I read a lot of blogs. An awful lot. Where once I would read magazines and online news, my first port of call is now always the blogosphere, and in particular mummy and daddy bloggers. I love reading the thoughts and opinions of parents just like me, doing their best to bring up their children, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong, but always helping me to think about how I parent and reminding me that whatever challenges I am going through, I am not the only one. Every week, I read blogs that make me laugh, blogs that make me cry, blogs that challenge my thinking, blogs which support me as a parent, and blogs which inspire me.
Seeing as you’re reading Cardiff Mummy Says, I figure you like blogs too. So I’m excited to launch a new monthly series, charting 10 of my favourite blog posts I’ve read over the past month, a little bit of reading inspiration if you find yourself with a quiet half hour or so.
Here’s my selection for January, not in any particular order. Clicking on each of the titles will take you directly to that post.
This post made me cry. It’s a response to a letter from a head teacher to parents berating those whose children “are coming to school in a pretty shocking state”…. “dirty, unkempt and not in appropriate school uniform”. Breed and Write rightly points out that humiliating the children with such a letter is not going to address the issue; there could be countless reasons why a child might turn up to school like this – maybe their parents are recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, or victims of domestic violence. Maybe nobody ever modelled ‘good parenting’ to these parents and they are just doing the same as their own parents did. Maybe the council needs to fix the broken, freezing cold bathroom. Her post includes a letter to these children, which is so beautiful and heartfelt, it brought tears to my eyes.
I’ve written about mummy guilt before on Cardiff Mummy Says and so many of my readers told me they related to what I was saying. My female readers, that is. I asked a lot of dads if they felt the same… and none of them did. So it was incredibly refreshing to read Dave of The DADventurer’s post saying that as a stay-at-home daddy he feels what is usually termed ‘mummy guilt’ on issues such as whether his child watches too much television or socialises enough. “Mums shouldn’t have to feel like they’re the only ones who struggle with guilt, feelings of inadequacy or any of the other crap that results from having a kid,” he writes. “I can assure you that dads do too. We’re all parents after all, so surely ‘parenting guilt’ is a more reflective and appropriate title?”
Another post that brought tears to my eyes. Mama Mim is a British mother of two, living in Australia. She has been writing about her experience of breast cancer on her blog. In this post, she asks readers to feel her fear that she is going to lose her fight. “That I might never see my children grow up, go to school, win their first competition, really talk to them, dance at their weddings. Feel sad that my children might never really know me.” It’s absolutely heart-breaking. But at the same time she truly inspires by asking us not to be too quick to judge people. “I see people, going about their day, and I wonder why they’re ignoring their kids or haven’t ‘made an effort’ with their appearance or why they push past me in the street without an apology. I automatically make judgements about them. What’s their problem?” She acknowledges that they may well have a problem and wonders what strangers might think when they see her.
Feminism and make-up is a question that has been debated time and again… but I’ve never seen it written about it in such a raw and brutally honest way as Mrs Helicopter Writes. Jess, one of my Cardiff blogging buddies, offers a brief history of feminism and make up, and reminds us that there are deeper reasons women want to wear make-up (scars which represent trauma, birth marks, facial hair loss from medical treatment for cancer or other illnesses). And then, in typical Helicopter style, Jess bares all and tells us that part of the reason she wears make up is because she has skin problems including scars, acne and rosacea, as well as facial hair. “I have side burns that reach my jaw line, soft but thick downy hair all over my face and bright red, thick hairs that grace my chin and top lip. I shave my face every 4-6 weeks.” I have nothing but admiration for Jess for putting herself out there and talking about an issue that affects a lot of women. Because, let’s face it, it’s not the kind of thing you read on the beauty pages of the glossy magazines.
Remember that Facebook post that went viral a couple of weeks ago from a mum of a two-week-old saying she couldn’t understand how parents could use children as an excuse for being “dirty and lazy”? Claire from the brilliant Life Love and Dirty Dishes wrote this post in response. “I’ve been doing this parenting job for 6 years now and I am by no means an expert,” she writes. “I learn every day. I make mistakes. I don’t always get the balance right. What never helps anyone is judgement. And there are enough mummy wars created in the media without us doing it to each other.”
