This morning brought some more spectacularly misguided comment from the Daily Mail about the state of motherhood, basically summing up in one short piece of copy about what we’re battling against as mothers in our society today.
I haven’t read the article myself, as seeing the headline alone referring to “slummy mummies” made my blood boil and I tend to steer clear of things that make me pointlessly angry in my life now. And I’m not going to share the link for the same reason. But suffice to say, the mothers pulled out for comment and torment were Sarah Turner The Unmumsy Mum, who has helped me locate my marbles on a number of occasions when I’ve read her universal motherhood truths on a grey drizzly day in a playground – who once said quite rightly that she doesn’t mind when people criticise her work or her appearance, but to be accused of being a bad parent, that’s waayyy below the belt. Katie Kirby, whose blog and book Hurrah for Gin reaches out with simple elegance and truth about day to day parenting melee. Steph Douglas who has built a business around maternal wellbeing and positively helping mums to be great mums by allowing them to feel supported and nurtured. Clemmie Telford, whose littlest is the same age as Freddie and whose Mother of All Lists has made me laugh, cry, nod with shared experience since Freddie was a newborn. These are all grafters, passionate working mums who LOVE THEIR CHILDREN and choose to present the trenches of motherhood with wit, grace and empathy, making sure that all of us feel slightly more normal when our children are running around us covered in a mixture of pizza, play dough and mud, making us occasionally want to seek solace in a bottomless glass of wine, and wring our hands at what became of our previous world where solo loo trips were a normal thing to aspire to.
There’s a stark irony (not to mention ridiculous editorial misdirect) about the fact that only last month they published an article about the Duchess of Cambridge’s amazing speech where she admitted publicly and bravely about how motherhood was the toughest of all hoods and bringing to the fore a discussion about maternal mental health, shining some sensible and necessary spotlight onto the issue, and then today they counterpose that with its opposite – showcasing the stringent standards and open judgements that we have to negotiate and battle through as mums every single day. Stay at home? Here’s a judgment for you. Work? Here’s one for you. Not breastfeeding? Shame on you. Breastfeeding beyond a year? Shame on you.
We. Just. Can’t. Win.
I met another mum yesterday Sara, who has a blog she wants to set up to try and give mums a lift, a step up, a hoist into allowing themselves to feel better, brighter, more positive in their everyday parenting, by openly and honestly sharing how she deals with captaining her mothering speedboat and the resultant mental health waves and ripples. This shared experience is not a bad thing, a thing to be judged harshly. it is to be celebrated and applauded. We need MORE of it to make us all feel better, normal, more happy to share and nurture the next generation, the future mothers and fathers, to help them feel less lonely, more positive in their approach to life, to parenting, to the world.
As if to disprove their own point, the Daily Mail article is accompanied by pictures of radiant, smiling mothers with their gorgeously energetic, happy and bouncy children.
So, come on Daily Mail. It’s the wrong thing to do, targeting mums in this way, with this venomous and pointless article. I hope you feel twitchy and unsettled as a result.
My new book, The Supermum Myth, is available for pre-order here.