I Know

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

Not long after I had my baby boy last year, a friend added me to a Mum’s group on Facebook – the kind of closed group where people ask questions and share advice about parenting.

Tonight, I left the group. I can no longer deal with the completely ignorant, trivial, outrageously stupid comments. It’s infuriating. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention of the group.

I’m honestly surprised I remained a part of it for so long. Sure, there have been a few helpful posts from time to time, but not often enough to justify seeing absolute dribble pop up in my timeline more often than desired.

Perhaps something went wrong when I had my baby. I didn’t change as a person. I didn’t grind my life to a halt and spend every moment obsessing about my child. I didn’t become paranoid about germs and noise pollution.

I am still the same person.

In fact, I might even be a bit better. A tad wiser. And even less interested in being diplomatic.

Because, after having a child, here’s one thing I know more than anything else: having a child does not make you intelligent or productive or logical or accomplished or attractive. If you didn’t have it before you were a parent, you aren’t going to have it after becoming one.

And contrary to what the world will have you believe, we are not all born equal. I am not the same as you or him or her and certainly not them. We are the product of our environment, our genes, our choices, our experiences, our opinions, our attitude and so much more. Some people are better than others. That’s not even up for debate. It’s the bloody truth. And if you disagree, if you’re offended, you should probably stop reading now.

This is only going to get worse.

Tonight’s post, the one that raised my blood pressure and quickly prompted me to hit ‘leave group’, was from a mum expressing concern that the childcare centre she was considering enrolling her son in had a male carer and that was a major turn off to her. Because, you know, male carers in childcare centres must automatically be child molesters.

I was actually a little disgusted by her view. I read through the comments on the post and some people thought she was being overly paranoid and others agreed with her. And then I thought; I wonder what people would have said if she expressed concern about an Asian carer at the childcare centre? Or an Indian one? Or a homosexual carer?

And then I thought; what kind of men does this woman have in her life? Because all of the men in mine are wonderful and decent and exceptional, and dare I say it, sometimes much better people than their female counterparts.

And then I thought; how did we get to a point where it’s ok to validly and publicly assume that the actions of a few horrible men can define an entire gender and generation?

And then I thought; I bet she watches A Current Affair every night. That or Today Tonight. Because if you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer or you’re more ignorant than informed, it’s the exact type of deluded paranoia that these pathetic programs rely on to keep their ratings afloat.

And now, typing away furiously, I think; why just men? Women can be violent and abusive. What about that?

So that was it for me.

That and the fact I’m not actually interested in half the shit these mothers talk about. Parenting isn’t actually that complicated. Your child is not a robot designed to mimic your life and embody your hopes and dreams. Your job as a parent is to equip your child for the world, to the best of your abilities – to encourage them, to help them grow – physically, emotionally, mentally – to guide them, to give them the tools to be the best person they can possibly be, and hopefully use that in a way that helps others.

No one talks about that in this group. The focus is on more important things, like, you know, how to get your child to sleep in later, so you can sleep in later, and how to buy a house in the right zone so you can get the best education for your child without having to pay for it, and where to stay in Bali, and ‘oh, where was that café again, the one where I can sip my decaf-skim-latte-and-let-my-kids-run-wild?’, and how to give solids to your child, and why weet-bix are evil, and ‘where can I buy a realistic looking doll that doesn’t look too doll-like but is still a doll?’

There’s a lot of that going on.

It’s all funny memes and quotes about motherhood that are supposed to make an ordinary woman who has never done anything significant with her life feel better about her decision to bear children and cries of ‘I’m boooooooored, what can I do today?’

Bored? Bored? I haven’t been bored a day in my life.

And now, thankfully, I won’t get infuriated half as often either.

The mums I know – the ones I’ve made friends with and met along the way – are all amazing women. So I console myself with the hope that the ones that grate me so much are far and few between. Because I don’t want my son growing up in a world where he thinks that being a male child care worker, or a male anything, is weird or uncomfortable or unmanly.

I don’t want him to believe that what he sees on television and in advertising is a true depiction of what it means to be a man. Newsflash; not every man loves his shed and only knows how to navigate a remote control and enjoys beer and is stupid/embarrassing to his family.

For all our efforts in telling girls they can be anything they want (and they can), and for all the trail-blazing in helping them get there, we have somehow left behind a few huge gaping holes for our boys.

The holes are everywhere. On our TV screens and in our iPhones and in our schools and coming out of the mouths of women.

