mummy with style

Love this old pic of Oliver and I playing.

You really don’t have to be a martyr to be a good Mum. Despite what the media and anyone without a clue, might tell you.

Yes motherhood can be tough (as well as flipping fun) and of course sacrifices are made (willingly too) but you don’t have to stop being YOU to be a good mum.

Take this baloney below (only an American word will do if I’m not swearing) that was doing the rounds on social media a while back (I’ve responded in bold).

Some of the points in the full version are funny and relateable like using baby wipes to clean your car and spending 3 days washing the same load because you forgot to take it out the first time, sure, but the ones below are in my opinion utter martyr-encouraging drivel-a subtle way to deny us of being a sane, normal, yet still loving, parent.

Yes it might be a bit of fun but the messages becomes ingrained, that to be a loving mum means losing your mind and dignity. That mothers, all mothers are a homogeneous lot, denying us of the many different ways of being a parent or at being at different stages of parenting.

Posts like the one below don’t help with the very real issues of sexism and work discrimination either.

Seriously WTF

Here it is:

Signs you’re a mum:

Instead of running from projectile vomit, you run towards it.

Are you kidding me? No one in their right mind runs towards projectile vomit. Wait though, being a good mother means you now actively pursue projectile vomit, right? You run towards it. I was vomited on last night. No it didn’t bother me, all I cared about was that my son was OK but seeking sick out-never.

This is just another way (subtly through humour) that mothers are made to feel bad if they don’t want to be puked on. Remember, there’s a sick bowl and toilet for a reason.

You do more in seven minutes than most people do all day.

Really? Yes motherhood is busy whether you’re a SAHM or working mother but frankly I don’t accomplish more in seven minutes than anyone else. Can we all just think rationally about our lives so we don’t end up bitter and undervalued please or worse, conceited and superior. Thanks. 

Happy hour has become the 60 minutes between your kids going to bed and you going to bed.

What? I love spending time with my kids, playing, reading, cooking, bath time, yes a break is good and guess what I’m a Mum and I still get to go out too (SHOCK HORROR), I drink cocktails and shake my booty (who knew?) so real happy hour is still experienced. You don’t have to sacrifice the things you love when you have kids.

You might not shake it as often as you like but you don’t have to undergo a personality transplant when kids arrive and the quicker we realise this the better. Bye bye parenting pressure. 

*Must add Happy Hour can mean fun with my actual kids (yes really)-if you read the FB post, you’d think parenting was all doom and gloom though.

You have mini-therapy sessions all day long with anyone who will listen.

No, I speak to friends and family who care but I try not to bore people’s socks off about my kids plus parenting is joyful a lot of the time and the majority of us just get on with things without complaining every two minutes like some needy, insecure, demented person the media likes to portray mothers as!

Going to the supermarket by yourself is a holiday. 

No a holiday is me in the South of France or anywhere hot (Yorkshire Coast just as good thanks) and carefree with my family, having an actual holiday. However pretty Waitrose is, it doesn’t come close to relaxation. Thanks. 

By the end of the day, brushing your teeth feels like a huge accomplishment.

Ok, yes sure that’s what I live for. Not sure who they are targeting with this nonsense, but it’s definitely not me. An accomplishment is having happy, healthy kids, doing a job I love which stimulates, making me feel like I’m meeting my own as well as my family’s needs and goals. 

If brushing teeth was a huge accomplishment once you’re a parent, would anyone actually procreate?

Would love to hear your thoughts…

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You Don't Have to Be a Martyr to be a Good Mum

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30 Responses

  1. Angie

    I feel like ending this post with an AMEN! SEriously I work from home and have easily spent 99% of the last 2 YEARS with my son everyday. I neither run around like a chicken with my head cut off NOR count down the minutes that he goes to bed.

