This morning I read rather unremarkable story online about 27 year old British singer Lily Cooper’s (formerly Allen) recent tweet. I say unremarkable because as a mother of three small children there has been many a time I have wished there was something a little more exciting than attempting to steam dried weetbix off the floor tiles, clean up after one of those nappy explosions that empties its contents up between your babies shoulder blades, and washing up dishes for what feels like the fifty-seventh time that day. The fact that a mother of two daughters aged 2 months and 15 months should wish for a bit of mental stimulation did not surprise me.
Really, I wondered, is this really newsworthy? I mean, haven’t we all had this thought flit through our minds at some point. I can remember someone explaining the feeling to me perfectly when Foghorn was two months old and the Woo was 22 months.
‘The days are long, but when you look back, the months fly by.’
For me that sums up both how tedious it can be to be at home with small babies at times, but also how they are only small for a short time. That isn’t to say that motherhood isn’t rewarding – who knew that you could waste so much time just staring at your sleeping child, or the intense burst of love and pride you would feel when they smiled up at you, or the comfort the feel their soft skin would bring against yours. But, are there times of dullness and drudgery as you potter about the house, keeping up your routine, doing pretty much the same thing you did yesterday, and the day before? Hell yeah.
It wasn’t Lily Coopers tweet that shocked or offended me rather than the comments from readers that followed. “Perhaps she shouldn’t have kids if she wishes she had better things to do with her time than be a mother. Poor kids,’ wrote one reader, and and another wrote ‘Blimey – some people are never happy are they…She went through such a hard time when she lost her first baby you would think she’d be over the moon to have nothing else to do than care for her 2 daughters.’ Although there were a small number of mothers who defended her sentiments saying that ‘everyone needs a break from time to time’ the general consensus was that her comments were ‘selfish’ and ‘offensive’ to those who couldn’t have children of their own.
The comments baffled and saddened me to say the least. Since when was motherhood and the need for mental stimulus, and an interest in something outside of domestic chores considered mutually exclusive? (Since the 1950’s I mean) Why are people disgruntled by the fact that a woman (regardless of their financial stability or fame) should struggle with the lack of identity, and social interaction that often comes hand in hand with the early months at home with a new baby? Why is she labeled ‘selfish’ and ‘ungrateful’ for daring to voice those feelings?
Motherhood as we all know is a rewarding, but also very challenging gig, that many of us (despite pouring over multiple parenting books during pregnancy and after) were still unprepared for. We learn on the job. We do the best we can. We have ups and we have downs.
28 months ago I started this blog because I wanted to share with other women both the highs and the lows. Over the past few years I have opened up my heart to my readers about everything from the hilarious, the embarrassing, and the difficult, because I believe that giving voice to the challenges, to the struggles, is every bit as important as rejoicing in the laughter and the joy. Although my humorous posts may receive the highest number of hits and shares, the posts that receive the most comments (both on the blog and on my Facebook page) and messages via email, are the raw, gritty, honest ones that open up about the struggles and the challenges, because, whether we like it or not, they are the ones that more mums identify with. They are the posts that women tell me left them in tears because they realised that they were not alone in having these feelings, or that they saw themselves in every word I wrote.
It is the silence and the judgments that make motherhood hard. If only we could be honest with ourselves and one another, and lend our support instead of judgement – how much easier would life be for us mothers?
What are your thoughts on Lily’s comments about ‘needing to get out more?’ Did you find them offensive?