Oh my word, there are a lot of parenting blogs. And articles. Tutorials, books, forums, pages, groups, networks, magazines, TV programmes and websites. All dedicated to telling you how to raise your beloved spawn. Whole series are written purely to show you how to discipline your children and websites created entirely to manifest anxiety about everything – from a rash your mini human could get from just looking at the wrong piece of fruit, to ruining your kid’s life by not throwing the Kim Kardashian-West of all birthday parties.
And it has turned us into Arseholes.
In fact, after nearly 8 years of this exhausting and mind-melting maze of panic-inducing drivel, I call Bullshit.
Sorry for the language, but it is mummy time and she gets a bit sweary after hours.
I am pretty sure (with no actual research to back me up), that the levels of maternal anxiety were much lower before we all had access to literally millions of others, giving each other shitty, uninformed, subjective and snotty judgmental advice.
In fact, I think back in the day, you had your mother and grandmother who pretty much ruled the roost on the advice front and told you what to do about everything… A matriarchal system of ‘This is how it is done, so now you do the same.’ No questions asked… how bloody marvellous. (It generally involved a lot of thimbles of alcohol to knock the baby out.)
We are now at a stage where we take in so much of this shit, we are riddled with pressure, guilt and shame for not being the perfect parents. We are so insecure about our abilities we have to take Instagram pics of our #InstaKids #ParentsofInstagram and HashtagBloodyBlessed just so we have some evidence that we are OK and all is well. Proof that we are not constantly worried, broken and stress eating Doritos and Guac in bed.
Right from the get go, with feeding, nappy choices, buggy brands and the dummy dilemma. Whether to Makaton sign, use flash card systems or use a series of clicks and treats to get them to f*cking understand you. Sleeping rituals are like daily report cards and the rules on introducing food has become Pinterest’s most successful money-making scheme EVER! Skipping ahead all the way to my now present dilemmas of a suddenly hormonally charged 7 year old who has realised his willy hardens, education and that whole mess, social interactions, bullying, hobby choices, gaming and internet access, when to let them start choosing their outfits, even though they will look shit and people will stare, discipline and behaviour issues and how to tell your son it is inappropriate to pull down your swimming costume in the middle of the pool and shout ‘I just wanted to see if they would float!’ – I mean, we’ve all been there, right? (FYI: They don’t – Should they?)
I have a headache just remembering some of the stuff I had to think about when Noah was a baby and all the google searches and scrolling through Mumsnet threads. So many hours…
I mean, it is a minefield. A never-ending cycle of ‘Am I doing this right?’
No wonder we are all self-medicating on Gin and creating endless memes about it… I mean, Gin is great, but it was called Mother’s ruin because it caused infertility… we are all subconsciously closing up shop because it has literally become harder to win at parenting than getting a PhD in Neuroscience.
I am not saying that these resources are not helpful. In fact, they saved me a great many times, especially the single parent forums. And I am a huge advocate for being able to find out literally anything I want at the touch of a button and am, of course, a self-confessed You Tube addict.
But, as well as the anxiety, it just seems that this information overload has caused a wave of judgement and shaming that is still very much alive and well. So many people are telling us how to do it, a million different ways and no one actually has a fucking clue. We all are just scraping by, hoping for the best and praying they stay alive long enough to put us in a nice retirement home.
I repeat – no one is right!
But, by gosh do we think we are.
I know, because I do it too. Because I do know best. Because I am awesome and so well-meaning. No seriously, I still do it. I catch myself sometimes, knowing full well I am being a complete dick and judging someone else’s choices. But I am trying. I am a product of this over-analysing, guilt-ridden and mummy shaming culture, so I have to work really hard to keep it in check.
I watched someone be mummy-shamed the other day and it made me so violently angry and sad for that mum, I had to walk away before I pitched a fight.
So mothers of the world (and bitchy dads too), next time you feel the urge to regurgitate something you saw on a Pinterest Infographic, take a minute. Take pause before you give your stance on little Johnnie’s dummy habit or backhanded comment on Betsy’s uncoordinated and clashing outfit and go give yourself a hard smack in the face won’t you dear. Forget for a minute that you are The Baby Whisperer or a certified child psychologist and just remember back to when you were sat at home, scrolling through the forums at 3 am at your wit’s end, wondering whether adoption might have actually been a valid option.
Don’t be a dick. Parenting is hard enough. We all do it differently. Get off that high horse of yours, you are drunk, on Gin – again!
Welcome to my Fort Kids – It has unsolicited advice, parenting wisdom and sinking tits in it!