It seems to be that there's a new trend dominating social media where motherhood is concerned. The so called "honest parenting" group. Those people who have decided to bare all for social media, and post pictures of themselves labelled 'scummy mummies' when they've not showered, with their children half naked at lunchtime, in a house which hasn't seen a hoover for a couple of weeks and the caption, "but this is reality. This is motherhood."
Look a little further and you will see whole blogs dedicated to the subject, and books published which comply with the new rules that your portrayal of your life can only be complete with a glass of wine in your hand, a few swear words in your post and your vomit stained PJs on.
When we had Oskar people directed us to these blogs, and bought us books, the Unmumsy Mum, and Hurrah for Gin, to name but two. We sold them on eBay.
Yes, we are well aware that these posts are majoritively 'tongue in cheek', jokes or comic relief. But there's something that makes us personally feel a bit uncomfortable about whole blogs, books and twitter feeds dedicated to almost bragging about how awful you find being a mother. We starting reading The Unmumsy Mum, and didn't finish it, because we just found it a bit..well..sad. Time being a mum to a tiny one is so fleeting, it seems such a shame to spend it complaining about how much you hate it. It's almost uncool to say "actually, I enjoy being a mum, and I try my best to be a really good one." As we said, a lot of people obviously love the trend, but we think there should maybe be a bit more balance to it.
Don't get us wrong - we are by no means perfect, and like most other mums are just doing our best. We definitely have our fair share of moments we want to tear our hair out! But we don't get why people dedicate their entire social media feeds, places that record memories, to just the bad parts. We wouldn't document only the bad parts of our lives, or bad photos of ourselves, so why do it with motherhood? Why laugh at being a 'bad mum' almost like it's a badge of honour?
You see for us, we have absolutely no desire to portray our lives with Oskar as being something which means we have to open a bottle of wine and call him a few names just to get through the day. This is some people's motherhood - and that's fine. It's not ours, and that doesn't make us any less 'honest'. Yes, we are mothers, yes we are real parents, but that doesn't mean that in order to be seen as being a true parent we need to change the way we get through a hard day, or how we post on social media.
Mums need support, but they also need to remember the positive, beautiful moments that motherhood brings, and that's what social media is about. It's about preserving memories, and aspiring to be a better version of yourself. It's about showing that one moment in the day that your child did sit quietly with a book, before they spent all of the rest of the day screaming. Because when Oskar is 26 and doesn't need us as much anymore, I want to look back and remember all of those wonderful quiet moments, sharing a book with my son.
Personally I don't need to be reminded that sometimes when you're a new mum you can't have a shower that easily, or often can't make yourself some food, and spend the best part of a few months constantly covered in vomit, crying at how hard motherhood is - we know. It's a given that parenting is really hard. I understand that some mums may feel consolation or understanding from seeing social media images of women going through the same and that's great for them, but as we said, a bit of balance would be nice. Plus, the biggest part of our social media, is not portraying a perfect image, but preserving our own memories.
On the days when motherhood is hard, when our boy has cried all night, or been sick in someone's hair, or needs a nappy change right as we're about to leave, we can log on to Instagram or Twitter and see a stream of reminders that most of the time, motherhood is magical. We can look back and see our boy a few moments after birth, us holding him as a newborn, his first smiles, that wonderful night he first slept through, beautiful autumn leaf filled family walks, him meeting santa, playing with cousins, moments we were just holding him, looking at him, not quite believing he is ours. That is how we get through our hard times - not by swearing or gulping down gin. Why can you only be honest about parenting, if your parenting involves those things? Why is it suddenly uncool to actually like being a mum, and to want to do more than sticking your baby in front of an iPad all day?
Because ultimately, we know how much a privilege this is, and even in those really hard moments, when we are exhausted, sleep deprived, he is crying, we are hungry, we never ever forget just how lucky we are. We remember watching thousands leave our bank account, then watching that second pink line on a pregnancy test fail to appear. We remember more money - for IVF, the mandatory counselling, the numerous blood tests, the uncomfortable scans, the thrice daily injections, the silent, tangible hope. Watching others, paying their thousands, going through their treatments, seeing their heartbreak. We are so lucky to be here. We also know how fast this time goes. In twelve short weeks our son will be one year old and we will look back over the first year with our precious boy and want more than anything to do it all over again. To hold him as a tiny newborn just one more time, to be able to watch him in amazement as he claps for the first time just once more, to relive every beautiful second with our precious son.
So no, we won't subscribe to the hashtag honest parenting, exclaim we are only coping with a glass or five of wine, or call our little boy names for being, well, a baby, and yes, we will still keep posting beautiful pictures that capture special moments in our son's life. This is how we parent, and how we get through the hard times, no gin required. If, like us, you don't pretend that every day is baking and laughter, but get through those days without drinking or swearing at your baby - it's ok. Honest.