It’s funny how I can claim to hate labels, yet I go ahead and do it to myself all the time.
I’m a stay at home mum who works at home. I’m a PND survivor. I was a bottle feeding mum. I’m a disposable nappy mum. I did traditional weaning.
Of course, some of those are just facts, but some are labels. Labels I seem keen to put on myself, but where does that need to do so, come from? I think it’s ingrained in us, everywhere we go.
Society has a fundamental desire to label people. To categorise us and fit us in neatly proportioned boxes to better deal with us. And in some ways we have to do that, or otherwise face chaos. But what I don’t like about that process, is the inevitable division it brings with it, especially when it comes to motherhood.
I saw a fantastic video that had done the rounds on social media a while ago. It showed several cohorts of mums all converging on park. There were–
The working mums
The stay at home mums
The bottle feeders
The gentle discipliners
The naughty steppers
And so on and so forth. You get the idea.
Each ‘tribe’ locked eyes with the other in a very adversarial way. Each deeply committed to their moniker and each deeply critical of the ‘others,’ who followed seemingly different philosophies.
But then a mum lost control of her pram and it went dangerously towards the road. In that second, each mum group forgot their so-called divisions and worked together to save the baby. Remembering the fundamental universal fact that united them - they were all mums.
I loved the message behind it. Who cares if I went for bottles and you went for breast-feeding? Does it really matter if you did baby led weaning and I went for purees? Does it mean we can't be friends or one of us is a better mum than the other?
Of course it doesn’t!
Because being a mum brings with it lots of universals. Babies will cry. Mammies will cry. We all haven’t a notion what we’re doing at the start. Your patience will be stretched to your absolute limit. You’ll find yourself staring lovingly at your kid’s eyes for minutes at a time before you realise you’re doing it. You’ll want to literally eat them you love them so much. Their farts will make you laugh. Their laugh will make your ovaries hurt.
You’ll no longer gag at the thought of getting human excrement on your hands. You’ll realise the true meaning of exhausted. You’d seriously consider chopping your own arm, if that arm is stuck under your sleeping baby, rather than wake them. Some days you’ll want to turn in your mum badge and resign. You’d happily take any aliment or injury over them being sick or hurt. You’d walk through a brick wall to save them.
The point is, no matter what way you cut it, we’re all mums and we’re all in the same boat. We’re all doing the very best we can. We are all so very similar no matter what labels society or indeed we like to put on ourselves. So let’s stop putting up imaginary divisions to pull each other down.
Instead let’s start remembering that no matter what way we approach it, we’re all mums and we need to support each other, not label each other into exile.