I'm writing to you with a plea. A request, if you like.
It's not a huge ask. In fact, I shouldn't really have to ask at all. My request is so simple it demands only one thing from you all:
You see, I'm getting a bit tired of witnessing what I like to call the Bullshit Olympics. I used to dabble in the sport myself. For a brief spell after the birth of Boy One you could say I was playing semi-professionally. And then, as I began to realise I wasn't doing myself (or anybody else) any favours, I jacked it in. Goodbye bullshit, hello honesty. And incidentally, hello The Unmumsy Mum blog. Hello to the truth about parenting. Warts and all. Shits and giggles (mainly shits).
It's likely you have been taking part for some time without realising - it's remarkably easy to do so. The Bullshit Games go something like this:
Somebody asks you a question about your children, your mental state, your life. How are you? How has your week been? How are you finding it all?
And you reply with something slightly at odds with what is in your head. In many instances this will be an airbrushed version of the truth. Typical mum responses include 'Yeah it's great!' 'We're all a bit tired but otherwise all good' and 'not bad thanks! Bit of a juggling act with two but hey! You?'
Some mums take the game to another level entirely. They never moan. Or sigh. Or yawn. And every response is accompanied by the Happy Mummy Face (a gleeful smile, shoulders-shrugged-with-delight, slightly secretive demeanour which says 'I'm so fucking happy with my life right now.')
I'm calling you out. And do you want to know why I'm calling you out? It's not because I am bitter and twisted at the absence of my own Happy Mummy Face and/or have nothing better to do at 9pm on a Monday (though Man Utd are playing, and I am bored, but that is not why I am writing this).
I'm calling time on this charade because I have now had one hundred messages from mums reading this blog thanking me for 'making them feel better' or 'making them feel normal' where otherwise they have been feeling a bit shit. And do you know why they have been feeling a bit shit? Because, my fellow child-producers, they have found themselves standing at Bumps and Babies on a Thursday morning externally nodding and smiling in agreement to the happy clappy stories of parenthood whilst internally screaming 'I'm so bloody miserable today.' Because they have had no sleep, no shower, no adult conversation in four days and because their children have pushed them to a pretty dark place.
That Thursday morning, the day you nodded and smiled and clapped along whilst Winding The Fucking Bobbin Up, there was a mum stood amongst you struggling not to cry. She didn't much like her children that day. She didn't much want to be a parent that day. She needed you to make her feel better. You made her feel worse. And then she shuffled home and messaged me to say 'thank god it's not just me, I've been so upset this week.'
The fact that I've turned into bloody Dear Deirdre for parents (quite by accident) is pretty insane. What's more insane is the tendency of these mums to believe that everybody else is coping. Everybody else is loving it. Everybody else is a better parent because they are making the most of every special sodding second.
This is bullshit people.
And worse still it creates a knock-on effect. Like Bullshit Dominoes. You stand in the playgroup domino line exaggerating your joy at the week you've just had. In turn, this encourages the mum to your right to do the same. Smiley smiley pissing smiley. Some of you probably have had a fantastic week. High fives. Some of you probably haven't. It's fine to admit as much, you know. Has anybody ever told you that?
So what do I propose? Well, as promised, my plea is really quite straightforward.
When somebody asks you how you are, or how your morning has been, or whether you are enjoying motherhood, you tell them the truth. You tell them what you would say if you were talking to yourself. Not the socially acceptable sugar-coated version.
I don't expect the levels of honesty present in this blog ("fuck me, it's horrendous isn't it?!") though for the record I did once come out with that at Breastfeeding Club *stares awkwardly at feet*. I mean we could all try a more balanced response. The good bits and the not-so-good bits:
'How's my week been you say? Well, the baby is sleeping better. Hooray! And we had a fantastic family trip to the beach *insert Happy Mummy Face attempt*....HOWEVER, the toddler has been a total arse all weekend and I got so fed up with their combined whinging on Tuesday I locked myself in the toilet and had a little cry. You?'
Wouldn't that be refreshing?
Go on, be the one to break the cycle. Cut the crap. Lessen the sugar coating. Try adding a pinch of real thoughts to the conversation. I bet you any money (and one hundred messages) that you are not alone.
The Unmumsy Mum
[*Dads welcome here too, it's just in my humble opinion you are less bullshitty anyway.]