My last article sweet potatoes and tears received such an amazing response. I am so full of gratitude for everyone that not only read this piece but offered an abundance of love and support, there are so many amazing and genuine people out there in the wider parenting and mental health communities. I’m sincerely touched by the individuals who came forward and shared their own stories on how they have also found the sixth-month stage such a struggle. It’s admirable to put yourselves out there and speak so openly and honestly about your experiences with that anxiety of judgement behind you. This is the very reason I started my blog, it was to document parenting in a 360 view so other individuals wouldn’t feel alone. I wanted to help parents feel connected and valued without judgment. And just as importantly I wanted to acknowledge that it is absolutely fine to look after yourself first on a daily basis in order to give the best version of you to others. I will reiterate again that self-love is an act of kindness, not an act of selfishness. It’s important to remember that when our cups are full, we can then fill up everyone else’s quite generously.
All of your wonderful comments and the conversations I had really got me thinking. I know I’m not the first mother or person to discover that sharing our experiences bonds and unites humanity and I certainly won’t be the last. But what I did notice from my conversations was a considerable subsidence in that feeling of shame from both parties. Those feelings that say “don’t speak up and let people know you are not coping, they will only judge you for being weak”. Or worse ” Will they call social service’s and take my baby”? Not surprisingly the latter is harder for anyone to admit, but it is definitely something that people genuinely do think. I wanted to better understand why we feel so alienated when it comes to talking about our thoughts and feelings, so I started researching. What I found in comparison is that there has been a lot of studies carried out in substance abuse over the last few years. What professionals have been discovering is that the more family and society brand and shame users, the worse their habits become as they are forced in to further isolation. Users become closed-off through that shame and they continue to use for comfort and relief. Noone had ever looked into researching how isolation and shame would affect users until recently, it was just an uneducated behaviour that was enforced publically. But since Portugal legalized drugs and they have been able to study the wider effects they have found that if we show acceptance, tolerance and an understanding, they are much more likely to recover or less likely to go down that path of use in the first place. I’ve added a link to a TED talk that’s a very eye-opening take on this. (Just to add I am in no way comparing parenting to substance abuse, this is merely to demonstrate the power of human connection). https://youtu.be/PY9DcIMGxMs
This concept rings true for me, not just with substance abusers but in general everyday life. When we feel a connection when there isn’t shame or judgment attached to our vulnerabilities, we feel safe in telling people how we really feel. When we don’t, we hide the real facts away because we are afraid that being honest will cast judgement and we will be shunned into isolation, which is why I think a lot of people like to follow the masses as it’s safer. We perceive what others are doing and benchmark that as our standards for parenting. Unfortunately, that’s usually from parents who seem to have all their shit together. You know the ones, perfect buggy, baby sleeps all night, takes food no problem. The issue with this is they don’t mention any of the struggles, and there will be. Show me one parent who has this job hands down perfectly and I’ll dedicate a post to them. The truth is no two parents situations will ever be 100% mirrored. We are all individual’s as are our babies so our parenting experiences will always, always differ. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, as long as your baby is safe, fed, clothed, washed (sometimes not daily and that is OK) and loved then you are absolutely killing it. Well done to you, hats off because it is a pretty hardcore job!
Here’s my take on it, people need to feel connected without stigma or shame, in order to come forward and truly talk about how they feel. It is so important that we talk to one another. It promotes closeness in the community, it helps people who feel they aren’t coping to know that they are not alone. It provides education and awareness for those who will genuinely benefit from hearing other peoples experiences. And it should highlight that no one parent has it all figured out more so than another. I honestly, hand on heart feel if you are in a position where you can comfortably (or almost) speak out about the realities of parenting, then you have a moral responsibility in letting others know that they are not alone. That feeling of judgement isn’t and shouldn’t be the norm in this day and age. We need to let parents know that no matter how inadequate they are feeling, no matter how tired they are or if they are feeling the weight of mental health issues that it is OK! So in order to get people talking, I have created this campaign #thepowerofmumchat. I am offering a virtual coffee date (or an actual one if you are close by) to any parents who would like to talk about any struggles they may be experiencing. It will be a safe place with no judgment attached. Just a chat and a coffee, maybe a giggle about embarrassing things – like the worst place your kid has crapped publically. Which for me was today in Patisserie Valery, it STANK!
Please DM me on Insta or email me at Lydia@live.com.au and I’ll get back to you.