Happy F*ckin Mothers Day

I’m sitting here writing this after probably my shittiest Mothers Day ever, one that included an absent FIFO husband, poo under my fingernails, a child trying to annihilate another child, PMS from hell – and yet still feeling annoyed about articles that I’ve read describing the latest PC Army offensive: the Banning Of Celebrating MOTHERS, because for goodness sake, despite my day, I’m still totally, wholly, eternally and gratefully, a MOTHER.

I mean, these campaigns are wrapped nicely in ‘inclusivity’ paper, proclaiming loudly to anyone who will listen that we cannot celebrate MOTHERS because by doing so, we are excluding those who are not MOTHERS; we are ignoring those who are not MOTHERS, we are being insensitive to those who have lost their MOTHER. Its more inclusive to have an “Appreciation Day” that includes… I’m not quite sure… anyone? Everyone? Well f*ck me.

Frankly I call bullshit, and I am absolutely offended by the underlying message that being, by definition, a ‘mother’, ie that is a female who has birthed or adopted a child, is not worth celebrating, acknowledging and expressing thanks for.

Giving a thank you day to Mothers, in all their shapes, forms and sizes, in no way takes away from the multitude of other people that make up the village that care for our children.

Liking peanut butter doesn’t automatically mean you hate vegemite does it?

For those who’ve lost a mother: you can still appreciate and give thanks for her, and I am sure you do. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate her, remember her, and you are allowed to be sad – we will support you.

For those longing to be a Mother – I’ve been there, and it can be so hard, but not once would I have ever stopped another Mother being celebrated, and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. Again – you are allowed to be a bit sad or angry on this day and we will support you.

For those who are Mother’s who have lost their beautiful babes – you are still Mothers and we absolutely celebrate and revere you and you are absolutely allowed to be sad on this day and we will absolutely be there to support you.

For those who are single fathers: you have Fathers Day. What you do is AMAZING, and we can’t wait for Father’s Day to celebrate you. Awkward conversation? Perhaps – but that’s parenting eh?

For those who are one of two fathers: you have Fathers’ Day. Yes, you have to share; no there is nothing we can do about that. Awkward conversation – nope, I’m pretty sure your kid is across it.

For those who don’t ‘believe’ in the ‘gender stereotype’ and chose to be ‘gender neutral’ or whatever the correct terminology is, that’s fine, just DON’T CELEBRATE MOTHERS DAY. Why should all the women who do proudly call themselves a Mother have to ignore that absolutely intrinsic part of their identity just to not offend you? Another person’s choice to classify herself as a woman, and a mother, is frankly none of your business and I fail to see how it could possibly harm you. Correct me if I’m wrong.

For anyone else who for some reason is offended or put out by Mother’s Day, again I say with all due respect: just don’t celebrate it. It really is that simple. And explain to your kid why you choose not to, so that they can gain an appreciation of some wonderful facts of life: we are all different, we don’t always have to agree, we should always respect each other’s differences.

In the meantime: please leave Mother’s Day alone. Let the many mums out there who are too hard on themselves, who do so much and who put themselves last time and time again, please let them have this one thing, this one day, when they can feel loved, appreciated, seen and heard, and for goodness sake let them do it without guilt or fear of offending someone or being politically incorrect.

Please.

 

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Parenting.

Parenthood. It’s sitting beside their bed at night watching, listening, soothing.

Climbing into the bed if you need to. Dosing, worrying, lying awake when you finally do get to bed.

Waking up so tired but not having the option to stay in bed because a tiny human needs you. Their batteries are recharged – thanks to you – but you have no chance to do the same.

It’s stumbling through the morning feeling like you’re a step and a half behind, all day, no way to catch up.

Trying (and sometimes failing) to hold in a temper that’s driven by fatigue and frustration and even resentment at the sameness of every day.

It’s listing out the jobs you have to do for the day and then abandoning them to craft with the tiny humans because they want to spend some time one on one. Getting back to the list in dribs and drabs, between doing all the other little things that so annoyingly have to be done every day…lunch…nappy changes….vacuuming…cooking….sigh.

It’s having your independence taken. No longer can you just do whatever you want – when you want – how you want.

It’s sometimes suffocating. Relentless. Overwhelming.

I’m not going to go into all the amazing things that it also is right now. Because sometimes, some days, it’s really tiring and it’s a relief to get it all out and just leave it at that.

