Amy Schumer recently told an audience at her comedy show that actually; she’s had a “really tough pregnancy so far”. As freethinking feminists who are finally standing up and admitting that motherhood isn’t always easy, we salute her for it.
Having had two difficult pregnancies, I watched as peers seemed to sail through. I worried that I couldn’t say I found it hard, for fear of being shamed. I once opened up to a mum at baby group that I’d had hyperemesis gravidarum (aka severe vomiting and dehydration) during both pregnancies, and a couple of early labour scares to boot. I’ll never forget her catty response, which was: “you’re not very good at being pregnant, are you?”. I still ask myself why I didn’t have the confidence to bite back that day, and obviously, I’ve thought of a hundred witty responses since.
If she had a smooth time, that was sheer good luck, and I still can’t see what skill has to do with it. We each have individual motherhood experiences, and it’s nobody’s business to pass judgement. A knowing smile from another mum when your kid is kicking off in the supermarket never fails to lift you, and I always try to project that sisterhood vibe on mothers within my vicinity.
It is never OK to criticise or judge another mum, but baby-bullying is definitely a thing. As awful as that pregnancy shaming situation sounds, this wasn’t the only time it happened to me. From mums competing about their parenting style to how easily they’d popped the baby out, I’ve overheard women shame each other for not feeding their child organic food. All that matters is what we choose, and us feeling free to make our own decisions.
Yes, some pregnant women and new mothers can be ultra-competitive, and I just don’t understand why. Surely, we have to stick together, muddling through and working this motherhood lark out as we go? To me, there’s no other way. And I’m really not sure that those mums making you feel bad by saying their child has slept through since they were 20 minutes old are even being that honest.
When my daughter was two, another mum smugly told me her child of the same age had been signing all their Christmas cards. Now whether that mother was doing an excellent line in forgery or not, there was absolutely no need to show off about something like this. It’s a bit ridiculous. If my toddler were to be a baby genius, I’d much rather they were an expert at something useful like foot massage.
In a lot of ways, Instagram is what has paved the way for us breaking free. And thank goodness for that, because we now have a ton of refreshing women sharing their experiences and the feminist viewpoint that we can all do whatever we want. Mums post how hard it is, and what they’ve got wrong that day. A spider in my child’s broccoli was one of my posting highlights. I can tell you, it wasn’t organic either.
My good pal, Sarah @disastersofathirtysomething, charts daily life with her newborn twins to 27,000 avid followers. Creator of brilliant hashtag #thepeakandpitcollective, Sarah tells it like it is, whether that means zero sleep, screaming, the wonders of dry shampoo or struggling to get those pesky car seats in place.
She explains “I’m new to motherhood… but I’m by no means new to the life-affirming power of honesty online. Sharing the ups and downs (or in my case, peaks and pits) of life is incredibly liberating. It must feel pretty lonely to pretend everything is fine all the time, particularly as a mum when everything is quite decidedly NOT fine all the time.”
Sarah continues “sharing your awkward and horrible moments can open up new friendships and bring much-needed, middle-of-the-night mum encouragement. I don’t think- in my 9 short weeks as a new mama- that I’ve shared anything negative that hasn’t been met with at least one resounding “me too!”.
And this is why it’s so liberating to admit motherhood is not always pretty. Here’s to all doing whatever we want and owning our choices in the process.