The InstaMammy Reality

I like social media.
I like how it allows me to stay in touch with people.
I like how it helps me to connect with old friends.
I love how it allows my family members who are scattered like glitter across the planet, to see what’s happening at home.
I love how it lets me see my niece’s little face and how she knows who I am even though they live abroad.
I love how one comment or image can spark conversations that are both heated and entertaining; sometimes even intelligent!
I like to see photographs of the people I like, smiling and happy.
I enjoy it and I get it I suppose.

As a Mummy, it provides some escapism. When the kids are asleep or you find yourself with 5 minutes to sit with a cuppa, there’s something nice about hitting the little blue F  and seeing what’s happening in the real world.

You know? That place where exciting things happen? Where Peppa Pig isn’t in charge and where people live wonderful lives?

Where everyone has terrifyingly precise, painted eyebrows and sparkly white teeth and where people look naturally happy, all of the time?

You get to look into the lives of your “friends”: see their exciting nights out, admire their fabulous clothes, wonder where they get the time or money to visit that salon again.

We see happy families, smiling for the selfie.
We see who’s at the gym, who’s out for dinner and who’s heading away on holiday.

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And while there is no harm in this really,  the key is to know that what you’re looking at is not reality.
It’s virtual.
It’s fabricated.
It’s lies.

No one’s life is perfect all of the time.  We know that, but let’s face it…who is going to voluntarily put a shitty photograph of themselves up for the world to see?

The natural selfies are probably one of 23 shots.

There are magical filters that apparently beautify! (Note to self…find out more about these.)

The reality is that regardless of how careful you are, if you look through your list of friends, you’ll possibly come across at least 2 people about whom you have to ask yourself “who is this?”

And while it keeps us connected, a huge issue for many new mums, is the isolation caused by social media.

Yes, we can see what’s happening and stay up to date with our friends.  We post photographs and status updates about our children and about our lives, to let our friends and families see how cute they are and how entertaining life is with kids.

But when this means that our friends feel that they don’t need to visit, or meet for coffee, or pick up the phone, then… we have a problem.

When seeing everyone else having fun, makes you feel boring and frumpy in your busy, unglamorous world of feeds and nappy changes, then…we have a problem.

When you know the story before someone tells you it, then…we have a problem.

When someone you haven’t spoken to in 2 years only realises that you’re no longer friends when you finally unfriend them on social media, then…we have a problem.

When every conversation  you have includes the line “Yeah, I saw that,” then…we have a problem.

And it’s our own fault.  We see it all on social media so we no longer feel the same need to ring someone up to ask how they’re doing.
After all, we know they’ve been to dinner this week, had the dog to the beach and that the baby has been puking.
We read it on Facebook.

We no longer consider a coffee date important as we know what’s going on with them.
We read it on Facebook.

But of course, Facebook doesn’t give you the same satisfaction that you get from good conversation over a cuppa.
Facebook doesn’t give you a hug before you go back to the whirlwind of your life.
Facebook might help you feel connected to the world outside your home, but only for a second, and only until it doesn’t.

Last week, I met a good friend for dinner.

She’s not on Facebook.

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It was refreshing. She was interested in my stories, in how I was, in how the girls were doing… she hasn’t seen it on Facebook. I was delighted to hear about what she’s been up to since Christmas. It was real conversation and it was lovely. We actually had so much to catch up on.  There were no lies about how perfect life is.  It’s difficult to lie to someone’s face.

We were able to talk about the difficulties we have with our respective Mini-Mes. We laughed at things we remembered from our nights out BC. Stories were interesting because they hadn’t already been told or seen. It was good, old fashioned catch up and it made me feel fuzzy and loved and ridiculously real again.

So while this isolation I speak of obviously doesn’t just apply to mums, that’s the angle I’m seeing it from.  I’m lucky that I have a wonderful family and some very good friends, but sometimes, just sometimes, being a mummy in the presence of two fabulously fun princesses 24 hours a day, can be a lonely place.

And while social media is fantastic and helps us stay in touch, it isn’t real.

So if you know someone; a mummy or daddy, or friend or cousin, who you have to really think about the last time you actually spoke to them, do you and them a favour.

Pick up the phone and say hi.
Or call to visit and actually hold the baby, while she makes you a coffee.

Rather than sharing sentimental quotations or memories on our friends’ pages, we really need to try to make more of our reality… not our virtual reality.