Anyone who knows me knows that I know the positives despite this little vent and anyone who judges this doesn’t like me anyway so no loss really.

Tiny humans. Karma at its finest. Is it bedtime yet?

Dear MDS

Dear MammaDontStress,

I have a friend who I care a lot about but don’t often get to see or chat to. We live a big distance apart and both have full lives. Can go months without chatting, nothing bad Facebook interactions. But I felt we were still close.

Anyway I have just discovered a lot has gone on in her life in the past 12 months. Some of which I was aware of, some not. We haven’t spoken properly for a long time and it’s been both sides. But now it seems she is upset with me and feels like our friendship is a lot less than it used to be and, as a result, has less interest in talking to me or making plans to catch up. I only know this because I found out she was going to be visiting our area and reached out to her. I’m not sure I would have heard from her if I hadn’t done that and it hurts me.

I’ve since said in conversation that I’ve been a bad friend for not being more in contact and I’ve apologised, she’s not acknowledged that at all to either agree or refute it and now I have no idea where I stand.

What do I do?

From M.E.

Dear M.E.,

Well I’m sorry you’re upset and firstly good on you for caring.

Next: have you actually asked if this person is upset with you directly? It may be that they are not…our perception of any interaction is at best 50% correct, and we then fill in the blanks with our own guess. That can lead to massively incorrect assumptions. So ask, first. No friend will mind you saying, “Hey is everything ok with us? I feel a bit like I’ve upset you and if I have, I’d like to make it right.” If nothing else, it will open the lines of communication.

Otherwise….

Friendships are a 2 way street, mate. Yes, you could have been more proactive in checking in with her in the last whatever period, for sure. But, reality is, so could she. Did she try to contact you but you were always too busy? Or did she just never think to call or write, too?

Did you fail to contact her because you couldn’t be bothered despite knowing she needed you, because that is a bad friend.

Or did you fail to contact her because you, too, were busy and had things going on? And if she had reached out would you have been there? If so, then you are not a bad friend. You are a human.

In this world we are increasingly hard on ourselves and have expectations and standards that are impossible to meet – on ourselves. We are much kinder to others. Much more accommodating of the reality of life. We need to take a step back and look at the situation we are castigating ourselves for and ask, “If someone else did this, would I think so poorly of them?” And then apply that level of kindness and empathy and understanding to ourselves, as well.

By all means, apologise and ensure your friend knows you are sorry you were not there for her. Make a commitment to touch base with those you care about (all of them, not just this friend) on a more regular basis. Even just set aside half an hour a week, in your diary if you must, to devote to catching up with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

And then, let it go. Forgive yourself. You can do no more than that, and then it’s up to your friend to step up and either the friendship gets back on track or it doesn’t.

Good luck, and keep caring x

Next time you feel offended….

….ask yourself this: “What was the intent behind the offensive words/image?” And then, unless the answer is, “To make me feel bad about me”, can I ask you to do something really simple and just move on?

So often, every day, someone is offended.  The list of ‘offensive’ things is growing exponentially, and what is humanity really gaining from it???? Better social awareness, maybe, but at what cost? What are we losing?? I can think of a couple of things: honest commentary, genuine curiosity, gentle tolerance, senses of humour, talking points, challenging opinions, growth beyond preconceived notions…. you get my point.

These days people get so offended by things that just are not offensive.  Like questions about their life that are asked from a place of genuine, simple curiosity.  Or comments that, yes, they’ve heard a thousand times before and yes, get sick of answering every single day, but seriously, what does it really cost you to hear or answer it again???

I’m going to use an easy example, because its one I get a lot: ‘Oh, you have a boy and a girl? That’s fantastic, you’re so lucky, a pigeon pair, no need to go back for more!’

I have actually read articles (blogs) where the writer has berated the friend/family member/innocent stranger for making these types of comments and said things like, ‘I wish people would just keep their opinions to themselves!’ or ‘This is so hurtful to someone who then feels like having two of the same gender makes them ‘unlucky’!”

Seriously? 

A person says something positive to you … says you are lucky or blessed for some aspect of your life….and you are offended???   What’s the intent behind their comment?  Probably they just felt happiness looking at your kids and thought that a boy and a girl means you enjoy the best of both worlds.  They wanted to compliment your kids.  They wanted to say something nice to you.

Their intent was innocent and positive.

So, if you don’t appreciate what they’ve said or even if you disagree with it – would it kill you to just smile and say ‘Thanks’?

