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  • Niamh

I'd Rather Support Mums Then Tell Them Parenting Is Not That Hard

‘Parenting is not that hard… I don’t want to hear about your morning routine.’

These were some of the sentiments expressed by journalist Jennifer O’Connell on RTE’s Cutting Edge show last night, in relation to a viral post she saw on social media about a mothers struggle to get her kids out to school in the morning.

So what’s my beef? Isn’t Jennifer O’Connell just expressing her opinion? Expressing an opinion on a show called the Cutting Edge, which is all about provoking debate through strong held opinions?!

Yes. Absolutely. I’ve no problem with that at all. Healthy debate is a good thing.

But aren’t I just as entitled to disagree with that opinion?

Of course I am!

What bothered me about her comments, weren’t even that she said parenting is not hard. Wait she said parenting ‘is not THAT hard.’ Maybe she found parenting easy, maybe she’s a natural, maybe she had lots of help, maybe she had no bad days, or maybe they were so rare she forgot about them.

I can also accept that for some people parenting is not as much of a struggle as it is for others. Not every day is a chaotic nightmare. Not every day is a bad one. Not every day is tough. Indeed, being a parent is incredible. I feel as if it’s a real privilege to be a parent and it’s one I’m humbled by on a daily basis. But I still find it hard. Even the most adept mum who seems to have her shit together will have parts of the day that are a challenge. That’s parenthood. As in life, there’s good days and bad. Indeed, Jennifer even admitted things can get a bit hectic in her own household, when Brendan quizzed her about her morning routine.

‘No it’s not smooth and there’s an awful lot of shouting that goes on and we don’t like each other a lot, between the hours of 7.00am and 9.00am.’ She laughed.

What I didn’t like about her comments, was the inference that parenting bloggers or more specifically those who share a post on social media about their parenting struggles, do it for a pat on the back. Do it to be told ‘you’re great, look at you!’

There’s two reasons why I blog about my journey through motherhood and they aren’t so someone comments on a post and tells me, ‘sure aren’t you great!’

The first reason is pretty selfish. I write and have always written for my own enjoyment. Writing is my passion and profession. I’ve been lucky enough to write in one form or another for over 15 years. But away from the professional side of things, writing about my new role as a mum has been hugely cathartic for me. Simply put, it’s my therapy. Writing has always been a way for me to channel my feelings. The act of writing things down has always made me feel better.

So why share it on a blog? Why not keep it in a diary?

The answer is to be found in reason number two. When I struggled with post-natal depression after my son was born, I went through hell. Parenting for me through that time was far from easy. On the contrary, I nearly lost it, in every sense of the word. Yet one of the things that helped me the most, was reading honest, refreshing and engaging accounts from other mums who had felt just as I did. Other mums who spent all day crying or who woke up with a sense of dread. Mums who felt like motherhood was a huge mistake or that every day they felt as though they were failing. When I read these pieces, for the first time since I became a mum, I felt as though wasn’t alone. I wasn’t some kind of monster for not bonding with my son the instant he was thrust up onto my chest after labour. I wasn’t the only mum who found things tough. I wasn’t the only new mum to struggle.

Most importantly, the overwhelming message from much of this writing, was that things got better for these other mums and I knew it would for me too. Ultimately, that’s the kind of solidarity I wanted to give to other mums with my writing. I can assure you that I don’t bare my soul and share my deepest darkest moments in motherhood, for someone to tell me I’m great. I do it because if it helps just one other mum who felt as I did, then it’s worth it.

In my book, that’s called support, not fishing for a pat on the back.

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