of wanting to work and retain some sense of self, and indeed why it ‘should’ be the woman staying at home.
      I just personally wouldn’t want to miss it all.

    • Cat
      Posted December 6, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink

      I agree that if you have a child, his/her wellbeing should be paramount, but I could not disagree more with the implication that one of the parents should therefore stay home to take care of the child. Every family is different, and sometimes the best thing for the entire family is to have both parents work (even it’s “just” for them to have a sense of satisfaction). My mother stayed at home with me, but I wish she hadn’t; I strongly suspect that if she had worked outside the home, she would have been a happier person and a much better mother. My mother-in-law is a doctor, and she and her husband hired a nanny to help care for their 3 kids. All 3 children are now successful adults who have a close, loving relationship with their parents (certainly a much better relationship than I have with my parents!). You don’t need to stay at home to be an excellent parent.

      Also, I have never heard anyone ask a working father why he bothered having children if he’s not staying home with them.

  23. Vivienne
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    3 weeks in to new motherhood, I am guilty of tweeting baby stuff a fair bit, but I am just so proud of my creation, I can’t help it,

    We had a rough start – long latent stage of labour, eventual forceps delivery and surgery for me afterwards, coupled with three nights of no sleep as he breastfed constantly. But now, I wouldn’t say it was hard. Exhausting, yes, overwhelming, definitely, but hard? Nope. It’s what I signed up for, I prepared myself for the worst, for a baby that cried all the time,,,so perhaps having one that doesn’t (yet) makes it feel comparatively easy. I’ve been stuck on the sofa for days on end feeding him, but I know that this is all normal newborn behaviour.

    I think where the problem these days lies is with new mothers having the expectation that the baby will fit neatly in to their lives, and then when it doesn’t, they struggle to cope with the change. In the olden days, women would take to their beds, rest and feed their babies, and be looked after by the women of the family. If this happened now, PND rates would decrease and breastfeeding rates would increase, but there is a huge pressure to ‘get back to normal’ that women try too hard to get up, out and about soon after the birth.

    I’m one handed typing while feeding so I may come back when I have two hands

    • Becca
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      “I’m so proud of my creation”. Hell YES. A human being with finger and toenails and hair and a nose CAME OUT OF YOU. Damn right you’re proud **clicks for you**

      I don’t think the post is about the positive funny videos of babies dancing to Beyonce that appear on facebook, I think it (and the comments) relate to the negative “I can’t get a Drs appointment so the NHS are all crap” or “I can’t believe I haven’t brushed my hair in a month” or “I have baby dribble down my £300 pair of jeans” comments on newsfeed. That we don’t need.

      • Vivienne
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        That we don’t – and I like a moan as much as the next person!

      • Abi Cowley
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes. this.

        No babies for me yet… its a 180 life shift that I am not yet prepared for.

  24. Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys and Anna, so many great comments here, apologies if I’m repeating anything already said.

    I have to say, I refrained from writing a post like this… a lot of my friends read Florence Finds and I didn’t want to offend them or a lesser known reader. At the end of the day, they are going through something that *they* are finding hard, so if they want to complain about it, who am I to judge?

    My opinion on baby stuff has also vastly changed recently. I used to be so turned off by discussions about motherhood (pregnancy conversely has always fascinated me, but that was also a professional interest,) whereas now I feel like I’m drinking it all up to store away for the future.

    I also think people are lonely as Lucy says… women who had professional and social lives that ave changed dramatically (whether much desired or not,) have to adjust to them and the baby 24/7. Some women don’t have their mothers close by or *whisper it* they aren’t that helpful. I think the world has changed a lot in the post war era’s… people are way less stoical and I know many parents of women our age are well past that historical frame of reference. I know from work that older grandmothers are much more hands on and helpful with new mothers than one who are younger and tend to say ‘just get them checked out at the Dr’s’ before even thinking of self-medicating and taking sensible home-measures. And whilst many women have their babies, their friends are at work still – all my friends have had babies in the last 3-4 years and none of their mat leave has overlapped.

    I absolutely agree however that the constant ‘how hard it is’ is off putting and scary. It has taken me a long time to look past the voices in my life who say that, and hear the voices who are positive about pregnancy and motherhood.

    On that note… positive messages rarely make compelling blog posts. I rarely write about ‘life stuff’ on FF because for the most part I am happy, but it’s very American to celebrate that publicly. If I do write a post like that you can bet it will get very few comments. Maybe it’s my tone, but it doesn’t encourage me to write more. If I have a crisis however or a major concern or worry, everyone has something to say and I limit these because let’s face it, what I consider a talking point is rarely a true crisis.

    Should motherhood become another hat I wear, (and I will remain a doctor, blogger, wife etc,) I will write about it in both positive and negative lights… we’ll see what response each approach gets.

    • Jen
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I’m guilty of only writing moans because I don’t know how people would respond to the positive stuff. Maybe I should tell people that I find it impossible not to laugh at my smiling baby even if it is 3am, that even after ages trying to get him to sleep all I want to do is kiss his little face and risk waking him because he just looks so fricking cute when he’s sleeping, that I miss him the second I’m away from him even if I was wanting some me time.

      Perhaps it’s about balance. As tough as I found this post to read it has made me think!!

      • Sarah
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        That’s lovely to hear Jen : ) Why else would people do it?

        • Vivienne
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Me too, I could munch on T even when he has just widdled over me at 3am

  25. Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Told you this would be a good post to write, K! Well written, as usual.

    It reminds me so much of the adage that ‘Facebook [is for] lying to your friends and family, Twitter [is for] telling the truth to strangers’, after all, if you’re basing your opinion on the online image presented you have no gauge as to how accurate that portrayal is. Is it not more basic than the ‘have children v don’t have children’ debate in that essentially some people like to moan more than others? For some, moaning is a tongue in cheek let off of steam, others an extension of their negative outlook and for others it can be a lifeline. There’s nothing wrong with a moan, this post wouldn’t exist otherwise :)

    I agree with large parts of your post but there is a part that I think is rather harsh, and I don’t even have a child yet. The comment that you want to be ‘a mother who doesn’t lose perspective’. I imagine the vast majority of mothers retain perspective, just a perspective that is different from the outlook you have. It’s not wrong because it’s not the same as yours, just different, and I suspect it *has* to be different because a part of you has changed forever. The world is no longer just yours to conquer but that of your child too.

    Sarah M @ Riding the Stork

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, yes, and yes. As much as you want to retain as much of the old you as possible, on a biological level, you can’t help but change mentally. It’s a completely primal reaction

  26. mysparethoughts
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    At 34 weeks pregnant I have all of this in front of me. But I remind myself of a ‘moan/story’ I was told by a good friend regarding her 10 week old son. She was moaning that she’d had to change all the bedding that morning because her son had done what little boys do when there nappies are off. He’d pee’d all over her and her bedding. She moaned that she had enough washing to do never mind adding two lots of sheets to the load. I couldn’t figure out why there were two lots but then she stopped and smiled a sly grin and said she’d had her revenge. Her baby boy had unlatched while breast feeding and she’d sprayed him in the face and on the new bedding. She said no matter how hard things get there is a moment like that around the corner where you can’t help but laugh.
    I will try to remember not to moan and remember the laughs more than the pee.

  27. Sharon
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Just a general comment to say its posts like these and the ensuing comments that make me love AOW, it’s great we have a place to discuss our views and ideas. Love it xxxxx

  28. Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about this all morning, and I’m sure that what I have to say has already been said more eloquently.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has insisted that being a parent is the hardest or the most important job. But surely it’s subjective anyway? I find my job relatively easy but with the right level of challenge. I’m proud of it and I’m good at it. Motherhood may come easily to me, or it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. (Although, I’ll be making a considered choice to put myself through it!)

    But why shouldn’t it be considered an important role? Parents are creating and nurturing an actual person, not just a baby – there’s an awful lot that can go wrong with that. Sadly, I’ve come across many parents who think that they deserve a pat on the back for reading one story to their child. Ever. Or who believe they are making the ultimate sacrifice because they look after their own child 4 nights out of 7. Children deserve to be treated as the most important thing in their parents life.

    However, as most people have pointed out, we are only discussing this because we live in the digital age. And in an age where it is easier to tweet a complaint or post a facebook moan than it is to pop round to a friends house for some advice.

    Personally, I don’t mind people moaning too much. I can mute someone, delete them or not read their blog if I don’t like it. What I would love to see is a little more humility and sensitivity, trying to put yourselves in the shoes of the people who could be reading. Yes, I’m really sorry that you have been up all night with a colicky baby and I’m sure that is really, really tough. But please remember that you could be broadcasting your message to someone who can’t have a child and who would give up a lifetime of sleep for one. And on the flipside, Junior may well be perfect and I’m thrilled that breastfeeding/cloth nappies etc is going so well for you. But perhaps acknowledge how very lucky you are to spare the feelings of the girl who is already feeling inadequate because she couldn’t breastfeed?

    (From a professional, online marketing point of view, this has really made me think about how important it is to understand or consider your audience, whether you are a global company or a Mum who tweets.)

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes yes yes!

      And on the breastfeeding / cloth nappies point, there are people (like us) who live somewhere so small with nowhere to hang washing to dry that we can’t even contemplate cloth nappies even though we want to.

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      But do we censor ourselves with regards other aspects of our lives? Do we not announce our engagements for fear of upsetting our single friends? Or not be excited about buying a house because some people aren’t able to afford to do the same? Or not celebrate graduating/a job promotion because others are stuck in careers that don’t suit them? No, so why is that we aren’t allowed to celebrate our achievements in motherhood?

      • mysparethoughts
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        I absolutely censored my announcement of pregnancy. I thought long and hard and had heart breaking conversations with two very, very close friends and a close family member about my announcement. Yes of course everyone was happy for me deep, deep down but with years of trying, multiple miscarriages and the possibility of IVF amongst them I had to handle it very sensitively.

        Achievements should always be celebrated however there has to be an understanding that others have different experiences or perspectives. Picking your audience or being aware of your audience is important.

        • Vivienne
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          Of course I agree that there has to be an element of sensitivity, but in the same instance, we cannot protect everyone, there will always be someone who is hurt/saddened/jealous. One of those times, it will be me or you who is the person struggling to accept a friends happy news. And in the case of Twitter, you don’t always intimately know your followers, or who is reading – therefore the potential to cause ‘offence’ is greater. At the same time, it’s a place where we are all encouraged to speak freely….how do you know where to draw the line?

          • Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            I agree with both of you. When I was engaged I was concious that I didn’t mention the wedding a lot to a friend who had recently split up with her boyfriend and was feeling down about it. I recently had family members struggling with infertility issues and I know that friends of theirs were worried about saying they were pregnant. Not that they weren’t allowed to be happy but they understood it may be upsetting for others.

            I don’t begrudge anyone celebrating their achievements or happy events but you do have to consider who you’re saying it to. On Twitter it’s harder though as you don’t know everyone personally or what they’re going through so I suppose it’s partly up to them to unfollow you.

          • Karen
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            I am not sure that it is the same though. I completely understand the desire to celebrate having a baby in the same way as you would an engagement, job promotion etc (although I personally do not understand the need to do this through facebook/twitter but perhaps that is just me).

            However, I think that social media has made it impossible to temper messages to suit the audience. I think most people would be sensitive to friends when making announcements, for example if you had an unemployed friend and were announcing a promotion you would perhaps share the news in a more subdued manner. I think people forget to take these sensitivities into facebook/twitter and in particular where babies and children are concerned as it is not just one or two posts on the matter (as would be the case with an engagement or job promotion) but often many and for some they are constant reminders of what they can’t have.

  29. Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    When I first found out I was having twins all the books said 28 weeks for starting maternity leave, “Not me” I thought, I’ll be able to keep going further than that but now, at 27+5, I can barely see at the end of the working day from tiredness, I can barely walk from the pelvic pain and I will, by the end of this week, have to talk to my boss about me starting maternity leave within the next fortnight. A conversation which, while expected, will not be pleasant and will result in a stressful couple of weeks while I put together a handover for the 4 different people who will be taking on my workload.

    Every night G and I have a conversation about how I feel like I’m failing because I’m not able to “just get on with it”, him telling me that I’m doing awesome and me smiling at him so he thinks I believe him but still scolding myself inside for being weak.

    I’m not really sure that I have a point, I’m currently having an internal struggle between the mental need to just “get on with it” and prove that I can do this, that I’m not weak, that pregnancy doesn’t have to be that hard and the physical, biological need to acknowledge that I need to slow down, take things a little easier and stop doing things I would have done pre-pregnancy because the reality is that you just CAN’T.

    As for actual motherhood? Who knows… I think I’ll struggle with the same issues though.

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      You certainly are not weak – lots of women with singleton pregnancies struggle at the same stage! You are creating two human beings – even if you lay in bed from the moment you found out, you still wouldn’t be weak.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t agree with this more – I don’t know if I’ve also had a similar experience being pregnant with twins or if it’s just like this for everyone… But that same struggle between being really quite pissed off at myself for not managing to get on with things and feeling like a total lame-o weakling… And then trying to cut myself some slack and realise that this stuff is really difficult and also that it’s temporary – so not to spend so much time beating myself up that I wish the whole experience away.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Completely! And then they start moving and you find entire hours just slip away as you watch your bump squirm about and that look in your partners eyes when he feels it for the first time after weeks of me looking at him with hopeful eyes and him not feeling anything. Just amazing.

  30. Katie
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Admittedly I’ve not had time to read all the comments.

    I’m pregnant, but I’ve just assumed I’ll manage, as everybody else does, with a baby. I’ve always been incredulous, that it’s the hardest job in the world. I’ve wanted a baby for so long, I’ve always assumed it’ll be a pleasure looking after it, what can be so difficult? Time will tell, if I’m saying this six months on.

    I agree with Frankie’s comment, on putting the baby first with all decisions. That’s my plan anyway.

    It’s surprising how pregnancy takes up so much of your life. I know it’ll be worth it, and this isn’t a moan, just that I had the blase attitude that most women work through pregnancy, and that women have been doing this for millenia, and everything would be fine. Just been told, this morning, I have gestational diabetes. So, the pregnancy hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far. I know it isn’t just me, lots of people have difficult pregnancies, or unexpected twins, or triplets. Since when did life ever go to plan. I’m sure it’ll all come good in the end.

    I thought I was prepared for pregnancy, but turns out I wasn’t. My mum thought she was prepared for baby, but first child had special needs, and it was much more difficult than she imagined. I think it’s possibly the lack of control, that makes motherhood so tricky? Our baby is a little kick boxer, but when I put Andy’s hand to tummy, it stops. It will not perform for daddy, and I have no control over its kicks. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it just reminds me that its already a separate entity, and won’t have read the baby books, or be under my control.

    Sorry for the waffled post, not sure if it makes any sense. I suppose everyone’s experience is different.

    xx

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Katie – regardless of how informed you are, how much you’re expecting the morning sickness, the tiredness, the aches and pains, nothing can quite set you up for what it will actually feel like to go through all of that and how you’ll cope with it as an individual. And that’s the other thing, you can be totally prepared for everything and life will throw you a curve ball that will turn everything on it’s head because everyone is different. No single pregnancy is the same, not one.

      As I said above, I was firmly planted in the “I’m pregnant, I’m not ill” camp pre-pregnancy but I now have a whole new appreciation for just how much of a toll pregnancy takes on your body.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Katie, sorry to hear about the gestational diabetes- going to message you now. Take care xxx

  31. Anita
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to get into the debate about motherhood at all, but just wanted to say that Anna – I LOVE the equation!! I don’t do Twitter, but there are days that I think that if another baby pic appears on my Facebook newsfeed, I might just break the screen…

  32. Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve just gone back and re-read the article that started this incredible discussion. It is so well written, Anna. One thing people haven’t said to you is that actually, your experience may well be different from that of people you’ve read about or spoken to. In fact I think it almost certainly will, because everyone is different. Yes, there’ll be the same old crap. Literally. But you can choose what you do with that.

    When I read the bit about striving, pushing and stepping up in your article, my first thought was ‘yup, that’s Anna’. To me, you are this strong, feisty, intelligent, beautifully complex woman and I feel sure the fact you are even contemplating it in this way means you’ll surprise yourself if and when the time comes. And if you do struggle to keep it to yourself? I also know you’ll be the first to shove your hand up in the air to say you have a new perspective on it, when you’ve dealt with it yourself. And we’ll pass the gin.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      I love you, L-Sten. Kindest, most generous comment in the world.

  33. Christian Ward
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Whilst I mostly agree, I actually don’t think the issue is confined to parents/babies/pregnancy/motherhood. I am ‘without child’ but I’m probably guilty of taking to facebook or twitter to complain about various things, I’m sure, but people these days love to complain about many things, and of course with social media it’s never been easier to voice our opinions, thoughts and share random, inane facts and trivialities. Of course, the easiest thing to do is simply unfollow/un’friend’ and clean up our newsfeeds to remove the annoyances.

    The fact is though that we have so much at our disposal to make our lives easier than those who have gone before us, yet I don’t believe we always do what’s necessary to actually reap the benefits of the advances we have made and we make our lives more difficult than they need be. We are our own victims, in a way, and I despair at what we as humans have created for ourselves. Who here loves the fact that we actually spend the greatest proportion of a week, and what’s more – our lives- working. Not me. Yet for most people this is the life we end up living, for one reason or another…it’s a way of life we have inherited and continue to foster and compound.

    As for pregnancy and babies…part of the issue is that these days what we see is the medicalisation of childbirth. Some (though not all) doctors almost treat a pregnant woman as if she has an illness and people end up losing sight of the fact that women have been having babies for an eternity, and that it’s completely natural. It’s part of the same culture where we find ourselves buying kitchen/bathroom spray that kills 99% of all germs….is that really necessary? I seem to have made it through childhood relatively unscathed, and there weren’t any germ-busting kitchen sprays back then. How about we leave some of it to our immune systems? Children sometimes get sick and usually it’s no big deal…in fact it’s all part of strengthening them for the future, and a brief period of illness need not be seen as a crisis to take to facebook complaining.

    What winds me up the most is to be told as a non-parent that because I don’t have children I can’t understand or have a view on being a parent. Parenthood is almost like some kind of exclusive club.
    As for parenthood being the most difficult job on Earth…I don’t think so. I don’t doubt that it’s hard work and exhausting especially during the baby stages, but for me I kind of think it’s hardly a surprise to anyone…everybody generally accepts that it will be difficult. At the end of the day, if you’re a parent you more than likely chose that path and you should take the rough with the smooth and not complain at every turn. I don’t think it’s great to talk about parenthood as a ‘job’…surely that’s not the right way to talk about bringing up your children- nobody forced you!

    People definitely do have much at their disposal to make childbirth/pregnancy/parenthood easier than for those who have gone before…I think it’s about embracing these things that could help make things easier. Unfortunately, parents either can’t or won’t compromise…they want children but they don’t want there to be personal sacrifice, and so they bring up children alongside crazy lives and schedules, trying desperately to fit everything in and complaining about it rather than thinking about the bigger picture.

  34. Sarah
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Like someone has already said this post reminds me again why I love AOW. What a post Anna! I’ve just put my three month old son down to sleep. I’ve been in the house with him all day as he’s currently going through (yet another) growth spurt & for 3 nights in a row has been up every 2 hours (like clockwork) to feed (has been every 2 hours or even less during the day for 2 weeks now too). It never occurred to me until reading your post Anna that I’ve not tweeted or updated my Facebook status about life as a new mum at all in these past three months, apart from when we had to spend the night on the children’s ward after a severe reaction to his first immunisations, and even then it was only as part of a “give me a break” status update because my dad had just spent a week in hospital the week before & a close family friend died of cancer a few days before. The day to day stuff though I don’t – I’m still in awe that the only thing keeping him alive is milk he’s getting from me but its not occurred to me to put that on Facebook or twitter, I keep it for my breastfeeding group instead. In fact I can sometimes find these constant updates from other new mums annoying too, not in the same way as you but because they force me to make comparisons – namely that other babies his age seem to be sleeping much better than he is. On the other hand, having just spent the entire day with no adult conversation I can see why new mums, especially if they are feeling lonely, would turn to social media. I also agree with what someone said in one of the early comments about how older generations lived in much closer knit communities than we tend to now & so would have their female relatives nearby to help in the first few months. Both our parents live in different countries from us so we’ve not had that luxury but also know people like someone said who moved back home to be near their parents when they were expecting. I also agree with whoever said its not really a “job” but a life choice (one that not all of us are able to choose sadly, we struggled to conceive too but know others here have had a much tougher time of this than we did) and yes it can be very demanding but I think that comes with the territory & like someone else said its kind of what we signed up for. Incidentally I’ve never seen a moaning tweet from Clare (about motherhood or anything else in fact) which I think shows like most of us she does “just get on with it” (unless she has a different twitter account for moaning, though I doubt it). Anyway, I’m rambling now, but what an amazing thought provoking post! X

  35. Crysta
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking of a response most of the day, and had discussions about this with my mother, my manager (who has 3 children under the age of 6) and a colleague who has just returned from maternity leave. Because, while I have a lot of experience with babies, I’ve not had children myself and so wanted to get the perspective of parents before saying anything. While they all said it’s hard, none of them thought it was the hardest job in the world. My mother said she could think of far harder things she could have done. She admitted even with two adult children and one teenager that she still finds it difficult. My boss said if it was the hardest thing in the world, they wouldn’t have had 3 children.

