Yip. I’m afraid so. I think I’m going to be another mummy blogger. And I’m not even sorry.
For those that don’t know, the mummy blogger is a THING. There’s loads of them (ooops, us) out there writing with various levels of eloquence, humour and even smugness about the daily grind – and daily joy – of living with small people.
Along with the rise of the mummy blogger has come the rise of the mummy-blogger-basher. Inevitable, I suppose. This can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- “You chose to have them, stop complaining.”
- “Er, first world problems much?”
- “You’re not fit to be a mother.”
- “You think that’s stressful? Try having a proper job, love.”
- “Calm down, feisty.”
- “Is this all women have been reduced to?”
- “Change the record”.
- “Stop trying to make other mums feel bad/make a virtue out of being a shitty parent.”
- “Why do you think being a parent is so special? Get over it!”
As a mother…
I do, in fact, remember once having some sympathy with the latter sentiment. I was particularly scornful, (before children), of the loaded and tortuous phrase ‘As a mother’. As you probably know, this usually comes at the start of a sentence from some fucking sanctimonious moron about to express some opinion or position they feel entitled to simply because they’ve pushed a baby out of their lady parts. (It’s usually followed by the unnecessary repetition of the name of the host/person interviewing. Eg. ‘As a mother, Davina, I feel that….’). This phrase still makes me shudder. But now I also kind of get it.
I don’t feel that having babies has made me special, interesting, better, or indeed an authority on anything at all. In fact I feel like becoming a parent has made me less certain about anything and everything than I was before. I know this parenting thing happens to billions of people on the planet, every second of every day, but its frequency doesn’t lessen its impact. A bit like death, really. Or love.
The world changed when I had my children. You probably didn’t notice, because it didn’t change for you. But it did for me. And it changed me with it.
I remember someone saying to me, (before children again), that the sheer LOVE you feel for your baby is completely overwhelming, and that you simply can’t understand it until you’ve been there. I pretty much wanted to slap her. Well it is, and you can’t. Oh, I know it’s just the old oxytocin kicking in, and I’m a victim of my hormones, but boy is it powerful stuff! If they sold that on the streets there’d be no more heroin addicts. But the come down is pretty serious too… The worry. The frustration. The mind fog. The insomnia/sleep deprivation. The confusion. The isolation.
[I also know, btw, that the oxytocin doesn’t always work for everyone. Sometimes the hormones don’t kick in. You don’t feel the love. And we’ll talk about that here too, because that changes you as surely as anything else].
Look, I don’t believe for one moment you need to be a parent to be fulfilled in life. (No one, believe me, is fulfilled by wiping up human feaces, even if it does come with a cute dimply smile at the other end). In the same vein, you don’t need to be a parent to feel your world rock on its access, or have the proverbial rug pulled out from under your feet and set you on your figurative (or even literal) bottom. Whatever the catalyst, whatever your life holds, however it unfolds, and however it changes you along the way – it’s all part of the same human experience. It is at once unique, universal, perfect and painful.
So the mummy bloggers write about it all to try and understand it. To share the wonder and the banality. And it’s really helped me over the last few years to read about the experience of others, to laugh and cry with the mummy bloggers, who come from every corner of the world…
Sure some of it IS complainy, self indulgent, sometimes a tad sanctimonious, pretty much always middle-class, middle-aged angst. Some of this will be too, I’m sure. But some of it I’ve really needed – and it has provided solidarity at particular personal and parental highs and lows.
I say the mummy bloggers come from every corner of the world, EXCEPT, it seems, from Sheffield, my home town.
Sheffield’s own mummy blogger
Sheffield is and always has been a delightful microcosm of the rest of the world at large, and it’s an amazing place to bring up children. Great countryside, hospitals, schools, activities – you name it. But what it’s not got is its own mummy blogger.*
So, hi. I’m the mumonthenetheredge (Nether Edge being an area of Sheffield for non-Sheffielders). I toyed briefly with being AttillatheMum, but didn’t think I could live up to the energy or militance this implied! In contrast I am very much on the edge – of either sanity or glory – I’m never quite certain. Certainly I’m often on the edge of the toilet seat, with a small child hanging off each naked knee, desperately trying to just wipe my arse in some semblance of peace.
I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write about, but I do know that I need to write, I always have. And I haven’t written lately because that fog, that isolation, that overwhelm, has choked me. I’m finding my voice again. I’m finding out who I am after an experience that has affected me profoundly. So let’s see where we go.
Regards (as we don’t know one another very well yet),
*This may or may not be true. It was based on the extensive internet research that can be achieved in five minutes from a smartphone during a pretty wild Barbie and baby tea party. If it’s not true, hi other Sheff mummy bloggers! Let’s start a club. Or not.