    Everything you’ve said is bang on.
    Angie recently posted…transition to spring with a tiger sweaterMy Profile

  2. Jane @ northernmum

    Lovely big dose of realism, well done x
    Jane @ northernmum recently posted…Blue for a boy, pink for a girl: The importance of choosing the right toiletMy Profile

  3. Luci - Mother.Wife.Me

    Another load of tired old cliches doing the rounds then! Nice one for adding a more realistic point of view xx
    Luci – Mother.Wife.Me recently posted…#AllAboutYou Link & Pin Party Week 10My Profile

  4. Abby Boid

    When I worked in an office, I’d ask people how they were. 1 in 10 would announce, with a smug look in their eye ‘busy’. They would then take immense pleasure in telling you all the very important things they were busy doing. Oddly, they were also always the ones who never seemed to do much, preferring to judge and blame others.
    I see parents who put comments such as the ones you quote as coming from the same mould as these ‘busy’ people in the office. They give an air of superiority, they might make us question ourselves, but ultimately they are just a bit daft.
    Abby Boid recently posted…Feeling flat: A poem for pancake dayMy Profile

    • honestmum

      @Abby thanks for your comment, it’s interesting as some genuinely relate and find comfort in these posts but they don’t really speak to me personally and I found them to demean and undervalue us, they homogenize mothers and that’s no good thing!

  5. Caroline (BecomingaSAHM)

    Very interesting post Vicki! I definitely agree being a martyr doesn’t make you a good mum. I have changed a lot since having Monkey and my life is very different now, but that’s by choice and yes its hard sometimes, but you wont hear me complain about how different it is because that’s how I want it to be. I never want to make my kids feel responsible for my ‘self sacrifice’ because I changed my life for them. I changed my life for me, because this is how I am happiest right now.
    The article I’m sure is meant in good humour and I agree with a lot of what you say about it. I think it should be titled, you know you have a newborn if… As its much more about babies than kids. I agree that it could enforce martyr like behaviour, but i also think it could help some struggling mum feel less alone if they have had a hard day, been puked over endlessly and not even had a chance to brush their teeth. I may not like everything about it but anything that helps mums feel like they aren’t doing a bad job if they are not managing to be the ‘super mum’ we are all encouraged to aim for isn’t all bad in my opinion. Very thought provoking post as ever lovely! Xx

    • honestmum

      Thanks @Caroline and yes ‘You know you have a newborn’ is a crucial distinction from being a Mum-I just dislike how this seems to be the only way presented to people on what motherhood means, omitting the joy. Of course I agree we all sacrifice things and make sacrifices and I’ve never been happier since kids have arrived but a lot of the points didn’t speak to me. The tone is what I had issue with more than anything and you can still be a great mum without feeling like a martyr. Thanks for your fab comment x

  6. katie

    Totally agree that it is so important to keep the YOU when you become a mum, being a mum is not the only thing that define you and you are good proof of that lovely
    Not seen this post but i do think it sounds quite tongue in cheek rather than serious. i do however agree that going to the supermarket feels like a holiday – well sort of, i get so excited by any opportunity to shop sans kids (I don’t get hardly anytime alone though) x
    katie recently posted…The Ordinary Moments – Looking out for one anotherMy Profile

    • honestmum

      @Katie thanks for your comment, I agree it is crucial where possible to try and retain you/your hopes and goals… I disliked the tone and felt irrespective of it being funny in parts or trying to be or tongue in cheek, the message is powerful (that we have to deny ourselves/sacrifice ourselves when kids come along); it all feels pretty worthy and one dimensional to me and I take issue with these kind of posts being bandied around as the one/only way to be a good mother.

      There were a few funny, relateable points as I mentioned above but on the whole, this message has been on so many timelines (repeated and ingrained probably subconsciously by so many) almost like a badge of honour that if you behave this way, sacrifice your life and dignity, you’re a great mum and it bores me to tears.