    I love the quote from JHD’s mother-in-law in the first comment. I don’t think the issue is women who talk about their difficulties and their problems. It’s about people who give the impression that they have forgotten how to be a woman, a person away from their children. I would be terrified of having children if all I knew about it was what I read online. I would be worried that it is too difficult, that I would lose myself amidst all the nappies and feeds. That I would stop asking how friends are, and only be able to talk about my child (as a friend of mine did). It would be nice to know that there can be a balance. That it isn’t all bad, and that you can still talk about something else once in a while.

  36. Angie
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Anna, I love you. This post is just a breath of fresh air – as if somebody read my mind and put my thoughts into words. Like the other women who expressed similar views here I block the users who have a constant diarrhea about their babies, babies clothes, children drawings, children crafts, children baking etc etc etc. Whole Facebook & Twitter are cluttered with this. Well done mothers, you passed a baby through your xxxxxx, let’s give you a medal and a round of applause. Just get over it and get on with your life.

    Sorry for this rant, but just like Anna I had this brewing for a long time.

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      No need to apologise, but you do find yourself being first in the queue for a blue peter badge once you have pushed a baby out of your falafel…..they sure as hell wouldn’t fit back up there!

      • Katielase
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        I don’t want to lower the tone here but falafel… *snorts laughing*

        K x

  37. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I have absolutely nothing to add to the INCREDIBLE discussion that’s occurred today….I dillied and dallied with approx 746352729 comments throughout the day and couldn’t make any of them make any sense – so many of you have blown me away with your opinions and eloquence and elegance in expressing them.

    As one of the trilion pregnant AOWers, I have to agree that YES, holy crap this is all-encompassing. And it’s so, so easy to talk about because it’s the biggest thing in my life right now. But at the same time, it’s not the only thing. And so whilst

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      whoops….

      >> I am guilty of wanging on about my pram and my carseat and holy shit the baby in my uterus…. I do genuinely try to limit it because who wants to hear about that all.the.livelong.day? Not me, for one.

      I can’t put into words how beautifully crafted and excellently written Anna’s post is and how freakishly pleased I am that this has been posted and provoked the reaction it has. You’re an epic bunch, AOWers. Epic.

      xx

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        “wanging on”… can’t stop laughing.

        I’m mature enough to be a parent, yes?

  38. Sarah
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to say earlier I love how balanced AOW is, I’m sure it was just a couple of weeks ago I was reading a BCD post about how hard motherhood is…

  39. Roz
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    152 comments?!? Amazing! On train from Aberdeen with rubbish Internet so will read everything and comment later / tomorrow – looking forward to reading everyone’s point of view! #iloveaow x

  40. Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I first read this post at 7am this morning (when I should have been getting ready for work. What?) and have been checking back the comments and thinking about it all day. I’ve just re-read Anna’s original post as well, and a couple of things have struck me.

    First of all I am very pleased to be part of an online community that can discuss things like this in a really even handed manner – everyone has been so kind and sensible in the comments even when they are strongly for or against a position. Clare, Aisling and Anna you should be very proud!

    Secondly, although I don’t have much to add to what others have very eloquently said about the role of twitter and facebook, and the information overload (seriously, if it were 10 years ago no one would have had the first idea what the girl you once sat next to in junior school thought of a CBeebies programme or which brand of nappies were best for her baby. Same with twitter – even 5 years ago you would have actively had to search for blogs or sites on the internet for discussing babies, pregnancy, motherhood – now depending on who you follow, that sort of stuff can fill up your timeline. BUT as others have pointed out, so can what people think of the weather, X Factor or their dinner), one point that Anna mentioned in the original post was the media.

    The media has moved from profiling women who ‘have it all’ (the Nicola Horlick superwoman types), where having 6 children and running a bank is perfectly possible, to portraying motherhood as the hardest job in the world (TM) – yesterday the Daily Mail ran a piece on how Lily Allen and Peaches Geldof were being irresponsible by having their children with short age gaps, because motherhood is apparently impossible. My word – women in Having More Than One Child shocker. And yes, I know the DM is hardly the best place to look for writing that promotes feminism – but it has a huge audience, lots of whom are women and the narrative that motherhood is the hardest thing in the world continues. (Hardly a mention for the fathers’ roles in any of this, either.)

    So, it’s not just facebook and twitter – although those both provide an outlet for people that just didn’t exist when our parents were raising us. But I can remember my mum being on the phone a lot when we were little to her friends, having a moan or a gossip or whatever – those conversations did take place, just one-to-one rather than on a timeline that we’re all privy to. Facebook is also part of the great move towards people sharing everything rather than keeping things private – so people are becoming more open about their lives, feelings, photos, in a more public forum than ever before. I don’t think the way that people feel has changed – but the way people share (or overshare sometimes) information has definitely changed.

    Excellent post and excellent debate!

    K x

  41. Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Wow! This post left me in tears earlier and then really angry for the rest of the day. But I’ve calmed down now, put my children to bed and have had a little space to think. I’m afraid I don’t have time to read all the comments, so apologies if I’m repeating what is above but I just wanted to leave a few words.

    As a mother of three (nearly 4) young children I actually think the job I am doing right now is the hardest I’ve ever done or ever will do. But it is also the most rewarding, amazing, life-enhancing, incredibly thing I will ever do too. Yes, I have days when I moan on Twitter about the hard bits and the support I get from my fellow Twitter friends is so helpful and encouraging just in the same way that my mother had her coffee morning mums to reach out to. Social media has just added to the places parents can share experiences, worries, happy things etc. Parents have always needed this support, it’s just in a more open and wider arena now.

    Personally I found the baby part (say 0-12 month or so) the easiest with all mine, and the beginning few months the easiest of all. Yes I was tired from lack of sleep and rather shocked at the amount of time breastfeeding a baby takes each day but for me it was a magical, enjoyable time. I was lucky that my hormones were kind to me and I had really relaxed babies. But it’s so different for everyone. I know amazing mums that really struggled with the first few months. I know friends who’ve had really bad PND. I hope if you ever have children that it’s really easy for you, that you deal with the lack of sleep really well, that your body just immediately changes shape again, that you and your partner co-parent perfectly without any getting used to all bumps that may happen along the way, that you can continue your career in the way that you want to, and that your hormones are kind to you too.

    But finally, I just wanted to say something about recognising that being a mother is an important and worthwhile job. I’ve recently taken the decision to close my business for a couple of years or more, so that I can concentrate on being a mother and give it all my love and energy. I think a lot of the negativity that can come out on Twitter etc. comes from women trying to do it all. And that is what has changed from our grandmothers’ and mothers’ times. Yes you can have children and have a successful career. Of course you can. But you have to be aware that means plenty of childcare and external support. And with that can come along a whole pile of emotions and guilt. Not always but usually. It takes a lot of work to get the balance right and to be happy with it.

    Anyway, I could go on all evening on this subject but I should probably save that energy and time for my own blog. Or right now, making my Christmas presents! I hope I’ve not just gone on and on here and have made a bit of sense! x

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      Actually Emily yes this really does make sense and I’m so pleased you came back and commented. I hadn’t thought that lots of the negativity on Twitter etc might arise from the huge sacrifices women make nowadays, which back in the day they didn’t have to. Really good points. And hope you’re not feeling upset. Motherhood sounds hard, and draining, and also that you’re not given credit for things like you would/should be in a ‘regular’ job… so it’s great that you have ‘virtual’/social media support. X

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Emily, love your point about it being a worthwhile job and perhaps I should have pointed that out in the post,come to think about it!

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      It made me ridiculously angry this morning too.

      • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        Which you handled really bloody well!

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          Thanks. I stomped about my house for a while first!!

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Well said Emily and thanks for flagging up this post on twitter! I probably shouldn’t have read it whilst feeding my baby to sleep late last night. Thoughts have been whirring around in my head ever since.

      I’m not going to go on at length here – so many insightful comments already. But I will say that learning how to live NOW is really interesting and at times bewildering. There are different expectations (from us, our families, our peers and society), different horizons (often, but not everyday, looking well beyond the kitchen sink and the laundry basket) and let’s face it, different practicalities that are both helpful and challenging. Oh, and some big stuff like climate change that adds an extra element of fun eh? I love bloggers (like you Emily) who share the ups and downs of how they are learning to live well…in a way that works for them in the world we have now. They ARE getting on with it. And helping others do the same.

      P.S. Thanks to Anna for provoking and hanging around to participate in some interesting debate.

  42. Amy Ripley
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Wow what a read!

    As others have said, I haven’t had time to read all the responses. But I think I get the gist :) .

    Anna thats a great post. What a wealth of discussion – and I love that everyone is so fervent in defending their position. It just proves this was an article that was needed.

    I have a 10 month old, and I am guilty of going from posting nothing on facebook, to overwhelmingly cramming it with photos and vids of my daughter. To be fair, the premise is because I have set up a facebook account for her, so she can access all of these when she is an adult, but it has also turned into something else. I have a smallish but core group of followers who are constantly asking me for updates – and love being able to log on and see what she is up to today :) .

    I totally agree that for the majority, you might not want to hear about it :) – and I totally support that! Believe me I dont think I was that interested in friends children before I had one – but now I can’t get enough of them :) .

    Motherhood, for me at least, is a different type of job to the one I was doing before. There is so much pride in teaching something you created to do something for the first time, or see a development that you know! has never happened before in their life. Or just to learn something about them that you didnt know before, like in the case of my daughter Ivy that she is a MASSIVE fan of noses :) !

