Mum Politics: To The Mum On The Forum

Tuesday, 14 March 2017
To the Mum on the Forum, 

I saw your post and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's one of those thoughts that's making me anxious, because I have so much to say about it and since I don't know you personally, I can't get it all off my chest. Your dilemma isn't huge and you've acknowledged that there are much bigger problems in the world but at the same time, you've said you now feel 'like a terrible mother' and, in my opinion, that's pretty serious.

So your son is approaching his first birthday and in all the chaos of moving house and everything that goes with it, you've realised that you won't have enough time to order him a custom birthday cake. You're now left with the horrifying prospect of presenting him with a shop-bought cake. On top of that, you're worried that the presents you've bought him, albeit expensive, 'don't look like much'. You said you've seen so many pictures of beautiful custom cakes and huge stacks of presents from other mums on Facebook and you feel guilty that you're not giving your son the same. You feel like a terrible mother, and that's the part I can't stop thinking about. 

I'm going to state the obvious and I'm sure this is something that you've probably been trying to drill into your own head too. Your son is almost one. He doesn't know or care if his cake is custom-made, shop bought or if it's a cadbury's mini roll with a candle on top. He doesn't care if he has a huge pile of presents - let's face it, he'll probably play with one of them for a few seconds and then spend the rest of the afternoon going in and out of the cardboard box it came in.

The thing is, you don't want the custom cake for your son. You want the custom cake and the huge pile of presents to impress the other mums on Facebook. You want to meet their standard of a 'good mum' - the mum that goes all-out for every birthday and Christmas, who has angelic, over-achieving children and the perfect (photogenic) family life.

Maisy Meow UK Lifestyle and Parenting Blog Competition between mums on Facebook


What you probably don't realise is that each and every mum on facebook has probably had their own variation of your problem. They're all trying to meet that standard. A standard unconsciously created by themselves. A competition that none of them ever wanted to enter but one where they now find themselves both the participant and the judge. Everyone is trying to compete and it's not because they want to brag or make you feel inferior, it's because they don't want to feel inferior themselves.

It's worth mentioning that you went into a secret group on facebook to vent about this. A group where no one knows each other, and everyone has their guard down. It's almost like you stepped back from the fake world of Facebook and whispered your question to the real world, before adjusting your 'mum of the year' badge and heading back in with a huge fake smile. 

I suggest you keep stepping back from that fake world and keep going until you are no longer in it. You don't need anyone to judge your parenting. It's not up to them to decide whether you're a good mum or not. When deciding what to get your son for his birthday, think about what would make him happy, not everyone else. You'll probably find that that's your love, your attention, your time. Spend the day playing with a new toy, singing happy birthday and he'll be over the moon. 

Instead of posting a photo of a huge pile of presents and an overpriced cake, post a picture of your happy, smiling boy on his birthday. Don't enter the competition, set a new standard of your own. Let's face it, anyone who thinks any less of you for it isn't worth your time anyway. If you stick two fingers up to the mum competition, the chances are other mums will feel encouraged to do it too. If you want to post something about your boy's birthday, think about your reasons for posting it and if you find you're doing it for validation from others, stop. Take a step back and remember you don't need it. 

Being a mum is hard enough as it is without that added pressure. Letting go of that competitiveness will be like a weight off your shoulders and will give you the freedom to follow your gut instinct and just do what makes you and your son happy. That's all that matters. 

Have any of you felt the need to compete against other mums on facebook?

10 comments on "Mum Politics: To The Mum On The Forum"
  1. I love this post - I saw the same post on the same forum and I can agree with pretty much everything you've said. It's a sad world when we're so consumed about meeting this ever elusive perfect parent standard, that we don't realize we're already better than it. The very fact that she's put so much thought into her childs birthday shows she's a brilliant mum - the Asda cake doesn't make her any less so. A little reminder for the rest of us also when birthdays roll around - posting pictures of the pile of presents on the more doesn't make you a better parent, it simply makes you one who is eager to appear to be one.

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  2. I do love social media but it does create fake standards wether its being 'Mother of the Year' or in the 'Perfect relationship' and people fall into this trap that what they read and see on Facebook are the standards which have to be met in order to be happy or successful. I loved this read and it absolutely spot on - "Set our own standards" and "anyone who thinks any less of you for it isn't worth your time anyway" Hear, Hear :) Chris.

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    1. Thanks Chris! You're right about the perfect relationship too, it's usually the complete opposite when it's plastered all over face book!x

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  3. I love this post so much. There are sooo many mums I know whose entire existence seems to revolve around lengthy Facebook statuses about how perfect their families are, how high their children's achievements are and how big the pipes of presents are on their birthdays. It's as if none of their family achievements are personal, it's all for show. People asked us what to get Lucas for Christmas last year- he was two weeks old! He was happy to get a bottle and sleep the rest of the day!

    Ada x

    adalovelacex.co.uk

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    1. Totally agree - we were the same at Christmas. Oliver was 8 weeks by then and still had piles of presents from when he was born. We didn't get him anything for Christmas as he had everything he needed already and didn't have a clue what was going on haha!x

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  4. It breaks my heart, although it doesn't surprise me, to know that some mothers think like this. As if society doesn't hold women to enough impossible standards already.

    I see a lot of these pictures of present hauls, particularly at Easter/Christmas, on the STFU Parents blog/Facebook page, and it makes me so uncomfortable. Parenthood isn't a performance. It's loving your kids, and raising them to be awesome little people. Something that I can tell from what you DO choose to share you're not going to have a problem with.

    Also: it was SO lovely to see you yesterday and I'm sorry for not saying goodbye before I had to rush back to work. Glad you're still able to make some time for yourself and you look absolutely wonderful.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. I know it really is awful. Wow I haven't seen Easter/Christmas hauls before - that sounds odd!

      Thanks so much - it was so good to see you too! Will hopefully see you again soon :)

      xxx

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  5. Loved this Eilidh, and you're totally right! I can't wait to have kids one day but I hope I don't get consumed with all the extra drama that seems to come with it these days!! Being a mum must be hard enough without trying to live up to unattainable standards! Plus it's all so false!! The amount of times I've been on Facebook and seen all the pics you're talking about...it really just seems a lot of the time that it's all out on for show!!
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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    1. There really is SO much drama, it's a whole new world haha! It can be so false at times and a lot of people see through it, it's just such a shame for those that don't and think they're doing something wrong when they don't have a huge pile of presents or massive birthday party! x

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