      I agree getting to shop solo is fun, a holiday it’s not though! Thanks for your comment x

  7. Mama and More aka Zaz

    I think that this is a really good discussion topic which has so many layers to it, and the reality is different for every parent depending on their situation. I imagine it must feel pretty isolating and over-whelming if you don’t have a strong support network in place to lend a hand or a shoulder, especially in the early days, and it’s so easy for some parents to let themselves become absolutely consumed in their new roles, and then turn around and realize they’ve left behind a part of themselves. Media and social pressures don’t help either, and just antagonize that feeling of martyrdom. I go slightly twitchy if I don’t have some regular me-time, while of course I adore spending time with the kids. Completely agree that being a parent does not suddenly eliminate every other interest you have, nor should it. My mother inspired me by very much keeping her SELF nourished while being a loving and committed mama. So, shake that booty, and give it an extra shake for good measure, and for celebrating you.
    Mama and More aka Zaz recently posted…Work.Life.Balance? Meet Rhiannon Tudor, Project Manager in the Beauty IndustryMy Profile

    • honestmum

      @Mama and More thanks for this comment, your Mum rocks, my own instilled the same in me too and I totally agree and know first hand, it is so tough, isolating and life-changing when you first have a child.

      The unknown is scary and you can feel like you’ve lost yourself when kids arrive but it’s not usually forever and I really feel this kind of discourse only adds to the pressure, it’s pretty doom and gloom-suddenly you’ve procreated, so life is going to be shit (and oh yes we all know it can be) but why so black and white?

      Life with kids is joyful, life-enhancing and fun and it doesn’t have to mean an end to you or life outside of kids, even if your goals change or are even put back a while.

      This blog was born on my maternity leave and quickly became a business, something I never anticipated. Kids can open doors too. Yes posts like this can entertain in parts but a lot feels untrue and definitely doesn’t serve me personally. Thanks x

  8. Michelle @ Bod for tea

    This is a really interesting debate as I can see both sides. Humorous posts like this on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest can, as Kika has said here, be a release valve, a way of saying ‘yeah you know sometimes being a parent (and I say parent rather than just mother) is tough, but let’s laugh about the tough times’. And let’s face it that’s a very British thing to do. However, they do contribute to the parenthood martyrdom that you refer to, which I agree is unhealthy. Your point about Motherhood not stopping you being YOU is so true, although personally it took me a while to realise it. Great post and I’m really interested to see this debate continue in the comments. xx
    Michelle @ Bod for tea recently posted…Parenting Around The Planet: Expat Mammy in DubaiMy Profile

    • honestmum

      @Michelle thanks for your comment, I think it can take a while to realise it’s OK to be you and I wonder if things like this (along with a lot parenting/ martyrdom discourse generally), however subtle and at times humorous, hinder that.

      It promotes constant, un-relentless self sacrifice (doesn’t mention Dad’s) and doesn’t offer other choices (other ways to be a mother or how to continue to be you)-it even denies you Happy Hour (insinuating once you have kids you’ll rarely go out) and as a feminist, it feels pretty sexist to me too. ‘This is it now you’re a parent’ (although this is clearly targeted at mothers not parents as the title and content suggests) so yes sexist…’and guess what your life will be filled with brushing your teeth as a HUGE accomplishment and going round tesco alone for fun’. Where is the reality or the joy frankly in parenting?! Not here!

  9. Becky

    Just to reiterate what I said on twitter, it really annoys me that people ASSUME you just don’t go out anymore, or have any of the same interests once you have kids. I have two toddlers and go out LOADS, but I also do a lot both for, and with, my little ones. Whilst I love being with them, I’m also someone who needs a bit of space, otherwise I feel quite claustrophobic being demanded on all the time! I’ve had a few snotty comments like “Oooh, out again are we, haha!”, and I want to kill them. WHY shouldn’t I go out? Especially when children are in happy, content, and more than likely, tucked up in bed! I’m lucky though that my OH is really hands on with them and I can leave them in his care without worrying about their survival (!), and we have family nearby who babysit, which I realise not everyone has. I think we’re so conditioned to people making these little quips/asides, both in real life and on social media, that people almost don’t realise they’re saying them. Doesn’t help the cause against Mummy-martyrdom, but I guess it might help someone in the depth of child-rearing despair think they are not alone in feeling like crap sometimes! Good post.

    • honestmum

      @Becky totally agree, points well made, yes the post might well help someone in despair although for me, a more honest approach at how rubbish life can get at times with kids would be more reassuring than a post like this whose tone promotes a willingness of utter acceptance without complaint.