    I dont think anyone is wrong here – as people have said before, it is so different for everyone – and I am sure for some people it genuinely is the hardest job in the world. For them. For me, its pretty hard, but its certainly also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and I would never swap it now.

    But I think we should be really proud that people have such diverse opinions and thoughts on this. Here’s to the next baby generation of AOW’s!!!!!! :)

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

      Love you Ames! And PS – I read about Ivy All The Time. Even I am not immune! X

  43. Dana
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow Indeed! I do wonder about the arrogance of believing that your way will be different and that you will “get on with it”To judge from some lofty height is very naive. Women have always “got on with it” only now there is platform to share the experience. It would be much wiser to understand that how it is described (motherhood) by women is in fact how it is and that in fact nothing has changed very much, ever over the generations.

    • Aisling
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if I’ve misread this comment, but my instinctive reaction is to defend the original post as I don’t believe there’s an ounce of arrogance in it. It’s opened a huge space for an amazing debate, a space for not simply accepting the thoughts of others as ‘facts’ but recognising that they’re wide and varied opinions to learn from.

      X

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      I do hope you’re right, and I look forward to finding out!

  44. Mahj
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Like the 150+ people that have commented before me, I have been trying to think all day of how to comment and now, 9 hours or so later, I still dont know how to articulate myself!

    I would say though that I’m on the Anna K side of the discussion. In the past year or so, I have become exhausted by the “oversharing” of info. Dont get get wrong, I love children and hope that Martin and I will one day have some, but if/when we do, I will not be updating with information about every little detail. I want to keep tweeting about cheese and hot Olympic swimmers!

    I feel that the “sharing of information” has gone too far. My cousin told me recently how a friend of hers has a FB profile for her unborn child and how the status updates are of the baby saying how comfy they are in their mothers stomach. This is too far non? Also another friend of hers has a FB profile for their toddler child who “updates” regularly on how their potty training is going!

    But I would love to read more from mothers who Anna describes in her last paragraph and see their perspective on it all.

    xoxo

    • Roz
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Hot Olympic swimmers…Hell #Jeah ;) xxx

    • Crysta
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Still…three days later and the words “FB profile for her unborn child” makes me shudder…

  45. Lexie
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Brain food is what this is, and mine now feels like it’s about to explode!

    I guess for some people motherhood is the hardest job in the world, for others not so much, it just depends on individual experiences and attitudes both before becoming a mother and whilst being one. My view is that there’s nothing wrong with thinking it’s the hardest job in the world BUT if that’s the case you have to accept that’s not the same for everybody and there is no definitive answer.

    Moaniness, i find, is pretty much always irritating unless you’re going through exactly the same thing when it can be comforting, a relief even that someone is feeling the same way. Also, yes lucky to have more choices and information, but in some ways this means more dilemmas, more chance of making the wrong choice, more pressure??

    Ah too many thoughts, half of which are conflicting!!! What a great debate though.

  46. Lucy s
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I read this post first thing this morning and have been thinking about it all day. I’ve loved reading all the wonderful balanced responses to a strong and bold piece (get in there AOW!!) I did wonder about something that doesn’t seem to have come up explicitly yet, and that is judgement, except in a spiteful and accusatory way in a happily singular aberration. When we choose to engage with social media, we place our lives and choices in the eyes of others, who form an opinion of them, and naturally of us too. So it seems to me that a lot of the moaning and over sharing might actually stem from an awareness of this- we need to tell a story, create an image. I bet a lot of complainers see themselves as “keeping it real” demonstrating their dedication to being a mother in spite of all their many moans and showing by association how hard they work and what good mothers they are. The perfect yummy mummies oozing with happiness and stunning pics of contented bubbas are doing the same self promotion, reinforcing their own identity as a good mum alongside the perceptions of outsiders. I got to thinking about this by comparing the “job” of motherhood with academic peer review- something I encounter in my current job. It made me realise that mothers are being “reviewed” all the time- and not just by their “peers.” In our society where everyone has an opinion on mothers and motherhood, is it any wonder that so many women find their visibility as mothers via social networks unsettling ( whether they articulate this or not) and react in these ways? Not sure if this is just pop psychology, but after a day of thought its all I (not a mummy yet!!) can contribute. Thanks for writing Anna and thank you all ladies for so much great conversation :)

  47. Lucy s
    Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Urgh dopey typing- the single spiteful judgement was a comment on a comment, not the original post! Sorry!!!

  48. ruby
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I came across this blog on Twitter (so yes, one of ‘those’ social media types). I am 33, recently married and in an ‘ideal’ world, my husband and I would probably be thinking about having children at some point soon. However, sadly for us, I have incurable breast cancer which has spread to my lungs and brain and is likely to kill me at some point, possibly soon, so it’s just not an option for us. And as much as I do mourn, all the time, for the babies I never had, I am incredibly grateful I never had them. I have friends with babies and toddlers and I’ve seen from afar how exhausting, frustrating and terrifying it can be, although clearly beautiful, thrilling and life-affirming in a way that probably nothing else can replicate. I know women in my situation, who are facing their own death in the near future who have children and I think that must be the worst place to be. I know that no-one can predict when their time is up, but to know it’s coming and to know you will be leaving your babies behind when they still need you – just urgh. It makes me feel sick thinking about it. I’m glad I never had children – for me, I can have cancer or kids, not both.

    Hats off to all you mothers, you’re all doing a wonderful job and I so get that it must be really, really hard sometimes. Enjoy your children and as someone already said, life IS short. Me? I’m happy with my kittens, my disposable income, my uninterrupted sleep, with all my time devoted to my husband. And I get to be the ‘cool auntie Ruby’.

    Great blog by the way.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Oh Ruby, so sorry about your cancer. :(

      • ruby
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Ah thanks (I don’t know if thanks is the right word?!) but I honestly do believe I’ve been lucky in that I got diagnosed before I’d started a family. Too cruel to involve little children in this

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Hi Ruby, I don’t know you, but I’d like to send you some virtual love and big warm hugs.

      I really am so sorry to hear about your cancer. You sound so brave and courageous.

      Lucky, lucky kittens :) xXx

      • Ruby
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        Hi Annabel, you featured my wedding on your blog this morning – my ‘real’ name is Francesca :) Thanks for that, btw. Great to be reminded of an incredible day x

        • Posted December 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          I feel so humbled, Francesca. So humbled.

          Thank you so very much for letting me feature your wedding. Going to email you privately.

          Have a beautiful day my love,

          Annabel xXx

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      Ruby. Welcome. You’ve given us all an incredible amount of perspective.

    • Lucy S
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      I don’t really know what to say, but you and your post are incredible.

      • Clare
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Agreed. Ruby, you are an inspiration. Love to you and your kittens xxx

  49. Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    To me this post isn’t really about Parenthood.. it’s about social media and over sharing which is happening across the board.. cats (which I’m guilty of), your breakfast (guilty), Christmas.. whatever.. but that’s what social media is.. it’s sharing.. a great big coffee morning.. constantly.. so for all the amazing stuff we get out of it.. you might just have to put up with a few baby pics or a few tweets about breast feeding.. to be totally honest.. go for it ladies! Having a child is such an amazing miracle (far too many people I know have lost babies) that I don’t care if they shout it from the rooftops! And when I finally decide to have my own then I’m sure I’ll be scrolling through Facebook to find those exact breast feeding conversations. Yes we can all have an opinion.. and yes we can have an opinion on something even if you aren’t personally in it (ie a parent yourself).. so my opinion is that although these types of posts often evoke good debate.. these are often what I find tiring on social media.. the complaining about stuff that in the grand scheme of things.. really doesn’t need complaining about..
    (off to take another Instagram of my cat and tweet what I’ve just had for breakfast…) :)

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      You’re so right. It is about over-sharing, and I’ve stopped following people on Twitter or FB who consistently whinge about every moment of their lives. Can you imagine how their partners feel to have them complaining constantly (sometimes about them as well as being a parent?!). I guess it may be a cry for help, I dunno..

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Do you know Emma, when I wrote this I didn’t have a clue that that would be the conclusion so many readers drew – and I like it! That’s the power of honest debate and discussion! PS – I had coffee.

  50. Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    As a delicious example of karma, Max threw his first proper tantrum in the car outside Tesco yesterday, refusing to let me do up his safety belt. Ah well ;)

  51. Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Anna,

    I know your intention was to raise debate, and generate traffic, but I think that there must be other women out there who, like me, are going through a particularly challenging time right now as a parent, who are exhausted and frustrated with it, who are *not* posting about it all the time on social media, and who have found this post very difficult and upsetting to read. It has actually reduced me to frustrated tears.

    I hope to come back to comment further on this post at a time when I feel less exhausted from having looked after 2 poorly children for several days now, causing me total sleep deprivation, right at the time when I’ve got so much else going on as a small business owner who works from home – and right in the middle of moving house.

    I’m definitely a glass half full person, life not only “goes on after motherhood”, it enhanced beyond anything you can possibly imagine pre-parenthood, it is a miracle, and I seriously count my blessings every single day that I have my two little girls, I honestly do. But the sense that you have lumped all parents together in your argument is disappointing. For me, it’s more about how I realise that everything is more challenging in life with children, but as Emily Quinton says, it is infinitely also more rewarding. I’ve wrote about this on my own blog – having said that, I’m constantly aware of not making my blog ‘too Mummsy’ (as Franky, my blogging side-kick, she knows full well this is how I feel as we chat about it often – I don’t want to alienate any of my readers by focussing too much on parent related content).
    “I hope I can be a mother who is successful and strong”.

    …did you mean to infer that those parents who ‘moan’ on social media aren’t? Because I’m really, really not over sensitive about these things, but that’s how it sounds. I like to think I’m successful, I run a really successful award winning blog, I’m about to have my first book published, I am my own boss, but I could not have achieved any of this, alongside being parent to 2 children, without immense support from my family and friends. That is absolutely fact. I know you’re not singling me out, but it goes back to the sense you’ve lumped parents together. I’m not saying you can’t have it all, but in my experience, yes, it is DAMN hard trying to run a small business with young children. And you know what? I’ve blogged about this and made so many incredible connections with other parents out there, for the 200+ comments on the post I received, I probably received as many private emails from people too scared to share a comment publicly. Just goes to show how important social media has actually become to parents who like me on occasions, just end up feeling worn out with everything – not just parenting, but working, being a wife, friend, finding time to look after yourself and your health – everything.