So there you go.
Social media is fabulous.  I get it.  I enjoy it.
But sometimes, it just isn’t enough.
And that’s the truth.

 

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Great Expectations Vs Greater Reality

Christmas.

I LOVE it! I love everything about it.  I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles.  I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.

But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms.  None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included.  Of course not.  We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.

MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.

Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie.  Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner.  Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done.  In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.

Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.

REALITY CHECK

The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.

Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”.  The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.

Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring  Grandparent enters the room.  Add sugar before wrestling kids into car.  Perfect!

Bake cookies:  Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go.  Mary Poppins indeed.

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Hot chocolate: Not Belgian.  Not fancy.  Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..

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Movie:  In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return.  And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.

Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised.  I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers.  No point in both of us making it, is there?

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Mulled wine:  Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice.  Done.  (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)

Prepping dinner:  This I DO do.  Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!)  PS.  Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!?  Go for it Mammy.  It’s Christmas after all!

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Lists:  Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought.  I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later.  TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.

Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”.  Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day.  And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?

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Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t.  Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons.  They do not need to be Pinterest worthy.  Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags.  Sorted.  Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.

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Waiting for Santa?  Yeah.  After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other!   Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!

Seriously though.

Relax.

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Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.

The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy.  NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents.  No one cares what your kids get from Santa.  No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.

While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics  or share ANYTHING on social media.  You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.

If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .

Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.

Enjoy it!

I am Saving Myself Thanks Mum

Kiera Knightly this week broke the interweb with her announcement that she has banned her three year old daughter from watching The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.  She feels that they teach her daughter wrong and even misogynistic lessons; that you need to wait for a man to save you and that you must give up your voice for the man you want…

Kristen Bell has issues with Snow White because of how consent is conveyed in it.

Fair enough.

Who are we to judge? If these Mamas don’t want to let their kids watch these movies, that is absolutely 100% THEIR DECISION!

In fact, the portrayal of women in Disney is something I have discussed with my students many, many, many times, and while I agree that many of the traditional “princesses” are frustratingly meek and mild and oh so obedient to their hearts and menfolk, I also am aware that the stories are not the cause of inequality and misogyny in our modern society.  They are only stories; fairytales, make believe… it is HOW we read them that is important.

Yes you can say that Prince Whatshisface kissing Snow White while she was sleeping is wrong.  Of course it is, but why do we hone in on that rather than the previous 60 minutes where she was a servant and cleaner and feck knows what else,  for seven little men?  (And does that not insult men, suggesting that seven of them together couldn’t function without a teenage girl to look after them?)

Yes, Cinderella needed magic and spells and fab shoes to get her prince.  And ‘tut’ to her that she needed a man to save her, but such was the world, the IMAGINARY world, in which she lived.

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Shakespeare wrote some of the most incredibly females in history. Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to “unsex me here” because obviously she couldn’t be evil as she was a woman. (Any men getting offended here?)  And then he also wrote Ophelia, who is worse and more weak and frustrating that ANY Disney Princess in the world. Don’t start me on Ophelia…

Why did Shakespeare write her?  Because he was a woman hater? NO.  Because that was the society and cultural norm in the time in which he lived.  And actually, he had his Portia save the day when a crowd of men made a mess of everything, and then she married her Prince Charming, after saving his ass.

But we don’t ban our teenagers from reading Shakespeare do we?. In fact, we encourage it because we know that they can recognise the injustices and gender issues for themselves. Because we’ve given them those skills.

As for the Disney classics, remember that Cinderella and Snow White and The Little Mermaid were written in the early 1800s… of course their messages and social concepts are different to ours.

We however, get to choose how we read them.

And while there are valid arguments about the negative messages some of the classics send out, there are also plenty positives…and a few weird things, to pay attention to.

Cinderella was good and kind and she felt good in new, sparkly shoes. She also spoke to mice and birds.   Snow White was happy that Prince Whatshisface kissed her. He saved her. She wasn’t dragged off kicking and screaming to the castle to live happily ever after, was she?  The Little Mermaid was a defiant strong-willed rascal, who followed her heart.  Her best friends were also a crab and a fish… so let’s differentiate reality from fairytale.

Our daughters are no fairytale princesses.  They will not NEED a man to save them.  They will be able to look after themselves. They will be self-sufficient and well able to provide for themselves, to follow their dreams, to be “anything they want to be”… but can we stop already with telling them that they DON’T need to be girly?

