I’ve started making videos for my Facebook page. I call it “Little Mumma cam”. I talk shit for a couple of minutes and miracle of miracles, people watch them. And seem to like them! It’s weird and lovely.
Yesterday I made a video at the end of what felt like a long day. I was already tired from the previous day when I’d worked in my deeply, chronically part-time quasi-career as an actor. I was up at 5:30am and home by 9pm. Long day. Heaps of fun but my brain was broken by the end.
At this point, I would just like to pause and bow down to all the mums who work away from home during the day and then return to motherhood each night. HOW DO YOU DO IT? It’s HARD and you do it week in, week out. Legendary.
So back to yesterday’s video. I was very tired (after working outside the home for one day – ha!) and I sat on my back step and talked to my phone for about 5 minutes and then posted it to social media for all the world to see. I talked about exhaustion and motherhood and how school holidays and the park are both instruments of torture. I talked about needing more solace when what I really meant to say was solitude but brain no make words right.
People seemed to enjoy exhausted, sweary Angie. They liked, commented and shared. It gave me all the feels. Women shared their own stories. That gave me feels on my feels.
The bottom line was this: I admitted that motherhood does not give me everything I need to function contentedly day to day and a whole bunch of women said they felt the same way.
These exchanges are so important to me. Saying out loud the things you are certain make you a terrible person – and especially an awful mother – and having people identify with those things is powerful. But it’s not a collective hi-five celebrating being shithouse mothers. It’s women hearing their worst thoughts expressed and discovering that they are NOT ALONE.
We all want to do better but most of us feel like many days, in one way or another, we miss the mark. It helps me to know that I am not the only one.
I went to bed feeling pretty great about my video and about the women I chatted to in the comments. I felt connected to my fellow mums. This morning, I checked my phone. The video had over 2000 views and a few new comments.
I should have known it was coming.
One woman, not a follower of the page, did not like the cut of my jib. She advised me to watch the video back carefully to fully appreciate how awful the things I was saying really were.
Firstly, let me say, I am deeply narcissistic so I watched it many, many times and to be honest, I like the cut of my jib. Unapologetically so. I like me. Frizzy hair, unpalatable truths and all.
Secondly, yes, some of things I am saying DO sound terrible. If my kids were to watch it now, it might hurt their feelings. They might not understand the humorous vein running throughout.
Perhaps you missed the humorous vein running throughout?
You think I’m doing motherhood wrong? Well, yeah. That’s kind of the whole point. I’m pretty sure I am, too! My words were full of unspoken fears. It is not every mother’s truth but it’s mine and I own it. I have to.
I love being a mum. I often dislike the job of motherhood. I would die for my children and I am dying for a fucking moment away from them. They are absolutely everything that is important to me and I NEED MORE. Only a mother can truly understand the paradox. But some fellow mothers would have you believe there is no paradox and that if you don't love every minute of motherhood, then at your core, you are not a good mum.
And the culmination of these constantly competing truths is a woman who is wracked with guilt, batshit crazy and heading for breakdown. Staying sane requires telling the truth without fear of judgement. I tell my truth because I am a fraud without it. A perfect façade is a dangerous lie to perpetuate.
So someone didn’t like my video. Boohoo. It’s fine and my big girl undies are firmly on. I will live to stumble through another day. But the larger issue for me is that too many mums are afraid to admit when they’re not coping because of people judging them. If we spill our guts and someone tells us, “You know what? You ARE a failure. You ARE a horrible person. You SHOULDN’T feel the way you do” then up go the façades and any meaningful connection is lost. There are too many women alone at home with children and undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I speak for those mums. I am those mums.
I am here to tell those mums that this was one little voice who told me my truth was too ugly. Forty or so other voices told me my truth looked a lot like their truth. None of us is proud of falling down but knowing we’re all shaky on our mothering feet makes me want to get up and do it better more than ever. I am not alone.
And I take comfort in the fact that even the calmest, most tuned in, craft-doing, park-going mum will inadvertently cause her kids to need therapy when they grow up. No-one is immune to messing their kids up because that’s what we mere humans do. We love people and we fuck them up. We try so hard not to but it happens anyway.
So excuse me while I get back to my sub-standard mothering, hiding in my bedroom eating chocolate I don’t want to share.