I started my first blog when my daughter was only a few months old, almost nine years ago now. No one had really prepared me for what that initial year of motherhood lay ahead, I’m not sure anyone really could. I knew there would be bad moments, tired moments, moments when my baby cried and I wouldn’t know what was wrong. But none of the books I had read prepared me for a catnapping, overtired baby who screamed all day, I wasn’t producing enough milk and she had silent reflux. I felt cheated, robbed, duped. The beginning of motherhood for me was like a big slap in the face with a brick. I had this beautiful babe who I loved dearly but all those issues which I had not in the slightest been aware of, meant for many a tumultuous day, often with me in tears rocking in a corner calling on my sister for help.
This was a time where Facebook was only just gaining popularity, Instagram didn’t yet exist and blogging was only just taking off in Australia. My access to the world of motherhood had been almost non-existant apart those few books I devoured during my pregnancy. Deep within the trenches in those first months, I decided to don my super-hero cape and set up a blog. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to warn all those naive mums-to-be out there exactly what they could be in for. Life as a Mum was not all roses, happy families, sleeping babies and walks in the park. I cast myself as lead actress in a likeable and relatable role, I lay it all on the table and my words bought all the ladies to my yard.
I tapped away at my keyboard, mainly on the bad days. It became somewhat of a cathartic exercise for me to let my feelings out. All of a sudden, I had other Mum’s responding, sharing their stories, telling me how my posts had made them feel less alone in that moment because they were experiencing the exact same thing.
But here’s the thing, after those initial six to eights months of being a new Mum, things began to turn around. My daughter began napping perfectly during the day (after lots of hard work and tears), and continued to have a nap even the year she started Prep. She wasn’t a fussy eater. She didn’t throw supermarket tantrums and we never really experienced the terrible twos. Our morning routines as I returned to work ran relatively smoothly, and toilet training was an easy feat. When my son arrived four years later, I had almost exactly the same experience, albeit I was much more relaxed. And this is in no way me saying my that my children are perfect, far from it actually. Just like adults, we all have our moments, but on a day to day basis 95% of our time together is wonderful and full of contentment.
I was now left an actress in a lead role that I had cast for myself. One that everyone was relating to, found endearing and funny. Yet for me, she was longer relatable, to me the character was no longer real.
And I felt guilty. I feel guilty. But why?
Because now, all around me in a world that is almost ruled by social media, Mum’s are bonding and celebrating over just how bad their day/night was with their little ones (and for me, this wasn’t just limited to the online world, it spilled out into the real world too you know). And me? Well I found myself sitting there enjoying a hot cuppa, watching my favourite TV show, while my kids walk themselves off to bed, after eating all of the dinner I served them up without fuss.
And I kinda feel guilty about it, like I can’t share my experience in a world that is now so open to sharing our lows. Or, if the highs are celebrated, it’s normally by people who are sickly upbeat and positive 100% of the time, usually overusing the word grateful and consistently finishing their posts with #blessed. So where do I fit in? What do I have to offer, now that I have evolved?
For a while there, I just continued to subscribe the version of motherhood I was once trying to warn expectant mothers of. I embellished and joked about things that my children did and in return, other mothers engaged with me and shared their own experiences of being in the “trenches”. In fact though, I was sitting there wondering what the hell I was I doing, why was I pretending to be someone I no longer was? And I’ll tell you why, because I didn’t want to become that Mum who comes across as though everything is perfect, almost smug, and this once again, wasn’t just limited to the online world.
So what is one to do when they can no longer play a role they once felt passionate about? An actress cast in a role that has now become redundant?
I now find myself in a predicament; I feel as though I am balancing on a fine line. I either continue being that Mum who everyone knows, who shares all the shitty moments of Motherhood and the terrible/yet hilarious things my kids are doing (because they actually still do them, just not every second and every day) and have other Mum’s nodding their head in agreement. OR I need to be true to myself, which will mean reinventing my online identity. The answer is quite simple isn’t it?
I have come to terms with the fact that I am now, in this moment, content with my life. The contented moments of my motherhood journey now deeply outweigh the times when my kids are bickering or drawing in permanent marker on the walls (by the way, you can get that off with hand sanitiser, you’re welcome!). And when I do start to loose my cool, I’ve come to realise that it usually has more to do with me than it does about them or the way they are behaving. I no longer feel comfortable in just sharing the shitty moments that other Mum’s can and do relate to, instead, I now choose to share them sparingly and focus more on the positives. I now believe there are more than two types of Mum’s to be put out there in Social media-Land and in real-life. Because I’m no longer blind, there are so many shades of Motherhood, not just the two that I was seeing and hearing about all the time.
Instead of joining in on conversations about how terrible my children have been, I now just sympathise and support those who are experiencing their own pitfalls of motherhood. Even though I can’t or no longer relate to the struggles that some of these Mumma’s are facing, I definitely feel for them and offer my support to them.
I just have this feeling that other Mum’s out there are now experiencing the same thoughts as me? I’m finding more and more now that Motherhood is fluid, ever-changing, evolving, and for like a better word, a journey. I no longer have to or feel the need to subscribe to a particular way of putting myself out there online or in the real world. I can still be sympathetic and give support to those Mumma’s who are finding some days a little tough, but now I feel confident enough to post that I had a great day with my kids without people rolling their eyes into the back of their heads.