Enough.

To the woman concerned about her son being in a centre with a male childcare worker, I only want to know your answer to this:

If you think so poorly of men, how can you ever hope to raise a good man?

Standard

22 thoughts on “Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

  1. Catherine Spurritt says:

    Amen.
    Here’s to being driven, reasonable and passionate mums who are already teaching our boys so much about what is right and just and true. X

  2. I really love this, I am not a mother which is my choice but sometimes at 28 when a majority of my peers are becoming mothers it seems I am all of a sudden not as good as them and all those memes and things only help to solidify that view to inane women such as you mentioned. Also my husband is currently in nursing school and sadly out of the 60 odd students he started with only 3 other are male students because to be a male nurse is still considered a bit odd which is really very sad.

    • That really is sad. I was chatting to a male nurse recently – who loves his job and is wonderful at it – and he was mentioning similar ratios. It’s really sad how many men avoid careers they’d otherwise thrive at due to stigma and judgement. Good on your husband!

      Also, you are enough. With children or without. Have children because you want to, when you want to, if you want to. Not because you think you should.

      • It really is, it took him quite a few years of schooling and living to finally say he wanted to do nursing school because he felt that as a husband some sort of business thing would be the better idea. I am so happy though that he finally pursued something that makes him feel fulfilled and he can grow with over the years.

  3. Teapot says:

    Thank you for this from a childfree by choice woman. My friends with children are all lovely, passionate people and wonderful parents doing the best they can and it’s wonderful to know they aren’t alone out there as being not only parents, but rounded individuals.

  4. Tinaf says:

    I left one for the exact same reasons! I started doubting my own instincts and that’s when I knew it was time to leave.
    Some of the posts were scary and I wondered if some of these women we real? Great article.

    • Thank you!

      You raise a really good point – it’s concerning how many people take medical and health advice from these forums.

      You know best and your own instinct is best – good decision.

  5. Oh my gosh, I love you. Every time I read your words it makes me so happy. Happy to know that the things I am thinking aren’t ridiculous and other people think them too.

    I don’t have children, and I’m not sure that I will have them, and part of that reason is because I am scared of becoming those women that you have described. Deep down I know I’m not like them, and I would fight everything to stop turning into them, but it just intrigues me. I don’t understand what it is that makes them go so loco. I actually LOL’d at the A Currant Affair part and the being bored part, I think the exact same thing.

    I agree with everything you said and I thank you so, so much for putting all of this into words. It is so nice to know that their are people like you out their in the world. And little O is very lucky to have you as his mum.

    Much love
    Jx

    • Oh thank you, J, that’s very sweet of you.

      Firstly, if you don’t want to have children, don’t. But don’t not have them because you’re scared of becoming something you don’t want to be – if you don’t want to be that, then don’t be that.

      I’m so glad that my stream-of-consciousness rant has resonated with so many – particularly those who don’t have kids that sometimes feel disconnected from mothers.

      I am very lucky to be O’s mum. He is nothing short of remarkable and teaches me something new every day.

      Thank you again xxx

  6. Ed says:

    Spot on. These women are THE biggest pains- and sometimes morons as well. A few weeks ago I read one thread where mothers were saying how they HATE the elderly coming up, speaking with and… Horror… Sometimes touching the cheeks of their children!! One charmer replied that she takes out an antibacterial wipe, swipes her kid and replies “keep your filthy old-person germs away from MY child”.
    Nice. Check out thermomix Facebook sites for more daft, bossy, ignorant and self-righteous fuckwits. Hilarious.

    • Ed, I have read similar things, too. It’s kind of horrifying. Whenever people complain about the behaviour of children, I always suggest they take a closer look at the behaviour of the child’s parents. Usually explains it all.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Sarah, you will be a beautiful mother! If you’re lovely pre-baby, you’ll be lovely post-baby. The real disadvantage to the world is that horrible people can have children.

  7. I am seriously considering shutting down my Facebook…. very much over stupid, ignorant people. Mums groups are the worst online and I thought mother’s groups where bad when the boys were little (The “oh my husband works for such and such and I used to work at *insert big company here* and we own blah blah” or the “Oh my child can do this and this now… oh can’t yours?”) I lasted three sessions and that was it!
    Why do women feel the need to be so competitive and judgmental? Also, when did society become so stupid or are we just seeing it more because of social media?