    I have tried to check that this all makes sense, but I have a 2 year old literally lying across my thighs as I type. I am the only person she wants to be with, despite her Daddy being here too. She get’s upset if she is not with me, she’s become very clingy with her being so ill lately. I’m now 2 days late getting invoices out which could have an impact on finances pre-Christmas, and have fallen behind on my work, but I try to do what I can, when I can, whilst still being a loving, caring Mummy and not moaning about it on Twitter and Facebook.

    Somtimes though, a tiny little moan really, really helps. Yesterday, I posted about my daughters bowel movements yesterday, or rather lack of, on my private Facebook page (switch off now Kirsty). See, the thing is, after 2 weeks of watching her suffer horribly with constipation, see her tiny 2 year old frame diminish as she refuses to eat and feel awful at seeing her in such pain trying to actually pooh, a small status up date on my Facebook page was just enough of a stress reliever for me during an afternoon I was finding really, really challenging. It made me feel better to know other parents out there who might have been through the same may have read it and made a connection with me. Oversharing? Possibly. Instant stress reliever for a worn out parent who was still in her PJ’s and had not had a chance to shower (Kirsten!) because her 7 year old was also off school? Definitely.

    I love being a Mummy, I love all the challenges it throws me, I love posting instagram photos of my girls (don’t follow me if you don’t like it), I love having the freedom to occasionally post a stress relieving status update.

    Annabel

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      In case you’re wondering, Annabel, I didn’t mean you ;) You post many happy and positive posts during the course of the day. I meant those people who literally only tweet or FB update to complain.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Hi Annabel, thanks for your comment. The post is not a dig at mums who post facebook updates about their kids… If you reread the post you’ll see that. To be frank, I like seeing a cute chubby face as much as the next reader! The criticism of mums doing so came from the discussion in the comments.

      Like I said above, I can (and do) choose not to follow.

      You make a good point about inference that mothers who moan on social media not being strong. I hadn’t considered that. It’s certainly not how I feel, but can see that the post doesn’t make the distinction about “strength ” and “complaining ” clear enough. Will work on that for next time!

      You can’t post a post like this without ruffling a few feathers, and I’m proud we have this space where people can vehemently disagree without causing offence. It’s taught me never to underestimate our readers.

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Hi Anna, thanks for taking the time to reply. I think I was responding to the post and some of the general comments. I still feel uncomfortable about this post (my first reaction was real anger and upset though, so am making progress, I think typing my response out helped!). Thing thing is, the post *did* offend me, that’s what I was politely trying to get across.

        I also feel, reading some of the follow up comments, like my response isn’t entirely welcome as I’m an ‘outsider’ but I won’t worry about that, just an ‘interesting’ observation. I actually do visit your blog quite regularly but rarely have time to engage as much as I’d like – something I’m working on. I must stress, I’m commenting on ‘comments’ here, not your words.

        I think bottom line is that ultimately, this post grates with me because it feels like you are being judgemental. And seriously, I’m having it tough trying to balance parenthood with all my other responsibilities right now, so, it kind of felt a bit like you’d given me the big finger. I really like Lucy Ledgar’s response above, that pretty much sum’s up how I feel, so I won’t whitter on too much longer, except to say, yes, you are brave being able to post honest thoughts and I know you strive to maintain a very supportive/honest/balanced blog and huge credit to you for that, I know it’s not easy keeping a blog alive and kicking for the masses. Just this one occasion, you and I – we’re not quite seeing eye to eye, but that’s OK, you’ve had your say, I’ve had mine. We’re both grown ups and tomorrow will be another day when I’ll have forgotten quite how cross this post made me at first.

        Thanks again,

        Annabel xx

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Annabel, this is such a great comment. I typed and retyped a million things yesterday. The one that I hit send on was kind of defending that I really don’t think I’m like the mother described in the post. I actualy got very angry and then upset when I read it to be honest.

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Anna – well yes – that was a bit of a thing that made me upset or worry at first when I read the post. I didn’t want all mums/mums-to-be put in the same category, as everyone is different, and everyone is a different kind of mum. I’m actually extremely private and very rarely moan via FB/Twitter about personal stuff (public stuff is another matter – eg. the state of the economy and why the hell Emma Bridgewater are producing Royal Baby mugs already!) So I didn’t want everyone to think that when you become a parent you suddenly take on the ‘this is the hardest job in the world’/'nothing is worse than this’ mantra. Some of us stay very quiet indeed.

        I don’t need a medal for this, I just wanted to point out that the ‘other mums’ in the most surely do exist!

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          *most = post

        • Becca
          Posted December 7, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          Emma Bridgewater is producing Royal BABY mugs?

          **regains perspective**

    • Clare
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment Annabel. Whilst I actually agree with some of your points, I just wanted to quickly say that we would never, and have never posted a post to generate traffic. We are not a big blog, and our intention is not to become huge – we just want to build a community. Anna wrote this because it was something that she felt she really needed to write about, and for no other reason. That I can absolutely guarantee.

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Clare, it was just all the comments about the comments yesterday, they really stuck out as a bit crass amidst my emotional reaction to the post, but I really appreciate you clarifying this xxx

        • Katielase
          Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          I can’t actually speak for the AOW ladies but I felt the comments about the comments were less “look how much traffic we’re getting, check us out” and more “oh my holy wotsits, LOOK at the response we’ve got, it’s like a runaway train, overwhelming but so amazing to have this debate open”

          K x

          • Clare
            Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

            Once again Katie, you’ve absolutely Covered what I was about to write! Yes, it was never about ‘look how much traffic we’re getting’ (quite frankly, traffic levels are not our thing), but more about holy macaroni, what have we started. Apologies if you thought it was crowing!

  52. Posted December 5, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Live and let live guys! This post seems like a moan about a moan. Everyone, no matter what path they choose has daily struggles and magical moments and everyone has something or someone in their lives that they love and want to share on social media. I have massive respect for full time mums, working mums like myself and I also have massive respect for women who choose not to have children. I enjoy seeing my friends and colleagues post little snippets of their lives whatever it is that makes them happy or when they need support – that is what makes them who they are. You know that old saying – Never judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes….

  53. Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Wow some interesting responses, I don’t really think I can add anything so I’ll just give my thoughts on being a mum in general! I’m a mum of two and after my second child I gave up work as it wasn’t financial viable for me to go back. No big deal though, I’m just hopping off for a while and will jump back on when the kiddies are both in school…

    Although saying that getting back to the rat race does not exactly fill me with joy. It might be a shock for some to hear that despite being university educated and having spent ten years travelling the world with my day job that I’d rather potter around the house? Most days yes! I love that after ten years of living together my home is finally not a big pile of chaos like it was when I was a working mum. I love being able to meet up with friends for a coffee and chat about babies, schools, sex, food. I love seeing my little boys face light up when I collect him from school, I like having a home cooked meal on the table at night. I love watching my youngest develop, something I missed out on with my first as he was at nursery full time from 6m, love teaching her things and feel immense pride when she talks/ walks/ laughs. Yep, it’s going to be hard to give all these things up, some days I think about the times when I’d be staying in luxury hotels or picking out accessories in Tokyo as I’m sat in the doctors waiting room for the third time but then the thought of leaving my family for a week or so at a time, no. Not just yet.

    So for those who are still child free but intend to have children in the future I’ll tell you this. The first six weeks are hard, the tiredness is ridiculous, breast feeding is draining {literally!} and you feel like your life as you knew it is finished. However, it gets much easier, dare I say it enjoyable after these first few weeks and before you know it you are able to go out for a meal, have a hot drink, sleep a full 8 hrs and you wonder how you got there and insanely decide to go and do it all again :)
    Xx

    Ps second ones are a doddle, even the first six weeks. After my first baby I was saying never again, after my second I wondered what all the fuss was about and became the one who sneers at moany mum Facebook updates! Having said that I despise these but not as much as I despise “isn’t my baby so clever!?!” ones. Yeah, your baby is so clever because it rolled over, like millions of others do every effing day!

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      “So for those who are still child free but intend to have children in the future I’ll tell you this. The first six weeks are hard, the tiredness is ridiculous, breast feeding is draining {literally!} and you feel like your life as you knew it is finished. However, it gets much easier, dare I say it enjoyable after these first few weeks and before you know it you are able to go out for a meal, have a hot drink, sleep a full 8 hrs and you wonder how you got there and insanely decide to go and do it all again
      Xx”

      I actually found it the other way round! First few weeks and months were a dream with my first – she slept brilliantly from day one, it was only when she became more mobile and was able to pull, poke and play with less safe things it became ore of a challenge, but not one I saw as a challenge at the time, but fun!

      I was working for someone else though then.

      Now, I have 2 and our second daughter is so different to our first – she arrived a whole month early, she has been more needy and challenging as a little baby and on top of this we have both established our own businesses after she was born. She had horrendous colic for weeks, and we were so sleep deprived and stressed it was ridiculous. But we adore her and I would do anything for her, anything.

      It’s different for everyone I guess!

      xXx

      • Clare
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        Agreed Annabel – the first few weeks were the ‘easy’ part for me – sleep-deprived, but relatively easy.

        It was when she started to move, that’s when the trouble really started!

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Yes I suppose they and we are all different, I guess my point was that I think a lot of people including myself think its all going to be a breeze in the first few weeks, a haze of cheruby cheeks, watching our little babies nap whilst we bake a cake and later catch up with friends and sit breast feeding spray free in costa coffee… but the reality can be much different for many. For me once I’d got past the dreaded first six weeks I found I really enjoyed this parenting lark, it’s a whole lot of fun (and it’s no co incidence that this is the time they normally start smiling at you and it’s not all give give give!)

        Maybe it’s a circumstantial difference Annabel that makes the experiences different? My first was born under general anaesthetic after a crash section and he was really difficult to feed, I gave him a bottle after a few weeks as I was so stressed with it. My second however was born by an elective section and came in to the world calmly and with a much more relaxed and experienced mum, I think these certainly make a difference.

        On another note, one thing that does grate me though is women criticising other women for he choices they make when it comes to child rearing, if working works for you then great, if not then that’s also great. There is no one size fits all and nobody knows how you will be after having children, I’ve known the most maternal people get back to work ASAP and vice versa. It really irritates me when child free people say that when the time comes they are not going to let the baby change them, they’re still going to go out drinking/ go travelling/ work etc as if wanting to spend time with your kids is a negative or weak thing.

        Sorry, went off at a tangent there!

