I’ve read nasty comments about myself twice recently. The first occasion was work related, when I received a pretty unprofessional email from someone. But do you know what? He was clearly having a bad day and needed a hug. So after replying, I closed my laptop, and that was that. I didn’t give it another moment’s thought.
The second, however, was when I wrote a blog post about wanting to spend more time with the boys – and somebody wrote a comment saying: “How about you stop blogging and spend the time with them instead LOL!”
Or not – because, to be honest, that one did upset me.
You can slag me off all you like for a magazine feature I chose to write, or the clothes I picked to wear that morning, or the fact I am pretty hopeless at cooking. I won’t think you are the nicest person, but I’ll get over it in about three seconds.
But judge my mothering skills, and I immediately feel affronted.
It’s a bit comical actually, that anyone could think I would have time to blog while my boys played at my feet. If I even glanced at my laptop while I am with them, one child would immediately start throwing himself across my lap to reclaim the space, while the baby would toddle straight towards a reachable glass of water / standing lamp / plug socket.
But I am not writing this blog post to defend myself. I’m writing it because it isn’t the first time I have felt judged as a mother. I’ve felt it so many times in the last three years.
When I was feeding my newborn baby a bottle as he stopped latching and I didn’t want him to starve – and I noticed people on the next table whispering and raising their eyebrows.
When I was dealing with a tantrum in public and my toddler was kicking me and screaming – and I made the decision to scoop him under my arm and keep walking, trying to ignore the shocked looks from passers by.
When I was in a café and my toddler was in the queue at a coffee shop proudly holding his money and a lollipop and I heard tuts from the queue behind.
When I gave my two-year-old son his dummy on a flight as he was screaming and disturbing other passengers – and a mother in the row alongside mouthed ‘dummy’ to her husband, whilst pointing to her mouth and raising her eyebrows.
Why can’t we all be a bit kinder to each other?
None of us know what we are doing in the motherhood lark. The job comes with no rulebook, no weekly appraisals, and no mentor services. We are all doing the best we can, working with colleagues that are less than compliant and very rarely offer to do the tea run.
It’s not easy.
And sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we do things we regret, and sometimes our whole day can be ruined by a raised eyebrow or whispered comment.
It’s just so unnecessary.
The saving grace is that this job comes with rewards.
The very best rewards.
And at the end of the day, when I am crawling through a homemade den in the lounge with two boys in pyjamas and everyone is howling with laughter, I know that is all that matters.
So next time I hear a tut, I am going to try and remember that.
That is all that matters.