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This teeshirt made me mad when I saw it a few weeks ago.  Yes, by all means encourage our daughters to believe that they can achieve anything they dream of and work for, but why do we need to tell them that being girly or wearing pink or dreaming of being a movie star are signs of weakness?  What the feck is wrong with wanting to be a movie star?  Are Megan Markle or KatyBaby failures because they found their Princes?

My daughters love dresses.  They love sparkles. They love makeup and dressing up and singing and being all round princesses.  They also love superheros, dress up as Hulk,  football and Pokemon and they play ninjas and wrestle.

There is no “That is for girls” or “That is for boys” in our house.

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Because that is not how to teach our children equality.

I like football. I like MMA. I swear more than a lady should. I train along with the menfolk in Jim and I prefer Marvel movies to Chickflicks.  In my work and projects, I take no prisoners and do not see any man as better than me.  And yet, I love to do all things “girly” too. and I love to dress up and I like sparkly shoes.

Does that make me less? Does the fact that I like pink and glitter and girly stuff make me weak? Because it seems to me that we’ve gone beyond telling girls they can be anything, we’ve gotten to the point that being girly is snubbed and scoffed at and actually looked down upon.

Well not on my watch.

I dress up and get my girly on, for me. Not for my Him or for anyone else.  For me. Because I am comfortable with who I am. And let me tell you, there is NO ONE who has watched as many Disney movies in their childhood (and still), as Me!

And my daughters will do what they want, how they want, Prince Charming or no Prince Charming, but they certainly will not be banned from watching Disney Movies, because all they see is a mermaid who sings songs and fights evil octopus monsters.

It’s a movie.

If you want your daughters to grow up strong and independent, teach them to be strong and independent…point out how old fashioned some of those Princesses are. (not all of them, for the newer ones are WICKED!  Merida, Mulan, Ana?)

And teach them that to be feminist does not mean hater of men.  It means equality for all. It means being able to stand up for themselves and to be a strong and independent woman, who can change the world and kick ass…whether in trousers and flats or in a skirt and glittery heels.

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Otherwise, they’ll end up offended by every man in the world and will need a big box of Man-sized…sorry, “extra large” Kleenex to wipe their offended eyes. I wonder when Manchester is being renamed? Peoplechester has a ring to it, don’t ya think?

Wear the pink, wear the glitter, wear the lipstick. Or don’t if you don’t want to … But be yourself and be strong and don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. And then you might just live happily ever after.

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I am Sorry, but Yes You Will Mum

“You will , you know!” 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

“Everyone is the perfect parent…until they have children.” Who said this first? I have no idea. Who says it now? Me. Every single day!

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I am the proud and enthusiastic Mama bear of a 6-year-old Drama Queen and an almost 3 year old Dictator. I spend my days winging it through EVERYTHING… breakfast, school runs, work, homework, dinner, bedtime, marriage. Some days, I feel like I NEARLY have my shit together.

Most days, I want to stomp my foot, throw and tantrum and call for my own Mammy! To many, I seem like I hold things together.

Those closest to me, know I’m a fraud.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t deal with everything in a calm and mature fashion.

I don’t adore my children every single second of every single day. I don’t always have the schedule sorted.

I don’t always remember everything I’m supposed to.

I don’t always know what’s wrong with the baby, just by her cry. I don’t always have a sparkly clean house. (Actually, I don’t EVER. Who does?)

I don’t always remember to wash the uniforms.

I don’t always want to get my No Diggity on in the bedroom. I don’t always feed them homemade meals.

I don’t always give the right answer.

I don’t always say the right thing.

I don’t switch off my brain, even when it’s His turn to get up with them.

I can’t. Because I “Mammy” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sometimes, I yell. Sometimes, I bribe. Sometimes the fridge is empty. Sometimes, I’m so exhausted that I let them eat breakfast cereal for dinner. Sometimes, I pretend I don’t hear the monitor and carefully kick Daddy so he’ll have to get up instead. Sometimes, I let them watch TV…a lot. Sometimes, I swear.

Sometimes, I wish it were bedtime at 3pm. Sometimes, I cry so hard that my Husband doesn’t know what to say. Sometimes, I like being at work because I get to finish a coffee in peace…and I don’t feel guilty. Sometimes, I get a babysitter and go out for dinner.

Sometimes, I hand the baby to Himself as he comes through the door and go for a run, or a pee. Sometimes, I feel like I’m so utterly useless that someone, somewhere will certainly report me to an authority of some kind.

But ALWAYS, I love.

