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 continue my 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 March 2016, not in any particular order. Clicking on each of the titles will take you directly to that post. You can catch up with my selection for January here and February here.
This post by Alex of Lamb and Bear is something I’m sure a lot of mums will relate to. Heavily-pregnant Alex had a really tough day when her three-year-old had an enormous tantrum while out shopping. She physically couldn’t get her tantrumming son into his car seat. While he lay across the dashboard kicking and screaming, she sat in the car, crying “about failing as a mother”… and noticed a stranger staring at her for an uncomfortably long time. “I don’t know if you thought what was happening to me was entertaining. I don’t know if you thought it was strange. I don’t know if you thought I was an unfit mother. Whatever you thought, it made you stare at me during an extremely embarrassing situation,” writes Alex. “Perhaps next time you see a young mother battling with her child in a public place, slowly melting into an emotional breakdown, try looking the other way, try pretend it’s not happening. Because trust me when I say, we’re trying to pretend it’s not happening too.”
2. The Woman Behind The Screaming Kids, by First Tooth
Closely related is this post from Lizzie of First Tooth. She witnessed another mum losing her cool with a tantrumming child – and was really angry at the reaction of “the tutting brigade” for openly judging this mum. She writes, “Parents in this situation don’t need a tut or a glare to confirm that they’ll feel guilty for snapping once this meltdown is over. They already know this. It doesn’t make a whining child who’s body-slamming themselves onto a concrete floor in Tesco easier to cope with. If anything, it makes the mum think it’s all not normal. That her son is mental and she has anger issues. My least favourite thought as a first time mum was “why can everyone else cope so well, but I cant”.”
Fellow South Wales parent blogger Jess of Babi a Fi writes honestly and openly about her depression in this emotional post. Mental health issues affect one in four people… yet there’s still such a stigma around talking about it. I’m full of respect for Jess for being brave enough to put her experiences into words and hope the current dark clouds start to lift. She writes, “Mine came from nowhere, and it terrified me. It would get me one day, I knew, and I’d lose weeks, months, years even, to an illness most of the world still seemed to view as self-indulgent wallowing. That’s how I explained it to a counsellor the NHS sent me to see, in a cold, drab little room, and she told me that filling every second of my day with activity wasn’t the answer. It might stop me from thinking about it in the here and now, but I’d only set myself up for a breakdown.
It did, of course.”
Dave of The Dadventurer is a stay-at-home dad to a toddler and writes here about how lonely that can sometimes be. I know a lot of parents will relate to his position of not having family on the doorstep, being self-employed prior to becoming a dad meaning a lack of work relationships, and living in a town where he and his wife have no real roots. Although he goes to various toddler activities, some days are really lonely. “What I’ve found though is that this random adult interaction doesn’t really fill a void. On the whole, it’s just meaningless conversation – usually about your kids – which does nothing to provide that closeness, shared interest and bond which we look for in relationships and friendships. In fact, it can actually do the opposite and make you feel even more alone.”
Amy Ransom is a brilliant blogger, always hitting the nail on the head with her observations on parenting. The mum of three was concerned that a couple of her new mum friends were feeling that now their babies were a few weeks old, they should be getting on with stuff “even though they’ve got a baby stuck to them and are totally sleep deprived. This list is something every new mum should be given. “You do NOT need to feel guilty about anything,” writes Amy. “So what if you’ve been in your PJs for two days straight. So what if your older child is watching Netflix or the iPad all day. So what if no one’s eaten anything more nutritious than a handful of raisins they found on the floor. The first three months (at least) are about SURVIVAL. Your survival and theirs. You do whatever you need to do to get through the day. Because when you have a small baby in tow, getting through the day is totally enough.” As Amy says of this list, “Stick it on the fridge and remind yourself every day that you are already doing more than enough.”
I was laughing out loud reading this post from Sarah, aka The Unmumsy Mum. It perfectly encapsulates day to day life with a toddler, the tantrums, the mess, the love. Here’s a little snippet.
Got carried downstairs. Mummy always smiles at me, kisses me then tells me I stink. Every day. Yes I do have a ‘stinky bum bum.’ It’s hardly a surprise, is it?! She then changed my nappy before I was allowed my breakfast which made me cross because I spied my big brother tucking into his cereal. I kicked Mummy when I had poo on my foot and it left a stain on her trousers. Surprisingly, she said that this was ‘just great.’ Phew.
I read a lot of blog posts about breastfeeding following Jamie Oliver’s comments earlier this month. This one by Emily of Tea Lady Mumbles really stood out to me though because it was so utterly honest about just how difficult breastfeeding can be and the lack of support given to new mums. Talking about her antenatal breastfeeding class, Emily says she was given a doll to put at her breast and that was it. “They didn’t mention hand expressing, or how to collect precious colostrum in a tiny syringe when you’ve been awake for 48 hours already. They forgot to mention how it can really, really hurt. That your boobs are sore and your nipples red raw. No amount of Lanishoh is going to help. They don’t explain that once you’ve had the baby, no matter what time or how tired you are, you are expected to know what you’re doing. You’re given more leaflets and an A4 feeding chart to complete that you can barely read as you’ve been awake so long that you’re delirious.”
Lucy of Mrs H’s Favourite Things is a mum to one with one on the way. However, she’s also had four miscarriages. Here she contemplates the question of how many children she has and that there is no simple answer. My own first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and this is something I ask myself too. As Lucy writes,
“This is my sixth time carrying a baby.
No matter when they were lost to me. They were still my baby. They had the beginnings of life.
And I wonder what they would have been like.”
I loved this post from Simon of Man vs Pink to coincide with International Women’s Day. As part of a campaign with Oxfam, stay-at-home dad Simon was paired with another dad Alex, who lives in Zambia and cares for his daughter Ethel, since the death of her, to discuss their future hopes for their daughters. Simone writes, “While I’m concerned about whether our daughter gets into our choice of the great local schools in the area, Alex is worried about Ethel’s future schooling – there are no high schools at all in his area (he is campaigning for one).” He continues, “As a stay-at-home dad, I get narked about being referred to as a babysitter or giving mum a break. I was curious about how his community views him. “I receive a lot of criticisms especially from illiterate villagers… some have even gone to an extent of bringing a wife for me to re-marry just to make sure my daughter is taken care of by a female figurehead!” Very simple but a really powerful post.
Some days as a mum of three young children are hard… but I’m sure they will pale in comparison to the days when I have three teenage children to parent. That’s exactly what Agent Spitback writes about here, as she struggles to know what to say to her daughter. “As I listen to her crying now, I know that her pains are more complicated. It is not about being hungry anymore, it is about being betrayed by a friend. It is not about being dirty anymore; it is about failing terribly at a test.”