    • I’m not sure, Kellie. I know this; some people get pissed off when you’re happy in life, and when things go well for you. Kind of terrible, but it’s true. And if you’re a mother, and choose to focus on the positive, and be happy, and not moan and whine, you sometimes won’t fit in. And that’s ok.

      I too am not interested in pissing in the pockets of people I would never choose to associate with.

      As for your last question – I really don’t know. Perhaps a thought for my next post?

  8. Clare says:

    I am a new Mum and I too was afraid of my Mother’s Group. But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised – it’s far more stimulating and diverse than I would have imagined, both in personality types and the choices that individual women are making about how they mother, how they partner and how and if they will work.

    I think your article is a well-written vent, but I feel sad that you have so much anger and intolerance towards women (mums) who are different to yourself. There are so many complicated factors at play that determine the actions and behaviours of new mums – supportive or not partner, broader support network, self-value, sleep or lack of, peer group pressure, etc – so it’s a bit sad that you seem to have crudely generalised a very diverse mix of women. You are in essence just contributing to the problem.

    I’m happy for you that you are so happy and you’ve never had a bored day in your life. Judging by your Twitter feed which is forever peppered with great and positive things, no doubt you have a great partner, a great job and a great support network. Good for you.

    The the one thing you have missing though is acceptance. Celebrate difference because it’s what makes you interesting.

    • Hi Clare, this post has absolutely zero to do with my mother’s group – my mother’s group is incredibly lovely, supportive and great fun. It’s solely about a Facebook group for mums that I was added to – one that is far more judgemental, ignorant and backward than I ever expected.

      I appreciate your comment and opinion, and, to be honest, am surprised I haven’t received more like it. For some reason the second you say something against women, and particularly mothers, you become a bit of a target. But I do take on board your comment.

      I do just have to clarify one thing; I have acceptance in spades. I just chose not to tolerate this particular group anymore because it was adding nothing positive to my life. What I can’t make amends with is tolerating the kind of behaviour that I saw last night – mothers judging men for choosing a line of work. Mothers judging men for being men. Mothers making wild accusations about men. That kind of attitude is disgusting and far more damaging than it is productive.

      I’m not judging all mothers – I’m commenting on how I feel about a few particular things. You don’t have to agree with them. But I’m more than entitled to express them.

      I know there’s a million factors that determine how a new mother acts and behaves but there is no excuse for being so close-minded and judgemental that the woman writing the post in question can make public, paranoid comments – ones that others just might believe.

      My own start to motherhood was not easy; my son was five weeks premature. He spent nine days in a special care nursery. I had the labour from hell. I could write entire posts about all the things that were difficult, challenging, emotionally draining, traumatic…I could go on. What got me through all of that was yes, my supportive husband, and yes, my wonderful extended network of family and friends, but mostly, it was me. My attitude and my choices and my strength. None of those things come easily to me. I have to work on them every single day.

      You may not know that I spend many weekends away (and many days of the year) working voluntarily with youth in Melbourne and country areas through a program I run. These things; choices, attitude, self-respect, self-esteem, challenges and many more form the basis of the key themes we discuss. I feel so fortunate that every time I’m away on a camp, or running a workshop, or talking in a school, I’m refreshing myself on those very messages. Because it’s not often enough that people look at how their attitudes impact the world. It’s not often enough that people choose to start thinking about being better people, as opposed to finding excuses and justifications for their terrible behaviour.

      Mother or not, I’m not going to bite my tongue and allow such close-mindedness to go unnoticed.

      And yes, I’m a positive person. That’s also something I work on every day. And I am proud of the life I have created for myself and the people I have in my life.

      The great and positive things in my life are a direct result of me – my actions, my choices and my attitude.

      Good for me, indeed.

  9. MairiRose says:

    Oh, yes!
    I am fortunate enough to be part of an incredible online Mum’s group which is utterly non-judgy, supportive, and filled to the brim with evidence based advice, lively discussion, and humour.
    I know from direct experience that, sadly, this is highly unusual group.
    In “real life”, I have the interesting experience of being between two extreme attitudes to parenting from my sisters in law: one whose identity had been utterly consumed by her motherhood, & the other who says horrible things about women who chose to become mothers. These are both unpleasant, and found elsewhere in the world, but I am lucky enough to know many mothers and fathers who are loving, engaged parents, and lovely, interesting people. At the same time!
    I’ve got no time for the anti-mothers, nor for the often bigoted mothers-rule-all. Especially now that I am a mum 😛

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