Can you imagine what a beautiful, friendly place the world would be if we all just took kind and innocent comments and questions at their face value and just said ‘Thanks’?

I know I now hesitate to make small talk with strangers in case anything I say could ‘offend’ them…like asking a friend if/when they plan to have babies.  Or get married.  Heaven forbid I should express any interest in their life, for fear they might be offended.  Here’s the thing: by asking a person “So are you and X planning on having kids?”, doesn’t mean there is an implied second sentence along the lines of “Because people who don’t have kids are shit“.  And perhaps you are struggling with infertility, and I do understand the pain of that question in that situation… but its still just an innocent question from a person who has interest in you.  Take the positive from it and simply say “We hope to one day.” Or even better, if you’re comfortable, say something like “We would love to have children one day and hope it happens soon.”

Or, the dreaded, “Oh wow twins! I always thought it would be cool to have twins!” doesn’t have the unspoken “Because it must be just easy and fun all the time” following along.  And yep, you get it a lot.  Its eye-roll worthy.  But unless you’re getting it a lot from the same person, they don’t know that, and so would it kill you to just be nice? Feel thankful that this person has genuine interest in you and cares and wants to have a bit of conversation?

We constantly worry about how silent and secretive our teenagers are – why don’t they talk to us more – or talk to each other – and yet all day every day we are bombarded by people getting ‘offended’ by things that are SIMPLY NOT MEANT TO BE OFFENSIVE … these same articles and blogs are making it abundantly clear that its better to just say nothing to anyone.  Just keep your mouth shut.  Except talk to me, now. Right? Confusing much? I wonder how often the troubled teen wants to talk to someone but is scared to open up in case they say the wrong thing, upset someone, get misunderstood and get in trouble….

I get that ignorance can breed offence.  If you have a child with ASD for example and someone comments on their behaviour…. now if that comment is a negative one, that is something that has offensive intent so go ahead and be offended.  But if it is an innocent comment or question because the speaker simply doesn’t understand or know, that doesn’t make them a bad person does it? So why not use that opportunity to build awareness and knowledge by being gentle and kind in your response?  You can correct their misconception or misunderstanding without making them feel stupid or upset; the result is one more person who does understand and is far more likely to go on and positively educate others, as opposed to someone who walks away angry and humiliated, thinking “I never meant to upset anyone and got made to feel embarrassed”, and feeling nothing but negative feelings towards the situation in question.

Because after all, conversation between people is the best and easiest way to build new friendships, spread awareness, give joy and make the world a better place. Help each other, guide each other, support one another.  Isn’t it?

And if the person did mean something horrible by what they said…. then, still, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could be the bigger person, rise above it and just say ‘Thanks’? That would probably be more effective anyway because a) they didn’t get a rise out of you so they failed and b) you look like the classy and mature contributor to the transaction.

I’m not referring to when people say overtly mean things.  Or make racist or sexist comments or “Jokes” – those times are never OK and the speaker should be called out and know that you do not find their words acceptable.  Go for it.

But for the hundreds and HUNDREDS of times an innocent remark is made that maybe you find boring or repetitive or don’t necessarily agree with but it doesn’t impact you in any actual way…. just smile and say ‘Thanks’. And move on with your day.

For humanity’s sake.

x S

How do we teach that which we are yet to grasp?

Resilience. If there is any one skill I want to teach my children it is this one. The strength to get back up. The courage to accept painful or hurtful things. The wisdom to separate that which matters from the multitude of things that don’t…and let those unimportant things blow away in the wind without leaving any marks.

I think, being able to master resilience makes a big difference to your mental health. So it’s something high on my priority list to teach my kids. Only problem is, how do I teach it if I don’t think I grasp it myself ?

I’m 36 and I still get so hurt, so easily. My self confidence is still so fragile. I’m over sensitive. I take everything to heart. I’ve been trying my whole life to change my way of processing my day and I’ve never managed it yet. So how can I foster it in my littlies?

Do I fake it? Pretend? Hope they do as I say, not as I do? It’s likely they’ll eventually work out I’m not what I’m pretending to be. And then I wonder what happens next…..best outcome is that I’ve moulded them firmly enough by the time they work it out.

