The world is full of contradictions it seems! My main problem is I hate being told what to think so here is my response to some of the social rhetoric that applies to me and my family:
Stop telling me to love myself
I’ll start off by saying I hate my body. I always have. But the other thing is that I have accepted it. It has done the most incredible thing of carrying 3 happy healthy babies. My stretchmarks are a mark of pride. My wrinkles represent the stress, worry and laughter I have had in my life. I am almost resigned to my grey hairs but am still at the stage of plucking them out 🙂
People often make weight comments about themselves and then look at me and think I wouldn’t understand. Well, I do. Just because I weigh 7 stone doesn’t mean I have a flat stomach, no cellulite or bingo wings. Quite the opposite! I have them all and when I look in the mirror I see the eczema, the double chin, the spots, the wobbly tum, the droopy boobs. Not pretty, but me.
Stop telling me to change
The internet and magazines are full of information about how we should look and feel. Why can’t we be content with ourselves? It seems that as soon as one aspect of our lives is sorted, another is under the microscope and a new set of criteria for judging ourselves is created.
January is traditionally a time for change and it really grates that we have been encouraged to indulge over Christmas and then told we are fat and unattractive just a week later and need the latest diet etc to put us ‘right’. This is also the reason that I do not make resolutions (although I have set myself goals this year)
Stop telling me I’m a bad mum
My children play on their tablets. My children watch TV. My children would love to eat fish fingers or chicken nuggets for every meal. I shout at my children. I spend too much time working. I didn’t go teetotal when I was pregnant or breastfeeding. I have used the crying out method of sleep training. I would rather eat my own eyeballs than craft or go to the playground. I combination fed rather than just breastfeeding.
According to the rhetoric I seem like the epitome of slummy mummyhood. But I’m not. I am a normal mum, trying to do my best. Failing at times but with the best of intentions.
Stop telling me I’m a good mum
I hate being told I’m a good mum almost as much as when I’m made to feel bad. It then sets me up for failure.
The fact is that I’m a good enough mum. It is a learning process: sometimes I make the right choices and other times I get it horribly wrong. I say sorry a lot more than I should and I feel very guilty but at least I admit my mistakes and learn from them. The term good mum implies that there are others that aren’t I believe that we mums are the same, all trying our best while dealing with our own human fallibility.
Stop telling me to be a stay at home mum
Harping back to the old days when women stayed at home is unhelpful to say the least. I have done the SAHM thing and it is hard. Having no one to speak to except the little dictator/beloved child. I started to feel I was a mum and not Laura. That is a dangerous thing at any time but the loss of identity for someone who has just gone through the physical and psychological changes of motherhood can be devastating.
Going back to work, writing my blog helps me to feel like me again. Selfish? Maybe, but essential for my own wellbeing.
Stop telling me to be a working mum
Of course the other end of the spectrum is being told to work, to be a good role model for the children. The government giving incentives to go back to work when actually the childcare provision in this country is shockingly undervalued and insufficiently supported.
Stop telling me to be gender specific
My kids are strange creatures. They love gender specific colours, toys and packaging. Yet they are also more than happy to play with the opposite as well. This Christmas I bought Matthew and Zach a baby boy doll after Matthew was upset that the dolls are all girls and wear pink. Last year I was horrified to find that ALL of Anya’s presents were in pink packaging. Anya has 2 brothers so she usually ends up playing cars, trains or dinosaurs.
So, am I telling the stores to remove the girl and boy aisles of toys and clothes…? NO!
Stop telling me to be gender neutral
This is the new buzz word isn’t it? Well, I’m sorry but it annoys me. Girls and boys are different. Girls and girls are different. Boys and boys are different. The problem with stereotypes is that they are a best fit model so hardly anyone actually conforms completely. I definitely don’t consider myself to be a very feminine person, but I love summer because I can wear dresses and skirts (too cold in winter!). I don’t feel trapped by my gender or the choice of clothes available: I don’t like yellow or hats so I simply never wear any but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate someone else who wears them. The same with toys: I had mostly dolls but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thrown myself into Matthew’s train and dinosaur obsessions.
We should be celebrating individuality. Why does gender have to come into it at all?
Stop telling me to be content
I am incredibly lucky. Believe me, I know that. After being a single mum for so long and giving up on love entirely, the fact that I have Chris who loves me and the children so much still amazes me everyday. I have 3 beautiful children who drive me crazy but are worth every moment of madness. I have my jobs and my blog to keep my mind active and allow me to be myself and enjoy adult company.
My heart longs for another baby. I have made no secret of that. I know that it is selfish and I should be happy with the wonderful children I already have.
Stop telling me to want it all
The internet and world seem to be conspiring to tell me that I should be able to have it all. The problem is that it just isn’t possible for everybody to get what they want.
I am also exhausted. Before Christmas life was absolutely manic and I felt overwhelmed most days. I think it is important to be realistic and acknowledge that you need to prioritise rather than try to do everything and end up letting yourself or others down.
How about you? Do you find yourself being pulled in all directions whilst trying to do your best?