  54. Cat B
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Wow – only just catching up with AOW and fascinated to read the responses. Anna, I think this is a fantastic post and to have generated such a huge volume of wide ranging, conflicting and eloquent comments is testament to that. Personally, I’d rue the day you ever self censor your posts and I think it’s entirely to valid to be able to make comments on motherhood when you’re not yet a mother. It shouldn’t be held up as something sacrosanct.

    Here’s where I am; After 10 long years of trying for a baby and 19 years of working bloody hard to get to where I am in my career, I’m 2 weeks off (I’m being induced on the 19th Dec for medical reasons) meeting our hugely wanted and already much loved baby. Despite a very difficult pregnancy (constant morning sickness, migraines, SPD, severe carpal tunnel in both hands and now gestational diabetes) I can’t help but feel hugely positive about what is to come and it grates me when friends and strangers say that I won’t know what’s hit me once the baby arrives. Apparently my glasses are far too rose tinted.

    Similarly to you, even though I’m only 14 days away,or thereabouts, from meeting our daughter, I still think ‘how hard can this be?’, ‘Surely it can’t be as bad as working full time in a very demanding new job, with a 3 hour commute whilst enduring the rigors of IVF and then battling all of the above symptoms whilst pregnant and still trying to be credible at work’. Can it??!

    The truth is, I have no idea. Perhaps I will feel shamed by my naivety. Perhaps I’ll breeze through motherhood. Maybe I’ll long to go back to work after 6 months and maybe I’ll become a full time mum. I’m totally open to what lies ahead in the future. And for now, I am determined to keep my positivity. Yes, I still view my 12 month maternity leave as a break from work and yes, I might be nuts! But this is why I don’t read any motherhood blogs and as for Twitter – I just don’t get it – I don’t have an account and can’t imagine having one any time. And anyway, if I’m to believe all the naysayers, I won’t have the time! I don’t want to enter in to motherhood with a pre conceived idea of what it will be like – I shall go in with an open mind and a huge amount of positivity, happiness and love and perhaps that’s ridiculously unrealistic.

    Ultimately, we are all so very different and the experiences that have shaped us so far will mean that our views on motherhood, whether from experience or expectation, come from vastly different places. My mum has achieved some amazing things career wise and with the voluntary work she now does – however I wouldn’t want to emulate her as a mother as growing up, there was always a sense that there were greater priorities than her children – fighting political injustice and racism for one.

    Final thought regarding achievements and fulfilling potential / carrying on striving whilst being a mother – one of the things I am most looking forward to is instilling our baby girl with such great self esteem and self confidence that she knows she can do / be anything she sets her sights on. If just one of the things I achieve in my life is to raise a daughter who has the self belief that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and who is raised in a home filled with love, fun and laughter, and who is not only happy but brought up to be open minded and liberal in her views and to challenge hatred and injustice, I would feel like I have achieved something extremely worthwhile. Anna, I’m sure your mum must feel the same about you. xxx

  55. Georgia
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This post made me furious. Furious. I can’t have children, found out in my teenage years I don’t have ovaries and an abnormal womb. Having kids is something we are going to do because I want that for my life. I want aches and pains and moaning about breast feeding and everything else. Desperately. I don’t want a career. I don’t want a job. I don’t think having my degree means I should have to strive to be a strong woman in a job. You know what I am bloody strong and willed and shock horror pretty much a housewife. Yep. I gave up my job because I wanted a puppy. I work for a few hours a day. My husband supports me and I clean and cook. I hate the way people see my life choice as something awful. I love it. A job never satisfied me. Having a life does. I will have children I will have a family and I will do all of the above and be strong and run my business. And be happy. A childless career driven me wouldn’t be happy and I think that trying to be little what I want and what thousands of women do is horrid. The social media aspect is a pointless cover for you to have a dig about something you know nothing about. People use twitter etc to moan about everything and I’m sick of people moaning about drinking and parties so I unfollow. Won’t be reading this blog anymore either, there’s no debate when you’re insulting people’s right to work hard at whatever their job is. Motherhood is a job, far greater than any other.

    • Cat B
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Masses of love and luck to you Georgia, with your plans to have a family and be a mother. When I was told I couldn’t have children naturally, I found it really hard to listen to anyone who had anything negative to say about motherhood, as it was the one thing I wanted to experience more than anything in the whole wide world.

      I don’t believe though that Anna was insulting people’s right to work hard nor was she having a dig. I actually think the social media aspect of the post is really interesting and could probably be a whole other topic for discussion… And surely that’s what posts like this and AOW does best, open up the debate and introduce us to other perspectives? xx

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      I admit, this post yesterday made me mad, and it felt a bit like a kick in the teeth…..yes, I’m not finding things hard at the moment, but I undoubtedly will in the future. Like you, motherhood is my career choice – work didn’t bring me any sort of satisfaction, but nurturing the tiny human I am blessed to have does.

    • Katielase
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      This quote from the comment above… “Ultimately, we are all so very different and the experiences that have shaped us so far will mean that our views on motherhood, whether from experience or expectation, come from vastly different places.”

      I think this sums it up completely for me. Anna has a platform, in AOW, to air her views, and sometimes they will not sit well with everyone who reads. I don’t think this post should be seen as an attack on anyone, it’s simply Anna’s views, based on her experiences, hopes and ambitions for her own life. And, of course, your own life choices are based on your own experiences, hopes and ambitions and are equally valid and deserving of respect. I am so sorry you’re struggling to start your family, I wish you all the joy in the world for when you do have your children.

      I really hope you don’t stop reading this blog. I, for one, would be interested to read about your life and your choices, this should be a space where all women can discuss what they want and choose and do. One of the best things about this blog is that it is a non-judgemental space, so please do come back, and share your experiences too.

      K x

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Definitely – I agree with Katie. I really want to hear what you have to say. We all have different experiences of things, and opinions, and this post has been great at highlighting all of this. There’s much more discussion to be had, and no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.

        There’s frustration on both/all sides so I’ve read with interest.

        This post and all the comments have certainly made me question my views. That’s what AOW is here for. I don’t want to read websites where only one view is presented.

    • Clare
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Georgia – I fully appreciate your points, and your anger. I hope though that you appreciate that we post posts from every other view point, as well as this. Just last week we had a post about motherhood being the hardest thing the writer had ever done – no non-parents (as far as I’m aware) felt it was a personal attack, or that we had alienated them by posting about it. We had a post last year about ‘only’ wanting to be a housewife. I post quite regularly on here about my life with Emmi – sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but always honestly. I hope that when your anger subsides you can see that, and see that it was right for Anna to be able to have her say, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with it.

  56. Holly
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Ahh, the irony of the post! ‘How about conflict negotiation, how about being a NURSE!’

    Surely being a mother involves both?! ;)

  57. Lucy S
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that this post was denigrating the choice to be a mother- what I took from it was a sense of frustration at mothers describing their job as “hardest” like a badge of honour and themselves putting down women who do stay at work and choose not to have children (or not to have them yet). I love being at home too, and I can’t see myself working with little children, PhD or no PhD. But no matter how covered in sick I will be, other people are making different choices and finding struggles in their own lives- the amount of sad, horrible things that have happened to fellow readers demonstrates that the hardest thing is simply being happy and riding out the ups and downs of life…. I quite often wonder why there isn’t the same sense of antagonism that there is between the motherhood/career divide in other areas of difference in our lives- is it because it’s such an emotive issue? Both are valuable, and it’s time we all stopped playing the two off against each other and maybe “just got on with” whichever combination makes us happy xx

  58. Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    And if everyone could stop over-sharing about what table decorations they are having at their wedding, their cats face, what they are having for lunch, what they are wearing, their Christmas tree – then I’ll stop sharing pictures of my beautiful children, and how they affect my life and the decisions I have to make because of them. Positive and negative. That’s life, and thank goodness we are not all the same or that really would be dull. I love having that balance of different lives on my social media stream. That’s what makes the world interesting. And if I’m not interested I ignore it. So I’ll get back to being a mother now – I have a Wizard Of Oz themed party to organise don’t you know! ;-)

    • Katielase
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Once again, I apologise for perhaps inappropriate levity but… I WANT TO GO TO THAT PARTY!

      K x

  59. Becky
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Wow. I may get sacked after spending so much time reading all of the above comments.

    Here’s my little input, for what it’s worth.

    I am 16 weeks pregnant. I consider myself ‘lucky’ to not have experienced any morning sickness whatsoever, hence I’ve not, to date, had much to moan about. My pregnancy is…well…pretty wonderful. I am so simply me at the minute and have been since I first found out that I am having a great time. Really great. I’m enjoying the weird changes happening to my body and to my mind. Freaked out from time to time, but overall, enjoying it. (sorry if this sounds like gloating to those suffering/who have suffered terrible sickness)

    I keep hearing ‘ooo, easy pregnancy, TERRIBLE birth and wingy child on the way’.

    Thanks people…for trying to put a dampener on this little happy miracle of mine. But you will not win.

    I am all about state of mind. And I promise to come back to you in 20 weeks or so when my little bundle arrives and tell you that yes, it is hard (as I have NO doubt it’s a difficult and very tiring time rearing another human being) but I will not moan about this difficulty. I can make this promise to you because it is one I have made to myself. *que ‘just you wait’ comments*

    This of course could all go tits up and I could be posting tweets screaming for help and telling you about how I can’t sleep (Im not a good sleeper anyway so that’s quite unlikely as I don’t tweet about it now) but I’m pretty good at keeping my promises.

    I want to see and hear the positive bits about having a baby…stop scaring me womenfolk! Let’s share some love and maybe if we did share the happy lovely gorgeous squooshy bits more often we wouldn’t find ourselves so dragged down and unable to get out of the depths of despair we fall into after having a baby because we are too busy wallowing in the tiring, unable to brush our hair-ness of it all.

    There is lots of moaning on social media. I just skip past it. Or is some cases, I try to take the time to think about the moan. The mind is a crazy place and sometimes the crazy takes over so I think people can be forgiven for sometimes ‘sharing too much’.

    Anyway, I guess my point is lets change out state of mind and try to focus and share more positive things with each other.

    See you on the other side (when I will not be pulling my hair out and and telling you about my massive sore boobs or my piles. I see lots of talk of piles. Yak…Promise)

    Becky
    x

    • Becky
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Obvs by ‘que’ I meant cue.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Love your comment Becky. I totally sympathise, every time we hear a child cry someone will say (without exception) “Just you wait, you’ll have that in stereo”. Thanks, random person, I hadn’t realised that having twins meant I would have the potential for 2 babies crying at the same time, that thought hadn’t once occurred to me. Knobs. x

      • Becky
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Pahaha! Knobs indeed. I’m sure it will be like music to your ears ;)

        x

      • Zan
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Hahaha….thanks Steff – that really made me laugh!

