Oh, how I love Steff. She’s dealt with THE JUDGEMENTAL INTERNET and THE MOTHERHOOD GUILT TRAIN in one superb, ranty, eloquent post and knocked them both out of the park. It will come as no surprise that I agree with Steff’s points (hello, day 5 of working and being a mother) – not all of you will agree like I do, but I bet you emerge from this post wanting to poke the Internet in its judgey-face eye.
And who could ask for more than that on a Wednesday?
Over to you, Steff:
This has been building for a while, I’ve been mulling it over quietly for a long time, not so quietly in the last few months and I’ve finally reached my tipping point.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of technology. I love social media for all the wonderful ways in which it has made the world a much smaller place. It means I can keep up with the goings on of all my friends who are out globetrotting and they, in turn, can bore themselves witless looking at endless photos of The Peas should they so desire. It does things like reunite lost dogs and teddy bears with their owners (Max and Cheesy Leo thank you, internet!), raise awareness of brilliant campaigns that seem to spawn from nowhere (no makeup selfie anyone?) and bring together communities of like-minded people previously geographically separated (oh hi lovely AOW ladies of Twitter!). It does all these brilliant things and so much more but because the content is largely ungoverned and community generated it opens gates for all manner of unsavoury topics to pass in front of your eyes.
When my own mum became a mother and, indeed, when my older sisters became mothers social media wasn’t around to lecture them about how to parent their children properly, they had their elders for that. I’m not so fortunate, sure I have my elders but I also have this faceless, nameless, preachy monkey on my back constantly telling me I’m doing the wrong thing, I’m not crafty enough, I spend too much time cleaning (HAH! As if!).
Somehow, somewhere I lost control of what I was seeing on social media (Facebook in particular). I no longer have the ability to not watch a video that my friend has shared of a woman beating a baby with a pillow because the Facebook app automatically plays videos that you scroll to. I see what my ‘friends’ have ‘liked’ but not the content of the page that I have ‘liked’. I see things that the girl I went to high school with posts but not the things my mother in law posts. So in the past you may have told me to just stop following the people who post these guild inducing posts but now my only option is to opt out altogether.
Before I became a mother myself I would see these particular posts floating around my timeline and vaguely ponder the nice words and the pretty pictures. That has changed since The Peas arrived. Perhaps I’m over sensitive. Perhaps my own insecurities are what I’m fighting against but I know one thing is for sure, if I’m feeling it then someone else out there is too and I’ve had enough of it. Whether well meaning, innocent or downright laden with agenda, the guilt has to stop.
Posts which preach how important it is to spend time with your children, that they’re only young for a short time, that the washing can wait, that you can surely spend a few years as a stay at home mum rather than working, that it only takes seconds to give your child a hug. I know all of these things, I do. I feel bad enough about the fact that I spend 3 days working and not with my girls. It’s taken me over a year to be able to feel happy about returning to rugby and indulging in a little “me” time on a regular basis. I don’t need to be bombarded with these passive aggressive poems making me feel just a little bit more shit about myself each time I see them.
If I don’t work my children won’t eat, pure and simple. They won’t have a nice warm house to play in or toys to play with. If I don’t put them in the travel cot for 15 minutes with some toys to entertain them they won’t have any clothes to wear or clean dishes to eat from or clean floors to play on.
Do you know what though? Here’s the REALLY controversial bit… I WANT to work. I know, terrible right?! I want my girls to feel confident without me around, to know that they have each other for support, they have an extended family for support, they have nursery teachers and friends for support. It’s important to me that they know how to interact with other people and learn respect and sharing and acceptance of differences and, in my opinion, my returning to work and their being cared for by other, trusted, adults will only nurture this.
Life is hard and I passionately don’t want that to come as a shock to The Peas because they’ve been wrapped in cotton wool their whole lives. I want to raise 2 independent little girls who understand that it isn’t all peaches and cream. That you have to work for a living, you have to strive to get what you want and not everything is handed to you on a plate.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way judging anybody and their circumstances. I understand that I’m very fortunate to be able to return to work thanks to 2 very generous grandmothers and that for some returning to work just isn’t financially viable. I just want the internet, and people in general, to stop being so damn judgemental and preachey.
Get off your soap box internet. Let parents be parents, they’re doing their best the only way they know how. Stop being a dick and just support them. Build them up, don’t knock them down. Let’s embrace the differences and just get along shall we?