One day last week I innocently sat on my bed after the girls had gone into their rooms (you know as you do waiting for them to go to sleep yet you are there still an hour later scrolling through what feels like the entirety of the internet! Just me?) I thought about my day and opened my phone to post to Instagram about Romas last Friday of nursery having made the decision to take her back down to one day a week. For me mostly. I have actually written a whole emotional blog post on the fact that we only have a year left until she goes off to school with her sister and I have been struggling with that. For some reason I hesitated though and didn’t feel strong enough to share it. My goodness am I glad I didn’t now. This slightly emotional post of mine was actually a happy caption full of love for my last baby in my happy place of my little Instagram space where I simply document our little life together that lets face it Roma will never actually remember but are the most precious times in my eyes.
I posted and was, as always, mindful of the way that I wrote it. What I wasn’t expecting however was for a comment to be made to me that made me question everything. A comment that was not said in a way that I had to interpret but was pretty explicit in the fact that my post made working Mums feel bad, that I was better than them, and insinuated they love their children less and that I need to make clear that I am lucky and that other people don’t have the CHOICE to do this. Her words.
The choice word was the one that stung. Like a stab in the heart. It was in no uncertain terms meant in that way no matter how sh*t sandwiched it was and was even reiterated later when I challenged it very politely.
You see I’m not a controversial person, I don’t like conflict (I am 100% a flight person faced with the whole fight or flight scenario) I don’t post things to start debates, just for views/reach, I don’t heavily sit in one corner or another with most topics, and I can generally see anyone else’s point of view or the bigger picture, even if that happens to be different to my own. I’m actually a pretty nice human being. I know that. But when it’s called into question I don’t know if that comes across. I go out of my way not to make people feel bad, without being sickeningly fake or overly nice which you find a lot on the Internet and it bugs me just as much as horrible people do, so why me? Why now?
The more I thought about it, re read the comment and my caption, the more cross I was that a stranger on the Internet had tainted my post, my moment with my baby girl. I hovered so many times over that reply button to tell her the truth, the full story. And didn’t. Rise above it people said, let it go people said, it is more about her than it is about you they said. People even jumped to my defense which I will always be thankful for because truth be told I was hurting. Words whirring through my head, the word CHOICE rattling around at 100 miles an hour.
Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I haven’t stopped thinking about it every day. The spa day that followed (incidentally a birthday present for Eddy which was belated due to illness and not in fact a common occurrence here – sad that I should have to say that but in the context of this post there it is) was a struggle. Every quiet moment I got I couldn’t get this comment out of my head and I knew full well why. Because as much as I wanted to rise above and move on I also didn’t. If she was right I would have held my hands up, apologised that she felt that way and moved on. But the assumptions that were made could not be further from the truth. Literally a million miles away and this CHOICE word just wouldn’t go away rising up more anger as it lingered. I couldn’t post on social media as my whole head was clouded with this, with a question of how I come across and doubting my whole sense of self.
What should I have said, I should rise above it, I should just block and move on. But all of these ‘should’s’ didn’t make me feel any better and really should we just have to put up with it? Because we share our stories on the internet like most other people do we should expect it? That’s like saying walking down the street gives people the right to point and laugh at you, wearing a short skirt or a low cut top gives people the right to leer, or going to the supermarket warrants unwanted comments on your diet, and we should just put up with it because we have put it out there? Have we stopped expecting people to just be nice? Genuine? Whether that is online or in person? When did that even happen? Would she have said it to my face I wonder? When did it become the responsibility of the person posting to not make others feel bad?
And suddenly aswell as telling my truth, the real reason that it isn’t a CHOICE for me as simply as she insinuated, but suddenly there was a much bigger picture of judgement without cause and our own responsibility to recognise when it truly is “me not you”. Which I will be honest happens to me on a daily basis.
You see my CHOICE in life is limited. I work damn hard to be positive, like really hard, in life, on social media, in person, as a Mum, really god damn hard. But sometimes, my life can be utter shit. Inevitably envy creeps in. An envy that I somehow still manage to keep to myself and not inflict on others who do not deserve it.
I live with a chronic muscle condition which means I have constant pain, I am talking 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 1/4 days a year kind of constant. I do not have alot of this CHOICE she so casually banded around like I was taking it for granted.
I don’t live a frivolous life free from worries, in fact it is probably as far from that as you can get but should I put a disclaimer on every post where I am appreciating the ordinary to breed my own positive life that might read ‘I also live with a chronic muscle condition which means my life is limited, rigidly planned and I can’t do as much with my children and my husband as I would like. I have to watch them from the sidelines having fun, live in constant pain, have a weakened immune system due to a heart condition I had as a child and cry myself to sleep sometimes wondering how with little help around I will get through the next day and keep everyone happy too. My husband works away a lot, we have been through devastating baby loss, we are dealing with severe illnesses in our families and on top of that have an allergic child with asthma and a life changing diagnosis of possible autism on the cards which effects every single CHOICE that we make about our lives, oh and sometimes I stand in the kitchen and cry about how overwhelmed I am whilst shoveling biscuits in my mouth straight from the packet’
Is that ok? Is that clear? Can you see why the word choice might have stung?
