So 2016, the year of the celebrity grim reaper, has finally gone. I can’t tell you how genuinely devastated I am about Bowie, Prince and George. They were the soundtrack to my life for so many years. The loss we feel for the famous is bizarre so let’s get back to real life. The year was also a bit of a bumpy ride for us as a family. We had a stressful house move, welcomed a beautiful baby boy and lost my husband’s much-loved Nanny Noo. I had a fantastic physical recovery from my c section but then struggled little bit emotionally further down the line. The hubby suffered a bit of employment uncertainty but it turned out fine. We had no sleep, then some sleep, then no sleep again. I got fat, I got slimmer and then I got a bit fat again (Screw you, December). I started the blog and through it, I met some great people and had some great feedback. I also had some not so great feedback. All in all, I’d describe 2016 as “undulating” and that’s ok because let’s face it, that’s life. Our little family escaped 2016 with all arms and legs in tact, food in our tummies (way too much in mine) and a roof over our heads, which is more than can be said for a great deal of people on this earth, such as those in Aleppo.
Nevertheless towards the end of 2016, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps and this wasn’t helped by a particular comment on the blog. Now, in reality, I should just be glad that people are reading the blog, let alone commenting, but this particular comment wasn’t too flattering and it got to me. When you put yourself out there in a blog, you make yourself vulnerable and the more personal it is, the more vulnerable you are. There is a certain level of resilience required when you put your head above the parapet. Not everyone will agree with you and you are probably a little arrogant or extremely naïve to think otherwise. More than anything, I just wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t really think anyone other than my mum and my mates read it and they wouldn’t say anything derogatory (or would they?). Anyway, it happened and someone, who didn’t even have the courage to put their actual name to their remark, didn’t like the blog. So bloody what? Quite, but I still lost the best part of a whole night’s sleep obsessing over it.
I have spent the last couple of weeks debating whether to carry on writing. I am prone to being a shade hyper sensitive and I am an obscene overthinker. If I can’t stand the heat and all that. But then, on the other hand, who gives a shit that some randomer doesn’t like it? What exactly is the impact on my life if an anonymous face in the crowd thinks I am a moaning, unfit mother who should give up their kids? They aren’t paying me to write it. I suffer no loss of earnings. No one dies or is injured. There is only an impact if I allow a person, who has totally missed the goddamn point, to have an impact.
In light of this, I have decided upon my 2017 New Year’s Resolution. To give slightly less of a crap. Not about those around me, who I love dearly, but about the faces in the crowd. What’s that old cliché? Those who matter, don’t mind and those who mind, don’t matter. Then there is the other cliché; change what you can’t accept and accept what you can’t change. (The ‘writing to persuade’ module from GCSE English makes me want to find a third cliché to complete this section but I can’t think of a relevant one right now. Balls.) The thing about clichés is that there is truth in them. That is how they become hackneyed and hum drum and something you cringe at when they are used on business training courses (“Think outside the box”, “blue sky thinking”, that type of crap). Those cringey pieces of advice are actually relevant though.
Of all the ridiculous things that bother me, judgement is probably up there with bad manners and bigotry. I worry that people think I am fat and ugly. What does that matter? Yes, I’m medically over weight right now but that is (or should be) a problem for my health alone. My best friend has known me at a size 12 and at a size 20 and has never been arsed. Or at least, she has never said that it bothers her. She’s probably more bothered by my big mouth getting me into bother after several Bacardi and Coke. My husband is, admittedly, contractually obliged to find me at least vaguely attractive but he genuinely doesn’t seem to mind that I have a furrowed brow and crows feet. He’s the one that has to wake up next to me everyday and if he’s ok with my make up free mush, what does it matter how I look when I turn up at bootcamp, ready to sweat to death? I’m gonna look like a sweaty beetroot by the end of it, anyhow.
I worry that people judge my parenting. I stress if the boys cry in public or if I have to yell at my challenging toddler in front of distant relatives. Which is inevitable because there is no better time for a toddler to give you a right showing up than in front of someone who will be completely horrified by their behaviour and doesn’t see you often enough to witness an adorable child in action. I worry people will think I am a tyrant and a bully, when actually I am just trying to find the balance between being strict enough to make them decent human beings with boundaries but loving enough to make them emotionally stable. I snuggle my boys all the time. I am going to be that mum who kisses her 13-year-old sons in front of their friends, causing catastrophic embarrassment. My friends, family and the girls at nursery know I love my kids deeply. They know I think my kids are beautiful, clever and funny. They also know that my boys are trying and boisterous and just plain irritating at times. They know a bit of tough love is necessary. Strangers may see a snap shot of our lives but they don’t see the rest. Besides, what was it that Philip Larkin once said in ‘This Be The Verse’? “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.”
If you are a parent judging others or offering unwanted and unwarranted advice, perhaps even jumping in when a parent is disciplining their child, please remember, in your own way, you may well be just as bad. You might be perfect on paper but somewhere along the line, something will probably have gone astray. I know you are trying your best and that is absolutely good enough but, you know, not everything goes right all the time and that’s really absolutely fine. Babies cry, children are naughty. And if you don’t have kids but judge others, all I can say is; Yes. I remember how easy parenting was before I had children too. If you think my children are awful and that I am a bad mother, well, we probably wouldn’t get on anyway so let’s be grown up about it and leave it at that. My kids are growing and thriving, therefore your opinion is irrelevant. I make mistakes but I am not a bad person because I do. I am human.
In 2017, I am going to try and eradicate as much parental guilt as possible. I am going to try not to stress about how I wean or when I potty train or whether I let my kids sleep in my bed. I will not get in a tizz because I go out once in a blue moon and enjoy myself. Why should I feel bad for trying to find a balance and be happy? I will do my best not to judge others either. As long as kids are healthy, happy and loved. That is all anyone should be interested in.
In 2017, I’ll do the usual stuff that everyone must pledge to do (but probably fail epically at by March.) I will lose weight and get fit. I will not spend so much money on crap and I will stop declaring my undying lust for television personalities on Twitter in case they get restraining orders on me… blah blah blah… (Oh, ok. Maybe that last one is just me. Sorry Umar Siddiqui off Gogglebox, Greg Davies and Andy Day off Cbeebies. I will chill the fuck out with my lusty tweets) Mainly, though, I will accept the fact that I can’t change the opinion of strangers and that these anonymous people are inconsequential. I will aim not to care and won’t base my self-worth on the opinions of people on social media. I won’t let people who think I’m a bit rubbish stop me doing what I want to do. When I went to Blogfest back in November, the fantastic Cash Carraway (The Comeback Mum, check out her blog) talked about having her voice taken away and how she recovered from that. It was such a powerful message. In 2017, I will not give up the blog. Sorry to disappoint, haters. I refuse to be silenced and I refuse to care if people don’t like it. I just hope I am not misunderstood in the process. If I am, well, never mind. Resilience. That can be my cringey buzzword for this year.
Happy New Year. Here’s to not giving a flying fuck and being happier for it! Chin, Chin! (I probably should make a resolution not to swear quite as much too)
PS, a huge thank you to everyone who reads the blog. The comments on here and on the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages have been wonderful and I have been genuinely surprised by the response. Although I didn’t prepare myself for unkind comments, I definitely never expected the ridiculously lovely ones. Mwah. Mwah. Mwah xxxx