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Knobs is my new word of the day. Replacing wang.

  60. Bella
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    What a fantastic debate. I know it wasn’t an easy one to write or be bold enough to post. Writing on AOW has always been, and hopefully will remain to be, honest – no matter how provocative. What it isn’t is provocative for the sake of it – generating debate is the by product of a thoughtful, honest post, not the reason for writing it. Similarly this post certainly wasn’t written to generate traffic to the site- that’s not the ethos here and never, in my eyes, has been.

    I’m not a mum. One day I hope to be, with all my heart, and left hand morphing fuelled typing makes it a little harder than usual to collect thoughts, I hope to pop back and add my 2 cents but felt really strongly that I had to say just how much I admire the honesty in Anna’s writing and feel that accusations of having a dig or what not are really unjustified. Disagree by all means, absolutely, that’s a right, but I don’t think it’s fair to say anything Anna has said is for any reason other than to share her thoughts and feelings.

    Love to all of you x

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Absolutely agree with this. Well said Bella. In fact as an AOW reader and regular commenter I actually really don’t like it when people outside the community comment. AOW is a very rare place where there isn’t trolling or controversy for the sake of it in the comments. This does not exist in other online communities.

      When I have expressed anger or upset about this post I am not angry or upset WITH Anna. I think it must have taken some serious balls to post this given that the other people in her team are a mum and a pregnant lady.

      • Clare
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        Anna I was just thinking that myself. This post had some amazing comments, and was being kept so polite and non-judgemental, despite everyone’s wildly differing opinions. I hope that people coming in and reading this post solely, will appreciate the way that we provide a safe space for everybody to have their views – no judgement, no nastiness, just debate. They should also look back at our previous posts before they judge – literally 5 days ago we ran a post about motherhood being the hardest role in the world. Balance is key. Thank you Anna for your brilliant and sensible cornys throughout.

        • Clare
          Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          And your comments. Bloody autocorrect.

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          I just want to dip in here to say I LOVE YOU ALL and I wish we were real life friends. Go AOW.
          Also I absolutely adore the debates, the stuff that gets to people and makes me think about aspects of issues I weren’t aware existed.

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Anna, can I ask why you don’t like it when people from ‘outside’ comment?

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

          Well, because this is not just a blog. It really is a community. There is lots of interaction on here and on Twitter between the AOW team and the readers. I guess I said it like that in reference to when people comment on one post in isolation. This really is a rare place where people stop and think about what they say. There are not fights or nastiness for the sake of it even when there are polar opposite views and very strong opinions. I know for a fact that does not happen on other blogs and forums.

          It’s not that I don’t like people commenting at all. I’m the first to welcome new people in the comments. It’s just sometimes it changes the tone of this blog because they don’t necessarily get what AOW is about. It’s luckily rare though.

          I am the last person to be cliquey or anything like that, I purposely go out of my way in real life and on the internet to make people feel welcome whatever the situation, so I didn’t mean it in a horrible way.

          • Cat B
            Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            I’d be interested to know how one is identified as part of the community or not…I very much consider myself part of the AOW community but I’m not a regular poster and I’m not on twitter, so I’m pretty sure I could be mistaken for a non community poster!

            I’d just hate for assumptions to be made about AOW’s readership. I would think there’s many like me who are regular readers / lurkers, who for whatever reason don’t post or don’t post often / aren’t on twitter (or am I really the only one?!) and would be sad if they knew they weren’t considered part of the community…

            Anna, I totally get that you didn’t mean it in a negative way – just wanted to give a different take on it.

            • Clare
              Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

              Car you are absoolutely part of the AOW community. So is anyone who wants to be. Being a first time commenter, or never commenting absolutely doesn’t mean that you’re not part of the community. We’re not cliquey AT ALL. Quite the opposite. What I think Anna was referring to was when people who don’t read AOW generally, and have only come here for one post, that they’ve found on twitter or elsewhere, and don’t necessarily understand the way AOW rolls.

              I really hope though that anyone brought to AOW by the post will stick around and become part of this amazing community. If nothing else, this post has demonstrated what an amazing group of people our readers are.

              • Clare
                Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

                *cat!

                • Cat B
                  Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

                  Hear hear Clare – I think this post sums up quite admirably what AOW is all about :) x

              • Katielase
                Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                Clare! Jinx! :-p

                • Clare
                  Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

                  Except you put it so much more eloquently!

              • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

                Exactly!! This is exactly what I meant. I’m not for one second saying that people on Twitter or even people who don’t normally comment are not. Sorry. I think I’ve been really worked up about this for two whole days now and it didn’t come out quite right.

            • Katielase
              Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

              I agree with this. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I am considered part of the AOW community (totally awkes for me right now if not..) and I personally love reading comments from pretty much everyone. I think the problem that Anna has identified is when people read one AOW post and comment, without seeing it in the wider perspective of previous posts that have covered completely polar opposite opinions. For example, it is easy to be upset or offended by Anna’s post here, particularly if it is a topic close to your heart, but last week there was a post about how hard motherhood is, and wanting it to just stop for a moment, which perhaps those people who have found this upsetting would identify with, while Anna might have found it more frustrating.

              That said, I think this is a hugely welcoming community, and all new readers and commenters are enthusiastically greeted.

              K x

              • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                exactly. That really is what I meant. I probably shouldn’t have used the words community like that as if I didn’t welcome people or their comments. That’s not what I meant at all. I really have got to get off the internet. Conversations like this make me feel like I’m 13 again and I don’t handle it well.

                • Katielase
                  Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

                  Au contraire, you handle it MARVELLOUSLY.

                  K x

              • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                I think this makes my point:

                In August, on these very pages, I wrote about some of the things I find very hard about parenthood and people thanked me for writing it!

                http://anyotherwoman.com/2012/08/any-other-mother-crossing-the-bridge/

                So, I just don’t have the anger behind reading this post that it’s been put up to gain readers or to purposefully be controversial.

  61. Bella
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Absolutely! This is why we love aow, it’s our safe place to be honest! Xxx

    • Vivienne
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Agreed – and that’s why normally we can have these discussions without too much conflict. However, I do welcome views from outside the community – perhaps sometimes we hold back a little to save feelings (not often, but sometimes) so a fresh perspective, however harsh, should be welcomed

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Yeah sometimes I feel the regulars hold back from saying what they really think.

        • Bella
          Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          Oh I absolutely agree that all perspectives should be welcome, I love different commentators and think wide debate is important. My point definitely wasn’t to imply people shouldn’t be honest or should hold back, just wanted to reiterate that this wasn’t written as a dig or with any ulterior motive, that just isn’t Anna and its important any newer readers know that- so they can comment and be part of this fab community!

          • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            yes definitely. good point well made, bella! x

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Completely agree Vivienne. I don’t think I explained myself very well, the new insights in the comments have added to the discussion but they have for me, changed the tone a little bit. That is probably the nature of this post as well though.

  62. Natasha
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I think this comment hits the nail right on the head;

    ” Never judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes…”

    ANYONE. Not just mothers.

    I wouldn’t dream of passing judgement on the life of a brain surgeon, for example, and certainly wouldn’t ever make the assumption that perhaps it isn’t so hard after all, because I have no experience of it. If I did make such comments, a brain surgeon would have every right to say to me “You are not a brain surgeon. You couldn’t possibly understand”.

    I don’t think that anybody ever posts a status on facebook or twitter and assumes that ALL their friends or followers will be interested. Why should anybody have to censor themselves? We are all different, and isn’t that what makes life interesting?

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I think a moderate amount of self-censorship could be valuable for everyone. “Just cooking pasta” does not make an interesting FB/Twitter update. We’ve got to question why we are posting it in the first place. I’m all for social media interaction and I love it, but some people seem to use it as an easy way to get attention/sympathy – it’s like no-one even needs to be thoughtful, or try anymore, it’s just an easy outlet, and can be mind-numbing for friends/contacts on there. Sorry but it’s true!

      • Posted December 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        I use Twitter a lot because I’m lonely. I live thousands of miles from home, I only have one friend here, I’m not allowed to work and volunteering has been a nightmare to arrange. My tweets about the weather, my lunch, wine or the books I’m reading are probably quite boring and definitely over-share but i don’t have anyone else to talk to and without Twitter would have had some sort of breakdown by now. Just another perspective. x

        • Posted December 6, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

          Your tweets are witty, entertaining, heartfelt, caring and, I can’t remember who I said it to, but without some people sharing their lives, discussion would never happen and no-one would learn anything! I just didn’t want to fall into the ‘all mums / mums to be go on about stuff all the time’ because that’s totally not me. I think it’s more of a personality thing rather than it being all Mums have a chip on their shoulder. Anyway I’m waffling. I love following you on twitter x

    • Lucy S
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      I think that’s a really admirable idea, but it just doesn’t happen. How many times have you looked at a photo and thought something which maybe wasn’t 100% nice about the person in it? Or seen a friend complaining about their partner for the thousandth time and not wished they would just do what you think they should do in the situation? Pretending that we don’t judge others and are kind, nice, generous people all the time is sadly not tenable for long… or maybe I’m just horrible inside!

  63. Zan
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m a bit late to this party. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said really – am someone who’s struggles with the constant oversharing. Probably because most of my friends who have children (ranging from babies all the way up to a 16 year old), brought them up in varying different ways, with different hardships/advantages and did (as the phrase goes) just get on with it. I don’t have children myself but like to think I’d be like that too.

    I was glad to see some people mention fathers. I think far too often they get left out debates like this when often they’re working just as hard as a parent – be that in a job working all hours or at home looking after children. I was actually wondering if there are any blogs written by ‘daddybloggers’ (lets be clear, I really dislike the phrase ‘mummybloggers’, but it was the best way to describe what I meant!) or is that just not a thing?

    Also – this is a great post and debate. It’s an emotive subject, so will always get emotive responses, but like so many others it reminds me why I love AOW and it’s community so much xx

  64. Molly
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe any mother just got on with it, not a single one in any era.

    However I can’t imagine that your friends shared any woes with you because ‘your not a mother, you wouldn’t understand ‘. With social media sites status’ are shared with anyone whether or not it’s relevant to the reason they are friends.