      I too am lucky to now have lots of help and a husband who shares responsibilities but I realise not everyone has. I was in despair with my first child, lonely, far from home with little help and it wasn’t fun but for me- as someone who was desperate to feel normal and myself again to get by, I would not have sought solace or reassurance with this kind of posting. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Hannah Ruth

    Well said Vicki. We love being mamas and it doesn’t compromise who we are as people. Quite the opposite – it enriches our lives and makes every moment better! x
    Hannah Ruth recently posted…The Sublime Bump: 15 weeksMy Profile

    • honestmum

      Thanks Hannah, totally agree, being content and forfilling pursuits I want, working, personally makes me happier and this makes my kids happy x

  11. Kika Charalambous

    I have to admit I think posts like this are not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not sure they’re referring to motherhood as a whole and rather more specifically the early days of trying to find your feet with a newborn or very young baby. I don’t think they are entirely negative and can sometimes make some new mums, or even those raising a second, third…very close in age to siblings, feel like they’re not alone. I’m fortunate that I have lots of friends and family that are going through early motherhood with me and we talk about the difficulties of raising little ones and offer support and encouragement as well as sharing the good times and the moments we’ll cherish. Those not in such a fortunate position can feel very isolated and down on themselves that they’re not living up to the ‘yummy mummy’ expectation which is also thrust upon us through the media. I don’t think any mother reading these FB posts would take much of it literally…of course nobody runs towards projectile vomit but I think the fact that vomit no longer phases a mum is indicative of what she has to deal with on a daily basis. Both my boys have suffered with reflux which meant several changes of clothes for them and me were always packed in our changing bag. Similarly the comment about going to the supermarket being a holiday – of course that’s not literal either but not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to go away and just some time on your own to breathe is a luxury. I believe every woman has their own unique experience of motherhood and totally agree that she should never be made to feel that she is no longer the person she used to be. However, sometimes a light hearted post on FB can make all the difference when a mother is feeling like she doesn’t measure up to the flip side of the expectations quite often inflicted on us, not only by the media, but sometimes even by other mothers too.

    • honestmum

      @Kika thanks so much for your comment. I will respond to each point made-I agree these kinds of posts and some of the points I mentioned above in my post are relate-able and entertain but not all, however flippant or intentionally funny.

      I dislike the overall tone, the underlying message. It’s not honest to me, it’s pitting women against women (as you mention is sadly apparent with mothers) and asks us to conform to being a mother they prescribe and in only one way-a martyr mother who essentially stops being her when kids arrive. I found it demeaning.

      …I had a traumatic first birth, far from family or holidays and struggled particularly in that first year of my first son’s life but this kind of post would not have helped me personally then (and this is my own subjective, personal view) because it isn’t saying it’s OK to feel like shit, to want something else, to ask for help, to feel like you’re failing-it’s saying this is part an parcel of motherhood and you must accept it (see it as your duty) to STRUGGLE and wallow and feel awful and run towards sick etc etc.

      I had a colicky baby, struggled on no sleep for months without any real help and this kind of post is saying that’s just how it is, deal with it, don’t complain, this is motherhood- when it doesn’t have to be that way (not always anyway).

      Partners, friends, family, Gp’s etc where possible can help take the pressure off, share duties and bad times are never usually forever.

      Life and personality doesn’t have to change irrevocably because kids arrive.

      If you want to pursue other things, it’s OK. If you want to be a SAHM, that’s OK.

      These posts are so black and white to me. Despite being funny in parts, it affects subtly and leaves an impression and to me, just feeds into the pressures to be a subservient mother without goals of her own.

      It feels almost subliminal to me, these messages, this pressure of martydom. Motherhood/parenthood doesn’t have to mean those things, all of the time.

      I take issue with the content of some but not all of this post as I mentioned in my post as it alludes that we SHOULD feel OK with what is often tough and challenging because we’ve sacrified our diginity, personality to become bottom sniffers and sick-courters.

      It makes me feel belittled personally (that motherhood is the only thing that defines me), that I’ve sacrificed myself for kids.