Or do I go for the other angle – this is me and this is what NOT to be. This is the opposite of what I want for you. Please don’t fail to see how wonderful you are; don’t dwell too much on negatives and wonder what you’ve done or not done; don’t ever let a knock back hold you back; remember you can’t win every race or get every question right or be liked by every one. Be ambitious but pragmatic. Be strong but flexible. Make an effort to impress but be true to who you are.

Most of all, remember: even when you are knocked to the ground, when you feel low and flat and sad and blank – know that the sun will still rise tomorrow and that nothing and no one can stop you from being there to see it, but you yourself. Learn from it, breathe through it and take heart that this too, will pass, and you will be ok again.

Maybe I’ll just try for the middle ground. Say “Hey guys, this is a strength I want to teach you, and I’m going to learn it with you, and we can get there together.” And then teach and mould myself as I guide them too.

Who knows. It might even work.

x S

It’s fake but it’s actually proof.

This photo is not as described. It’s a lovely thought…but the photo is actually a huge, thriving pack of wolves led by their alpha female. Back story here

The important point though is that the idea of it appeals to so many and reveals the beauty that still exists in humanity. The values of; protect your old and your weak. Keep an eye out for each other. Be a smart, loving leader.  

That this speaks to and touches so many gives me hope for our future xx

13 Reasons Why…Why?!

I’m watching ’13 Reasons Why’ and I’m terrified. I’m devastated. I’m afraid. I am an emotional wreck. 

I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Hannah. I’m terrified of raising children who end up as Justin or Jessica. 

If you haven’t watched this series, those names mean nothing. But one is a girl who took her own life following a prolonged period of ostracising, humiliating bullying.  The other two are players on the offensive team.

I look at my beautiful little girl and her honesty, her openness, her eagerness to share every detail of her day with me. I think about times I shut her down or half-listen….and then I think of teens and their habitual self imposed isolation from their parents and I wonder: how can I avoid that? 

Am I setting up that sullennes now, that silence, refusal to share, every time I don’t listen or show my impatience when she babbles at me about the wonderful imaginings of her world?

How can I guide my child towards being a good and caring and kind human, one that realises actions have consequence, that words can and do hurt. One that will share her pain with me and allow me to comfort her; I know she will be hurt and I can’t stop that completely but I’d like to be an option for comfort she is always willing to take. 

How can I give her the confidence to know that the words and actions of unkind or thoughtless people do not define her and that no one can make her feel any way she does not allow herself to feel? To believe in her own worth to the point that she can easily allow meanness and jealousy to roll off her back without leaving a trace?

I’m filled with self doubt and the price of failure is high, so high 😦

High school for me was both good and bad, I was at different times both the ostracized and the ostraciser; but today’s world is completely different and in 10 years time when my little lady heads to high school I shudder to think how much worse it could have gotten. 

The reach of bullies is so much greater now; they can infiltrate every safe space, every private place, via social media and the internet, phones and tablets. And, for all the gains women have made in equality and “girl power”, it seems girls today are even more driven by peer pressure than ever before. 

Why are so many of our girls so fixated on getting approval from strangers? Why do they equate their worth as a person with their number of ‘likes’, how many ‘followers’ they have, or how many comments their photos attract?

How can I ensure that my girl, and my boy, learn to be their own judge and jury…to examine themselves and decide on their own worth rather than rely on others to tell them. How do I teach them that what really makes a person good or bad is their heart, their mind, their morals? That “perfect” is subjective and that beauty fades but the love (or hate) we show in our behaviour lasts forever?

My own mother did a great job raising me to not credit too much worry to my physical appearance. I was quite different to many of my friends in worrying about make up and fashion and so on. I wasn’t oblivious, far from it, but it didn’t have the weight for me that it did for my friends. 

But I still remember the pain of high school, peer pressure, wanting to be popular, feeling hurt and lonely. 

And I think about how much more vicious teens seem to be these days and I am terrified. How do I teach the most precious little people in my world to fight an enemy I’ve never faced myself???

So I guess, in a way, I should be grateful for 13 Reasons Why. It is (I think?) a brief look into the reality of high school these days, the good, the bad and the downright awful. It’s like a glimpse into an enemy camp I suppose, and I will try to formulate my plan for guiding my babies using every bit of intel available to me, ever.

Or else – I will home school. Yep. Maybe I will just do that. 

Bloody hell. Teens are vicious. Hats off to the teens in my life – you’re walking a war zone every day; all I can say is, be the sun – shine bright; and remember, the clouds always fuck off eventually.

x S