New Mumma - Fish fingers, Scum and the Daily Fail - What do Mum's really think?17:48
The Daily mail article which screamed the question, "Why are so many Women boasting they're Slummy Mummies?" written by Anna May Mangan author of “The Pushy Mother’s Guide” was in my inbox by 6am this morning. Not because I am anything to do with those named in the article, if anything it is very opposite to that, but because it was sent to me as just last week a journalist was saying that she wondered when the mother bubble would burst and people would turn against those struggling to retain elements of their pre-child normal existence?
Last year a friend and I set up a PR company. Having spent a whole career in communications of sorts it seemed like a good move; away from the corporate world but still working as I prepared for IVF and she continued to raise her toddler as a single Mum. We were on paper ideal candidates for the “sisterhood” of Mum’s. The first time I came across any of the characters in Ms Mangan’s article was at a business meeting of women looking to grow their own businesses. Women who had been professionals but had paused to have children.
Women who didn’t want to go back to the rat race of packed stations and clammy tube trains. It seemed an ideal platform to meet people who were like minded and it seemed as though this would be a greatly mutually beneficial stomping ground.
I attended the one meeting. Admittedly from that meeting I made a couple of good contacts who have always gone out of their way to help me with other clients (particularly the lovely Mother Pukka) but the main idea of the group it transpired was that they promote their own businesses. They stick together and like the pretty girls at school, if you are not in the gang then a watery smile and overly high pitched “Hiya” is all you will get from them. I am not cool. I had IVF. It failed. I wasn’t a Mum. It didn’t seem right to go back. So instead I busied myself with other clients, who despite not all being parents themselves seemed extremely understanding when I found out that I actually was pregnant a few months later (in fact when my son was just two days old a teething jewellery company signed up only to not pay for anything more than one month of a rolling contract trying to use the line that we were all working mums together – err yes love so stick to the contract that we sent you - and then plastered pictures all over her Instagram last month gushing over a new PR company….Sisterhood? Really?).
I make these points so you can see I am not part of the East London Massive. I haven’t been rejected by them, I am too insignificant for them to know I exist. Two weeks after giving birth I proudly donned a pre-pregnancy striped top and shuffled downstairs - strictures from C-section preventing proper walking – very proud of my milestone. It was promptly quashed when I read an interview by one of the “Scummy Mummy’s “ who had declared that she wasn’t one of the” Breton stripe brigade”. Immediately labelled in my own head I changed into a plain maternity top and sobbed in a hormonal uncontrollable way as for the first time since starting University I didn’t have a clue as to my identity and needless throw away comments can prickle at a post-partum brain like a child falling off a bike into a patch of nettles! I am so over it now.
My son is four months old and I am still not sure who I am yet. I still feel like I don’t quite fit anywhere (apparently it gets worse as by the time he is at school I will just be Theo’s Mum and nothing else!). I try to grasp to pieces of my old life. I embrace new groups and activities and balance the two but as always the world is judgmental. I live in a village. I drink gin. I don’t drink to the point I can’t care for my son but I am not averse to a glass or two in his company (and a tad more on nights when I am not in charge of him). I have heard horrific tales of how I must be suffering from PND. How I have to be helped home and how I shouldn’t have had him. It isn't true.
I would like to say it is water off a ducks back but it isn’t. It upsets me every time and even thought I know there is no truth in the allegations it chips at the veneer of confidence that is just that at the moment. We only just know each other. He has only been in this world four months and he didn’t come with a manual. I love him unconditionally and arm achingly but it doesn’t mean I want to spend 24 hours a day with him, nor does it mean I can’t have a break from him. If by creating a tight knit group these Mother’s have created careers and friendships out of that feeling of not knowing who you are any longer then good luck to them!
The hypocrisy, lack of research and simple bullying that was thinly veiled in this article compelled me to write something For example Ms Mangan says “Heaven forbid you should let slip any sign of pride, standards or pushiness”. Pushiness is not something that I for one associate with standards or pride. Pushiness is that awful attribute that creates tense, edgy children and an uptight atmosphere.
At one point Ms Mangan refers to the writers, bloggers and business women as “arrogant” and she goes on to talk about women who are desperate to hold their children and can’t. I would suggest she researched these ladies a bit better before she cast such aspersions as although I don’t know the stories of these women well I do know those of their “sisters” as like them I blogged for Tommy’s the Miscarriage Association. I have read their stories of pain and despair and dashed hopes and I know that as in any friendship group you would never intentionally make others feel bad so there is no way that any of their post were ever intended as arrogant. Their posts are intended to make those of us who feel like we are epically failing high five ourselves at the end of the day for keeping our children alive.
The thing that made me madder than anything in the whole of this article was not the hypocrisy that in an article back in 2008 the author admitted that during her determination to get her children into Medical school “There was no dusting, cooked food or dog walking for weeks” – a line for the RSPCA perhaps?- but the fact that she referred to Steph Douglas as a “Vicar’s daughter”.
How can what Steph’s Dad do have a bearing on how she leads her life? What tenuous link can associate a young mum who started her own company as well as raising a family and running a house to being the daughter of a vicar? How come Ms Mangan didn’t mention the professions of any other parents?
It is a discrimination I have had to put up with for years (in fact all 39 of them) and it still makes my hackles rise. More than a jumped up ageing woman who beat a system – and wrote a book bragging about it . More than the fact she so obviously bullied her children into University decisions (a bearing perhaps on the inadequacy she felt from her own teenage years?) and more than her casting aspersions on a group of Mum’s who are getting on with their lives.
To compare a group of women meeting up for a cheeky cocktail or describing tongue in cheek failures on a day to day basis as a reason to partake of a cheeky tipple or two to a William Hogarth painting of the slums of Georgian London is tantamount to bullying. My only regret? I had to click on the link to read the detail. My advice. Don’t read it! Just take it from me that a self-opinionated jumped up post-menopausal writer needed some material and this was the best she could do…..and then pass me the gin!