I do not have a CHOICE to work outside of the home right now AND be there to do things with my children that they need (because yes lady who assumed I was a stay at home Mum I do still work, on this blog, every day). Something has to give and so I choose that to be extra money and my freedom. I don’t have the CHOICE to run the Mums race at sports day because I am literally not capable. I don’t have a CHOICE but to get out of bed in the morning and try my best to keep my child prepared for the day ahead whilst always second guessing what is coming next. I don’t have the CHOICE but to cook a fresh allergen free meal every day despite standing being painful. I don’t have the CHOICE but to parent in two very different ways whilst most of the time feeling like I’m not getting even one of them right.
So don’t tell me that people might read my posts and feel bad about the one choice in life I do have. Whether to send my child to nursery another day. I am sacrificing working on my blog. My own possible success and I have that choice because my husband works damn hard and sometimes that isn’t easy either. I’m angry and disappointed and now more than ever want to chant to my girls the same thing we do every single day. Kindness is magic. Because the opposite doesn’t bare thinking about and because a little bit of kindness goes a really really long way.
Nobody’s life is perfect and nor can we be responsible for how others might read it. So instead of us having to rise above and ignore these hurtful comments how about actually we all educate ourselves in reading something and not making it about ourselves but knowing that everyone lives their own life whilst sometimes needing to shout about something good or moan about something bad and maybe just maybe being happy/sad for them just because… or (shock horror) the age old….don’t even read it at all.
Would I love blogging to be a job that sustains us every month? Yes but for whatever reason that isn’t forthcoming right now.
Do I feel a pang of envy when newer bloggers come up and surpass me with opportunities or numbers that I can’t reach? Absolutely.
Do I get envious of people who can run? Who say it’s good for your mental health to exercise or how they really can’t be bothered to go to the gym and here’s me floored with the school run (of which I drive)? Absolutely
Am I envious of the relaxed routine from people when mine has to be rigid and planned to prevent meltdowns as my child needs that? Yes again, absolutely, most days.
Do I feel sad when people post about unplanned days out when I have to research with military precision where is allergy friendly so she doesn’t feel she had to miss out or ensure we have suncream because she can only use one brand? Without a doubt.
Do I have a cry sometimes at events or about days out I have missed out on due to my circumstances? Yes I do.
Is there a part of me that wishes people didn’t post any of these things that make me envious of their lives? No, not even a small part hiding in the back of my mind.
But the difference I guess is do I make it about me? Do I say to them they are making me feel bad and don’t post it that they feel lucky or say anything that isn’t just supportive and nice? No I wouldn’t dream of it. Because they are not me. Never in a million years is that anything to do with that person that posts. You can’t know everyones circumstances and I would never want to make them feel bad for that either.
Maybe I have just been hoping all this time that I could judge people with my own standards. That I would get that in return.
If we took on that stance, that worry, we as bloggers but also just anyone that has social media (which is practically everyone right?) would be scared to post anything in fear of upsetting someone. How about we put the onus back on the person reading instead? Follow people that make you happy, that you feel inspire you or make you laugh or do the same things you do and make you feel less alone. Yes I am actually advocating unfollowing me! That’s fine because if I don’t make you feel good that isn’t good for you as much as it isn’t good for me. Because I will live my life, and I will share it, warts and all. I won’t try and cause controversy, I will not post something just for reach, I don’t often post about topics that can cause divide and like I said as a person who is terribly awful at conflict and hates it to the point where I am very much a ‘keep it to yourself’ or ‘bitch to your close friends about it’ kind of person. So don’t follow me or possibly just remember that there is always other sides to a story that can’t be shared in every single standalone post, and ultimately there is also an actual real life person behind the blog, behind the photos, behind the squares, and it pays people to remember that before tapping away and ruining their day too, perhaps even their week.
Personally I follow lots of different people the same as I am friends with lots of different people. Who look different, who are of differing ages, beliefs, ways of parenting and ways of showing that to the world. Some people are funny, some amazing photographers (my favourite kind of person incidentally) some stand up for specific causes a lot and some have the same sorts of views on life as me. But what they all are? Is nice, and accepting and tolerable of other humans who may not lead their same life, because that’s what makes life online better for me, a happier place, because there is something to be said for having people challenge your beliefs sometimes in a constructive or thoughtful way and making you think. People do change, you can in fact soak in someones values and views and one sentence can suddenly change your entire thoughts on a subject, because that is ok. In fact isn’t that bloody amazing? So why not let that change be positive. Because truth be told the world, and my life, would be boring if we were all the same. Wouldn’t it?
So know this, my posts are about me and my truth, my life and unless expressly asked for, your judgement or opinions on a life you do not know, or bother to find out, the full story on, are not welcome here.