The mother-tongue is mighter than the sword

Posted Saturday 20th April 2013   By Ericka Waller

A Huffpost article suggests that modern women are undermining feminism. I recently wrote about Shakira making the front-page for stepping out ‘looking amazing just five weeks after giving birth’. I certainly put a few noses out of joint that day. “You really have issues, aunty. I guess you’re just a fat-grumpy-bitch with no job or social life, that is why you are too lazy to lose weight and so jealous of Shakira. PS You need a shrink and Jenny Craig.”

“I think you should find a counsellor to help work out your self-esteem issues, or failing that, a gym.  Regards, a 5ft 9, size 8, flat stomached mum of two who’s youngest is little more than a year old.” (I am not sure stomached is a word, but ‘go you’ anyway.)

It was not the weight-loss that bothered me too much actually (being a bony-bummed size 6 who longs for a pair of her own ‘humble mountains’). It was the fact that she made the front page for it, fuelling the pressure for mums to be ‘yummy’.

Are there not more worthy women who could grace that paper space?  With better messages for our children?

But then, as another reader commented ‘She can’t win. Fat or thin, she will be slated’.
She’s right. This is what we mothers have done to one-another. We can’t do right from wrong.  My friend and fellow blogger Lisa recently wrote about leaving her son to ‘cry it out’. The barrage of hate she received was overwhelming. She was writing for support, and to give support. What did we do? We told her what a terrible mother she was and suggested she should be fired from her position as a BabyCentre blogger.

The Huffpost article accurately defines this as  ‘Mother Judgement – the war between those who do and those who don’t. Those who do breastfeed. Those who do go out to work. Those who do co-sleep. Those who do controlled crying. Those who do buy food in a jar.’

I would never approach big-mouth-mum at the school gate and tell her I noticed she failed to indicate coming into the car-park or did 23 miles-per-hour in a 20 zone. She has no problem coming up to me when Thing-two is having a wally-fit in the playground and telling me how to deal with it however.

I find myself becoming a chameleon mother, just to fit in. If I’m with mums who breastfed, I agree wholeheartedly it’s the only way.  Later the same day, when with mums who did not or could not (“could not” my doula friends scoff “did not want to more like”) breastfeed, I praise formula for its ability to help gauge how much a baby has drunk. On some play-dates I get out the Haribo, and other times the raisins. If everyone else admits their kids sleep in bed with them, then I will too.

I feel like a kid again myself most of the time.

I did not get given a handbook along with my children, nor do I feel qualified to write one.

Instead cling to the proverb ‘A happy mum has a happy baby’ and try to walk the fine line between me and ‘mum-me’.  Because I know my house is made of cards and I am perched precariously at the top. If I can’t stay strong, we all fall down. I know this because I’ve been there, done it, and picked up the pieces.

Until us mums can pull together, stop segregating, bullying, justifying and jostling, we will continue to undermine feminism, not drive it.

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