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I am NOT a Stepford Mammy. I will never get it ALL right. No one can, because a perfect Mammy doesn’t exist, and as long as I love my girls fiercely, I’m already doing it right. The moment that a Mammy realises that there is no such thing as “The right way” or “the proper way” of parenting, is light bulb moment.

When you recognise that YOUR choices for your family are NO ONE’s business, a giant weight will be lifted off your tired shoulders. You don’t have to justify your parenting. You don’t have to explain why you breastfeed, or don’t; why you chose this school instead of that one; why you put the baby in their own room at 3 months, or why they still sleep in your room 2 years on.

You don’t have to justify your parenting to ANYONE. The ONLY people who matter in your home, are YOUR FAMILY. And nothing or nobody outside of that matters.

If you are expecting your first Baby and reading this, with your jaw on the floor, thinking “I will NEVER do those things!”, You will you know!?

You will bribe. You will eat leftovers. You will survive on 2 hours of broken sleep. You will use Babywipes for EVERYTHING. You will hate your partner for sleeping. (Sometimes, you will hate them for breathing! 🙂 )

You will enjoy watching kids’ TV. You will have a favourite CBeebies presenter. You will spend your money on the best you can afford for your kids, while wearing a 15-year-old t-shirt yourself. You will be so excited at the offer of a babysitter, that you cry. Oh, and you will cry; tears of frustration, tears of worry, tears of laughter and tears of pure, unconditional LOVE.💕

Because being a Mammy is sometimes crap, but it is ALWAYS wonderful.

And if you are wondering if you’ll be a good Mum?

You will, you know. x

I’m Sick of all the labels Mum

So what’s the “Perfect Mum”

 

Baby-wearing Mum, Carry her Mum,

Co-sleeping Mum, Cot-sleeping Mum,

Room of his own Mum,

Still in my bed when she’s 4 Mum,

Who cares as long as he sleeps Mum?

A Disposable Nappy Mum,  Cloth-Nappy Mum,

Dodee Mum, Suck the thumb Mum,

A  baby monitor Mum, Check her twenty times Mum,

Camera in the bedroom Mum,

I’ll hear him if he calls Mum,

Baby-lead weaner Mum, Organic food only Mum,

Puree it myself Mum, Buy it off the shelf Mum,

Feed them anything Mum,  He won’t eat it anyway Mum,

Fish finger Freezer Friday Mum,

Leftovers in my tum Mum

Always positive parenting Mum,

Doing it all in heels Mum,

Never tell them No Mum

Child is in control Mum

Boundaries help them Grow Mum

Nurture them and Love Mum

Ask patience from above Mum

Shower him with kisses Mum,

Temper is in pieces Mum,

Cherish every second Mum,

Will bedtime ever come Mum,

Reading her a story Mum

Playing with his toys Mum

Letting her be bored Mum

Cuppa always cold Mum

Helicopter or Lawnmower Mum?

Let them fall and run Mum,

Breastfeeding Mum, Bottlefeeding Mum,

Whatever as long as they’re fed Mum.

Screaming and exhausted Mum,

Need a shower and pee Mum,

Calm and zen and ‘Got this’ Mum

Stay-at-home with kids Mum,

Go to work, Work from home,

Have to pay the Bills Mum,

Married, single, step-mum,

Co-parenting, need some help Mum,

Foster mum, adopting mum,

Holding on to friends Mum.

Trying Mum, Lost one Mum,

Wish with all my heart for one,

Happy mum, Sad Mum,

Frustrated at myself Mum,

Crying mum, Laughing Mum,

Fitting everything in Mum

Mum Buns, Mum Tums,

Stetchmarks, hormones and Bumps Mum

Afterschool, Sports and Pool, Taxi everyone Mum,

Homework Fun, Housework Done

Trying my best every day mum.

Kids come first,  Mum’s the worst,

Will this bubble ever burst?

Give your kids the love they need

And to the labels give no heed…

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Say what now?

 

I could keep going.

Mums are amazing.  We manage to be many of these Mums at once, but NO ONE can be all of them.

If you are putting yourself under pressure to fit a label that doesn’t fit you, cut it off.

As long as your kids are loved and fed and cared for, you’re doing just fine Mum.

It can’t be perfect all the time, neither can you. But remember that usually, the flaws you see in yourself, are only seen by you.

To your kids, YOU are their Perfect Mum.

And I am the perfect Mum for MY kids…even if you don’t agree with how I do things.