Today, while I was ignoring my children and scrolling through social media, I came across this article, accompanied with a few indignant and outraged comments. I briefly perused the content. “No shit!” I thought, “I have mum hair!” Actually, if I’m honest, I have way worse than mum hair, I have the dreaded ‘Can’t be fucked, so I bung it in a ponytail’ hair. The article is essentially elitist tripe, it’s condescending as fuck. With helpful suggestions about when the modern mother should start planning their after baby hair style (apparently during the third trimester), enlightening opinions about why women chose to cut their hair (you’re fat, and your hair is falling out) , the unspoken message is pretty clear: ‘mom hair’ mum, you are just not good enough.
Later in the evening, while I was being an arsehole parent (and wife), by working outside the home, a friend of mine shared this delightful bit of clickbait. Paula Winchester of Staffordshire, whoever the hell she is, thinks that single mothers who go out on their occasional child-free weekends, are irresponsible parents. Because she never does it, so how dare they? According to Paula, “When parents are hungover, it’s self-inflicted and they lie on the sofa, putting DVD after DVD on, not cooking properly. It’s half-hearted parenting and I think it’s disgraceful.”
Well. Dis-GRACE-ful. Drunk mum, you’re a shit mum. You’re probably even more shit than mom hair mum. At least mom hair mum isn’t having any fun.
This mum-shaming crap, it’s everywhere. If you are on social media and you are a mum, I bet you see at least one shared, click-baity ‘opinion piece’, full of shamey bullshit every day. At least one. Probably more than that.
Working mum? Clearly, you are a shit mum. You should feel guilty for earning money so that your family can eat. And what, you put your kids in child care? Another person is raising your children?!?!?!? How dare you wish to live comfortably. How dare you value your career. Don’t you realise that your life is no longer your own? You should feel guilty because you are selfish for taking all that “me time” you get at the office. How dare you?
Stay at home mum? Hey, you! You’re a shit mum! And you are even shitter if you get any benefit whatsoever from the government. So what if you have worked your whole life up until now? Now, you are a bludger. Also, you are probably a martyr. Feel guilty that you are wasting your education, and you are probably a poor role model for your kids.
Caesarean section mum? Shit mum. Sure you just went through a major surgery, and it may have been terrifying, and your kid’s life might have been at risk, or your life might have been at risk. Sure, you might have just really, really, really not wanted to birth the ‘old fashioned’ way. You should have sucked it up, risked the lives, and tried harder. Because, apparently, it’s as easy as that. Actually, any intervention makes you a shit mum.
Formula feeding mum? Shit mum. Your kid will be fat, stupid, and riddled with allergies, you lazy git. So what if you tried everything. So what if you sat up, all night, bawling your eyes out, because you couldn’t see a way to make the breastfeeding thing work. You should have had better boobs. You should have tried the under-the-shoulder-over-the-boulder hold. Feel guilty, because formula is made from chemicals, and is therefore clearly the devil. Didn’t you hear? Breast is best! Breast is best!!!*
Extended breasfeeder? Shit mum! You know your kid is going to have mummy issues, right? So what if WHO is fully on board with feeding until two years old and beyond? You are probably one of those harpies who insists on feeding in public, too. Without a cover. Clearly, you should know your place. And your place is feeding in the toilet cubicle. Or, a cupboard. With the door locked. Feel guilty, because you are making everyone uncomfortable.
Mum at park on phone? Shit mum. You should be enjoying the tedium that is forty-five solid minutes of pushing a two year old on the swing. Don’t you realise that they are only this age once? Your desire to connect to people other than your own offspring in a social manner is despicable. You are just as bad as mum who doesn’t like spending three hours playing cars. It’s selfish, and you should feel guilty that you are not satisfied entirely by the conversational wit of your preschooler.
Haven’t lost the baby weight? Feel guilty, because you don’t look like a Kardashian (still not sure what one is). Gym junkie mum? Feel guilty that you put time and effort into your health and appearance. Perfectly dressed, full face of makeup? Shit mum. No makeup, trackie dacks, ugg boots? Shit mum. Actually, shit and lazy. At least perfectly dressed puts effort into her selfishness.Mum at fast food restaurant? Shit, because chemicals! Vegetarian mum? Also shit, because protein! Iron!
This message, this shit mum, guilt inducing garbage, is coming from every angle. No mum is immune. If you co-sleep, controlled cry, free range, helicopter, whatever the fuck you do as a mum, someone, somewhere, thinks you are a shit mum. And unfortunately, way too many of them think it is their place to post their opinion on the internet. And because these opinions attract shitloads of impassioned commentary, they get more publicity than they deserve.
My advice? Fuck them. Fuck them all, and do what works for you. Make yourself happy, your family happy, and refuse to give any fucks what ‘they’ think. Arrogantly refuse to take their opinion on board. Be stubborn in your unwillingness to let their small minded view effect you. Be confident, and unafraid to say “fuck you” when required. And if you are not the type to swear, a middle finger will suffice.
*When my eldest was a baby, this mantra haunted my dreams. I kid you not. Such was my guilt for ‘failing’ at breastfeeding.