If you look on Facebook or Instagram at the moment there seems to be a flood of posts and blogs by mums all trying to outdo each other in the name of humour about how catastrophic, chaotic and relentless life with their kids is. Many of these blogs have huge followings and also book spin offs that are hitting the best seller lists regularly.
Now I want to make a couple of things clear before I carry on as I honestly don’t want to offend, alienate or upset anyone with what I am going to say (I am honestly not getting all daily mail judgemental here). I am absolutely all for us being more honest and open about things that are hard in life, that we struggle with and that might have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
I don’t think anyone should feel the need to pretend that life is perfect and a bed of roses while they quietly cry alone at night over aspects of their life. I also don’t actually believe that any of the authors feel anything other than absolute love towards their children and spouses and are actually very grateful for the lives they have.
Many of these authors are very talented writers and it is easy to see what their appeal is. However I do question why there is a trend to make life sound like, frankly,one big pain in the arse with kids and partners taking the brunt of it and being written about for comedy effect?
Similarly why are those who don’t do this become held up as being in some way fake and not giving a true representation of life on their social media?
As a special needs mum (and one with, I think, a decent sense of humour, an open approach to life and actually not one to shy away from a gin and tonic once a week) I wonder why I can’t relate to these blogs? Is it because I can’t allow myself to? Because if I hammed up the mundane, the chaos and all the bad parts then actually it would all become a bit too much?
As actually yes, there are some really tough parts involved in special needs parenting and unlike a typical parenting journey it is uncertain if these will ever stop! The sleepless nights, the feeding issues, the toileting issues, the lack of communication, the 24/7 reliance on you to always be there….all the things sent up in the blogs which for these authors will pass, are likely to our reality forever.
Do I really want to focus on that in a negative way or do I prefer to look at the positive parts of life and celebrate those instead?
Is it because I genuinely feel nothing but gratitude for being able to fulfil my role as a mother as it wasn’t certain that our daughter would survive? When you have been so close to that you can count your blessings over and over and over every single day.
The special needs community also brings you close to many other parents struggling and also tragically facing loss of their children which is a huge reminder that life is so fragile and for living to the full every day.
Is it because I am naturally a positive person with lots of energy and also a sense of tenacity that makes me think ‘OK this is the life we have been chosen to have, so lets make the absolute most of it for us and our daughter’ so I can’t actually contemplate putting a negative slant on things?
Or is it because I am actually a bit jealous that others have a life that is challenging, lets face it being a parent, any parent, is hard hard work. But challenging in a different way to ours and therefore a more carefree, tongue in cheek approach and more than one gin and tonic a week is possible?
I wonder if my life as a mum had been different and more typical, would I have had the same response to these blogs? Would I have related to them more? Would I have even given them more than a passing thought?
I guess that’s something I won’t know as that’s not my life and never will be. But I have one more question that floats round in my mind a lot when I see these blogs. And it’s a hypothetical one as I wouldn’t go down this route for reasons outlined above (ie preferring to live life with a glass half full approach).
I wonder what would happen if I wrote about our life with my daughter in the same tongue in cheek, negative way that so many of these blogs do? What would be the response if I were to say “oh god, another 4 f*****g appointments this week and 4 different hospitals…FML” or “god the f*****g monster was up AGAIN last night at 11,1.30,3,4.30 and 6…must have known I had drank 4 glasses of wine before bed”
Would people still think this was funny and worthy of reading and laughing over? Or would people think I was actually an appalling human being to dare have a negative thing to say about life with a child who is so dependent and so vulnerable?
And if so, why is it OK for us to do the same with typical children? Aren’t they are dependent and vulnerable? So whats the difference?
I wonder how I would respond to a blog by a special needs mum of this kind?
I would be really interested to see what other people think about this, whether you’re a special needs parent or not, perhaps you are the author of one of these blogs or if you are super-mummy to a child who has additional needs and perhaps one or more who do not. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your views on this.