      Pitching women against women and making many however subtly, feel being anything other than what is presented here, as a bad mother is what I take issue with.

      I’ve been there with the trials and tribulations of motherhood and still am some days, but for me, following my owns pursuits and much needed down-time (however small, short) make me personally a better, happier mum.

      Totally understand and value your points and appreciate many will of course take these literally but despite this I feel the underlying messages can be powerful.

      Thanks again for such a considered, thought-provoking comment.

      • Kika Charalambous

        Thanks for your reply Vicki. I hadn’t really seen these FB posts in this way and it’s been interesting to hear all the different views on them. If they help someone in need of reassurance that they are not alone at times then great but agree that a positive image of mums should also be projected…perhaps if some of the points that are a little off the mark were replaced with some more positive images of working mums and SAHMs that have their own lives… e.g. you know you’re a mum with a baby when, on a night out, you reach into your purse for your lip gloss and find a tube of teething gel instead?!! Thanks for a great read x

      • honestmum

        @Kika thanks so much and for your point of view too, so wonderful to have engaged so many on this. I love your point and think you should write your own! x

  12. Fiona @ Free Range Chick

    This is a great post. I am surprised at myself for not immediately having the same feelings as you the second I saw that Facebook post circulating my homepage. I did identify with the laundry bit – I do this, much to Mr Chick’s displeasure. It also made me consider a paragraph in a post I recently wrote about ‘Yellow Gold’ – I disclosed that some days I am lucky to get a shower. Was I over-exaggerating for the purpose of a creative post? No – this is actually true. (Thank goodness none of the locals read my blog!). But this is more to do with my lack of organisational skills – which reminds me, I get NOTHING done in seven minutes! I wholeheartedly agree with you that content such as that Facebook post is a load of nonsense and frankly rather unhelpful for parents and parents-to-be. Baloney indeed!

    • honestmum

      @Fiona oh I agree, there were points in the longer version I identified with too, it is just the condescending, worthy tone I dislike, that we have to choose one way or another, that options, desires, our personality goes out of the window when kids come along and I know no one who runs towards puke. Not sure I’m their target audience/ don’t know who is. I definitely didn’t relate to the points I mentioned above. Thanks for your comment!

  13. Nadine Hill

    Hi Vicki
    I’m glad that an intelligent mum has said what usually goes unsaid – great post!
    However I wanted to comment because this post is perfect for the March BritMums Video Round-up – the theme this month is ‘Mother’!!
    Have you thought about vlogging your thoughts on this and putting the video into this post? I’ve been the BritMums Video Round-up Editor for a few months now so I’m trying to raise awareness that we have a round-up and also to get bloggers to send their entries in!
    I’d love to promote this post on the next round-up if it contained video!
    If you can’t squeeze it in before the 14th March deadline then do keep me on your radar for your future posts containing video- I am always looking for submisisons and every month I issue a challenge- April’s theme will be ‘Spring’! Interpret that how you wish!
    Take care
    Nadine x
    Nadine Hill recently posted…Go-Go My Superhero!My Profile

  14. Lucky

    I am pregnant so not a mama just yet but when I read or hear this stuff that assumes everyone is the same it drives me up the wall. If think ‘I dont think it will be like that for me’ then people say ‘ah you wait and see’ like they’ve seen the mysterious other side and I have no idea how my personality copes with the real or anticipated things within MY life! I just try to breathe, smile and mentally delete the conversations 🙂

    • honestmum

      @Lucky I agree, we are all different and motherhood has varied things in store for us all. My first birth was traumatic and life was quickly so strange and unexpected for me, I went from a life I knew to one I didn’t and wasn’t really prepared for. My second birth was totally different though, I must say both times I wish I’d heard and read more honest representations of motherhood, so I didn’t feel so isolated and alone. These kinds of posts say we must sacrifice who we are and embrace a life of running towards puke-it’s too black and white.

      Yes there will be days like that and many tough times ahead but there will be great joy/elation and we can still reach our potentials/have our own hopes and desires. Thanks for your comment.


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