    Everyone wasn’t a mother once, everyone thought they would do a better job than what they think they achieve. When you become a mother you self criticise more than you would with any other job, you never feel good enough, good intentions and all.

    So as interesting as this blog is, it will all be irrelevant when you have children. However you will never see that now.

    • Karen
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I think this comment is a good example of what Anna describes in her original post. Whether you have children or not everyone should be entitled to an opinion. Also, I disagree that friends are unlikely to share woes if you are not a mother. I am not a mother and I certainly have friends that share the tough times as well as the lovely times, as they would in every other aspect of their lives.

      Everyone is different and for some people motherhood is genuinely not so tough. I have a friend that was a doctor but has given up work since having her children (now 3&5) and she would most definitely say that being a mother is far easier than being a doctor…she is a natural and I have honestly never seen her stressed or moaning, and her husband would say the same. That is just her though and I realise that she is probably in the minority. Having said that, I do believe that some mothers (not all) need to accept that just because they find it the hardest thing they have ever done this will not be true for everyone and so to say things such as ‘just you wait and see’ is just unnecessary.

      By the way, great post Anna!

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      ‘everyone thought they would do a better job than what they achieve’.

      I agree, well, I agree that I don’t think I do as good a job as I thought I would be able to manage. My husband would disagree though. Motherhood has certainly zapped my self confidence.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      “So as interesting as this blog is, it will all be irrelevant when you have children. However you will never see that now.”

      This kind of generalisation drives me nuts! The experience of one isn’t the experience of all.

      • Molly
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        It’s not a generalisation , it’s just how things are. ‘ you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather’

        I make a point of not moaning about my children and to enjoy & treasure them , as my sister does nothing but moan about hers. However doesn’t mean the frustration doesn’t go through my mind and will come out when another mother is voicing her frustrations at times.

        I love my job, I have job that many envy, but when I’m tired and rundown ( as I am now) the thought of going to work is not a pleasurable one.

        • Posted December 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          My point is – that it is how things are for you (and granted, for many other mothers). It isn’t a universal truth though, and I don’t think it’s fair or helpful to feed a narrative that pits women against other women by engaging in a battle of who has the hardest job!

  65. Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Motherhood is way harder than I ever thought it would be. But then, I guess I’d never had a job before where I started knowing f.uck all and was expected to be brilliant at it, having run an overnight marathon the night before and then not allowed more than 3 hours sleep at a time for at least the next seven months. With a boss who inconsistently rewards with praise yet screams for hours, giving instructions in a tongue I can’t understand. I’d never before done a job where people feel entitled to comment on every decision and give advice on every situation despite knowing very little about the specific circumstances and feel free to judge my decisions and turn every last one into some kind of competition. And where you cant have any privacy, can’t even go to the loo with the door shut, unless you manage to time it to the baby being asleep.

    That and the hormones. The ones that make you go from feeling like you’re in control to stumbling over the littlest problem with one shouting episode from the boss. Sorry, baby. And I don’t even have pnd. Just baby blues.

    And Yet, I wouldn’t change it. But I do write about, sometimes. I wrote about the good and bad times before the baby. That’s what my blog is about. I haven’t changed that, now that the baby is here.

    • Clare
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Rachel – you just perfectly described my experience of motherhood!

  66. Natasha
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I dislike negativity in general, whether it be too much moaning on facebook, or bashing others for their lifestyle choices or beliefs. I DO think there is too much negativity and moaning on facebook. I try to avoid it, and I don’t make very many moany posts myself, unless in jest, because that is just not me. I prefer to be positive. Who wants to read moan after moan anyway? I don’t, but I wouldn’t begrudge anybody their right to post how they feel. That goes for this blog post too. Everyone has the right to an opinion and to voice that opinion if they wish. My personal opinion is that you cannot judge anyone unless you have been in their shoes.

    I’m sure the majority of mothers can say that they made comments, pre-children, about how they would or wouldn’t do things. The fact is that in practice those intentions are often not so easy to follow through. That is knowledge that can only be gained through experience. That is why you may hear comments like “You are not a mother, you don’t understand”, because, truthfully, how could you possibly know if you haven’t experienced it? Nothing in the world – no amount of knowledge/research/advice or ideas – can prepare you for becomming a parent. Nobody really knows how they will cope until they are living it. I know that I haven’t lived up to my own expectations pre-children. Frankly, I find it quite arrogant to assume that you do understand when you haven’t experienced something youself. And that goes for anything, not just motherhood.

    • Karen
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I agree with this, to an extent, especially the part about moaning in general but I still really dislike the phrase “you are not a mother, you don’t understand”.

      Even if you are a mother this does not mean that you will understand. Everyone is different and I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they have had first hand experience or not. I am sure everyone has at some point had an opinion on something they have not necessarily experienced first hand, why should motherhood be different.

      If someone who is not yet a mother or father has views on how they would or wouldn’t do things then they should be allowed to have those without them being shot down by someone who is already a parent. Just because they don’t think their ideas are realistic it is really not for them to say..people are different. Of course, in some cases it will turn out that these people are too optimistic about mother or fatherhood but is there really anything wrong with that?

  67. Posted December 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with sharing, or oversharing (on social media, or otherwise) and actually, for me, that wasn’t the big take-away from this post. What I do find irritating, and even a little upsetting is what seems to be the developing narrative of “being a mother is the HARDEST job ANYONE can do”. Parenting may absolutely be the most difficult thing and individual has done in their life, and I fully support their right to say just that. But why the need for a competition? As many others have pointed out, its different for everyone so what is gained by pitting your role as a mother against the work of a neurosurgeon or a investment banker, or, heck, even a PhD student. It’s simply not possible to make an objective judgment about these things.

    One more thing. To anyone coming in reading this one post and thinking that Anna is taking an easy shot at mothers either for blog traffic or as part of some weird private vendetta, this place isn’t about that. This is a space where women (and the occasional man) talk about a whole range of stuff. Often we disagree but the debate is always respectful. Seriously, I know it’s hard to imagine a place like that exists on the internet, but its true.

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Catherine I’m glad you couldn’t stay out of this, sensible words as always and a good dose of perspective x

  68. Lucy
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    To pick up on a word that was used earlier, I personally think that social media sites like twitter and facebook are big hairy ‘knobs’! I doubt this post would even exist if it weren’t for twitter and facebook. I think everybody (not just mothers) are guilty of being whining, moaning, ignorant gits on there (not to mention complete show offs) and can sometimes behave completely differently to how they behave in real life. I’ve recently come off facebook for these kind of reasons (not motherhood related although there is some of that too) and I feel SOOOO much better for it!

    I’m 22 weeks pregnant and if anybody wants to know about it they will bloody well have to make the effort of ringing me, texting me or asking me to my face.

    Love the blog by the way – not much of a commenter normally but thought I’d join in on this huge debate! :-)

    • Posted December 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Yes! I wish more people (myself included) actually communicated in the old fashioned ways like face to face and on the blower. I’m going to make more of an effort about that actually. An early new years resolution if you like.

  69. Angela
    Posted December 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    “Arguably, it’s easier in 2012 than it’s ever been.”

    Arguably, it’s harder in 2012 that it’s ever been. Mothers in generations gone by did not have the pressure on them to be a mother and a career woman. I had my first on 1st July 2012, the same day I received confirmation of redundancy from work. I would have loved to stop working, raise my child, be a full time mother. I didn’t have that option. That option meant no food, no electric, no house. And then despite that, I suddenly had no job.To keep us afloat I had to set up a business and work up to 80 hours a week. While looking after a baby, while having the sleepless nights, teaching her, being frightened for her. Our current society means I can’t be the mother my mother or her mother was, not if I want to keep a roof over our heads. And I can tell you, I’ve worked in a professional job on multimillion pound construction projects, I’ve got my own young business that takes up a horrendous amount of time (though I love my job) and my daughter is definitely far harder work than either of those things. I worked full time, while getting my first class degree and arranging my wedding; that was nothing compared to either being pregnant with and raising my daughter, especially while being everything else a modern woman needs to be. I wouldn’t change my daughter, I love her more than anything, but she is the hardest job in the world. Or having her while being a modern woman is.

    I don’t believe mothers previously didn’t complain, they’ll have done it over the hedge as they put laundry out, at bingo evenings, at whatever else they did in the communities we once lived in. Now people do it over twitter and forums and facebook because society has changed. And it’s right to do so. Breastfeeding is hard, speaking as someone who tried and couldn’t, and if seeking advice from other mothers helps some woman do something which is in her child’s best interest then that’s good. We don’t want to be trapped in a private world where we can’t openly discuss the truth of how life is. Even if just typing the words ‘She won’t stop crying and I don’t know what to do’ help someone, that is a good thing.

    Most mothers do just ‘get on with it’ day in, day out, without living in a society where they can pop next door for a cuppa the way our grandmothers did. So how do they release some pent up anxiety? The blank face that is twitter, where what people think of your post doesn’t really matter that much.

    Other jobs? You’re taught to do them, you train, you learn, you start as a ‘junior’ or ‘trainee’ and work up. You don’t start out as a ‘trainee mother’ you don’t get a course that teaches you how to deal with this little person who can’t communicate its needs to you. Neurosurgery would be a much harder job if you were just set to it without any training. I don’t dispute that some jobs are hard, that they are admirable, but many non-parents seem to feel that because having offspring is a natural part of living that it is somehow easier than it is, or that the moans and gripes are somehow exaggerated or unnecessary. And while you have a right to your opinion, you have no experience. You can say that a type of job must be harder, but that’s like having an opinion on how neurosurgery should be done without ever having had any training.

    “Rather than think “I want to be a successful, strong woman who is also a mother” I have started to think “I hope I can be a mother who is successful and strong”.”

    Good, then you might make a good mother. For the sake of any child, motherhood should be the priority, not in second place to being successful. I worked hard for a good degree, to be progressing at work, to turn my business into an award winning business within one year, but ultimately my daughter is my priority. I am not ‘also a mother’. I am a ‘mother’ who is also very determined to be the best I can be if it benefits my family. Being a mother first doesn’t stop me being myself, I still love vampire novels and my kayak, I still love my work, an occasional vodka, cappucino and camping. However, I created a life that is my responsibility, no one should take over from me the way they could with a job.

    • Posted December 11, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      This is a bloody fantastic comment!!!

    • Lexie
      Posted December 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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