There’s always been competition in parenting. I remember when TI was born it was all about who’s babies were hitting the milestones first. Baby Tommy might have crawled first but did you know baby Lucy could already speak three languages by nine months?!
When parenting blogs first started taking off they became the antithesis to this, they served as a big middle finger to the competitive mums. They reminded us that there’s so much more to life than trying to convince the rest of your NCT group that your baby is the best. They all walk eventually, who gives a shit who was first (if you ask me the longer they can’t move, the better)?
Recently the competition seems to have shifted, it’s no longer about who’s baby is best, it’s who’s baby is worse…
I don’t know exactly when or why the shift happened, but it did. The influx of ‘honest parenting’ seems to mean that you have to have something to moan about to be relevant. If your baby slept through from 6 weeks then you can’t be part of the gang, if you enjoy days out with the kids you don’t fit in, if you didn’t tear in two in child birth then your story doesn’t count.
Parenting has become a competition of negativity and it can paint the entire experience in a really bad light. While I am such a cheerleader for honesty, and think that being able to admit that yes, sometimes it sucks and we wish we could shove ’em back where they came from is amazing, and helps so many parents feel less like they’re failing – it’s not all bad. Sometimes it’s really fucking great!
I’m so fed up of seeing posts slating people without children saying they’re tired. Guess what? They are tired. We’re all fucking tired. You don’t get to dismiss somebody else’s experiences because it’s different to your own, you have no idea what their life is. Children doesn’t mean your tiredness is more worthy. People who have a tidy home are repeatedly accused of not being proper parents because clearly they have cleaners and nannies so just don’t get it (even if they do, they are parents, stop it).
I completely understand jealousy that somebody else isn’t struggling in the same way as you, when Fox wouldn’t sleep for longer than an hour at a time I would stare longingly at photos of sleeping babies in my Instagram feed. But I know that’s not the whole picture. Maybe that baby was difficult in another way; maybe they couldn’t breastfeed, maybe their birth was horrific, maybe PND is ruining the early months. Or maybe they’ve had it alright so far, that’s fine too. That should be celebrated. You should be ashamed if you’ve found it all relatively easy.
Celebrating the good times shouldn’t be seen as boasting or showing off. Just because somebody has it hard doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to have it easier. You can be sympathetic to somebody’s struggles while still celebrating your own successes.
Honest parenting movement is amazing, it’s allowed so many people to voice how they’re actually feeling, find people in similar situations, and feel a bit less shit about wanting to stuff their baby in the attic. But I worry that maybe it’s going too far, that we’ve stopped noticing the good times in a search for the bad.
Your house doesn’t have to be a mess for you to be a ‘real’ mum, you don’t have to finish every day with a double gin at 5pm, you don’t have to resent your partner or pray for bedtime. You also don’t have to have a perfectly white house, a smoothie and yoga habit, and a family who make the von Trapps look like the Gallaghers (Shameless not Oasis… although…)
Whether your birth was positive and beautiful or a time that has left you mentally scarred, whether you found breastfeeding easy or impossible, whether your baby sleeps 12 hours or won’t even close their eyes more than once a week, whether you make food or buy Ella’s Kitchen, whether you let them watch hours of TV or none, whether you love crafting or hate it, whether you homemake fancy dress costumes or hit up Amazon Prime… you’re a parent. Your experiences are valid and sharing parenting as it is for you is the only thing you should do.
Postive, negative, indifferent.
You do you. Difference is beautiful, why would we want to be surrounded by 1000s of clones of ourselves? Experiencing things differently is human, understanding those different experiences helps make us better humans.
We don’t need to be competing, we’ve got enough shit (often literally) to deal with. The rest of the world is constantly trying to pit women against each other, lets not add to it.
The only way to ‘win’ at parenting is with doing what is best for you and yours.