I never liked high school. The girls were bitches. Don’t get me wrong I could give as good as I got, but if a group of them decided they didn’t like you anymore there was nothing down for you.
Girls can be cruel. But they’re just kids. They don’t get it. They don’t understand the importance of sticking together. Of Womanhood. Of Sisterhood. Of Motherhood. Women do. Or should I say Women should.
My Mum always encouraged me to march to the beat of my own drum even as a child. So I did. I still do. People either like that or they don’t.
Becoming a mother tests every ounce of your character. It strips you back and floods you with insecurities. Emotions you have never experienced swirl around your body alongside every feeling you’ve ever had. You are consumed. It’s like your first day at high school all over again. You are scared, you are lonely and all you want is someone to hold your hand and tell you it will be OK. So you join an online support group or go to a baby group. You’re looking for support. Friendship. Compassion. And then you meet them. The Mummy Mafia. It really is like high school. Why do these women have to be so bitchy?
I’m back. I’m back in the virtual playground, standing in the middle and looking around at all the cliques. But this time it’s not based on where you are from or how short your skirt is. The groups aren’t categorised by how pretty you are or how clever you are. No. They’re decided on how you bring up your kids. There’s the Breastfeeding Mums, the Earth Mums, the Gadget Mums, the Full time Mums, the Working Mums and top of the tree those fucking Supermums. Etc. They’re split into groups in opposition corners of the playground. Bitching amongst themselves. They’re judging me. The new girl. Trying to size me up. Where will she fit in? I’m in high school all over again. I’m scared. I’m lonely. And I’m a bit lost. Oh and I’m sweating.
I never expected to have those same feelings I had in high school. Judgement and ostracism. Cliques everywhere you turn. Luckily, I still don’t give a shit but I do worry for the Women that do.
It’s been happening since Fox was born and has continued now Shadowcat is here. I see and hear it everywhere. Haven’t we grown out of it yet? Aren’t we all a bit old for Mean Girls cliques? Apparently not.
Are we all so insecure that we have to berate others to make ourselves feel better? We judge each other on weight. We judge each other on our choice to have sex. We judge each others’ clothes, jobs, homes, hair, lack of hair. And now… we judge each others’ parenting skills too. Formula vs. Breast. Sling vs. Buggy. Crib vs. Co-sleeping. Baby led weaning vs. Spoon feeding. Disposable nappies vs. Washable. Jar babyfood vs. Homemade. Stay at home Mum vs. Working Mum. Extended breastfeeding. Crying it out. Early weaning. The list goes on.
Sure, the advocates for any of the categories above can back up their arguments with facts and figures (aka memes) that they find on google. They can force it down people’s throats and state they they’re fighting a cause and you can’t argue with the facts. But their facts and their attitudes lack something. Respect.
I have a greater respect for Mothers. For Women. I may not make the same choices as you but I would support you all the same.
It seems to me that the hottest debate of the moment is around feeding our babies. You’ll be judged for getting your boob out in public by people who could quite easily just not look. And you’ll be judged for choosing to formula feed by the Breastfeeding Clique who are ‘normalising breastfeeding’ and ostracising everyone else. Basically, you can’t fucking win. You’re fucked whatever you decide. When did it become everyone else’s business how we choose to feed our babies? When did the war start?
The thing that really gives me a twitch is the obsession with Internet memes being branded as facts. Most of them look like they’ve been created by uneducated, narrow-minded tossers. Which makes me question the sanity of the people that share them and brand them as fact. The common concepts are:
1. Plays on making one side of the arguement look better by berating the other.
Here’s some of my favourite facts that have been shared in Mothering support groups…
It’s worth noting that ^^ this meme recently got over 3000 likes when shared on a Mum support group!
The scary thing is that memes like these actually affect people. Real people. Being a new Mum is hard and you’re at your most vulnerable. It’s 4am, you’re feeding your baby for the 300th time, not quite sure if your asleep or awake. You’re terrified of falling asleep and smothering your baby so you turn to Facebook to keep you awake. You come across one of these memes branded as facts. It tells you you’re a shit Mum. And you believe it.
I appreciate that in most cases the Women that share these memes are doing it for the right reasons. But I can’t help but feel that they come across as self-righteous bull-shit. Trying to sell the benefits of one side of the arguement by berating the other just isn’t helpful. It’s playground mentality. And I can’t help but feel in the long run its damaging to the cause, whatever the cause may be. Partly because the memes look and read like they’ve been created by someone who didn’t finish school. And partly because they are offensive and exclusive, which can ostracise people completely and therefore create sides.
And don’t even get me started on the comment threads. I’ve read some seriously disgusting stuff from Mothers who think they’re fighting a cause. Ranging from telling a 14 day new Mother who’d had a really tough ride and ended up switching to formula that she was lazy and shouldn’t give up so easily. To another Mother generalising that most formula feeding Mothers just want to go out partying with their mates. That right there, in the threads, is where the bullies live. They’re not even trolls. They don’t even realise they’re doing it. They’re just so hell bent on their opinions and their cause that they make everyone else feel like shit in the process. Well that’s OK as long as it makes you feel better. Nice.
I thought that when I became a Mother I was becoming part of a community. I thought I’d meet like-minded Women and we would talk about all the shit bits of being a Mum (and the nice bits obvs). I thought we would share a coffee and give each other support and advice whilst our well-behaved children sat quietly in their highchairs. Yeah right. And call me crazy, but I thought the support groups would be, well, supportive. I have met some beautiful like-minded Mums on my journey. But I’ve also encountered the cliques. In force.
Put simply. It makes me sad.
It’s not a competition.
Why can’t we all just get along?