There's No Shame in This Motherhood Game
A few weeks after last years Maternal Mental Health Week, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. At that time, I was completely unaware of the campaign. But after my experience, I am determined to help spread the word about its importance and necessity.
Maternal Mental Health Week strives to shed light on a plethora of mental health issues that affect women within the first year of giving birth. From the Baby Blues to Postpartum Psychosis and everything in between. The aim is to encourage all mums and mums-to-be who are struggling with their emotions to speak out and get support for their mental health. Women are talking, sharing, being open and honest about their struggles. Something I wholeheartedly encourage and endeavour to positively participate in.
One of the areas this year’s campaign focusses on, is the increasing trend of ‘Mum shaming’, particularly on social media. Mum shaming is where mothers are publicly judged and/or criticised for how they raise their children. The subjects of ‘shame’ range from food choices to working away from home. Disappointingly, the main purveyors of the phenomenon, are mothers themselves.
For most of my pregnancy, I was on bed rest, and subsequently spent an extremely unhealthy amount of time on social media, this is when I became all too aware of “Mum shaming” and I found it incredibly disheartening.
I’ve always seen motherhood as being a lucky member of a huge girl gang. Having honest conversations with other mums about motherhood is one of my most important forms of self-care. So to see mum’s online judging and bashing each other I found truly disappointing.
Of course, there are things I disagree with when it comes to the choices some mums make, but I am also aware that not everyone will agree with my version of motherhood, and that, should be absolutely fine.
As we manoeuvre through motherhood, I will be as bold as to say no mum feels like she gets it right 100% of the time, we all find things overwhelming, scary and confusing. But we make it through the day, and sometimes looooong nights. And for that alone, we ought to be commended. Knowing that we share these common experiences, should surely compel us to make more of an effort to be gentle with each other as we navigate these shared spaces.
As someone in the public eye, I am all too aware of the impact reckless words can have on one’s mental state. On several occasions, I have been at the receiving end of criticism and harsh comments, then adding to that the challenges that inevitably come with motherhood, can be a recipe for serious but ultimately avoidable damage.
Sharing, talking and communicating honestly without fear of judgement is how we make others who relate to us feel less alone, and shared spaces (online and IRL) should also be safe spaces for us all. Nobody’s reality is any more real than anyone else's. "Real Motherhood" should always include, us all, because let’s face it, the mere fact that you’re responsible for a tiny human makes you a "Real Mother".
So, if you want to go out partying 3 weeks after giving birth, you go girl! If you’ve decided breastfeeding is not for you, fair play! If you simply can not wait to get back to work, I hear you! However you choose to get through this phase of your life, is absolutely your choice. The love you have for your child and how you choose to show it doesn’t have to fit this cardboard cut out idea of Insta-worthy motherhood or unrealistically Pinterest-perfect parenting. And without sounding like a huge cliché, us Mum’s are bloody superheroes, every single one of us. Just ask those little darlings who call us “Mummy” xx