Closely related is this post by the ever-brilliant The Unmumsy Mum, asking what has happened to the sisterhood of motherhood. Here, she questions why mums feel the need to criticise each other when it comes to working or not working. “I’m not talking about comments from the media either. I’m talking about comments from mums slating other mums. Full-time working mums labelled ‘uncaring’ and ‘selfish’, mums who are not working labelled ‘benefit scroungers,’ and a whole host of ‘My Choice Is Superior To Your Choice’ comments in between.” She adds, “Nobody’s decision is better. Or more righteous. They are just different. Different needs, different wants, different families.”
This one went viral earlier this month and for good reason. We’ve all been that mum struggling to hold it together when we’re having a bad day with our little ones. The mum in Stroud leisure having centre was having an especially tough day when her baby refused to have a clean nappy put on and weed all over the toilet floor. Lisa happened to be in the same changing toilets and writes on her blog, “Your shoulders were slouched and your body was quietly shaking. You were on the verge of either full blown hysterical tears or shouting. I know how you felt in this moment because I have felt that way too. As I washed my hands I noticed a few people come and go. I wanted to say something but I worried that if I approached you I would look patronising or judgemental. But I couldn’t just walk out.” She told this mum she was a good mum and helped her clean up the mess. Oh, how I wish Lisa had been there to reassure me during my times of crisis.
There’s more to the story though. By the power of social media, the mum in question was found. Her response is in the comments section of this blog. “You came to my rescue!” she says. “You calmed me down, helped me clean up and encouraged me to pick up my son who so desperately needed a cuddle.” She continues, “Shortly after we played and laughed and smiled, my children were happy and we did have a lovely day. But had it not been for you I might have got back in the car and gone straight home.” Just goes to show that a few kind words from a stranger can make such an incredible difference.
I absolutely love this open letter to the Prime Minister from Tas of Not My Year Off. David Cameron linked a lack of English speaking skills to terrorism, specifically focussing on Muslim women. With elegant humour, Tas recounts her own experience as a daughter of an Indian mother who came to England from Kenya. “You stated Muslim women with poor English language skills need to improve them and then went on to link it to combating terrorism. From what I’ve seen over the last few years, 100% of those home made videos from ISIS recruits have all been made by young lads with rude boy accents who “talk like dat, you get me”.’ Tas writes that because of her mum (and dad) she and her siblings speak four languages each, got degrees and now work in good jobs. “Because of her, this Muslim girl can and did,” says Tas, adding that it’s a similar story for many of her closest Muslim friends, which include doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, accountants, teachers and so on. “90% of their parents possess limited English speaking skills. It didn’t lead them or any of their kids to terrorism. Their work ethic, thirst for education and hard work led their kids to having a better future.”
9. Call The Midwife / What not to do when your child sees my daughter by On The One Hand
On The One Hand is a new blog written by two mums, Joanne and Tash, who both have daughters born with one hand missing. Through their blog are raising awareness of limb deficiency. Their post Call The Midwife focuses on how they felt watching an episode of the BBC drama which featured a Thalidomide baby. Joanne recalls her own mixed emotions when she realised her daughter was missing a hand. She admits she spent the first night of Marla’s life “thinking that it was all a mistake, that she can’t be mine, that I’d go to sleep and wake up still pregnant and none of it would have happened”. However things soon changed, “I remember looking over at her and BAM! It hit me just how beautiful she was. I completely and utterly fell in love with her and realised that it didn’t matter about her hand, we would support her however she would need it all her life.” I’d also recommend reading their post What not to do when your child sees my daughter (and other kids like her), which says parents don’t need to shush their child and move them on their way for fear of embarrassment, but talk to them about difference and encourage them to look beyond the disability or disfigurement.
I posted something on my Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page recently about being in my pyjamas at 8pm on a Saturday night. Over a hundred of you liked the comment and dozens replied to say you too were in your PJs. I can guarantee half of you were probably watching Netflix, or some other kind of boxset… perhaps you even the uttered the words ‘Netflix and Chill’. Because contrary to what the youth of today think about it having something to do with sex, Netflix and Chill when you’re a parent is EXACTLY what Emma of Brummy of Mummy 2 describes in this brilliantly funny post. She writes, “Let’s reclaim ‘Netflix and Chill’ and encourage the youth to go back to ‘booty call’. I understood that. And lived quite safe in the knowledge I was never going to receive one. Unless it was a wrong number.” Her blog always makes me laugh.